The President Who Knew Too Little

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Trump: {spinning around in his chair in the Oval Office}

Pence: {whispers to Sessions} I would have thought, he’d be tired of doing that by now.

Sessions: Sir, there is an urgent matter that needs your attention.

Trump: {stops spinning} I can’t give you my attention right now. I used up my attention span for the day, for my early morning tweet on the toilet. It was brilliant. I typed out in all caps, NO COLLUSION!

Pence: {takes off human face to reveal a giant lizard head} Whew, that gets uncomfortable after a while.

Sessions: But sir–

Trump: Don’t bother me right now Keebler.

Sessions: {whispers to Pence} He just called me Keebler.

Pence: He always calls you that, only he forgot that he is supposed to say it behind your back.

Trump: Get out of my office. I’m still mad at you for refusing yourself from the Russia investigation.

Sessions: You mean recuse.

Trump: {stares blankly} Sure.

{Sessions leaves, carrying his newly made batch of Keebler Chips Deluxe Rainbow cookies}

Trump: The press is all over me about this, that and the other. I need that blonde woman, the one whose face ages right in front of you.

Pence: You mean Kellyanne Conway.

Trump: Who? For Christ sake Mike, put your human face back on. I don’t want the press to find out, that my Vice President is a lizard.

Pence: {puts on human face} You should really get Sarah Huckabee Sanders, if you want someone to speak to the press. That’s her job.

Trump: {drools}

Pence: She’s your Press Secretary.

Trump: My Press Secretary is Sean Bean.

Pence: His last name is Spicer and he resigned months ago.

Trump: Nonsense! He’s probably hiding in a bush somewhere. Run along and find that pasty loser.

{Pence leaves}

Trump: {picks up his phone and calls Sean Hannity} Hey Sean. I can’t decide on which tie to wear to dinner tonight, my blue tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies, or my red tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies.

Hannity: Always red Mr. President. Red is the color of the Republican party. Remember the two r’s we talked about?

Trump: Oh yes, what would I do without you. You are indispensable to me. {makes kissing noises}

Hannity: Now, excuse me Mr. President; I have to work on a flow chart, that shows how Robert Mueller killed Jack Kennedy and Henry Kissinger.

Trump: I thought Henry was still alive; he was at the White House last week.

Hannity: Exactly, it’s a deep state conspiracy. Good by sir. I’ll see you Friday, for our weekly moose hunt.

Conway: {enters the Oval Office} You wanted to see me Mr. President.

Trump: Not really, but I need you to hold a press conference and tell the press, I didn’t do, whatever it is I already screwed up today.

Conway: Can you be more specific?

Trump: No, I can’t be more specific. That’s why I pay you to be specific for me.

Conway: You don’t pay me sir; I work for water and discarded pizza crusts.

Trump: Damnit Julieanne, if you want to get paid, you’ll do as I ask.

{Conway leaves and bumps into Jared Kushner, who squeaks like a mouse}

Kushner: Hi dad.

Trump: I told you to stop calling me that. I’m already over my quota for dipshit sons.

{loud crack, as door gets kicked in and Bob Muller enters}

Kushner: {faints}

Trump: The door was open already.

Muller: {stares malevolently at Trump}

Trump: {tries to stare malevolently back, but winks instead}

Muller: It’s time to end this once and for all Trump.

Trump: It is on!

Muller: It is so on! {takes out lightsaber from inside his suit jacket}

Trump: Hold on; I’m not ready. I have to get my lightsaber; it’s in a very safe place. {moves picture of George Washington, that’s covering a combination safe}

Muller: {sighs, while Trump tries to remember the combination}

Trump: {opens the safe and grabs lightsaber}

Muller: Time to die Trump, or should I call you by your Sith name, Darth Imbecilus.

Kushner: {wakes up}

Muller: {thrusts lighsaber into Kushners heart}

Jared: {screams with a pitch so high, only nearby dogs can hear it}

Mueller: I just killed your young apprentice.

Trump: He wasn’t my apprentice.

{epic battle of mediocrity occurs, ending with Muller pointing his lightsaber at Trump’s head}

Muller: Did you collude with Russia?

Trump: {starts crying} I don’t know! I don’t know what the word means.

{Muller, disgusted, strikes a death blow at Trump, but his lightsaber is blocked by a shirtless Putin}

Putin: {In Russian} I’ll wear your skin like a coat. {translation could also be, I’d like to buy your goat}

Muller: Well, if it isn’t Count Gulag. I see you’ve come to save your puppet.

Putin: {puts a force choke on Muller}

Mueller: {sends bobbleheads flying from Trump’s desk of all the presidents, toward Putin}

{A Nixon bobblehead hits Putin in the face}

Mueller: You will never triumph over the force.

