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The 3 Little Pigs and the Big Bad Plot Hole

I simply love the story of “The 3 Little Pigs”.  When I was very young, my mom used to read it to me before bed.  She would do very dramatic readings of it and act out all the parts (which is the reason I became the dramatic storyteller I am today!)  When I became a preschool teacher, I read the story to my kids and it was always a big hit.  When I left teaching to become a storyteller, “The 3 Little Pigs” was one of my favorite stories to tell.  I went from dramatic readings of the book to a full blown telling of the tale using puppets (a wolf) and props (most notably a pig nose)

In the last 20 or so years as a storyteller, I have told “The 3 Little Pigs” hundreds of times.  It never fails to thrill the crowd, and I always get lots of laughs from the way I tell it.  I regularly tell the tale because it is an essential story for kids to know. It pits good (the pigs) against evil (the Big Bad Wolf) with good prevailing in the end.  I always saw “The 3 Pigs” as a perfect story.  Very recently however that all changed!

One day while telling the tale to a group of preschoolers, I had a stunning realization.  I actually stopped mid telling to think about what I had just discovered.  I went on with the tale, but at the end of the show I was shocked.  What I had realized, was that there is an amazingly large plot hole in the “The 3 Little Pigs”

To understand the plot hole, let us recap the story for the 0.00001% of people who haven’t heard it.  Three pigs go out into the world to start their lives.  One pig is very industrious and builds his house out of bricks.  The other two pigs are slackers and spend their days goofing around.  The industrious pig warns them about the potential danger of the Big Bad Wolf. To appease him, one builds a house of straw, the other makes a house of sticks.  The wolf shows up, the pigs shelter in place and the trouble starts.  He shows up at the pig’s house made of straw and utters the line “Little Pig little Pig let me in” the pig says the now iconic “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”.  Wolf says “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”.  He then proceeds to do so, causing  the pig to run to his brother’s house of sticks.  The whole scenario is repeated and the two pigs head to their brother’s house of bricks.  After the exchange and the threat, the wolf tries to blow down the brick house to no avail.  He then tries to get in through the chimney only to end up falling into boiling water, and either running away burnt or dying (depending on the intensity level of the teller or author). The pigs of course live happily ever after, and it is assumed the other two pigs hire contractors and build equally strong brick houses.

So there is the tale, and on its face it seems to be pretty solid.  However there is one BIG hole.  When the wolf shows up at the house of straw, he asks to be let in, threatening to blow the house down if he isn’t.  The pig naturally refuses and the wolf blows the house down.  The question is, why did the wolf have to go through the formality of asking to be let in in the first place?  The pig clearly was not going to let him in.  Whether the wolf was there to eat him (and to be fair he never actually stated that outright initially) or sell him insurance, the pig was playing the odds that letting a hungry wolf into the house would not end well for him.  As we know, once the wolf blows down the house he goes after the pig, proving that the pig had the right instinct.

The wolf wanted to eat the pig and had the means to blow down the house the whole time.  So why didn’t the wolf just not gone through the process of asking to be let in, blow down the house, eat the pig and move on with his life?  Sure, he was thwarted by the house of bricks, (because regulations clearly stipulate brick houses need to be able to withstand storms, earthquakes, and giant wolves).  However if he had just skipped the formalities, he could have blown down two houses, eaten two pigs and never had to deal with the brick house at all.

Who knows, maybe the wolf was raised with really good manners and even in a situation where he wanted a pork dinner he needed to be polite.  Maybe he was a bit under the weather and figured he could get in to eat the pigs the direct way without having to exert himself.  It could also be that he didn’t want to eat the pigs at all, but his rejection after being refused to be let in sent him into a rage.   If you think about it (and I have), there are many other reasons you can come up with as to why the wolf behaved as he did

No matter how you look at however, there is no denying that there is a giant plot hole right at the center of this tale.  Of course knowing this does not diminish my love for the story, or stop me from telling it. In fact in addition to the regular way, I also now tell a two minute version where the wolf just takes care of business from the start.  I will keep wearing my pig nose,working with my wolf puppet, and telling “The 3 Little Pigs” no matter how flawed the story may be 🙂

THE END

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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I am Big Joe the Storyteller.  That is who I have been now for 20 years.  Since my marriage back in 2008 I have been a storyteller with no other job than this.  I have been my own boss for all this time which is equal parts blessing and curse.  The blessing part is I get to call the shots, don’t have to answer to anyone (other than my clients and my other boss which is my wife lol) and control where I go and what I do.  The curse part is I have no one to answer to, and control where I go and what I do.

