Summer Wrap-up, Marla Beck, and more

No really, I do stuff.

I got some flack recently from a fellow blogger and great friend – we’ll call him MAX – about including my press releases on my blog.

“We want to read about your life!” He scolded.

The thing is, I generally only blog releases regarding events that I am, indeed, participating in, and/or think my readers should, too. I generally try to follow up said releases with a post about my experience, but unfortunately, lately I’ve been too busy with the actual publicity to flex my posting muscle. So, the fact that the blog-centric follow-up has been missing – I’ll give that to Maxy-max. Still, with fb, twitter, foursquare, flickr, youtube, LinkedIn, TwitterQueens, thirty-something bloggers, and tweetphoto always recording my every move, aren’t you all sick of me yet? (Don’t answer that. I’m feeling fragile.)

I have started work on a few vids complete with new unsigned tunes to share (

), but as we all know, iMovie will only cooperate when it’s good and damn ready. So, instead, here’s a quick round-up of recent activities that have whetted my cultural, foodie, live-well-laugh-often, boho appetites.

• Went to the 10th annual Chili and Chowder Fest for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club at Camp Richmond, where I also took a pontoon ride around Richmond Pond. Holy scenery, Batman.

Boys' and Girls' Club Chili and Chowder fest 2010

Boys' and Girls' Club Chili and Chowder fest 2010

• Went to ‘da races with Teen to watch Flyin’ Brian Keough take the track in car 311

• Became new besties with Leni Stern

Leni Stern

• Listened to a dialogue on spiritual activism that included stories about monkeys, trees, and fish; all were much better than that Starfish Story everyone on the speaker circuit is telling lately.

Sadhvi Bhagwati and Swami Chidanand Saraswati

• Enjoyed Berkshire-based jazz-funk collective Unfulfilled Desires , fresh from a recent gig in Paris

Took this hair-raising photo of The Real McCoy, aka actor Sam Waterston (please don’t hate me, Mr. Waterston. You are so awesome. And you wear it well, that windswept look.)

Sam Waterston (sorry about the hair shot. I think you are awesome.)

Watched grown ups hula hoop, and pretty darn well. Did not ‘hoop myself for fear of injury.


So Max, what are we doing next week?

Published: Saturday, 7 August 2010

Video killed the Radio Angst

I’m sure I’m not the only music lover who gets stuck on a tune now and again for whatever reason – it soothes a tough time, it celebrates a moment, or maybe it’s just catchy.

Back in the day, putting a song on ‘repeat’ was a manual affair. Rattling, clicky cassettes were shoved into mini-boom boxes or our parents’ stereos, cued to the right track, and enjoyed in close proximity, so we could quickly run back to the rewind button and start all over.

CDs brought us an easier way to listen over and over, especially when the ‘play on loop’ function evolved. And as far as MP3s, hell. We can load our iPods with 800 versions of the same song if we want to.

Increasingly, I find myself watching vids of my latest obsessions — just another step in the staircase that is music technology. Video adds a certain variety to listening the same tune over and over — instead of the same track, I can find dozens of different live performances, montages made by other fans, acoustic versions, and more. Here’s one of my favorite tunes performed live a slew of different ways in one set, for instance:

That said, I still find myself gravitating toward particular versions and sticking with them, after a little bit of exploration. There’s something comforting in the repetition — it feels routine, mundane, and free of surprises. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Take this Grammy performance of Elton John and Lady Gaga. It gives me chills every time I see it for several reasons.

…and even if I don’t think I’m in the mood for a laugh, nothing cheers me up like Slo-mo Dove.

What tunes are you wearin’ out these days?



A visitor‘ left this comment on 17 Aug 10
I kind of can’t get over ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Kanye. Kind of.

A visitor‘ left this comment on 10 Aug 10
What an excellent Post!! This is what i’m diggin these days…

A visitor‘ left this comment on 10 Aug 10
I could watch the Total Eclipse of the Heart literal video every single day. Sheer perfection.

