Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Follow-the-String Journey

Imagine walking around your neighborhood, and seeing a string carelessly but loosely draped on shrubery off to the side. You pick it up, and follow it to wherever.  By and large, it keeps you on the sidewalk.  But at times it draws you into others' yards, and on occasion a homeowner invites you to come in.  You're a neighbor, after all.  A pleasant, engaging conversation over coffee ensues in the living room.

Social media is a platform for discovering curious strings like that, and the internet in general is the means by which we can follow any string that catches our fancy.

Earlier this morning, I reviewed my Facebook notifications, and saw it was my turn to poke each of two friends back.  For several weeks now, we have kept this sidebar going.  I'm not into poking, but when someone pokes me, which is hardly ever, I poke back.  Poking is a casual, perfectly fine thing to do between friends, but between a man and a woman it slips into unmistakable flirtation and sexual innuendo.  So when Facebook suggests other friends for me to poke, I ignore it.

A Sunday Journey


Instead of just closing the poke notification window, however, I went to visit a friend:  I found this video posted on her Timeline. It's an operatic accounting of the many things a Mom says to her children everyday. It's a really awesome, funny performance. I find out that the lady singing is Anita Harshey.

Facebook makes it really easy to share posts, so while the video was in a format and location I wasn't familiar with, I could post it directly to my Timeline.


I recognize the music of "The Mom Song" as "William Tell Overture," composed by Gioachino Rossini and premiered in 1829. It's the rousing finale of his Overture that has bee popular in American culture for decades.

If you want to hear the full Overture, here it is.


You see, I'm really impressed by the talent behind "The Mom Song" ... taking the music about a 15th-century Swiss legend (William Tell) by a 19th-century Italian composer (Gioachino Rossini); and turning it into an awesome modern-day opera that prompts a church audience to give it a standing ovation ... well, I just had to research it further. So meet Anita Renfroe who wrote, and first sang, "The Mom Song."


I continued, drawing on an interview on iFlourish and a biography on Wikipedia:  I find out that Anita Renfroe is an American Christian comedian, mother and wife. Apparently her young children teased her for being the only comic without a YouTube channel, and called her lame. Not one to be dissuaded from an implicit challenge, she wrote down all the things a Mom said over a 24-hour stretch and condensed it all to a 3-minute video that she called "Momisms." She planned to delete the video on Mother's Day 2007, but her children convinced her to keep it. The video and the song went viral!

Anita Renfroe (image credit)

I am impressed with others' talent not only in their profession or craft, but also in the marketing of their stuff:  Her children's dare, a comic's humor, and a Christian's faith all figure into a career that blossomed for Anita Renfroe. She's a correspondent for the popular "Good Morning, America"; has written five books, and become a grandmother.  Here's a more recent showcase of her talents!


Never mind that first invitation to come in, I was now well-engaged in a second conversation-cum-coffee at a neighbor's house across the street:  There's more to this wholly unplanned journey that I find myself on. Curiosity is what drives my SUV, and I'm just sitting in the backseat, watching the half-familiar, half-unfamiliar terrain outside the windows. Vanessa Van Petten writes a song herself, as a kid's response to "The Mom Song." The following are her video response and the opening lyrics to her song:
I am up, I am up, Im up and dressed
Can I wear this, am I cute, are the boys impressed
Wheres my clothes and my shoes and my backpack at
And, Yes Im wearing that
No mom, no OJ, wheres the pop tarts at
Wheres my lunch, eww gross, do I look fat?
After school bring me a snack when I get back
And then its homework until I collapse


I find that Vanessa Van Petten has her own website - Radical Parenting - dedicated to helping parents gain better insight into their children. Apparently she has 120 teen writers who contribute to her website. She herself is an active author, speaker and YouTuber, and I think her concept is awesome!

Vanessa Van Petten (image credit)
A Sunday Curiosity

Following the string is also for the sake of learning about successful efforts like those of Renfroe and Van Petten and then extracting the algorithms of their success.  Having talent is number one, of course.  Having marketing savvy, too, is crucial.  Finally, having patience and persistence are undoubtedly a necessity for the vast hordes of us, as we work at our stuff and engage others around it.  

There is more of course that I want to look into and learn about, but I believe I'm on the way with my projects and they're on the right track.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD