Poetry Friday: “…Although, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

It’s hard for me to believe, but it has been 13 months since I began this blog! Where does the time go?? I’m currently busy working at the 98th annual Hopkinton (NH) State Fair, where I have been the announcer for about 5 years; I remind people what events are taking place, inform them as to where facilities are, and also announce the demolition derbies Sat. and Sun nights. It’s a long, 60-65 hour weekend of talking, walking, and smiling…but I love it. So, since I don’t have the time to post something new today, I’m reposting this fair-themed poem from last year; this was originally published Sept. 7, 2012.

For all the Poetry Friday links, be sure to head on over to A Teaching Life with Tara!

===================================================================

poetryfridaybutton-fulllYes, that’s the title of the poem.  I know, it’s a bit odd, but so is the person who wrote it.  Actually, there’s a reason why I titled it this way…you’ll understand once you read the poem.

This was written last summer, as I was preparing for my duties as the official live announcer for the annual Hopkinton State Fair here in New Hampshire.  It’s one of the largest fairs in the state and takes place during Labor Day Weekend.

I was the announcer for this year’s fair as well, and I’m still recuperating.  It’s not the nearly 65-hours-on-my-feet-for-5-days schedule that gets me; it’s the food!  Between deep-fried pickles, Pop-Tarts and Oreos, barbecued bison burgers, and roast turkey legs that would give Fred Flintstone a hernia, it’s a fair-foodie’s dream-come-true.  My annual favourite?  A loaded baked potato with chili, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, chives, salsa, and jalapenos.

I tell them to hold the butter because I really don’t need the fat.

“…Although, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I love the fair, but most of all, the food is hard to beat –
It’s barely 2pm, and yet I’ve had so much to eat!
I started with a burger, had a corn dog and some fries,
And then hot buttered popcorn in a box of massive size.

I feasted on the fried dough, ate a funnel cake or three,
And downed as many deep-fried foods as there could ever be.
Of course I needed ice cream, so I stopped to have a scoop;
I even scarfed a giant, cheesy bread bowl full of soup!

Had cotton candy, caramel apples, schnitzel on a stick,
And polished off a pulled pork sub entirely too quick.
I’ve eaten all the sausage my poor stomach will allow;
So really…all I want…
is just a garden salad now.

© 2011, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Truth, honesty, and shredded cheese

It has occurred to me how easily annoyed I am by bad, confusing, or poorly-written commercials. Some folks would just let it be. Not me; I’m in this biz, after all.  I try to turn these lemons into luscious lemon curd. (With lemonade, all you can do is drink it; lemon curd, on the other hand, is useful for hundreds of desserts!)  So starting today, I plan to spotlight different commercials now and then on this blog, individually.  That way, rather than spending a lot of time analyzing several commercials in one post, both you AND I can get through it all much quicker…

===================================================================

Something has been bothering me for months.

It’s a question I never realized even needed to be asked; that is, until I saw a TV commercial for Sargento® brand shredded cheese.

One does not need to be a culinary genius to assume – correctly – that pita chips come from pita bread, graham cracker crumbs come from graham crackers, and those little crushed Oreo® pieces you find in cookies ‘n cream ice cream are, indeed, actual Oreos.

Imagine my confusion, then, when this popped up on my TV:

So, it’s cheese…that’s been shredded…from a big block of…cheese.

I have a friendly message for the good folks at Sargento.  If you’re introducing cheese that is shredded from a big block of cheese as a new product – be prepared to answer the following question:

“What the hell were you selling BEFORE??”

All these years, I’ve held the crazy notion that packaged shredded cheese always started out as a big block that was subsequently shredded. Apparently, I’m way off base here.

This commercial annoys me for two reasons. On one hand, I think it’s great that they’re selling real shredded cheese – but if that’s not the way packaged shredded cheese is produced by other companies, TELL ME MORE. Tell me what shredded cheese actually is.

The other thing that bothers me is that it’s being promoted as something “new.” If they said shredding the cheese off the block is the way they’ve always done it, then it would underscore their commitment to quality and tradition. But by saying it’s new, they leave customers wondering how it’s different from whatever they sold previously.

Truth is good. Quality is good. Unique Selling Propositions* are good.

Confusion…not so good.

.

* Unique Selling Proposition:  an industry term referring to the one thing that sets that business apart from all the others.  Ultimately, it’s the answer to the question, “Why should I give you my money, instead of the guy next door?”

