Making an Audiobook: Demystifying the Magic

An audiobook is seen as a new way of taking in a great story. Whether you love horror, westerns, science fiction, drama, romance, fantasy, business strategy, personal finance, legal thrillers, new age wisdom, or just about anything else, there’s an audiobook for it. If it can be read, it can be heard.

Listen to the audio version here:making-an-audiobook-anchor-podcast

In a way, the audiobook is really an even older form of knowledge transfer than the written word. Since the first human families told each other not to hang around where tigers hunted, people were relaying tales as compelling as any modern procedural.

“Yeah, that cave by the river. The last time the moon was full, Ooog walked into that and we haven’t seen him since. There were a bunch of bones in a pile nearby, that Wagawaga says wasn’t there before. The village shaman is the only one here who can put two and two together, and he says not to expect Ooog around to help with the harvest, okay?”

I’m on the edge of my seat. You too, right? At some point that shaman figured out how to write this stuff down, and the great argument about personality-based behaviorally targeted training kicked off from there.

We all know that one: It’s harder for some people to pay attention to written words, but not so much for listening. I’m a great reader and discoverer on my own time, but I find when listening to a podcast that I have to rewind it a lot (for the millennials – rewind means to take the play head back a bit to re-hear something. As an X-er, I can’t really help you with whatever a play head is. Ask those folks who know what dropping the needle is all about).

Anyway, some people are great at listening to a podcast or an audiobook. Now, I should take a moment here to note that audiobooks and podcasts are not the same thing, and really shouldn’t be recorded the same way. Podcasts often have music bumpers and backgrounds and involve more than one person ranting about something. They’re also not read, the way this is. Can you tell? I consider it a personal goal to make sure people can’t tell. But this isn’t always easy.

It is usually very clear and obvious when someone is reading something. In podcasts, which are usually interviews or people bantering, it’s mostly off the cuff. An audiobook or blog post like this one is written first, then read. But it’s still best if it sounds like something coming at you from the top of my head.

Some authors have even taken a different approach to writing because of the rise of audiobooks. One quick trick is to hear it in your head as you write. Right now, this is written as if it’s a guy with an overdone Chicago accent. Dah Bears. Yeah, dat one. But it could just as easily take a different direction for some Oxford don with his simultaneous lesson schedules instead of some yankee wanker.

Ironically, being from Boston, I have a terrible Boston drawl. It sometimes takes a few minutes to get into a character, so I’ll watch a video. Maybe that Casey Affleck Dunkin Donuts ad or the famous Baby Whale video.

Beyond accents, voices can take a multitude of different characters. People can be:

  • Nasal (Did I do that?)
  • Grainy (Get off my lawn)
  • Gravelly (Found someone you have)
  • Deep (No, I am your father)
  • High (Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking, just a moment)
  • Thick (64 slices of American cheese)
  • Hollow (We will add your technological distinctiveness to our own)
  • Expressive (Why the North Pole of course)
  • Noir (Where I go, the wind follows)

It’s possible to add or subtract age to a voice, too. When narrating, I bump into a lot of women’s and kids’ voices as well. That…can be a challenge. It’s not about high pitch, but more about resonance. What I do is think about something called a head voice. Like singing falsetto. If you can do a Michael Jackson voice, you’re there.

Now, all the same rules apply, Dahlink!

Many audiobook listeners don’t love the voices, by the way, and sometimes it’s better to keep it subtle. The only drawback is in long exchanges of dialogue without attribution. These happen more often, too, because hearing “Blah blah blah” he said, “Yadda yadda yadda” she replied, “Doo bee doo bee doo” he said…gets a little clunky. This is where character differences become important.

