spice

The Spice Of Life

They say variety is the spice of life.

Back in October I had the pleasure of being a part of a variety show here in Charlotte North Carolina. called Chevy Does Charlotte.

The name might suggest it has something to do with cars, but in fact “Chevy” is a person, and she is the organizer of this event which occurs 2-3 times a year here in the Queen City. She is the one at the beginning of the video introducing me.

The show was made up of musicians, poets, comedians, an expert on local paranormal activity and yours truly… a storyteller.

The theme of the event was “Do you believe?” My story was titled, “Do you believe diamonds are forever?” It isn’t what you think, but to find out you’ll have to watch the video. […]

Story

A Performance Video (of sorts)

This past weekend I had the honor of sharing the stage with seven very talented storytellers. The stories told ran the gamut from silly, to strange, to deep.

I told a story that has been brewing inside me for the better part of a decade. If you watch the video below you will see why this story was hard for me to write, and even more difficult to perform.

I have now been a public facing storyteller for the better part of five years. If there is one thing I have learned it is this… a well-told story has a far reaching effect on those who hear it, and you will never know who you will touch and in what ways.

So, please invest the nine minutes it will take to watch the video, and pass it along to anyone who you think will appreciate the message.

[…]

Storytelling

Get Up & Get Out – It’s Storytelling Week!

Ah, the holidays. Last week we hosted friends from out of town, and had thirteen around the Thanksgiving table. In fewer than two weeks, we’re having more than 150 in our home for my wife’s holiday work party. Then on December 22, I’m traveling 750 miles, north into the snow, with four teenagers for Christmas.

Suffice it to say… it is a busy time of year.

So, with all this going on I figured, why not commit to two different live storytelling events in one week?

That’s right, this week I am performing three times at two different events. If you are in Charlotte NC, I enthusiastically encourage you to come out to at least one and maybe all. The details are below: […]

Surprise

Half Century Surprise

I really like surprises. Unfortunately, being both a curious and hyper-observant person, I tend to see most things coming, and from quite a distance.

For my readers who are unaware, I turn fifty next month. At approximately 9:40pm central time on December 12th, I will complete my fiftieth trip around the sun. I can appreciate the idea about birthdays being a fairly arbitrary thing to celebrate, but society will do what society wants to do.

From my inherently intuitive perspective, milestone birthdays are absolutely the worst time to try and plan a surprise for anyone. Even those folks who are considered “easy-to-surprise,” will be on high alert when such an event is coming up.

When I was sixteen, I thought someone in my world might try and pull off a surprise, but 12-12-85 came and went without any flipping on of lights followed by familiar screams. […]

Tools

Tools Of The Trade

This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of guest posts. I often see great stories out in the world, and I am going to make an effort to bring as many of them to you as possible.

I met Scott Coene at Harris Hill Elementary School more than four decades ago. He and I were never great friends, but we’ve never had a beef with each other either. It is one of those casual friendships that has literally stood the test of time.

Scott runs a baseball bat company called Powerhouse Bats, out of his garage in Irondequoit, NY. After long days at his “real job,” Scott makes personalized custom wood bats, one at a time, mostly for little league and high school players all over the country. […]

Campfire

The Last Campfire

Writing is funny. Sometimes when I set out to tell a story, it comes out exactly as I expect. Other times, writing is a bit like a dowser with a divining rod. You know something is out there, but you’re not exactly sure where or what. Last week I was asked by an online magazine[…]

Texas

Texas Toast

In June of 2013 I was scheduled to run a trade show booth at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio, Texas. At the time I was working for a small educational software developer, and we were right on the cusp of some pretty dramatic success. This show was to be an important step in that process.

When you work for a small company trade show budgets are very small, forcing you to make do with nothing but a few bucks and your wits. You stay in hotels with free breakfast, you eat inexpensive fast food, you don’t expense adult beverages, and when given the choice of a cab or an invigorating walk… you walk. I flew Southwest, so the entire “booth” was stuffed into my two “free” checked bags. […]

cry

It’s Alright To Cry

When I was kid, there was this hippie musical mashup thing called Free To Be You And Me. It wasn’t exactly a proper musical, or an album, or a movie. It was this flowery 1960’s collection of sketches, songs, love and a little propaganda. For example, one of the songs was called “William Wants A Doll.” Looking back, it was rather progressive for its time.

cry

A whole lotta hippie in one record

My favorite song on Free To Be You And Me was called “It’s Alright to Cry.” It was one of those intentional dichotomies where they chose a huge NFL defensive tackle named Rosie Grier to sing it. I remember the chorus going something like:

It’s alright to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
Raindrops from your eyes
It might make you feel better!