How ’bout a Puppy-fur carrying case for your double standard, Talk Radio?

laura s

I rarely touch on heated topics on this blog, but I’m perplexed by what seems to be a lack of outrage against Mommy Dearest long-time talk-radio host Laura Schlessinger.

Why is she still on the air? Why is she departing on her own terms? Why is someone allowed by their employer to basically swear on the air in hearing distance of millions, blatantly tossing around a highly-charged racial term for five minutes, only to be invited on Larry King days later? (Here’s the Huff Post story if you need the details.)

Perhaps some of the quiet is caused by Schlessinger’s vow to quit radio so she can continue to ‘say what is on [her] mind and in [her] heart … without people getting angry’ and to ‘regain her First Amendment rights.’ (Oh, GAG ME.) Perhaps some are thinking since she’s seemingly off the air at the end of the year, we’ll just let her toil out her final months and fade into obscurity.

I disagree with this stance. First, I don’t buy for a second that she’s done berating people in the public eye. As soon as a book deal/column offer/satellite radio gig comes her way, she’ll be back.

In this recent CNN article, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison (I subscribe to his magazine) bolsters this notion, objectively. She’s part of the elite of talk radio, he says, correctly. She has an audience of 8 million and ranks just behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in the TALKERS ratings.

“I don’t think she needs radio economically, and I don’t think she even needs it to get her message out,” he said.

That’s what scares me. Censorship is one thing I don’t abide, but responsible broadcasting should not take a back seat to half-baked political dictums, including leaning on one’s First Amendment Rights to defend saying the N-word 11 times in five minutes – especially with an audience as large as hers. Has she ever heard of responsibility, ethics, and tact? I can say whatever I want on this blog of six years, in front of my 400-or-so daily readers. I know that. I appreciate that. But I appreciate my readers and my upbringing more, and I practice something called personal responsibility.

Here’s my other problem with this: she’ll be back with fewer repercussions that other hosts who have come before her. So much for evolving standards of conduct.

To be clear, in no way do I condone the comments made, say, in 2007 on Imus in the Morning regarding the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team. Don Imus and his producer made poor decisions and said off-color, anachronistic, rude things. And subsequently, Imus was suspended after four days. Four. Days.

Conversely, here we are three years later, at the start of a new decade and perhaps on the cusp of great social change as technology, politics, and culture bubble with excitement, and Schlessinger thinks it’s her constitution-given right to spew statements like ‘Don’t NAACP me?’

It’s not about censorship. It’s not about rights. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about leading with integrity. This leader of talk radio has embarrassed us all — journalists, broadcasters, free-thinkers, and Americans alike.

Shame on you, Ms. Schlessinger.

Additional Reading

The FCC’s responsibility is to enforce federal obscenity laws….Material must meet three requirements to be considered obscene:

  • Applying community standards, an average person must find that the material appeals to the prurient interest.
  • The material shows or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by law.
  • The material, as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Here is a full audio version of the broadcast at Media Matters.

To be fair, here is a compilation of news stories and blog posts from Atlantic Wire in defense of ‘Dr. Laura’.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Published: Thursday, 19 August 2010

Tweet Week – the best of the brief, 8.23 – 8.27

Sandra Bernhard
140 characters of separation…

Didn’t you know? It all happens on Twitter. Quickly, and with appropriate levels of snark.

Every week, I find that at least a few highlights come directly from the Twittersphere, be it a link to an interesting article, a word of encouragement from a friend, or a new connection. I decided to pull out some of the latest gems and share them here. The links will allow you to follow the authors of these tidbits; you can follow me here .

-Writer Jill Nickerson wrote a fabulous piece on managing GenX, which I found via a link from Jason Falls. Read it here.

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick‘s press secretary, who also happens to be an old friend and my first editor from my first writing job out of college, took time out from being awesome to get me a comprehensive link of Massachusetts legislative leaders for reference. Here’s that link.

-Another awesome writer and friend, Joe, highlighted singers with character in his weekly ‘Monday Morning List ‘ post this week, and mentioned a certain former rock star from Cape Cod.

