Working at Joe’s Dump

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Working at Joe’s Dump

Here’s a bit of a peek behind the curtain about Working at Joe’s Dump.

I keep a Google doc with all of my ideas for new posts. Once I’ve actually gotten around to using an idea, I move it over to a completed document. They’re both getting pretty long after all these years.

The reason I mention it is because it’s a great way to stay creative. Whenever I hit a snag in one project, I just look to see what random ideas I’ve had in the past. Sometimes I’ll feel like completing one of those instead.

Right now, I’ve got 3 or 4 songs in the works, some ideas for business posts, poetry and graphics notions, video ideas, etc.

Once you start writing down ideas, the process becomes much easier… and a bit addictive.

So, when I feel overwhelmed or under pressure, it’s time to take a break.

Listen to your muse – sometime she’s saying “Take some time off”.

You’ll come back refreshed and ready to create.

… at least that’s how it works for me 😉

Cheers,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Carbs and Weight in Spain

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Carbs and Weight in Spain

As I walk down the street in Barcelona, I pass shop after shop with breads and pastries. There are people enjoying a beer and bocadillo (small sandwich) at 10 in the morning. For lunch, you’ll see paella (rice), pastas, and pan con tomate (bread with tomato). The thing I don’t see much of: overweight people.

I’ll often hear of my friends having success in their weight management by doing Keto or Atkins. Or with some similar plan that restricts carbs, sugar, or otherwise cuts out an entire food group.

But does that really help?

Disclaimer: In the end, whatever works best for you, long term, is what works. Just make sure it’s a diet and lifestyle you can live with.

So, is there a disconnect? What I see in Spain just doesn’t bear out the idea that carbs are bad for you. What’s going on?

I suspect it’s a combination of the difference in lifestyle, food, and other factors. Barcelona is a walking city. I haven’t been in a car in months. Most days I get 15,000+ steps just doing my daily routine plus a bit of exercise. Another factor is the portion sizes. Most things are pretty small by comparison to the US versions. And even when I eat the same thing, there seems to be less sugar used. Other things like fresher meats, fruits and veggies make a difference too.

So… Is it just eating less and moving more? Well, no. But that’s a part of it. It’s also what you eat, but without cutting out entire food groups or feeling deprived.

I walk. I still eat pastas, rice, breads and pastries. Even dessert. But the quantities are smaller and the qualities are better, in my opinion.

One other factor to consider: Stress. There seems to be a lot less of it in Spain. Lower crime, no shootings, a social safety net, health care, etc. All of that combined with a “No pasa nada” attitude seems to bring the general level of stress way down for daily life.

Can this be achieved in the USA? Maybe. I suspect it would be a bit more difficult. For it to really change for everyone, a lot of things would need to change too. Cars. Restaurants. Food supply. Health care. Even the government.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It would just take much more effort to achieve.

Whatever your path to good health, I hope you find it and are happy with your lives.

Be well,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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P2P Sites: Not For Practice

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P2P Sites: Not For Practice

I often see posts on social media where someone who is new to voice acting says that they’re using P2P (Pay-To-Play) sites to practice. Although I understand this line of thinking, that’s not the best way to practice… Here’s why:

The point of practicing is to improve your skills. For acting, a very important component is missing when practicing on your own: Feedback.

Constructive feedback helps to improve your acting ability. It can come in many forms. In an acting class, the teacher will provide feedback and guidance. Coaches perform a similar function, but in a more focused 1-on-1 manner. Performing on stage has many forms of feedback: the director, reactions from other actors in the scene, and the audience.

“So, Joe, what’s the harm in practicing on my own? It’s still practice, right?”

Although it may improve your reading skills and even the speed at which you can scan the copy, it may actually be a detriment to your skills as an actor. Instead of learning where your flaws and weaknesses are and addressing them to improve, you may be blind to the flaws you have. Continuing to practice without any feedback may reinforce your bad habits. Those can be even more difficult to un-learn in the future.

Let’s take the classic “You have a great voice! You should be doing voice acting!”. After hearing that, maybe you become enamored with the sound of your own voice. You join a P2P site “just for practice.” Reading one thing after another in a cool way, or an artificially deep voice, or a style that isn’t used in the industry. Spend enough time reinforcing the idea that this is the “right” way to read copy without any guidance can lead you down a path that will be difficult to correct in the future.

