Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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When it rains, it pours – and I’m drenched!

They say when it rains, it pours. And whoever “they” are…they know my life pretty well.

Freelancers often never know what their days are going to look like. Will I have several gigs, a few gigs, none?

Being a freelancer as well as a stay-at-home parent, this is doubly true. With the responsibilities of parenting compounded by the responsibilities of my work, I really never know how busy I’m going to be one day to the next. Some days are slower than others; it’s the way my world works. A few days ago, my world got very, very busy.

HS Fair logo - digital

I had no sooner started work on a new (and rather unusual) poetry-picture book when I found out brochures were ready for the upcoming 100th Hopkinton State Fair, taking place Labor Day weekend in Contoocook, New Hampshire. I’m not only the official announcer for the fair – I work all weekend, wandering the grounds with a microphone reminding people of what’s happening – but I also oversee all the radio broadcast purchases and production, and now that the events had been finalized, I needed to jump into high gear:

  • I have announcer notes I needed to update from the previous year (and with 4 days of agriculture events, live music, demonstrations, family entertainment, and grandstand shows, it took me over 4 hours just to do that)
  • I needed to write radio commercials – eight, to be exact – plus several short “live reads” for when the radio jocks talk about us on the air.
  • I needed to update all the telephone on-hold messages, which required that I write 3 pages of text before recording anything.
  • I needed to confirm with all the radio stations that they have everything they need to begin their promotions
  • I still need to voice and produce those eight radio commercials, and voice the audio for the TV commercial…that’s on tomorrow’s “to-do” list.

I mention all of this not because I want anyone to think I’m trying to show off what I do – but to understand that all of this was done in two days’ time! And now that that project is (almost) complete, I have a book manuscript co-authored by a client of mine I need to proofread! So far, I’ve gotten through Chapter 1. It’s a good book, but it takes longer to read it when one is scanning with an eye for grammar, syntax, and such.

What about that picture book?

I hate putting things on hold, but that’s what you have to do when you’re a stay-at-home parent with only a few hours of each day available to work. I’ve got the beginning of the picture book started, so reading it helps me get into the groove – but I probably won’t resume writing it until later this week, hopefully.

I still need to update my list of folks to whom I’ve submitted other manuscripts, and see if there’s someone out there who might be looking for a manuscript I have to offer.

Oh, and I have some short voiceover projects I need to attend to, as well. That’s the career that allowed me to stay home in the first place, so I really can’t neglect that!

First things first, though!

First, I have two kids who want to play with me, so that takes precedence. I don’t always have the luxury of playing with my 5-year-old son and nearly-2-year-old daughter (I do have dishes, laundry, and other chores to take care of!), but I try to make the time whenever I can.

My son isn’t into playing “games” like kicking a soccer ball or throwing a Frisbee per se – he’d much rather pretend we’re Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or wild lions or dogs or robots or whatnot – so playing with him is a much more physical activity than one might expect!

As for my daughter…well, she’s happy playing whatever her brother is playing.

And I can’t complain. A few years from now, he’ll probably grow tired of playing with me and spend all his time with friends, classmates, and girls. And of course, I can’t blame him. It’s way things go, right?

So as long as he and his sister want to play with me, I’ll do my best to keep up with them.

The laundry can wait.

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Don’t just “play” with your kids…

I think I’ve finally realized why I can identify with kids – why writing for children, being a stay-at-home parent, and cracking up at the same Spongebob episodes I’ve seen a million times all seem to suit me.

And it’s not just that I’m a “big kid” myself, as they say.

Sure, I enjoy playing with my kids – I always have – but I learned something at my book signing earlier this month that I don’t think ever occurred to me…

I play “like” my kids

When my 5-year-old wants to play “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” I don’t just say I’m Shredder or a robot or something and then half-heartedly chase the little dude.

Honestly, I’m not even sure which turtle he’s supposed to be – but I’d still watch out, nonetheless.

I act like Shredder, running around like a nut, throwing myself on the ground, and even slamming into our parked car or the fence and spinning ridiculously around and around until I collapse at his feet.

When the 23-month-old wants to dance, I don’t just stand there and shimmy back and forth – I bounce and run and shake myself to near-unconsciousness just as she does.

And when a friend’s 4-year-old tries to “zap” me with some sort of invisible instrument, I completely throw myself into the role of victim – which is what happened at the book signing.

Kids aren’t as easily embarrassed as stuffy grown-ups

Here’s what happened: a friend of mine who had stopped by the bookstore while I was signing brought his grandson, who was a typical, wired, fun-loving 4-year-old boy. As you might guess, he was very much excited to be in a place that had so many items not nailed down.

