Monday, April 25, 2011

Storytelling - another view

If you didn't catch this a few weeks ago at the Maumee Valley Romance Writers blogsite, here it is again! Enjoy!

While most of us might think of stories in written form, probably the oldest form of storytelling is through song.

I admire anyone who can play a musical instrument and carry a tune, because I can do neither!

Think about it - the verses of a song are a story in themselves:
So just where to start the story
Titanic comes to mind
Imagine my excitement
As they cast away the lines

Are you thinking, Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet? (Uh, that was too easy, huh?) Probably, but no one involved with that movie wrote that stanza, which in itself is the beginning of a wonderful story.

A dear friend of mine is an amazing musician and storyteller. Kerry Clark has been strumming a guitar and writing stories for a long time. (And, he's not that old!) It is he who wrote that verse, the beginning of his song ROW from the CD On the Road to Human Being. I first met Kerry some twenty years ago.

It was about 6AM, in one of the concourses of Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, OH. Kerry had graciously agreed to get up at the crack of nothing and perform on the radio morning show, of which I was a part. It was Christmas-time and my morning show partners and I were doing a special broadcast from the mall.

I was standing with a few other women. We had to admire his butter-blond hair which was styled in the style of the early 90s – business in the front, party in the back! I must say, Kerry’s was the most appealing and un-mullet-like rock-star mullet I have ever seen!

And, WOW – that boy could sing! To top it off – he was---and still is! --- a sweetheart!

I have found over the years, the stories Kerry tells in his songs aren’t just his stories. Sure, they may have originated in his mind, were scribbled on a napkin with his pen, arranged, sung and recorded in his studio. But, once shared, they transcend who he is.

For instance, ROW – ya gotta keep pluggin’ away even if the ship is sinking! We’ve all been in ‘that boat’ once or twice in our lives. I often pull up that song on my Ipod when I’m in the car on my way to work, because regardless if I’m in love with my job or not (and many days it’s not!) I still have to yank on that oar and get movin’! Not just to work – but to life.

Which, to me, makes writing and the process of being published that much more exciting. Not that ‘getting a book published’ was on my Bucket List. Writing a story was something I always knew I was capable of doing, getting it published was the pat on the head – from a completely unbiased source – that I needed, that all of us need on occasion to make our lives ‘extra’ worthwhile.

So, dear writing friends, keep putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboards, keep telling stories, because not only may those tales mean something to you, they may mean even more to someone else.

And, to my dear friend, Kerry, if I haven’t done it in the past, please consider your head patted, smooched and yourself hugged immensely. Your musical stories, love and friendship from you and your family mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

Row to the rhythm of your heart - row till you find out who you are
Row like you’ll never face defeat - row till you fill your life complete

Amen, my brother, amen!


Wendy Burke blogs regularly for the Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America and A Daily Dose of Decadence. She is dangerously close to getting RESPITE, a post-WWII romance published by Decadent Publishing. She can be found on Facebook – Wendy Burke Author, at her blog site, Whatever Wendy! and lurking around the Internet. When not playing with the people in her head, Wendy has a fine life with her handsome chef husband and two furry feline kids. She also has a full-time job behind the scenes in television which keeps her from writing fulltime in the somewhat pot-hole-free suburbs of Toledo, Ohio.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sheboyganese - Part Twoah

 This blog originally appeared on A Daily Dose of Decadence in February. I've had so many wonderful comments about Part One, I thought Part Twoah might need to go up sooner than later! ENJOY - there will be a test....later...Waaaay later...

