Saturday, October 24, 2009


Years and years and years ago “Bend in the River” was filmed on the shoulder of Mt. Hood. It was about the Oregon Trail pioneers struggling through the last part of the trek, which was probably also the hardest part, getting over the Cascades, slashing through timber and lowering the wagons and oxen over cliffs. My ancestors did that on the Barlow Trail and my great-great-grandmother went insane from the hardships. So I was told. That part wasn’t in the movie. But Jimmy Stewart was. As promotion, a notice appeared on the movie page (in those days it was a whole page, not just a little schedule) saying to call a certain phone number.

So I did. Jimmy Stewart answered the phone. Well, it unmistakably SOUNDED like Jimmy Stewart and he visited for a few minutes. That was my first voice mail. It was so unexpected, so impressive, that the tears ran down my face. I LOVED Jimmy Stewart!

My reaction on hearing Whiskey Prajer’s voice for the first time was not quite so dramatic, but I WAS impressed! “Whiskey Prajer” is a pseudonym meant to protect his conservative Mennonite father (who turned out to know about the blog all along and to be proud). His real name is Darrell Reimer. “Prajer” means preacher, but he’s not preachy. He was one of the first people -- along with Michael Blowhard (also a pseudonym) and Chas Clifton -- to reach out to me with advice when I began to blog. He’s also the only other author I know. I “friended” him because the computer at Lulu kept telling me I had no friends and I became intimidated. is his blog. is where he posts his podcasts. His anthology of short stories, “Youthful Desires,” is available at “Rowdiness, brains, and a tormented sense of piety run amok in this collection of stories from one of the blogosphere's most charming intellects. Darrell is an excellent writer and a superperceptive guy; he's comfy around fiction of both the popular and the literary kind; and he's blessed with a very distinctive point of view" - M. Blowhard, (Michael has since left 2Blowhards. We grieve.)

Darrell is Mennonite and Canadian, married with young daughters who ransack his record collection and appreciate “Styx”, works from home, coaches “Ringette” (you have to be Canadian), and occasionally does a bit of short-order grill cooking on weekends. I forget whether omelets or crepes. Something sort of Starbucky.

Mennonites split off from the left-wing reformation of Christianity in Europe in order to follow a guy named Mennon. Similarly, our local Hutterites split off to follow a guy named Hutter. The Unitarians have some of the same roots but did not split off to follow a guy named “Unit.” However, if Moon Unit Zappa were to start a new denomination, they are likely to sign up.

This is a podcast of my favorite story in the anthology, one that rings true to people who grew up in small conservative ag communities, left in Joe Campbell fashion, and found a new life. The title of the tale is “Footnote to a Bread Recipe.” Darrell’s voice is rich and full: he sings even without music. He’s putting his whole book online as blogs, which is what I want to do with “Twelve Blackfeet Stories.” There are several advantages, one of which is that people can download and listen to mp3’s as they travel. That seems to be the way many people absorb stories these days.

I’ve downloaded a stack of advice and Barrus also coaches me, though he and the guyz do mostly vids. Later, Gator, on that one.

The first thing is learning to record which is easy-peasy with Audacity and several other programs. I’m on an eMac, which has a little microphone. I taped it to the top of the screen. One of the advantages of Valier is that it’s so quiet, one hardly needs a sound studio. My back bedroom office is so tiny and so jammed with piles of stuff that there’s little or no echo.

Once the taping is done -- and mine is VERY quick and dirty so far since I haven’t learned to edit or add sounds -- the file has to be converted to an mp3, the standard form (for now) the same as jpg’s for photos. Audacity guides me to a free program for converting with the unpromising name of “Lamelib.” Must be an acronym.

The next step is to send the mp3 to an online aggregator (collector) that files it and gives it a url address. (I hope to do that today.) Then you need a gizmo on the blog that will link to that url, just like any other url. People recommend Feedburner.

There is some fancy stuff to pick up. (Always.) One thing is whether the podcast should just come on automatically or whether you should have to open it. The latter is recommended. When I was first fooling around at the computer at 3AM and hit (by accident) some screaming ad, the cats and I would all leap in the air and run off. I was glad no one in the house was sleeping.

Then there are things about where to PUT the gizmo that gives access to the podcasts: in the margin at the side? Recurring on every page? Included in a regular blog? The problem is compounded when you discover that the people who are really expert at this stuff are Chinese and know html better than English, whereas my head is wired the other way around. They say, “Oh, simple!” and launch into something that looks like algebra.

My plan at the moment is to include podcasts AS separate blogs, to make them very short (because I don’t know how to compress yet), and to do maybe one a week. I discover that success with this stuff is best achieved by starting “very simple” and gradually building on that, but my goal is nothing less than podcast radio with sound effects and maybe little plays, like Garrison Keillor. I want an mp3 CD by Christmas. Then I’ll begin to coordinate with slides so as to create videos.

Tomorrow the moon unit.

1 comment:

Whisky Prajer said...

As we say am der plaut-dietsch: "Merci beau coup!" And break a leg! I look forward to downloading and listening.