Years ago, as an actress and singer, I exploited others’ words. But after I decided to swap performing on stage with performing on paper, I ended up exploiting my own darn words. With over ten years’ of writing under my pen, I’ve produced one soon-to-be published novel, multiple articles and columns in various genres, and I’ve had an 8-year career as a film journalist. I’m a proud member of an army of gazillion writers, all of us conveying our thoughts directly from brain to tablet – be it electronic or manual – keeping our fingers well-exercised via the keyboard and/or the pen. But it seems there’s an unexpected side effect: I’ve noticed that my rhetorical skills, my word-of-mouth or rather, words-in-mouth, have atrophied.
Speak? To someone other than the dogs, the grocery store cashiers or my husband, where grunts and shorthand jargon suffices as language?
Enter the spanking new audio film show, FOUR ON THE AISLE, hosted by the #2 classical radio station in the country, ALL CLASSICAL 89.9. As part of a four-person team (or is that a gaggle?) of film critics, I’m both happy and frightened to state that I’m being forced to “speak” again, even though the ensuing cookie isn’t caloric. It is, however a great cookie, providing a wonderful opportunity to work in a medium that’s escaped me until now. (My other three compadres on the show are: Ed Goldberg, Becky Ohlsen and Doug “D.K.” Holm.)
Exercise being the vile concept that it is, suddenly it’s not enough to put in thirty minutes, four times a week, on ye olde elliptical machine. I’m now forced to exercise my jaw as well. And my opinions and reviews on film, worked and reworked on paper, need to be verbally succinct and strong and, um, hopefully clever enough to communicate on the spot, on the air. (Granted, the show is taped … but unless one of us makes a huge gaffe, the episode is produced as-is.)
Yikes. It’s one heck of a challenge.
During the first few weeks of taping I brought in lots of notes, an ersatz script as it were, assuming I could use it as a crutch if I found myself sounding like someone who’d just learned the basic tenets of the English language yesterday. But my seasoned mentor, radio host veteran Ed Goldberg, explained that “Reading always sounds like reading.” And then he gently, firmly suggested that I throw my crutch away. Ouch.
We’re now six weeks into the show, and I’m learning as I limp. Oh, I still bring notes, but I turn them face down once the show begins.
If you have any inclination to hear reviews, rather than read them, following is the link to FOUR ON THE AISLE. You can listen to previous episodes through the computer, or via download: http://www.allclassical.org/four-on-the-aisle/
For our episode of March 23, 2012, discussing Hunger Games, Being Flynn, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and We Need to Talk About Kevin, as well as the DVD release of A Dangerous Method, click here
What with multiple media platforms coming at us from every bit and byte of the universe/blogosphere/what-have-you, it seems that writers need to be ready, willing and able to verbally express their work.
Mangling a quote from a favorite movie: “Here’s talking at you, kid!”