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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dreams can come true: I'm going to grad school

I got some great news yesterday. I was accepted at Boston University in its graduate program in creative writing, with an emphasis on playwrighting. Starting this summer, I'll start taking literature classes and come September I'll be taking a full load at the Boston campus.

I was standing on the Park Street T platform when I got the message on voice mail, and I think for a moment I was overwhelmed. This is something I've wanted to do for a very long time, something I thought perhaps had gone by the wayside, like the sailboat I had once dreamed about owning and living aboard, and then suddenly, it seemed, it was handed to me that simply. I'll guarantee I'll be the oldest grad student in the English department. My daughter said I need a new backpack for school. The idea seemed slightly silly to me. Can't I just use my leather satchel?

I was quiet about it. I didn't tell a whole lot of people that I was applying. I tend to do things quietly anyway. I've learned the less attention you draw to yourself the less hassle you have in your life. People--certain people, certain kinds of people--like to cause ruckuses--and the less they know, the less bother you have in your life.

When I was about 17, I decided that I was going to travel. I was enrolled to attend Ohio State, but dropped out before I sat one day in a class, got a job, unloading trucks of all things, working my ass off on a loading dock throughout the winter, saved all my money, and my parents never knew a thing about it until about a week before I took off alone for Europe. I knew they wouldn't understand why anyone would want to travel the world like a hobo, so I just hid everything from them.

I had my first meeting at BU last summer, talking over the program and the possibilities with the program's head, Kate Snodgrass. This fall term was the first I could apply for, and I had to fill out forms, take the GRE, write and edit samples, write a personal statement, and find three references. It gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do.

I want to write, of course.

And I want to teach, hopefully at the university level.

And I want to continue working with the small theaters I've been working with in the Boston area for the past few years. I feel there's a movement afloat right now, akin to the energy one felt in the early eighties when Boston's comedy scene was just starting and Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Bob Goldwaithe and a host of other young comics were just gaining a voice. And just like students come from all over the world to study at schools like MIT and Harvard then stay and start high tech and bio tech companies, people are also coming to Boston to study theater at BU, Brandeis, and Emerson, falling in love with city, and staying and starting new theater companies. That's what's happening on Boston now, and I want to be a part of it.

It's something that I've always wanted to do, and with the economy the way it is, it seemed the right thing to do. Start something new. Work hard for something you've always wanted.

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Blogging, social media, and ink in your veins

Nice.

More good news from this past week.

The website, Online Social Media, picked up my post on Gather.com about the Facebook page.

Writing and politics and the news and blogging is all a passion for me. I can't not do it. As it's said, I have ink in my veins.

I was talking on the phone yesterday with Rick Holmes, the opinion editor at the MetroWest Daily News, for whom I freelanced for about 10 years. We talked mostly about the Tea Party Express that was just in Boston. We both were there, and we sort of swapped impressions, just trying to figure things out.

And today, I spoke with a friend of Sue's who writes for the Wall Street Journal. I told her about my post on Gather.com, Hip, hip, hooray: The SEC (finally) charges Goldman Sachs with fraud.

The media's reputation is kind of in the tank, but it has nothing to do with serious, hard-working writer types who do the day to day, and everything to do with--surprise, surprise--the business guys like Turner and Murdoch who want to see themselves in history as some sort of William Randolph Hearst.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Social media used for more than poking

Social networking is helping travelers stranded because Mother Nature reared up on her hind legs and roared with the eruption of the EyjafjallajöKull Volcano.

So begins a post on my blog at Gather.com. I know, I know, you're probably getting sick of reading Gather.com, but it has become my new occupation and frankly, I'm really getting into it. It is the new media, and just like anything, I love anything that lets me use my brain to figure out. I didn't take apart toasters as a kid to find out how they work, but I do like "taking apart" things like social media--finding out how they work, what doesn't work, how to use them and improve them. (Are you listening, the largest and most prestigious marketing firm in the world? Yeah, keep using your brain trust to sell crap cars and $150 toothbrushes.)