In typical 4-year-old boy fashion, he started pretending to “attack” me somehow – either with a magic stick or repulsor ray or live electrode or whatnot – so I briefly played along.

I stood up and started spinning around, jumping up & down madly while making some sort of crazy sound (seriously, I make this stuff up as I go, so don’t expect me to remember half of whatever I do). The little boy was quite amused, giggling loudly – but my friend just turned around and rolled his eyes away from me, jokingly noting that he couldn’t tell which of us was the kid.

I took that as a compliment.

She asked, so yes, I put it on my head, too. Unfortunately, there was no one else there to capture this moment in lunacy, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The take-away:

It was then that I realized he and I must have very different ways of playing with kids. If his grandson asked him to be Hulk or Iron Man or Queen Elsa (don’t laugh, it has happened), I don’t know how he’d respond. Personally, I know what I’d be doing: “Hulk-Smashing” things left and right, zapping my opponent with my repulsor rays, and trying to freeze my little pal in his tracks.

That’s why, for the past week and a half, I’ve been rolling around in my brain what it all might mean. Is there a wrong way to play with kids? Is there a right way?

Of course, the important thing is that you play with them, period. But I definitely learned there is a difference.

And I learned that it’s not enough simply to play with them.

Play like them!

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A Spring Symphony

Educator and writer Carol Varsalona has done it again! Following her Winter Poetry Gallery from several months ago, Carol has put together a wonderful look back at the spring season – a blending of words and images she calls the “Spring Symphony Gallery.”

Poetry_Friday logoThe reason I’m telling you this – as if you haven’t guessed by now – is because I am very happy to be one of the contributors to this gallery! You’ll find metered poems, haikus, all sorts of poetry partnered with photos and other images that bring to life the feelings and emotions of the spring season. (You’ll also find my haiku about wild strawberries)

I invite you to spend some time scrolling through the gallery! And many thanks to Carol for putting this all together. It’s been a lot of work on her part! If that’s not enough poetry for you, be sure to visit Katie at The Logonauts for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

I also invite you to check out this past Tuesday’s post about my family’s trip to Maine. What do dead seals, bikini tops, Curious George, and VeggieTales have in common? Our vacation! I share some of the highlights using some of the most memorable quotes I heard over the course of the week…so you’ll have to read it to find out!

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Vacation quotation summarization

I’m back!

The family enjoyed a nice, relaxing, and predictably short week in York Beach, Maine and returned the weekend before the 4th of July – which meant spending most of this past week catching up on work (voiceovers to be done), writing (another children’s book manuscript  complete and a new one begun), and prepping for the long weekend (aka, cleaning the house).

Once the weekend finally arrived, we managed to find time to pick strawberries, can 10 jars of strawberry-rhubarb preserves, make a big batch of strawberry sauce, bake two pies and a fruit tart, catch the fireworks display Sat. night, and spend Sunday with my folks.

Needless to say, fitting a blog post into all this mayhem was a challenge I simply was not ready to accept! I value my family time – and as important as my blog is, there are other things more important.

Anyway, now that I’m back, I can relate to you my Maine experience. We go up to York Beach each summer, and although it’s just over an hour away, it feels like it’s another world; we live, breathe, and eat the beach, and for someone like me who loves the ocean, it’s hard to not want to stay!

York

This is about mid-tide; The Longsands area has a very low grade, so high tide comes up to the dark line in the middle, but low tide extends beyond what you see here.

With kids, it’s always a new experience. I shared our exploits from our trip last year, but this year was completely different: our 5-year-old son is now old enough to climb up to the loft bed, splash in the water without fear, and walk the shoreline without having to hold my hand. For her part, our 22-month-old daughter can sleep in a regular bed, interact with her world more, and vocalize precisely what she wants – an ability at which she excelled superbly and excessively, as you’ll see.

Rather than just list some of the things we did, though, I thought it might be more fun if I recapped our vacation via quotes. So I made an effort to write down things I heard that I thought captured the essence of our vacation. Here are my top 10!

“At first, I thought he was my friend – but he wasn’t, so I smacked him.” We were barely 5 minutes into our sojourn to the Land of Moxie when my son uttered these words from the back seat. He was responding to a question from my wife about a spider he thought was crawling on his leg. Turned out it was actually a tick, which is why he smacked it. Had it been spider, it would have no doubt found a home on his knee and taken a little nap, to his joy. But ticks are no friends of ours, so I pulled over and removed it – and then resumed our trip.

“I want Anna!!!” While all the world is in love with Queen Elsa of Arendelle from Disney’s “Frozen,” our daughter is a fan of Princess Anna. Granted, she’s only 22 months, but she is already one of the movie’s biggest fans and already has somehow managed to learn that insidious “Let it Go” song. Consequently, everywhere she goes, if she sees Anna, she wants Anna – and tells us, loudly. This was a quote that resurfaced throughout our entire 7 days.

