What methinks about Renaissance Faires

Until a few weeks ago, if you asked any of my friends and family what one festival or event each year I can't miss, they'd say, "King Richard's Faire." It was a constant on my family's calendar growing up, filled with beer and turkey legs and bellydancers (woot!) and raucous jousting. Around each corner were faeries and witches, acrobats and pirates, royal courts and mud beggars, verily! I loved the Faire's imagination, sharp wit and sense of magic and wonder.  And plenty of innuendo... most of which went over my head until late middle school... and then I rediscovered the Faire all over again through a more mature, smirking lens.  Wit is indeed the colorful thread that ties it all together, and I loved every naughty minute... even watching my father enjoy his annual awkward dance with the sultry gypsy dancers, while his "girls" laughed and laughed.

A few weeks ago, I got a referral to the good founders of New England's largest and oldest Renaissance Faire, and my heart skipped a beat.  Huzzah!  After some endorsements from wonderful colleagues and a nice introductory conversation, I now am enjoying the role of chief hawker/publicist and "bell ringer" for this amazing family-run festival working with Bonnie Shapiro and her daughter, Aimee Shapiro Sedley

In 1981, veteran show producers and performers Bonnie and her late husband Richard (long live the King) brought this magical festival to Carver, Mass. - hence, Carvershire - and has served as the show's producer ever since.  She's a great example of carving a career out of her love for the arts, and takes great pride and care in every detail of the Faire experience. I love her energy - and sure beats promoting 

King Richard's Faire highlights:
-- 80 acres of sunlight-filled forest off Rt. 58 in Carver, Mass., crafted into a 16th century medieval kingdom
-- Over 200 performers, artists, craftsmen, acrobats, knights and of course, the Royal Court
-- A liger. Yep. A real liger.
-- Maidens, pirates, mud beggars and scoundrels... a bit like the folks I'd see in my decade working in Boston, but better-natured and much more entertaining.

The Faire runs Labor Day through October 21st.  Come hither to the Faire, or thou art a dankish boar-pig. :)

Me at King Richard's Faire as a young maiden.


Deep Thoughts about Shiny Monkeys

Well, it's been a while. Nice to see you. (hug, airkiss, both cheeks) I've been busy refining my blogger skillz over at My Shiny Monkey, a blog I started in late 2010 to focus on content that was both funny and relevant to tweens, my parenting/momblogger friends, and hopefully the larger community. I've met a whole new group of parent bloggers who really inspire me to keep writing, just keep writing, keep learning. An interesting "side job" to running a boutique PR firm, and I'm learning oodles about the blogging world I never would have learned if I didn't jump in. (Wanna jump in? Email me, the water's fine.)

Sorry I haven't visited and posted in a while. Now that THAT shiny monkey is up and running (please check it out), I'll be back more often to post more musings. Promise.


Running with the big dogs: the Bay Colony Dog Show

I confess: I'm a media hound.

I love reading newspapers cover to cover. Freshly printed magazines. Skimming, skimming, skimming, DVR paused, watching TV shows of all kinds. Zipping through AM, FM and even XM radio stations in the car. I can go through media outlets faster than a fat kid chases an ice cream truck, and yet I still crave more. Kind of like really fresh chips and salsa.

Next year, I'll {hopefully} celebrate my 20th year promoting the Bay Colony Dog Show. I'm a dog person, having worked in a shelter as a teen, on the board of a shelter as a young adult, and for various animal organizations throughout my career... in addition to owning three hamsters, five cats, two dogs and various other critters.

But the dog show gives me more than an opportunity to see thousands of pedigreed pooches of all shapes and sizes (check out my mastiff friend Wilbur!): it feeds my hunger for the hat trick. In PR, especially special event PR, it's great fun to see if you can attract every single media outlet in the market... or at least the ones relevant to your client. I do this nearly every year with the dog show, and it's great fun to be able to work with the press for four days on something so positive, fun, highly visual, and educational. (Check out my shoestring show website: www.baycolonydogshow.com for more de-TAILS.)

Oh yea, for those of you who know me, I'm a word person. I love puns. Dogs + puns = great fun. I've come up with some great ones, but new ones bubble up every year. This year, credit goes to my intern Kari, who helped me walk around our Santa and observed, "You know, we should get a picture of Santa with all the toy breeds around him. Santa sure loves his toys." Brilliant!

