The Best Thing Ever, December 13 2015 Edition

Earlier this month, my daughter and I had the following exchange on Twitter:

Note the last comment from me, it’ll be relevant in a bit.

I was deeply amused by the exchange, and posted it to my private Facebook wall, which precipitated this comment, and my response:

For those of you who don’t know, Tom Warburton is the creator of the animated television series Codename: Kids Next Door, which, among other things, was one of Athena’s favorite TV shows growing up. The shadowy figure with the pipe and the fire exploding behind him is Father, the adult nemesis of the Kids Next Door. Father is voiced by Maurice LaMarche, and he sounds like this (you’ll want to play the 30 seconds after it starts running, not, uh, the whole video. Also, if for some reason it starts at the very beginning, scroll to 9:56):

(You may also know LaMarche as the voice of this big headed, mousy fellow.)

LaMarche is one of my favorite voice actors, thus my remark to Tom above that if I could be voiced by Maurice LaMarche, that would be awesome. Because, let’s face it, all my proclamations, tweeted or otherwise, would sound 1000% better in LaMarche’s voice than my own.

Mind you, on my part, it was merely an observation. Tom, on the other hand, took it as a challenge.

So: Remember that Twitter comment from earlier that I told you to remember? Well:

I’m not gonna lie. I squeed. And then I ran downstairs to play it for Athena, who also agreed that it was officially the best thing ever.

Dear Mr. LaMarche: Thank you. You can speak my words anytime. And, Tom Warburton? You totally rock. Athena and I may get other gifts this December, but I suspect this one will be one that made us smile the widest.

(For those readers with sight/vision problems, a quick recap: I made a smart-ass comment to my daughter, and my friend Tom Warburton had that smart-ass comment read aloud by one of my favorite voice actors. It was awesome.)

34 Comments on “The Best Thing Ever, December 13 2015 Edition”

  1. Tell Athena that back in my day, we weren’t allowed to lay down unless we were bleeding profusely with broken bones poking through the skin, and then all we got was a couple of aspirin and told to walk it off. Man I’m glad they got rid of the pile of obsidian flakes that used to be the bed.

    Regarding the voice clip present, me thinks you were channeling Mr. LaMarche while doing the audio version of John Scalzi is not a Very Popular Author. Hmmm I’d love to hear Mr LaMarche’s rendition of that epic book. LOL

  2. digitalathiest:

    Alas, I have often tried to do voices like Mr. LaMarche and have not been especially successful (i.e., massive failure). My reading voice for JSINAVPA is actually closer to Wallace Shawn’s, I suspect.

  3. John, in either case, it was better than mine would have been. the curse of having a mix of my father’s NC accent, and my mother’s SC accent is that everything I say always sounds like I’m from the south, UNLESS I’m speaking Spanish. I’ve even had a couple of people from south of the border ask me if I was an American. Alas, I can’t carry the accent over to English though. LOL.

  4. “IF YOU’RE TWEETING YOU’RE NOT DYING” seems to be a fairly reasonable method of assessment concerning teen physical well being and digital electronic consumption. On the other hand, I am acquainted with some folk who would text 911 rather than call it in an emergency.

  5. Drat you, John Scalzi! I nearly got lost in that Kids Next Door: Operation Interviews thingamabob doobly-doo. :D OK, OK, so I’m watching the rest of that later. I missed out on the whole Kids Next Door thing, being that grownup thing, but hey, a video about voice acting and toons / anime? I’m in!

    I’d also highly recommend you check out a documentary called, “I Know That Voice!” It’s available on the eye of tunes and the ama-zon things, and worth the price. You’ll get to see and hear some of your favorite voice actors talk about what they do. Very awesome stuff.

    Hah, and yeah, that is one incredibly cool Christmas gift. Mr. LaMarche and Mr. Warburton clearly rock, and Mr. Scalzi and Miss Scalzi the Younger, not bad either.

    Be it noted: My college dorm room bed was the same sort of weird green plastic vinyl covered mattress as the one in my high school’s nurse’s office. At the time, this did not seem too freakily twisted, but now, I wonder if it meant something. Since we’re discussing those obsidian-flake stone beds and all. Though my college dorm room mattress was really not all that bad, come to think of it. Just very…vinyl. Naugahyde? How many Naugas gave their all to be a vinyl mattress? :O

    Possible animated voices for Athena: You could go with the lady who plays Dot on Animaniacs. Or the woman who does Bart Simpson’s voice. Hmm…. Or keep with the LaMarche vibe and go with the actor who plays Pinky, doing a more, ah, girly-girl voice, opposite the Scalzi Brain voice.

    But if you try to take over the world and wind up running around in a maze chasing a big blob of cheddar…. Well, I dunno, if it’s really good cheddar………

  6. @Scalzi – you should definitely ask your publisher to have Maurice LaMarche record the audiobook versions of your column collections. Imagining him going all Orson Welles on your “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is” or some other challenge to DudeBros everywhere would be…epic.

  7. This made me think of my parents and I; we could have done that, though not by Twitter.

    Be grateful for Athena’s good health. My son’s autistic, and he’s a lot of fun–but not like that. He can’t kid around. I miss it and I am sad he’ll never know how much fun it is.

  8. That was wonderful. Now I want to hear Maurice LaMarche read “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons.”

    P.S. I hope Athena is feeling better now…

  9. @bluecatship
    My father was an upholsterer of furniture. One of his running jokes was about how many Naugas it would take to cover a chair, sofa, etc. We never could figure if a nauga was the size of a buffalo, or a mouse. Thanks for the memory. Seriously!

