I might be about to publish a blog post I severely regret. I know it will likely upset some people. But this… this is my Christmas gift to myself. I’m going to do this.
Because I can’t not do it anymore.
The thing is, there’s this dark cloud that’s been hanging over me for almost 3 years now. It’s a stain on my conscience that grows every year, usually worse about this time because I start getting pings on this site that people are looking for a particular post here. It is inevitably mentioned somewhere on Twitter or Facebook, someone new goes looking for it, or someone who knows of it wants to refresh their memory.
Three years ago, I was a new writer. I was a new podcaster. Like most people do with any new thing they try, they go looking for others that are doing the thing they want to do and having relative success with it. You do this networking stuff, you get to know people, you try to find your place within this group.
That’s where I was in winter of 2010. I was getting to know other writer/podcasters, learning who was who, and seeing where I could go with it.
So, a bit of a disclaimer before I go any further. It is not my wish to attack anyone here. I consider the persons involved to be gifted individuals, and I am proud to belong to the same circles as they do. I don’t regret knowing them, I don’t regret interacting with them. But what I do regret, is taking part in some holiday fun that went a little too far.
Here is how it happened.
The year before, in 2009, I threw some mp3s of me singing some holiday tunes out there. If you look, you can still find them hanging around on the blog here. There was talk on Twitter of how epically Interweb-melting it would be if I collaborated with another podcasting author and talented musician, Phil Rossi, to bring some holiday cheer to the masses. Phil and I agreed that it would probably be pretty fun and awesome, and so, hey, let’s put a song together.
I’m pretty sure I was the one who suggested Baby, It’s Cold Outside.
Stunned? Don’t be. I’ve always found it to be a fun song, a relic of the times it was written. Like anything else, if you look for it, you can find some unsavory connotations. Don’t argue with me about it. It’s just a dumb holiday song. For me, I didn’t see the harm in it.
Phil put together a backing track with his own unique spin on it. I recorded the vocals, eh, maybe some time in November. I was excited to hear the finished product. Phil and I had never done anything together before, so it was an adventure.
And then, it kinda all went to crap.
Phil got sick and was unable to record his side of the song. It was disappointing, sure, but, really, it wasn’t something I was worked up about. There wasn’t anything in it for me but the joy of sharing something fun with others, so I shrugged it off. My family and I made our Christmas plans, and we got on the road a few days before Christmas.
It was during this trip that I got an email from Phil. He was incredibly excited because he thought he had a solution to the being sick problem. He didn’t say what that was until I got the surprise email on December 21st saying the following:
“Since it appears to be coming together, I can reveal the plan! Taking a more playful spin, I asked Sigler how he would feel doing the Dean Martin lines as with the voice of his well known character Pookie Chang. I believe he’s down. This will be fun and remarkably good exposure, too. “
I read this email in a McDonald’s somewhere between California and New Mexico. I kind of lost my appetite. As you might imagine, I was insanely nervous about this. It didn’t sit right with me even then. I discussed it with my husband and told him my concerns. He echoed Phil’s statement about it being good exposure. Having your name associated with a New York Times Bestselling Author couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
At this point, I felt like I was backed into a corner. Phil had my tracks, he had Scott Sigler on board for that part, and I was in the middle of nowhere, barely able to check my email on my phone. Maybe I could say no, that I wasn’t okay with it, but what would that bring me? People were looking forward to the song and here was a chance to bring it to them. As I was still super new, I wanted to do fun stuff with folks like Phil and Scott, and I didn’t want to burn those bridges by being a “wet blanket” and killing the fun. But, yeah, more than anything, it was that dangling carrot of exposure that got me in the end.
Christmas Eve, the track came in from Phil. Even before I listened to it, I was pretty sure what was coming, and none of it was going to make me laugh.
Unfortunately, it made a lot of other people laugh, so I kept my mouth shut. I shared it. I went for the exposure…
Hating myself a little more with each tweet about it. Cringing at the reactions of LOL. Trying not to cry that people I considered friends were posting comments on my blog about how hilarious both versions of the track were.
There were a few people with whom I shared my real feelings about it.
But, curiously, even when I expressed my regret, or wondering if I should take it down, no one echoed that thought.
Radio silence is maybe the worst thing you can get in that situation. All I wanted was for one other person to tell me to take it down.
The entire next year, part of me dreaded going to Balticon or DragonCon and being in the same room with Scott. I hoped beyond hope that no one would ever ask us to recreate it. Thankfully, no one ever has, but it’s always been a fear of mine.
When it goes around, when I’ve shared it myself, I’ve laughed about it, played it off like it was a great joke.
Everyone always laughs with me, probably without any clue how much I’ve grown to hate the track. How much I regret it.
But, hey, it’s been great for exposure, right?
Again, I don’t harbor ill will towards Scott or Phil for this thing. They played to their audience, and their audience loved it. Scott, especially, has created these fictional characters to evoke some very specific reactions from people. That’s fine. That’s his game.
But it’s not mine.
This song still haunts me, three years later. It haunts me because I didn’t have the courage to say “no, that’s NOT okay” and that the people around me, the ones I love most, didn’t say it publicly either.
The Internet never forgets, however. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t get these tracks erased from history. People have downloaded it to their computers. It exists on websites outside of my own. I can’t control where it’s gone, and that’s fine. I’m not gonna flail at it in futility. In fact, I’m not even going to remove it from this site. Once this post is live, I will be editing the original post to hold a link to this one, in hopes people read it before listening. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but even if one does, it was worth the effort.
You can view the original post here.
I know this is a long post, so thank you for taking the time to read this far.
I hope you all have the very brightest and happy of holidays!
(Final note: I will keep comments open on this for now, but if it gets out of hand, they will be closed and deleted. This is MY playground.)