“Eva!” Speaking of Disney, I have to wonder if the person who repeatedly called out this name one day along the beach realized the scene they were re-creating (click the link and jump to 1:07 to hear what I mean). I’m sure whoever it was, was looking for a daughter or wife – but their voice sounded remarkably like Wall-E!

“I just saw a bikini top!” Now, here’s where you have to realize not everything you hear means what you think it means. At a place like the beach, one is bound to see bikini tops. When one is married, it’s probably not a good idea to mention said bikini tops. In this case, I was telling my wife about some of the images our son and I had seen in the clouds – and I did, in fact, see a pair of triangle-shaped clouds connected in such a way that they looked exactly like a bikini top, complete with straps. Clouds or not, however, blurting out this particular phrase to one’s wife is not something I’d suggest anyone do.

140

They love each other, for now.

“I want cweam. I want CWEAM!!!” On a short trek into downtown York (15 minutes walking distance), our Royal Highness Her Majesty overheard her mother and I talking about our plans: we’d stop by the park, then they could play at the little beach area, and maybe we’d get some ice cream before heading home for dinner. As soon as she heard the words “ice cream,” she announced her opinion of our plans in her sweetest yet LOUDEST voice possible.

“Is it dead?” This was the question a woman asked me after I waded into the shallow water to examine something floating like a log in the waves. It was dark brown with white blotches and at first I thought it might be a dog, until I realized it was a dead baby seal. Several people had seen it from the shore, but apparently no one had felt compelled to investigate until I came along. My reply to her question? “Well, it’s missing the upper third of its body, so I’m thinking that would be a “yes.” Don’t mess with sharks, folks.

“Curious George isn’t a monkey.” My son said this so matter-of-factly, I couldn’t help but be proud of him. We were at York’s Wild Kingdom, a zoo located right in downtown York, and were visiting some of the monkey cages when he told me his revelation. Monkeys, you see, have tails; apes do not. He and I both learned this fact courtesy of the folks at VeggieTales, and thanks to Bob & Larry, we’ll never forget it:
.

“I want duck! I want duck! I want duck!” Once again, our daughter exhorting us to help her attain her goals. In this case, it was a seagull she saw along the shore – but telling her it was not a duck did not seem to matter. As far as she was concerned, it was a duck, and she wanted it.

“Is it 6:00 yet?” I can’t recall if it was me or my wife who said this, because we had been living at the cabin for four days already and had yet to get a good night’s sleep – not because of the accommodations, but because the 5-year-old would be in our room, jumping on us, every morning at 6am. On second thought, that’s not entirely true; one morning, it was almost 5:30. Oy…

“That was pretty awesome!” As we were walking along the main road that leads from our cabin to York Center, our son held up a wet, slimy little stone to a woman passing by. It surprised all of us – her, probably most of all – but we quickly learned what it was: his very first baby tooth! We had known his two front bottom teeth were loose, but didn’t realize how loose. We told him we were very proud of him for wiggling it around long enough to pop it out – and that must have given him the impetus to pop the other one out an hour and a half later! That evening at dinner, he sprung this quote on us…and we had to agree. It was pretty awesome.

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

When people stop trying

I’ve been noticing something a lot lately. I’ve been noticing spelling errors made by people who are supposed to know how to spell things. I’ve been reading errors in grammar made by people who are supposed to know how to write.

I’ve been hearing things spoken incorrectly by people who get paid to speak.

Is the world becoming more and more full of folks who just don’t care enough to bother, or am I becoming a curmudgeon?

Thankfully, I’m still an exuberant, virile, young man…so the answer appears to be the former.

Dachshund

Poor little guy had no idea he was going to be the basis for a blog post.

Lack of communication in the communications industry

Seriously – what is going on these days? Everywhere I turn I’m bombarded with mistakes made by precisely those people who should not be making these mistakes.
A few examples:

– A radio news reporter was relating a story on-air about a domestic dispute involving a man, his girlfriend, and his dog. When the woman doing the reporting made reference to the man’s “dash-hound,” I had no clue what she was talking about until it occurred to me she apparently had never heard of a dachshund. Granted, the average American might not recognize that word as being pronounced “DAHK-suhnd,” but one of the first lessons in radio I ever learned 25 years ago was, if you don’t know how to pronounce something – ask!

– A local TV news outlet shared a news story on their Facebook page recently, recognizing the anniversary of the discovery of the bodies of two young girls, whose killer is still unknown. The headline noted that the girls have never been found. Now, not to be insensitive, but if their bodies were discovered some 15 years ago, I’m pretty sure the girls aren’t going to pop up anytime soon. Who writes this stuff??

