Thursday, October 07, 2010
One show in particular brought me close to a couple of people my age. Throughout the rehearsal process, the run of the show, and even for several months after that, we were thick as thieves. We hung out at trivia, went to shows other companies were putting on, and just visited each other and talked online all the time. I thought I'd finally found people in this little realm whom I could call and hang out with on a boring Thursday night.
But it occurs to me now, seeing the situations that surround us, that community theatre friendships are inevitably victims of circumstance. None of the paths our lives are on are likely to cross again; I work in marketing, and I have the flexibility to continue to perform on-stage to my heart's content (hence my three-show fall). Neither of them do: one is in graduate school and the other is attempting to do the same. And the places we've moved and the changes we've endured have apparently rendered it impossible for any of us to meet in person. I've most recently seen one of these people in, I believe, June, and the other even less recently. Phone calls and instant messages are less frequently answered, and invitations to go out and grab a beer and a bite are, without fail, rebuffed.
I shouldn't be disappointed. I should have seen this coming. After all, it happens every time. I just got my hopes up a little too high when the process took that much longer.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
The great benefit of the program is that it can be very sandbox-like: it's a summer camp, these kids aren't doing it because they're going to be going on to Walnut Hill or Tisch, they're doing it because it's fun and they like the idea of getting up and putting on a show. So their enthusiasm (without the inherent competition and diva-like symptoms) gives me the flexibility to try some new things. Last year, I had a concept for how the entire show was going to emerge from a television. And it did. This year, I want to take Island and "Nutcrackerize" it. And I will.
That's why I love this program: it's laid-back enough that I can still make "let's just have fun" our primary motto, but the kids take it seriously enough that I can try some ideas I have.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Without giving any details, someone I know has been repeatedly inconvenienced, left out to dry, and overlooked by people he has to deal with every day. I wish I could elaborate, I really do, but for a whole host of reasons, I need to keep my mouth shut. But the extent to which he's not thought of by people who should know better doesn't reflect well on the operation.
Driving, too, you see it. When I'm driving in the right lane of a highway, passing an on-ramp, and a car entering the highway is timed so that he would merge in just as I would pass him, I change lane. It's really not that hard - it keeps traffic moving at the same speed, it's courteous to the driver entering, and it's safer than playing chicken with an unknown quantity. But nine times out of ten, the person on the highway doesn't have the cognitive function to notice this, look around, and make an adjustment.
My patience runs out when people can't be bothered to process information and make a reasonable decision. If the decision isn't to my liking but is reasoned, I can accept that. It's when substantial amounts of viable information are ignored that I get frustrated.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I am not, nor have I ever been, an “expert” in social media. By all accounts, I’m a novice to the field. Been on Facebook since it was restricted to @.edu accounts, been on Twitter for 18 months or so, LinkedIn for over a year.
But I could pretend to be an expert. Look, it’s easy:
How to be a social media expert in six “easy” steps
1. Build your audience.
2. Listen to people.
3. Give them valuable content.
4. Listen to people.
5. Ask questions.
6. Listen to people.
Here’s what the real secret is: it’s all a load of shit. And that’s the biggest fault I find with so many social media “experts” out there today: they assume the route I’ll take to utilizing social media will be the same as the route they took.
That’s not possible anymore. The social media universe is hyper-saturated by people just like me, ambitious twenty-somethings who can write a lick and have had a computer at their fingertips since before they knew how many fingertips they had.
The reality is that there was a window during which those lucky few earliest adopters of these technologies realized that common sense should prevail over industry hesitation. Those folks experienced a meteoric and lightning-quick ascendancy to social media stardom. In gratitude for their success, they’ve tried to teach their disciples how to do the same.
But what nobody is willing to say is that we can’t. That window slammed shut when that common concept of do-unto-others became widespread. And the social media influencers that made it through the window before it closed keep beckoning to those of us inside, waving us on to Never Never Land without seeing that there’s a pane of glass in the way.
I don’t need a social media Buddha who’ll tell me the only way to become an expert is to be one. I don’t need crazy analogies to how successful marketing is like a box of business cards. I can’t crowdsource a problem when I can’t develop a crowd. And it’s awful easy for someone with 25,000 followers to tell me to “listen to my audience”, but I struggle to assemble more than 150.
I don't want a pep talk.The trail is jammed and not enough people make it through, so I must forge my own path with a machete and my own guile. The only way to alleviate hyper-saturation, after all, is to do things completely differently.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
First, let’s be clear: the pursuits of journalism and the pursuits of publishing aren’t the same.
