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Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

We see the 1950s with rose-colored glasses

In Entertainment, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on August 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

DIH LOGOI recently read a CBS News poll asking people to choose a decade back to which they’d like to time travel. Overwhelmingly, the leading answer was the 1950s. What I can’t wrap my head around is, why?

Some people see those times as simpler, easier to manage, with fewer concerns and more security. Gas was 23-cents per gallon and you could get a really nice home for $22,000. A good price when you consider the average annual salary – hold onto your hats – just over $4,100.

So, yes, things were cheaper but only when compared to today’s prices. Actually, I think we have a fairly tainted view of the 1950s, America’s so-called, “Golden Age.” The “Leave it to Beaver” family unit and less-complicated lifestyles of those days simply wouldn’t work in modern society, for a number of reasons.

First, we had all the same problems back then that we have today, but we perceived and dealt with them differently. The country probably wasn’t as politically fractured as it is today, only because we were all riding a bit of a patriotic “high” after the end of World War II.

Technology or the lack thereof made a difference to our perceptions in those days too. There was the radio, a morning newspaper, an evening newspaper, sometimes an “extra” mid-day edition, and an evening television newscast. We didn’t get all the bad news of the world every moment it was happening. If we were going to tell people how our vacation was going, we had to mail out post cards.

According to the 1955 United States Census, America’s population was 166 million and the average unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, or about 81 million people. Today it’s about 314 million with a 7.4 percent unemployment factor, around 23 million.

So, barring some kind of economic cataclysm, as the population doubled, the unemployment rate followed suit. From a ratio standpoint, there were actually more people out of work 60 years ago than there are now. That’s good news, right? Sort of, yes.

What makes this a steeper hill to climb today is, once again, technology related. Labor-intensive, blue collar jobs like those at GM, NCR and other big manufacturers just don’t exist anymore. Many have been eliminated or sent overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor costs.

Additionally, many people – myself included – believe Americans to be lazier than ever and a good number of us simply don’t want to work. People are especially hard to motivate when employee benefits and pensions are a thing of the past and there is no longer any sort of job security.

Speaking of security, remember the “duck and cover” drills of the 50s and 60s? How much of a pointless endeavor was that? “Here, little Johnny, get under this desk so the Russian atomic bomb won’t hurt you.” Really, I mean, how dumb were we?

I suppose at least it gave us all something to do in the face of the unthinkable. In reality, there was nothing secure about the 50s, especially considering we were always on the brink of war with Russia and it only got worse as 1960 approached.

Personally, I think we spend far too much time looking back and not nearly enough looking forward. The past is done and you can plan for the future to some degree, but, reasonably, all we have is the here and now. Focus on making your present more fruitful and your future will follow along.


GCCHD offers back-to-school physicals and immunizations

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News on August 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm

imageXENIA, OH – The Greene County Combined Health District (GCCHD) is reminding parents and students that GCCHD offers Back-to-School physicals, sports physicals and immunizations. In the coming weeks, the District is also offering expanded hours for immunizations, including one clinic specifically designed for children entering Kindergarten and 7th grade.
For Back-to-School and sports physicals, an appointment is needed. The Child and Adolescent Health clinic is held on Mondays at the GCCHD main office, 360 Wilson Dr., Xenia, OH. The number to call for appointments and information is (937) 374-5655.

For Immunizations, walk-in clinics are held:

• Every Tuesday at GCCHD from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
• The 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at GCCHD from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

A special clinic will be held on Thursday, August 29 at the main office of GCCHD from 2:30 – 6:00p.m. for students from any school district in Greene County entering Kindergarten and 7th grade ONLY. Parents are asked to bring the child’s shot record to the clinic. These immunizations meet school requirements.
Additional School District clinic dates and times are as follows:

• Tuesday, September 3: Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools, Cedar Cliff & Yellow Springs Schools
o 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
o 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
o 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

• Tuesday, September 10: Fairborn City Schools
o 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
o 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
o 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 17: Beavercreek City Schools

o 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
o 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
o 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
• Tuesday, September 24: Xenia Community Schools
o 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
o 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
o 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
• Thursday, September 26: Greeneview Local Schools
o 2:30 – 6:00 p.m.
For all immunizations, please bring all shot records. GCCHD accepts uninsured patients, and will bill Anthem, Medical Mutual, and various types of Medicaid, including CareSource and Molina. For these insurances, clients must present a current insurance card and parent or guardian’s photo ID in order to receive service.

Clients are responsible to pay any balance which is not covered by your insurance. There is a charge for immunization services and full or partial payment is required at time of service. For all other private insurances, you will be asked to pay GCCHD for services provided. We will provide you with a receipt to submit to your insurance company, if requested. Unfortunately, GCCHD is unable to accept credit card payments.
For more information, please call the Immunization Hotline at (937) 374-5657 or the immunization clerk at (937) 374-5668.

Extra! Extra! Examining the plight of print.

In Books, Business, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Print Media, Technology on August 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

electronic_printAre newspapers dead? Since most of the mass distribution for Deer in Headlines is still in print media, then chances are if you’re reading this it’s probably printed in a newspaper. But it’s also circulated in a fair number of online publications as well so if the publication you’re reading ever went belly-up, you can still find it on the web.

When Amazon’s chairperson, Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post, the publication’s circulation had dropped by 40-percent over the last year. A seriously risky bet, Bezos picked up the media icon for pennies and paid for it out of his own pocket. The intention was to preserve the paper in its current state, but it’s just as likely he will take it to the next logical level – all digital.

Far more costly to produce than their digital counterparts, print publications still have a purpose among certain die-hards and the older generation. There’s something about holding that printed page in your hand that has brings about an emotional response unique to each reader.

