Monday, February 25, 2008

the Gift of Gab Podcast

Hey everyone, I finally got the podcast to work, I got a static server and they should be up soon, I'll keep everyone posted! but for now... here's the blogcast from my previous post... the Gift of Gab!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the Gift of Gab

These days a good conversation can be lost on some people.

The art of speech ought to be increasingly important in the digital age, but instead it is becoming a less efficient way to conduct business and a more distracting means of political expression.

A good conversation trumps almost everything in our society. A good conversation can make or break a date, ruin an evening or make an argument. Written words have the power to make us laugh out loud the way a comedian can with their constant barrage of humour! Wait, wait! I need to breathe! I haven't recovered from what you already said!

When we read we go at our own pace, if we throw our head back in laugher the words do not follow to the ceiling or the backs of our eyelids. Instead the narrative is on hold until you can calm down enough to continue. The ears don't stop hearing, you'll hear the voices that anger you even if you close your eyes or start a rant. Have you ever truly tried to drown out a speaking dissident? Words can be tossed aside, lost in the garbage, torn, shredded and censored, but words come out exactly as intended by the speaker.

Want proof? Read a great speeches like: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; Churchill's, We Shall Fight on the Beaches; Jawaharlal Nehru's A Tryst With Destiny; Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman; or Emmeline Pankhurst's Freedom or Death.

No read them aloud. Try an capture them with your voice see if you can convince your dog of your purpose. Then try and do the same by letting him read it himself. Words will always have power.

Our leaders screw up simple words like nuclear (new-clee-er) and it's a comedy and not a tragedy and we wonder whats happening with education in this country. There was a time when speech was important, being polite and proper was not something you did because you were told, you did it because it was polite and proper. It wasn't offensive to speak out of turn, but it was polite to let someone else speak if they were already.

Today we seem to have taken speech and moved it into a completely informal manner. There's no formal speech in American society. How many times do you call a superior Sir just because he is a superior. We use first names we forget to compliment and thank and praise. I blame the internet on some level, especially with the younger generation. I remember the internet when it was text only at 9600bps and older, but now a conversation with one friend verbally is tougher for some than with five or six different friends via keyboard!

With regard to formality we only have to look at the Latin based languages! They have inherently created formal speech, just like English, and I remember learning them and thinking, 'When is it time to use these? with a teacher? a professor? an adult? Wow formal speech? Weird...' We have these formal parts of speech too, but on our side of the boarder we struggle to get the kids to learn new words at all, at least not ones they don't hear in the media. My grandma learned the words that I was learning for the Graduate Records Exam, when she was in High School. Things have definitely gone down hill the English Departments across the country.

My point is, speech is important, I am guilty as all of us are when it comes to formality, but I think it might be too late to go back to Miss and Ma'am Sir and Mister days of our forebears. How would we convince a new generation that speaking without respect is dissing your elders? It's a tough sell.

But back to how the internet has changed our communication...

How many of us have saved a good letter or correspondence we've received? I know I have, in fact I have a whole box of letters, notes and cards I've been given going back to middle school. I don't look at them often, but when I am down and need a pick me up it's nice to remember that girl who thought you were cute in Mr. Arbanas' 8th grade Science class.

My point is there may be a time when face-to-face conversations are to future us what receiving a letter was to past us.

I love to write, otherwise I wouldn't have started this blog, it's really a newfound realization however, as I never thought to much about what I wanted, but there is something even greater than writing for me and thats the spoken word. Good writing makes you want to speak it aloud. A good sonnet isn't passed around a room so everyone can read it, instead it's read aloud for everyone to hear at once. A good orator can convince even the most lethargic to action.

Getting a letter even 20 years ago was still such a treat. I remember as a kid I would send and receive letters and really relish the experience. The feel of the letter in my hand, not to weighty but enough that made you want to guess how many pages it was; Two maybe Three? You let your eyes wander the front of the envelope, who is it from? What's the return address? Those pretty stamps with a Chinese junk rig in sepia tones... The look of the handwritten address; it was for me and no one else, a little paper pouch that contained a secret only the sender and I would know. You rip the paper with your finger, either across one end so you can blow inside to pop it open, or across the top so you can see the whole contents in one glance, depending on and whether the stamps were pretty enough to want to keep and whether I was allowed to use the letter opener.