The best authors write their characters with varied attitudes. You can sense this from their dialogue. Some characters are just wry or sarcastic all the time. Some are deadpan. Some have a comedic cadence and a natural sense of timing. Others are just always…awkward. People can creep you out saying the same thing that someone else says in a very charming way. These are just some of the unspoken signals people send to each other, and it crosses the line from vocal audio production to psychology. Which itself is another fascinating subject, those little vocal cues. Most people know about the smile. Sound like you’re smiling. You can also evoke super-depressing ideation using your voice. This is the sort of thing I think about a lot when producing an audiobook.

The narrator is unique in an audiobook, because it’s really the main character. Rather, it’s the character that does most of the talking. Why should the real main character, who probably has five percent of the words in the book compared to the narrator, have all the fun? Unless the author asks for a flat narration, I like to let the narrator emote a little. When there’s sadness, express sadness. When all is well, be happy. The narrator can add tension, fear, suspense, and express action. The narrator can slow it down or pep it up.

As far as the technology, it’s really fairly simple. I have a laptop, and yes, it has a fan, which makes noise. The mic in the same room picks this up all the time, and my studio is fairly quiet, so it’s pretty rumbly. This is why in any professional studio that gear stays out of the room, often called a booth. Mine is separated by a thick insulated wall and ceilings, with wall baffles and carpeting on the floor. The computer is outside the booth and connected to a wall screen so I can read and control the rig with the mouse. A remote keyboard helps, too, so I can type character names and find words in the text.

The other two primary components are the microphone and the interface. That’s a box that turns old-school analog audio from the mic into a digital signal the computer can store and process. It also includes the audio output for headphones and speakers. Back in the day, the mic interface used a multipin connector and needed a special adapter for the computer. Today’s interfaces use USB. Now, sometimes these are combined in what’s called a USB mic, which saves a lot of space and hassle.

BUT… the mic is a really important tool, and so is the preamplifier and A/D converter inside the interface. Professional studios think of these as the holy grail for optimizing the sound quality. With a bad mic and a bad interface, it doesn’t matter how golden your voice is. Does that mean a combined mic & interface is a useless brick? Absolutely not. The makers of these are among the top makers of audio gear in the world.

I’ll add that a good pair of cans and studio reference speakers are also critical. How are you going to process your audio with junk from the dollar store? And the dollar store does sell these things. So, just… don’t. They’re not too expensive. All told, you can get all this gear for a few hundred bucks. Not the PC of course, but that’s something you have anyway, right?

Now to the software. You’re going to need some kind of editing program. A lot of podcasters use free stuff that can be downloaded and used to clip up their WAV files and output MP3. You might record a chapter that takes an hour to read. If you’re efficient like I am, you can clip out a few long breaks or rereads (I’ll trip over a phrase once in awhile), and still have 45 or 50 minutes. A lot of listeners like the breaths in between, so I don’t gate all of those out, and you can even use breaths for effect. Trust me, it makes no sense for someone to run screaming from a zombie if they didn’t take a breath first.

Now what was that I said about a gate? Like in music recording, there are a few important processing tools available within any good audio recording and editing application. These include:

  • The equalizer, which lets you tailor the highs and lows at different frequencies to accommodate your voice, and sometimes adjust for shortcomings in your mic, preamp, and speakers or headphones. This is another reason not to skimp on any of that.
  • You also want a compressor, to crush your audio signal to a smaller dynamic range, so it’s never too quiet and never too loud. People are listening in their cars or in other loud environments, so they need a fairly consistent level.
  • Another tool is the noise gate, which cuts out background noise. Technically, this shouldn’t be critical if you record in a quiet studio, but you don’t always have an optimal environment.

This is the part where I tell you what I use: Pro Tools, with the built-in seven-band EQ, the gate and the Maxim limiter. I punch up the track volume by 6dB as well, but this varies depending on the technical requirements of the publishing and streaming website.

Of course, the best equipment in the world doesn’t matter if you’re that guy who can clear the Thanksgiving table with your boring diatribes. But even here you’d be surprised what listeners will put up with.

