Tag Archives: story

The Great New England Vampire Panic

Bram Stoker published Dracula in 1897, but years before that novel made vampires famous, New England had its own famous living dead. The stories tell of dead relatives rising from the grave to haunt their family – even drink their blood. Townspeople would become so scared they would have the Mayor and Church approve an exhumation and beheading. And if the heart had blood in it – many freshly buried bodies did – they would burn the heart and the family would eat the ashes.

The cause for all this terror was a Tuberculosis epidemic that made bodies look like – from Smithsonian:

“The emaciated figure strikes one with terror,” reads one 18th-century description, “the forehead covered with drops of sweat; the cheeks painted with a livid crimson, the eyes sunk…the breath offensive, quick and laborious, and the cough so incessant as to scarce allow the wretched sufferer time to tell his complaints.” Indeed, symptoms “progressed in such a way that it seemed like something was draining the life and blood out of somebody.”

For country people in the pre-industrial area – with no scientific explanation – it could seem that someone was “feasting on the living tissue and blood.” Read the full story from Smithsonian Magazine:

The Great New England Vampire Panic

 

Continue reading

Happy Native American Day!

September 28 is an official holiday in the state of California – Native American Day. Established in 1998, it is celebrated in our schools and government offices, but mostly ignored everywhere else. Only a few states (South Dakota, Tennessee) have a similar holiday, and there is no Federal recognition.

That’s really sad – we should have a nationally recognized day to celebrate Native Americans.

If you live in California there are some festivities to enjoy. San Diego is hosting a series of events, here is one:

Running Grunion storytelling

Abel Silvas will combine comedy, storytelling and mime, offering an interpretation of Native American history and culture from past to present.

And just outside Los Angeles:

To experience the distinctive cultures of California Indian people firsthand, we invite you to attend a free public celebration, featuring traditional Native American bird songs, music, art, and food.

Finally, in Sacramento Valerie Taliman will receive the Native American Women in Leadership Award:

An award-winning journalist, Taliman received the Richard LaCourse Award from the Native American Journalists Association last year for her groundbreaking investigative series on missing and murdered First Nations women. She continues to highlight violence against women and the racism inherent in violence against Native families. in her articles for ICTMN.

 

Continue reading

J.K. Rowling’s new book comes out Thursday – an adult novel about a social concern

J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, comes out this Thursday – September 27, 2012 – and there’s not a spell in it. The adult novel focuses on small-town politics and poverty in southwestern England. A topic so far from her regular work that her publisher has skipped the publicity campaign. They’re just going to release it, pray to god, and see what happens.

Still, Barnes & Noble expects it to be a top seller. Her name may sell millions by itself, but one wonders how the fans will react. And that has been on Rowling’s mind too, from USA Today:

Rowling says she understands and accepts that many readers would rather she just keep writing about the boy wizard.

“Yes, I understand that point of view. If you love something — and there are things that I love — you do want more and more and more of it, but that’s not the way to produce good work. So as an author I need to write what I need to write. And I needed to write this book.”

I guess that dream of seven more high-quality Harry Potter books is done, and Rowling has loudly proclaimed it so “never, never, never.” Her encore will be adult novels – with a social cause – and, possibly, a children’s book. Maybe that will have some wizards in it?

Even through all this, there is some excitement for the book. Fans know she created amazing characters in Harry Potter and may do the same in The Casual Vacancy. Perhaps, it will be a Dickens-like classic that inspires even as it tells a sad story.

Learn more about the plot and the characters in the USA Today exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling.

 

Continue reading

Teaching class with Pinterest

A great idea to bring visuals into the classroom, from the Pinterest blog:

Not only are these Pinners sharing their knowledge and talents with other people, but they’re also using Pinterest as part of their classes. The teachers will be using their boards for everything from lesson plans, organizing class inspiration, showing off the results of projects (very useful for online education), class collaboration, and saving ideas for future classes. Because Pinterest is so strong in the Maker/Crafter community there is even a class on Pinning With Purpose: Telling Your Story On Pinterest!

 

For the DIY/Maker crowd, Skillshare has a craft semester that looks fun.

 

Continue reading

How the hell did I end up here?

Today, I’ve been thinking about my career as a blogger, asking the question, “how the hell did I end up here?”

I never liked writing essays, stories, or pretty much anything on paper. My grades in English from high school through college were mediocre. Everything changed when I wrote that first blog.

You see I’m a talker, always have been since about age 5. I have this vivid memory of stuttering and being unable to speak my mind. Then my Dad was driving me somewhere, we passed the Delta Center (old name of the Salt Lake City Jazz NBA stadium), and my mind clicked. I was able to say whatever I wanted and instantly started gabbing.

I didn’t stop gabbing, and annoying everyone around me, until I found blogging. It was my perfect place to say whatever I wanted. I loved it.

Coincidentally, I don’t feel the need to talk anymore. It’s all left on the blog and my mind, and relationships, are free to be…well, normal.

At work, things progressed pretty smoothly. I was able to convince my bosses to let me start blogging. It was all about the mission and how to improve our work. They liked it, the community liked it, and I was on my way. The reputation I had built up carried me into my next few jobs where part of why they hired me was the blogging.

Then, finally, it was my job. I was hired to be a corporate blogger. It was a great gig and I was able to do what I loved and get paid for it. The next step occurred to me sometime during that job. Instead of blogging for somebody else, why not do it for myself?

