Rick Steves On Barrack Obama

Graffitti Near Christiana in Copenhagen, Denmark

Graffitti Near Christiana in Copenhagen, Denmark

A few days ago, Rick Steves the noted travel writer and PBS-TV commentator posted a rather long list of articles concerning Europe’s reaction to the new president-elect of the United States, Barrack Obama. If you are interested check out this page on the Rick Steves website. If you do not know who Rick Steves is, then you will have to tune him in on your local PBS station. Check your local listings for date and times.
This church is located in the middle of lake Bled in Slovenia
This church is located in the middle of lake Bled in Slovenia

Anyway Rick Steves has been putting out lots of interesting travel literature about the ins and outs of traveling in Europe for over twenty years. He has covered the Continent from before the fall of the Berlin Wall and has does an excellent job of providing great travel advice about the opening of Eastern Europe as a travel destination. He even gets himself invoved in political or what might be described as political-cultural commentary. Such was the case last Monday when he posted a list of newspapers that were delving into the recent election and how it was being perceived in European capitols. These articles make an excellent read and are worth checking out because the underscore how  the new president-elect is being received in Europe.

Spruce Up Your Blog With NASA Images

ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA

Earth At Twilight credit: ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA

 

There is a great website put up by  Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP) of NASA called Astronomy Picture of the Day. Everyday a fantastic picture is posted, concerning some sort of visual image from outer space. Sometimes the pictures are even taken from the ground with the naked eye. Other pictures are taken from huge telescopes, while some of the most spectacular images come from the Hubble and other spacecraft.

NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage  (STScI/AURA);

Spiral Galaxy NGC 3370 as seen from the hubble spacecraft, Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA);

Images from the NASA can sometimes be used on your blog or website as background graphics or simple images associated with text. Other pictures are copyrighted and one must contact the maker for permission. Since the pictures are all displayed by NASA, I do not see why permission would not be easily granted. Enclosed at the end of this post is a link to the image guidelines. Check out this next photo that was posted by NASA on Halloween 2006.
Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF

SH2 136: A Spooky Nebula: Credit: Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF

If you are interested in using NASA images on your web, here are the guidelines.

The Red and Blue Of Barrack Obama’s Victory

A red abstract photograph

A red abstract photograph

 

On November 4, 2008 history was made in the United States with the dramatic victory of Barrack Obama over his rival John McCain. Today president-elect Barrack Obama is headed for the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How did the Democratic candidate beat the ever-popular Vietnam War hero and P.O.W.

Very simply it boiled all down to mathematics and a handful of battleground states. Over the past few years the United States has been divided into red and blue areas and battleground states. The red areas vote Republican, the blue areas vote Democratic and the battleground states, which include Ohio, florida, Indiana, Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado can go either way. This year Barrack Obama did very well in almost every battle ground state, thus assuring the Illinois senator a solid victory.

That’s the red and blue of it. How this came to be, I’m not exactly sure, but this is how our polotics will be defined, by afew crucial battleground states.

Blue in graphic design

Blue in graphic design

First Day of NaMoWriMo

The Cat's Eye Nebula

The Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how my eye’s are going to look by the whole time this whole affair is done, provided I make it that far. I have written 1900 words today a pace that would give me a total of 57,000 words if I can write at that pace for thirty days straight. If today is any indication it will definitely be a struggle.

 

My first chapter came easy, but I struggled through the second chapter of my writing. I had expected to get more done because I have the day off, but I piddled around doing this and that and that and this. One of big distractions was going to other blogs and websites and making comments about my first day of NaMoWriMo, not a good way to begin the day. Anyway I hope tomorrow goes better than today. Fortunately, I get a break because of the change in time. How thoughtful that they could move the week in which we change time back a week just so NaMo writers could get an extra hour in. That was very thoughtful.

So long for now,

 

Henri

NaMoWriMo Begins

An advertisement of a watch in a window.

An advertisement of a watch in a window.

