Did I Ever Tell You About the Time….I Was A Giant Pickle

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Working in small market television is a strange and wonderful experience filled with weird and amazing things that most people may be surprised to hear about. The flutter of phone calls reporting first robin sighting each spring…the UFO sightings around the full moon (I kid you not)…I will gladly be sharing some of these stories as we go along. But first, as promised……Did I ever tell you about the time I was a giant pickle?

Sitting in the convertible was a challenge. It pushed the air holes to the top of my head making it hard to breathe.

Sitting in the convertible was a challenge. It pushed the air holes to the top of my head making it hard to breathe.

I was working at WWCP-FOX 8 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania when I found about the chance to become a pickle mascot. It wasn’t my grand plan or something, the opportunity presented itself and I seized the gherkin. I started full-time in Production Department during my last semester in college and worked my way up from Technical Director to Promotions Producer. It was a fancy way of saying I worked the 4AM to 1 PM (but usually it was when I could finally get out of there for the day) doing morning news cut-ins and any promos (the commercials for TV shows) or promotional videos that needed edited or produced. I took promo feeds and checked faxes for changes to schedules, helped come up with ideas for local campaigns, etc.

It was on one of the national feeds for a Fox Sports Kids’ show we aired called In The Zone (followed by a fax a few days later) that I saw about a marketing campaign they were going to try to create a new mascot call the In the Zone In A Pickle Pickle. They were only going to let 20 or 25 affiliates have the first test mascots so we had to act fast if we were going to get in on the ground floor of this thing. Our Promotions Director wasn’t too sure about it, especially when she realized that the only employee at the station that met the 5′ to 5’4″ requirement was me. Having only one person who fit in the costume could limit the number appearances and would prevent me from getting a break when we were out places. Thankfully I was volunteering with some very willing (i.e. gullible) high school students who just turned 18 and volunteered to be Jr. Pickle People! We faxed off the form and were selected as a test market.

Our Pickle debut was at Mascot Night for the (now defunct) local pro baseball team, the Johnstown Johnnies (whose own mascot was a giant baseball head…thing…think sort of the Headless Horseman only in a baseball uniform and with a giant baseball with a head instead of a pumpkin)***. It was in the 80’s and about 70% humidity. Perfect night to be wearing a felt and foam suit with Lycra pants. I was joined by the star of the evening, the Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot, who turned to be out a really cool guy, as well as the walking teddy from a local hospital and a couple of other regional mascots.

Free Rides for pickles

Free Rides for pickles

Since our station was one of the sponsors I got to ride around the track in a white convertible driven by Chris, my official “Pickle Wrangler” and body-guard for the night. I thought I might get to cool off, but when I sat down it pushed the air vents over my head and I almost passed out. On the plus side both the Pittsburgh Parrot and I got to throw out the first pitch. Between the giant three finger felt gloves and the fact that I couldn’t move my arms all that well and when I moved my arms past my shoulders I couldn’t see out the eye holes anymore (and lost sight of the catcher) let’s just say the ball did not reach the plate and leave it at that.

We had big introductions of all the mascots between the 1st and 2nd innings so we had to wait under the home dugout for our big moment. The Parrot was on stilts, like you do for special occasions, leaning over the top of the vending machine. I was dressed as a giant pickle and was leaning against the wall. The Giant Baseball Head Guy kept pour drinks down through the gaping hole in his mouth. The life-size Teddy Bear was leaning against the other wall. We were talking about 401(k) versus IRA investments…with the large talking bird giving some really great advice when the “Pickle Wranger” burst out laughing and doubled over. “This is the strangest conversation I have been a part of in my entire life.” The four of us looked around and shrugged. The Parrot saying that this was one of the more normal things he’s done.

Pickle Mascot on the Ground

The Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot tried to give me a hug but I ended up falling over. You can see him trying to escape the kids rushing to help the “Green M&M” back up.

I actually had a great time with the Parrot. We got along great and interacted with each other in the stands. He came over to give me a hug at one point and neither one of us realized how top heavy my costume was. Until I lost my balance. I heard him say. “Just relax, I’ll put you down.” I knew I was well padded so I just went with it and the next thing I knew I was looking at the sky. A bunch of kids had surrounded us by that time and started yelling at the poor guy for tackling the green M&M. Then the kids tried to help me up, yeah that didn’t go well. Pickle Wrangler Chris to the rescue.