Other examples are speech impediments and thick accents. Learning about the issues that may impede your progress and correcting them early on will make your journey to become a voice actor that much easier.

In my opinion, the best way to a solid career as a Voice Actor is to learn acting first. And that requires training, direction, and real-world experience.

For now, due to the limitations of in-person opportunities, try to find some online ways to play. Improv Zoom groups. Classes. Audio drama (directed). There are even some VO reading groups that meet on a regular basis. These could provide a good start.

Once the pandemic is over and it is safe, get involved with a local theatre. Join a choir. Take some improv classes. Get training and direction and perform in front of live audiences. All of these will improve your acting skills and give you a solid foundation for voice acting.

Best of luck on your journey!
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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No More Birthdays ;-)

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No More Birthdays on Facebook

For several years, I’ve been wishing all my friends on Facebook “Happy Birthday!

It’s time for a change.

From now on, I’m going to just enjoy my friends, their stories, triumphs and troubles as they happen. And be there for them. Or just be more “present” every day.

I hope that’s a better gift than just a once-a-year wish.

So, “Happy Day”, my friends.

It sure is great to have you all in my life.

See you around…
🎂🎈🎁

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Time Traveler: Month One

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Time Traveler: Month One

One month ago, my wife and I moved from Los Angeles to Barcelona. I’ve noticed advantages and disadvantages due to the time difference.

The following is my general weekday schedule, and below that, my thoughts on how the move has affected me… Forward! 9 Hours Into THE FUTURE!!!

Los Angeles Barcelona Activity
10:00 PM 7:00 AM Rise and shine!
10:30 PM 7:30 AM Morning stretches and hygiene
11:30 PM 8:30 AM Light breakfast; Check emails for auditions
12:00 AM 9:00 AM Walk; Buy daily groceries, bread, snack
1:00 AM 10:00 AM Auditions; Work
2:00 AM 11:00 AM Mid-day snack; Pre-lunch walk
3:00 AM 12:00 AM Other Work Stuff; Creative Time
5:00 AM 2:00 PM Lunch
6:00 AM 3:00 PM More Creative / Work time
9:00 AM 6:00 PM Exercise; Shower + Shave
10:00 AM 7:00 PM Sessions; Auditions; Make it Rain!
12:00 PM 9:00 PM Dinner
1:00 PM 10:00 PM More work (if needed); TV Time
3:00 PM 12:00 AM Bedtime!

This schedule allows me to be available until 3 PM in Los Angeles and 6 PM in New York. For the majority of jobs, that works very well. There are exceptions, of course. I’ve already had one session with LA/Tokyo/Barcelona that presented some timing issues. But I can stand the occasional Midnight-2 AM gig 😉

Positives: Able to handle most jobs and auditions. More relaxed schedule. Greater Work/Life balance. More available for clients in Europe.

Negatives: May miss out on some RUSH!!! auditions. Not available for late day sessions, classes, or meetups.

Other thoughts: With the political climate in the US of A, I found my time being consumed with negative emotions, both my own and others, while living in LA. Since moving, the distance has allowed a greater sense of calm, and a broader perspective. Perhaps it’s because the consequences seem less. Or maybe it’s just not being under a constant barrage of news, posts, and tweets. Either way, I feel it’s better for my mental and physical health. It’s possible the same thing can be achieved without moving. Turn off the TV, social media, etc. But if that were the case, I wasn’t able to find a way to make it work while there.

Next stop… VOTING!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Explaining Masks For Children (and many others)

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Explaining Masks for Children (and many others)

Explaining Masks for Children

(and many others)

This Spaceship is your Home, the Airlock your front door
Outside is empty space, it’ll make your lungs real sore

You’ll need a helmet to go out, it looks just like a mask
It keeps you and others safe, that is it’s central task

Be sure to wear it properly, to cover mouth and nose
And not around your neck, your chin or way down by your toes

Keep your distance out in space, at least six feet away
That space will keep the gunk and germs and nasty things at bay

Do not remove your helmet, no matter what you do
Not to talk or drink, to bike or run or chew

Just keep it on until you’re home – that is the only way
We’ll all be safe… Our lungs will thank you every single day!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Mask Confusion

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Mask Confusion

There’s a lot of bad information out there about Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Masks.