I am very talented when it comes to the creative side of my job.  I love reading stories, writing stories, and of course telling stories.  When I am in front of an audience telling tales and I have them in the palm of my hand, there is no greater feeling in the world.  I love making people (especially very young people) happy and entertaining them with tales.  Getting laughs and seeing smiles feeds my soul.  I am not in all this for the ego and the “look at me” aspect of things, I am in it to serve the audience and entertain them with the tales I tell.  My goal is to reach as many people as possible and share my stories with them.

That fact, is why the being your own boss part is a curse.  While I am great at “being” a storyteller, I have had a rough time “managing” a storyteller.  I came into this career with zero business skills.  I was a preschool teacher before this and while that experience helped me in a creative sense (I knew how to entertain young children), it did not prepare me for running a business.  Marketing, record keeping, invoicing, contracts, and all the other aspects that are involved in business were beyond my frame of knowledge.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and it was a struggle to learn what I needed to learn.

I had help along the way, including my mom, my wife and various people who assisted me in different ways.  There was one woman who for a very brief period was my manager.  She ran my schedule, took a cut of the revenue and all I had to do was perform.  That to me is a dream scenario.  I tell people all the time with my business I am both organ grinder and monkey (I turn the crank and I dance) and I would much prefer to just be the monkey.  If someone could run the business part and I could just focus on the storytelling part that would be amazing.

However unless I find someone like that, the burden is on me as it has been for a long time.  Despite my lack of knowledge and skill,  I have done pretty okay with dealing with the burden.  I have been learning on the job and have gotten better as I have gone forward.  I am at the point now where I am regularly reaching and exceeding my financial goals for the year (and truth be told the goals are way more than a man with stories and puppets should be reaching), and I am able to market myself and deal with all the paperwork etc, pretty well. Basically I can what I am doing now at the level I am doing it and be fine. However it is the future that concerns me!

There are lots of goals I want to reach, and projects I want to do in the future that have so far gone unreached and undone.  As I said earlier, my intention is to share my stories with as many people as possible.  I have a lot of thoughts on how to make that happen.  The problem is there is still only one of me.  I am able to keep my current situation running well, but I don’t have the time nor the knowledge to make all my thoughts into realities.

So as 2018 arrives and I am 2 years away from hitting the round numbered age of 50, I have decided to go on a quest to reach my goals.  I have spent far too long grousing and complaining about my problems (as evidenced by the preceding paragraphs) and far too little time solving them.  I have let my successful current situation lull me into a state of complacency and a lack of urgency.  Now with time ticking by (and as the saying goes I’m not getting any younger), I need to snap myself out of my lull, quit whining about things and start doing something!  To help me along, I have purchased a countdown clock to count down to January 1, 2020 when I will be in my 50th year (will turn 50 that November but I wanted to give this a round number).  It will be a constant reminder of the time passing, which will keep me motivated and keep me on course.

As for that course, I don’t know where it will take me or how I will get there.  I know the thoughts and plans I have, but for some of them I have no clue how to usher them into reality.  I do know however that sitting here complaining about that fact will not get the problem solved.  So I need to work, sacrifice, take chances, think outside the cliched box and be all I can be.   I don’t know if in two years I will reach all or even some (or even one) of my goals, but I won’t know unless I try.

At the moment, I have 729 days till the alarm on that clock goes off.  I hope when it rings I will be closer to where I want to be than I am sitting here January 1st 2018 freezing my tail off (it is 7 degrees outside at the moment!)

 

Thank you for reading this! Currently this blog is available through my website and at the moment I think I am the only one reading it.  Who knows maybe after my site is redone (that is one of my goals) and with some effort this blog (or maybe someday a podcast – another goal) will be heard and read my more than little old me!

Cheers to a New Year!

Big Joe 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Little Joe vs. Big Joe

Okay, I have fallen behind in my writing assignments because I have had a ton of shows due to the fact that this is nationally the “Week of the Young Child”.  I am not sure why they need their own week, because with holidays, birthdays, and awards for everyone for just about everything, young children are celebrated all the time!