Well folks it’s time to begin the NaMoWriMo novel writing project, except I think I am going to pass until the morning comes. I’m too tired right now and I feel my efforts will be rendered useless unless I get a good night’s rest.
Still it has been fun signing up for the event at the NaMo site and putting out some feedback on their forums. I can’t wait to get started really. The task is awesome, but I think I am up for it.
Check back here in a couple of days and see how I am doing. I will at least have another picture posted.

The Friendship Is a real Ship

The Friendship is at berth in Salem, Massachusetts

The Friendship is at berth in Salem, Massachusetts

 

Here is the sailing ship, called the Friendship. It’s official sailing classification is a ship. This means that the boat has three masts, which are all square-rigged. This boat is a replica that was built in 1998. The original ship was built in 1797 and traded all around the world until it was seized by the british during the war of 1812.

 

 

 

 

This new replica makes a great tour (when it is port) for anyone who is visiting Salem or the greater Boston area. Not only do you get to walk on board the ship, but you get to visit the custom house, where Nathaniel Hawthorne once worked. It is just several hundred feet away. These sites are part of the Salem National Maritime Historical Site in Salem, Massachusetts.

 This tour is a traveler’s bargain, for once you have forked out your five dollars you get to go two seperate walking tours through the maritme site. Both tours are very good, but I particularly enjoyed this one for you got to spend about a half an hour on the Friendship.

The Amistad under sail.

The Amistad under sail.

 

Here is another replica sailing ship. This is the Amistad made famous by the movie. It was built in New London, Connecticut, just a few years before the Frienship was reconstructed. It is called a cargo schooner and in this case its cargo it was slaves. The ship sailed into Portland Harbor this summer and was berthed at the Maine State Pier, where visitors could take a tour.

Salem, Massachusetts Is Haunted

A Mummy In Salem

A Mummy In Salem

I was in Salem last week just in time for

“haunted happenings” in October. These take place in October and the whole affair is like some sort of strange morf between Halloween and “The Salem Witch Trials”. Whatever the reasoning, the combination works, because people from Boston and all over New England come in droves to celebrate. Reportedly, the place gets very busy on weekends leading up to the “big day” or night actually, which falls on a Friday night. However, I was in town on Tuesday, so things were quiet, but still the town was all decked out for the “Night Before All Saints Day”, better known as Halloween. Still it was fun to wander around and check the place out. I had some business to attend to in Boston, so I left at 5 PM.

Instead of concentrating on the solemn history of the Witch Trials (more about that later) I headed for Derby Wharf and the
Salem Maritime Historic Site, where for five American dollars, I received a grand tour of the Friendship ( a three-masted square rigged ship) the Customs House (where Nathaniel Hawthorne once worked) and the Derby House, where the prosperous merchant lived. This part of Salem’s history is quite extensive, but usually overshadowed by the infamous Witch Trials.

Why we are so attracted to the macabre, I cannot say, but this is certainly the case here in Salem.

Inside the prosperous merchat's house in Salem, Massachusetts

Inside the prosperous merchant's house

Y-Eye-Right (From West To East)

Why I write?

I’m more of a visual person that a literary one, but still I found out that sometimes I had to write about my art to explain it to the world.

Was this really necessary? I think so, though it sounds kind of hokey, I’m aware of that. But really it was a part of getting the message across. So I kept writing in a journal to accompany many of the images that I was constantly making in my sketchbooks and drawing books. This went on for ten years or maybe longer.

Then in the fall of 2003 at age 50, I made my first journey to Europe. It was a real eye opener, as I roamed from one old world cobblestone city to another. I started in Copenhagen, then journied through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and back to Germany again. I ended up in Frankfurt; a new city courtesy of Allied bombers, where I boarded an IcelandicAir plane and flew back to the U.S.

Postcard from Prague

Postcard from Prague

 

This picture best expresses some of the things I experienced, while walking around  Prague. This city is a gateway to Eastern Europe and nowhere is that better seen than on the marvellous Gothic Bridge that spans the Vltava River.

Prague is an eerie city and a photographer’s delight. I made many photograph’s while I was here but nothing describes my experience better than this photograph.

