Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Erma and Company

When I sent a text message to my 23 year-old daughter telling her that I was in the presence of the Bombeck kids at my conference, she replied, "Sorry I don't know those kids." The generation gap swelled bigger between us, and I replied that they were the children of famed columnist, Erma Bombeck (Feb. 21, 1927 - April 22, 1996), and her kids were the fodder of her stories, as mine are for my blog. You can't help it - kids are so generous with material. I asked the Bombecks how they felt being the subjects of the column that had a readership of 30 million people. They said that their mom usually exaggerated everything, and besides they didn't read the column anyway. Touché! I have nothing to fear.

Being at the Writer's Conference was like being on a cruise at anchor. The food, accommodations and service from the Dayton Marriott were superb, and the University of Dayton couldn't be more hospitable or beautiful. This was a bonus to the talent-packed lineup of speakers, authors, columnists, comedians and workshop leaders that filled our days and nights. If you're an aspiring humor writer, Dayton Ohio is the place to be with Erma.

Joanne and I rubbed elbows with Loretta LaRoche (stress management and humor consultant), Wade Rouse (America's Boy), Christian Lander (Stuff White People Like), Gail Collins (NY Times columnist and author), Tracy Beckerman (humor columnist), Bill Scheft (David Letterman's writer and author), Steve Doocy (Fox News host and author), Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter), Suzette Martinez Standring (columnist and hypnotherapist), Jerry Zezima (humor columnist and author), and Craig Wilson (USA Today columnist and author of It's the Little Things.

That's just who I saw. It was like a Writer's Buffet: every session looked delicious, but I could only stuff in so much in one day. The great thing about the conference is that these folks were totally accessible. They roamed around like normal people throughout the workshop. We could strike up conversations with whomever. I rode the bus with Suzette and told her about my experience with God during her hypnotherapy session, told Craig of my experience in Mexico with "sombreros," one of the chapters in his book, and had my picture taken with Bill. Wade said he liked my jacket. Probably one of my biggest thrills was meeting Peggy Rowe, mother of Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame, who was a fellow attendee. Hopefully her son will send my son the promised autographed photo, and maybe offer him a job when he graduates from Purdue...

Something else that was cool about this conference, if I may belabor the subject, was that every attendee had a great sense of humor and were motivated to excel in their craft. And helpful! Jim Higley, Chicago Tribune online columnist and blogger http://www.bobbleheaddad.blogspot.com/ was effusive in his advise on blogging and social networking tools. He talked me into joining the Facebook frenzy, something I've been avoiding for various reasons. Most of all because I was told point blank by my younger kids that they would not "friend" me if I joined. Whatever. Maybe when I'm rich and famous they'll be singing a different tune...

On the anniversary of the passing of Erma Bombeck, I pay tribute to this very special lady. God bless you Erma! I'm sure you're still firing off jokes and anecdotes to the heavenly bodies.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog. Reading it helps me both to relive the magical workshop that it was, and to realize how much of it that I still missed! One thing that I'm glad I didn't miss was having dinner with you and Joanne! Thanks!

    Also, go ahead and FaceBook (in moderation of course!). My wife is not "friended" to our kids (except maybe Nora now) and it works well to keep her connected to some of the people she works with (many of whom are nearly the same age as our kids!).