Until next year, I'll keep hounding the press on behalf of other clients, but the dog show is close to my heart and I'm lucky to be able to marry my interests all in a four-day, 5,000 tail-wagging, special event.

Happy Howlidays, all!


School's in... and livin' is easy?

Just a word about back to school. My sassy third-grader and oh-so-cool sixth grader are role model tweens: passionate but hormonal, smart but can make bad decisions, artistic and immoveable, snuggly and standoffish... and that's just before breakfast. I love my kids, but back to school time can also bring work/life challenges that plague all working parents: do you finish that report or attend football practice? Do you watch TV and zone out after a long work day or take the kids to the library? This time of year means new routine, new organizational tools, new transitions for all. I find that each year gets easier to adjust to, then someone upstairs throws a monkey wrench into the works: a death in the community, a nonprofit commitment gone awry, a church social you really want to attend. What tips do you have for keeping afloat?


Canine companionship

As a society, we spend billions of dollars on online dating, matchmaking services, speed dating events, and singles clubs... people need connection and love, after all.

Why not just adopt a dog from your local breed rescue club or animal shelter (www.petfinder.com, www.akc.org)?

A wise dog lover once said, "To err is human; to forgive, canine."

Dogs provide more than companionship. Dogs provide humor, substance, humility, forgiveness, energy, warmth, and grace.

My English Bulldog Major is a pretty cool friend. He grounds me, and makes me take a moment to take a breath, pat his back, watches TV with me, and generally is a constant source of humor in our house. We once used my Flip video camera to make a "Major Motion Picture" starring you-know-who, and we enjoyed watching that video for months. He's a great dog, despite the $257 vet bills and constant grooming and walking and feeding and... awww, heck. He's a great dog.

Dave Barry once said, "You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, `My God, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!'"


A nice word about the F-bomb

When I was in high school, I thought swearing alongside my dopey friends made me look cool. Now that I'm only slightly more mature and have two great kids of impressionable ages (11 and 7), the F-bomb makes me wanna... explode.

I have always told my kids that, unequivocally, people who swear just can't think of better, funnier, more creative words to express their frustration. We spent years cycling through great options like "RATS!" "GEESES!" (instead of JESUS!), "CHEESE AND QUACKERS!" and "MOTHER OF PEARL!" (thanks, Chris Farley). I also like random phrases inserted where a swear should be, like "GREAT WALL OF CHINA!".

I recently visited a local greasy pizza joint, where the owner decided it was no big deal to drop a few F-bombs in front of my seven-year-old daughter. When I called him on it, he verbally abused me (no surprise there) and threw me out of the store, yelling, "You come in to MY store and tell ME how to talk???" Uh, yea. I'm the customer, you big... uh... you... [steam coming from ears]... why I oughta...

I didn't swear. I didn't push this psycho over the edge, though I wanted to. I showed restraint and decorum, turned on an Ugg boot heel, and walked out of the store. Forget the road rage syndrome. Don't get mad, just take your money and leave. What stronger point can you make than that? I didn't want his greasy pizza anyway (saving 20 fat grams there) and I showed my daughter that his behavior was NOT okay. I didn't swear back... goshdarnit, I wanted to.

Next time you want to drop the F-bomb, smile and think of something funnier. It'll make your day. How about channeling Velma from Scooby Doo and yell out a big ole, "JINKIES!" when you get cut off in traffic? If the Penguins of Madagascar can do it, so can you.


Winter wonderland and MLK Day

Today I woke up to a beautiful dreamy snowstorm, a day filled with appointments and responsibilities, and a more than back-of-mind acknowledgement that today is Martin Luther King Day. How to connect the three? Here are some of the lessons I've learned by one of America's great teachers and communicators.

Mission and mindfulness. I'm still trying to figure out what my personal mission is... what my purpose is for being here. Dr. King had a single, mindful purpose: justice and equality for all people, "to take whatever adversity we are faced with and be intelligent in our planning and our actions towards that." That's why I love being a Unitarian Universalist... it gives me ideas, knowledge, resources and motivation to act on what moves me.

Love and peace. His methods unconventional yet rooted in spirituality, King made change happen by lifting us all up together, regardless of race, gender, etc., and leveraging love and peaceful means for a greater good.

Kindness. More than the Christian "turn the other cheek" proverb, King believed in justice can be achieved through nonviolent means, and spouted HOPE over militaristic methods.

For inspiration:

Nobel Peace Prize Speech, Oslo, Dec. 10, 1964:
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.”