Putin: {In Russian} I eat the force for breakfast.

{They exchange blows, until the Oval Office is in shambles}

Putin: {looking at Trump} Get up you ridiculous man and strike him down.

Trump: I have no idea what you are saying. This is why all immigrants, who come to this country, need to learn to speak American.

{Secret Service Agent finally enters}

Agent: What is going on here? I heard loud noises and all the neighborhood dogs are barking. I would have come sooner, but I wanted to get a burrito from the food truck, before they left the White House.

{Putin, taking advantage of the distraction, grabs Trump and exits out a window}

Mueller: {shuts off lightsaber} We’ll meet again Trump! {to agent} Do you think the food truck is still here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Memorable Feast

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Edgar Allan Poe: {Grim Reaper is hovering around his chair, with his scythe casually dangling at his side} “Are you enjoying those peas?”

Howard Hughes: {counting his peas} “You made me lose count.”

Edgar Allan Poe: “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to play with your food?”

Howard Hughes: {looks up for the first time and remembers he is at a dinner party} “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to bring animals to the dinner table?” {points towards the raven perched on his chair}

JD Salinger: {underneath the table, wrapped in the tablecloth, with only his eyes peeking out} “I hope no one can see me.”

Raven: “Nevermore.”

Edgar Allan Poe: {drinking absinthe} “That’s the only thing he ever says.”

Ernest Hemingway: {wearing a live bear like a fur coat} “I hope we aren’t going to talk about peas and birds all night. There are far more interesting things to talk about, like I once drove an ambulance filled with bourbon, wounded soldiers and a live crocodile, through an Italian war zone.”

Henry David Thoreau: “I once spent two years in a tiny cabin in the woods, eating nothing, but bark and dandelions.”

Ernest Hemingway: {belches}

Emma Goldman: {addressing the kitchen server} “These conditions are insufferable; you’re working for slave wages. You should demand your rights and go on strike.”

Server: “Actually, I receive a fair wage and get weekends and holidays off.”

Emma Goldman: “Intolerable!”

Hunter Thompson: {pushes his plate aside and snorts a line of cocaine} “Right on sister. It’s the American dream.”

JD Salinger: {from underneath the table} “If no one can see me, maybe I’m not here.”

Ernest Hemingway: “You need to come out from underneath that table and face your fears like a man.” {the terrified bear he is wearing, nods in agreement}

{Raven flies over & lands on Howard’s plate, knocking over his peas}

Howard Hughes: {horrified, watching his peas roll across the floor} “Now look at what your daft bird has done.”

Raven: “Nevermore.”

Howard Hughes: “I would like a fresh plate of peas, sorted by circumference and weight. Don’t touch them with your hands!”

Server: {?}

Edgar Allan Poe: “Do you have anything stronger than absinthe?”

Server: “We have some kerosene out in the garage.”

Edgar Allan Poe: “Very good.”

Hunter Thompson: {taking mescaline} “My god, it’s a bat!” {fires his revolver at the raven, misses and shatters the window}

Ernest Hemingway: {slurring} “Some people can’t handle their alcohol.”

{The server leaves to arrange peas, get the kerosene from the garage and curse his life choices}

Emma Goldman: “This establishment is corrupt. No one should have to endure this kind of treatment. {yells} Anarchy!” {strikes a match and sets the tablecloth on fire}

{The Grim Reaper drops his scythe and runs out of the room}

Edgar Allan Poe: “My dear woman, please try to control your enthusiastic outbursts.” {pours his glass of absinthe on the fire and the flames shoot out}

Ernest Hemingway: {puts his steak on a fork and starts roasting it in the flame} “I like my steak well-done.”

Henry David Thoreau: {puts a croissant down his trousers & steak inside of his dinner jacket} “You never know when you might need food.”

Ernest Hemingway: “What’s for dessert?”

JD Salinger: {hands quickly raise up from underneath the tablecloth, to grab his bowl of soup}

Howard Hughes: {weeping} “My peas!”

Hunter Thompson: {opens up a briefcase filled with pills} “It’s a giant lizard. Fuck!” {fires revolver at Hemingway and hits him in the arm}

Raven: “Fuck! Nevermore. Fuck! Nevermore.”

Hunter Thompson: “I’m sorry man; I have some morphine in my briefcase. My lawyer gave it to me. I have a 300-pound Samoan attorney.”

Ernest Hemingway: “Well, it’s not like I haven’t been shot before.”

JD Salinger: “Slurp, slurp, slurp…”

Henry David Thoreau: {to Emma Goldman} Are you going to eat that madam?”

Emma Goldman: I’m not eating any of that food; it’s been poisoned by the bourgeois businessmen.”