– The other day, I heard a radio commercial I almost couldn’t stand listening to. The audio was thin and distorted, the person speaking sounded completely unenthused about whatever he was talking about, and I can’t even remember what they were selling because I just kept waiting for it to end. The commercial sounded like it had been recorded over a telephone…because it probably had been.

Make an effort, people!

Granted, you may be prone to a malapropism from time to time. You might use less-than-perfect grammar when leaving a Facebook comment. Heck, even I find spelling mistakes in this blog sometimes months after I’ve posted!  But these are examples of glaring errors made by people paid to not make these mistakes.

The person who didn’t know what a “dash-hound” actually mispronounces words all the time; it became a nearly daily occurrence before I stopped listening altogether.

TV news departments have large staffs of people who are paid good money to communicate the news, so grammar and syntax should not be a problem area.

No radio commercial should ever be recorded over the telephone…ever. Even the ones that are written to sound like they’re telephone conversations should be recorded in-studio. The particular commercial in question is either the result of a lazy producer or a sales rep who was given way too much control over the production process.

Grammar-Yoda

Human error…or something worse?

We all make mistakes. As I said, I understand that. But the preponderance of examples such as these leads me to wonder if something else is going on…something much worse.

In each of the three cases I shared above, a simple solution would have been to take one extra step. The radio reporter could have asked someone how to pronounce this word she’s never seen before. The TV news headline writer could have had someone proofread the post first. And the business owner who recorded the awful commercial could have come in to the studio.

But instead, that one extra step was neglected. It could be called laziness or ineptitude.

I prefer to call it apathy.

…and apathy IS worse

Laziness is a human condition, a state of being. Ineptitude is a lack of skills capable of completing a task.

But apathy is a lack of concern for that which one should have concern! Apathy, as inactive as it may seem, is actually a very active thing. It prevents people from producing good work not because they are lazy, inept, or otherwise incapable. It prevents them from performing because they just don’t care.

So whether it’s your job, your marriage, or any kind of project of which you find yourself involved, don’t be apathetic.

Don’t not care.

And if you recognize that you truly don’t care about the project, step back, step aside, or step down – and let someone who does care do the job.

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This just in: I had not even had a chance to hit “post” when a Facebook friend shared this ridiculous headline about an “amphibious” pitcher!  That’s right…he doesn’t just pitch with both hands, folks, he can live underwater, too! Once again, where’s a proofreader when you need one??

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SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)Did 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 with your friends and followers!
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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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Bantam, CT (July 1989)

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)It’s Poetry Friday once again, and today I’m not actually here! I’m spending three days in Springfield, MA for the annual New England SCBWI conference. This is the conference for which I won the NE-SCBWI’s Marguerite W. Davol Scholarship, and will be getting a chance to talk about one of my manuscripts with an agent from a well-known house (the name of which I cannot divulge).

So as I was looking through some of my past writing to share tonight during Open Mic, I came across the very first poem I ever had published following college graduation. I make this distinction because I actually had a few poems published in local independent collections prior to and during college, but it was at this point I felt I finally had the education behind me and the knowledge inside me to know what I was doing.

Of course, I was wrong; none of us ever has ‘enough’ knowledge. But I was proud of the fact that this was a poetry anthology being published half a country away, in Texas, and that the editor felt it made the grade. Looking back on it, there are many things I’d do differently. I’d have used more internal rhyme, used less obvious word choices, and would have definitely been less…oh, what’s the word…histrionic, perhaps?

I hope you like it, though. It was inspired by a tornado touching down in a small Connecticut town in 1989 and was published in a collection entitled Visions by Metamorphosis Publishing.

Bantam, CT (July 1989)

How little you suspected
……….the cold, dispassionate rage of force
………………..Nature showed you.

Two days ago, a quiet small town;
……….yesterday, a furious maelstrom
………………..of rain and wind and stones from the sky;

today, quiet; too suddenly
……….silent, for a once-thriving village swallowed
………………..by an impassive, swirling vortex.

No lives lost, they say – yet
……….what do you see? A broken window lies
………………..beside a shattered rooftop;

overturned sportscar, once sleek and new,
……….wears the remains of a neighbor’s fireplace
………………..like a penniless child’s rags;

and the church – only as strong as the aged
……….bricks with which it was built – vanished
………………..like faith, replaced by its own dust.

This was once a soul,
……….your town; now it lay still as a corpse:
………………..cold, unmoving, conscious of nothing.

Here, amid the hills and trees
……….Nature took you by surprise…
………………..…and how little you suspected.

