Are you sabotaging your peace and happiness?

Sure, I pass along words of advice and other mental ramblings about writing, voiceovers, advertising, parenting, and what-not now and then…but I’m certainly not a professional psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist. (I can act a bit psycho sometimes, but I prefer the term, “eccentric.”)

The reason I say this, is because I wanted to take a moment and share someone else’s blog post today.  The advice they share is not only worthwhile, it is for anyone and everyone, of all walks of life.

You are what you do

That right there pretty much sums up the point of the blog post.  If you do things that encourage happiness, growth, peace, and success, you will see those things begin to flourish in your life.  If, on the other hand, you focus on negatives, you will encounter more and more of them.

Yes, this sounds like many other blog posts and self-help books you’ve read before; I know that’s what you’re thinking. “Focus on the positive, eliminate the negative, yada yada…”

So why bother clicking the following link?

Because in this day and age of social media and Google searches, of instant tweets and Facebook statuses (or is that stati?)…it’s easier than ever for all of us – Yours Truly, included – to fall into one or more of these traps.

Envy, greed, and other annoying behaviours

Do you feel like you’re a failure because your Facebook friends all seem so successful?  Do you really want to do something, but don’t feel the time is ever right?  Are you afraid, worried, or doubtful about your career, your family, your life?

Then I encourage you to check out this post:

Ten Little Habits That Steal Your Happiness

After you read it, perhaps you’ll see yourself in a slightly new light, and can begin to make whatever changes you feel you need to make, to be a happier, more peaceful person.

And really…this world needs as many of those kinds of people as we can get!

Thanks for visiting today, and feel free to share this post if you found it useful!


Did you like this post? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Poetry Friday: “New Hampshire Rock Garden”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllToday I thought I’d share something summery, for adults.  I wrote this a few years ago, and deliberately used a simple, straightforward, prosaic style…because it just felt like that’s what the subject required. Consequently, it’s nothing fancy, but I like it. Hope you do, too!

“New Hampshire Rock Garden”

My wife wanted a rock garden
I preferred vegetables
so I pulled out stones
and planted tomatoes
pulled out more stones
watered the squash
pulled out more stones
thinned the cukes
pulled out more stones
weeded the beans
and when it came time for harvest
pulled out more stones.

She has a rock garden, all right.


– © 2009, Matt Forrest Esenwine


Sherry at Semicolon was scheduled to host Poetry Friday today, but since she doesn’t seem to be around, I’ve provided a list of some of the folks participating. If you have a post, please feel free to leave it in the comments! I can’t guarantee I’ll have time to repost everyone’s links, but hopefully visitors will scan through the comments and see what piques their interest!

Robyn Hood Black interviews Margarita Engle:

Michelle Barnes has an original poem inspired by her daughter:

Father Goose shares a “Couplet at a Metaphor:”

Writing about difficult subjects is Laura Shovan’s subject today:

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche wrote a poem inspired while attending Kate Messner’s virtual writer’s camp:

Catherine Johnson has two left feet:

Irene Latham shares some beautiful Valerie Worth poems:

Diane Mayr shares her experience at a New Hampshire writer’s retreat:

Diane also has a “Cocoon” poem at Kurious Kitty:

And a quote about the “wild mind” from Michael Hettich:

Linda Baie is feeling vacation anticipation:

Liz Steinglas shares a poem she wrote last summer about an iconic summer flower:

Mary Lee Hahn  also has sunflowers on her mind…sleds, too!

