A funny thing happened in the bathroom…

I recorded a book on tape that is now up for a big award, along with Barack Obama, Tina Fey, Jamie Foxx, Julie Louis-Dryfus, Sandra Oh, Maya Rudolph…and Scott Brick.
Who?
That’s okay; I didn’t know who he was either. But, as nice as it is to be amongst all those A-listers, my particular pride is couched in the fact that in my award category, Audiobook Narration – Thrillers- Best Voiceover, I am a finalist with Mr. Brick, who, as I now know, is a Godlike, Mega-star of book narration.

North of 600 books read to tape over his stunning career… Me? I’ve read only one, my first one. The one I refitted my 2nd bathroom to serve as a recording studio to narrate in. The book was Joseph Badal’s “Ultimate Betrayal.” A gripping thriller with a reluctant to the max hero, the mob, the CIA, and a love story. All in all, a great underlying work to have as your first-ever book narration.

Self-praise sucks. But I am astonished and delighted that my work has garnered enough recognition to be among such an impressive field of finalists. So, if you have any discretional luck to spare, please send it my way, I could use it. It would be almost historic if I should prevail, but honestly, just being recognized as an achievement of note for my first ever endeavor into this field is awesome!

By the way, in the credits for the audiobook, the recording studio is listed as “In the Can Productions.”

THE BIRD’S THE WORD…

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 7.22.09 AM

Happy Bird-day to you… Happy Bird-day to you….. Happy Bird-day dear, reader, happy Bird-day to you. Now blow out the flaming turkey… (that’s going to make it a little dry.)

Today is the day when America gives itself the bird. You know, Turkey, Butterball, Oven Fowl… And why? To celebrate abundance but also to offer thanks for the blessing of NOT having to track the thing through the frozen woods and hunt down this feathered feast and bring it back to the homestead alive and pecking. Instead, we just go down to the market. While there, we simply grab an ear of corn from the neatly stacked display, rather than fertilizing and tiling the field months before. Then we head to the desert aisle to grab a pumpkin pie that we didn’t bake from a pumpkin we didn’t grow.

In a way, this might make you feel a little guilty, but that’s not the point of today’s Thanksgiving blog. The point is that we have it really good. But consider for a moment, how much of a pilgrim’s everyday life was consumed by maintaining a food supply? How much “downtime” could they have possibly enjoyed when they had maybe 6 months of productive time by which to generate enough food to be able to LIVE through the other six? Compare that to how long the average American spends in the supermarket today.

But the moral of this story is: all of this almost didn’t happen! American that is. This country was nearly wiped out in its infancy. The first generation of American’s was almost the last. Why? Human behavior. And that leads to the character study part of this author’s blog.

The first form of government of the Plymouth Colony (the beginning of the United States of America) was outlined in the Mayflower Compact. It was the kind of document that intellectuals dream up… and dream about. In theory, it was a plan for Utopia, where everyone in this new land would share in everything. It was envisioned as the antidote to the unfair, uneven distribution of goods and wealth in bad, old Europe. In the New World everyone would share in everything, everyone held one share of the colony. The thinking was that this equality of wealth would  render poverty, famine, injustice and class divisions, a thing of the old, discriminatory,  European system’s past. These ills of society would be eliminated from the human condition by the simple, HUMANE, act of sharing.

Well, a lot of people died. In fact, everyone almost died. You see, it didn’t take long before those humans who didn’t work, or didn’t work as hard as others, realized they still got the same share of everything. And those humans that tilled the fields and broke their backs making everything started resenting the fact that they got the exact same share as the takers. Eventually, the “makers” started envying the “takers” and they quickly caught on and figured they’d slow down and still get their share too. “Utopian Paralysis” ensued and production practically ground to a halt. This forced Governor William Bradford, of the now starving, Plymouth Colony, to throw out the Compact and declare, in rough terms, the free market system. Like magic, those who were takers suddenly didn’t have anything to eat, so guess what? They became makers. And the rest, as they say, is history. Human history. Or in this case, history in spite of humans or their human behavioral defaults.

In short, the open market way back then is the reason we can go down to the market when it’s open today and buy, in a couple of minutes, a full Thanksgiving dinner – because way back when, we gave Utopia the bird!

The Precocious Writer

20121130-172613.jpg
I am a big fan of precocious children, you know, that point right before they become judgmental teens. When you can still have a fun, multisyllabic conversation without them interrupting the moment, looking down for a text message.

What happens? How does an engaging, surprisingly aware 7 to 10 year-old, firing off word use and ideas in a seemingly random fashion, with each truly important to them, change with the onset of social puberty? Why do these wonderfully rich observations and conversations children have with inanimate objects or real people, disappear? In a mysterious way that an adult could never understand, these creative impulses are thematically connected to a stream of consciousness that makes total sense to their internal logic.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this blog was written right after Thanksgiving and the temporary immersion into family that comes along with Turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. However, copious amounts and second helpings of Tryptophan cannot diminish the fascination I have with these young minds, situationally aware, yet full of imagination and not inhibited at all. Hence the delightful conversations which if attempted with a texting-teen would take 3 times as long as you pull teeth to get more than one word answers, i.e. “yes, no, what-ever, maybe, I duuno, yeah.”

What do I get out of all this? A method to spark creativity and a model to emulate. The precocious child is the essence of creativity and observation, without filters or the self-consciousness that later in life devolves our ability down to “safe,” tried and true methods of not taking any risks in conversation or our writing.

I was once involved in an effort to foster a better path to creativity and curiosity for young minds. It reversed the normal paradigm of teaching writing (creativity) to elementary school kids. That being; to let their minds go, unfettered by grammar spelling and the traffic cop adherence that stresses form over content. This resulted in more mental exercising, yielding stronger, more elaborate and involved concepts.

This was not just simply a matter of flipping the old way around to see what happened, instead it was based on a study that seemed to indicate that at early ages, mental activity and imagination are forming and active, yet the ability to grasp structure and grammatical laws actually develops later in life. So it is an educational model that better fits the natural expansion of the human brain.

This to me is a great lesson to writers, be as free with your thoughts, observations and conversations as a 7 year old. Resist the grown up internal governors that stop or stem a creative arc before it’s left the barn. Allow imagination to once again rule the roost. Be fearless in the reality that, in the end, they are all imaginary characters anyway, and not bound by physics, logic or flesh and bone. You can always find a “grown up” to clean up the grammar, usage and punctuation later – (and pay them well for it!)