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI can’t believe a week has already flown by since my new daughter, Phoebe, arrived. It’s been a busy week, too: getting adjusted to having a baby in the house, helping our 3-year-old to become acclimated to the concept (he’s a great little big brother), plus helping my wife as much as possible while she recovers from her C-section.

All this on top of trying to run my voiceover business while prepping for a big, 5-day-gig as the announcer at the local state fair Labor Day weekend.

Oh, and did I mention that on Wednesday I dropped a 6-foot, 8-inch diameter log on my left big toe, splitting the nail in half?  (Yeah, that was a big, fat ouch, let me tell you). So it’s been a crazy, crazy, crazy busy week.

I’ve had the idea for this poem since she was born, by the way – but considering all of the above, I didn’t have time to put it to paper until last night. Normally, I don’t share first drafts, but this is actually a 3rd-draft, and I’m fairly happy with it…although I’m sure I’ll tinker with it again tomorrow, and the next day, and next week, and…well, you know how poets are.

Gotta run…I hear a baby crying! For more poetry, visit today’s Poetry Friday hostess, Betsy, at I Think In Poems!

.

Phoebe - 1  week
Phoebe Kenna-Rose, on her 1-week birthday. And yes, those cheeks ARE exceedingly pinch-able.

“To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

Little one,
with eyes wide
to a world
you cannot see,
find comfort in the world
you know:
sustenance
in your mother’s breasts,
security
in father’s arms,
peace
in the familiar.

Enjoy the warm sweetness
of milk on your tongue,
smile at dreams only you
can know,
and sleep soundly
safely
as long as you like…

for you, little one,
do not know
this world beyond
your world.
This world that awaits
knows neither
comfort
nor sustenance
nor safety.
But it will,
little one,
soon

be yours.

You do not yet realize
this world
you so depend upon
depends
on you.

© 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Are our kids as special as we think they are? Are WE??

As many of you know, my wife gave birth to her second child (my fourth) last week.  Little Phoebe arrived Thursday morning weighing in at a substantially healthy 9 pounds, 7 ounces and 21 inches. Phoebe - 2nd dayTake a look at that photo. Isn’t she adorable? Isn’t she cute? Isn’t she special?

Well, she’s adorable, yes. Definitely cute as all get-out. And to me, she’s one of the four most special things in the world (as I said, I have three other kids, too!)

But just because she’s special to me and my wife…is she actually special?

Definitions v. semantics

I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly doubt how special your newborn child is, you heartless, unfeeling clod?!?  Please, please, please do not misunderstand me. My daughter is a very special little girl and I love her dearly. But stop for a moment and try to see what I’m getting at.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “special:”

1) distinguished by some unusual quality; especially being in some way superior
2) held in particular esteem
3) readily distinguishable from others of the same category

So let’s apply these definitions to Phoebe. Is she distinguished by some unusual quality?  She primarily has her mom’s face – eyes, cheeks, bone structure. She has my lips…and so far, my appetite. But her mom’s features come from her dad, who got his from his mother. My lips – and my appetite – both come from my father. Still, like all babies, she takes a dab of this chromosome and a smidgeon of this other chromosome to become her own unique person; similar to all those who came before, but unlike anyone else.

Is she held in particular esteem? Certainly she is, by her mom and me. Her sisters and brother also think she’s the most special thing ever, and of course all our family members love her. But if she’s truly special by definition, how is her ‘specialness’ different from the ‘specialness’ of her siblings or cousins or anyone else’s babies?

Oh, and that last one – “readily distinguishable” from other babies? Well, we think so – but show a baby picture to any random person on the street and you’re lucky if they can even figure out if it’s a boy or a girl.

So these definitions only get us so far.  That’s where semantics come into play.  We, as parents, all like to think of our kids are the most special kids in the world. And they ARE special…to us. But how does their ‘specialness’ rank in the grand scheme of things?

It appears there is  ‘specialness,’ and then there’s ‘specialness.’

88 million and counting

That’s approximately how many births there have been in the world just this year, according to Worldometers.com, as of this writing.

Eighty-eight million. Just. This. YEAR.

There are also about 350,000 births, each DAY.

That’s a lot of specialness.

Now again, please don’t get me wrong. My child is extremely special to me and my wife, and I love her and her siblings more than life itself. But as I held her in the hospital room, her little sleepy head resting in the crook of my arm, one of the biggest problems with our world today suddenly became crystal-clear…

If we’re all born so special, why bother trying once we’re older?