My post is about a new Facebook page that one of my Facebook friends, Tod Brilliant (yes, that's really his name) has set up to help travelers who are stranded because of the eruption of EyjafjallajöKull Volcano.

Okay, it's not the Chinese government shutting down all communications and democracy hanging on because of Twitter, but it's a good example how how social media can empower us and help us. It isn't all about Sandra Bullock's marriage problems. And it shows how social media can "bring together" two people who never would have met, who still haven't met face to face, so they can work together for the greater good.

Check out my post, and then pass it on to anyone you know who is stranded, or even anyone you know who may be working with stranded travelers, for example, a travel agent.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The day after the Boston Tea Party Express: Questions I wished I had asked

I spent yesterday wandering around the Tea Party Express when it was in Boston, and now after a good night's sleep I have a few more questions and comments. It's kind of like when someone insults you, and it's only later you think to yourself, "Why, I shoulda said..." I guess I'm just slow. And I guess my journalistic skills are kind of rusty.

Anyway, you can check out what I would have asked here. My contract with Gather stipulates that all content is theirs, and theirs alone. I keep saying, I'm a word whore. I will write anything for money, and I'll pretty much sell my soul for it.

Thanks for being a reader.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express in Boston: The Good, the Bad, and the just plain weird

I've been blogging more and more over at Gather.com. Well, wouldn't you if you got paid?

Today, the Tea Party Express roared? rolled? puttered into Boston with Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker. I couldn't resist. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

So your intrepid new media reporter (that's how I described myself to the Palin press person; you should have seen the look on his face. (Well, I didn't want to be described as MSM, with what Ms. Palin always has to say about the media.)

Anyway, here's the story. And if you feel like it, join Gather. I get paid when someone joins because of something I wrote. Not a lot, so don't come running with your hand out. I mean, this is the new media. Can you say click?

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bike Against the Wind: A buddy's journey across the United States

This past Sunday, April 4, twenty-ten, Easter Sunday, Mark Vashro dunked the wheels of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean (well, it was really Boston Harbor right at Columbus Park in Boston) and set off to ride 4,000 miles across the United States. He's calling his journey, Bike Against the Wind and you can read all about it here.

I met Mark last fall at the Apollinaire Theatre in Chelsea while performing in The Wonderful World of Dissocia. It wasn't the greatest theatrical experience of my career, but meeting Mark was definitely one of the high points. He is a smart, intelligent, friendly, inquisitive person who is also a really nice guy to boot. Must be his Idaho upbringing. He and I would sit in the dressing room and talk about the world, and he and I kind of saw things in the same light, that what's currently happening in the the United States and the world at large is probably a long time coming, and in a certain regards it might even be for the better. Without getting into the philosophical details, I'll just leave it at that. Right now you either know what I'm saying or we're going to get into a big argument.

But eventually he told me about this trip--bicycling across the United States. I've known plenty of people who have wanted to do this. I know a few people who have through-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I know a few people who have gone on extended bike trips. Long-distance bike travel is not news to me.

But what was news to me was his reason.

He said he wanted to see for himself what was going on out there in the country. He wanted to talk to people and see why and how they ended up where they were. And if I remember correctly, he wanted to see how he fitted in to all this.

And he wants your story too. He's looking for content (I think it's just videos, though) about how you ended up where you live.

He's a filmmaker, so his bike helmet is fitted with this cool little rack for this cool little HD camera he has. And of course, it's the 21st century so he's updating his site, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

As a social writer for Gather.com, I spend an inordinate amount of time surfing the Web looking for stories and keeping up on the news and current events. I really enjoy it, but it can get kind of depressing at times. Human beings do the weirdest, most illogical things at times. And as we all know, many times they are simply mean and destructive.

The thing is, there are a lot of really good things happening in this world. Uplifting, positive things that can restore our faith in human nature and hopefully ensure this world will hang on for a few more generations. I think Bike Against the Wind is one of those things.

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