 How to Speak Sheboyganese – Part Two

   Well, fellow linguists, if you remember an earlier blog, you learned the finesse of the Sheboyganese accent. For those of you who didn’t  Part One, SHAME ON YOU!  J  Secondly – go back and read it as it is a prerequisite for SHEBOYGANESE II at the University of Wendy.
    Just to reiterate, Sheboygan, Wisconsin is my hometown – I was born and bred there. It’s a beautiful town of 50,000+ on the shores of Lake Michigan half-way between Milwaukee and Green Bay. From last week’s lesson we learned, Sheboyganites have a particular accent, so specific that other Wisconsinites can tell if a person is from Sheboygan.
  But, along with the patterns of speech you can hear from someone from my hometown, there are also words unique to that county.
    I had never grilled anything until I moved to Ohio. Whatever is done on a contraption fueled by charcoal or propane was called frying in Sheboygan. In addition, no respected Sheboyganite would use propane (well, not in my day!) to fry anything! We used charcoal – chunks or briquettes – soaked with starter fluid. (Or white gas if you were my neighbors, the Holler family! Love you guys!)
    But why? ask! Because charcoal is a tasty substance in which to drop meat. Hell, I can’t tell you the number of blackened – and I don’t mean Emeril Lagasse-ized – bratwurst I have consumed in my life which I picked directly out of the glowing embers of the fryer (more on that word in a moment.) Just wash it off in a little butter-onion-beer juice simmering atop said fryer and you’re good to go! In the photo you will see the perfect double brat – served on a Sheboygan hardroll with brown mustard, dill slices and onion!   Man, I haven’t had a really good one in some time! Wash it down with a lukewarm Kingsbury and you’re nearly in Cheesehead nirvana!
   Now you know we fry things in Sheboygan and not grill them. Well, the item full of charcoal on which the frying takes place is one of two apparatus – either a fryer or a Weber.
A fryer is nothing special, just a round, flat-bottomed receptacle on legs, covered with a ‘grill.’
   As opposed to the fancier, Weber Cooker. 
    Now you might not say there is a difference, but growing up in the Bratwurst Capital of the World, I can assure you there is – some families even had a fryer and a Weber!
    And, remember – the above fryer should also not be confused with the fryer  you can get in the meat department at your local supermarket…like The Pig in Sheboygan. If you’re still confused, that fryer would be a nice chicken for frying. (In a pan or on the fryer.)
   Have I lost you yet?  Just two more and you can go shopping in Sheboygan!
   When perusing the frozen treat section of The Pig (see above), don’t forget on a hot summer day, coolers are great eating. Now, you’re saying, why would I eat something that keeps food cold! Well, you’re not…in Sheboygan a cooler is a cold food – namely a Popsicle.
    And if you need some quick hydration…stop at a bubbler and take a nice long refreshing drink. It’s a water fountain.
  So there you have it – you can now sound and speak like a Sheboyganite!
   So much easier than advanced Latin, huh?

RESPITE has a trailer!
You can escape life, but never escape love.

Wendy Burke blogs regularly for A Daily Dose of Decadence and is currently in the editing process on RESPITE, a post-WWII romance to be published soon by Decadent Publishing. She can be found on Facebook – Wendy Burke Author,  TWITTER @WendyBurke1994. When not playing with the people in her head, Wendy has a fine life with a chef husband (YES – no cooking!) and two furry feline kids and a full-time job that keeps her from writing fulltime in ‘beautiful’ Toledo, Ohio. Right now, however, she’s having a helluva hankering for a double brat!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Learning a new language-- one not taught in school!

     You may have missed it awhile back, when at A Daily Dose of Decadence, I was giving lessons in speaking the language of my hometown - Sheboyganese. If you want a lesson, read below! Enzoah!

