January 5th, 2010


Writer's Block: Toy Story

What was your favorite toy when you were a child? Do you still have it? What did it mean to you?

Besides books, my fav toy was the family tape recorder, which I was very attached to. Mom originally had it for recording steno lessons so there were always cheap cassette tapes lying around, which I'd use to produce all kinds of stuff.

When I was say 6 or 7, I'd take the recorder and fill up a whole tape with me rambling, singing, telling jokes, reciting poetry, having pretend dialogs with people, making weird noises, etc. I recovered one of these some years back and what amused me as much as the content was my New York accent, which I got from being around Mom I guess. The content is hilarious too, like me reciting the Pledge of Allegiance using a different voice for every line, me telling knock knock jokes I clearly don't understand, me having a schizo talk show conversation with my dolls. I had Daniel put the whole thing on CD for me.

Later on I started to produce more complex stuff, recording stuff live off the radio or records. One time I put together a show that was a "story" where everything was determined by what I could find on the radio. Like my character would be going down the street and see a house on fire and there's Bruce Springsteen singing "I'm On Fire." I'd pull that bit into the story, pause and then find something else playing, whether a baseball game or Devo and make the story go that way. I really wish I had that one tape, but it went MIA.

A similar project was my Hitchhiker's show, which I produced in middle school after someone gave me the complete Hitchiker's Guide radio scripts. I didn't actually have the show on tape or seen the TV show (although I had heard parts) so I acted out the whole first episode, doing all the voices my own way and adding sound effects from an LP I got at the library. I remember the Vogan commander being voiced by a wild parrot and Arthur Dent having this nasally voice based on this kid Eric I knew in school. So in effect it was like a one-person radio production. I still have that tape.

Re do I still have it, no, I don't, but like I said, I have a couple of the tapes and my memories.

Re what does it mean to me, well, mostly it shows was a gabber I was (am) -- I had to have an outlet to unload when everyone else was sick of listening to me. I would just talk and talk and talk when I was little. My school counselor wrote all these great notes about how I'd sit in her office singing and talking in voices and never being quiet. The other thing it shows is that I've always liked "producing" things, whether it's tapes or video or web sites.