Saturday, August 18, 2007
I am officially in Utah back with Casey so I am getting back to the rhythm of things. In 12 days will be the 18th Annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, UT. I noticed that for the 2nd Annual Timpanogos Storytelling Conference, our professor--David Novak--will be one of the two national tellers presenting.
Until we tell again,
Thursday, August 9, 2007
It is Tuesday afternoon and I had a chance to sit down and write a quick note to let everyone know I am back home. I am going through that readustment phase, that is hard to explain to anyone who has not ever left their state for a summer. Aaron had kept up everything on the home front. The garden looks great and the house was clean, even the laundry was done. I am all unpacked, tonight when Aaron gets off work we will spend some quality time together freezing corn. Tomorrow I am off to meet with the other 1st grade teachers to sort out our new school supplies and reading books. i will find out if my boxes have been moved and if I can get into my new room to set up for the school year. I had a relaxing day at home, after our return from Fargo. Kyle had his wisdom teeth removed. He is doing great! Although he is a tough patient, he argued with the nurse when she needed to use the wheel chair to take him down to the car, and he argues with me about taking the pain medication and antibiotics. He said, after playing hockey this is nothing. Just makes you want to play hockey, Right!!!! We had a fun trip back with a little time to see a few things on the way back, like Opryland, The arches in St. Louis, and the KC Royals stadium and the KC Chiefs Arrowhead stadium. We got to Vermillion, SD by about 5:00 Tues, night. We were pleased that we were making such good time. Then our quick stop at our daughter, AJ's turned into aout a 4 hour stop, so we didn't get home until after 1:30 a.m. It made for a short night with Aaron working on Wed. and me taking sister-in-law Sarah back to Fargo for her to get her car and start across the state to her home in western ND. I have one story to tell on them...we were on our way to Jonesborough to hear Barbara at the ISC, I had let Sarah sit in front so she could see the mountains and Aaron was driving. Sarah wanted to stop at the used book store to check on the Dr. Seuss books, When we got to Market Street I told them, " When you go over a hill, watch for a yellow van that says book store." They went over the first hill and slowed way down. I asked them what they were doing. They were looking for the yellow van. A hill would mean one hill to them and one hill was more than they would see in the Red River Valley. So I found out I needed to be more explicit in my directions. FYI: On the way home Kyle Charles ( thus the KC) called us to tell us the football coach had called and asked him to come out for football. They needed him. We already had the surgery scheduled, so he will have to decide what he wants to do after he heals up. I wish everyone the best in all their projects coming up this fall. Thanks for all you gave to the class, it was a great experience to work with everyone. Take care! Brenda
Tuesday, my Practicum Mentor has invited me to attend her Panama City Storytelling Guild meeting to tell and meet. Also, provided me some sound advice to set up some giggs.
Of Course, Panama City is 65 to 70 miles away, but the Journey of the Storyteller takes good shoes, a big smile, and a lean thumb. I will be there even if I must hitch hile. After all, if Saundra can fire-up a locomotive, and Josh can walk 2601 miles to a vermontster, I can carry the cappuchino on my back for 65 miles.
Have a great day,
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
When Rachel told me inquiry had been made about my storytelling gig on the Moultrie Dining Car, I was surprised. I guess when I made my last post I thought that was it, but here I am again and glad to be here.
The dining car experience was so cool - it's like an aluminum tube inside and all the tables and chairs are made to fit in such a way that 36 people could dine in comfort if not in privacy. All went well until the AC went out and then that slip of metal got hot - very hot. They cancelled the evening performance but by that time I had actually been on the train 3 hours and had told 2x45 minutes each earlier in the day.
Saturday I told a total of 5 full performances and by the time I was done, felt I had begun to truly inhabit the stories. I got a five-dollar tip, signed autographs on tickets and gave out contact information and hawked ETSU Storytelling!
Enjoy the rest of the summer. I think of you all frequently.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I miss you all, but I glad to be home. My dog climbed in my suitcase as I unpacked my dirty clothes and I swear she gave me a look that said I was not leaving again without her.
I was happy to hear that Danny made it home safe. Did Brenda's family make it in safely? How did Saundra's storytelling go? Is everything still good for the institute next week???
I wanted to write and thank you all for all the wonderful stories you shared during our time together in class. These past three weeks have been wonderful and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to meet and tell with all of you.
Take care and I wish you all the best on all your upcoming projects........your friend in stories, Josh
Saturday, August 4, 2007
It will take some purification to glen the barley, but by telling I will distill and begin to serve to the hearers. Hopefully, the hearers will get drunk on tales and stories. If they do get addicted to telling I will start a TT (Taleteller's Troupe), and there will be a first-ever Storytelling Guild in NW Florida.