– © 1989, Matt Forrest Esenwine

My friend and fellow Poet’s Garage critique group member Renee LaTulippe is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, No Water River, so please be sure to stop by and check out all the links and fun!

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Poetry Cubed logoWant to win a free book? A couple of weeks ago, I shared a new poetry challenge!

If you missed it, it’s my take on the Food Network show, “Chopped!” But instead of using surprise ingredients from a basket to create a meal, you’ll use three photo prompts to create ONE fantastic poem!

(Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re good enough…it’s just to have fun and stretch some brain-muscle. Winners will be determined by a random drawing, so no pressure! Get all the details HERE.)

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2015ProgressivePoemIrene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem continues to grow! Each day, a different person adds a line to the poem – and today, that person is Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Then on April 30, it’ll be my turn to add the final line!

You can see how the 2015 Progressive Poem has been developing at the following blog spots:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Poetry_Friday logoDid 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 with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

If you don’t have anything nice to say…post it on the internet

ID-100107463 (man screaming)Republicans and Democrats. Conservatives and Liberals. Religious and non-religious.

Carnivores and vegetarians.

It seems like everywhere I look online these days, everyone is upset with everyone else. One person shares a political post on their Facebook page, and pretty soon everyone of their friends and even people they’ve never met are commenting with their own laser-accurate opinions.

Friendships have even been lost over these sorts of things, when rival ideologies lead to heated arguments.

Why?

1) The human condition

Throughout history, we as a species have always striven to make our lives better. Although this is a good thing, it also means we can often be very opinionated; we want our friends, our country, our world to know how we think things could be better.

And the internet, with its ease of use for sharing, spreading, and arguing about opinions, amplifies our desire – and ability – to do just that.

Too many of us, I think, feel that every news story we read, every photo that is shared, and every comment that is posted deserves or requires our 2-cents.

I fall into that narcissistic trap, as well. Often, I’ll see something that I begin to comment on, but then I stop and think, “Does anyone really care??” And very often, the answer is, “no.”

2) Ease of anonymity

It used to be that if you had a disagreement with someone, you told them face-to-face. Now, you can hide behind a screen name and an avatar and say whatever you want to people you’ve never even met.

You can do it wherever you are, whenever the urge hits you. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you don’t even need to stop and think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

It’s that narcissism thing again; that feeling of superiority over anyone who disagrees with you. Being opinionated isn’t necessarily bad, but when decency is thrown out the window in order to pummel readers with your ranting, four-letter-word-drenched tirade, it borders on cyber-bullying.

And no matter how poorly-written, it’s usually done with a condescending tone of super-intellect. We’ve all seen those.

3) Loss of manners

Not to turn this into a post about longing for the good-ol’-days, but there really is something to be said about the loss of decency and manners among our population.

Strangers call other strangers names, readers jump to conclusions without facts, random people make wild accusations without anything to support them. And when people who disagree then jump into the fray – the intensity level increases.

Part of this loss of respect (probably a good part) is attributable to the first two items on this list. The internet has amplified the human desire of opinion-making while exacerbating the ease with which to  do it.

THREE EXAMPLES

  • Over the weekend, a high schooler in the state was accused by his school of writing something threatening on a bathroom wall. His mother defended him, claiming there was no basis for the accusations. An audio recording of the meeting in the principal’s office was made public, and the preponderance of 4-letter-words uttered by the kid did nothing to sway the opinions of the readers who were commenting on the online article.
  • A mother and two daughters were found dead inside a home in an upscale residential community nearby. The husband, who owned a gun store, had been charged with assault once a few years ago, but the wife had dropped the charges. Now, readers of the online news story – who are all apparently either criminal psychologists or forensic specialists – are putting their own pieces together as to what happened.
  • A woman who runs a very successful food blog often shares vegan and vegetarian recipes, even though she has never claimed to be a vegan. She once shared a recipe and asked readers to chime in with their thoughts on the subject – and the hatred she received spewing forth from vegans who felt she was a “fraud” and was being hypocritical was absolutely stunning.

In each of these cases, people lost all sense of decency and reverted to their most spiteful, smug, and arrogant selves.

ID-10091147 (woman w-tablet)

No matter where you are…an opinion is waiting to be shared.

Readers who knew nothing at all about the teenager or his family were already convicting him – saying he deserves what he gets and that his mother could never admit “her baby” had done something wrong. Granted, the office recording was rather unflattering, but who are we to say who did what and what happened? I felt bad for him, in a way, when I read some of his comments telling people to stop talking trash about his mother. He told them they knew nothing about him or his family – and he was right.

In the second story, readers were commenting that because the husband owned a gun store, he obviously was dangerous; that even though his assault charge had been dropped, he obviously was a time bomb; that because he was the one who called police, he obviously was guilty. Again I ask, who are we to say such things?

