The other day, I was thinking about those “almost big deals.” Projects that I got involved with and thought, if nothing else, for a little while—this is going to be the big one.
When you flitter about professionally, as I do, you have the chance to get involved in a diverse collection of projects or events. I’ve emceed 7 lutefisk eating contests, been the host for a Mr. Bothell Pageant, wrote one liners for Bill Gate’s Salute to Warren Buffett on his 75th birthday and so on. Unique experiences that were pretty much one-offs. Fun and done.
But then there were those special projects that you thought might pave the way to a life of leisure and a lasting reputation as being “that guy!”
I was fortunate enough to spend many an afternoon with Stan Boreson one summer, helping him write silly Christmas songs for an album that was released in the 1980s. I thought it would be the beginning of a long string of albums, but it was at the time when he was beginning to wind down his career and the recording industry was doing a complete makeover.
I somehow got hooked up with a company that was making an Inspector Gadget computer game. Again, in the 1980s, in the infancy of that industry. When the actual voice of Inspector Gadget asked for a million dollars to do it, they settled for my mediocre impersonation to provide the soundtrack for their game. It was the most fun $10 an hour gig I ever had. The game was produced, but didn’t work that well on computers. The company went bankrupt and I have a copy of the game.
Another entrepreneur hired me to be the voice of his “Travel Around Edmonds” tapes. Yep, we’re talking cassettes. You’d get a map, drive to that location, then press play on your car’s cassette machine and then a friendly voice would tell you about the touristy aspects of this part of town. I’ve got some of those cassettes at home, too.
One of the more interesting ventures I partnered in was creating audiobooks of the Wizard of Oz series. I believe we recorded three of the books with narrator Debbie Deutsch and a young girl named Alexandria. Man, we spent a lot of time in the studio doing those. I was every other voice in the book—the Wizard, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, the Lion, the Winkies, etc. A guy named Bill Wright was a major Oz fan and wanted to create a franchise. Again, on cassettes and technology soon made them obsolete.
Probably the most disappointing attempt at greatness was pursuing a career as a screenwriter. Oh, scripts have been written and I’m pretty proud of them. Several were carried around by an agent for three years, hoping to find that crack in Hollywood’s door. Alas, we came up empty.
But I tell you what—a couple of those movies WILL be made. As my skill-set increases, I’ve been learning more and more about what goes into filming and my plans are, to some day just do the darn movies myself.
Especially if the market for cassettes of Inspector Gadget giving you a guided tour through the land of Oz takes off.