DANNY F. PUGH
313 EVERGREEN AVENUE
NICEVILLE, FL 32578
HP: 850-678-0617 CELL: 850-499-5970
Friday, August 3, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Even before our group storytelling, I wondered if any of my geared-for-kids/family stories would work for the mood and themes of tonight's program. My eyes went big as I realized that I did not have many thought-provoking stories. Obviously, the stories I have in my repertoire caught my attention in order to tell them in the first place. Yet, I have not pondered deeply over them as we have done for our personal and myth stories in class. I went into a type of panic mode that I would not have any stories "worthy" to tell after all the intense mentoring we have received.
Then one has to wonder--is a story ever perfect? Completed?
I plan to look deeply into each story already in my repertoire and re-discover my fascination for them. Perhaps my lack to do such a thing has led me to the belief that I tend to be plastic and manufactured in my tellings. One of the most "alive" moments seemed to be when I shared Grant's story the first day we went to North Carolina. The second "alive" moment was when I shared the Hephaestus story a couple months ago. Please do not misunderstand that I have not enjoyed telling for an audience before--only that the connection was not as strong as to what I'd like it to be. To keep both the Grant and the Hephaestus story alive, I must always be adding or taking or evolving based on the new experiences I receive in life day by day.
On the drive to North Carolina with Saundra and Sandy, we talked about various stories we knew--none of which turned out to be our selection for the evening. My mind was prompted by many stories that I used to tell during my high school days like "Why the Sea Moans", a folktale, or "Goliath II", a story by Bill Peet about a 6" elephant. I barely remember the plots and the endings have long past escaped my memory. I do know that these stories call to me to revisit them. I also want to explore the Dutch tale of an old woman who burns her own home to save the villagers, though the villagers are unaware of her sacrifice.
I know plenty of stories but it is getting the courage to voice them that is most challenging to me. I will always be working on new stories, too, though I should never take for granted the stories I seem to know already.
As Schank remarked, ". . .if you don't think about something you aren't likely to remember much" (p. 223). Simply thinking about my stories makes them more alive to me.
Until we tell again,
Many thanks to our teacher for his caring and yet determined methods of opening our eyes to the stories we have to tell and how and why we tell them, and also putting us back together again when it seemed perhaps we had fallen apart never to rise again.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed class today. I'm sorry I had to rush out again and wasn't able to hang around, but I was meeting a friend to go kayaking. It was such a beautiful day!
Now, I'm back to work on my stories for tomorrow. While I was going through my story repertory I came across a traditional Mongolian legend which made me think of Chapter 7 in Schank's book titled, "Telling the Stories of your Culture." In this chapter Schank discusses how we may come to understand a culture (or subculture) by learning their stories. (In fact, he implies that it crucial to ever being accepted by a particular group of people.) When I lived in Mongolia I became fascinated by the fact that whenever Mongolians ate a marmot (considered a delicacy) they would always throw away a little part inside the body. I was interested because Mongolians never waste any part of any other animal. When I asked my host-family and neighbors why they did this, most said they didn't know, but only that it had always been done this way. Finally someone told me that the reason this one part of the marmot was not eaten was because it was once a part of a man. "What man?" I asked. This person didn't know the answer to my second question, but along my journey collecting stories around the country I finally found the answer, which was hidden in the ancient legend of Erkhii Mergen....
Once upon a time, there rose seven suns in this universe, and it, was exposed to a burning drought. The earth was heated fiercely, the streams and rivers evaporated, the plants and trees were parched. People and living beings suffered from intolerable heat, and horses and animals were tormented by painful thirst. It was dreadfully difficult to live or even survive. However, there lived a very good archer, called Erkhii Mergen. He was an excellent archer, who could shoot skillfully what he saw and he hit accurately what he aimed at. A stream of people went to him, and requested him to shoot and destroy the many suns which rose in the sky. Erkhii Mergen was very proud of his accurate shooting. Because he was born a real man among men.
His thumbs were great with strength,
His liver was bursting with health,
He was blessed with the fullness of youth,
His blood was flaming.
Then he said, "I will shoot the seven suns with one arrow each and destroy them," and he made a promise and swore an oath, "If I should not succeed, I will cut off my thumbs and be no longer a man! I will become an animal which never drinks pure water and eats the dry grass of the preceding year and lives forever in a dark hole!" From the Eastern side Erkhii Mergen began shooting the seven suns, those rose in a file from the East to the West, in the sky. He hit and destroyed six of the suns with six arrows. As he shot his seventh arrow, aiming at the seventh sun, a swallow crossed in front of his arrow, its flight screening the sun. Erkhii Mergen's arrow hit the swallow's tail and ripped it. Since then, the swallow's tail has been forked. Nevertheless, the last sun was afraid of the p archer and it disappeared to hide behind a western mountain.