 I must admit, at one time I had a terrible accent – no not that gorgeous Southern Belle ‘Nawlin’s drawl. I mean a SHEBOYGAN accent. That’s Sheboygan as in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (There’s another blog lurking about how allegedly native of Wisconsinites pronounce the state WisGONsin, but that’s for another day!)
    Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Since, I left college hoping to make my living in radio; the quaint, yet obvious, Sheboygan accent had to go.
     Before you go running to your medical symptoms dictionary, a Sheboyganese accent is not a physical malady (well, not ANYMORE for me) but at one time, it was fairly prominent.
     To set the stage, Sheboygan, Wisconsin is a lovely – and I do mean BEAUTIFUL city of 50-some-thousand right on Lake Michigan half way between Milwaukee (or M’waukee in Sheboyganese) and Green Bay. It was an outstanding place to grow up.  The accent of the true Sheboyganite, however, is so pronounced and so specific that even those in other parts of Wisconsin can tell if someone is from Sheboygan.
    Lovely, lovely town, but, it has its linguistic idiosyncrasies both verbally and in verbiage.
    To set the stage, think of Frances McDormand in the movie FARGO. I have to say, one of the reasons I will watch that dark flick every time it’s on, is BECAUSE of the true-to-life accents – Sheriff Marge Gunderson (married to Norm – that son of a Gunderson) is what I at one time sounded like and what many of my friends and relatives STILL sound like back in that fine berg. (GRUMPY OLD MEN also falls into that ‘homey accent’ category.)
    My dear friend from the time I was two years old, Laurie (last name withheld to protect the innocent) has the most beautiful Sheboygan accent. During a visit one Christmas, she conjured up the spirit of Marge Gunderson and said to my husband as he sipped a beer, ‘Youah knoah that lady in Fargoah? I was soah embarrassed, I thought I sounded just like her.’ It’s a good thing we all knew the Heimlich, we had to dislodge the beer can from my betrothed’s throahat, (throat in English) he sucked it in while laughing so hard….with Laurie of course! (Love ya, Laurie Jean Punkin… last name withheld to protect the innocent!)
    Going along with that style of accent, I grew up counting like my very old uncle, ‘one, tooah, tree.’ We would ‘go der’ and ‘take dat,’ and ‘bring deez ones, enso.’ (To translate: ‘go there,’ ‘take that,’ and ‘bring these, okay.’)
     Any word with or ending in a long ‘o’ or ‘a’ automatically had it drawn out – ‘Where are youah goahing?’ ‘Take your coaht if you’re going to buy soahp.’ ‘Noahp, doahn’t knoah where to goah. But maybe by the Laaaake, ensoah?’
   Oh, Yah.
     Growing up, my (and others’) speech was dotted with ‘Yahs,’ and ‘enzoahs.’ (Which I will explain momentarily, enso?)
    Going back to the title of this blog, ‘down by’ is in regular-standard-American English ‘to’ or ‘at.’ ‘Bei’ (pronounced BY) in German is ‘at’…so with all the Deutsche in the area it made sense. ‘I’m going by my friend’s house,’ or ‘You want? I’m going by the store, enso.”
   So now that you know where you are (or ‘are at,’ if you’re from Toledo, Ohio – but that’s another topic for yet another blog) it’s time to learn some of the more ‘colorful’ phrases in Sheboyganese! Yay!
    ‘Let’s ‘goah down by the Laaake, once yet, ensoah?’ This statement includes proper (well Sheboyganese pronunciation.) As for translation – ‘Let’s go to the Lake.’  Say that to anyone in Sheboygan, they’ll point you east…Lake Michigan is always east if you’re in Wisconsin.
     But, hey, der! (Or ‘hey there’ in English) look at all those extra words!
    For some reason, everything in my hometown was done once. ‘C’mere once,’ ‘let’s goah by the mall once.’ And for some reason, - once- a vast majority of the time was followed with ‘enso.’ Or ‘and so.’  Who knows why!’
    And ‘yah’ is a given – direct translation form the German ‘ja’ or ‘yes.’
    Zoah, now that you got dat down, once, you can talk like a Cheezer! J (That would be a Cheesehead – Wisconsin natives - for those of you who haven’t heard.)     

Wendy Burke blogs regularly for A Daily Dose of Decadence and is in the final editing process on RESPITE, a post-WWII romance to be published soon by Decadent Publishing. She can be found on Facebook – Wendy Burke Author, at the Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America site and on TWITTER: @WendyBurke 1994. When not playing with the people in her head, Wendy has a fine life with a chef husband (YES – no cooking!) and two furry feline kids and a full-time job that keeps her from writing fulltime in ‘beautiful’ Toledo, Ohio.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened...

If you missed it the first time around - here's an absolutely true story which appeared at A Daily Dose of Decadence awhile back! Enjoy!