My kids watch YouTube videos about gaming where the narrators drone on, monotone, eating the mic, yelling, flat, whatever. It doesn’t seem to matter. Some folks make a brand out of it. It’s amazing. All the rules go out the window, because maybe they’re not really rules. Like I said at the beginning, people have been telling stories forever, and let’s face it, if grandma couldn’t warn the kiddies about the tiger in the grass because she was boring, none of us would be here.

Now, the folks in radio have been doing this forever, but they’re in an industry that most of us will never get anywhere near. That’s one reason podcasts and audiobooks are so interesting. Any dope can get the equipment, learn a couple of skills and get into it. It’s truly the democratization of storytelling.

A New History of NFL Rule Changes Caused by Patriots’ Cheating

A New History of NFL Rule Changes Caused by Patriots' Cheating By TOM BISHOP

Instigative Reporter | 03.25.2048 | 7:17 AM

BOSTON, PREFECTURE 18 – The oft-beseiged-by-scandal New England Patriots are at it again, if you take the latest report from the MSESPNBCNN Sports Network at face value. The first day of the Inter-National Football League’s annual meeting has opened with a torrent of acrimony and vitriol from the league’s 63 team owners not named Kraft. This time, the owners have forwarded a proposal to prohibit the use of cryogenic reanimation of past coaches, which the Patriots have now gotten away with for three seasons.

The twenty-two-time World Super Bowl Champions most recently took home the Belichick Trophy in Tokyo, allegedly with the help of the eponymous coach himself, despite his ‘official’ passing four years ago. This latest outrage comes in the wake of last year’s scandal involving anti-gravity skeletal insertions used by several players. Though it wasn’t technically outlawed, the INFL ruled out the insertions after the Patriots went 24-0 and took home their twenty-first INFL Championship in Amsterdam.

Like white-hat cyber-hackers, the Patriots have been the INFL’s “Rule Viability Testers” for several decades. Because of this, the pall of derision and ire against the team has spread around the world. In Moscow, they’ve popularized chess pawns with shoulder pads, helmet and a carved #12. Fans of the Paris “Escargot Thunder” spit into napkins bearing the Flying Elvis. In the Middle East, they burn Patriots flags instead of the Stars & Stripes. Fans of other legendary sports rivalries have turned their mutual hatred toward the Pats instead.

Let’s look at the litany of INFL rule changes made in the wake of the Patriots’ rule-bending strategies since the days of the sideline videocamera:

  • 2046/47 INFL Season: Float-Gate. Anti-Gravity Skeletal Insertions specifically prohibited by any player after the Pats allegedly covered the helio-silica surgical implants, originally designed for use in aeronautics, for 17 players over the previous five years.
  • 2044/45: Invisi-Gate. Invisibility cloaking apparel and apparatus outlawed by the league after the Patriots won three games using up to six invisible players, mostly on defense, to disrupt or assist the visible players.
  • 2038/39: Tase-Gate. Electrically-charged uniforms no longer allowed after the Patriots won seven straight victories without any of their players being tackled.
  • 2030/31: Psycho-Gate. Use of sideline psychics to read opposing coaches’ minds was considered for prohibition after the Pats were caught using them for the previous four seasons, but ultimately revised to allow each team one certified psychic registered with IMPART, NAMI, or the AFCPM (but not IAPLT – that one’s bullshit).
  • 2028/29 NFL Season: Glove-Gate. The NFL bans the use of adhesive pads in gloves worn by quarterbacks. It is alleged that QBs for at least 22 teams used these Stanford-engineered enhancements, and not even Tom Brady, though by this time he and the Pats are considered the embodiment of this sort of contrivance.
  • 2020/21: “Compression-Gate” results in rule changes for extreme compression gear worn by Patriots players to reduce their body composition profile, decreasing their wind resistance and making them more difficult to tackle. The new rules limit the tensile strength and flexibility of synthetic fabrics for NFL teams, and other sports leagues make similar changes, causing Under Armour to lose 67% of its stock value.
  • 2021/22: Gate-Gate. Because you know there had to be one. The Pats secretly test subliminal message delivery to fans during the security wand procedure at the stadium gate. Originally meant to spike concession revenues, the league has to specify metal detection equipment for every team after the Pats use RFID wands to influence fan loyalty.
  • 2018/19: Tweet-Gate causes the NFL to ban cell phones from the press box and sidelines after the Patriots are caught “crowd-sourcing” game strategy from observant fans sending Tweets and texts to team coaches during the game.
  • 2014/15: Deflate-Gate. Patriots and Tom Brady punished after equipment staff were caught tampering with game balls, because they knew their nephews playing in Pop Warner and PeeWee leagues preferred the balls to be slightly deflated. Or they had read about it in a science book, or something. It had nothing to do with any request from Tom Brady, of course.
  • 2014/15: The NFL changed the rules on receiver eligibility declarations after the Patriots skirted the spirit of lineman eligibility rules in at least two games.
  • 2012/13: After eleven years, the NFL finally changes the “Tuck Rule” that started Tom Brady and the Patriots even being a thing.
  • 2007/08: NFL charges largest fine ever after Pats caught videotaping opposing coaches from the sidelines in a scandal called “Spy-Gate”. The issue narrowly avoids becoming a US Senate Hearing.