I found the song to be equal parts fascinating and off-putting. Pretty much in line with my feelings for the whole production. Free To Be You And Me was released in 1972… I was three. Although I didn’t do it often, I always took comfort in knowing if I needed to cry… it was alright; even for giant football players. […]

College

Already Gone

This coming Monday morning at 6:00am, we are taking our oldest child to college. With fewer than forty-eight hours to go, I am sitting in the silence of our house at 6:30 on Saturday morning. All four of our children are sleeping snug in their beds, all under one roof; an era drawing quickly to a close.

As the first day of college has crept up, I have been asked things like:

  • “How are you going to handle it?”
  • “Are you ready for this?”
  • “Do you think you’ll cry?”
  • “How hard is it going to be to drive away from your baby?”

My response to these questions has been little more than a shrug, not because I am a callous, uncaring father… just the opposite in fact. […]

Rules

My God, What Have I Done?

From what I can tell, the term “college radio” is no longer a thing, but it use to be. It was actually so much of a thing that there was an organization called the College Music Journal (CMJ) that held conferences, and put out sampler CDs that were at worst, an inexpensive way to get music, and at best absolutely prescient.

My first exposure to college music was actually in high school. My high school had something called the radio club and they served two critical needs: The morning announcements and (much more importantly), they played music in the Junior/Senior cafeteria every minute of every school day. […]

Tattoos

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

There is an expression in Las Vegas. Sometimes when a gambler wins a hand, someone (usually the gambler himself) shouts out loud for all to hear, “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.” The origins of this idiom are not completely clear, but if you click here you can read about it. Several years ago I was involved in a bet that included dinner, but was I a winner? That, I will let you decide.

My wife Emily is fairly straight-laced. I mean this only in the very best way possible. Her social history consists of: one boyfriend in high school that ended very badly, one boyfriend in college who is now a priest… and me. Of course there is more to each of these stories, but facts are facts, right?

As many of you know, my wife is an Intensive Care Pediatrician, and when you work overnight shifts in a hospital, you often end up in some pretty strange and revealing conversations in the wee hours of the night.

One day after a run of 3 + days in a row, Emily came home and said, “you know that hospital wedding we’re going to next week? Well I made a bet, and we’re gonna get a free dinner out of it, but I need your help.” […]

Mixed Emotions

Mixed Emotions

There’s an old dad joke that goes, “What’s the definition of mixed emotions? Watching your Mother-In-Law drive your new Cadillac off a cliff.” Of course, to be funny, the joke presumes two things:

  1. You really like Cadillacs
  2. You really DON’T like your Mother-In-Law

In the case of me personally, even as a self-admitted car guy, I’ve never been a huge fan of GM’s luxury brand.

My Mother-In Law on the other hand… her I liked.

I met Barbara Braunstein just about two decades ago, and without a doubt my life has been the better for it. […]

honor

Honor In The Overspray

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, which honors all those who died in the service of our nation. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, there are not enough words to express the debt of gratitude all Americans owe. That said, I’m going to try anyway.

My regular readers know I like to tell stories to make a point, and today is no exception. As you read, you may begin to think I’ve gone off the rails, but soldier on, you won’t be disappointed… I promise. […]

Shut Up

The Day I Finally Shut Up… and Saved My Own Life

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary. Nineteen isn’t a round number, nor a significant one, but I will say that other than “not stop breathing” I’ve done nothing else continually for nineteen years.

Depending on which website you believe, my wife and I should have exchanged gifts of either jade or bronze yesterday. That did not happen, but we went out for a nice dinner and decided to give each other deposits into our kids’ 529 accounts.

Whenever anniversaries come around on the calendar, people often ask… “How did you guys meet?” Well, today I’m going to tell the story, how the first date almost didn’t happen, and how I almost completely blew it. […]

shoes

Shine Your Shoes

Several weeks ago I had an in-person job interview. After successfully navigating a qualifying phone interview with HR, and another phone interview with the hiring manager, I was invited to travel 150 miles to the company HQ to meet with the whole team. This was to be the third of four interviews before they would be making a final decision.

As many of my readers know, my family moved from Western NY, to Charlotte NC late last year for my wife’s work. To do this, I had to leave my job but I wasn’t worried. I’ve always been good at finding jobs commensurate with my skills and value. After spending a few months getting the kids and the house settled I set out to find my next gig, but I ran into something rather unexpected. […]