Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sometimes saving money isn't worth it

I love Five Below. It's a discount store in the Walmart plaza on Military Road in Niagara Falls. It has everything from t-shirts to toys to books to electronics. It's where I get my cheap headphones and occasionally grab something else that looks like it might be worth more than $5.

That was the case the other day when I ran across the Shaper Image Visual Charge Wall Plate Charger and Power Outlet. I've concluded recently that I have more things* that charge (or are powered) via USB cords than via actual electric plugs. And I've been looking at outlets with USB plugs built in on Amazon. But when I ran into this option for just $5, I had to try it! And it's from Sharper Image so it should be decent quality, right?

My review of the unit, which I posted to Amazon, indicates that I was mistaken. It's not worth $5. In fact, I'm not sure I'd use it if it were free.

Oh well. This is the risk of buying $5 products. Try, try again.

Maybe you'd rather spend your money differently ... like on this KickStarter for Misery Loves Company that I did a voiceover for. Or not. Whatever. It's your money.

A few other things I've voiced recently:

Defense Updates: Why North Korea Won't Last Even a Few Days in War with U.S.?

The guys from Did You Know seem to be really keen on three topics: death, abandoned places, and dogs. Today covers all three:

1) This Guy Went Into A Town That Was Abandoned In 1982. What He Found Is As Stunning As It Is Eerie.

2) What This Village Does With Their Dead Is So Bizarre… But Somehow Kind Of Sweet !

3) 16-Year-Old Dog Dies Saving His Owner’s Life From A Wolf Attack

And there were, of course, other items -- including a series of phrases for a children's video game in which I play the role of a surfer dog. Yay, surfer dog.

Okay. Now I'm off to record another piece for the city of Constanta, Romania. Then maybe sleep. Maybe.

*May be a slight exaggeration

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quitting while I'm behind

Today (or yesterday, depending on how your calendar works) started out mildly frustrating.

I had worked for several hours on a relatively small (3,500-word) voice-over for a client. I had done about half a dozen takes on his scripts, which he wanted to be "authentic" but "energetic." After several discussions back and forth of what he wanted and numerous re-cuts on his script, I decided I had to cut him loose. It was better to forfeit the previous work than to risk wasting further time on a client who didn't seem to *really* know what he wanted.

I should have known earlier that it wasn't going to work when he gave me a 700-word script and wanted it squeezed into 2:30. I told him what he wanted just wasn't possible but I was able to get it into 3:30. That's 200 words per minute. (The average American speaks 110-150 words per minute.) He wanted to know why I was talking so fast. *blinks*

Anyway, I cut ties with him and refunded the money he had paid. But again, I'd rather be out cash than continue to waste my time.

I decided to take a break and catch up on Twin Peaks, as well as watch the Game of Thrones season premiere. Both were excellent uses of my time and I returned to work refreshed -- and maybe a little twisted. (Watch the shows, you'll understand.)

Three scripts from Did You Know put me back on the right path. Then I did a script that's part of a series I'm doing for the city of Constanta, Romania. I really enjoy these scripts ... but they're a lot more work than some of the other things I voice. For one thing, they're about half in Latin. But it's history and culture, so I get to learn while I work. One funny take away from that script: I had to say the phrase "by the barbarians" and, for the life of me, couldn't get it right. "Tabula Peutingeriana?" No problem. "By the barbarians?" Nope. So when this happens, I just say the phrase over and over until it clicks. I found it funny so I posted it to Soundcloud:

After that, I had a couple other small bits to record and then, this blog post.

After this, I return to a long-term project for the students of You Lin You Ke -- an English-learning class in Beijing.

Oh! And Doctor Who is a woman now. 'bout damn time.

- Scott

Friday, July 14, 2017

Allen Burger Venture ... yes, please

Out on the town Thursday, following my first visit to Hotel Henry, sustenance was required.

I've heard so many good things about Allen Burger Venture but hadn't had the opportunity to venture there yet. (See what I did there?) Let me just start by saying that Thursday may have been my first trip there but it will NOT be my last.

