Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bad Assembly Ideas...

As a professional school show performer, I have lots of fun school assembly programs that are educational and entertaining. But sometimes I'll have an idea that just doesn't pan out the way I first thought it might.

For example, here are a few school assembly programs that I created that never really caught on.

My motivational program called "At Least Care Enough to Cheat"

I wanted to combine a study on Language Arts with Ethics and came up with "Words We Shouldn't Say and How to Pronounce Them"

When that didn't take off, I focused just on the Language Arts program and created "Learn Where to Put Prepositions At"

I knew Red Ribbon Month was a good time to do programs so I wrote "Don't Smoke Much Marijuana"

For the younger kids I created "Don't Steal from Your Friends"

My very first reading program was titled "Be Smart: Reed"

Finally, I wanted to create a program that took advantage of my training as a behavior specialist so I wrote "Behave You Little Brats"

Have fun!

--Julian Franklin

P.S. Most of these humorous ideas are not my own. I am fortunate to have friends as funny as Matt Fore (quite possibly the funniest human being I have ever met). He's an amazingly talented school show presenter from Tennessee and if you ever have the good fortune of seeing him, he'll have you and your students rolling on the floor. I'm glad to be able to call him a friend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Because I perform school assembly programs and motivational reading programs for a living people assume I am an extrovert. It's a logical conclusion. I mean, when you see one of my summer library reading programs I'm running around in costume, singing songs, arguing with puppets, screaming feigned shock at magic tricks, and laughing harder than the kids at all the funny stuff that happens while we talk about books and the power of reading.

But I'll tell you a little secret about me…that's not what I'm really like.

I love to eat lunch with the librarians that hire me because most librarians and media specialists seem to relate to me pretty well. We talk about favorite books, favorite authors, and sometimes we don't really talk much at all.

I remember sitting in on a lunch conversation that consisted of other performing artists including some professional speakers. Someone asked the members of the group to raise their hand if they felt they were introverts. Everyone raised their hand.

Now, that's not always true. I know some performers who really NEED to be on stage. They thrive there and WANT to be there. And I guess I do, too. But it's a little bit different for me.
One of the guys at the lunch table that day made a comment that stuck in my mind. "Extroverts spend time with others to gain the strength they need to get through the times they are alone. Introverts spend time alone to gain the strength they need to get through the times with others."

While I don't think I need to psyche myself up to get on stage, or even have any reservations or trouble doing what I do, I also am very comfortable spending an entire day (or two or three, though I don't remember having that luxury since my college days) doing nothing but sitting alone, reading, writing, and dreaming.

I remember early in my career someone filled in my feedback form with the suggestion that I should be more friendly before the show. They very logically concluded that since I was so dynamic on stage and NOT at all dynamic beforehand that I must have seemed rather "stand-off-ish" or aloof. The truth is that I would always be as dynamic and personable and funny off-stage as I am on-stage if they would give me a script four months before hand and then follow their lines.

But alas, conversations don't work this way unless all your friends are puppets (most of mine are). So I do the best I can. I really like people and enjoy talking to them and listening to them. I just don't do it with the same vigor and excitement that happens on stage.

So, if you catch me off-stage, don't be afraid to grab me by the arm and say hello. I'd love to sit and talk about your favorite author. Just don't expect me to come up with something witty to say.

--Julian Franklin

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What's on Your Bookshelf?

I was recently talking to a librarian friend of mine about what books we were currently reading and I mentioned to her that when I first go into someone's home, I am drawn like a vouyer to their bookshelf.

"The eyes are the windows to the soul" the old saying goes. But I disagree.

Give me ten minutes to peruse your book collection and I'll be able to tell more about you than anyone can tell by looking at your eyes. Paperbacks or hardcover? How worn are the books? Any classics or is it all pop fiction?

Favorite authors, favorite genres, favorite characters, favorite themes: these all reveal, at some level, our own aspirations, dreams, and fears.

And when it comes to non-fiction and how-to type books the number and type can reveal quite a lot. The aspirations, dreams, and fears are in no way hidden with these books. They were bought specifically to learn something that can be applied. So what, really are you doing with Stories Guide to Raising Beef Cattle? And doesn't that copy of Surviving Infidelity tell a little bit more than you really want the neighbors to know? Why is that copy of the Karma Sutra so well worn? (Maybe that's covered in one of the chapters of Surviving Infidelity?)

Are your books displayed out in the open or are they on shelves in private rooms? How many books do you own? How does your book collection compare to your video collection?

Some of you may be asking questions such as I asked once I first realized how revealing books can be. I know someone who has more televisions in his house than he has books. How do I view into his soul?

The answer is obvious: those without books, have no soul.

Or maybe they just keep them hidden from nosey people like you and me.

--Julian Franklin