Blogs 2012
Clear Diction Keeps a Fast-Paced Train on Track
Written by Tina Tran on 12/23/2012   

“This can’t be for real.”

These were the first thoughts I had while listening to “Santa Fight Club”, by Josh Bearman on This American Life. Imagine a group of Santas, the first national Santa convention, a coup, and Santa fights caught on camera. Sounds absurd? This is the story of Santa Nick and Santa Tim, two bearded Santas caught in a political schism. When all the power of Christmas goes to one man’s head, chaos ensues... I was completely enraptured, listening to it.

Kuleshov Spielberg
Written by Will Rogers on 12/9/12   

We don’t usually talk about movies on this blog, so roll with us on this one: sometimes it helps to venture outside your medium to find new inspiration/perspective.

In my freshman year of college, I learned about this thing called the Kuleshov Effect - it’s a Russian experiment from the early days of cinema, and it’s amazing.

Hats Off To Final Salute
Written by Christy Hartman on 11/11/2012   

I have a 3” binder of creative nonfiction stories, and I open it up every time I need some inspiration. There are so many amazing stories in the world... the binder is gluttonous. Well-organized and gluttonous.

Many of these stories cry out to be adapted into radio stories. One example is "Final Salute", about the families whose loved ones will never return from war, and the Marine officers whose job it is to tell them.

What Happens at Dos Erres Does Not Stay in Dos Erres
Written by Victoria Hurst on 10/6/2012   

Last May, my boyfriend Jon and I drove from Guatemala City to Petén, the northernmost region of the Guatemala. When you reach Petén, you instantly become swallowed up by the jungle. The air is thick and humid, animals and insects cry out in the night, and everything is green; the moon is barely visible through the thick branches and leaves of the trees. At one point, we stopped at a dingy gas station and got out of the car. I remember staring into the immense darkness and thinking, this is the jungle, and it has so many secrets.

A week after I got back to California, I heard episode 465 of This American Life, "What Happened at Dos Erres.” Produced by Habiba Nosheen and Brian Reed, this podcast tells the horrifying story of a military orchestrated massacre that took place in 1982 in the area I had just visited. The amazing thing is that his story, while horrifying, finds a way to inspire listeners.

An Advantage of Awkwardness
Written by Charlie Mintz on 9/16/2012   

To my ears, Love + Radio has one of the freshest sounds of any radio show around. The episode "The Wisdom of Jay Thunderbolt" (warning: not kid friendly) is a perfect illustration of how to make radio that feels immediate. It's an interview with a man who runs a strip club from his house, and it's a lot more.

This piece does a lot right, especially in its use of music, and in the intensive re-shaping of recorded sounds, through editing.

There’s one neat trick in particular I want to focus on: This piece makes excellent use of a difficult/awkward interview, and it does so by keeping the producer in the story.

Laughing on the Radio
Written by Will Rogers on 8/15/2012   

I love listening to Jad and Robert laugh on the radio, because it brings out the smiley, laughey part of myself, and I like that part of myself. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. Consider Car Talk. It’s a nonstop laugh-a-thon, masquerading as a car repair show. And for a while it’s been the most popular show on NPR. It feels good to laugh with the people on the radio.

If there’s one lesson radio producers can take from this, it's this: apply generous portions of laughter, especially when engaging in some kind of back-and-forth. Now, to discuss this further, let's look at the “Laughter” episode of Radiolab.

Returning to the Scene of Inspiration
Written by Rachel Hamburg on 8/1/2012   

The summer before my freshman year at Stanford, my entire class read three books: Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Kite Runner, and a collection of literary short stories. In the scheduled book discussions that we freshmen had with our RAs, the first two books had the floor. Paul Farmer, we had read, would walk four hours through rural countryside to treat a single cholera victim. Many of us felt we should become doctors. The Taliban, in Hosseini’s novel, was gut-wrenchingly evil. We would go into politics, or international relations. The third book didn’t make nearly so powerful an impression on our ambitions - or at least, my ambitions.

It is surprising, then, that I became a writer. The storyteller’s life doesn’t seem as noble as the life of the other two aspirations. Even though I love being a working writer, sometimes I feel uncomfortable with it. Am I actually having a positive effect on the world? Do stories really generate the kind of change that medicine or politics do?

