Sunday, January 18, 2015

You Blog Too Much

Everyone defines “oldies” differently when it comes to pop music. But, I have one favorite that I've always loved and to me it's an “oldie but goodie.” It's from an R & B artist from New Orleans that happened to have worked with B.B. King and to his credit is responsible for discovering the 60's girl group The Dixie Cups.  His name is Joe Jones.  As far as his recorded milestones are concerned, he would be considered a “one hit wonder.” He and Reginald Hall penned and Jones recorded “You Talk Too Much” which went to the top 10 on Billboard in 1960. The lyric went something like this: “ You talk too much. You worry me to death. You talk too much. You even worry my pet. You just talk, talk, talk too much.”  So replace the word “talk” with “blog” and you'll see where I'm going with this.  

I only blog once or twice a month, primarily because I don't want to be bothersome or appear too aggressive. After all,  blogs are a glorified bit of self promotion. I only blog when I have something to say not because I am obligated to say something.  Despite what some so called experts proclaim, I believe you can blog too much.  There are several who write blogs that I see being promoted in my world of voiceover that I would classify as prolific bloggers.  Some are voice talents, some offer services to the voiceover community and others are functions of casting P2P sites (“on-line marketplaces”) that use their blogs to promote subscriptions.  I'm not about to name names here, because of the nature of the performing arts world.  If you dare to criticize one of your own, you are often chastised as not being a team player.   I'm not going there either as the only team sport I have ever played is curling and there are only four members on the team. 

I do believe some people just blog too much. There comes a time when the blogs go un-opened and un-read.  Why? I get tired of seeing their “stuff” in my face.  I worked in the world of public relations and promotion for more than 25 years. One of the lessons I quickly learned had to do with press releases and communications. One of my employers was selective in the number of documents being pushed out to the  media and consuming public.  Another issued several releases each day to the point that they often went directly into the recycle bin.  The one that was selective got much more “pick-up.” The reason? Frequency. There was a perception that we only issued them when we really had something worthwhile. 

Blogs have replaced press releases in today's media world. So putting myself in the “reader's seat,” I look at them in the same fashion.  There are some blogs I would never miss. But there are some that get posted to the social media sites that I no longer open. Sorry.  You just “blog too much.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Mark Lynch Mystery

This first blog entry for 2015 has nothing to do with voiceover. However, it is an opportunity for me to play the role of storyteller. So here goes.

I am the self-designated family historian for many of my ancestral lines. Genealogy is one of my many hobbies. So, over the years I have been the repository of old photographs. I always try to identify the subjects or location and then digitize them for safe keeping. In so doing, I often find some that are either unidentified or if their identity is known, I may not know how the photo connects to my families. Mark Lynch is subject of one such photo.

There's one cabinet photo that was handed down that has always intrigued me. It's one of a woman dressed rather handsomely and manly as a gun toting character out of the Old West. Fortunately the photo has the following written in pencil on the back: “Mark Lynch also known as Esther Cushman” For years I have tried to connect the photo to someone in our family but was never able to. Then,last week I decided to query some old newspapers and finally solved the mystery.

On Friday evening December 11, 1896 a play was performed in what was then “The Bullion House” in the tiny village of Schuyler Lake in Otsego County NY. The building was once located on the lot where the U.S. Post Office now stands. From 1927 to 1953 the building also housed a hardware and general store operated by my grandfather E.F. Washburn, long after it ceased to operate as a popular hotel and public meeting place. The play performed in the ballroom of the Bullion House was titled: Joe Ruggles or The Girl Minor.

An advertisement placed by the Dramatic Publishing Company describes the play, written by Frank J. Dean as: “A vigorous, stirring play depicting peculiar types of life in a large city and in the mining districts of the west. The parts of Joe Ruggles, the minor, Hans Von Bush (Dutch dialect), and Richard Hamilton, the scheming villain, all afford opportunity for clever work, while the part of Madge (soubrette), who afterwards assumes the character of Mark Lynch, is an excellent one for a bright young actress.” 

The article I found containing the play announcement was a local column for the village of Schuyler lake published in the Richfield Springs Mercury on December 3, 1896. It states that there would be a fund-raising event for the school library and that a play would be performed by the Dramatic Association. Then at the bottom of the announcement for the play I found the one line that solved the mystery. “Madge, a brave girl in spite of disheartening circumstances assumes the character of Mark Lynch, a young minor – Miss E. Cushman.”

Esther Cushman was the daughter of George and Mary Jane Cushman, born in 1876, and twenty years old when she performed in that play. The Cushman family was well known for many years in Schuyler Lake. Esther's brother, Keith and nephew Gordon would later operate a very successful farm implement dealership. The buildings housed the business and would include the site of village's first blacksmith shop which was recently restored. Esther was a close friend of my grandmother Hattie Allen Washburn and later married a gentleman named LeGrande Southworth. Esther died in 1934. So all other guesses as to the identity of the mysterious Mark Lynch photo can now be put to rest. Mark Lynch really was Esther Cushman.