At this year’s meeting, the INFL is also said to be considering banning Tom Brady from continuing to play and earn the highest QB ratings in the league at age 70, by outlawing “whatever the hell he’s doing” according to league commissioner Maxwell Gauthier.

Tom Bishop can be reached on Twitter at @myleftone

On Haters

polar-bear-haterA few years ago there was a book, an author’s first published novel. Originally, it was something she wrote just for fun.

Then, out of nowhere, it became a national phenomenon. It spread around the globe, as people picked it up out of sheer curiosity, or just wanted to be part of this massive viral sensation.

As with every hit book, Hollywood quickly got on board. They turned the author’s fantasy lark into a much anticipated, big-name-affiliated movie, and some people hated it.

They hated the marketing. They hated the story. They hated the characters. They hated the actors. They hated the author. They hated the director. They hated the ads.

I remember arguing with friends who groused that the movie was pop culture tripe that sent all the wrong messages, and was a cataclysmically false appropriation of the culture portrayed in the film.

That movie was Fifty Shades of Grey… I believe there’s a third one out, that has already eclipsed its budget seven times.

Haters gonna hate, right? But another thing haters do, is validate.

Andy Wier’s “The Martian” had a similar introduction to the world. Released chapter-by-chapter online, it gathered enough of a following that it became a published novel. It’s hard sci-fi, and the book can almost serve as an advanced mathematics text. He found a way to make science accessible in a story that was just good clean fun (well, cleaner than 50 Shades anyway).

And when it became a movie, it had haters. People bashed it for being scientifically unsound. Far-fetched. Derivative. And of course we know where that went. His next book, “Artemis”, is a best-seller. Everything the guy does from now on is guaranteed to be a movie.

Soon enough, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash will be a streaming series. People will hate it. Seveneves will be impossible to adapt to film, but Ron Howard is trying, and people will hate it. Dan Brown is a novel-to-hit-movie perpetual motion device, but they hate him too. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series will be adapted for film or television, and it will have haters.

Black panther has haters. Stephen King has haters. The breakout book of 2018 (which I am digging into right now) is an incomparably brilliant new fantasy tale, and Hollywood has already jumped on board. It will, crushingly, have haters.

Harry Potter has haters.

I’m just sayin’. Everything has haters.

So I’m not surprised that some people hate Ready Player One. I don’t know if it it is coming from the real geeks, or if the real geeks are people like me, who legitimately got beat up by blond kids in the ’80s.