Upon my return to the good ole USA, I started writing. Everyday I was up and at it, as if I was writing for a living. After a month of this, I had to go back to work, but finally last month I sold and published the first thing that I wrote upon my return to the U.S. It is called from “West To East” and here is the link. http://www.cstn.org/reports/europe/bus_europe_2008.html

In short this is how I became a part-time writer.

22 Literary Quotes That Just Might Tickle Your Funny Bone

 

Golden retriever gnawing on a bone, from wikipedia, photo by Denhulde

Golden retriever gnawing on a bone, from wikipedia, photo by Denhulde

Afternoon Dog Day Inspires Strange Activities

The day after earth day found me hanging out in the Southeast, waiting for 5 o’clock to arrive so I could go rent a pressure washer to clean the outside of the house where I am staying for a few weeks. (I guess this proves that there is no such thing as a free lunch.) Anyway instead of putting ass in chair and hammering out a new story or rewriting an old one, I decided to research literary quotes. (Procrastination is a wonderful thing) Here is what I came up with.

The Quotes

1. “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

2.”If with water you fill up your glasses, you will never write anything wise.” by Thomas Moore

3. “Creativity is just intelligence having fun,” Albert Einstein

4. “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess,” Oscar Wilde

5. “How could you live and have no story to tell,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

6. “A room without books is like a body without a soul,” Marcus Cicero

7. “You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books on your head like crazy hats,” Ray Bradbury

8. “”A children’s story that is only read by children is a bad children’s story,” by C.S. Lewis

9. “Think left and think right and think high and think low. Oh, the thinks that you can think up if you really try,” Dr. Suess

10. “If you’re selling eggs, don’t piss off the chickens,” source unknown

11. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” Oscar Wilde

12. “Mistakes are portals of discovery,” James Joyce

13. “Fiction’s my addiction. Perhaps I need a prescription,” the Cat in the Hat

14. “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is,” Mark Twain

15. “Don’t bend, don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsession, mercilessly,” Franz Kafka

16. “Writers live twice,” Natalie Goldberg

17. “I always start writing with a clean clean piece of paper and a dirty mind,” Patrick Dennis

18. “Writers are always selling someone out,” Joan Didion

19. “It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it,” Jack Kerouac

20. “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others,” Virginia Woolf

21. “The way to hell is paved with adverbs,” Stephen King

22. “If you find yourself going through hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill

The bookkeeper by van Dijk

The bookkeeper by van Dijk

 

In Conclusion

Well that’s it for today. My list of literary quotes for those with nothing better to do than read literary blogs. Perhaps Carl Sandburg

said it best when he penned this little gem: “Beware of advice – even this.”

Time to get writing.   HB

The Earth Has Changed But Earth Day Remains the Same

Earth Day flag_PD

The Original Earth Day Flag as designed by John McConnell

 

Earth Day’s Popular Beginning

Earth Day was first proposed in a United Nations UNESCO meeting by John McConnell in the fall of 1969. By spring 1970, the American event had become a reality with Earth Day celebrations occurring across many US cities and campuses. The largest celebration occurred in NYC, where Mayor John Lindsey, closed several major thoroughfares and as a result over a million people flooded Central Park to partake in the festivities.

Earth Day was assigned to late April so as not to conflict with Easter, Passover or Spring Break

Earth Day was assigned to late April so as not to conflict with Easter, Passover or Spring Break

Why April 22? 

From the  U.N. meeting, the original concept was picked up by Gaylord Nelson of the U.S. Senate, who envisioned the holiday as an environmental teach-in on American campuses. The late April date was chosen, so as not to conflict with final exams, spring break or religious holidays. The first Earth Days were popular, well-attended public events that seemed like a carry-over from the sit-in demonstrations, which were so popular during the sixties. Although environmental awareness has increased dramatically, since the first Earth Day, environmental action has not kept pace. Much of the reason may be that environmental challenges are presenting themselves much faster, thus making immediate solutions difficult.