Henry David Thoreau: {dumps entire plate inside of his dinner jacket}

{Server comes in carrying a plate of peas and a container of kerosene, sees the table on fire}

Edgar Allan Poe: {grabs kerosene, takes a swig and throws the rest of it on the fire}

{The entire room is ablaze}

Server: {sets plate of peas down} Quickly, every one evacuate!”

Howard Hughes: {grabs the plate of peas on the way out}

JD Salinger {underneath the table} “Go away! I’m not signing autographs today. Slurp.”

 

 

 

 

 

Stranger in a Strange Land

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“You’re here,” I say, a bit frazzled, because I had not finished dusting my collection of  Gothic ashtrays.

“Yes, I realize I’m a bit early,” the stranger says uneasily. “I’m a little nervous; I haven’t done this in a long time.

“Well, I’ve never done this before. Do you want to do it right here on the table,” I ask, pointing to my kitchen table with a rotting fruit bowl as its center piece.

“Anywhere is fine,” he says, looking down at his feet embarrassed.

I nod and make my way to the hall closet. Immediately when I open the door, a broom falls out and the handle hits me square in the forehead with an audible, whack.  I shove the broom into the very back of the closet, so it won’t assault me the next time I open it. A lone Members Only Jacket is hanging up, just hoping and waiting for the day, that epaulets are in vogue again. My eyes scan the contents on the shelf. I see the box that I want underneath an old blanket. As I make my way back to the table, with the box in hand, I hear my tea kettle singing.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I was going to make myself a cup of tea.”

“I’ll have one as well.” I sit the box on the table and empty the contents of the fruit bowel, where I notice several fruit flies had died.

The stranger adds a little milk to his tea. The milk was already expired by at least three days; I had forgotten to dump it out. I debate on whether I should tell him or not. I finally decide that I will not.

Mom always said to check the date on the milk. She probably meant before you buy it though, not if you’re at a random stranger’s house.  

I pour my tea and politely refuse the three-day old milk, when the stranger offers it. Instead, I open my cookie jar and take out a flask containing whiskey and pour a little into my cup.  I don’t like how the stranger is judging me with his eyes.

“I have a cold,” I say sheepishly and judging from the size of the flask, it looks like I was planning on having a cold for the remainder of the year.

He sips his tea and either doesn’t notice the taste of sour milk, or is too polite to say anything.

We sit down, both of us staring at the box on the table.

“Are you sure you want to do this,” the stranger asks.

I take a sip of tea; I put too much whiskey in and it was burning my chest. “Yep,” I squeak out.

The Stranger opens up the Candy Land box and begins to set up the board. I pick up the cards to shuffle them, because they had not been shuffled, since the last time I played.

“What color gingerbread do you want?” I ask.

“Red. I always play with the red one.”

I hand him the red gingerbread person (sex of gingerbread undetermined) and he places it on the board at the starting point.

I like to play with the green gingerbread. Its stand is broken, so I just lay my gingerbread along side his. “You can go first.”

He draws a card and immediately advances forward with a double blue.

I pick up his discarded card and look at it.

“Hey,” he yells and points an indignant finger at me. “I don’t cheat.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. It was obvious I had really hurt his feelings. “There’s just so much riding on this game and I just assumed…”

“So, you thought I would cheat? That takes all the fun out of it.”

“I really am sorry; I just thought it was kind of…you know…your modus operandi.”

He snorts at that. “Your turn.”

I pick up a card and move one red square, which is the square right next to the start. I had advanced one square and the stranger was already halfway to glory.

He picks up a card and advances with a double yellow. When he lands, he is on the gum drop pass, which is a short cut. The stranger slowly slides his gingerbread along the pass, all without breaking eye contact with me.

I hope I get something good. I’d like to wipe that smug look off his face.

The next card is a double orange and just when I think I’m gaining on him, I land right on an orange square with a picture of  licorice on it, which means I lose a turn. “Goddamn licorice,” I yell, realizing I may just be the only person to have ever spoken those words.

The stranger selects his card. He gets only one blue this time and then draws another one, since I lost my turn. He searches the board looking for something. When he sets his gingerbread down, I can see, that he is very near the finish line already. He shows me the card, so that I don’t accuse him of cheating a second time. It is a picture of Queen Frostine.

“Bitch!

The stranger is unsure if I meant him, or the fictitious queen of a 3 years and up children’s game.

I draw a card and pick up my gingerbread, who is lying face down in the licorice and move it a double yellow. I’m still way behind the stranger though.

“Hell yes,” he says, as he draws his card. His final card. He has a double orange, which puts him exactly on the finish line.

I panic. “It isn’t fair; I wasn’t ready.”

The stranger rises from his chair and puts on a beanie, that has a pom on the end of it.