This American Life recently aired a story that changed my mind about the significance of stories. The story, which is part of the episode “Crime Scene”, is called “A Criminal Returns to the Scene of the Crime.” It is about a man named Bobby. Bobby is a recovering drug addict, a former thief and con artist. In this story, he returns to his old neighborhood, the same place where he stole things and tricked people, to coach a Little League baseball team.

Subjects as Collaborators
Written by Will Rogers on 7/25/2012   

“Subject” is a documentary-related word with which I consistently feel uncomfortable, especially when it refers to a person. In a documentary Q&A I might hear someone ask, “What effect does this film have on its subjects?” and it sounds like the people in the story have been tested for a scientific study. Yuck. Is that what they signed up for?

But the word ‘subject,’ when I think about it, actually denotes a person with a role to play. It’s the object that’s acted upon - the subject, grammatically speaking, is an actor.

Many of my favorite documentaries are the ones in which producers stay out of the way and let the true subjects do their thing. Radio Diaries does this well, and uses a unique formula for doing it. Check out Weasel’s Diary: Deported. It’s the story of a man who was deported to El Salvador, even though he only barely remembers ever having lived there as a child.

Embracing Your Inner Oliver
Written by Christy Hartman on 7/18/2012   

In the old days, radios and record players were such novelties that people would sit around them and just listen. We don't do that so much anymore. But Edgar Oliver's storytelling is so much better than anything I've ever heard, his voice so thick with intrigue that it enraptures my entire attention; nothing, not even Facebook competes.

In Apron Strings of Savannah, Oliver masterfully dramatizes both the hyper weird and the mundane. Listening is like sitting on an old velvet couch my distant relative has been storing in an attic since the 1950's. Oliver’s story, like the couch, kind of made me cringe. His voice can best be described as Transylvania homeboy. Instead of letting the shock of Oliver’s voice distract me, though, I took a short pause and realized the basic fact that I’d been entranced. How did I get so quickly captivated by someone who sounded so little like Ira Glass?

The Discrete Sound of Skin Color
Written by Will Rogers on 7/11/2012   

I think of the words "performance art documentary", and I’m not quite sure what to imagine... perhaps some video of a guy doing experimental painting in his studio? Or maybe an audio guide to a site-specific installation in a city? It doesn’t really matter what I picture. The point is that I picture something at all: the very words "documentary," "performance," and even "art," at least for me, connote something visual. These tend to be visual words.

But it certainly doesn't have to be the case. Dmae Roberts and damali ayo have made some brilliant examples of performance art captured via audio. Check out Living Flag and Paintmixers.

Both Showing and Telling
Written by Bonnie Swift on 7/5/2012   

There are certain stories that make me ache. Stories, usually, about a person’s suffering, and their ability to accept, endure, or overcome their pain. Sometimes my whole body will flush and I’ll cry. It’s not necessarily sadness, but the entire spectrum of emotions visiting me at once. A good story of this kind hits me like a lightning bolt of human experience. Hence the ache afterwards.

Claire Schoen’s ‘Heart to Heart’ has such an effect. In a series of three 1-hour documentaries, Schoen introduces us to some of the difficult questions associated with death and end-of-life care. Part II, Children Sometimes Die, probes a topic that is so charged with pain that it is almost taboo to broach. But Schoen reminds us that even though we might not want to think about it, “sometimes children do die,” and discusses what we as a society can do to “help them on their journey.” Schoen’s careful balance between storytelling and reflection imparts this piece with both emotional and intellectual resonance.

Addicted to Brandon Darby
Written by Will Rogers on 6/27/2012   

I wrote an earlier post about how/why I love to like the characters in a story. I heard something recently that reminded me of the fact that there are other kinds of characters who can catch my ear just as easily. The protagonist of “My Way or The FBI Way,” by Michael May, is not what I would call likeable, yet I find myself captivated by him, nonetheless.

Brandon Darby is an intriguing character. He is handsome, and I can somehow hear it in his voice. He has this level of confidence, charm, and sincerity, almost like a politician, that immediately draws me in. It’s easy to be fascinated by Brandon Darby.