The big problem with the costume was that it didn’t necessarily look like a pickle. It was big. It was green. It was bumpy. Most the bumps were covered by the baseball jersey. And the stem at the top didn’t look all that stem like. Most people really did think I was a giant green M&M, peanut to be specific. I was also called a jelly bean. And a pepper. No one guessed pickle.

The pickle wasn’t as scary as some of the other mascots (I’m looking at you Big Baseball Head Guy!) and since most people thought he was candy he was pretty well accepted. Well by everyone but my niece who decided The Pickle was the Spawn of Satan. But The Pickle could not be denied and she warmed up to him.

Child crying at sight of pickle mascot

Only my niece seemed convinced that The Pickle was evil.

Pickle Mascot and child waving at camera

The Pickle wins hearts and minds of small children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I lost close to 10 pounds by the time the night was over. When I finally took a break out of the costume and slipped into the stands somewhere in the 6th or 7th inning the Parrot spotted me and attacked my husband and I with a super soaker. When we were in the dressing room talking I mentioned that I had recently gotten married and he said he wife came with him, so after he soaked us he went and sprayed a woman who looked like she was going to kill him and then pointed at himself. I gave him a thumbs up and told my husband it must be the Parrots wife. Again…strange conversations you don’t expect to have at the ball park.

Man and Mascot Pickle

I doubt my husband saw this coming we got married a few months earlier.

The Jr Pickles took over most pickle duties and I was the wrangler after that. We did a blood drive or two. But the whole In the Zone In A Pickle test period was really only about six weeks, so we didn’t get to do all that much. By the next summer I wasn’t at the station any more and I never heard another word about The Pickle.

***I’ve searched for a picture of the Johnnies mascot but couldn’t find one. If anyone out there has a picture, or a link to one, I would LOVE to include it. Please share it in the comments section below!! Thanks!

I’d also love to hear from anyone who was ever a Pickle or involved in the project! Leave a message below!

Seeing that this week is San Diego Comic-Con, and I took my girls to their first con a few weeks ago, I’ve got cons on the brain. Did I ever tell you about my con experiences? Tune in next time!

Did I Ever Tell You About…How I Got My L.E.G.S.?

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Welcome to my first Did I Ever Tell You About…story! This one answers a question some of you may have about something you may have noticed…

I was born Lorie Elaine Gindlesperger. A little long and a lot of letters, especially when you’re in grade school, so I used my initials on the second page of tests and homework. When I got to 4th Grade a clever teacher (or at least a teacher who thought he was clever), started adding an ” ‘s ” to my initials and calling me L.E.G.’s. He would even sing a line from the popular ZZ Top song proclaiming I had legs and I apparently knew how to use them.

L.E.G.S.

I’m L.E.G.S.

Now, my parents said that they never realized that my initials spelled LEG. They liked my first name and my middle name was chosen as an agreement with my older brother (another story for another time). Regardless, by the end of 4th grade I was dubbed LEG’s and I embraced it. I used LEG’s all through high school and college to sign messages and notes. I wrote it on things that belonged to me. People started using it a nickname. I even decided that I wanted my own LEG’s production company, complete with a leggy logo.

L.E.G.’s became my alter ego. It was cute. It was fun. L.E.G.’s was a little more edgy, took more risks and was a lot more fun than I felt more days. Then I met my husband.

At the end of our second date he looked at me and said, “You know this is meant to be don’t you?”

“Oh reeeaaaaallllllly,” I said skeptically.

“Yes. Because you’ll finally have your ‘S’.”

16 months later I did in fact get my ‘S’. When I tell this story my husband likes to say it’s why I married him….well it didn’t hurt.

It’s because of that pesky ” ‘s ” that turned into a “S.” that I use Lorie E.G. Singer as my professional name. It’s a nod to who I was, who I am, and who I want to be.

And that my friends, is how I got my L.E.G.S.!

Do you have a clever or unique nickname? Share the story in comments below!

A Bigger Reboot than I Planned

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In my last post I mentioned that I was planning on rebooting my blog and my approach to things. It turns out that I’m rebooting more than I planned. I lost my job earlier this month and I’m in a position to make bigger decisions than I originally planned as far as what I want to do with the next part of my life.

It’s scary and exciting and overwhelming and thrilling. I am blessed to have an amazing family that supports me and is willing to following me anywhere. I am honored to have friends to come to the aid with leads for jobs and freelance work to keep us afloat. I am fortunate to live in a country where women are able to do anything and be anything. Being without a job is awful, but all things considered I’m feeling pretty fortunate.