And the third story is a prime example of people trying to be so self-righteous that they end up offending people who might actually agree with them! My wife, who showed me the post, is a vegan with vegetarian leanings (I say that because she does, on occasion, eat honey and locally-raised chicken eggs from a farm two miles down the road) and she was appalled at how many vegans were skewering the poor blogger – calling her names, insulting her, and being absolutely disagreeable.

If vegans refrain from animal products because they are trying to be kind, loving, and compassionate to other living beings – these folks were anything but kind, loving, and compassionate.

Just because you have a right to say something…

Here in the United States, our country’s Constitution states we have the freedom to speak, the freedom to write, and many other freedoms we enjoy.

But with freedom, comes limits. As the old saying goes, just because we have a right to free speech, doesn’t mean we have the right to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre. One of those commenting on the blogger’s site even claimed, “Hey, she told us she wanted our opinion!” An opinion is one thing; how it is expressed is something else entirely.

I can’t help but think of the other old saying, “Just because you have a right to say something, doesn’t mean you should say it.” However, I would take it one step further, and add, “Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you need to share it.”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t share our opinion now and then – but it’s probably not a bad idea to stop and ask yourself if it’s an opinion worth sharing. Do you have enough facts? Do you have any facts? Can you make your point without resorting to name-calling and four-letter-words?

If so…then I’m all ears!

By the way, if you have an extra 7 minutes, check out THIS VIDEO and learn how a thought can replicate itself like a germ throughout the internet – it’s a very cool concept!

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mmpoetry2015-logo-mainI would be remiss if I did not mention that the #MMPoetry 2015 tournament FINALS are underway at Ed DeCaria’s Think, Kid, Think – only TWO authletes remain, and are tasked with coming up with a winning children’s poem based on the sort-of-random-but-not-really word they were given!  Learn more HERE!

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2015ProgressivePoemALSO: Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem gets underway tomorrow, April 1, in honor of National Poetry Month! Writers and bloggers from all over will be chiming in each day to add their line to a poem that grows and grows over the course of the month…until it culminates April 30 with the final, closing line.

(This year, that line will be written by Yours Truly – no pressure.)

Catch up with Irene at her blog HERE, and then begin following the 2015 Progressive Poem with Jone MacCulloch (who gets to start us off with the opening line!) at Check It Out!

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The necessity of splashing in puddles

My 5-year-old son and his 19-month-old sister couldn’t stand being inside the other day. (truth be told, I couldn’t stand them being inside, either) Temps have been getting a bit warmer lately – even though tonight’s overnight temp is expected to be in the single digits F – and I really can’t blame them for wanting to go outside.

The problem is, there’s not much to DO, this time of year. When we had tons of snow during the winter, it was usually so bitterly cold I didn’t dare bring them out for more than a few minutes. Now that temps have moderated, all we have is hard, frozen snow that will break your back if you fall on it and pathways of grassy mud.

Can’t play on the snow, can’t play in the mud.

Boring.

But I dressed them in their snow pants and coats and boots and such and let them go outside, anyway, figuring they’d at least get some fresh air for a little while. They ended up (once again) teaching me a valuable lesson.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

That’s a rule of thumb I learned back when I was first learning about promotions, particularly radio promotions. You can take the simplest, blandest concept and, with enough excitement and hype, turn it into a big deal.

In this case, the kids taught me that what I thought was a big deal…really wasn’t.

Kids being kids, they are adept at finding all sorts of things to play with that aren’t toys – sticks, stones, snow shovels – and the one thing little Babycakes discovered was a puddle on the edge of our dirt driveway.

To her, it was the most amazing, awesomest thing, ever.

And I almost killed her joy.

Letting go of “grown-up” mentality

Grey & Phoebe - puddleWe grown-ups really have a knack for putting the kibosh on our kids’ fun. It’s something I try to counter by using childlike perspective when I write…but actually putting it into practice isn’t always as easy as I’d like it to be.

You see, my first reaction was to tell her “no,” pick her up out of the puddle, and set her onto our gravel walkway. Which is what I did.

Grey & Phoebe - puddle 2Independent-minded little lady that she is, she immediately turned around and walked right back into the puddle, splashing her feet and flailing her arms in a chaotic, quasi-dance I can only describe as Fred-Astaire-meets-the-Ministry-of-Silly-Walks.

I was just about to tell her no again when I stopped myself. What was I doing? She had winter boots, snow pants, a coat, and mittens. Who cared if she splashed in the puddle???

It was fun, after all – there was no harm being done to anything or anyone – and I could think of no good reason to not let her have her fun.