 

 

Polar bears investing the USS Honolulu near the North Pole, photo from wikipedia......credit Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy

Polar bears investing the USS Honolulu near the North Pole, photo from wikipedia……credit Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy

 

The Earth Is Changing

Even though most of the US is experiencing lower than normal temperatures for the 2013-2014 winter, it is generally believed by earth scientists that overall, the planet is slowly growing warmer. The reason for this paradox is complex, but it is generally believed among the scientific community that melting arctic ice has created a Pacific high, which is capable of redirecting weather systems through Canada before they drop into the United States. These unusual global events are prime material for an Earth Day teach-in, but co-ordinating community action to counter these problems is a much more difficult scenario.

Do you know a good ghost story?

 

Ghost stories come in all sizes and shapes

Ghost stories come in all sizes and shapes, from Wikipedia

Tales from the Supernatural Can Be Found Anywhere

Not too long around, I was hitching out of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in northern New Mexico. I got a ride from a gentleman from west Texas, who was returning to the Angel Fire area after a day of skiing on the western flanks of this most impressive mountain range. He had not had any problems with his his little condo, but a friend of his, who had just purchased an old miner’s cabin near the Enchanted Circle, had not been so lucky.

According to my newfound friend, this other person had just bought a mountain hut, right near the spot, where two desperados had been hung about the turn of the century. (For all you youngsters that’s about 1900, not 2000) Supposedly these two ne’er der waals had robbed a bank in Las Vegas, NM (not Nevada) and been caught red-handed with the loot. Instead, of taking the duo back to civilization, the local posse decided to hang the pair right then and there.

For the new property owner, the first night in the newly-purchased abode went without incident until way after midnight, when all of a sudden there was an incredibly loud banging on the side of the building. The owner rushed outside immediately, but not a soul could be seen. After a recurrance of this sequence of events, the new owner abandoned his property, vowing never to buy a haunted house again.

 

Sexy Ghost?

Sexy Ghost?

Do Ghosts Care About Their Appearance?

 

Ghost of Brown_lady

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall (England) as photographed by Hubert C. Provand, from Wikipedia

 

Spirit Photography

The advent of the camera has lead to increased specualation that there is a shadow world filled with spiritual beings that exists side-by-side with our own reality. Though no concrete proof has ever been proven, many people believe in communication with those who have departed the world of the living.

Ghost

The Hammersmith Ghost was reportedly seen by several residents of London in 1804. This engraving published in the London press commemorates these sightings, from Wikipedia.

 

Ghost Stories Are Full of History Lessons

The Hammersmith ghost of London was so real that local residents set up patrols to watch out for the ghost, who was believed to have made several attacks on people walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, a real person was mistaken for the ghost and shot to death. The shooter pleaded the case as an incident of mistaken identity, but the jury did not buy the story. In the end a plasterer returning home from work at night loss his life because he resembled an apparition.

Ghost-002

Ghost Stories Are Everywhere

Walk into almost any bookstore and you will most likely find several versions of these intriguing tales. It doesn’t matter if you are in the remote mining country of the Wild West or the windswept beaches of the Atlantic; there are bound to be some spicy tales floating around the living realm of the local populace. All you have to is search out the tall tales……or maybe you will encounter your own supernatural apparition……and get a chance to write about that.

 

The Passing of A Literary Giant

one-hundred-years-of-solitude-by-gabriel-garcia-marquez

Cover for the Marquez novel, One Hundred Tears of Solitude, from Wikipedia

One of Those Rare Reads

Even though I read One Hundred Years of Solitude over 30 years ago, the vivid images and spicy storytelling  still sticks in my mind. Even today, this tragic-comedy from the Caribbean coast of Columbia, counts as one of the most impressive novels that I have ever read. For the English-reading audience, this is a tale that introduced “Magic Realism” to the world, as well as a whole flurry of capitivating Latin American authors. For years, writers like Pablo Neruda, Carlos Fuentes and Jorge Luis Borges had been presenting their slightly skewed version of Hispanic reality to the world; but now with the stories of Marquez came a new label. Loosely defined, magic realism combines the advent of magical happenings with the mundane reality of day-to-day life. Its roots are distinctly Central and South American with authors like Alejo Carpentier, José Ortega y Gasset and Arturo Uslar-Pietri paving the way for a modern group of practitioners that stretches around the globe.