Walking up, the place is packed -- inside and out -- and there's a bit of a line at the door. Nothing overwhelming, mind you. And it moved quickly. I think we waited maybe all of 10 minutes to get a table. It was, after all, 7 o'clock on a Thursday. Busy was to be expected.

There's tater tots in there. And they were awesome.
Since we had drinks at 100 Acres at Hotel Henry, we switched to good old-fashioned pop at ABV. RC Cola. She had root beer. And we ordered: Loaded tater tots to start, followed by a #2 for her (Beef on Weck Burger) and a Chimichurri Burger for me.

The tots came first and we kind of regretted ordering burgers. Seriously, these were both awesome and awesomely filling. They had what appeared to be homemade tater tots with pulled pork, jalapeno peppers and other tasty bits, with melty Monterey Jack cheese on top. There's also a version that has two sunnyside-up eggs on top.

Just as we finished the loaded tater tots and decided that neither of us could ever eat another bite of food again, the burgers came. And ... we didn't want to disappoint the staff by not eating them. I mean, the staff had been so nice and helpful. So ...

Chimichurri Burger from ABV. On their special menu. 
So I had ordered the Chimichurri Burger, in part, because +Juda Nevadomski had posted a Grilled Dinner And Chimichurri recipe to All WNY News about a year ago and we had a discussion about me needing more chimichurri in my life. It having been nearly 12 months since and me not having added said chimichurri, I felt it was almost an obligation, really.

Imagine the ingredients from the aforementioned tater tots (minus the tots themselves) on a burger ... with chimichurri sauce. Yeah. That was my burger. And it was delish.

Her burger included New York state cheddar, caraway seeds and horseradish aioli. It came with au jus for dipping. It looked brilliant. I can't say how it tasted.

All burgers come with fries. They were salted -- but I added more, of course.

In all, the bill came to $54 -- which is a bit more than I'm used to paying for a couple burgers. But totally worth it.

And in the end, the YouTubers below actually paid for them. Here's a roundup of some videos that popped in the past 24 hours or so ... voiced by yours truly:

First up, we've got a pair of videos by Did You Know. I was voicing videos for them here and there. I had mentioned previously that one of the videos I'd voiced had 1,000,000 views. The rest of their videos used a computer generated voice. Going forward, I'll be voicing all their videos -- three per day. Their channel is growing really rapidly and I expect to see them get their first 10,000,000-view video soon.

1) This Elephant Survived A Poaching Attempt. Then Vets Noticed Something Weird:

2) North Brother is an Abandoned New York Island Nobody Knows about

We also have a new entry from Defense Updates:

And finally, the latest from Econ Cow:

Okay. That's my life in a nutshell. Now get out there and live yours!

- Scott

Abandoned / Reclaimed

I may be one of the few residents of Western New York who hadn't broken into Buffalo's former Richardson Complex near Buff State. I've seen photos and heard stories about the former psychiatric center -- or "insane asylum," if you prefer. But I'd never been inside and didn't really care to -- until Thursday.

Recently refurbished and now open as "Hotel Henry," the former Richardson Complex -- or at least a large part of it -- is now far from abandoned. An Art Walk held there on Thursday showcased the fact that while the building hasn't been remade plank by plank, there is once again hope residing there.

As the top photo shows, the designers took great pains to retain some of the "urban decay" that intrigued so many about the building. That carpeting, while having the appearance of falling apart, is brand new -- and likely quite expensive. The photo at right, meanwhile, shows some of the more modern amenities.

There's a whole bunch more photos available here.

Kudos to the architects, contractors, and all involved in re-opening the portions of the Richardson Complex that have opened thus far. It's gorgeous.

Now, let's contrast this with a "Did You Know" video (below) that popped today showing 52 abandoned places. I voiced the intro on this, but honestly, the part I love is the part after I stop talking. (I have a feeling there may be others out there who also love when I stop talking.)

Obviously, some of these abandoned places are beyond repair. Fortunately, they still hold their own intrinsic beauty.

