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TED talks? We had Mom’s DREAD talks.

January 25, 2017

1a1So I’m hearing all these people making comments about TED talks.  You’ve probably heard of these short speeches that convey ideas and wow an audience.  They’re supposed to be the most dynamic verbal presentations that mankind has ever encountered.

Phooey.  They’ve never heard my mom.

You have your TED talks.
We had Mom’s DREAD talks.

Hers weren’t onstage presentations, either.  They were in-the-kitchen orations that held us captive.  Truly captive.  And they weren’t short.

I’ve heard some TED talks, and I guess they have their place in promoting and directing the course of higher learning for the betterment of mankind and all that.  Mom’s DREAD talks, however, were superior.  Her deliveries were so much more powerful.  So much more dynamic.

So much more terrifying.

Allow me to illustrate the huge comparisons:

TED talks are scheduled according to the calendar, a tightly adhered-to schedule for each presentation.
Mom’s DREAD talks were spontaneous, mostly organized on the fly when we kids broke something or shamed the Zockoll family name somehow.

TED talks lean toward a positive shift of venturing into new horizons.
DREAD talks dealt with the negative shift of the penalty of us trespassing into the forbidden horizon of the McGlocklin’s fenced yard.

TED talks deal with the northward impact that technology can have in the distant future.
DREAD talks dealt with the southward impact our rear ends would get with a Fli-Back paddle in the immediate future.

TED talks are more conceptual, designed for the listener to walk away and ponder.
Nobody walked away during a DREAD talk and lived to tell about it.  And her talks weren’t conceptual either – hers usually ended with an impression that was far more than cerebral.

TED talks brags that they cover global issues — hey, Mom dealt with global issues as well.  She promised to knock us from here to Europe if we ever tried to pull a stunt like jumping off the porch roof again.

What an elementary school-age audience we were, the six of us.  Bruce, Gwen, Brent, Brad, Brian and Brock.  We stood in awe.  We stood in respect.  We stood because if we moved she’d go Godzilla on us.

Oh, don’t think we were innocent captives.  We brought on the DREAD talks with actions that invited dynamic rhetoric followed with bombastic conclusions.

  • Brent spitting out of the treehouse right on top of the head of neighbor Lorianne – that brought out the speech on Respect. And a paddling conclusion.
  • My attempt to make Pop Art by melting plastic remnants of our airplane models together, using kitchen matches. While lying on a wooden floor.  In probably the driest wood frame house in Pennsylvania.  That brought out a superb speech on Safety.  And the climax to the presentation was my reunion with the wooden spoon.  (Mom couldn’t find the Fli-Back paddle at the moment.)
  • Bruce’s experimentation into profanity introduced the message on Language. It also introduced Bruce to the taste of soap.
  • The full-house argument over which G.I. Joe won The Battle of the Front Stairs (which resulted in a shoving match and a round of excellent fisticuffs) brought on the DREAD talk on Fairness. And Sharing. And Go to Your Room and Think About It. For Four Hours.


My mother’s generation was not one for the social media and the glitter of the world stage, where people seek to register the response and popularity of their discourse. Mom couldn’t care less about how popular her speeches were.  No, Mom’s was more of the down-home straight-to-the-heart (i.e. jugular) message that portrayed a Life Lesson whether or not it was popular.  The message was more important than the messenger, and looking back, I liked that.

I also think we turned out okay.

I like the great Winston Churchill quote on public speaking:  If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

Winston and my mom would have been very, very good friends.






Brad Zockoll

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