“I still got it,” he says, walking out the door and out of my life, but not out for good. He’d be back one day to collect his winnings.

I sit in my chair stunned at what had just occurred. I take a sip of my whiskey tea; I didn’t mind the burning this time. I guess I’d better get used to the burning, because after all, I had just lost my soul to the devil.

 

 

 

 

 

Buckley vs Vidal: The 11th Debate

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In 1968, ABC, the generic cereal of news organizations, (the set literally collapsed during the RNC) decided to host ten debates during the Democratic and Republican conventions. They chose two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, to debate one another. William F. Buckley, a conservative, had his own show called, Firing Line, which was like Carlson Tucker’s show, only smugger. Gore Vidal, a liberal, and Carry Grant look alike, was a writer and playwright. The moderator of the debate, was Howard K Smith, an ABC political commentator. The debaters detested one another and the debates got really heated. The two men were polar opposites and the only thing they had in common, was that they were both elitists. Most people don’t know, there was actually an eleventh debate, which they decided not to air. Below is a complete transcript.

Smith: Good evening, we are here tonight for our eleventh and final debate, between Mr. William Buckley and Mr. Gore Vidal. Now gentlemen, it got a little too heated on our last debate and resulted in some hate speech, with the words, ‘crypto-Nazi’ and ‘queer,’ being used. Let’s try and keep it civil and stick to the issues. I mean, no one is watching, but still, it’s a family network.

Buckley: {holds pinky up} Of course Howard, and I’d like to explicate on what I was saying in the last debate about Vietnam. I wasn’t finished using my extensive vocabulary.

Smith: Our time is limited, because we have to show commercials advertising household products, in a misogynist  manner that condescends women. So, let’s get to the issues. Mr. Vidal, I will start with you. People wonder if you are a communist, because of your ideological beliefs. Can you answer that charge once and for all?

Vidal: {holds pinky up higher than Buckley} Yes, but first I’d like to insult Mr. Buckley in a defunct patrician accent.

Smith: Again, our time is limited and we have a lot of ground to cover.

Vidal: To answer your question, I am not a communist. I agree with many of its tenants, especially with Karl Marx, who defined communism as, ‘the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.’

Smith: So, you are a champion of the working class?

Vidal: Yes, the working class are the pillar that hold up society and please stop making direct eye contact with me.

Buckley: Pay no attention to him Mr. Smith, he’s an elitist, who scoffs at a hard days work. He has never done a hard days work in his life. You do need to advert your eyes though.

Smith: {looks down}

Buckley: You need to bow your head a little lower. Maybe just turn your chair and face the wall.

Smith: {turns chair around} Mr. Buckley, do you think religion should have any place in politics?

Buckley: As you know, I’m a member of the Knight’s of Columbus. We go around taking any remaining lands, still owned by Native Americans. Also, we have the occasional fish fry.

Vidal: [snickers] What balderdash!

Buckley: Mr. Vidal interrupted me and I wasn’t finished enunciating. Dear God man, look at me when I am speaking to you.

Smith: {Turning his chair back around} Gentleman please, we don’t have a lot of time and the people want to hear the issues. Also, this set may collapse again at any moment. We are on a shoestring budget and we will have to pay you both with a roll of quarters and a vat of Bactine Medicated Skin Cream. Mr Vidal, do you think if Nixon becomes President, that he will get us out of the war in Vietnam?

Vidal: Mr. Nixon’s stance on Vietnam is vague and unclear. He, however, is a hawk, so one would doubt it. What is clear though, is that Mr. Buckley is a conservative philistine with no humane qualities.

Buckley: You are a depraved liberal degenerate!

Vidal: You sir are a conservative villian!

Smith: Gentlemen please!

Buckley: Why don’t you go expatriate yourself.

Vidal: I am not an expatriate; I just choose to live in Italy, to be far away from you and your banal views. {mumbles} crypto-Nazi.

Buckley: {rises angrily} I heard that. {picks up his chair and swings it at Vidal. It misses and hits Howard on the head knocking him unconscious}

Buckley: I am leaving; I can not debate a man with no morals and whose prose is obscene.

Vidal: {nudges the unconscious Smith} Do I still get my facial cream?

{Cameraman cuts to a cigarette commercial, where a whole family is smoking a pack of Pall Mall’s at the dinner table}

Training video: How to insult your opponent in a debate with class.

 

 

All the Idiot President’s Men

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The etymology of words are interesting, but the etymology of political words are almost always born out of corruption. Here are five words to add to your political vocabulary.