Journalists seek to create compelling information that is helpful and news-worthy.
Publishing seeks to push more product, deliver higher circulation value, and create more value for sponsors/advertisers/money-holders.
Publishers need content creators of some stripe to do what they do. Journalists don’t need publishers, but publishers pay, so that’s a decent place to connect with an audience and be paid.
But never confuse the two.
The move by AOL is both smart for business and helpful for journalists who’ve lost their jobs.
I have to disagree with some major points here. I would submit that journalism at its heart isn't about delivering compelling content. Journalism is about delivering useful information that sheds light on a difficult or under-the-radar topic. If the content is "compelling," all the better.
I make this distinction very carefully because of the mindset that each demands. If the concept of "compelling" content is foremost in a writer's mind, the basic tenets of journalism (fairness, thoroughness, accuracy) can fall by the wayside. It's more important for the writer who purports to be a journalist to think first about basic journalism skills.
While I like the ideas that engendered the Patch.com and Your Town initiatives, there is a danger inherent in mixing the ideas of publishing and journalism. See also: examiner.com. That one pays "journalists" based on the clicks they get. Since the pay is based not per-article or per-week, the incentive is for writers to pick incendiary topics that will draw traffic.
If there is going to be a courtship between these two concepts, it needs to allow for journalistic orthodoxy and independence.
My point is it is near impossible to not "confuse the two" when in many of these initiatives, a writer is expected to do both.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety; and to a point we can prevent premature exposure to such experiences. That is obvious. But what is just as obvious — and what is too often overlooked — is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things. - Maurice SendakLast night I finished The Wild Things, which is Dave Eggers' adaptation of Spike Jonze's adaptation of Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are. And while I found the book itself a little bit flawed (the ending seemed rushed and inconclusive, some characters were never given more than one dimension, and Max was caught between being 9 years old and being 45 years old), it did remind me of why I have an immense respect for effective children's literature.
It's no big secret that my favorite author is Dr. Seuss. Not just because the man was an incredible artist who was never truly recognized in his field (incredibly, Seuss never won a Caldecott or a Newbery), but because he had the unique capability to engage children through his writing while challenging their reading abilities and subtly addressing social issues. And let me not forget to note that he did all of this in specific meters.
Think about that for a second - Dr. Seuss wrote about the King of the Turtles in the same way Shakespeare wrote about the King of Denmark 400 years ago.
I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees,I've bolded anything that's not a real word. But when kids read Seuss, they can feel the rhythm of his meter and predict what the word sounds like. Even if it's a word they've never seen before and will never see again, kids can pick out exactly what it will sound like based on the cadence of the line leading up to it and because Seuss picked easy syllables to manage.
Which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please;
But I also speak for the brown Barbaloots,
Who frolicked and played in their Barbaloot suits,
Happily eating Truffula fruits.
Now, since you've chopped the trees to the ground
There's not enough Truffula fruit to go 'round!
And my poor Barbaloots are all feeling the crummies
Because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies. - The Lorax
What kind of mastery of language must it take to teach people meter and rhythm a decade before they'll understand it?
How often do you hear of precocious 3 and 4 year-olds who've memorized The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham? They can't yet read every word in front of them, but they're so engaged in the content and so caught in the meter that they want nothing more than to emulate the people who can read every word. You don't hear those stories about Harry Potter, you don't hear those stories about Artemis Fowl, you don't hear those stories about The Velveteen Rabbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, even Where the Wild Things Are. I don't deny the importance of each of those works, far from it, but I would argue they're not as significant as Seuss.
Without looking it up on Wikipedia, give me a brief synopsis of C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Now try Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. Maybe you can do it, maybe you can't. Now try Green Eggs and Ham. See the difference? Seuss, in no small part because of the meter and because of the illustration, has a greater staying power and a greater recall than more "substantial" literature.
And that's what makes it effective. You remember the story of Green Eggs and Ham even though you may not have held the book for decades. And that's what reading is about - learning and remembering. How much more effective can a book be than to make you remember the plot, the characters, hell, even lines from it years and years later?
I submit to you that Dr. Seuss was the most important children's author of the last 150 years.
Certainly not an original assertion, I acknowledge. But I thought the point needed to be made - as I worked through The Wild Things, I remembered only how this book differed from the movie, and that it was certainly different from the original book. That said, I couldn't remember much of how it was different from the original - Where the Wild Things Are didn't stick with me the same way.