President's message, January 2010
Telling in a bar can be a tough gig, but it wasn't my first time.
It wasn't even stacked against me: it was New Year's Day afternoon,
and I knew half the audience. There I was, the only non-musical
performer after an hour of musical entertainment, ranging from
The audience was a little restless, but I had a good story, short
and funny, and after a few words, the place was silent. Except
for one table, who were chatting away, louder than me, and I had
a mike. It was distracting, so much so that after a couple more
sentences, I had to stop. Although I don't tell to children, I've
got lots of experience quieting students down, and I could have
said something, but that seemed like overkill. So I just looked
at them, smiling, trying to appear patient (Anne tells me I didn't),
until they sensed the whole room was waiting, and they settled
I carried on. The interruption threw me off a bit, but I don't
think anyone realized that I'd left out an important bit of the
story, and had to drag it in just before the ending. It went over
well. After, I was talking to one of the musicians who followed
me. The crowd had been much more unruly for her, but she just
carried on and sang through it. She even told me that I'd quieted
the place better than any of the musicians.
Driving home, I was reflecting on the difference. This was only
my second time telling this story, while she had sung her songs
scores of times, so that had to make a difference. Also, it's
much more difficult to pause during a song than a story. But most
important, I decided, was that if you can't hear the words, in
a song you've still got the tune, but in a story, you've got nothing.
It brought to mind the signs that Dean used to have on the tables
in Rasputin's. Very politely, they said "shut up and listen."
You can hear my story at the January 7 swap, if you're quiet
Oh, I almost forgot the president's report. So, the board is
finalizing the 2010 budget next week, plans for the November festival
have started, and we are about to start applying for grants for
Happy New Year!