Thursday also included a trip to Allen Burger Venture. More on that later. For right now, I gotta voice some things.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Smoked ancestors ... it's what's for dinner

Okay, so maybe the headline here is a bit misleading. But ... dude. The guys from Did You Know sure have a way of finding (and asking me to voice) some unique things. Take for example today's latest update from Papua New Guinea:

I'm not sure what I want to happen to my body after I die, but I'm pretty sure that making me into what looks like "Scott-jerky" and setting me on a mound in the middle of the village ranks pretty low on my list of options.

There's no one like Poe

I've long been a fan or Edgar Allen Poe. I mean ... how can you not?

So when a potential client asked for a voice sample for a horror/thriller story they're looking to have voiced, I did a quick take on one of Poe's shorter pieces, "Eldorado," which is now in the public domain, as it was originally published in 1949.

The image, meanwhile, is courtesy of

A much-needed day off ... (with tacos)

I mentioned in my earlier post that this blog is NOT just about voice-overs. For those who have followed for a while, you may know I post all sorts of things: columns, thoughts, commentary, insane drivel, whatever. But lately, I've had a lot of v-o related stuff to share.

On Friday, though, I took the day off from voice-overs to do some much-desired shopping, eat some much-craved Mexican food, and engage in some much-needed sleeping.

First of all, it should be noted that while the majority of the day was spent at the Walden Galleria, that was the shopping destination of choice largely due to its proximity to El Agave, which came highly recommended from those who eat tacos.

Arriving at the mall, the first (obvious) stop is World of Beer for a pint and some fried macaroni and cheese bites. The pint (Brooklyn Blast) was tasty. As were the mac and cheese bites. But at $7.50 for six of them, I'm not sure about the value. That said, I've never left WoB disappointed. (There's a reason it won an All WNY Award) And that didn't change on Friday, either.

From WoB, it was on to the shopping part of the adventure. My hope was to snag a deal on a pair of pants, maybe a shirt, and maaaaybe a Windows 10 tablet. Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. So ... I found some pants I liked. But I forgot that I'm two inches smaller than I was. So the pants I liked weren't in the size I wear. The shirts I liked were not in prices I liked (I just can't spend $40 on a shirt.) And as much as I WANT to like the Win10 tablets, they just leave me feeling ... wanting. So ... Oh well. I did, however, pick up a couple decent pairs of cheap sunglasses, some new shoes, and cookie dough. I also ogled bikes at Dicks. But I JUST bought a new bike a couple months ago so... no on the new bike.

I don't think I've ever spent eight hours at the Galleria ... until Friday. Needless to say, after so much shopping (even if there wasn't that much buying), I wanted to eat ALL the tacos. Thank God for El Agave.

Pretty much, as a rule, if I have Mexican, I want the staff to barely speak any English. This was clearly the case at El Agave. Not only did most of the staff not speak English, neither did the vast majority of the patrons. I took this as a good sign in my first visit to the eatery. I wasn't wrong.

I ordered two tacos -- beef, and a chimichanga -- shredded beef, as well as a guacamole salad ... and an order of fries. Cuz I'm "that guy." The ground beef tacos could have been better, to be honest, and not just because they were hard-shell (I didn't specify, so that's on me). But it seemed like the meat was overcooked? Or something. Something was off. They weren't BAD, mind you. They just could have been better. The chimichanga was fantastic, though, as was the guac salad, which I basically dumped on top of the fries and ate the pair as a combo. (Don't mock it until you've tried it).

Finally, with a full tummy, I went home to sleep for nearly seven hours, which is almost a day and a half's worth. I also took a nap "today" (Saturday), which is why I'm posting this at 3:30 in the morning. That, and I've been working on voiceovers for my favorite Ukranian client almost all day. But ... more on that later.

Oh, I also spent some time catching up on Twin Peaks and preparing for Prime Day on Amazon, which is Tuesday, in case you didn't know. Maybe I'll write more on that later, too. For now, I need some sleep.