The assignment was to compare and contrast 2 things in the form of a dialog.  Seeing as I have been dealing with young children and we have been nationally celebrating young children, I have decided to compare and contrast the adult mind and the mind of a child.  Representing the adult point of view will be myself. Speaking for the young child will be four year Joey C. who was the boy they called Little Joe (while I was called Big Joe) when I was a preschool teacher.  Joey C is now in his mid 20’s (hang on, need to process that…), but when he was 4 he was quite the character so a conversation with him would have been very interesting and would have gone a little something like this…..

Big Joe: We are here to compare and contrast the mind of an adult and the mind of a child because we want to enlighten those who read this blog.

Little Joe: I was told we were doing this to get cookies!

Big Joe: So let’s talk about adults and kids. Adults have to worry about  getting things like food, clothing, shelter, and possessions.

Little Joe:  Kids pretty much get all those things handed to them and some other cool stuff like birthdays, Christmas (or Hanukah) and other random holidays so we pretty much don’t have to worry about anything.

Big Joe: Adults strive to live to their potential and reach their goals.

Little Joe:  For kids the bar is set pretty low.  If I pee in the potty they throw a parade for me!

Big Joe: Adults can be mean to each other and sometimes do not act nice.

Little Joe: Ditto.

Big Joe:  Adults can also be very kind and will share with others.

Little Joe:  What is this “share” word you speak of?

Big Joe:  Adults have lots of freedom and can do what they want.

Little Joe: Kids don’t have as much freedom but one well thrown tantrum and that all changes!

Big Joe:  One of our many freedoms is we can stay up as late as we want!

Little Joe: You can, but if you’re anything like my mom and dad you’re in bed by 9:30.  On the other hand, my bedtime is 7 but as far as sleep goes, well that’s another matter.

Big Joe: Adults can eat all the candy they want.

Little Joe: Yes but how much candy do they want?

Big Joe: Not much actually.

Little Joe:  That’s pretty sad!

Big Joe: Adults have some really cool toys.

Little Joe: Have you seen my playroom? Enough said!

Big Joe: Adults go to school, then to college, then work hard so they can eventually retire and have an easy life.

Little Joe:  Kids already have an easy life so I don’t understand what’s so good about being an adult.

Big Joe: I guess you’re right, now I’m kind of bummed out.

Little Joe: I know what will cheer you up!

Big Joe: Cookies?

Little Joe: BINGO!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Less of Me (part 2)

If you haven’t read part one, please do so now, I’ll wait…………

So there I was being seen by a nurse and she was shocked that I was a bit on the yellow side.  She told me that according to the symptoms (and my lemony complexion), it looked like I had Hep C.  After this came a very delicate discussion in which the nurse tried to probe carefully but not insultingly into my activities.  I caught on right away and bottom lined it for her.  I told her I don’t drink, use drugs, smoke, or do anything that would make me resemble a Simpsons character.

She was sure it was Hep C, and ran a blood test to confirm.  The test came back a few days later and it was negative for Hep C (and all the other Heps).  Her course of action was to run the test again because as she told me sometimes Hep C doesn’t present right away.  Second test came back negative, and so of course she ran the test again.  They brought a doctor into the mix and his suggestion was (wait for it….)  to run another test.

By this time I had enough needles stuck in me to achieve pin cushion status, yet still had no answers.  I was getting more yellow (or yellower if I used correct grammar), and couldn’t hold down much food because my liver had a tiny “out of service” sign on it.  I knew it wasn’t Hep C, but whatever it was, it was doing a number on me (that line could be a lyric from a really weird song)!

On my birthday (November 7th for those of you who want to send a card), I got a call from the health center.  It seems the latest test came back with results that were off the chart.  Specifically it was the bilirubin level in my system (bilirubin by the way is the yellow pigment found in bile – eww).  In normal adults, the level of bilirubin is around 1.  In my system the level was at 53!  The nurse said they had an appointment set up with me at Mass General with a liver specialist.  I asked when they said in a few hours because things were that bad.

So I spent my birthday getting the same 3rd degree about my life style and the same poking and prodding, only this time done by a doctor who was top in his field of study.  The blood work came back negative but really messed up.  Instead of running them again however the doctor put me through a series of tests to figure things out.  I had a CAT scan, and MRI, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy and some other fun medical procedures .