Think about it. If we drill the specialness, uniqueness, and wonderfulness of our kids into their heads every day, where is the drive to become better?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t praise our kids, support them, love them – but I do think taking a step back and surveying the situation is not a bad idea. Consider…

shutterstock_96665545 (colored pencils)
If we’re all so darn special…isn’t anybody average?

We live in a culture of self-centeredness.

Customer service reps often act like customers are an intrusion.  Teenagers’ self-shots – photos they take of themselves – rule Facebook and Twitter. American Idol hopefuls with absolutely no discernible talent show up in front of the judges and get laughed off the stage because no one in their family or social circle ever informed them they couldn’t sing.

If you’ve ever watched Idol – and statistically, you probably have – you’ve witnessed tons of young people crying their eyes out because all this time they thought they were special, only to have reality smack them upside the head. It’s a hard lesson for someone that special to learn.

Then again, what do I know?

That’s a serious question.  What DO I know? I never claim to have all the answers or to know everything. Truth be told, I hardly know anything.  I’m still re-reading this post, debating with myself if I’m right or not.

You see, I’m just a parent with some special kids who were raised to understand that what one does during the course of one’s lifetime is what defines a person.  We all get judged by what we do with our lives; we do not get judged for simply showing up.

As far as I know, there was only one person in this world who was born with intrinsic ‘specialness’ – but he was hung on a cross.  As for the rest of us, it might not be a bad idea to try to make an effort to carve out our own uniqueness, earning that distinction rather than relying on others to bestow it upon us baselessly.

One doesn’t need to be rich to be successful. One doesn’t need to be famous to be respected.

And one doesn’t need to be born special…to be special.

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Poetry Friday: “The Kids Are Away” – plus links, links, links!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI know, I’m a day early…but my wife is giving birth today to her 2nd child (my 4th), and I thought she might be a tad annoyed with me if I spent my time in front of the computer rather than by her side.

And honestly, by her side is the only place I want to be right now.

So I’m sharing with you a poem I wrote several years ago – 2001, as a matter of fact. It came about as I was enjoying some quiet time with my first wife while our two  daughters were away visiting their grandparents. It’s a children’s poem for adults, if that makes sense. Hope you like it.

“The Kids Are Away”

Nothing has been broken.
Nothing has been torn.
No clothes are piled upon the floor
after they’ve been worn.

There’s been no angry yelling
and no one’s hurt or mad.
This house seems awful quiet
when there’s just a mom and dad.

© 2001, Matt Forrest Esenwine

.
Now, for the links!

For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit Steps and Staircases!

Also, please be sure to check out my interview with children’s author/poet David Elliott at Poetry at Play from earlier this week, if you haven’t already!

Finally, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to my online critique group, Poet’s Garage! This is one extremely talented crew, and I’m honoured that they accepted me into their clan just a few months ago. Click on the graphic below to learn a little more about each of us, and if you follow Poetry Friday with any kind of regularity, I’m sure you’ll recognize many of the faces and names!

Thanks for visiting, and the next time we talk, you’ll hear a baby in the background!  (Well, I will, anyway)  Have a great weekend!

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Interview with Children’s Poet/Author David Elliott

photo courtesy of Michael Seamens

I have had the opportunity to interview some incredible folks over the years. Just from the children’s literature universe, I’ve chatted with folks like Lee Bennett Hopkins, Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, Douglas Florian, and newcomer Vikram Madan.

While working in radio, I interviewed rock stars like Alice Cooper, the guys from Def Leppard, Rik Emmett of Triumph, and others.

I’ve also interviewed lots of country music artists from Charlie Daniels to Jason Aldean, from Ricky Skaggs to Jeff Foxworthy.

But until now, I had never interviewed someone who lived in the same town I do!

The bottle-washing, English-teaching, popsicle-stick-maker-next-door

I just completed an interview with children’s author and poet David Elliott, who already has an impressive catalogue of titles and is currently under contract for 6 more to come out over the next couple years. He’s also currently working on a number of other projects, including a middle grade book and a YA novel. Yes, he’s a busy fellow.

I invite you to read more about David at the Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults blog, Poetry at Play. It was for PACYA that I did this interview, and being able to visit David at his home just a couple miles away from me and chat about writing and living and our surprising connections was a wonderful experience. Who knew that both he and I formerly lived in the same part of VT before moving to our current homes?

Who knew we both shared the same “writer’s worry” of not being able to execute our ideas the way they deserve?

And what are the odds that he had been inside my home – visiting the former owner – before I had even been inside my home?

Inspiration, research, and the importance of getting out of the way

I hope you enjoy the interview!  We talk about why inspiration is overrated, the vast amount of research that is sometimes necessary to write a two-stanza poem, and one of the most important things a writer – any writer – can do.