Gabriel_Garcia_Marquez_1984

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wearing a “sombrero vueltiao”, a head garment that is popular along the Caribbean coast of Columbia.

Marquez the Writer

Gabriel (or “Gabo, as he is affectionately known by many) was born in a coastal city of Columbia, called Aracataca. Aracataca is a small, isolated city on the Caribbean, where many of Marquez’s stories are set. The special uniqueness of this  hot tropical land permeates Gabriel’s writing.

The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Wall in Aracatac, Columbia

The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Wall in Aracatac, Columbia

About the Region

Aracataca is a river town located on a South American river of the same name. The coastal lowlands here are hot and humid year round. As a result the area supports an active agricultural commerce that includes bananas, palm oil, sugar cane, cotton and rice. Thanks to the success of the United Fruit Company in cultivating large plantations, the coastal lands  have sometimes fallen under the label of “Banana Republic“. It is from this  isolated birthplace and childhood home that Gabo has fashioned most of his stories.

Marquez and Castro

Marquez and Castro

In early 1959, Gabriel Garcia Marquez went to Cuba as a journalist, covering the revolution that eventually replaced Juan Batista with Fidel Castro. Though not always in complete agreement with the bearded guerilla fighter, the two men became close friends. This alliance on occasion brought criticism from other Latin American writers, who felt that Marquez was ignoring dissidents imprisioned by the Castro regime. Nonetheless, Castro definitely admired the Columbian author and  is quoted as referring to Marquez as having “the goodness of a child and a cosmic talent.”

Too Bad It Only Happens Every Four Years

Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, source Kremblin, from Wikipedia
Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from Kremblin.re courtesy of wilipedia

Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from Kremblin.re courtesy of wilipedia

Skating Under the Palms

Actually, the competitors are not performing directly under the palms. Instead, the skating events take place underneath the roof of a multi-million dollar sports complex, specially built for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It’s only when the athletes walk outside that they encounter the swaying palms, stately standing beside the shores of the Black Sea. This unusual situation is due to the fact that Sochi is a port city, situated at almost exactly the same latitude as Nice, France……..and much like its Mediterranean counterpart, Sochi is a coastal resort that quickly gives way to massive 5,000 foot peaks, which are snow-covered during the winter months. This is where all the alpine events take place….at a previous existing ski resort, called Roza Khutor located at Krasnaya, Polyana.   

The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.

The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.

Most Expensive Olympics Ever

The original sum allotted by the Russians for building and improving the Olympic site came in at 12 billion. However, that figure has been far surpassed with the total cost estimate now exceeding 50 billion. No host nation has ever spent this much on a sporting event that only lasts two weeks. Nonetheless, the facilities will undoubtedly remain in place for many years to come, so that many other sporting events can take place at these sites.

Promenade_and_beach_in_Sochi during the summertime

Promenade and beach in Sochi during the summertime
photo by RIA Novosti archive, from wikipedia

On Second Thought

Considering all the money that Russia has poured into building the appropriate sports venues, hotels and even upgrading the electric grid for Sochi and the surrounding area, it is probably a good thing that these world events only occur every four years. Not only does this save money, but also the extra time allows  athletes plenty of time to train and prepare for the various contests. Besides the four year wait adds to the drama, when finally the next set of games rolls around and viewers from all around the world can watch the action and rout for their favorite participants and nation (and or nations).

Go Team USA.

Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia

Sochi Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia

Knee-deep In Garbage, Firing Rockets at the Moon ( remembering Pete Seeger)

A Trip to the Moon  Image Credit: Georges Méliès, Wikipedia

A Trip to the Moon
Image Credit: Georges Méliès, Wikipedia

“There is hope for the world,” Pete Seeger

The Irascible Troubadour

Pete Seeger first heard the banjo, while traveling through the southern Appalachians with his mother and his stepfather. As it turned out, Pete’s love for the strange sound made by the five-stringed instrument would become a lifetime obsession that would carry him around the world. After working with the prominent folklorist, Alan Lomax, Pete went on to perform with the Weavers. However, Pete’s left-leaning political persuasions caught up with him during the McCarthy era, when he was blacklisted and even imprisoned for a while. The irascible troubadour emerged from the harsh experience to become one of America’s most well-known folksingers and protest performers. After becoming a stalwart of the sixties civil rights and anti-war musical scene, Pete moved on to meet the demands of a worldwide audience.

Pete Seeger at age 88, from Wikipedia, photo by Anthony Pepitone

Pete Seeger at age 88, from Wikipedia, photo by Anthony Pepitone

A Legend Passes On

I saw the headline on the internet the other day. Pete Seeger had died in his sleep at age 94. My first reaction was quite simple……. One can be a rabble rouser and professional shit-stirrer and still live to a ripe old age. And then there is the corollary theory that it is also possible to make a decent living by singing protest songs. Joan Baez did it, Bob Dylan did it, Phil Ochs did it, but nobody did it quite like Pete Seeger….or for as long.

Flash Music

Nowadays we have flash fiction, but Mr. Seeger, the wandering folksinger, was doing the abbreviated musical version, long before the internet made brevity the status quo. Nothing sticks in my mind better than a one line song he sang on one of the late night talk shows (probably Johnny Carson). I think the song went  like this; “Here we are knee-deep in garbage, firing rockets at the moon”. That was it….one line and the song was over and flash music was invented. And Pete had made his point, as only the roving minstrel could do.

Important Update

Nowadays, our rockets at the moon have gotten much more sophisticated. If you don’t believe me, just check out the impressive images sent back to earth by the Hubblecraft, the Cassini spacecraft and the Mars Rover. However, we are still knee-deep in garbage. And the problem seems to be growing.

Pete Seeger’s Favorite Quote

“It is very dangerous to allow the wrong kind of music in the republic”,  Plato.

My Favorite Pete Seeger Quote

“Don’t let your schoolin’ get in the way of your education,” Pete Seeger.

The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble  Image Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA; Reprocessing: Steven Marx, Hubble Legacy Archive

The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble
Image Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA; Reprocessing: Steven Marx, Hubble Legacy Archive

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks

The New Meadowland Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey during the first ever Jets-Giants pre-season game in 2010, from Wikipedia

The New Meadowland Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey during the first ever Jets-Giants pre-season game in 2010, from Wikipedia

The League Champions

I know this is a bit late, but I would still like to congratulate the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks on their respective AFC and NFC championship victories last Sunday. In just over a week these two teams will meet in New Jersey to decide the pro football champion. This is Superbowl XLVIII and the contest will be a bit of an experiment, as it is the first Super Bowl set in an outdoor, cold weather stadium.

Nothing like this 1966 North Dakota blizzard will affect Super Bowl XLVIII, photo by N.D. Highway Dept., from wikipedia

Nothing like this 1966 North Dakota blizzard will affect Super Bowl XLVIII, photo by N.D. Highway Dept., from wikipedia

What To Expect

Weather-wise the days preceding Superbowl XLVIII look to be bitter cold and windy, but temperatures should moderate by game day with a game time temperature expected to be just above freezing with no precipitation in the forecast. This should allow for a classic showdown between Peyton Manning’s high octane aerial attack and the much-praised secondary of the Seahawks.

Punxsatawney Phil will not attend Super Bowl XLVIII, even though the game is being played on Groundhog's Day, photo from CNN

Punxsatawney Phil will not attend Super Bowl XLVIII, even though the game is being played on Groundhog’s Day, photo from CNN

Superbowl Sunday On Groundhog’s Day

No way around it, this is an unlikely meeting of two unique American events, which have almost nothing in common. Contrary to popular belief Punxsatawney Phil, Buckeye Chuck (Ohio), General Beauregard Lee (Georgia), Sir Walter Wally (North Carolina) or Wiarton Willie (Ottawa) will not be in attendance during thee popular sporting contest……..though the likeness of any of these rodents may be seen in the stands during the game.