Or maybe I’m one of those dudes who latched onto something after it became cool, I don’t know, like the jocks who discovered Metallica in 1988. But it doesn’t matter. Ready Player One speaks to me. It doesn’t speak to everyone. That’s cool.

Too-cool-for-school is a traditional trope that has been with us since James Dean.

I admit, though, it would be nice if people could focus their hate on something that deserves it.

Disney’s “Zombies”, for example.

Noon Peak: The Story of Little Scout

Aside

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Little Scout is a wolf living in New Hampshire with his pack, when the valley is beset by a human militia laying siege to the village. The wolves are concerned about the men and their purpose, and when they decide to meddle, they find themselves under attack, and their leader, Scout’s father, is captured.

Little Scout must find out how to save his father, his pack, and the people of the valley from whatever this posse of men are up to.

Noon Peak is a podcast relating the story in several chapters, some with music backgrounds, some without, as the novel unfolds.

Check out my entire series of original stories at SoundCloud.

“Susan”

susan-curios-on-window-sillKids these days. They have it pretty easy, don’t they? The Internet is everywhere, there’s no shortage of cable channels to choose from, and videogames are so embedded into daily life we barely even notice them. A trip to Grandma’s involves an hour or two of backseat gaming, a few more hours of television, a hasty meal and a bored visit to the garden, followed by tantrums over the WiFi password and an angry drive home because the iPad is dead.

In my day… oh, here we go, “In my day!” Really. I hate to say it, but it’s true. There were no microwaves, no cable channels, no smartphones, and no wireless Internet. A visit to Grandma’s usually meant watching trees zip by, a black-and-white television that was never turned on, a ponderously slow dinner, and a tour of the garden that was actually a highlight.

Then, for real entertainment, there were the trinkets on the windowsill. I think every grandmother had them. These little glass baubles were found in every window in the house, and they came in every shape and color. Little red cups, blue vases, pink ballerinas, butterscotch birds, and they weren’t just on the sills. Grandma had placed them on top of every sash, and there were extras on shelves throughout the house. The sun beamed through them, throwing beads of color across the floor and walls. When the colors rose just so far up the back wall of the dining room, we knew it was time to hit the road.

Those days eventually end, as they must for everyone, and the houses are sold, boxes are packed, and the trinkets are forever lost, to remain only in memory. Once in a while a cellar is cleared, and boxes of these glass curios are discovered, wrapped in old newsprint: a local sports team wins a trophy in 1954; Jackie Kennedy’s recipe for a noodle casserole; Comics lampooning Nixon. And inside, glass junk, fads from a bygone era, suitable only for a dumpster.

And that brings me to the Wakefield house.

———-
The house was a flip. I’d say it was a failed one, though most of the work was top notch. The failure was in the previous owner’s timing. Bought at the peak of the market, and unsuccessfuly sold at the bottom. They’d had the place for a year or so, and the bank had it for three. My wife Lisa and I bought it in a dusty, neglected condition, but with good ‘bones’, new walls and ceilings and updated heating and electrical. A steal, with only some cleaning to do.

‘Only’ can be a loaded word. The basement of this house was still packed with boxes and old furniture. We found stuff in the attic, too. The houseflippers gave all this stuff up, or maybe it was there before. Of course we determined that this was the end of the line for most of it.

While clearing out the junk, it was apparent that this house had been lived in for a long time by someone. What we could glean from the collection was that an older couple had accumulated clothes, books, old board games, tools, toys from every era. We figured out how to give a lot of it away.

For the old furniture and anything we couldn’t donate, dumpsters were hauled in, and out. Two twenty-yarders. I tried to keep anything worthwhile. Tools! A model railroad set (that has yet to be built). And there was one box of these glass trinkets that so closely matched the ones I remember, I couldn’t quite toss it. It stayed.

The house was interesting. It had a quirky sideways floor plan with a huge living room, an open kitchen with a dining area, a weird little den in between, and a short corridor that formed a loop. The main bedroom was double the size of a normal one, with its own full bathroom. Most, if not all, of the walls were new.