Now you may be wondering how I could afford all these tests when in part 1 I  had mentioned I was bereft of health insurance.  Well in a stroke of good fortune and great relatives, my cousin actually at one point ran the very health center that had a “Hep C or Bust” philosophy and found a way to get me free treatment from Mass General.  I am not naming names, and I am sure no one connected to this tale will read this and know who I am talking about, but in any case I wanted to thank her, because without that help, I would be still to this day telling stories to pay medical bills!

Back to our tale….So after a bunch of tests and getting drained of more blood than the main course at a vampire buffet, I had one of the best liver specialists in MGH look at me and say “We don’t know what this is!”  He decided to do a liver biopsy because whatever it was, was getting worse and until they knew what they were dealing with, they didn’t know how to treat it.  A liver biopsy is a very scary procedure involving needles the size of javelins.  I was very nervous and for the first time a bit scared.

To calm me, the doctor made small talk and we chatted about this whole crazy thing.  He said “Are you sure you didn’t do anything different in the last few months and I said “No”.  As he was prepping the giant needles, I offhandedly mentioned that I had taken some medicine for an ear infection in August.  He looked at me with the dumbfounded look my wife gives me when I do something horribly stupid.  He asked why I never mentioned that before, and I told him I thought it didn’t matter (yes in hindsight I realize it did matter, but at the time I didn’t think there could be a connection – yet another reason no one calls me Dr. Big Joe).

He went into a medical database and found that indeed the drug I took had a one in 5 million chance of causing liver damage in people who took it (never won the lottery, but take a pill and I hit the jackpot!).  He told me that he would run the results of the biopsy against this new information, but the odds were good that was the culprit.

Sure enough the ear medicine and my glow in the dark complexion were related.  So now he knew what it was, but stopping it was another matter.  We had a very deep conversation in which he told me they had a plan and were going to try some medications to fix the situation, but if that didn’t work they would have to do a liver transplant.  He said the problem is that even with the transplant my system may be so damaged that it may not take and…..At first I didn’t get what he was driving at, but then I got the point. If the drugs or transplant didn’t work, I would soon be telling stories in Heaven (or Hell, it really could go either way with me).  I am a man of great wit and many jokes, but in that moment staring at my own mortality, I didn’t have anything funny to say.

I asked him what the plan was, and he laid it out for me.

To Be Continued

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Short Take: Consider the Source

As much as I like telling things to preschoolers, what thrills me more are the things they say to me.  Preschoolers have zero filters, limited social graces, and a grasp of reality that is tenuous at best.  As a result, the things they say are often hilarious and always interesting.  During my years as a teacher and now as a storyteller, I have written down all the funny things preschoolers have said.  My collection is very large at this point and never fails to make me laugh when I go through some of the entries.

They range from the silly: A 4 year old girl said “I’m going to visit my grandma soon!” I asked “In the summer?”  She said “No in my car” to the cute:  After a show a 3 year old boy asked me “Can I make a hug with you”, to the embarrassing 4 year old girl said to me “My mom has nipples”, to the downright philosophical: A 5 year old boy told his friend “shoes only move if you put feet in them!”

The things they say can be funny, helpful, hurtful (boy said to me “Big Joe I’m tired of hearing you say words!”) bizarre and totally out there (A 4 year old told me “When I grow up I’m going to catch a lot of fish and feed them to a dragon!”).  There are also time when the things they say can really touch you.  Such an exchange took place a few months ago.

I had had a very bad week and I was off my game.  I was tired, burnt out, and was feeling the weight of doing 11 shows in 3 days.  I didn’t have any energy and I wasn’t able to give it my all.  I struggled through a show, and even though I wasn’t too happy with it, the audience seemed to enjoy it.  I was feeling down, when this cute little preschool girl came up to me and said “Big Joe you’re the best storyteller I’ve ever seen!”  Just like that everything got better!  Happiness radiated through me, and I smiled a great big smile.  I felt great.

Of course, not being one to leave well enough along, I asked the girl “How many storytellers have you seen?”  She smiled at me and said “Just you”   Even though her list of storytellers stood at one, I needed the win so I took the compliment and thanked her profusely!

Kids do indeed say the darndest things!!