  10. Well, my sympathy is with Athena.
    I was anemic in high school and the tiredness was a righteous pain in the rear. Also, I fainted once while in church choir in front of absolutely everyone. Boom. Down I went.
    Eventually I was prescribed iron supplements and birth control pills so that my body could keep up with he blood price that my uterus was demanding. TMI? probably TMI….
    Nice voice acting present!

  11. Awesome – and thanks for summing up at the end for blind/visually impaired readers! Hugely appreciated. :)

    If you and Athena ever get offered a joint book deal for The Scalzi Exchanges based on your Twitter conversations, Mr. LeMarch should totally voice your side of the exchanges!

  12. And am I being just too Grinchy for words to note that it’s sad that not only does a high school senior not know the difference between “lie” and “lay,” but her professional author father doesn’t call her on it? *sigh* Otoh: Warburton! COOL!

  13. mirlacca: Yes.

    Not that I didn’t notice that too. But a grammar neurotic who didn’t also notice “anyways” has failed in per mission.

  14. In my family, any use of “lay down” must immediately be followed by either “and boogie and play that funky music till you die” or “my sword and shield, down by the riverside…”

  15. @digitalatheist and @Jack Lint – Hah, you’re very welcome! Thanks for the link too.

    @SherryH – legally blind / vision-impaired here too. Thankfully, I could read the screen caps there, but some, especially on YouTube videos, are too small or blurry.

    — You know, @JScalzi, you could ask, Maurice LaMarche might like the idea of doing the audio for your books. You probably already know, there’s crossover. Anime/toon voice actors often know SF&F fandom and cons like Comic Con, etc. Really talented people, and they get to have a lot of fun doing what they do.

    — Grammar and spelling issues: I used to work as a desktop publisher / graphic designer / you name it, in the 80’s and 90’s. So among other things, I proofread and copyedited professionally, as part of the job. I’m one of those who doesn’t usually have grammar and spelling problems. But I got very used to seeing how common it is for most of the public to miss things. — I’ll admit, lie versus lay can give me trouble, though sit versus set doesn’t. Also, I’m American, so the British thing about “I was stood, I was sat” drives me nuts, because it’s (supposedly) non-standard, but it’s so common in UK speech/writing. If I had a nickel (or a half-dollar?) for every typo and grammar error…and every time someone disputed that, despite that I knew what I was doing…. LOL. Oh, well. It’d be eaten up in taxes anyway!

    Also – My dad grew up a poor farm boy, and he was an engineer on top of that. He could not speak or write a grammatical sentence in his life. And my mom was an English major. Go figure! I was in my teens before I began to understand how my dad’s English (any non-standard English) is just as valid as the textbook variety I learned at home and in school. As a college student, I learned some of the history, the reasons why my dad and people from that region speak the way they do. Now, that dialect and those speech ways are dying out as teh interwebz and other mass media have found their way into the area, and as the older folks age out. The history involved is really something. My dad’s family are from the Appalachian mountains. There are words and usage there left over from the Colonial era and before. Very interesting, but very unusual.

  16. I agree that LaMarche’s voice is excellent here. But, since I haven’t had the chance to see much of either “Codename: Kids Next Door”, or “Pinky and the Brain”, I mainly associate him with an episode of “The Tick”, where he voiced the dolphin supervillain “The Fin”. So, when I hear your quote, I picture it being said by a psycopathic dolphin, while magnetized fish rain down from the sky.

  17. Maurice La Marche is also a gifted impressionist, as seen by his stint as Zoltan on the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” cartoon series. Every ep a different impression, all of them amazing. But my favorite voice he did will always be Egon on Real Ghostbusters.

  18. Schools have beds now? I remember being lucky just to sit down! John … Loved this exchange! Hysterical intelligent father-daughter banter at it’s best! Athena is really starting to relate to her namesake. ;)

  19. Mr. La Marche is an awesome fellow. Years ago I wrote him a fan letter, and he called my house to express his appreciation. I was floored! He also sent a photo of Pinky and the Brain signed by himself and Rob Paulsen (the voice of Pinky). My appreciation has not diminished over the years, and with this recording it just notched higher.

  20. Your exchange reminds me of one with my son when he was but 3yrs old during a long stint of his constipation:

    “Man, if you don’t poop soon, it’s gonna back up and turn your eyes brown,” says Dad.

    “Like yours?”

    Acknowledging the absolute pithy wit of the reply and having no comeback, I explained I would have to resort to simple, but massive physical violence (a bit of tickling and wrestling) in homage to his sarcastic retort.

  21. In the “I know that voice” documentary I referenced above, Maurice LaMarche tells the story of how he first learned he could do voices. He did a Columbo / Peter Falk impression at school and realized, “This was something I was good at doing.” Neat stuff. You get to see several anime / toon voice actors and hear their stories and see them doing their stuff. Really recommended.

  22. At first I was thinking, “Isn’t Scalzi being a bit cavalier about his daughter’s health, here?”
    But then I realised, if the fact she’s tweeting doesn’t testify to her good health, then the smirk in the attached photo is a dead give-away.

  23. Gotta admit, I do love Pinky and The Brain. Also gotta admit that you managed to meet snark head on with more snark with yours. Usually my soon to be 15 year old more often than not, puts me in my place with snark, and she usually does it emulating John Cusack’s movie speaking style.

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