Saturday, December 22, 2012

Things We Lost In The Fire

The title of this post happens to be that of a movie starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, and directed by Susanne Bier, but I'm not here to talk about that movie today.  I'm here to talk about the massacre of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conneticut. a scant eleven days before Christmas.

Much has been written about the tragedy.  The never-ending debate about gun control in America will certainly shift into high gear over the next while.  But I'm not here to talk about that, either.

There has been and will be much speculation about the motives of gunman Adam Lanza, who first killed his own mother before going on his killing spree.  Was he insane?  Could anyone in a rational state of mind do what he did?  Were there perhaps others behind the scenes, goading him on to commit his gruesome, unspeakable crime?  Beats me, and I'm not here to talk about that, either.

Upon reflecting on this incident, I was reminded of something that Mark Twain once said.  "When a man's house burns down, the smoke and wreckage represents only a ruined home that was once dear to him.  But, as weeks go on, first he misses this, then he misses that.  Like the death of a loved one, it takes months before he realizes he's lost everything."

As saddening and as shocking as the immediate impact of this tragedy is, I don't think anyone yet understands the full impact of what has been lost. Was one of the children who died that day a future Einstein, Beethoven or Ghandi?  Did the doctor who would someday find a cure for cancer die that day?  Perhaps it was the person who would finally find a way to reconcile the Arabs and the Jews and bring a lasting peace to the Middle East.  The first person to walk on Mars might never go there now.

We may never know just what was lost in the "fire" that engulfed Sandy Hook Elementary on the 14th of December, 2012.  Perhaps that's just as well.  Otherwise, who could bear it?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Peter's Pipes

Let me tell you about my good friend, Peter Karwowski.  Peter is a big-hearted, big-bellied bear of a man who, to my eye, looks more Scottish than Polish, owing largely to the large, woolly sideburns that cascade down either side of his face.  In fact, at risk of digressing, I once got Peter a book entitled "The Tartans of Scotland", just as a sort of gag gift, and his first reaction was "Ìf I find a "Karwoski" tartan in here..."

I first met Peter in high school, in the eleventh grade which, if you read my previous post, means that our friendship now goes back many, many years.  Peter was always fascinated with media.  In those days, he had gotten hold of a multi-track tape recorder and, after school, he would hole himself up in his bedroom at home, making the most amazing home recordings, just for the heck of it. 

The fascination with voice recordings naturally lead to an interest in broadcasting in general and it wasn't long before Peter found himself working as a volunteer announcer at the University of Waterloo campus radio station, CKMS FM.

He certainly had the voice for the work.  Peter was blessed with a clear, strong, broadcaster's voice, mingled with the creativity to convincingly mimic various ethnic accents (Scottish, Irish, East Indian, Southern U.S., etc.) as well as celebrities and other well-known voices (I always particularly enjoyed his "Pete Puma" and "Marvin the Martian" from the old Warner Brothers cartoons).  So it was no surprise to me when Peter decided to study broadcasting in college. 

As it happened, Peter`s fascination with electronics of all sorts soon had him dabbling with computers and, being an intelligent individual of many talents, he actually left the field of broadcasting behind after a short stint as an announcer at a Guelph radio station right after graduating and instead spent many years working in the Information Technology field.

Recently, however, Peter has returned to his first love and has been doing some voice acting work for various companies.  One of his earlier gigs was that of the voice of "Otto" the ottoman, for Pier 1 Imports. Here it is...

Okay, it was only a single word but, hey, you have to start somewhere!  Even so, a mutual friend told me that Peter spent an entire day, and many, many takes, just on that one word!  He recorded it with a huge variety of different inflections, giving the Pier 1 people a large repository of takes from which to choose exactly the right one.

I recently had the chance to touch base personally with Peter after a long absence, and he gave me his new business card.  He has dubbed his new voice services "Peter`s Pipes" and, thanks to his business card, I learned that he has even set up his own web site, where you can hear some entertaining demos of his work.  Here`s the link...

If you, or anybody you know needs the services of a gifted voice actor for television, radio, an audio book or even just a professional or entertaining message for your voice mail greeting, I highly recommend you get in touch with Peter.  Besides being vocally gifted, he`s a just plain great guy to deal with.