So, let’s try to set the record straight on Masks:

  • Masks protect others from you. (non-medical ones, that is) They do very little to protect you from others. I wear a mask to protect you. You wear a mask to protect me.
  • They must be worn correctly over the nose and mouth. Not just the mouth. Or just the nose. Or around your neck.
  • Don’t put the mask on and off repeatedly. This means your touching your face more, and that’s bad for you. Just put it on before you leave the house. Leave it on until you get home and can wash your hands.
  • Everyone should be wearing a mask outside of the house. Everyone. Not just parents. Or elderly. Or people not running and biking. Everyone. That’s how we get through this faster.
  • Masks are not a substitute for Social Distancing. You still need to stay 6 feet or more away from others. Remember: the mask is not to protect you – it’s to stop you from spreading the virus to others.
  • Wear a mask even if you feel well. Covid-19 can and does spread without any symptoms. So just because you feel well doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus… and are spreading it to others.

ALSO! Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.

Got more advice? Feel free to comment below. And I will be deleting inaccurate comments. It’s my blog – deal with it!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Paranoia Control

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Paranoia Control

Paranoia. Anxiety. Fear.

It’s normal for us to feel these things when a threat is nearby. I know many are feeling this with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

I’ve got a secret that may help, and it stems from my being diagnosed as “Hypervigilant“.

Hypervigilance put simply means that I am overly aware of everything around me at all times. In a restaurant, for example, I will be listening to multiple conversations, watching people come and go, seeing what other tables are ordering, doing, etc. It can be exhausting to filter this much information. But there are ways to cope. Ways that may be of use in these pandemic times.

First and foremost is the realization that no single person can ever be completely “safe”. It’s a hard reality to face. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. Knowing where the line between “being cautious” and “being paranoid” can be tough to find.

So… here’s how it works for me:

  • Do what you can: keep your hands clean, and don’t touch your face; Practice social distancing.
  • Realize others don’t have the same view of the world; what you see, they may be completely oblivious to.
  • Help who you can: for loved ones, family and friends, give advice when appropriate to keep them safe – but don’t nag.
  • Let it go: sometimes you have to realize it’s your own bias and let it go… everyone has to live their own lives – nobody’s perfect, and that includes you.
  • Stay connected: although it can be hard when you’re aware of all the flaws, it’s important to stay emotionally connected to the world – we all need support sometimes.

Making peace with the world outside of ourselves is an individual journey. But when we become obsessed with others’ actions, as Shakespeare’s King Lear said:

“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.”

Stay safe, sane and healthy, my friends,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VO and Tablets

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VO and Tablets

Many voice actors take a tablet into the booth to read and markup their copy.

But what if you could run your entire studio on a tablet?

Samsung S5E Tablet and Monitor: Joe's Dump

What you see in the above picture may be the future for home studios. At the bottom is a 10″ Android tablet. It’s connected to the top screen, a mouse, keyboard, external drive, microphones interface, mic and speakers.

It could run everything you need for a home recording studio. And it costs around $400.

In this test, I was running a Chrome browser with two tabs, a Google spreadsheet, a Microsoft Word document, and Lexis audio recording/editing software. Recording quality was the same as on my laptop.

So, what exactly makes this possible?

The tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e – here are the specs:
OS: Android 9.0.
Display: 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED, 287ppi.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-core processor (2×2.0 GHz & 6×1.7 GHz)
Memory: 4/6GB.
Storage: 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB.
Cameras: 13Mp rear, 8Mp front.
Ports: USB3.1 (Type C)
Plus! Very thin and light: just 5.5 mm thick, and weighs only 399 g (0.88 lb)

The USB-C port is an OTG (On-The-Go) type. This means it allows USB devices, such as USB flash drives, digital cameras, mice or keyboards, to be attached. Also microphones and speakers and screens. No drivers to install, or software to update. All I did was plug in a USB-C hub and everything worked.

The processor has 8 cores, and is pretty fast. The new version of this tablet (the S5) is expected to be even faster.

Battery life is 14+ hours, but you can also have it plugged in while you’re using it.

The final piece of the puzzle is the windows like interface on the big screen. That comes from Samsung. It’s called “Dex”, and is one of 4 modes on this tablet:

  1. Normal Tablet Mode (one app takes up the whole screen)
  2. Split-screen Mode (two apps share the screen equally)
  3. Pop-up Mode (one app appears in a pop-up window; any second app appears behind it, full screen)
  4. Dex Mode (full window and icon interface)

When you put all of this together, you can easily see the potential… and where we all may be headed.

