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Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Stop the presses. Please?

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, television, Uncategorized on December 18, 2012 at 10:41 am


By Gery L. Deer

Following the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, I’ve debated whether to weigh in as yet another part of the media’s relentless armchair quarterbacking of the tragedy. When I finally decided to write about it, I thought I’d take a slightly different approach. Even though I am a part of the machinery of the American press, I believe they deserve a scolding.

From the moment the news hit the wires that a gunman had opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary, the press has been relentless in its coverage. Every media outlet has surpassed the necessary “news” aspects of the story, as each tries to scoop the other with grotesque detail, or by displaying the most painful tale from surviving parents and children.

None of this is necessary. As Newtown tries to begin what is certain to be a long and difficult recovery from these events, it has become a media circus. Completely oblivious to how invasive and unwelcome they are, television news programs are broadcasting remotely from every open parking lot, thrusting microphones and cameras into the faces of grieving parents and neighbors.

If the pointless commentary by coffee mug wielding morning show hosts isn’t enough to make you sad for the state of our news agencies, factor in that both sides of the gun control debate are using this awful event as a pulpit for their ridiculous agendas. Other commentators suggested the shooting would distract the public from the Fiscal Cliff debate. Apparently, the ignorance of such an unprofessional media just continues to flow. Politicizing such unspeakable tragedy is reprehensible and, for lack of a stronger word, moronic in the highest degree.

Additionally, when the media gives exploiters a platform, they are just as guilty. While the American press has the responsibility to report, they also have an equal liability to know when enough is enough and let respect and good taste outweigh greed for ratings gold.

No matter how many guest experts are interviewed or what level of speculation goes into the motivations of the troubled man who pulled the trigger, or even how many cameras are shoved into the faces of survivors, we may never know the real reasons why these things happen. Endlessly debating the issue on morning talk shows will do nothing more than provide a better plan for the next unstable loner to do it more efficiently.

As the days and weeks pass, the frenzy will die down and Newtown residents will be left to deal with things on their own. Unfortunately, because of the nature of this event and our country’s twisted fascination with mass murder and other horrific crimes, the families will be faced with constant reminders in the media, books, online, everywhere. They will have something in common with those who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers on 9/11. They will forever be forced to relive that day over and over because of the public’s sick thirst for grotesque detail.

From my point of view, this will happen again; not because of guns or some madman’s quest for power but because our nation aggrandizes the killer and the event. It’s likely that there are more mentally ill people out there who see an act of deadly aggression as his or her only way to get noticed and distort that undying craving for attention into an internally-driven martyr complex.

Those who guard our schools, theatres and malls need to be on the alert, now more than ever. Thanks in no small part to the media’s continuous exposition, somewhere out there, sitting quietly in a dark room, the next shooter is deteriorating into madness and admiring the mayhem of this most recent horror.

Make no mistake – I do not blame the media for the acts of a madman. But I do blame them for their lack of good taste and journalistic judgment. We are lucky to have a free press, but there is a point where complete coverage becomes blatant commercialization and exploitation of tragedy.



Acclaimed commercial writing guru Peter Bowerman presents Beavercreek workshop

In Business, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Uncategorized on December 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm
"Well-Fed Writer" - Peter Bowerman

“Well-Fed Writer” – Peter Bowerman

Beavercreek, OH – On Thursday, December 27th, aspiring professional writers in the Miami Valley have the opportunity to meet and learn from commercial freelancing guru Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer series of books.

From 5-9 PM at 4 Starters Coffee Café, 2495 Commons Blvd., in Beavercreek, Bowerman will present a two-part workshop titled, Building a Well-Fed Mini-Empire: An Evening Exploration of Lucrative Self-Publishing & “Commercial” Freelancing. Admission is $5 per person, cash only at the door and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Western Ohio Writers Association and GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing.

In 1993, after a 15-year career in sales and marketing, Peter Bowerman turned his sights to freelance commercial writing. With no industry experience, no previous paid writing experience and no writing background, he built a commercial freelancing business in Atlanta, Georgia from fantasy to full-time in less than four months.

He has published more than 250 articles and editorials, leads seminars on writing and is a professional coach for both commercial freelancing business start-up and self-publishing endeavors. He has been continuously publishing his critically acclaimed monthly ezine for the commercial freelancing industry, The Well-Fed E-PUB, since May 2002. In 2008, he launched The Well-Fed Writer Blog, named in 2010 as a Top 50 Freelance Blog.

Beginning with the self-publishing portion of the evening, Bowerman will give an overview of the self-publishing industry, including his personal strategies for production, promotion and publicity that have yielded 70,000 copies in print of his four books.

At 7 PM, the topic will turn to the world of professional commercial freelancing. Bowerman will explain what commercial writing is, why the field makes sense now, how to build a portfolio, where the work is, what to charge, and more.

The Western Ohio Writers Association is based in Greene County and provides networking and educational opportunities to writers in southwest-central Ohio. Participants attend monthly critique sessions to hone their writing skills through peer feedback, networking opportunities and educational presentations.

“This is the second year for Mr. Bowerman’s workshop so he graciously offered to expand it to include the self-publishing session,” says Gery L. Deer, professional freelance writer, owner of GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. “Our organization is about education and enhancing the skills and opportunities available to writers in our area. Professional career support, like Mr. Bowerman’s workshop, is an important part of that mission.”

In the spirit of the holiday season, Bowerman will be offering books and other products at the event for a 25-percent discount. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP online at www.westernohiowriters.org or by emailing gdeer@gldenterprises.net.