 ‘Final Furniture – or – A Funny Thing Happened Shopping at the Funeral Home’

     Think back to those days of your box of 64 Crayola crayons. You know there were tinted wax sticks in that box that were never and I do mean never used.
     My perpetually intact color was – Periwinkle Blue.
     Not that it was an unattractive color --- it was just, well – odd. It wasn’t as pleasant as Cornflower Blue or as accepted as good ‘ole Navy Blue. There was just something weird about Periwinkle.
     Ignoring that color would come back to haunt me in the oddest place – the basement of a funeral home.
     If you’ve been reading A Daily Dose of Decadence awhile, you know I have a fairly irreverent sense of humor. I guess I always have, because it was put to good use in said funeral home.
    My father died when I was 19. It was the first funeral I actually ‘participated’ in, if you can call it that. I was along with my mother to pick out a casket and help (or observe I guess) with the arrangements.
    The casket ‘showroom’ was in the basement of the facility. At the time, there was no logging on to  Best Price Caskets going to and ordering a cheapie to be delivered the next day---and while I’m there, I might as well download a couple of books to the Kindle --- this was well before the Internet became part of our lives.
    Anyway, so my mom and I are in the basement shopping. There are about a dozen caskets on display.      One which particularly caught my eye – not to buy mind you, but because of its very strange finish. It was crushed velvet (yes, go with that 70s bad wedding tuxedo thought) in Periwinkle Blue and wait there’s more!…the fabric had little same color fleur-de-lises stamped into it.
   “Shh! Stop it!” My mother had grabbed hold of my elbow with the grip of a cop leading a drunk into a police precinct! She was trying to get me to stop giggling.   “But Mom – it’s so ugly! Why would you even put a dead person in that?”
    Her pinch only became more secure as she led me over to something more ‘acceptable.’
    Now, I don’t care who you are—that was one FUGLY piece of furniture! Uh, and NO we did not choose  that one for my father.
    Fast forward some 21 years later. I was at the same funeral home, only this time I was completely in charge of the arrangements, this time for my mom. I could hear her admonishment in the back of my head, ‘Don’t even think about periwinkle blue crushed velvet!’
    The funeral home had changed a bit. Now upstairs was the showroom, (or ‘family resource center’) but it reminded me of visiting the linen department of JC Penney. Don’t know if it’s still done, but Penney’s used to make up little ‘mini’ beds in the sheet department, about a quarter of a bed would stick out from the display, enough to get the whole feel of your chosen bedroom ensemble – complete with neck pillows.
   The same was done with caskets! Only this time, I had to stop myself from giggling. Talk about choices! JEEZ!
    First, finish: veneer, solid wood, solid oak, solid cherry, solid mahogany, stainless steel, 18 gauge steel, 20 gauge steel, bronze, copper! Each finish (and there were about 5 different veneers to begin with!) had about a quarter of a casket mounted on the wall.
    Complete with interior choices: satin, faux satin, spun velvet. Then color choices, fold and drape choices and of course, pillows and accessories.
   (And no, there was no sign of a periwinkle blue crushed velvet fleur-de-lis emblazoned casket anywhere in the mini-showroom! Thank goodness!)
   My head was spinning!             
    Even though I was ‘in charge,’ I needed help with selecting the proper ‘furniture’ from my husband who was in a different city at the time. I found it immensely silly that I was on my cell phone in the ‘family resource center,’ saying to him,  ‘The veneer looks pretty cheesy – I just can’t put mom in that.’
    His pat of my hand at the funeral and a quiet ‘You did good,’ was enough to know that my casket selecting skills were right on! I’ll be putting that on my resume asap! (It was a lovely high top oak, by the way…)
    Lesson learned – if you wouldn’t put it in your living room while you’re ALIVE, why the hell is it acceptable for a dead person?
    And one other thing - it doesn’t matter what the situation, you gotta handle it with some humor! – even a funeral!

RESPITE now has a trailer!

Wendy Burke blogs regularly for A Daily Dose of Decadence and is dangerously close to getting RESPITE, a post-WWII romance published soon by Decadent Publishing. She can be found on Facebook – Wendy Burke Author,  on TWITTER @WendyBurke1994 and lurking around the Internet.When not playing with the people in her head, Wendy has a fine life with a chef husband (YES – no cooking!) and two furry feline kids and a full-time job that keeps her from writing fulltime in ‘beautiful’ Toledo, Ohio.