———–
Before long, Lisa started complaining about a feeling she was getting about the place. She was always into this kind of hocus-pocus, paranormal bullcrap, so when she said she felt a presence in the house, I treated it like so much nonsense. Her sister would visit, and, completely independently, mentioned a weirdness about the place. I was sure they were collaborating on some kind of practical joke.

The gist of it was that there was something going on at the bottom of the stairs. A chill, or a tingling, which they felt every time they walked past the spot. We rearranged the living room furniture so we were never sitting back-to the stairway. Before long, even I became a little anxious looking down the stairs after dark.

My dubiousness about the situation began to unravel after a number of strange incidents. One involved a friend who was having trouble with his family, and needed a place to stay. We were quick to offer up the couch, since we had two extra bedrooms but no beds. We left him stretched out on the couch with a sleeping bag, but the next morning, he emerged from an empty bedroom. As he told it, something down there spooked him. He wound up running right through it to get upstairs, and felt a cold spot.

Any concerns we had about taking in a new resident went out the window, but we gained a name for the phenomenon: the cold spot.

It was our first Thanksgiving in the house, when my mom, sitting at the table, looked toward the living room and asked us what was up in there. She’d felt something. A presence. I gave my wife and her sister a glance and dug back into my turkey and stuffing.

———-
Finally, on a severely cold evening less than a week before Christmas, there was a knock on the door. A woman about our age stood on the steps. Her name was Ashley, and she was visiting from Pennsylvania. Apparently she’d grown up in the area, and visited her grandmother in this house. She just wondered if she could see what’s become of the old place.

I don’t know if it was wise. I wouldn’t advise anyone do this, but we let her in. We believed her, and I think we were thinking the same thing: that maybe, just maybe, she held an answer to our shared question.

Lisa started a pot of coffee. While it brewed, Ashley gave us a tour of the house. My hunch about the upstairs was true; the master suite used to be two bedrooms. Downstairs, the renovators had made a ton of changes. The fireplace wasn’t always surrounded by ornate woodwork, the kitchen was originally closed off from the dining area, and the living room was now larger.

As we sat in the living room with our coffee, Ashley told us how there used to be a corridor leading to the stairs, where a rank of shelves opened to the living room. On these shelves, her grandmother kept a bunch of colorful little glass trinkets, and she’d often stand at the bottom of the stairs, contentedly arranging them.

Lisa and I shared a look. “Guess what?” I said. “We have something for you.”

I bounded down the cellar stairs and returned with the box. I placed it on the coffee table and opened it. Ashley saw exactly what was in there, and if it can be said that I’ve ever seen someone positively beam, it was then.

She pulled out several of the curios. She had a little story about them, and where they came from. Most of them, as far as she knew, her grandmother had always had on the shelves, but there were some that were bought at a county fair, a few at local yard sales. A blue seahorse that was given as a gift. A green teacup that she bought in Maine.

“You should have these,” I told her. “They belong to you. They’re your family’s.”

Ashley looked at me like I’d just told a hideous joke.

“Oh, no. No,” she said. “These could never leave here. They belong in this house.”

I will swear that I felt the presence then, standing just over Ashley’s shoulder. I’m sure my wife felt it. If Ashley did, too, she never let on. After a few more minutes talking about the house and her grandmother, we bid Ashley goodbye, and she left to brave the freezing night.

———-
I closed the door, and instantly knew what she meant about where the trinkets belonged. They couldn’t just be in a box. They stayed on the table another day or two, until I dug out a spice rack we kept in the basement (having never found a place for it). I installed the spice rack on the wall near the bottom of the stairs, and we arranged the colorful little glass things on it.