-Speaking of Cape Cod, while playing the #lameclaimtofame game on Twitter this week, I mentioned once dancing at the Provincetown club Vixens just a few feet from the statuesque comedienne Sandra Bernhard. She sent me a public message just after I mentioned her… so it is a lame claim to fame no more!

writerjax that might have been the last time i got to go out dancing, we do dance a lot right here at home.

What was your Twi-light this week? Facebook fun is ok too.

Admin: To my facebook readers, remember that these posts feed automatically to my fb page three days after their original publication. So, if you want to get the the jump on The Jump, bookmark this link . Sanka.

Published: Thursday, 26 August 2010

Balance and Bliss: Notes on Writing Coach Marla Beck’s Teleclass

The Thinker

About two years ago, I was sitting in my newly christened home office waiting for Marla Beck , life coach for writers, to give me a call. We’d met virtually on Twitter, and after a few exchanges, we planned what Heidi Klum would call A Little Chat.

While I was looking forward to the call, I was also feeling inadequate and scared at the time. My new whiteboard nothwithstanding, I was fresh out of a nine-to-five gig and still struggling with maintaining a schedule, organizing client information, and getting my work done without a frenzied fight to the finish each night before a deadline.

I felt like once we started talking Marla would easily peg me as a fraud and bail. That didn’t happen — in fact, we had a great conversation and realized we had more in common than the urge to scribble. But what Marla may not know (or maybe she does; this is her gig, after all) is our conversation was exactly what I needed in that moment to straighten my spine, take a deep breath, and say ‘OK, I can do this.’ What’s more, our Little Chat helped me to believe it.

I’ve kept an eye on Marla’s blog and website since then, and last week, I had the chance to listen to one of her teleclasses. Marla works primarily with writers and freelancers, but many of her principles can be applied to leaders of small companies or free-functioning departments within larger organizations. I find myself working in the latter as well as in a freelance capacity regularly, and I can see how Marla’s tips work in different environments. I think this is largely because she recommends an approach to work that is life-balanced in general, and creating that balance is something all professionals struggle with regardless of where they set up their laptops.

So not to reiterate the entire broadcast, but nevertheless to whet your Creative-organization appetites, here are a few take-aways from Marla’s teleclass that speak volumes:

Design your business vision. Create a meaningful long-term plan, and ask yourself questions like ‘what values mean the most to me? What do I want my life to look like three years from now?’ Moreover, Marla suggests some free-writing on these questions. This practical step is important in my eyes — we can ruminate on the future for hours, but putting it in writing creates the seed of a plan.

Create Business Systems. This is such an intrinsic, yet often overlooked, piece of the puzzle for many Creatives… it’s a lesson I’ve yet to fully embrace myself. But, as Marla says,”You will feel more in control when you proactively organize your business systems…You have to train yourself to look at your business through different lenses.” Anyone who’s ever worked for themselves or managed a department knows about that ‘the accordion effect:’ long stretches of a slowed work-pace followed by intense periods of cramming to meet deadlines. For writers and PR professionals, this is sometimes part of the profession and unavoidable, but other times it’s the result of myopic work-styles — i.e., keeping our heads down, plowing forward, and failing to step back to look at the big picture.

Invest in yourself. “Consciously make time to energize,” Marla says. “By taking real control, you operate consciously and deliberately. Spend some amount of time each day doing something you absolutely love.” It’s a hard lesson for many, to stop and do something out of the realm of commerce. Especially when it’s ‘work time,’ and particularly when the rent is due. But studies have shown this to be an effective business tactic, and again, Marla gives a sample guideline for those still not convinced that stepping away from the desk will improve their results. Start with 15 minutes a day, she suggests — and over time, minutes can be added as productivity increases.

You can check out Marla’s other teleclass offerings here, and I’m curious — what are some of your Creative organization tips?

Further reading: JK Rowling’s Billion Dollar Cardboard Box

Published: Tuesday, 31 August 2010

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