Monday, February 21, 2011

And they called it puppy love...

 ...well, I guess they'll never know.

But you will, if you can just hold your horses (apparently today is brought to you by animal metaphors). Before I share another audio piece, I'd like to acknowledge the following:

Yes, there is major civil unrest going down in my hometown at the moment. And yes, I care a whole lot about my local politics, and yes, I spent last night at the state capitol. Rest assured I have not spent five minutes away from my trusty Marantz 661 or its BFF, Rode NTG-2 (BTW, has anyone tried the NTG-3? It looks kind of sparkly and beautiful) in the last week. I'm cooking up some audio from the protests, and I fully intend to slap that up on this blog the second I'm done. That said, this weekend left me emotionally and physically drained, so today's audio tidbit will be SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNRELATED to politics. I don't know about you, but my fellow Madisonians and I could sure use the break.

It is in the spirit of all things fluffy* (*you're about to realize what a bad pun this was) that I offer you a sound postcard from myself and my canine compatriot. Though it was not technically produced within the hallowed halls of CDS, this piece would not have seen the light of day without Katie Davis' Writing For Radio workshop. This time, Katie asked us to show up in Durham with our audio tracks and a rough script (as opposed to Audio Institute I, where we raced our pieces from start to finish in a week). I pitched my topic to her during a pre-workshop phone conference, followed my dog around the house with a microphone for a month, and scraped together an outline.

I've had an aversion to animal stories since my sister and I read the horrifyingly cloying obituary of a celebrity's dog in a magazine that shall remain nameless. We still mock that article, particularly my sister, who chooses the most inappropriate moments to adopt a tragic smile and whisper, "She was always smiling..." But I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway, and here's why:

1. SCOPE - I wanted to work on a piece that was manageable in a weekend at CDS, both in terms of length and subject matter. Katie had asked for 4-minute pieces, and I wanted to come in well under the time limit. Plus, after months of interviewing everyone from hemp farmers to award-winning biophysicists, I desperately needed to write about something I understood. In case I needed another excuse, Katie Davis is kind of a rock star when it comes to personal narrative, and since the class was supposed to focus on writing, it seemed like a perfect opportunity and forum.

2. THIS PIECE - I had recently listened to Katie Mingle's "Frankie," and was impressed with her ability to tell an animal story that was both sweet and hilarious without being overly precious. So I knew it was possible.

3. THE WHINING - When Katie Davis called for our conference, I had to momentarily smother my dog (don't worry, she could TOTALLY breathe, I'm pretty sure, and anyway, it was just for a second). Marly makes the loudest and most varied doggy sounds I have ever heard, and I had already started recording them for my own entertainment. I was excited by the idea of writing a personal essay that really couldn't be complete in written form.

4. MY EYE-ROLLING SISTER - Anna's always going to ridicule me, whether I write a sappy animal story or not, so I figured I might as well write a sappy animal story and go down trying.

What do you think re: animal stories? Always acceptable? Sometimes? Never? Kind of not, but you cry over them anyway, like how everybody knows "The Cutting Edge" is an appallingly bad movie but you still wind up holding your breath when they try the lift in the big competition? Discuss.

Oh, and - this piece has a host intro and outro, because it helps me focus, and that's how it works on the real live radio. I like to imagine Michele Norris reading mine, but I guess that's really a matter of personal preference.

HOST: We've all seen them - maneuvering down a crowded sidewalk, six hounds in tow; playing smug fetch in the park; waiting quietly at the vet's office. They're "dog people," and they make it seem effortless. Three years ago, novice-dog owner Lauren Peterson set out to join their ranks.

HOST: Lauren Peterson lives with her dog, Marlene Dietrich, in Madison, Wisconsin. They recently renewed the lease on their one-bedroom apartment.

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