It was a nice addition to the Christmas junk we’d hung all over the house. Maybe it was a little tacky, but if it served a purpose, then so be it. For the rest of the holidays, we didn’t feel a presence, but it was likely because the house was in a state of constant noise as parties were held and family and friends were entertained. People asked about the trinkets on the shelves, and we said we’d found them in a box and put them up. Nobody ever mentioned feeling anything near the stairway.

Sometime in January, I noticed something about the glassware; they had been rearranged. Lisa swore she never touched them, and I believed her.

You see, we didn’t know how to arrange them. Should it be by color, by size, by type? This arrangement was seemingly random, but also had a kind of feel to it that was incomprehensible. An artistic intuition had been applied that neither of us had. We’d never heard any of them move, and certainly hadn’t seen it happen, but it was undeniable; they had been.

As time went on, we didn’t feel the presence any more, or at least I didn’t. Maybe I was imagining it, but occasionally, I could swear one of the trinkets would move.

We only lived there another year. When it came time to sell the place, I made sure to tell the new owners they’d be better off leaving the shelves of curios exactly as is. I’m pretty sure they weren’t about to do so.

I do know this: on the last night we spent in the house, we’d sat on the couch with a pizza, and Lisa went upstairs to pack the last few boxes of clothes. I poked at the embers in the fireplace, and suddenly felt the glare of eyes behind me. I turned to the stairs. No, I did not see anything, but I felt the old woman standing at the shelves looking at me. She wasn’t angry, wasn’t sad. It wasn’t happiness either, but I felt, almost imperceptibly, that she gave me a little nod.

I nodded back, and the presence was gone.

———-
Some time later that year I looked into the history of the house. The people who owned it, before the people who tried to flip it, had lived there sixty years. Adam and Susan Drexler. They were married for fifty-two of those years. Susan had outlived her husband by eight more.

We never heard from Ashley again, but I was able to find her grandmother’s obituary. She was found by her middle-aged son sitting peacefully, eyes closed, at the bottom of the stairs. She hadn’t fallen there, but it seemed she had been standing in the hallway, felt something, and simply sat down to rest.

May she rest well.

The 1980s: A Nice Place to Visit, But…

This morning at the campground laundry, I was asked if we were planning to keep coming back next season and beyond.

“Are you kidding? I’m pretty sure we’ve sworn off the entire summer home thing as a concept.”

I thought it was universal. A thing everyone loves, but it’s basically “Doing chores closer to the beach/woods/mountains.” And if you think it’s just me being the usual boor, I promise you I’m not alone in this.

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The kids, though. They’ve had six weeks of living in the 1980s. They wake up, hop on a bike and go look for their various frenemies, for another day of pushing each other into ponds, scraping themselves up on the pavement, being stung by hornets, having wiffle balls line-drived at them from taped bats, getting locked in the campground bathrooms, taunting, yelling, and generally laughing their asses off.

In other words, they’re summering. Like a boss. With their pals, they kinda have taken over the place, riding like a gang of hardbitten eight-year-olds and terrorizing the population of mostly retirees. I’m sure we’re woefully underappreciated here.

I’d say we’re sticking out like the Massholes we are, but everyone’s a Masshole. Every cabin has signage on it declaring that its inhabitants hail from North Reading, Somerville, Wilmington. The TV screens in every trailer glow with the blue glare of the Pats game (or Sox, natch).

And the word “Masshole” is purely on-point. These are the same people who clog the aisles at Market Basket and get into fistfights over parking spaces back home. Only here there’s more public consumption of alcohol.

Toss in hordes of screaming kids, and there it is, the 1980s.

I’m sure there are a lot of people here who are only going through the motions. They don’t love it, but hey, it’s for the kids. To me, sitting around by a fire and shuffling back and forth to the pool is not an adventure.

The kids have had fun, but they’ll have plenty more back home. It’s far easier to plan and prepare for our numerous adventures back there. The house is a much better base camp. That’s why it was named Camp Lucky.

So in a nutshell, we can’t wait to get back to civilization, where it will be easier to leave it.

From time to time, that is.