I was honored last night to have my short play, "To The Dogs," featured in a session of the Ten Minute Play Workshop, an online project created by Jen Whiting at Rider University. It was a rewarding and confidence-building experience. I also got to learn how to use GoToMeeting, and to have a mutli-way conversation with a wall of talking heads on my computer screen (this must be what it feels like to be Wolf Blitzer or Captain Kirk). Best of all, I got some incredible advice for improving my script from a group of writers who know what they're talking about. My sincere thanks to Jen, John Gamel, and Adam Douglas. I look forward to working with you all again soon...
-THE VITAL WORD-
And now for a few words about words (and many other things)...
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Here's just one more reason that I'm proud of my alma mater—and, of course, its football team. After a Rose Bowl championship, Stanford is planning on "using vocabulary to win a national title." Yes, words matter.
PALO ALTO, Calif. – When David Shaw and his assistant coaches go out in search of football recruits capable of playing for Stanford, the list of necessary attributes is long.
Superior academics are mandatory for admission and success at the elite university. Great athletic ability, strength and speed are a necessity to play for the reigning Pac-12 champions. Character, leadership and motivation are highly valued intangibles.
And then there is something unique Stanford coaches evaluate when meeting with a prospect, something that few would think predicts football success.
"Vocabulary," Shaw said.
"Yes, you look for vocabulary," he said. "Can this kid express himself in a way that befits a Stanford man?
"Does that correlate to football? I say, yes, absolutely. [We seek] a young man that has the confidence to stand up in front of you and express himself as opposed to what a lot of young kids do today – they don't give you eye contact, they kind of mumble when they talk to adults.
"You walk around and talk to our kids, they look you in the eye," Shaw continued. "And we play that way. We are going to play right at you, in your face, 'Here is who we are, here is how we play.' There is a one-to-one correlation. There is no doubt about it to me. The inability to be intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is significant."
As a freelance writer, it's nice enough to see your name in the paper* in a byline; when it's in the story itself, that's a special treat. And when it happens twice in one day... Well, please forgive my, ahem, momentary lack of modesty (what, you thought this blog was about you?): today, I got to see myself featured—and by "featured," I mean "referenced" and/or "indirectly alluded to"—in the print editions of both the New York Times and the Kansas City Star. The NYT piece actually went online last Thursday and the KC Star story was on the web last night, but both appeared on paper today.
*Note to not-so-future generations: paper is what they used to print some of the newsy parts of the internet on.
Unfortuantely, the occasion for my name appearing in the Times was the death of a wonderful playwright named Corinne Jacker, who I had been grateful to interview for our book, In Their Company, and about whom I was honored to be contacted when the time came to write her obituary.
The Star piece, meanwhile, didn't technically mention my name. But that's okay, because in a larger feature about The Barn Players, it mentioned my play, To The Dogs, and all the actors in it, along with a picture of them in action. In other words, three perfectly normal and very talented people are dressed up in silly clothes, pretending to be racing greyhounds, just because I wrote something that required/allowed them to... I'll take it.
Normally, I don't post here every time I record one of my sports commentaries on KCUR (Kansas City's NPR affiliate). But today, I offer my take on how the kerfuffle (I may not be using that word completely appropriately, but it gets wide latitude) over seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's ongoing travails and public (if you can consider OWN "public") admission of cheating has spilled over into his Livestrong foundation and specifically its naming-rights deal with Sporting KC (whose home stadium was, until last week, known as Livestrong Sporting Park). And what's a name if not a word? As with any word (except, perhaps, "kerfuffle"), when a name is used inappropriately, unintended results may...result.
If you wish, you may find the audio here.
I’m ashamed to say that I am only discovering this online clip now. It’s bad enough that I was a little late to Gangnam Style, but to know that some 15 million people saw this before me hurts more, since it so beautifully expresses the point of what I do. (Thanks to my computer-savvy dad for forwarding it.) This brief, sweet story was familiar to me as a parable—I’d heard it in a speech as recently as this year—but it’s much more affecting in cinematic form. Just watch.
Full credit goes to Purplefeather Online Content Specialists, the British marketing firm that created the film. If you’re in the market for online content and you live in the UK, by all means, try them first. Otherwise, I’m here.