By the way, I will share more from my collection called “Things Preschoolers Say” on this blog, but you can also follow me on twitter (@bigjoestory) where I put a bunch of my favorites out there for you to enjoy!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Less of me (Part 1)

Today’s topic from my writing course is loss.  I thought about all the things I have lost in life, from the simple and irrelevant (like pens and keys) to the life altering and tragic (like the death of my father.  The simple ones don’t really seem worth writing about, and the more tragic ones would be hard to bring forth (and would bum me out!)  So I decided to tell you about a loss that was both simple and life altering.  It is a tale I haven’t told to anyone outside of my friends and family, but seeing as I want those of you nice enough to read this blog to get to know me I would like to share it…

I am known as Big Joe.  Back in 2001, the name could be used not only as a term of endearment, but also a descriptor of my physical state.  During my preschool teaching days, I was in very good shape because there is no better workout than chasing 18 four year olds around.  When I left teaching to become a storyteller, my lifestyle became less hectic and a bit more slowed down.  My new job required less physical activity, so I wasn’t as active and put on some weight.  At my heaviest I was about 235. While I wasn’t gigantic, I was much bigger than I was and it showed.

I tried to diet and get in shape but it was tough. I would have sought the advice of a dietitian or a doctor, but at that time, we were without health insurance because my wife’s temp job offered her no benefits and I was self employed and unlike today individual plans were way too pricey (come to think of it, it is just like today).  Without insurance, I was very fearful of getting injured or sick so I was very cautious when exercising or trying any type of diet that could possibly affect me.

Of course as cautious as I was, I did wind up getting sick through no fault of my own.  I got an ear infection in August and took a nice expensive trip to the doctors.  He prescribed me Augmentin a commonly  prescribed antibiotic.  I took exactly 6 pills and after 3 days the infection cleared up.

Fast forward ahead to October. My wife and I were coming home from a movie and I felt sick.  I was light headed, had the chills and felt kind of blah.  I figured I had the flu, and by the next morning my figuring seemed correct.  I had a fever, felt achy, couldn’t hold down food, and had no energy to speak of.

One of the few benefits of working with kids was that I developed a very strong immune system. As a result, I hardly got sick, and when I did it never lasted for more than a few days. This time however I wasn’t getting better.  It had been a week and I was still feeling sick. Not wanting to fork over a ton of money for a doctor visit, I decided to go to the health clinic in the neighborhood I grew up in to get checked out by a nurse.

I was sitting on the exam table when the nurse came in.  She took a look at me and had a shocked expression usually reserved for seeing a ghost.  She asked me “Have you seen yourself?” which to me was a very odd question to say the least.  I asked what she meant and she clarified her statement by asking me if I had seen myself under florescent light.  I said no , and she held my arm up towards the light and close to my face.  That was when I saw it. My skin which was normally a peachy beige color was kind of yellow. She looked at me and said “I think there’s something wrong with you!”  The fact that I had turned a primary color made me tend to agree with her diagnosis.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Let It Go (PLEASE!!!)

I was at a preschool today and saw a sign that made me laugh.  The sign read “Days without someone singing a song from Frozen” and the number under it was zero.  I took pity on those teachers as I take pity on every adult who has had to hear a Frozen song over and over and over. Of course the biggest sonic ear worm on that soundtrack is “Let It Go”!  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very nice song.  The problem is after hearing it a billion times both from the soundtrack itself and from the mouth of a small child, it’s niceness wears off quickly. I know adults who would rather have their own ears removed then hear that song again.

Sadly I know what they are going through all too well.  When I was a preschool teacher, The Little Mermaid was all the rage as was its very catchy soundtrack. I will admit, the songs from that movie are great and are now classics.  However at the time, I would have given anything not to hear them ever again.  We had a ton of CDs in our collection, but every day (usually a few times a day), the kids would beg and plead to hear “Little Mermaid”.  Being the nice guy that I am, I always obliged (well except for that one week where I just couldn’t take it anymore and the CD got temporarily “lost”) and played it over and over.

As a result, the songs became stuck in my head and I could do nothing to remove them.  I would be doing paperwork, and all of a sudden start humming “Under the Sea” or I would be at a restaurant with a date and the song “Part of Your World” would start playing in my head (ironically the song “Kiss the Girl” never played in those situations!)  It got to the point where those songs that at first seemed fun and exciting, became the soundtrack to my nightmares.

The amazing part of all this is that while adults get repetitive stress disorder from hearing these songs over and over, kids never grow tired of them.  That is why my preschoolers had me play that Mermaid CD till we almost wore it out (an outcome I often prayed for) and that is why today kids constantly listen to and sing Frozen songs and will do so until the next ice age.

