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.
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.)