Non-denial denial. The non-denial denial, has been around a long time; it’s been used by lawyers, politicians and clever children, when they want to avoid the truth, without directly lying. The phrase didn’t get coined until Ben Bradlee, of the Washington Post, used it to describe all the evasive statements they were receiving from Nixon’s staff during Watergate. A non-denial denial, is when you don’t deny something, but you carefully craft your words, so that it doesn’t seem untruthful, because it’s based on interpretation. A famous example is when Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” because sexual relations can be defined differently. The non-denial denial, has been used frequently by this administration, not by Trump, because he’s not actually smart enough to use it. He is more of deny and then later tell the truth, because he forgot that he already denied it. Kellyanne Conway invented her own political term, “alternative facts” as a non-denial denial, at Sean Spicer’s blatant lie about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. By all accounts, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has perjured himself three times, but because of the non-denial denial, it would be hard to prove. Press Secretary, Sarah “I hate my life” Sanders, has probably used the non-denial denial the most on behalf of her boss. She has repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s sexual harassment allegations, by saying the issue was put to rest during the election, because the voters already knew this information, but voted for him anyway. When asked about George Papadopoulos colluding with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, she responded, “he was a volunteer; he was not a senior member of the campaign.” She should take a page out of her predecessors book and just hide in a bush.

Ratfucking. Yes, this is a real political word and yes, it was hilarious in, All the President’s Men, when Deep Throat asked Robert Redford what the topic was for the night and he said, “ratfucking.” You should use that word next time someone asks you what your weekend plans are. I don’t know if the actual term is still used, but certainly the behavior is prevalent. Former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon and Trump have parted ways (it’s always sad when celebrity couples break up) but that hasn’t stopped Steve from saying, “I don’t think Trump will even make it to a second term; he’s lost his stuff.” His, ‘stuff’ being barely coherent ramblings, boasting and hyperbole. Bannon also said, as noted in Fire and Fury, “Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower was treasonous.” According to Trump though, that is a fake book, perpetrated by the fake news media. Everything is fake, except for his hair and his love for himself. Let’s not forget former White House Director of Communications and Sopranos extra, Anthony Scaramucci’s rant, about Reince Priebus being a, “paranoid  schizophrenic” and saying he thinks Steve Bannon was the one leaking to the press. The biggest ratfucking, would have to be Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort. Who knows what the two of them told Mueller about Kushner or Trump, in order to try and save themselves. Everyone is ratfucking everyone else, in an attempt to not go down with a ship named the S.S. Trump.

Deep state. This term has been gaining traction again lately. It’s a form of cabal, that operates in the shadows, outside of democracy. I first remember hearing the term from, All the President’s Men. It was used about Watergate and that turned out to be true in that case. Howard Simon, who was managing editor of the Washington Post, jokingly called Woodward’s informant Deep Throat, because of his seemingly deep background. Deep state has been used a lot recently, especially on Fox News, to claim the FBI is conspiring to remove Trump from office. Deep state is a conspiracy and although there was one in Watergate, it’s definitely not the case now. The only reason the GOP is calling it a deep state, is because Trump is in deep shit. Human sock puppet, Sean Hannity, has lead the charge on the deep state, which is the FBI and DOJ. It’s a way to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. Lou Dobbs has also said that, “it’s time to call out the deep state.” Devin Nunes, the on-again, off-again, character from a soap opera, that you wish they would just kill off, is the head of the deep state revival. He has a memo that documents violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He claims the FBI, abused the FISA surveillance law, over its use of the dossier on Trump, to obtain a FISA warrant against Carter Page. Keeping in mind, it’s a memo on a warrant Nunes didn’t read. It’s like writing a book report on a book you didn’t read. It’s not like Devon Nunes recused himself, because he was getting information directly from the White House in defense of the White House or anything.

Bork.  Borking, not to be confused with porking, even though they achieve the same goal, means to assault a person’s background or personal character in order to discredit them. The word comes from Robert Bork, who tried to deep six the Watergate investigation. Let’s face it, Trump loves to bork people; he’s been doing it his entire life. He borked all of his political opponents, (lying Ted, little Marco, low-energy Jeb and Crooked Hillary), he’s borked everyone that he’s fired and most recently, he borked FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, into resigning (technically he borked McCabe’s wife). Not only is Trump personally borking Mueller, but the Republican majority is borking the entire FBI and DOJ. That’s a lot of borking! Now the Republican majority of the House Intelligence Committee, has launched an investigation into the FBI. It’s an investigation to investigate the investigators. It’s not a Saturday Night Massacre; it’s a Saturday Night Live skit.

