More voice work

Recently, a local language instruction company sent a notice to the Embassy requesting two native English speakers – a man and a woman – to record dialogues for its English language course. Abby and I signed up, and today we went to make the recordings. We arrived at the studio and received the scripts; and as we flipped through the pages, we immediately realized that these truly were English scripts in that they included lines like “How do you like London?”, “Crikey, was anyone hurt?” and “I’m leaving tomorrow from the nearest tube station.” Moreover, despite the fact that the company had advertised for one male speaker and one female speaker only, some of the dialogues included three or more speakers, sometimes all of a single gender.

After exchanging a few worried glances with one another, we asked the project team how they wanted to handle these issues, and they told us to just go ahead; so, being good actors, we took their direction and read all of our parts. (Abby was quite good at changing her voice to fit the different characters, whereas the best I could do was make it sound like my trousers were tighter or looser depending on the role.) Our delivery was stilted since we had to speak so slowly and carefully, and the dialogues themselves were pretty useless – chatting about whether we liked roller coasters instead of presenting situations in which students of English might actually find themselves – but none of this was for us to decide; we just did our best, and Berlitz has nothing to fear from us.

Munich photos

We spent a long Thanksgiving weekend with Swantje and Thomas. Abby cooked an amazing meal and we toured the city, which was lovely.

Marienplatz by night; the Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall) and its famous glockenspiel; inside the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady); Ricky, the Munich walking tour guide from Canada, Pope Benedict XVI, and Abby.
Produce at the Viktualenmarkt; people standing by a fountain in the market; the interior staircase of the Alte Pinokethek art museum.
Views from the top of the Pieterkirchen (St. Peter’s Church), including the Alte Rathaus; the Neue Rathaus; the Frauenkirche; and the sunset. While taking the second picture, I knocked my rangefinder camera against the protective grate surrounding the observation deck and the filter and lens cap popped off and flew over the side. Fortunately, it lodged in an overhang at the base of the tower so no one was hurt.

Those Darn Albanians

I’ve titled this posting gently, instead of calling it “Those F—–g Albanians” as I would have liked to have done. The reason for this is that my nieces or nephews might see this blog entry, and I don’t want them to get the right impression of how I deal with annoying people. The subject of this entry is, of course (and possibly again), traffic in Albania. Albanians are the warmest, friendliest people when they in the open air. Even around cars, they’re helpful, for example, guiding you into a parking space. But put them into automobiles themselves, and they become nihilistic, egotistical bastards whose only concern is to get in front of you, no matter what it takes to cut you off.

Last night I was driving through town to pick up Abby from work. It was rush hour, and bad weather, so the roads were more congested than normal. Unpleasant, but not unexpected, so I inched my way up the boulevard without too much impatience. However, when I was waiting at the intersection of one of the side streets – two lanes in each direction – I saw how a fleet of oncoming cars had lined up on the opposite side of the road, i.e., in my lane, to turn left rather than wait behind the cars that were continuing straight. Worse, there was a traffic cop standing on the corner, and he didn’t see anything wrong with this. When the light changed, I naturally charged in, horn blaring, and I yelled to the cop “Janë në rradhën time!” (they’re in my lane), with the hope that he might actually control the traffic and force the drivers back into their own lanes; instead, he just told me “Avash, avash” (relax, take it easy), and let them all through the intersection – except that he made a token show of yelling at the last guy in the line for talking on his cell phone as he drove. I was tempted to risk arrest by simply parking my car in the intersection and picking a fight over his traffic direction skills, but I couldn’t imagine the embassy brass, not to mention my wife, having much sympathy for me if I had gone ahead and done it.

Surprisingly, traffic was not tied up by the factory fire that we saw on the highway as we came back from the airport after our Munich vacation, about which I’ll write more later. A hidrosanitaire factory, whatever that is, caught fire just before we landed; we reached it about half an hour later. People pulled to the side of the road to watch the action, but they didn’t just slow to a crawl and block traffic while they viewed the disaster, as rubberneckers would have done in the States. Go figure.

Fire at Henry Hidrosanitaire; smoke billows into the sky as spectators watch; a lone firetruck parked to the right had made it to the scene after half an hour; people watching from the pedestrian bridge.

I tried to contact a news service through an acquaintance at Reuters so I could sell these to the local papers, but he was unable to find anyone to take my photos. Still, it was great fun to run up and down capturing news in the making.