Written by Bonnie Swift on 6/20/2012   

When I first started producing radio, I took it upon myself to enlighten my listeners with unusual sound combinations. I would edit my stories so that the fast and the slow were sporadically mixed. Long, slow fade-ins were placed between quick, short speech excerpts. Sometimes I would sandwich five minutes of music between fifteen-second intervals of an interview. I thought I was doing my audience a favor by challenging their normal listening habits. I thought that the element of surprise would foster their keen listening.

Now when I go back and listen to those stories, I realize that more than catching their attention, I was probably testing my listeners’ patience. The varying speeds of speech and music, and the unpredictability of it all, probably prevented the kind of attention I was hoping to encourage. In creating such a wild mish-mash of fast and slow, I think I thwarted my own attempt at producing immersive, engaging stories.

"I never would have thought of that, but now that you mention it..."
Written by Will Rogers on 6/13/2012   

I care more about voices than words. The textures and emotions and cadences - all of these features, to me, carry the most important parts of communication. But every now and then, I’m reminded of the power of words.

When I listened to T.C. Boyle read Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain”, in The New Yorker Fiction Podcast, I had a minor epiphany. In the second half of the podcast, the host Deborah Triesman says that this particular story is really about language... and even though that’s not why I fell in love with the story, or why I wanted to listen to it, I immediately knew that she was right.

Work with your Hands
Written by Bonnie Swift on 6/6/2012   

The other day I sat down to tackle a long overdue sewing project, and as I started to thread the needle, noticed a feeling of restiveness creep upon me. The slow task of mending the holes in my socks appeared before me as a dull, slow, empty stretch of wasted time. I’m not used to the kind of mental space that mending socks brings. A product of my times, I am accustomed to a nearly constant stream of stimulating information. Though I like to think of myself as an old-fashioned, crafty kind of a person, I’m really not used to working with my hands. I long to have such patience.

When I need inspiration for reconnecting with that part of myself, I turn to the essays of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). Benjamin is best known “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” which many undergraduates read at some point in their education. “The Storyteller” is another of his classic essays, and fits right in to our discussion on this blog.

The J Bomb
Written by Will Rogers on 5/30/2012   

Some of our language’s most powerful words can also be some of the most alienating. Consider the words “homosexuality” or “marijuana,” or “NRA.” Some words, when uttered, separate an audience into two groups: comfortable and uncomfortable. Some words become instantly risky, especially when you put them in the center of your story. Not surprisingly, one of these words is “Jesus.”

This word can separate groups of listeners very quickly - alienating some and endearing others. In "After the Quake: Patients and Healers", producer Dan Grech handles the word “Jesus” skillfully, by staying rooted in an experience that transforms lives.

Welcome to the Sunshine Hotel
Written by Rachel Hamburg on 5/23/2012   

As a young producer, I am always trying to learn from radio pieces by figuring out how they were made. When Scott Carrier’s broken and laconic voice drifts out over the airwaves, I listen for the ways he weaves his own story into a portrait of another place. When an Ira Glass introduction tantalizes, or a Radiolab story seamlessly bridges science and philosophy, my student brain whirs and analyzes.

Sometimes, however, a piece of radio is so frightfully intimate and foreign, artful and natural, that I cannot figure out how the producers put its parts together. "The Sunshine Hotel", which premiered on All Things Considered in 1998, is one of these rare pieces. It’s the story of one of New York City’s last remaining flophouses - cheap hotels that serve those who are down on their luck. Residents of The Sunshine sleep in flea-ridden cubicles with chicken-wire ceilings, and sometimes stay a long time. Some have been there for years. Some die inside.

The Aural Disco Ball
Written by Will Rogers on 5/16/2012   

I was driving the first time I listened to Radiolab’s episode on Sleep, and when the episode finished, I realized I had missed my turn a half-hour earlier.

I was new to Oakland, and I was also new to Radiolab. As I worked my way through their archive that summer, I got lost on a regular basis, driving on unfamiliar streets.

I didn’t mind -- I was also getting lost in great stories.

Poetic Voice
Written by Bonnie Swift on 5/9/2012   

As a child, I was lucky enough to grow up listening to David Whyte tapes with in my mother’s car. At the age of eleven or twelve, I had not yet come to appreciate poetry, having only read it from a book. But poetry came alive for me in Whyte’s cassette tapes. Listening to a well-read poem is an entirely different experience than encountering it on the page. David Whyte reading poetry is like receiving a loaf of warm bread, fresh from the oven. It is life sustaining. Simple in its genius.

