Cowboy Talk

Apple Voice MemoThis is how technology changes things. On Monday there was an email message from my agent with information regarding an audition on Wednesday, and the start of a journey that could continue for the rest of my life as an actor.

The routine screening procedure involves submitting a headshot, scheduling an appointment to be photographed by the casting director, getting a callback to meet the director, negotiating the terms of the shoot, doing my thing on camera, and then waiting for the residual checks. For this gig, however, what the agency wanted was a voice-over sample, with specific instructions on reading two minutes of copy exactly as written by the client, delivering some questionable grammar in the style of a “seasoned New Mexico cowboy.”

All that was required of me was a reply to the email with an attachment, specified as a recording of the script in mp3 format and delivered before ten o’clock Wednesday morning. The agent suggested that the easiest procedure was to “use your phone”, but this assumes familiarity with the latest version of hardware that I don’t even own, so I called my neighbor, the internet whiz kid, to ask for assistance. He Skyped another techie for a consultation, and between the two of them, they figured out the steps involved.

microphoneMeanwhile, I looked over the script and tried to get an idea of what I wanted to do with it. At four in the afternoon we got together to make the recording. The cowboy, it turns out, will be the narrator for an audio tour at a new museum being built at Spaceport America. The same voice will inform visitors regarding boarding and launch procedures, safety precautions, and other on-site information. With stars in my eyes, I talked into his phone and nailed it on the first take.

I know that it’s important to be careful what you wish for, but at six hundred dollars for reading a minute of recorded copy, I would love to be the guy describing “the open skies and high plains of New Mexico as the home to the dreams of daring pioneers since the start of the modern rocket age.” Somebody is going to make a pile of money for talking like a cowboy and informing the tourists about Robert Goddard and what happened at White Sands. By Jupiter, Venus, and Mars it might as well be me.


Harpeth Rivers is a New Mexico transplant from all over who has in the last year written songs about isosceles triangles, played bass guitar with the Cheap and Easy Band, and declared himself "Retro-eclectic." His novel-in-progress is entitled Last Year.

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