I’m kind of caught in the middle. I like having a printed page in front of me, whether it’s a book, magazine or newspaper. But I like the convenience of digital media too. If you’re stuck waiting to be seated at a restaurant or in the doctor’s waiting room, you can always bring up something to read on your smart phone or Kindle.

Eventually, pretty much all periodicals (newspapers, magazines, etc.) will be converted to digital, but in my opinion, it’s not just the media format that’s killing print publications. Less ambitious salespeople and a lack of knowledge among advertisers have also helped contribute to their demise.

Publications, like any other media, survive by the vicious circle of subscribers and advertising. The more subscribers, the more profitable the ad revenue, but if the content is lacking no one is going to subscribe. The numbers drop and ad revenue falls along with circulation.

Plus, have you noticed how much smaller your newspaper is these days? Most have shrunken both in sheet size and number of pages, with some content located online to drive people to the publisher’s website. As a practical consumer, why would you pay $1.50 for a publication that has less content than it did when it was 75-cents? Unfortunately, if you want to keep getting a print publication you’ll have to pay whatever price they ask.

Advertising rates are going up too, though that one thoroughly perplexes me. Lower circulation should drive down ad prices, but many publishers are trying to recover lost revenue by adding web-based exposure in conjunction with print packages. For some, it’s too little, too late, however.

An ever more computer-savvy population will eventually drive print to its ultimate end. Attempting to preserve it will be a costly and finally pointless endeavor but some people are making the effort, as Bezos seems to be. But then again, he’s a billionaire and that’s what it would take – deep pockets.

No business can continue to operate in the red, always hemorrhaging money. Unless the operator is treating it like a hobby and has the disposable income to keep it going, it will die.

If you want to keep the presses running on your local newspaper, I suggest the following. First, contact the publisher and remind them how important the paper is to the community. If you are part of a business or organization, make sure to send press releases and other news-worthy information to the editors so they have good, local content to draw from. Include detailed contact information and artwork (photos).

Demand local coverage written by local correspondents. Small, hometown papers can do better financially on their own level than national publications when they have good, locally-created content to drive circulation and advertising.

If you own a business or are part of a community organization, advertise in the local newspaper but do it correctly. You need to display your ad regularly and consistently in the same publication for at least several months before you see a response. Be consistent and be patient. And finally, go buy a paper! You’re helping the community and the economy.


Deer In Headlines is syndicated by and intellectual property of Gery L. Deer / GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. All rights reserved.


Doc Barth’s Medicine Show, still captivating crowds

In Entertainment, National News, Opinion, Travel, Uncategorized on August 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm

DIH LOGOOver the last couple of decades, I have worked all over the country as a writer and performer. From small hometown stages to Hollywood television projects, I think I’ve seen just about everything. Recently, however, I had the privilege of working at a festival in northern Indiana alongside a gentleman who, in my mind, is the quintessential entertainment professional. His name is Dan Barth and for the last 40-plus years, he’s been in the medicine show business.

From the 1850s through the 1930s the traveling medicine show was one of the most effective advertising endeavors in history. Moving from town to town by horse and wagon, these performing salesmen practiced what has become the foundation of the most successful modern advertising.

With a few magic tricks, some ventriloquism and a plethora of bad jokes, the medicine show brought to town a live, often interactive stage performance long before there was radio or television. At the end of the show, the performer would give a lecture about the health properties of some kind of tonic, the tastiness of a box of candy, or any other positive attributes about whatever product he was selling.

The salesman’s performance was the way he got people to sit there long enough to listen to his advertisement. Now, if you think you’re too modern to fall for such things, you should know that this method still works today – every eight minutes or so during your favorite TV show. Think about it.

Dan Barth's traveling historical medicine show.

Dan Barth’s traveling historical medicine show.

With his 19th Century medicine show wagon in tow, Dan and his charming wife, Ulli, have traveled all around the country educating and entertaining crowds with the same kinds of routines used in the original presentations. From ventriloquism to magic, Dan told the story behind his artifacts and the history of the shows. I watched nearly every show he did over our four days together and marveled at how his audience was so taken with his work.

In today’s high-paced world of Wi-Fi, cell phone apps and squirrel-like attention spans, I was fascinated to watch people of all ages sit in the hot, Indiana sun and hang on Dan’s every motion and word. It was gratifying to see that people still have an interest in this kind of entertainment; a type that now seems relegated to the odd variety act or child’s birthday party and even then, thoroughly under-appreciated.

Not this weekend however. People loved watching Dan’s performance, me included. Ironically, I felt good about the fact that we are using some of the same routines in my family’s variety show. Now I think I finally understand why those simple routines are always so well-received.

But from my own standpoint, Dan’s presentation and his audience’s reaction to it allowed me to see more about my work – both in print and on stage – than I have ever noticed before. As a writer or stage performer, if our mind is in the right place, our ultimate goal is to entertain our audience.

I have always believed that most skilled writers and performers spend far too much time showing off their respective talents and not enough actually entertaining anyone but themselves; but not Dan Barth. His mind is always on the audience. He may be in it to make a living, but he really wants his audience to have experienced something unique for their time and he genuinely appreciates their attention.

Gery L. Deer (left) with Dan Barth

Gery L. Deer (left) with Dan Barth

Personally, I’ve seen just about every possible incarnation of sideshow, Wild West performance, medicine show and variety act. But there was something unique about this performance. It was unassuming, generous and genuine. It had my attention every time, even though, by the end of the first day, I could practically recite his script verbatim.

With a 25 minute show, he captivated the audience with no more than four or five routines. But, in the end, it’s not what you do or say on stage or in print, but how you present it. No matter how great your technical skill, there is always room to be more engaging to an audience. From stage shows, to newspaper articles to television advertisements, it’s the consuming audience that matters. After all, they’re the ones paying for the ticket.