Allison Gamblin says
If it makes you feel better, some of us had no idea this thing is even floating about in the world.
Elizabeth Sharp says
I had no idea this even existed. Don’t think of it as a mistake, but instead think of it as a learning experience. It taught you to speak up if things seem off and exposure isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. :) It must be hard to have something you regret on the internet. Hugs to you for sharing.
Jennifer Melzer says
I didn’t know this was out in the world either. In truth that kind of humor was never my thing either, so I can understand why it bothers you to have your name on it and see it floating out there in the world. If it’s any consolation, you sounded great. I tuned out the not-so-nice stuff and focused on that part of the song. I say if it makes you uncomfortable, take it down. Though I’m sure your site isn’t the only place that hosts it, so it’ll still be out there for people to listen to. I hope voicing your feelings on this gave you a bit of closure on it.
Starla Huchton says
Well, that was really the whole point of this post. It’s not meant as anything but a means to get this off my chest, as it’s bothered me for a long time. So, closure for me. I’m sure there are people out there who will hear it and laugh. That’s out of my control. All I can do is share how I feel about it.
Mary Beth Kiss says
Starla you have a beautiful voice! I listened to the track and found myself only hearing your voice and ignoring the other — tuned it out because it really annoyed me. The song is one of my favorite holiday songs. I would love to hear you sing this again with someone truly SINGING along with you.
Starla, I’m glad you were able to vent, but, honestly, don’t feel remorse. You sang a great song. That song enhances the Christmas experience for millions of people. It’s not a 50 cent song! If Phil and Scott turned it into something you are not proud of – welcome to show-biz! I mean that seriously – WELCOME, you made it far enough to be used! I wish I were used. I wish some slimy Hollywood producer would make an irredeemable
piece of crap movie out of one of my books. But no such luck. So, be proud, be loud, and be wonderful. Season’s Greetings and love… craig
Nobilis Reed (@Nobilis) says
I’m not going to tell you what to feel. Your feelings are yours and nobody can take them away from you.
I’m not going to tell you what feelings to express, either. That’s your right.
I’ve done a bunch of cringeworthy things on the ‘net, too, believe it or not.
I’m just going to offer you a nice, chaste electronic hug and tell you that I think you’re an awesome writer, an awesome graphic artist, and an incredible singer and voice talent, and that I wish I could hear you sing more often, and hope that brings a smile to your face.
Melissa (My World...in words and pages) says
Starla, you sound amazing! I’d be bothered as well. But, I don’t have the same sense of humor as Sigler either. So, I’d be not overly proud of it either. But hearing the story behind it all, I think many who know the truth will support your feelings. My guess they didn’t really know you were uncomfortable with it.
Yes, a learning experience. Nothing to worry about, or I think so. You sound amazing and the events of happenings explain what happened. Phil & Sigler have a different sense of humor in this instance.
And if I hear anyone ask you to sing it at Balticon, I’ll put the stomp down. I don’t want to hear it! :)
Wolf Roark says
It was this very song that led me to your world of immense talent. When Scott Sigler dropped it in his feed, I fell in love with your voice. I had to hear more. I sought out everything else you had lent your voice to. This, in turn, led me to your own writing. I am now a fan for life.
(I still believe that you should release an album of your own.)
Jack Staples says
Thank you for sharing your regrets. It’s a helpful reminder to the rest of us that we aren’t the only ones to have done… It not done… Things of which we aren’t proud.
I listened it to it after reading your post and while I don’t know what the original intent was with your parts, I can see why you would find the two versions surprising and off-putting. I enjoyed the music and your singing and I also get a kick out the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (as well as making fun of its dubiously creepy lyrics) but statements of the male vocalist seemed so negative towards the female singer and I wonder if that was part of the original joke. Was it? I found them very jarring and can very much empathize with how painful it can be to have a project you were excited about turn into some sort of nightmare dimension evil-clone that you never expected.
Your feelings about it make total sense. Do you remember what the original idea was? I echo everyone who has sent you a digital hug and love for your voice.
Michele Bekemeyer says
Mama…I know how you feel about this, but I also know that you are so much more than a silly song. You are an amazing singer, talented writer and wonderful person. THAT is how people know you.
Thomas (TREED!!) says
Did not know it was out there. (Hard to believe since i am a huge sigler fan). Doing things that you know you will regret, I understand. ouch. Hope the telling helps relieve the pain. Love your voice and your stories.
Hugh J. O'Donnell says
I’d heard of this track, but hadn’t actually HEARD it. (Not a huge fan of the song myself.) I really enjoyed your other holiday songs though, particularly “Santa Baby.” so I’d love to hear more recordings on YOUR terms.
Michael Spence says
I did hear the initial releases, and my take on them was this: By the time they were released, they were Scott’s show. The characters he created were blatantly misogynistic, and their contributions were consistent. They were also layered, after the fact, upon something you had performed without Scott’s or Phil’s input. Call me naive (I grant that some would ALWAYS say “How could you be a party to this?” — but they also didn’t know the linear nature of the project, and that when it was out of your hands, it really was “out of your hands”), but what I heard from you was a well-performed song. Scott’s contribution was his own, and to me, there’s an end to it.
So I will eagerly second Nobilis on this one. And for what it’s worth, my regret is that I haven’t yet heard you and Phil doing a duet.
Doc Coleman says
I hope that this post has given you some of the closure you need.
I missed this track the first time out. Not sure I want to listen to it now. I have heard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sung as a lighthearted, innocent holiday song. And I have heard Tee’s version as Crazy Uncle Charlie that made me want to disinfect myself.
I hope that you and Phil can do something else musical to cleanse the palate of this experience.
May your holidays be bright.