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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sound-bites

When I first got online _________ years ago, I discovered email lists. What's more, I discovered the fun to be had debating a topic on a list, for me usually on the topic of education/homeschooling. Well, I haven't done it for several years, but I got to jump into the fray this week on, of all things, a puppetry email list.

Someone posted an article about PBS funds possibly being cut, and the conversation turned to all things education. I just couldn't sit back and allow the idea float in cyberspace that education is the responsibility of the government, could I?

What I discovered was that over time the art of discussion as turned into the art of creating a sound bite. According to Wikipedia,

It is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that deftly captures the essence of what the speaker is trying to say. Such key moments in dialogue (or monologue) stand out better in the audience's memory and thus become the "taste" that best represents the entire "meal" of the larger message or conversation. Sound bites are a natural consequence of people placing ever greater emphasis on summarizing ever-increasing amounts of information in their lives.

Every post has to wrap up the conversation in as few words as possible, the more cleverly stated the better. What's more every post has to end with some Fox News-ish, CNN-like barb about someone's character rather than actually discussing the topic itself. Instead of having a gourmet meal, we're having nuggets through the drive through--extra sauce, please.

I don't know that there is a point to this post other than to "point" out the phenomenon. I think maybe we could all lay off the news shows a little and try reading a book. A big one. One with lots of words. Pithy, yeah, a pithy book. Read one and get back to me.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Musings of the Harper

Sometimes the Internet is a wonderful thing. If you need a little information about something, you just Google or Ask and there it is--more information than you ever thought you'd want to have. Today I'm sharing with you my latest discovery:

Autoharp Radio


Now, you might wonder what I was looking for that I discovered Autoharp Radio. In fact, I was looking for strings for my autoharp. Yes, indeed. I own an autoharp. It's an older 12-bar Oscar Schmidt, but it's in pretty good condition (although it could use some new felt along with the new strings.)

But I digress. As I was looking for strings, I ran across Autoharp Radio, which is broadcast online on Live 365. After listening to it for a few days at work, I discovered a couple of things: 1) my playing drastically improved as I heard accomplished harpers play; 2) there are some really weird songs out there that should be shared.

I've heard songs from A Mighty Wind, quite a bit of bluegrass, folk, and gospel, some really interesting jazz, and even a rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody". Oh, yeah!

So far, my favorite of the weird is the Brobdingnagian Bards
These guys are a Celtic Renaissance duo out of Austin, TX. Their songs are played on the autoharp, mandolin, and recorder. They play some classics and some of their own works. One of my favorites so far is "Do Virgins Taste Better?" Just think about that in the context of a song about dragons. You'll understand. But they've done parodies from Star Wars and School House Rock. Their Lord of the Rings CD was so popular that they were the headliners at the LOR Oscar party.

Things get a little weirder when you check out Marc Gunn's site. Marc is the autoharpist in of the group, and he seems to have a fetish for felines and drinking songs. But he's a good harpist, and he's the reason that Autoharp Radio exists.

So, sit back at your 'puter and take listen to the dulcet strains of the autoharp. You'll be wanting to own one too.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

So, I had a puppet show today at Heritage Park in Groveport. They were having their first Nature Fair and I did a 20 minute show with the help of my "stage hand", Ethan. We've got the stage all set up, the audience sits down, the excitement continues to build. I come around the corner for my curtain speech and to start off things with a tongue twister, a song, and some antics with the "stage hand." Before I get a word out, a little girl in the front row blurts out:

"You look weird."

Those who know me, know that I'm not often at a loss for words, but honestly, the first thing that came to mind was, "Is my hair sticking up or something?"

I had nothing. No pithy comeback. Nothing other than, "This from a girl with a snake painted on her face." So, I laughed it off and moved on with the show.

I told a lady at BestBuy about the girl's comment and her response was, "That's exactly the look I was going for--Jerk!" Okay, I like it without the jerk. What about you? What would you have said to the little girl? You know, in case that ever happens again.