Sunday, February 6, 2011

Like all of us, I often compare myself to characters in the media or have been compared to such characters by my friends. My comparison filmography would include characters from Luke Skywalker (mine: the hair, stature) to Michael Corleone (mine: the suits, stature, third son) to Adam from "Blast From the Past" (family: the naivety) to Elliot from "Bedazzled" (Bran Flakes: the moral perplexities, or maybe just my current hairstyle at the time we met) to a sort of anti-Holden Caulfield (mine) where instead of finding out the bad about everyone, I seek out the good.

Well, after spending my first complete week here at Voice of America, I think I would like to add another one to the comparison filmography. I know it will definitely seal my fate as a geek or a dork, but I don't care. Following Polonius' advice out of "Hamlet," I have to be true to myself; I don't care what the poll numbers say.

Anyway, so, I think I'm a lot like Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He was that yellow-skinned android. And I'm not throwing that comparison out there because I'm jaundiced, but because I have completed tasks so far with the same diligence and speed he often demonstrated.

We all know by now that I edit a daily web video called "VOA 60." Well, the rest of my day from about 2PM to 5PM has to be spent doing something, so I always maintain that I'm engaged in some task so as to not cheat them out of their time. You know, I don't want to spend the last three hours on Facebook with another tab open lambasting some coelenterate on a Dallas Cowboys message board that wants to trade Tony Romo while having another tab open hitting F6 to keep giving my Youtube videos a boost in the viewing counter. You know, I want to be an honest worker.

So my supervisor will find tasks for me to do. For instance, on Wednesday, she gave me a Macbook Pro with some video files on it and wanted me to redo a video package on theSchool of Rock in one of the Chinese services. Well, I had the English script right there; I didn't need to write the thing. You know, they weren't counting on me to write a script AND edit the thing. They wanted me to edit it. So, I open up Final Cut Pro, import the clips, trim them according to scripts, add the necessary SOTs and NAT sound, and it was all ready to go, save for the voiceovers.

They couldn't believe it. A project that they figured would take weeks or even a month was done in an afternoon, save for the voiceovers.

Now, why do I keep mentioning these voiceovers? Well, because they're important. They want someone from Special English services to do the voiceover. I wish I didn't have laryngitis right now or else I would make a strong case for having me voice the thing so it can be done. I don't like things to sit around in suspended animation. I never liked to get up in the middle of a chapter. I squirm when folks put movies on pause more than two times during the movie. I don't eat or go to the bathroom until AFTER a task is completed because I don't like to be bothered. So, yes, you can also deduce I'm one of those weirdos that eats each separate group on his plate before moving on to the next; it's how I am.

It's this dedication to completing work, supplemented by most of the work falling into my area of acumen, that make my supervisor say that she would need a full time job just to give me assignments. Now you see why I consider myself like Data.

 He could do it all, Data. I don't know what he would have to say about the proliferation of deep dish, soft pizza dough though.

Oh, did I tell you about how I went to a local pizza joint here in Alexandria and nearly had a Wendy's moment? I think I will right now in my own blog. I'll even mention this on "Free Association" this Wednesday because it's a good story.

So the apartment complex I'm staying in here in Alexandria has some sort of "VIP" card or whatever. You can take it to various places and get discounts. You know, if you take it to Moe's Minerals and More, you can get more for 10% off when you buy one or more minerals before sundown on odd numbered workdays only. Also on the card is the Metro symbol, and the concierge said that we got discounts on Metro passes. Well, after I explored that buy A) calling the Metro service who didn't know anything about it and B) asking the owner of the apartments here about it, it turns out the Metro symbol on the card meant only that the apartment complex was within walking distance of the Metro station.

That's borderline deceptive and unhelpful. That would be like putting a Napoli's logo on the back of every RSU Student ID and then it turning out it only meant the place was within walking distance (NOTE: You do get a 10% discount at Napoli's when you show them your RSU Student ID).

Anyway, so, another one of the places on there is a pizza joint that's about five blocks from the apartment complex. I give the place a call, and of course, I get some guy with an accent. Thankfully, he knew about the discount I was referring to, which was if I bought a large at $20, I could get two more larges ABSOLUTELY FREE. Now I could order my pizzas. I wanted a cheese, a pepperoni, and a beef.

Then, the guy says something about his cheese pizzas don't have a lot of cheese and "it would have to be extra."

Well, I didn't want "extra," especially if it was going to cost "extra." And in the five minutes I went back and forth with this guy telling him I'd rather have two pepperonis instead of a cheese, he says, "You misunderstand me. I'll see you in 15 minutes." And then he hangs up the phone.

He didn't take my name or my number. He makes that remark and hangs up the phone.

During the fifteen minutes it takes me to walk down there, I'm getting my war paint on. I'm ready to go off on this guy if he tries to come up with some baloney instead of two pepperonis and a beef pizza. So, when I get down there and show him the purple "VIP" card from my apartment complex, he says, "Oh, this old. This is six months old. We no longer do this."


As it turned out, the owner A) remember my order and B) decided to give me the discount anyway. I also examined the crust of the pizza right in front of him. I opened up the pizza box on the adjacent table to the counter and looked at the crust. It was thinner than most pizza crusts and we talked about it. The guy makes his own dough. I told him that was refreshing, and in light of this and his business honesty, I was going to transact all of my pizza business there.

I still don't think there's any better pizza in the world than at Geno's and Pizza Parlour back in my hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas. And I'm not saying that to be parochial. It's an indubitable fact.

What else did I do this week that you should know about? Well, I interviewed Dr. John Grayzel from the University of Maryland about the uprisings in Egypt, only because he worked there for a number of years and because he's part of the school's department on Middle Eastern studies. That's another story in and of itself, how I landed that interview. I'll summarize it and then you can get to the videos: I approached him with the same bravado as though I were a reporter for CBS News. I acted like "Free Association" was as big as "Hannity" or the Spitzer show there -- no, the one on CNN, not Cinemax. And it worked. I thought Dr. Grayzel was informative and I hope to continue to do interviews with him and to also snag other informative, significant interviews.

Sorry I wasn't able to upload pictures again. I'm guessing it's my browser. I'll figure it out, and then I can turn my blog into the 21st century equivalent of when your relatives would force you watch their slideshows from vacations they took where they didn't get the famous sites in the shots with them. Instead of seeing St. Paul's Cathedral in London, you'd see a close up of your Aunt Margery and your Uncle Morty. You know, so, that was the precursor to blogs that show you photos of where folks have been. You want to see that? Really?

See, I would figure if I had a segment in the blog where I introduced some of my father's colloquialisms, that would be more fun and helpful too. We'll start out with this one:

"gusto of a hound dog"

Definition: to approach a task with tenacity from the onset

Usage: "We'll attack that leaky faucet with the gusto of a hound dog."

Yeah, kind of like how I approach my assignments with Voice of America.

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