However, there is an outside possibility that the real Staten Island Chuck, who resides in NYC, may make an actual appearance and subsequent weather prediction. Then again it has been reported that Chuck is very disappointed that since neither the Giants or Jets have made it to the big showdown, he may by-pass the whole affair……..And for those of you who may opt for an appearance at the annual Groundhog’s Day celebration in Punxsatawney, instead of the late-afternoon grid-iron contest, all indications suggest that the formal Pennsylvania event will be just as popular as ever. In fact, due to the close proximity of the two locales, avid party-goers will be able to attend both happenings if they so choose.

And Rough Is a Might Tame Name, drawing of bucking bronc by Will james

“And Rough Is a Might Tame Name”, drawing of bucking bronc by Will James

My Prediction

I expect Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to win the superbowl, but the reasoning behind this prediction is rather unusual. Actually, it is based on a very strong phenomena called sibling rivalry. You see since Peyton’s brother, Eli, has two Super Bowl victories (and MVP awards) and Peyton has only one. So,  I would look for Peyton to even the score on Sunday evening. I know it takes a lot more than a good quarterback to win a football game much less a Super Bowl (just look at Archie Manning’s struggle as a NFL QB). But still, when all is said and done, I figure that Peyton Manning, with the inspired help of the entire Broncos squad, will find a way to get it done. I guess you might say that this is the weird nature of sibling rivalry.

There’s No Such Thing As An Original Story

Originally posted on Offbeat and Quirky:

Painting of Adam and Eve inside Abreha and Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia photo by Bernard Gagnon from Wikipedia

Painting of Adam and Eve inside Abreha and Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia
photo by Bernard Gagnon from Wikipedia

The Ancient Art of Storytelling

My guess is that storytelling has been around for a very long time, perhaps just about as long as the world’s oldest profession. Who knows the first story ever told may be directly located to the practice of the first profession. Anyway, stories  are very old, as exemplified by the pictured mural of Adam and Eve, one of the oldest stories in the bible. However, it is most likely storytelling predates some of the oldest biblical tales, for I’m sure that the ancient hunters and gathering had lots to say around the campfire at night.

Many modern tales can find their roots in the plays of William Shakespeare, painting of William Shakespeare by John Taylor

Many modern tales can find their roots in the plays of William Shakespeare, painting of William Shakespeare by John Taylor

Catchy Phrase

Today I’m stuck in Santa Fe, NM waiting for a bus, so I thought I…

View original 341 more words

There’s No Such Thing As An Original Story

Painting of Adam and Eve inside Abreha and Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia photo by Bernard Gagnon from Wikipedia

Painting of Adam and Eve inside Abreha and Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia
photo by Bernard Gagnon from Wikipedia

The Ancient Art of Storytelling

My guess is that storytelling has been around for a very long time, perhaps just about as long as the world’s oldest profession. Who knows the first story ever told may be directly located to the practice of the first profession. Anyway, stories  are very old, as exemplified by the pictured mural of Adam and Eve, one of the oldest stories in the bible. However, it is most likely storytelling predates some of the oldest biblical tales, for I’m sure that the ancient hunters and gathering had lots to say around the campfire at night.

Many modern tales can find their roots in the plays of William Shakespeare, painting of William Shakespeare by John Taylor

Many modern tales can find their roots in the plays of William Shakespeare, painting of William Shakespeare by John Taylor

Catchy Phrase

Today I’m stuck in Santa Fe, NM waiting for a bus, so I thought I would spend the day browsing the library. While doing so, I came across a book on screenplays written by a man named Wells Root and published in 1979. Thumbing through the book I was amazed as to how relevant the written passages were, even though, the most recently mentioned movie was the Midnight Cowboy, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. One of the chapters was titled, “There’s No Such Thing As An Original Movie’ and this, has now become the inspiration for this post. According to Mr. Root, there was a college professor who bet his students that they could not find a truly original screenplay or movie. Supposedly, the teacher never had to pay up on his challenge.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, from Wikipedia

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, from Wikipedia

Is Aristotle Still Important?