Joy Acey shares a modern haiku:

Tabatha Yeats points out some of the highlights of the journal, Still:


Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Things worth doing, worth trying, and not worth your effort

This post was originally published in September 2012.  While I am currently in the process of narrating an audiobook, I’m taking a break from my normal Tuesday posts; clients come first, of course!  But since the subject of the book I’m narrating is about the importance of connecting with others, of taking pride in your work and yourself, and of making the effort to improve your life each day, I thought this was worth re-posting…


Lord Chesterfield, 1765

“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.”
– Lord Chesterfield (1694 – 1773)

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”
– Hunter S. Thompson

“Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” 
– Ron Swanson of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”

No matter how you look at it or to whom you look for a great quote about it, we humans strive for excellence.  Throughout history, we as a species have faced innumerable insurmountable odds – floods, plagues, sabre-toothed tigers, the Kardashians – and have always managed to not only survive, but thrive.

It’s that innate drive, coupled with our intelligence and curiosity, that has propelled us from drawing on cave walls to writing Elizabethan sonnets, from discovering fire to sending men to the moon.  It is our constant quest for knowledge, wisdom, and self-discovery that has allowed us to create life-changing inventions like vaccines, automobiles, computers, and Moxie.

So why do some people just not bother?

A couple of months ago, I came across a book-review blog (which shall remain nameless).  The most recent posting, dated July 2012, was a review of the book, The Hunger Games.  Now, considering the fact that the book was originally published in 2008, the fellow writing this review seemed to be a tad late to the party.  The movie, of course, just came out earlier this year – so a book review at this point was, to say the least, overdue.

But then I read it.

Paraphrasing – but almost word-for-word – the review went as follows:  “I’ve heard alot about this book; if it’s anything like the movie, this is probably pretty good.”

I was dumbfounded.  I actually started yelling at my poor computer for wasting the 40 seconds or so of my life that it took to find and read that insightful and eye-opening ‘review.’

The question I kept asking this faceless ‘book reviewer’ was…”Why bother?!?”

If you’re not going to even try to make an effort, why waste the time?  Maybe it’s because I value quality, perhaps it’s because I value my time…but I simply cannot wrap my head around why anyone would voluntarily undertake a project they have absolutely no desire to actually DO, much less complete.  Am I missing something?

The $5000 idea…that wasn’t:

Here’s another one:  A businessman I know recently told me about his wife’s idea to sell crafts at the local fairs and flea markets; she knew what was popular and trendy, she had researched what she’d need, and thought it would be fun and profitable.  So my friend and his wife agreed to go forward with it.

That was three years ago.

At the time of this writing, nearly $5000 worth of merchandise remains packed away in their garage, waiting to be brought somewhere – anywhere – and be sold.

According to my friend, his wife became disinterested in the idea before she ever got the idea off the ground.

Again I ask, “Why bother??”

Is it laziness?  Apathy?  Disillusionment?

Forget, “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”…how about, “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth trying to do well.”  Or, “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth making an effort to try to do well.”  Or even, “if something’s worth considering doing, at least try to pretend to do it well, so others don’t write blog posts about you.”

I can understand if someone poorly performs a task they don’t actually want to do; I may or may not respect that, but I can understand it.  I can also understand a less-than-stellar performance from someone who is still learning the task.  Failure isn’t always a bad thing – it’s the best way to learn, in many instances.  But in these cases, we’re talking about people who voluntarily decided to not even attempt a goal they set for themselves.  If you don’t want to review books, don’t!  If you’d rather not hit the flea market circuit, don’t purchase enough inventory to start up your own mall anchor store!

Quitting = Liberating

Don’t get me wrong; if you don’t want to do whatever you’ve decided to do…it’s ok to change your mind.  But isn’t it better to simply cease whatever you’re doing rather than turn in a half-baked performance?

Are you struggling to get that first or second book published?  Ask yourself if you really enjoy the process:  the writing, the revising, the querying, the rejection.  If you find it difficult to be motivated to do the work…the work is probably suffering.  No one said you can’t stop.

Are you getting frustrated with the number of auditions or casting calls you’re being passed on, and wondering if you should keep at it?  Again, ask yourself if you enjoy what you’re doing – and if the answer is no, find something you do enjoy.  The only person putting pressure on you…is you.