If one gets to do it, they all have to do it

Her 5-year-old brother, upon seeing what was going on, had to jump in the fray. I watched the two of them, their faces lit up with smiles and love and streaks of wet earth – and couldn’t help but join in.

So there we were, on the edge of the driveway, splashing away…and I can only imagine what the folks driving past our house were thinking:

“Ridiculous waste of time.”

“Such silly, immature behaviour.”

“I wish I could do that.”

They soon tired of it, though, and moved on to other areas around the house – but I was glad I had the opportunity to splash in the mud with them. It got me thinking how often I, or even we as a society, make a big deal out of small things.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

My son likes to play with kitchen utensils like the spatulas, whisks, and ladles. I once started to get upset with him because he was just making more dirty dishes for me – but then it occurred to me, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No.

My daughter doesn’t eat sandwiches like normal human beings (granted, she’s not yet 2), and instead prefers to separate each piece of bread and then eat them face-forward, like eating a pizza top-down, starting with the toppings and working your way down to the crust. I’ve attempted to stop her – but again, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No! Heck, at least she’s eating it.

And how many times have we stopped what we were doing to leave a comment on a Facebook wall or online news story, when we really didn’t need to? I’ve come to the realization that my opinion about most things doesn’t matter to anyone, so I’m not going to waste my time sharing it.

I’ve mentioned before here that, when you’re an adult, it’s difficult to not be a grown-up. But I’m trying. So I have to throw a few extra clothes in the washing machine, or load a few extra utensils in the dishwasher. None of it is a big deal, unless I make it a big deal.

Oh, and it look like the kids are finally asleep now. I need to go.

There’s a puddle outside with my name on it.

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Priorities, priorities…

The other day I was looking over my blog stats when I noticed something that surprised me. It had nothing to do with demographics or popular posts or click-through rates. It had to do with content.

DSCF2068 (Mic - Katie)I discovered that it has been quite awhile since I posted anything relating to voiceovers, audio production, or advertising – which, if you notice the little tagline below my blog’s name, is supposedly one-third of what this blog is supposed to be about.

How long has it been? Not since last OCTOBER.

What gives??

Aren’t I supposed to be sharing news, thoughts, tips, insights, and anecdotes about my three areas of interest? Well, yes – but lately I’ve only been able to really focus on two of those areas: the most productive areas, actually.

Understanding priorities

I have said it before in this blog and I’ll say it again…my family is always my priority. Now, some days, getting a piece of production done on time takes precedence over anything else I may need to do – but I’m not shirking my responsibilities towards my priority. Making money and paying my bills is a necessity to taking care of my family.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

But balancing family with a voiceover career AND a writing career can be tricky – particularly when both careers are growing. In the past year or two I’ve been able to develop my voiceover business – recording my first audio book and connecting with a new ad agency. I have a small stable of regular clients, plus I have just learned I’ll be working on a special radio broadcasting project, the details of which I cannot divulge yet.

Lullabye coverIf things in the voiceover world have been going well for me, my children’s writing world has been going gangbusters! I have poems in two brand-new anthologies, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet (Abrams/Appleseed) and Dear Tomato coverDear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems.
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I’ll also have poems in the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo) due in April and The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books), due this fall.

PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030AND I’ll have a poem in an upcoming issue of Highlights magazine!

There’s more going on behind the scenes, as well – I hope to share some news soon – but suffice it to say that my decision to jump into a children’s writing career five years ago is starting to bear some fruit.

So what’s a guy to do?

I find myself asking that question regularly. I have voiceover gigs to do, poems and picture book manuscripts to write, and as a stay-at-home dad, a family to take care of (and a load of laundry I need to get done). There is only so much time in the day – so what gets pushed to the back burner?

The blog.

I hate saying that, because this blog has been invaluable to me for networking purposes, audience-building, and as a source of (hopefully) useful information. I hate to say my blog is a low priority, but compared to the nuts and bolts of life, it is!

Earlier today, I completed another picture book manuscript. I also wrote a poem for this year’s #MMPoetry March Madness Poetry Competition, spent the morning running errands, took a walk with the kids, made homemade vegan chili (which is so good, it fools my fellow meat-eaters), and put the 18-month-old to bed. I’m writing a blog post right now, and as soon as I’m done I’ll be emailing one of my audio production clients about scheduling studio time, then reviewing the picture book manuscript to make revisions.

I’m kinda busy.

The fine line

There is one: the line between prioritizing and just letting things slide. I’ve been trying to be careful not to let the quality of my posts suffer (I suppose you’ll have to be the judge of that!), even if I have been posting fewer of them than I did last year.

I recognize that I cannot always do everything I want to do…but I do try to accomplish everything I need to. My family comes first, of course – but my writing has surpassed voicework for second place. It feels strange to say that; however, good things are happening right now in my writing career and I cannot slow down.