Again, here’s that link: Poetry at Play

And thank you, as always, for stopping by!

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. 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 , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Using technology to delay technology

Believe it or not, there was a time in human history when people not only didn’t carry their phones around with them…they didn’t even have phones.  Not only that, but the concept of talking to someone who wasn’t there in front of you hadn’t even been formulated.

Crazy, huh?

Once upon a time the world existed without electricity, toilets, paper towels, and M&Ms.  Funny how certain things come along that make our lives so much easier, so much better – that we quickly forget what it was like to live without them.

Seriously, can you imagine a world without toilet paper?

More innovation than ever

Due in large part to the advance of technology these days, more inventions are being created and more patents are being granted than ever before. Don’t take my word for it – try Googling “more inventions than ever” and see how many results you get!  You’ll find news article after news article reporting on the hundreds of thousands of things people are hoping you can’t live without.

Most of these things, of course, we will never know about.

Others may enjoy a bit of time in the limelight and then be quickly relegated to the annals of U.S. Patent Office history.

But some inventions, like digital photography and the internet, make such a huge impact on the world, our lives become altered because of them.  Yesterday, I witnessed how these two technologies can be part of the same digital coin.

“Convert or die”

Small theatre owners across the country are struggling to remain open, as Hollywood transitions to all digital production. These local, mostly independently-owned movie houses are being told they need to convert all their projection systems to digital, or no longer receive any movies. Even first-run theatres are potential victims, as conversion to a digital projection system for just one screen can cost $60,000 – and that’s the low-end.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, Classic Cinemas, a small chain that owns 100 screens, spent $6 million to upgrade to digital – and they already had much of the infrastructure (server, satellite dish, etc.) they needed. Smaller establishments are not so fortunate.

In this 2012 article from indie Wire,  John Fithian, CEO and president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said theatre owners must “convert or die.”  If they can’t somehow come up with the massive amount of funds needed to convert two, three, four, or more screens – then die, they certainly shall.

Digital videography might be great, but I’m sure it doesn’t seem all that great to the thousands of small businesses who can’t afford to keep up with it.

Using technology to delay technology

Weirs Drive-In 2I mention this because I recently had an opportunity to help one of these small theatres. One of the oldest drive-in theatres in the country, and the largest in the state of New Hampshire – the Weirs Drive-In Theatre – is facing a potential shutdown next year, unless the owners can raise $200-250,000 to convert their four screens.

When you consider they show double-features each night, we’re talking EIGHT movies every evening. That’s a good-sized drive-in, and it’s located right in the heart of NH’s Lakes Region, a prime tourist destination. But alas, a quarter-million is still a huge chunk of money they simply cannot afford.

So the owners produced a video to bring attention to their plight – and the plight of thousands of other small theatre owners like them. They had the video footage edited, they had a script…all they needed was a voice.

In a nutshell:  I auditioned Sunday afternoon, received notice they wanted to hire me Sunday evening, was sent the script Monday morning, had it voiced shortly after 12pm, and it was edited and posted to their Facebook page by 4pm.

Talk about using technology to halt the advance of technology!

The campaign is on

The owners are quite pleased with the reaction they’ve gotten from Facebook followers and customers; in just a couple of hours after posting the video, they had received about 6,000 hits – more than they get in a normal week! As of 10pm last night, a mere 6 hours after posting the video, it had been shared over 100 times,

Keep in mind, this is no big corporate marketing push – this is small-town, Hometown, USA.  Interesting that there is that much activity for a business that Hollywood is willing to say “so long” to, if they don’t upgrade.

But upgrade, they hope to do, if they can get the funding.  They have already begun spreading the word. Starting August 9, they will attempt to gain enough support Weirs Drive-Into be able to receive one of 5 digital projectors Honda will be awarding to drive-in theatres, via www.ProjectDriveIn.com. They will also be creating a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, offering some cool prizes as pledge incentives.

There is probably a small, locally-owned movie theatre somewhere near you…and they may very well be trying to keep their silver screen from going dark, as well. As much as we love to embrace technology – sometimes it requires a light touch, rather than a bear hug.

And in the case of these thousands of theatre owners…that hug is turning into a suffocating squeeze.

Weirs - Project Drive-in

===================================================================

UPDATE 8/11/13:  Voting has begun! You can help either the Weirs Drive-in or your own favourite drive-in to go digital by logging on to http://projectdrivein.com/#vote_41 and voting! 

===================================================================

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.