Talent = Overrated

The difference between excellence and mediocrity is not necessarily talent.  Very often, tenacity beats brains, practice beats natural ability, and hard work beats luck.  (For the record, that last one is almost always true).  Nothing against talent, it’s certainly important – but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

I frequently play soccer and basketball with some of the folks in town, and although I’m one of the least-qualified players on any field I step onto, I hold my own.  Why?  Because, as I’ve told them, what I lack in talent I make up for in hustle.

Do you have hustle?

Are you making an effort?

Take a look at your life and see if there are projects, activities, or responsibilities you have taken on that you would rather not deal with.  Are you doing them well?  Are you trying to do them well?  Are you doing them at all?  There are probably plenty of folks out there who can and will do them – better than you.  Are you ok with that?

It’s your call.


Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Poetry Friday: “The Old Man and the Rain”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllIt seems I’m always thanking people for providing me the inspiration to write stuff! It might be my family (see this past Tuesday’s post about social media and Jello shots) or it could be a fellow children’s writer (see last Friday’s poem).  This week, I owe a debt of gratitude to David L. Harrison.

Last weekend, David posted a poetry starter on his blog. He and his wife were vacationing in Florida, but it had been raining the entire time, so he asked his readers to come up with a few lines based on his “misery.” Of course, the definition of “misery” is subjective; for someone like me who lives in New Hampshire, ANY day in Florida is a good day!

But since it has been so rainy and dreary here this year – the rainiest summer I can recall, really – I could definitely empathize with him. So I wrote a short poem and posted it on his blog.  (You can read everyone’s poems, including mine, HERE)

As I looked at it and considered tweaking it, I thought I might be able to improve it a bit but changing the concept of “the man” to “the old man.” By doing so, I hoped to make a stronger differentiation between the ages of the two characters; it may, perhaps, be more obvious that they are one in the same. Moreover, the inference that this person is an older fellow gives the poem a potentially deeper meaning – is he actually watching rain fall, or is this whole scene allegorical, about something bigger and more universal?

I dunno. But that’s the beauty of poetry, right? Hopefully it’s not too deep for an alleged children’s poem…but it is what it is. As I always tell people, I don’t write for a particular audience or market, I just write.  It’s only when I’m done writing something that I try to figure out what to do with it or where to put it.

So, having said that – here it is! I hope you enjoy it. And for all of today’s Poetry Friday info and links, please visit Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty!

Rainy Day
Outside the old man’s window!

The Old Man and the Rain

The old man stares through window glass;
another rainy day.
He tries to catch a glimpse of sun,
but all he sees is grey.

He says a secret, silent prayer
to wish the rain away.
Although the man has work to do,
the boy would like to play.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine


Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Slowing down and catching up

This past weekend, my wife, my son, and I attended my wife’s family’s annual 4th of July cookout.  It’s amazing the things you learn and discover when you’re not constantly up each other’s arses on Facebook and Twitter.

ID-10016558 (BBQ)Before I go any further, I should explain something. This is a BIG shindig. Family, extended family, and friends all get together to hang out, have fun, and eat tons of food. I’ve been to more than a few family functions in the past, but this has got to be the biggest one each year.

How big?

There aren’t just hot dogs and hamburgers. There’s also barbecued chicken, pulled pork, hot & sweet sausages, steak tips, chicken wings, and smoked ribs. And those are just the meats.  There’s a pool, a horseshoe pit, a bounce house for the kids, and requisite beer-pong tournament.

This year, they even rented a Porta-potty!

Like I said…it’s a big party. Which is why I found it so surprising – and refreshing, really – to be able to learn so much from my own family members.

Social media ≠ real socializing

While many of the folks in attendance keep up with each other via social media, several don’t. And the ones who do – Yours Truly, included – are not living every moment of our lives to find out what everyone else is doing everyday.