Don’t Sweat the Holidays

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Food, Opinion, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

hopDeer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Every year about this time, people wrap up their Christmas shopping, attend uncomfortable social functions and worry about New Year’s resolutions they have no intention of keeping. It’s a stressful time emotionally, financially and socially. In the end, Darwinian Theory incarnate enables one to reach the finish line of January 1st without a nervous breakdown – survival of the fittest, beginning with Christmas parties.

Between family gatherings and holiday office parties, we spend about half our free time in December enduring the company of people we don’t necessarily like or want to be around the rest of the time. The point of all of this unwarranted schmoozing varies depending on your particular position in society.

If you’re a corporate exec hosting an event, you’re expected to make a good show of the holidays, pretending that you’re generous and thoughtful to those whose backs you stepped on in order to get where you are today. As an underling, you’re required to fain some misplaced exposition of loyalty to people who neither appreciate your hard work and long hours nor identify with your problems just trying to make ends meet. Of course, the ridiculous doesn’t stop there.

I debated whether to even mention fruitcake. It seems like a trite and highly over-dramatized topic, but still may warrant some scrutiny. It’s not the actual fruitcake that should be considered, but what it represents. Along with the late Twinkie, the fruitcake has been touted as one of the few sources of food, if you can call it that, which might actually survive after a nuclear disaster.

In truth, the fruitcake is a symbol of the requirement bestowed on today’s society that we give – and give a lot – to people we don’t even like. Now there are people out there for whom fruitcake is a genuine treat, they may be in need of some psychiatric help, but they do exist. But giving the fruitcake because it’s an easy buy in fulfillment of the gift requirement is just ridiculous.

Along with the requisite gifts comes a host of holiday cards clogging the mailbox from people you don’t talk to any other time but to whom you are now suddenly obligated to return the gesture in a never-ending cycle of artificial sentiment. The constant worry over whether to send a “Christmas” card or more generic holiday greeting is maddening. Get over it already. How offensive could it be to receive a note that wishes someone good cheer? Apparently it offends a great many people, but not enough for me to worry about.

Outdoors, we inevitably decorate the house in hopes of being noticed by some neighborhood committee arbitrarily voting on who shelled out the most for new LED light strings, to say nothing of excessive electric bills. In a variation of the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, each house along the street progresses with increasing gaudiness, ranging from a lighted reindeer whose flashing lights on its legs make it appear to be running, to two-story, inflatable representations of the Nativity which look like they would be more at home at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And the list goes on.

Now all of this might seem a little cynical and, at some point, everyone thinks about this stuff but most people would never admit to any of it. We’re generally happy just going along with everything and continuing in the repetitive traditions of our families or friends. In the end, the holidays were meant as a time of celebration but for many they can bring depression, anxiety and frustration. Recognizing the causes of these feelings can be a first step in easing them a bit, before they thoroughly take over.

Some things you just have to accept. There are the haves and the have-nots, along with those who don’t care one way or another. Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, or whatever you celebrate, don’t forget the point and, like the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”


Christmas trees represent peace and goodwill

In Education, Entertainment, Health, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology on December 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

Are you offended by the term, “Christmas” tree? Or, on the other hand, maybe you get upset when someone refers to a “holiday” tree? Whatever your viewpoint, you might be surprised to learn that until the 1840’s, the Christmas tree was virtually nonexistent in America and largely considered a pagan symbol. Like many other Christian images and traditions, the tree was borrowed from earlier beliefs.

In fact, leaders of early New England Puritan societies preached against what they considered to be “heathen traditions,” such as caroling, decorating and so on. Around 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts declared any observance of the “sacred” December 25th holiday a penal offense.

Only church services were permitted and anything else, even the simplest ornaments or decorations, earned the offender punishment by fine or imprisonment. That mentality continued, for the most part, until the 19th Century when the first recorded display of a Christmas tree in America was by German settlers of Pennsylvania in 1830. So what happened? History.com offers this explanation.

“In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.”

And with that, the Christmas tree was finally accepted in the New World. But why is the evergreen used? As it turns out, that story has ancient beginnings. During the winter solstice, ancient people collected evergreen boughs and placed them over entrances and windows. It was believed in many countries that the evergreen helped to keep away evil spirits, witches, demons and other supernatural bad guys.

The mysterious Druids, the Vikings and even the ancient Egyptians and the Romans had similar tree-related practices. Today, 16th Century Deutschland is credited with the origins of the modern Christmas tree, or tannenbaum, a German word meaning “fir tree.”  Devout Germans borrowed the ancient practice and added decorations to the trees, brought them into their homes and eventually added candles and gifts to the tradition.

In the 21st Century, the tree has finally become the centerpiece of Christmas holiday decor. Some of the largest trees are placed on the grounds of The White House in Washington D.C., and New York City’s, Rockerfeller Center. But as America grows increasingly secular regarding Christmas, people are starting to refer to “holiday” trees, effectively removing the Christian association from the emblem.

As odd as it might sound, given the varied history of the institution, it may be more accurate to share the image outside the Christian connotation. Since the tradition stems from such ancient beginnings, thousands of years before Christ, tree decorating is not uniquely Christian. Hard line Christians may be offended by this idea, but hopefully they can see the promise over the offense. Sharing the practice may open the hearts of those less cordial, regardless of their faith.

Whether to you it is truth or myth, the story of the birth of Christ is one of hope. Christmas is not about the decorations, songs or presents associated with the holiday. It’s about a spirit of good will to celebrate the hope that mankind can be better than he is the other 364 days of the year.

For the truly devout, deeply held faith cannot be rocked by the change in reference to one holiday image. But remember, respect for beliefs other than your own should be paramount if Christmas is to have any meaning at all. Only through respect, understanding and kindness can there truly be peace on earth and goodwill to… everyone. Have a Merry Christmas, a joyful Hanukkah and a happy and safe New Year.