Achieving the most basic effect often requires the most adept skill. In this TEDx talk, Whyte introduces us to his thorough, methodical approach to poetry, employing several poems as platforms for a discussion of what he terms the ‘conversational nature of reality.’

Ubiquitous Audio-tastic Material: Learning How to Listen
Written by Will Rogers on 5/2/2012   

Ever since I listened to this piece of audio, I’ve been a more informed inhabitant of the modern world. That’s because listening to this piece taught me how to listen to the wide array of sounds that are bombarding me from every direction, all the time.

In “Hearing,”(act II in This American Life’s episode on Mapping) Jack Hitt does something very simple, very well: he gives me the tools to more fully experience something that I was already experiencing, even though I wasn’t yet aware of it.

The piece is about a writer, Toby Lester, who learns how to notice sounds around him. In the piece, Hitt and Lester peruse the inhabited world for the types of sounds that we tend to ignore: air conditioner, refrigerator compressor, microwave beep; and when they find these sounds, they figure out the exact note (on the musical scale) of each sound. They then make chords out of those notes, and describe (using splendidly antiquated vocabulary) the effect that those chords can have on our emotional state.

Darth Vader Impersonator
Written by Charlie Mintz on 4/30/2012   

I do not recommend this piece to children (seriously). I recommend it to basically everyone else, though.

I play it for my friends, I’ve played it for romantic partners, and I’ll be playing it long after radio is succeeded by whatever medium comes next. “Darth Vader Impersonator Impersonator” was put together by Sean Cole and Benjamen Walker-- two public radio stalwarts-- and it has to be one of my all-time favorite pieces of radio.

Expert Kindness
Written by Bonnie Swift on 4/25/2012   

When you work in radio, you have the power to record, edit, broadcast, and comment upon another person’s statement. Once you have an interview on tape, that’s it. That person’s voice is frozen in time. If you critique her argument, then she won’t have the chance to respond. If you insult her, she won’t be able to defend herself, or to insult you back. If you muscle all the advantages inherent to your position, you could really take the upper hand. But it’s better for everybody, including your listener, if you remain kind. Kindness and generosity are central to great storytelling.

I was reminded of this while I was listening to radio superstar Ira Glass on This American Life’s Kid Politics episode. In Act Two, Climate Changes. People Don’t.Glass mediates a conversation between a climate science education expert (Dr. Johnson) and a 14 year-old girl (Erin), who is not convinced that climate change is real. Glass gives Dr. Johnson the opportunity to run through the most compelling evidence for climate change to Erin, then asks Erin whether she’s at all convinced by what Dr. Johnson has said.

A Tapestry of Voices
Written by Will Rogers on 4/18/2012   

Radio taught me why the words "weave" and "story" go well together. Listening to the radio, I can sometimes hear voices as colors, and perspectives as directions. The fabric develops when the perspectives intersect and combine with each other.

Perhaps an illustration would be useful... an audio illustration. Listen to "Just Another Fish Story" , by Molly Menschel. It’s a 9-minute story about a beached whale in a fishing town (and no, it’s not the story about the beached whale that was blown up with dynamite). This piece does an excellent job weaving many voices into a single cohesive story.

Menschel shifts from voice-to-voice quite a lot in this piece - sometimes over twenty times in a single minute. Some voices are older, some younger; some of the voices sound clean and crisp; some sound frayed by years of cigarette smoke. They all tell one story, thanks to brilliant editing of these very small clips.

Kids’ Toys -> Noise Music -> The TRUTH
Written by Will Rogers on 4/11/2012   

This piece of audio changed the way I experience the world.

“Using Toys to Make Music” was produced by Heather Roberts and Mike Mellenthin in a sophomore-level class at Stanford in 2008. Just so you know: It runs a little on the long side; the audio quality is not fantastic; it was made by college students. Somehow, though, this piece made me notice the difference between noise and music, and as soon as I started noticing it, I could not un-notice it.