Now and then I’ll see a Facebook post from someone, and perhaps I’ll comment, perhaps not. Often I miss a good deal of what’s going on because, to be honest, I’ve got a lot going on in my own life.

facebookNot to sound selfish or anything, but I’m so preoccupied with my voiceover business, my writing, taking care of my 3-year-old son, taking care of the house/gardening/firewood/landscaping/etc., and trying to be a good husband to my pregnant, ready-to-pop-any-day-now wife…I honestly twitterdon’t have the time to notice that my step-cousin Susie has posted another duck-lip selfpic or that Uncle Fred finally had his bunions removed.

So being able to enjoy true socializing was like a gift. I was able to relax Pinterestand chat with one or two people, snack on some food, and have a drink, then start another conversation with someone else and have some more food.  (Food figures prominently at this soirée – and in my life, for that matter)

soundcloudAnd by engaging in real, old-fashioned human interaction, without the distractions that come with socializing online, I was not only more focused on what people were talking about, I was also able to enjoy it much more. I wasn’t being interrupted by pop-up ads, I wasn’t checking emails and bank accounts while trying to skim through my Facebook news feed, and I wasn’t finding intriguing news stories that pulled my attention away from my work.

I discovered quite a bit, too.

“You did what?  When?  Where?  Wow!”

I learned that my uncle-in-law (not sure if that’s a real designation, but we’ll go with it) purchased and rebuilt a classic motorcycle which he turned into a trike. However, he left the rear wheel of the motorcycle on – meaning the trike actually has three wheels in the back. Which, I suppose, makes it a quad. Kinda, sort of.

I had a chance to catch up with a second cousin who recently graduated college, who told me a 7-year-old boy she was babysitting tried to hit on her. Not hit her…hit on her.  At 7 years old, all I wanted was a new Tonka truck. Apparently they start young, these days.

I also learned that another relative has started a new job that has tremendous perks; that the rules of horseshoes need to be altered slightly if you want the game to end before sunrise; and that Jello shots pack significantly more punch when they’re made entirely with vodka and no water whatsoever.

Oh, and all that cutting, splitting, and stacking cordwood I’ve been doing is paying off, it seems. While standing in my swimming trunks chatting with my wife and her sisters, one of them asked if I had lost weight. I said I didn’t know; it was possible, with all the outdoor work I’ve been doing.

I thanked her, of course – then immediately began to wonder what type of home improvement project is best for one’s abs.

ID-100177455 (floating ring)
Somewhere…an inner tube is calling you.

Relax, recharge, refocus

Could I have learned these things via Facebook or Twitter? Sure – at least some of them. Although my uncle isn’t online, Jello shots are hard to do on Google+, and since I don’t post shirtless photos of myself on Facebook, I doubt anyone would have ever noticed my muscular, chiseled, near-godlike physique.

But having the opportunity to slow down and leave the electronic distractions behind was not only enjoyable, it was necessary. Hopefully you can find the time to slow down and catch up with the people close to you this summer.

Just like the batteries in our devices need to get turned off and recharged now and then, we need that, as well. That’s why, although I’ll be working through this week doing my voiceover work and writing my children’s poetry, I’ll be on a semi-hiatus, so to speak.

I’ll be spending more time readying the nursery for baby #2’s arrival in August and spending more time with my wife over the weekend – just the two of us, with no distractions. I also will not be posting a new blog entry next Monday.

I do have the urge to go out and cut down more trees, though.


Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Poetry Friday: “The Trees are Red”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI was recently talking to a friend who is also a children’s writer about creativity. she writes a lot of nonfiction and historical fiction and had asked if I could give her some pointers on poetic devices and styles to help her write more creatively. As we talked, I realized the biggest difference between poets and other writers.

We see things differently.

That’s not to say we have better perspective, better talent, better anything…we just look at the world in ways other folks don’t. It seems that when poets ask “why,” “how,” and “what if”…we get answers that often surprise even ourselves.