As adults, our goal is to make kids happy, so we will let them sing and listen to their heart’s content to the songs that make us shudder.  The teachers who put up that sign that I mentioned, did so in good humor, but I know they are anything but happy about it, and I really feel for those poor unfortunate souls (see what I did there?)

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy Place

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I do a lot of teacher training and motivation workshops in an effort to help preschool teachers survive their very stressful job.  One tool I use in my instruction is the old tried and true method of going to your “happy place” when things get crazy.  Just taking a breath, closing your eyes and picturing the one place in the world that will make you feel good.  Everyone has their own happy place and some need to go there more than others.  Heck when I was a preschool teacher I had to go to my happy place so often I had my mail forwarded there.

Over the years my happy place has changed.  I have been to new destinations and had new experiences and that has redefined for me the place that puts me at ease.  I have kept my happy place to myself, but seeing as today’s assignment in my “Writing 101” course is to describe one place you would go to right now, I thought it would be nice to share my happiness destination.

A few years ago, Mrs. Big Joe and I took a cruise to her home country of Greece.  It was so amazing being right next to historical places like the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the McDonalds in Athens (where the Spartans got their Big Macs apparently).  I saw places I only read about in history books and got to be up close and personal with objects from ancient times.

While there were many sites to behold, the one place that stood out was the island of Mykonos.  It was one of the last stops on our journey, and after all we had seen, I wasn’t sure if there was anything on that island that would thrill me.  Mykonos is famous for its windmills, and while they are lovely, they weren’t nearly as impressive as ancient wonders we got to see.  As it turned out however it wasn’t the windmills that were amazing but rather what happened at the windmills.

We were on our own to explore the island, and it was indeed very pretty.  We had just about an hour left before we had to be back on the ship and decided to get up close to the windmills.  It had been windy that whole day and the ocean around the island was choppy.  While we made our way towards the windmills, the wind died down (which in an ironic twist robbed us of seeing the one thing “windmills” do best).  The ocean calmed with the wind and the waters stilled.  From where we were standing, it looked like there was no motion out there at all.

As we stood there, the sun began to set.  It was amazing how quickly it happened. One minute the sun was over our heads and the sky was a stark clear blue.  Just a few minutes later, the sun dropped low on the horizon and blue sky faded into a mix of red and orange. There was a short wall in front of us, and I climbed up on it to get a better view.  I wanted Mrs. Big Joe to come up with me, and at first she resisted ( ever the law abiding citizen she didn’t want to climb on someone’s property.) Finally I convinced her and she climbed up with me.

We sat on that wall and watched nature’s spectacular light show.  The sun sunk slowly on the horizon, and every inch it dropped turned the sky brilliant shaded of red, orange, and brown.  It looked like the sun was striking the ocean and setting the horizon on fire. We were in awe at the beautiful site before us.  I pulled my wife close to me and kissed her cheek as the sun vanished from the sky. As we gazed at the setting sun, we were silent. I realized at that moment that there was not only silence from us, but from everyone around us. Moments earlier there had been the din of tourists talking and moving around the island. Now everyone was still in a moment of magic and majesty.

When life (and or small children) make me crazy and I need to be at peace, I go in my mind to that wall in Mykonos next to my wife and in front of that breathtaking sunset and just like that I have arrived at my happy place 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Oy Come All Ye Faithful

Being a storyteller means I am constantly searching out and writing new stories.  As a result, over time  my collection of tales has grown quite large (about 400 or so at last count).  I have stories of every type and style for everyone from the very young to the very not so young. My stories cover a wide range of topics and themes.  This means that no matter what type of event or classroom I am doing a show for, I have stories that will fit the bill.  This fact serves me well when I am tasked to do a holiday event.  I have stories for just about every holiday, from the high holidays to the manufactured ones (I’m looking at you Valentine’s Day!) and everything in between.  I am also well versed on the traditions and celebrations of various religious groups, and I have stories that will do them justice.

Of course it wasn’t always that way.  My first year as a storyteller, I didn’t have that many stories at my disposal.  I knew a few basic tales (3 Pigs etc.) and wrote some stuff, but I didn’t have the number and type of stories to meet all the demands of my clients.  To make matters worse, I had come from being a preschool teacher, so most of the stories in my collection were for that age level.  Preschool shows were easy, but anything above that age level put me in a tough spot.