Like many great radio documentaries, this story introduced me to an "audiotastic" subculture that I had not really known about. In this case, it’s people who dis-assemble mechanical toys to make strange music. Some of the music is crazy; some of the people are crazy. But rather than taking you into the

Holy heck, I’m hearing triple!
Written by Bonnie Swift on 04/09/2012   

I love it when Radiolab tells a story from the outside and the inside, in both past tense and in present tense, using different people’s voices, and different recordings of the same person’s voice, to create a single narrative arc that is easy to follow and dreamily immersive.

In my last post, I wrote about Brett Ascarelli’s skilled employment of on-location sound. Today I’ll take that discussion one step further and explore what happens when multiple tracks of the same person’s voice are used to construct a single narrative. Such a tangle could quickly become disorienting, but with Radiolab, it’s easy listening.

Placebo is one of my all-time favorite Radiolab episodes -- an hour of rapid-fire ideas and ruminations on the unknown. A great story-within-a-story, The White Coat, starts at 32:20 and finishes at 39:05, in which Abumrad follows his father, a doctor, through a typical day at the hospital.

A “Cry” Button
Written by Will Rogers on 4/5/2012   

There’s one radio trick that brings me to tears every time, and it features quite prominently in a 10-minute piece called “This can go on forever,” by Shea Shackelford and Virginia Millington.

The piece tells the story of an adopted young man who, after having a child of his own, reunites with his birth-mother. The moment when the tears erupt (quite predictably) occurs when a mother, after 19 years of no contact, meets a grown-man version of the baby to whom she gave birth.

But it isn’t just the content of the story that makes me cry. I know this because it happens in non-emotional stories as well as emotional ones. Radiolab, for example, does it all the time; I cry nearly every time I listen to the show.

We’re Out On An Adventure
Written by Bonnie Swift on 04/1/2012   

Let’s start with something that’s tremendously obvious. One thing you can do in audio that you can’t do in print is use recorded sound. But producers don’t record sounds for stories just because they can - they do it because a good set of field recordings can turn a regular story into a veritable adventure. My friend Brett Ascarelli, reporter for Radio Sweden, is great at using field recordings to transport her listeners to new places.

In Sweden they get a lot of snow. One of the biggest concerns in cities like Stockholm is that icicles and chunks of ice could fall off rooftops and land on people's heads - accidents that can prove fatal. During a heavy winter, building owners call in special teams that clear ice and snow from the rooftops.

Intimate Chamber
Written by Will Rogers on 3/30/2012   

This piece is four minutes long, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I actually recommend that you listen to it before reading the rest of this post (rather than after), because when you finish, the following few paragraphs might help you to transition back into the rest of your day. Parents at an Execution was produced by the people at Sound Portraits; I first heard it in a group-listening situation, and the room was completely filled with silence when the piece completed. We needed time for it to sink in. If the discussion leader hadn’t said something, we may have just let it sink in all morning.

After all the sinking I’ve done with this piece, this is what I’ve come up with: this piece conveys a type of intimacy that can only be accessed with audio.

Media and Messages
Written by Bonnie Swift on 3/22/2012   

We often don’t think about it, but most stories that we listen to have been written beforehand. While some stories are easy to read aloud, the typical story undergoes some key changes when it’s adapted for the ear. I thought it could be an interesting Marshall McLuhan-esque exercise (‘the medium is the message’) to compare two stories by the same author, one written and another spoken, and to examine how each is composed to better suit its medium.

I recommend reading "The Lost Father" in the New York Times first, then listening to "Vietnam's Postwar Legacy" on All Things Considered. In both, Karen Spears Zacarais tells us about what it was like to grow up without her father, who was killed as a soldier in Vietnam. In the written story, she compares her own childhood experience to children who have lost parents in today’s wars, while in the spoken story, she recalls her personal journey to the place where her father died in Vietnam. Both are beautiful, both touching, but they are also quite different, not just in form, but in content. While the most obvious differences are seen at the surface level, some are more radical, perhaps because different media are better suited for telling different kinds of stories.

Silent Sounds
Written by Will Rogers on 3/20/2012   

Deaf culture has audible power. Even sign language has its own audible power.

Bob Panara tells two baseball stories in this StoryCorps piece. If you’re not familiar with the format, StoryCorps gets people into a booth for a 40 minute interview, and then they edit the material into a brief radio story. This one is very brief: two minutes.