A few months later, on July 1, 2011, I took the plunge. Full-time writing for my own site and my own business, and most especially with my own content.

Of course, this changed everything. I went from corporate sponsorship to advertising based. I had to learn how to write for the public at-large, instead of for a specific group of business people. The transition hasn’t been hard, but I can’t say I’ve found my groove. The main issue is determining how to stand out amongst the millions of websites out there.

Which is where I sit today, trying to find my voice and working on building some momentum for this blog. It feels weird to look-back on my progression like this. There is no way I would have imagined it ending up this way. I mean my job at the time I started blogging was a technical trainer for web 2.0. That’s a pretty solid 90-degree career turn.

I guess that means I don’t know how I got here. It just kinda happened. I’ve been following my obsession with blogging for seven years and have yet to stop. I wonder where it will take me next…

 

***

Continue reading

Speed record set for all-electric airplane – 204.4 mph

Chip Yates does not like sitting still. Just a day after piloting his electric-powered Long EZ airplane to over 200 miles per hour – making him the fastest electric-airplane pilot in the world – he had to disassemble the airplane, pack it up and drive 2,000 miles east to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here at Airventure, Yates continues to be busy answering questions about his record-setting run. And perhaps one of the more surprising answers is that Yates is a not a veteran test pilot. He just got his license in June and has about 58 hours of experience, including the record-setting run last week.

When the electric vehicle pioneer bought the used airplane it had a 118 horsepower, four-cylinder gasoline-powered engine that is fairly standard for a Long EZ. Over the course of several months Yates and his team pulled the four-cylinder engine out of the Long EZ. They then pulled the 193 kW (258 hp), liquid cooled electric motor out of his record setting battery powered motorcycle and mounted it to the back of the Long EZ.

With the very well used (Yates calls it “abused”) lithium polymer battery back from the motorcycle in the back seat, the Long EZ was being prepared as a test bed for some of the technologies Yates needs to develop for his transatlantic flight. But after setting speed records for an electric motorcycle, first up for the Long EZ was a speed run.

 

Keep reading: Wired - The Story Behind a Record-Setting Electric Airplane Flight

 

 

Continue reading

Peter Jackson turns The Hobbit into three films – explained in his own words

From a post by Peter Jackson in Facebook:

 

It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.

It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”

Cheers,

Peter J

Goodbye, Nora Ephron – Thank you for everything

What a shock to learn of Nora Ephron’s death, at 71 years old. What a loss to laughter–among the many other gifts Nora gave us.

I met Nora when I was a secretary at Esquire magazine, not even a year out of college. My then boss, Binky Urban, (now my agent) became one of her closest friends. The two of them, careering around with such enormous élan, knowing they had as much right to be there as any of the guys surrounding them. (More in many cases.) Wow, I thought daily, this is what liberated New Women are like: brilliant, fearless, funny, tough, free with Kleenex for their sobbing younger sisters (and there was a great deal to sob about at the magazine in those days, but that’s another story)

Every time I looked at Nora I couldn’t help it: I imagined the adolescent Nora in a dressing room,  bending down hopefully over a bra, waiting for her breasts to tumble out of her chest to fill in the cups…Her life was just ahead of mine, of my generation, and she was there proving that it was just fine to be outraged and noisy and hysterical so long as you carried it off with well-written finesse.

Nora was a devoted reader of House & Garden, incredibly enough to those who didn’t know her, but to her friends, she was a true hausfrau: she took great pleasure in making a beautiful home, she loved cooking and dinner parties and everything about kitchens. (Come to think of it, she was one of Frances Palmer’s earliest and most devoted customers, she loved her pottery and bought many pieces for her table over the years.) Another way in which she led the way: there is nothing diminishing about a love for home-making. When I think of having it all, I think: kids. jobs. china. Those daily banal pleasures do strengthen and heal–you see it in so many of her movies. True to form, Nora’s favorite pieces were the ones we ran about cooking equipment and utensils. I remember an email right after we ran a piece about pre-mixed cake recipes (all of which we had tested over the weeks)–”Those cake mixes! Running right out to the store. In my bathrobe. Thanks!”

 

ViaGoodbye, Nora Ephron, thank you for everything you gave us

Continue reading

The stop-motion story of a bookmark that comes alive – Much Better Now

Narrative:

The main character is a bookmark, stuck in a forgotten book. Both are connected by chance, in a life marked by standstill in a deserted room.

One day a window is pressed open by a gust of wind, knocking over the book and blowing the bookmark onto the table. As they become separated, the journey begins. While the bookmark watches from a distance, the wind catches the pages, turning them into ocean waves.

Unfolding hands and feet, the bookmark is swept back into the book. With a surfboard taken from the book, the character is given the opportunity to experience its environment in a new way – wipeouts, washouts and nosedives in a wild ocean follow. Just as our hero is willing to resign, the ocean carries it higher and higher on a wave frozen in time – they become one. The wave breaks, releasing everything back into motion.

The bookmark enjoys the ride of its life, carving and floating its way in and out of tubes, until the last page is reached. The book cover closes with a snap, spitting out the surfer. The journey through this episode of its life is over. As the protagonist tries to get back into the book, light reveals other parts of the room, fully packed with bookshelves. It faces endless challenges in its newly gained freedom.

 

A short video – Making of…

Continue reading

22 rules of storytelling – according to Pixar’s Emma Coats

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she’s received working for the animation studio over the years. It’s some sage stuff, although there’s nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.

 

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

 

Read the rest of themThe 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

Continue reading