Eleventh Commandment. Reagan used the term when running for governor of California. The eleventh commandment is, “thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The GOP has officially adopted the eleventh commandment, when it comes to Trump and his actions. Nothing is ever his fault; it’s the fault of the media, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Smurfs … everyone except Trump. Never has a party defended such a corrupt, inane, and vile demagogue. It doesn’t matter what he says or does and it’s gotten to the point, that he’s said so many horrible things, when he does something like read from a teleprompter and stay on script, Fox News throws him a parade. Just because bats aren’t flying out of his ass, doesn’t mean that everything is normal. Trump’s behavior is far from normal and yet the GOP make excuses for him. Everyone surrounding Trump is a sycophant, they tell him what he wants to hear. They distract him with flattery and by dangling shiny objects in front of him. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who carries around Atlas Shrugged in his back pocket, has most recently used the eleventh commandment and defended the Nunes’ memo saying, “that that the public deserves full transparency into the potentially wrong-doing of the FBI.” This is all an attempt to create a narrative, that the FBI is corrupt, so Trump will be justified when he fires Mueller. The GOP is currently working on a twelfth commandment, “thou shall not help poor people.”

Interview with Voice Over Artist Anne Hatfield

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Today I’m speaking with au fait Voice Over artist, Anne Hattfield, who has used her rich, vibrant voice to create an eclectic body of work.

M: How did you become interested in being a voice over artist?

A: I’ve read aloud to anyone who would listen since I was a kid (my overwrought recitations of a visit from St. Nicholas are the stuff of family lore), but I didn’t realize it was a real career option, until I was already in another career working as a communications director. Fortunately, I handled all the advertising for the company and was able to start working in VO, by casting myself as the voice talent. It was a budget saver initially, since I didn’t have to pay myself to do the work, but the studio people were pleased with what I could do and encouraged me to pursue it.

M: You lend your voice to all kinds of projects, from narration to commercials, what has been your favorite project to work on so far?

A: I enjoy every new project. Each presents the particular challenge of unpacking the message to the satisfaction of the client. Who’s the audience for this script? What’s the message? What reaction should the script prompt? I have to get into the head of both the client and the audience, to figure out who I need to become, so that I can achieve these goals. Do I need to be a mom concerned about her children’s nutritional needs? Am I am a business owner recommending a particular financial strategy? Am I your best friend confiding beauty secrets? And how would that person communicate with the intended audience in a relatable way? Once I know this, then the detail work begins. It’s always an exciting process.

One of the best compliments I ever received, was from someone not in the industry, who had listened to my commercial demo for the first time. He asked me, “But which one is you?” My voice, my tone and my pacing were tailored specifically for each project and I didn’t sound the same in any of them. That’s what I aim to do every time.

M: When listening to one of my own voice messages, I often hate the sound of my own voice. I realize that I have either spoken too rapidly, or I’m not loud enough. Have you had any voice coaching or training, to overcome difficulties, such as getting rid of a regional accent?

A: I have and continue to have voice coaching. You can never practice enough and you can always get better. I’m very fortunate that my natural speech betrays no regional accent, so that was one hurdle I avoided. My diction can sometimes be too precise, though, and my voice coach will work with me to soften my edges. We laugh about this now, but it’s a true story that one of my very first words (after, I suppose, the usual “mama” and “dada”) was “enunciate.” I was being prepped for this work from the cradle.

M: There are certain words in the English language that are very hard to say clearly and succinctly, such as anemone, ignominious, defibrillator, brewery… have you ever advised a client to change their wording, or are you able to write your own script?

A: I never change the client’s script. It’s my job to navigate those words as written. I may not get it the first time, but I will get it the second. If clients are present during a recording session, they may suggest changes on the spot if they don’t like what they hear. That can happen, but they’ve paid experienced advertising creative teams to manage their message, so there’s a reason a given script is written a certain way. I’ve written many, many commercials in my previous career and I wouldn’t want anyone changing them either. Grammatical errors, however, are tough to ignore, and I would gently mention any of those I see. I don’t want the client to be embarrassed later on.

M: Is there any type of project you haven’t worked on, that you would really like to tackle?

A: I like everything I do, but what I’d especially enjoy is working more with smaller clients, who don’t think they can afford quality voice work. They can afford it and will get much better results from it. A skilled voice artist immediately gives your message, a legitimacy and weight and professionalism, it doesn’t have otherwise. All of us are sophisticated listeners. If you hear a hesitant, awkward voice, you won’t associate confidence with the product, service, etc.

M: How many attempts does it usually take you, before you are satisfied with the results and are there any set guidelines you should always follow?

A: You might do a read in one take or in thirty takes. On my own, I usually get what I want in three or so takes. My opinion is not the one that matters though. In VO, as in all things, the customer is always right. We take direction and make changes, until they are happy with the results.

As far as guidelines go, the rule is to leave your ego at the door. One of my voice coaches told me once, that my job is to be a smart puppet. My voice has to reflect the intent of the puppeteer who is the client. I have to keep trying out new things, new variations, until I hit on the right voice and delivery. If I’m doing my job properly, it should be a smooth, comfortable process.