This poem, for example, was inspired by a Facebook photo posted by fellow children’s poet and illustrator, Samuel Kent, aka The Lunchbox Doodler. I got thinking about an “orange sky” and why it might be orange. Then I wondered…if the sky was orange, what colour were the trees and grass? And if they were all different colours…why??

Once I answered that last question, the answer popped in my head and I wrote the poem in about 20 minutes. Hope you like it! And if you still want more, Keri has all the Poetry Friday links!


The Trees Are Red

The trees are red.
The grass is blue.
The river is yellow –
The rocks are, too.

The streets are purple
All over town.
Nothing’s the same
Since that rainbow fell down.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine


Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links over here on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  You can also follow me via Twitter or on Facebook.

Independence Day, 2013

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration:

Georgia:    Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

North Carolina:    William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:    Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr.,Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts:   John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Maryland:   Samuel Chase,William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:   George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:    Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:    Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

New York:    William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:    Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:    Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island:    Stephen Hopkins    William Ellery

Connecticut:    Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott


Happy Independence Day to the United States of America! 

An ace up your sleeve: making clichés work

ID-100105596 (waitress)“Quality ingredients!”

“Friendly staff!”

“Just like homemade!”

I think if I hear another restaurant commercial with these phrases in it, I’m going to do something embarrassing, loud, and possibly violent.

These are advertising clichés, and you don’t need to be a commercial copy writer to recognize them when you hear them. We’ve all heard car dealer ads that promise “no-hassle sales” and “ASE-certified mechanics.” We’ve all gone to restaurants with “reasonable prices” in a “comfortable atmosphere.” We’ve all been told that “conveniently located” businesses holding “inventory clearance sales” offer “rock-bottom savings.”

And we don’t buy any of it.

Worthless words

What’s that, you say? You use quality ingredients? Oh, what a relief – your competitors down the road probably use really crappy ones.

A friendly wait staff? Wow! I had gotten so tired of dealing with the witches at all those other restaurants.

ID-100174426 (mechanic)Let me tell you something: I’ve been producing radio commercials for nearly 30 years, and I still don’t know what “ASE” stands for, what it means, or why it’s important. (You’d think if it was THAT important, someone would have told us by now, dontcha think?)

Oh, and another thing: the next time you hear about an “inventory clearance sale,” just remember…

EVERY sale is an inventory reduction sale! That’s the point of a sale – to reduce the inventory!!

Whew, glad I could get that off my chest. Moving on…

Giving meaning to the meaningless

We hear these clichés so often, they’ve lost whatever meaning they may have had – if any – when they were first used. Having written and produced so many commercials over the years, my brain has a sort of cliché-radar, and I’m always quick to try to avoid them.  But then along came this client…

It was a new Italian-American restaurant that was opening soon, and they wanted radio commercials that would get their selling point (or, Unique Selling Proposition) across without sounding like every other commercial out there. Yes, they served delicious food made with quality ingredients, had a comfortable atmosphere and reasonable prices…but we couldn’t say that because no one would believe it. And if you serve good food with nice people – how do you set yourself apart from all the other places out there?

Answer: clichés.

I decided to utilize some of those overused, meaningless phrases and turn them on their heads, to illustrate why this particular restaurant was different. The client loved the premise, so we put together 3 different commercials, each one focusing on a slightly different aspect of the restaurant. They had to be :30s – I would have preferred :60s – so word economy was very important. When I was done, here’s what they sounded like:

I think that first line of the first commercial was what sold the client on my approach. Telling the listener to “go ask mama to make you something” completely turns the tables on the “home-cooked food” cliché, and sets the tone for the rest of the spot as well as the other two. The client was happy, the radio station was happy, and so was I!

All’s well that ends well

Just remember that when it comes to clichés, every cloud has a silver lining.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade; it’s for the best. If the cat has your tongue, take one step at a time – what’s the worst that could happen? And if you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.


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