When Erkhii Mergen, the archer wanted to follow on his piebald horse and kill the swallow that had impeded his shooting, his horse said, "I'll chase and catch up with the swallow from dusk to dawn," and he vowed, "If I should not succeed, my master, you may cut my legs off and throw them away in a desert. Then, I would no longer be a horse with a saddle, but would live in a hollow and shallow place!" So Erkhii Mergen chased the swallow on his piebald horse, and when the horse had almost caught up with the swallow, the swallow flew a tortuous twisting path to avoid the horse. This went on from dusk to dawn, but the horse could not catch it.
Then Erkhii Mergen got angry and he cut off his piebald horse's fore-legs and threw them away in a desert. Thus this horse changed into a jumping mouse (or jerboa) and for this reason the jerboa's front legs are snorter than his hind ones. Also the swallow still flies to and fro around a man riding a horse. The swallow flies around the man mocking,
"Can you catch up with me?
Can you catch up with me?"
According to his promise as a man, Erkhii Mergen cut off his thumbs and was no longer a man, but changed into a marmot, which never drinks pure water and eats the grass of the preceding year, and lives in a dark hole. The marmot's claws are four, because of the fact that Erkhii Mergen cut off his thumbs. The marmot comes out from its hole by the morning and evening sun. Erkhii Mergen the archer, wants to forget that he has changed into the marmot, and wants to wait and shoot the last sun at its rising or setting. However, in the marmot's flesh there is a piece of meat called 'man meat', which was Erkhii Mergen's flesh, and to this day people never eat it. People say the last sun of this world was frightened of Erkhii Mergen and went behind a mountain, and it is for this reason that the day and night appear in succession.This legend is full of unique Mongolian cultural elements. First, the main character is an archer. Great archers are heroes in Mongolian society and have been since time immemorial. Second, the narrative explains the origin of the jerboa (jumping mouse), the marmot, the swallow’s forked tail, and why there is only one sun. Marmot is a very special animal for Mongolians, being their preferred delicacy during the summer months. There are entire rituals that have developed around killing, preparing, and eating the marmot when it’s in season. One of which is the ritual of throwing away the “man’s meat” toward the sun instead of eating it. This is believed to be the last remnants of
How great! By learning about this legend I was able to understand an important ritual Mongolians engage in. I also found it very interesting that many people practiced this ritual without being conscious of why! Schank states, "The stories of our culture are those stories that we hear so often that they cease to seem like stories to us. They are the stories that we take for granted." (pg. 218)
After I prepare for our storytelling performance tomorrow I want to examine some traditional prose narratives in our own culture that we either take for granted or have so fully incorporated that we don't even know we're telling them. Please let me know when you all think of some good ones. I'll see you all tomorrow....your bud, Josh
Tomorrow will be a major moment for us as a team, but "Mission Accomplished' will not be my take on our final telling together. For me it will be MISSION STARTED!!! We will now be on a journey together and will use Chaucer's method to move happily together.
This will be my last blog and the computer will go into the bag in a few minutes. Artificial intelligence is a good thing, but as David said today it began with the creation of the alphabet. I am now more focused on a teller's way of word association.
Thanks to all for your leadership and comradery.
Today Rachel and I went to see Barbara Freedman. We hung around after the show and talked with her. I found my self sliding back into my “home voice” as we spoke. Years of work on the radio cleaning up my southern accent is shot to heck two minutes after I sit down with my family. Barbara had the same effect. I felt comfortable talking to her. I realize there is something in that sound of our subculture that draws up a feeling, sort of an unspoken index that reminds a person of the old proverbs, home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home. My reading tonight was actually more enlightening and entertaining than usual. As Schank talked about the I Ching, I was again reminded of the core principles of palmistry and tarot - people here what they need to here in epigram rich interpretations rendered. I re-evaluated my reaction to a comment Barbara made to Rachel. Rachel reminisced about the answer she had given Barbara about a blue box and confessed she had meant to write a full story but had not done that yet. Barbara told her to set a specific date for finishing the tidbits she was filing away or it would never get done. She said to quite putting it off and do it. Then she said God was a God of completion and when you finish what he has given you, you will not only be rewarded for your good work, you will also find that God will send you more inspiration. Dozens of past conversations came flooding back to me when she said this. I was also reminded of a conversation in the novel Night when an old man explains to Eli that it is an important concept in Judaism to recognize that knowing the answer is less important than knowing the right question to ask. I have been richly blessed and should work much harder in many areas. I think I heard what I needed to hear to discover what I already knew. Of course, statements like that are reason enough to read less Schank. But to give the Devil his due, Schank said it best in chapter 4 when he said, “It is likely that the bulk of what passes for intelligence is no more than a massive indexing and retrieval scheme that allows an intelligent entity to determine what information it has in its memory that is relevant to the situation at hand, to search for and find that information (84-85).” Hummmm . . . cool beans.