I used the setup exclusively over the weekend, just to see how easy it was. It’s definitely good enough for auditions, or for the central component of a travel rig. To run a full home studio, I’d probably want better recording/editing software available. It may already be out there…

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

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Weeding Your Voice Acting Garden

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Weeding Your Voice Acting Garden

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of our businesses. Or to spend time dreaming about a possible future career. But Voice Acting, like all businesses, requires regular maintenance to ensure we’re operating at peak proficiency, not being wasteful, and still on the path to success.

To that end, I think it’s important to “Weed Your Voice Acting Garden”. Taking a wider view of where you’re headed and what might be standing in the way can help make the long journey to a career easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some areas to consider…

Weeding Yourself:
A clear view of yourself, your abilities and limitations, can be invaluable in a business where you are the product. Asking a few trusted friends or family members may help to identify key areas of potential improvement.

  • Speech Impediments:
    These may range from a minor annoyance such as sibilance to more severe speech issues. Best to get the help of a doctor or professional speech therapist to address them early in your career path.
  • Accents or Regional Dialects:
    A natural accent can be an advantage for local ads and work, but if you’d like to expand your range, this is an area to work on.
  • Health Issues (Physical and Mental):
    You’ve got to be healthy to be at your best, so if you have known issues, seek out a professional who can best put you on the road to a more healthy life.
  • Finances and Housing:
    The basics have to be taken care of for you to be able to build a solid career – even if it means putting voice acting on hold while you build up a reserve.
  • Relationships:
    Our friends, family and loved ones are the support net we all need to thrive, so resolve any issues as best you can to ensure your emotional security while you’re hard at work.

Weeding Associations:
Our associations with other industry people, companies, and groups are a key element in any business. Making sure you’re associated with ones that advance rather than impede your career can make everything run more smoothly.

  • Agents:
    Are you happy with your agent(s)? You should feel open to having a conversation with them if there are any issues. If you have one or more who aren’t working out, it may be time to move on.
  • Websites:
    Keep your personal website updated (you do have one, right?), and be sure that any other sites where you are listed are sites you’d be proud to be associated with. Otherwise, reconsider which ones are best for you and your reputation, and jettison the rest.
  • Groups:
    Voice acting groups can be a great source of information, support and camaraderie. However, if they’re full of ads or negativity, it may be best to trim those from your memberships.
  • Demos:
    Just like your personal website (you do have one, right?), your demos need to be kept up to date and show you at your best. Consider dropping any that are no longer relevant, or getting some new ones made to replace the older tired ones.
  • Genres:
    There are a slew of genres in the voice acting world. Although you may be interested in many of them, it may be best to take a hard look at which are working for you and your voice. The others will still be there if you’d like to pursue them, but that can be more of a back burner project.

Weeding Training:
Regular training keeps us sharp, but how much is too much? Every career and person is different, but it’s good to review how much of our time and money is spent on training… and if you’re still getting value from the investments.

  • Coaches:
    Having coaches for different specialty areas can help you advance more quickly. Be sure which ones line up with your current career path. Consider taking a break from those who are either not working out for you, or don’t match what you’d like to improve.
  • Classes:
    Much like coaches, classes can be addictive. Be picky which you’d really like to spend money and time on. If they can help you improve, great. Otherwise, it might be best to skip them.
  • Workouts:
    I attend a weekly workout group (although I do skip around a bit). Some of my friends even attend a few per week. Even if they are not a drain on your finances, you may want to think about if they’re the best use of your time. Less is more, sometimes.
  • Conferences:
    (old man voice) “IN MY DAY WE ONLY HAD ONE VOICE CONFERENCE EVERY TEN YEARS!!! AND THERE WEREN’T ANY PRIZES OR GIFTY BAGS!!! AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!!!” (off old man soap box)
    I get it. Conferences have a lot of great things. Getting a sampling of training. Meeting others in the Voice Acting industry. Seeing the latest toys. They can be a real boost for your career (and ego). But too much of a good thing isn’t always good. Conferences can be really expensive – especially on an actor’s budget. Look carefully at what you’re getting before you buy the tickets to the conference… and the plane… and the hotel… and the dinner… and the…
  • Equipment:
    (seriously, dude… do you *really* need 12 microphones?)

Conclusion:
Taking time out of our busy schedule may seem counter-intuitive, but when you keep your Voice Acting Garden weed free, it may not only grow better, but give you more space to breathe in.

Being There Garden Quote: Joe's Dump

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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