M: For someone who is interested in doing voice over work, where is the best place to start? Should they get an agent?

A: I can only comment on my path and I don’t have an agent, but many people do. There are scores of good internet resources out there for the beginner voice over artist, but my best advice, is to simply start by listening. Voice work is everywhere…radio, television, internet. It’s constant and not always glamorous. When you take an e-learning course at your office, for example, someone like me is presenting the material and that requires just as much diligence and artistry, as more high profile voice overs. So you listen and if you find yourself repeating the words you hear and reshaping them in your own voice in several different ways, that’s a good test for the kind of work we do.

Oddly enough, having what family and friends tell you is a, “good voice” is only a part of the equation. Are you also able to communicate sophisticated concepts with appropriate mood and intelligence? That’s the key.

M: Would you ever consider giving your voice and personality to doing an animated character?

A: Certainly, and that would be great fun. Every voice artist, has their voice niche, what they do best. For example, mine tends to skew more toward narration and commercial work. Our mutual friend, Jeff Newton (@yonewt on Twitter), however, is a terrific actor, who does fantastic accents and characters, that are among the best I’ve ever heard. This would definitely be his niche.

M: What do you like most about doing voice over work?

A: It’s a creative act; I get to make something that didn’t exist before. We’re at our best when challenged, no matter what the medium or endeavor. Voice work requires skill and targeted inspiration, or the result is inauthentic. It’s a wonderful privilege to collaborate with a client to create genuine, impactful communication. Really, it’s just plain fun.

M: How does a person or business solicit your services?

A: Through my website is best at annehatfieldvo.com. There are several voice samples there to give clients an idea of what I do. There’s also a contact form to submit scripts.

The following is an important public service announcement.

 

3 Alternative Script Changes to Make Film Genres Less Predictable

 

burtexplosion

A building explodes. Our hero, Johnny Awesome, is wearing a tailored Hugo Boss suit. His perfectly coiffed hair, remains unvarnished, as debris and ash rain down all around him, while lesser human beings are running for their lives, flapping their arms in panic, like a bunch of uncouth animals looking for safety.  Johnny Awesome looks directly into the camera and winks, as the flames are getting closer. He looks at the camera again and mouths the words, “Oh, fuck me.” The camera pans to his feet, revealing a pair of Egyptian blue crocs. He’s still wearing his love-making crocs and forgot to slip on his wingtip Oxfords, before leaving his flat. The confidence he had in the beginning, is starting to slip away and is replaced with a fear that he might not make it, because he is after all, walking slower than the flames are spreading. He shakes his head, this was no time to be thinking about the laws of physics. At the risk of looking uncool, he starts to power walk, with really exaggerated arm swings, to build up momentum, because he can feel the heat from the flames that are almost upon him. Johnny Awesome is no longer gliding effortlessly, but stumbling, as he tries desperately not to die and have the movie end at a reasonable time. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a, Wings N Things, food truck, parked on the corner. With a last ditch effort to survive, he leaps in the air, like an Olympic high jumper. As he extends his legs, one of his love-making crocs, flies off and hits an elderly woman in the face, who is carrying grocery bags. The unsuspecting woman loses her grip on her bags and the force of the croc, knocks her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. Produce begins rolling out of the grocery bags and into the street. Johnny Awesome breathes a sigh of relief; he made his landing safely, as the elderly woman gets engulfed in flames. The croc, which ricocheted off the old woman’s face, had skittered underneath the food truck. Johnny reaches underneath the truck, grabs the slightly-singed, Egyptian blue croc and places it back on his foot. Nothing, not even the threat of death, was going to stand in the way of his twenty-four hour love making.

