I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
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A flawed fling at 15 minutes of fame
By Barry Schrader.................................September
My attempt to grab the brass ring one more time
this late in life did not bear fruit.
The Museum of Science and Industry
in Chicago announced a nationwide competition this summer to
find one person who could live in a glass cubicle at the museum
for a month and share his or her experiences with the outside
world through blogging, Facebook and other 21st Century means.
The prize was $10,000 and fame as the star attraction at the
To enter, I just had to produce a one-minute
video, write a 500-word essay and fill out a comprehensive 10-page
This was just my cup of tea, I
thought, and promptly began my quest for this brass ring
which seemed like a slam dunk since I had been a science writer
for 20 years of my journalistic career, had worked at two premier
U.S. nuclear research laboratories, had made videos and did TV
tapings during the course of my work. How could anyone top those
My paperwork was done in time, and
the only thing left was making a video, something concise, creative
and catchy. So I enlisted the aid of three DeKalb kids from the
Perry family Lori, Marie and Kenny driving them
and their mother Tammy to the museum for a daylong look at the
exhibits. At the end, I used a video camera to tape a quick interview
in front of the Burlington Zephyr.
Since I once
was featured in a PBS documentary with a few others from the
town of Livermore, Calif., regarding the saga of its lost time
capsule, I figured this should be a piece of cake. It was two
days before the deadline when I shot the video. But when I played
it back at home, to my chagrin, our voices had been obliterated
by background noise at the cavernous museum. It was totally incomprehensible.
I called the three kids together, and we re-taped it in my living
room, minus the museum backdrop. So I still had a chance.
The three Perry children featured in the museum video,
on location in Chicago,
are from left Marie,
Kenny and Lori.So near but yet so far: Barry stands outside the glass
cubicle he wanted to inhabit for a Month at the Museum
Then on Aug. 25, the museum announced there had been more than
1,500 entries submitted from every state and a couple foreign
countries. That made me a little worried. And when the museum
aired some of the best entries on its website, my heart sank.
Those other videos had been produced by talented young people
with a knack for wildly clever filmmaking, definitely not from
But there was a slim chance they
would read my essay and review my resume. The deadline passed,
but no phone call from the museum staff. Then the fateful e-mail
arrived, saying they had picked the top 10 semifinalists and
thanks to the rest of us for entering. It was a devastating blow.
I was a bit upset to see that most all the finalists were 30-something
and looked so vigorous and perky.
To assuage my
bruised ego, I did a background check on the Museum of Science
and Industrys Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Rob Gallas, and I could only reach one conclusion: He was once
a White Sox senior vice president, and somewhere in my full disclosure
documents they must have learned I am a second-generation Cubs
fan. So thats the price one has to pay for being a loyal
supporter of a team that always mumbles next year will
be our year.
Well, if they run this Man
in the Museum promotion again in 2011, I will list myself
as a DeKalb County Liners fan; who could fault that? And that
elusive brass ring is still hanging out there just waiting for
me to return for another grab at it
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115