So I buckled down and started to add stories to my arsenal as quickly as I could.  Time was passing, and December was coming up.  I knew I had to have material to help carry me through that month of Holiday fun. I found some great Christmas stories and wrote a few others that I was very proud of.  I tested them out, and I knew they would be a big hit.  Finally I got my first chance to debut my new tales at a big party in Newton MA one week before Christmas.  I was very excited and knew the stories would be a hit.

There were about 50 kids all ready to have a good time, and I was going to give it to them!  I launched into my first tale, and while I expected to get some big cheers and laughs, I got a pretty tepid response.  I went to my next story which was a fun tale about Santa and again the response was not what I had hoped.  I threw everything at them, jingling bells, stockings hung by the chimney with care, flying reindeer, but nothing got more than a little bit of polite laughter.

I finished the show and felt horrible about myself.  I began to doubt my skills as a storyteller and writer and began to think I wasn’t cut out to be a teller of tales.  As I waded into the deep end of my self pity pool, my client came to talk to me, and threw me a life preserver of sorts.  He shook my hand, thanked me, and said “Those stories were very nice, the thing is pretty much all of those kids are Orthodox Jewish.”  I felt embarrassed and kind of stupid.  He assured me it was okay, and when he paid me, he even gave me a tip.  Of course the best tip I took from that show was that I needed to expand my horizons and find stories for every holiday, and not just the one that features a fat man in a red suit!

– Big Joe 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Requiem for a Hamster

I was visiting a preschool the other day, and they were mourning the loss of one of their classroom pets (a fish).  It is always difficult when something like that happens.  For the children, it is hard because they have to deal with the concept of death and process the loss on an emotional level.  For the teacher it is hard, because they have to deal with a dead animal, and conduct a full on investigation to figure out who was responsible (trust me, very few classroom pets die of natural causes!)  When I was a teacher, I had to deal with a lot of dead classroom pets (I will have more to say on this subject in later posts).  I had a group of preschoolers hell bent on destruction and as a result none of our pets lived very long.  We were the only preschool class whose newsletter had an obituary section.  For the most part, when one of our pets met an inglorious end, we would dispose of them properly (usually a flushing) and replace them with a new one.  If we did it smoothly enough, we could pretty much pass off the new one as the old one and life would go on. However if the pet was beloved, or if it met a very “visible” end, we would conduct a funeral to allow the kids to morn and to hopefully guilt the murderer into a confession.  One of our more memorable pets was our hamster Snuggles #6.  He was a survivor, and lived the longest of all our classroom pets (3 whole months!)  I wrote a eulogy for him but never got to deliver it (my director was very uptight!)  I forgot all about it, but my visit to the classroom with the deceased fish the other day reminded me about it and I dug it up (pun only slightly intended).  So here now dear readers is how I would have liked to send  Snuggles #6 off to that hamster wheel in the sky…

Requiem for a Hamster

We are here today to mourn the passing of our beloved hamster Snuggles #6. He was a very nice hamster, a very gentle hamster, and before the “incident” on Tuesday a very live hamster.  We learned a lot about hamsters from Snuggles #6. Lessons such as hamsters have fur, hamsters have claws (Billy learned that one the hard way), hamsters eat seeds, hamsters go to the bathroom (a lot), and of course we learned that hamsters cannot fly (a lesson we should have already learned from Snuggles 1 through 3 and Snuggles #5!)   It was fun watching him run around in his cage, but admittedly less fun spending countless hours searching for him all the times one of you let him out of his cage.  We will always cherish the fond memories of Snuggles #6, like the time one of you fed him a cookie and he ran on his wheel till he passed out, or when he had to be water rescued from the toilet during the unsanctioned experiment to see if hamsters can swim (they cannot).  And who can forget the wonderful sight of Snuggles #6 playing “leap frog” with the hamster from Classroom 2 when they brought her over for a visit.  Snuggles #6 was a fighter (just ask Billy) and lasted for a record three months as our classroom pet.  In the end however he was no match for all of you preschoolers, and of course gravity.  So now we bury our friend Snuggles #6 and return him to the earth till God calls us all home, or until one of you maniacs digs him up and takes him home in your lunch box.

Thanks for reading,

Big Joe 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Uncategorized