Ah the seal is broken, the paper tumbles out of the pouch and into your hand. Oh, an unexpected surprise an enclosure! Now you have more information about what the letter may read! It's a photo of your friend at the beach, she's laughing and holding a sand bucket while flanked by her younger brother and the family dog shaking it's wet fur all over the two of them. You smile at the Sunday Post-like photo for our modern age.

Reading the letter is not the only important thing, while you read you take in all sorts of stimuli; the texture of the paper, the colour of the ink or the smudges of the pencil where the left handed writer drew her hand across the page. After reading it once or twice you can then do the best thing, savour it and maybe even share it. Read it for years to come. It will forever hold it's own font and style, you don't have to flag it, you don't have to move it to a folder where it can get lost with a hundred other impersonal replies and insincere forwards. This person took the time to sit at a desk and write you a letter. She even licked the envelope and stuck it in the mailbox.

The content is only a small part of the overall experience of getting mail...

Nothing that I've described can be done with email, email is information, but not personality. People try to dress them up with clouds in the backdrop and pretty colours and fonts, but if you really love someone. Send them a letter sometime. See how much they appreciate it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

You Should All Love This Because I Do.

Ok, new obession:

yea, it's amazing.

A Successful Failed Adventure

Wednesday Night was some pretty crappy weather, but Ray and I jumped in the G6 and headed for Detroit.

Actually it was for Wayne city. But thats not important, just like wayne city is not important this is not an important line of my story.

So! We got in the car and braved the driving snow... while driving. On the way we played a lovely game called, "Spot the Cars in the Ditch!"

There were 11. It was great. Okay is was horrible. or maybe it was just good fun, clean, no, but good. for us. not for the people off the road. Tho there may have been some chances.

We arrived at Rookie Sport Cafe... not Café just Cafe. Don't ask me. Tho there's a bit of backstory to this....

diddly-0oo diddly-ooo diddly-ooo

way back.... on the previous Friday, we were at a housewarming party for Joe, a guy we'd never met, with a bunch of people that we didn't know. Jen, Jen, Jen and Julie were there, and I finally got to meet Jen's sister Megan. Ray came along and on the tour of the house - with the 4 bedrooms and the HUGE kitchen and the shower. Yea it was a shower. it was a highlight of the tour. Upon arrival to the shower, i jumped over the threshold (with a proper Ray accompaniment) and gazed longingly upon the two shower heads and the nice brown tilings.... it was fantastic. Plus it had room for like 12 people. I extended that invite to the other members of our tour, but the members were frightened. oh were they........... but that was all turned around later.

We wandered the party, trying to be awesome and exude awesome and just be awesome. Ray and I finally started a conversation with the three very cute very single girls who subsequently invited us to a bar away from the wonderful housewarming excitement. Though it was more than 45 minutes from the initial leaving announcement until that moment when we walked out the door.

We started by - as anyone would do - donning our jackets.
Then we waited.
... and waited...
and then drank some
and did a shout out of a test tube
and then took off our jackets and rejoined the party.
and then after we'd rejoined for a while and had another drink
re-donned our coats and left.

We drove another 35 min to garden city and hung out all night with those cute girls before crashing at their apt.

Invited during the housewarming party we were told that we were not expected to be seen again. They were so right.

Anyway back to the story at hand, Megan was very cute as was Jessica (that was the girl Ray gravitated to) and Jess was supposed to be starting at the Sports Cafe (not café) so we shlepped down there. Entering the"quality" establishment we met Misty, the bartender for the evening and asked her where jessica be, she not be there. So we sat and had a crappy labatt and some tasty food, a shot from Misty ("would a shot make you guys feel better?" - "yea i guess" "yea a little") - free due to our long drive in the snow and her sympathy.

We hung around for a while but Jess never showed up, picked some tunes on the tunebox, what a horrible selection, before calling it a night and heading up to Bloomfield to see Justin and hang out. We played around and stayed up late having a great time before going to get fries. Damn you history channel and your tellings of all things fast food late at night!

The next morning we had some pancakes, cleaned out the cars and headed back to Lansing.

All in all not a great adventure, but a great adventure. We totally did not accomplish our task, but we had good time, and really that's all that matters. Because we say it is. So there.