Felicia Raven, is the last marine left alive from her squad, that was sent to eradicate a hostile alien species called the, Candoborgs, from the planet, Ultar. This planet of unlicensed proctologists, like to probe human asses with all the vigor of … well, licensed  proctologists. The Queen has gotten aboard Felicia’s ship and has damaged the primary flight controls, so that she is unable to set a course for home. She has been searching frantically, trying to find the secondary controls, so that she can program another path home, while the Queen is in hot pursuit. Felicia sees a switch, conveniently marked, “secondary.”  Felicia pulls the switch and the ship has a new heading home, but now the Queen Candoborg has her cornered. Felicia knows there is only one tried and true way to kill an alien, and that is for it to get sucked out the airlock. The airlock always worked, in fact, Felicia shoved her mother-in-law out the airlock last month, when she kept complaining about her pot roast being dry. It’s been a source of contention between her and her husband ever since. The Candoborgs are over eight feet tall and can easily lift you up and tear you apart, but only after they give you your free colonoscopy. Felicia darts under a table and quickly maneuvers just around the Queen and away from her mighty grasp. She runs to the rear of the ship, where the airlock is located. The Queen, who is irate at this point, because she has already missed her son’s clarinet recital, scrambles to catch her. Felicia judges that the Queen is standing close enough to the airlock and hits the open button. The Queen is blown toward the door, while reaching in vain to try and grab something to hold onto. They both look at each other at first in surprise and then the Queen looks at Felicia in mortification. Her ass has gotten stuck in the door and it’s plugging up the entire exit. The Queen, who has learned to speak English by watching 80’s reruns of Dynasty, tells her that she’s gained a lot of weight over the holidays. Felicia sympathizes with this, because she has put on a few pounds herself. The Queen proposes a deal, that if she helps her out of this and never tells anyone, she promises to leave the planet alone. She also tells Felicia, that they are less interested in asses and more into breasts now anyway. Felicia considers this proposition and decides that a chance at saving the planet, is worth her own personal risk and she can tell the Queen is sincere. She pushes the button to close the airlock, so that it won’t suck them out, once she is able to free the Queen. Felicia finds a crowbar and tries to wedge it in between the Queen’s ass and the door. She pushes on the crowbar with all of her might, but her ass just won’t budge. Felicia has another idea and leaves the Queen to go to the kitchen. She reaches into the fridge and pulls out two sticks of butter. When Felicia returns with the butter, she realizes that there is no way that the Queen will be able to butter her own ass, so she will have to do it. Felicia sighs, and with a stick of butter in each hand, she wriggles her hands in and starts to grease up the alien’s rump, like she is trying to keep food from sticking to a frying pan. She greases the sides of the airlock too. Felicia determines that she’s added enough butter and takes the Queens hands into hers, pulling with all of her might. The Queen’s ass slides through the door with an audible, squish. The two look at one another and begin to laugh. Felicia returns to Earth with a hero’s welcome. The mayor commends her bravery for buttering an alien’s ass and saving the Earth. Felicia is then awarded a key to the city.

Baxter Price, looks at his phone’s screen saver and sighs. It’s a picture of him and his girlfriend of three years, Emma Singer. They are both wearing a, I’m with stupid, t-shirt with arrows pointing at him. She’s gone now, about to get on a plane, leaving to a far away wasteland. Her plane was leaving for Cleveland in another half hour and he was all alone watching his, Police Academy box set. Baxter starts to text her, to tell her not to go, while Michael Winslow is making sound effects in the background. He puts his phone down, deciding that would be too reasonable and expedient. Instead, he’s going to rush over to the airport and stop her from getting on her flight. He hops in his Pontiac Aztek, which needs new shocks, tires, brakes and motor, but other than that, it runs like a dream. He starts the car and it makes a, please just let me die sound before it begins to run. Baxter looks at the clock, her plane leaves in thirty minutes and it takes forty minutes to get to the airport from his house. He can do it, he determines, by driving fast, sheer tenacity and completely ignoring the laws of space and time. Baxter takes off down his street, a 25 mph residential area, going as fast as possible. He weaves around pedestrians, honking his horn at them, until he makes it to the exit ramp for the highway. He speeds along at 100 mph, with a Bayside Breeze, pine-scented car freshener, dangling from his rear-view mirror, silently screaming for help. He doesn’t see the police car, that’s parked off on the shoulder and whizzes past it without stopping. The policeman starts to turn on his blue lights and then switches them back off, deciding that he was driving a Pontiac Aztek and probably had enough problems. Baxter pulls into the airport and parks the car right in front of the US Airway lane, not caring about getting his car towed, or a ticket, or important life choices. He dashes towards gate 7, before he realizes, that is the wrong gate and turns around. As he does, he stops dead in his tracks. His olfactory nerve, transmits an impulse to his tiny brain receptors, that he smells cinnamon. He looks around, and there by a Sunglass Hut, like a shiny beacon of hope, is a Cinnabon. He glances at his phone and realizes he still has a few minutes before Emma’s flight is supposed to leave. Baxter walks in and can’t believe his luck, there’s no one else in line. He orders a large caramel PeaconBon and doesn’t even notice, that the Cinnabon employee doesn’t make a new one, but takes the one that has been sitting out there since the morning and hands it to Baxter. Baxter, who is mesmerized by the sight of caramel, pecans, frosting and it’s squishy dough, a phrase also used by Emma, to describe his love handles, sits down and slowly savors every morsel. When he’s done, he yawns and stretches his legs. He has completely forgotten the reason he came to the airport. Baxter walks out of the airport and rides off into the sunset in his Aztek, with a two hundred dollar parking ticket and icing still clinging to his chin.