As of today I’m a freelance storyteller! Have a story you need tell? I’d be happy to help you do it! I’ll be adding more information in the coming days on the kinds of things I can do to help get your message out to the people who need to hear it.

Please keep me in mind if you need any help and wish me luck!

On the Occasion of a Milestone Birthday

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Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

It’s not the number of candles, it’s the story they tell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve reached a milestone birthday and, as so many of us do, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I haven’t necessarily come up with any great epiphanies, but I’ve been reminded how much I love to tell stories. I’ve realized how much I miss the rush I get from doing creative things for me and how sad it is that I don’t make much time to do creative things for myself.

I’ve thought a lot about telling stories. I see and hear people talk about the best ways to tell stories using social media, video and marketing. And, most of the time they’re telling us why they’re experts. I guess part of the reason I wanted to write this blog was to some how give the impression that I was one of those “experts.” But it’s occurred to me over the last few weeks that the people who are telling the best stories in the mediums I care most about don’t really have time to talk about what experts, gurus or ninjas they are – they’re too busy out there being amazing.

I’ve decided I want to spend a little more time out there trying to be more amazing and less time trying to convince people I’m some sort of expert. What does it mean for the blog? I’m not sure – probably that I’ll focus more on the art of story telling and less on the mediums, but we’ll see. I believe in the power of words, and that any message from marketing to training can be made stronger by rooting it a good story.

Should you feel so inclined to give me a present, let it be this – tell a story today. When someone asks you how your day went don’t just give them a laundry list, tell them a story. A funny memory cross your mind? Write it down (I’d love it if you shared in comments below)! Tell a child a story from your childhood, something funny, something sad, it doesn’t matter. For my Big Birthday, tell a story.

Telling stories is universal. It brings us closer and makes us feel connected. So as a move forward into another decade I’m doing it with an eye on with making a great story. Here’s to a new chapter!

Stories of Olympic Proportion

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Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic f...

Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic flag.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we move into the home stretch at the Olympics I have to make an admission. I’m addicted to the stories that come of the games more than I am the games themselves. I love the stories of the underdogs beating the odds. I love the pictures and video of people whose sacrifice and effort is written across their face as the medal is put around their neck. I love to hear about the families who put everything on the line for the chance of fulfilling a dream.

You can site there and tell me you don’t care about that part, but I’m will to bet you watch them too. It’s not hard to get a bit wrapped in stories like Kayla Harrison, Oscar Pistorius, and Gabby Douglas. They are the stories of overcoming the odds, making sacrifices that most of us cannot and finding support from people who sometimes believe in the athletes before the athletes are able to believe in themselves. They are the stories of the triumph of the human spirit. They are the stories that games should be about.

I appreciate the records being broken, and I will openly admit to keep an eye on the medal count. But at the end of the day it’s the stories I’m tuning in for.

Congratulations to all the athletes who participated in the London Games. No matter where you finished you are a champion.

Tell Me a Story – Childhood Edition

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Books from Childhood

Books from Childhood (Photo credit: Keturah Stickann)

In honor of all the Moms out there, and passing of Maurice Sendak, let’s skip the story this week. Instead, what stories did your mom tell you or read to you? Is there a book that stands out in your memory? Is there a story you really enjoy telling or reading to your kids? Let’s feel the love for kiddie lit and share our favorites.

My contribution: My favorite story to read to kids is Dr. Suess’s All the Places You’ll Go – it’s a great story for kids of any age. As far as what my favorite story from childhood, I really can’t name just one. Some of my favorites were actually books that had belonged to my Mom as a little girl. There were Little Golden Books and A Child’s Book of Poems that lived at my Grandmother’s house after being left behind by one of my older cousins.

What about you? What are some of your favorite childhood stories?

Tell Me a Story Tuesday – Whopper Edition!

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A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...

Is Elvis in the treehouse? A photograph depicts Elvis Presley's bust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lie to me. That’s right, lie to me. Tell me a big fat lie. Make something up that can’t possibly be true. Tell me that Elvis has taken up residence with little green Martians in your treehouse. Tell me that you’re going to spend a few weeks this summer hanging with the merfolk in Atlantis. How big a lie can you tell?

As my tens of followers know, there are usually ground rules for telling stories. But, I’m going to relax those a little this week. I still want you to be (kind of) nice to each other – so no name calling. Other than that we’ll see how things go.

Go ahead, tell me a tall tale. Lie to me Baby!