In the first minute, Panara tells of when his father took him to meet Babe Ruth (“The Bambino”), and in the second minute, Panara tells of taking his own son to meet Brooks Robinson, another baseball Hall-of-Famer.

A Simple Game of Chess
Written by Bonnie Swift on 3/13/2012   

All my friends are playing chess again, and it all started with a story by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich at WNYC’s RadioLab. A recent show called Games has a zippy story called The Rules Can Set You Free [21:57] that’s enough to inspire even the most out-of-practice player back to the chessboard.

RadioLab knows how to tell a good story. They lure us into this one with their signature symphony of sound and voices, and hook us with narrative suspense. We are caught from the beginning in an opposition—in this case, the idea is that a good game strikes a balance between the known and the novel. The tension between these two poles drives the entire segment, which flies by like a game of speed chess.

When Stories Become Super Sonic
Written by Will Rogers on 3/5/2012   

It’s easy to make cacophony: just stack audio tracks on top of each other in your editing software and click "play."

But it's a different thing, entirely, to make music out of it. Glenn Gould, during his foray into radio production, provides a calculated dose of cacophony in this intro to his radio piece "The Idea of North”, a piece that explores five characters’ perspectives on Northern Canada.

How to Spook Your Listener
Written by Bonnie Swift on 3/1/2012   

Haunted. I felt haunted when I first listened to Scott Carrier’s, The Test [15 min] on This American Life, in 2001. Now, more than ten years later, this story is still etched in my memory like few stories are. It’s a story about Carrier driving through the Utah countryside, in search of people with schizophrenia. He has been hired by the state for the summer to administer a standardized test that will assess their psychological well being. In the process of conducting these interviews, he sounds the depths of consciousness, only to discover further depths. Eek.

Like a series of paintings hung on the pristine white walls of a gallery, this story utilizes empty space to its advantage. Carrier hasn’t introduced any field recordings, interviews, or sound effects other than a very sparing dash of music.

Good Stories Make Good Lectures
Written by Bonnie Swift on 2/27/2012   

Wade Davis is hands-down one of the great storytellers of our time. Holder of the oxymoronic position of ‘explorer-in-residence’ at the National Geographic Society, Davis is best known for his controversial work in the 1980s on Haitian zombies. Since then, he has traveled the reaches of the globe, thoughtfully documenting the world’s diverse spiritual traditions.

For a bullet-train introduction to Davis’s repertoire, I recommend his 2010 lecture, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. This is part of a series of Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT) hosted by the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco.

This is a lecture, not a story. But it’s a great lecture precisely because it’s full of great stories.

Tenderness in the Game Show Arena
Written by Will Rogers on 02/19/2012   

I love to like the characters in a story.

When I listened to "Roger Dowds: Millionaire Winner," by Irish producer Ronan Kelly, I immediately got into sync with the protagonist -- when he felt sad, I felt sad. When he felt happy, I felt happy. The listening experience is simple when the character is likable.

With Roger Dowds, likability has everything to do with his desperate sincerity. It spills out of his mouth every time he speaks. He communicates sincerity not just through what he says, but in how he says it: the quality of his voice is a crucial element in this story. It’s a simple, soft, almost-pathetic-sounding voice with an element of pain behind it. You get that quality throughout the piece - it’s a part of who he is: like a whimper with a wounded heart. Without even seeing a picture of him, you still get an image of a hunched-over, pale-skinned body behind Roger’s voice. All in all, you kind of want to feel sorry for him... but when he smiles, you can hear it. You love that smile.

Coaxing a Petty Tyrant out of the Dark
Written by Will Rogers on 02/17/2012   

I love when This American Life illuminates some tiny piece of some random city that I might pass on the freeway, reminding me how this country's landscape is still rich with stories. I had barely heard of Schenectady, New York, when I listened to Petty Tyrant. In this episode, for a full hour, Sarah Koenig tells the story of a single manager in a seemingly “normal” school district, reminding me that great stories can lurk in dark spaces.

Ira Glass describes the story as “a huge scandal was slowly coming to a boil in one of the least likely places,” and the difference between this radio story and the broadcast news-version of the same story is that the news only shows you the part that boils over the top. This American Life takes its time, though, waiting until the story reaches just the right temperature, seasoning it to enhance the flavor.