I don’t dare!

mmpoetry2015-logo-main

The madness is back! Click the logo to learn more about this fun, exciting, and interactive competition. (School classrooms can still sign up!)

If I put the brakes on my writing career just so that I can maintain my voiceover career, how will I know what might come of my writing? Likewise, if I completely dismiss my voiceover career, I’ll be giving up something I enjoy, that I’m good at, and that pays the bills.

I left radio in 2012 to build both careers, and I’m in the position of having to figure out how to grow them simultaneously. Right now, one is growing faster than the other, and it’s up to me to strike that balance we were talking about.

Hopefully I’m setting the right priorities!

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Did 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 with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The day I almost became a grown-up

One of the many ways my wife – and many others – describe me is that I’m like a big kid. When I play with my kids outside, they roll on top of me – then I roll on top of them. When I rake leaves, I make extra-big piles to jump in. I love science fiction and comic book movies and dinosaur movies and – well, frankly, any movie that involves explosions, special effects, and machines and creatures not currently existing on our planet.

(Yes, I cried at the end of “The Notebook,” but everyone does that, so it doesn’t count.)

So imagine my shock when I realized I was acting like a grown-up today.

…and to think it happened at Chuck E. Cheese

Grey - Chuck E Cheese

Saving the world from undead pirate zombies is a team effort.

We had been invited to meet some friends at the local kid-centric pizza/arcade/house of adrenaline, and since our son had never been my wife and I decided to go.

Now, the last time I was there (at least 12 years ago), my older daughters were not even in their teens and half the place was a giant jungle gym, with big hanging tubes and all kinds of fun things to climb on. The other half was an arcade and food area, along with a small stage featuring an animatronic Chuck E. Cheese that, fortunately, has never been turned on when I’ve been there.

Today, though, it was about 75-percent arcade, 20-percent food, and maybe 5-percent (at best) involved any kind of physical activity. What had happened?

Times change, I suppose. So we bought some tokens and looked around for some games to play. Many were boring; the exciting ones, of course, involved driving cars as fast as possible or saving the world from Decepticons or dinosaurs or undead pirates. My son spent nearly the entire time learning to drive courtesy of the fine folks at the Fast & the Furious driving academy.

The Dodge Viper and the moment of truth

These racing games require far more skill that a 5-year-old possesses – or at least, more than MY 5-year-old possesses. We have no game system at the house, so he’s never played a video game before. Controlling a joystick was a totally new experience for him; trying to drive was – well, it was a wild ride, let’s say that.

I had to help him choose his location (Maui), his vehicle (Dodge Viper SRT-10), its color (cherry red), and an upgrade (nitrous oxide – yeah, baby!)…but I also had to push the gas pedal since he couldn’t reach it. And I had to help him steer.

That last part was where I went wrong.

As I stood there beside him, straining to reach the accelerator with my foot from a standing position, I found myself trying to keep him on the road. He’d steer wildly from left to right and right to left and left to right – then stay there on the far right and nail just about every tree, rock, guardrail, bridge abutment, and convenience store he could.

I’d pull him back onto the road only to watch him go ricocheting from one car to another, flipping over, doing 360s in the middle of tunnels and careening off mountainsides then winding up back on the side of the road, picking off telephone poles like he was mowing a lawn.

“Stop, Daddy! Let me do it!” he kept saying.

“But you keep hitting all these things on the side, bub!” I’d explain.

“You’re not letting me steer!”

“I’m trying to, but you keep hitting things and knocking things over!”

I was starting to get frustrated when he finally replied,

“I know!!”

Oh…you mean, you meant to do that…

Just like a few years ago, when he was nearly 3 and I was walking with him along the dirt road near our house, and he kept deliberately pushing his baby stroller into the ruts – I had completely misunderstood the objective.

Back then, he wasn’t trying to get the stroller from point A to point B in the smoothest, most effective way; he was having fun driving it through the ruts. Today, the point of the racing game wasn’t to pass all the other cars; it was to have fun, effectively driving through ruts again.

When I realized this, I immediately took my hand from the steering wheel and pushed the accelerator to the floor.

“You go ahead, buddy,” I said. “You’re doing a great job of knocking down everything in sight.”

He smiled, never taking his eyes off the screen. “Yes, I am!” he beamed.

I may be an adult, but fortunately, my son saved me once again from becoming an all-too-serious, no-fun grown-up. As I write this, it occurs to me he has also taught me a valuable life lesson: You don’t always need to pass all the other cars; sometimes you just need to drive through some ruts and mow down a few road signs.

And push the accelerator to the floor when you do it.

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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 with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

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