Aristotle and his three acts was in important in 1979 and is still important today. And thanks to a popular little book about screenwritng, called Save the Cat, Aristotle actually may be making a comeback among writers and storytellers. And somehow recent trends show that the three act formula first put forth by Aristotle way back when and perfected by Hollywood late in the 20th century is just as strong as ever. Furthermore, American movies have become so rigid in their structure that more experimentation and breakaways from the magic formula may be in order.

Illustration for Little Red Riding Hood by Walter Crane  from Wikipedia

Illustration for Little Red Riding Hood by Walter Crane from Wikipedia

36 Types of Stories

Since Wells Root was co-screenwriters for one of my favorite western comedies, Texas Across the River, I delved into his book as best I could. One of the more interesting ideas he espoused was the concept that stories had be broken down into 36 different types. This idea is nothing new, it’s just that a concrete number has not often assigned to the varieties of tall tales that a screenwriter may draw from. Even Wikipedia has devoted a page to the theory of story classification…… So there you go….that’s what I learned at the library today.

Little Big Man Revisited

The Custer Fight, painting by Charles Marion Russell

The Custer Fight, painting by Charles Marion Russell

Watching Old Movies

A few weeks ago, the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe sponsored a free showing of the 1970 classic, Little Big Man. The film starred Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Faye Dunaway and Richard Mulligan, as General Custer. The western spoof was a box office hit, but just as important was the reality that the film adaption, which came from a Thomas Berger novel of the same name, opened the door to Indian awareness in American cinema. 

Smoke Signals poster for the Miramax film by the same name

Smoke Signals poster for the Miramax film by the same name

Furthermore, the movie launched a new wave of Native American actors, actresses, writers and directors, some of whom are still active today. One of these persons, a film director from the Cheyenne-Arapaho nation by the name of Chris Eyres, introduced the film and attempted to explain what the film meant to him, even though he was too young to appreciate the film, when it was first released. Chris Eyres, who teaches filmmaking in Santa Fe, is best known as director of Smoke Signals, which is drawn from a Sherman Alexie’s story, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona”.

Chief Dan George from Wikipedia

Chief Dan George from Wikipedia

The Big Names

The cast of Little Big Man really helped to make the movie, for it featured a couple of the big names at the time. These included Dustin Hoffman as Little Big Man and Faye Dunaway who did a great job in portraying an erotic preacher’s wife (Louise Pendrake) and an eccentric hooker with a mild Southern accent (Lulu Kane). The movie also got a big name director, Arthur Penn, and a seasoned musician, John Hammond to write the music score.

The Newcomers

Little Big Man helped launched the career of Chief Dan George, a Native American from Canada, who did not begin his acting career until he was 60 years old. Dan made Little Big Man, when he close to 70 and followed with several other film appearances, including a minor role in the Outlaw Josey Wales. Richard Mulligan portrayed General George Armstrong Custer as a military man with a severe psychosis. It was Mulligan’s biggest role of his career, even though his portrayal of Custer as a man on the edge of insanity is probably not historically accurate. Custer may have made some bad military decisions and severely underestimated the number of Indian warriors in the area, but there is little evidence that he was off his rocker. Still, the idea of Custer, as unstable, still has considerable appeal today.

The Shootout by Red and Grooms portrays the Cowboy and Indian fight in humorous terms.

The Shootout by Red and Grooms portrays the Cowboy and Indian fight in humorous terms.

Indian Humor

Most importantly, Little Big Man, introduced  history of the “Old West” from a Native American perspective, along with Indian Humor. This second link goes directly to a passage from Vine Deloria’s classic book, “Custer Died For Your Sins”, a witty and humorous title that superbly underscores the concept of “Indian Humor”.