Thank you! Stories are the Wildest Things Around the World

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When I check my blog’s stats, these tiny icons of the flags of the nations who have visited pop up on my screen. I’m so grateful to have readers and supporters from around the world and I wanted to say thank you for being here. I’d love to hear more from you.

How did you find Stories are the Wildest Things?

What brought you to the blog?

How can I serve you better?

I’m dedicated to helping people tell their stories in the most powerful, creative, and wide-reaching way that they can.

If you don’t tell your story, who will?

Writing Prompt 08: Showgirls Playing Chess Backstage

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I found this gorgeous photo on Twitter in the feed of @ClassicPixs. It’s a 1958 photo by Gordon Parks. Parks was a photographer, musician, writer and film director.

This is him:

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I want to read a story based on this photo of showgirls backstage playing chess.

  • What is the brunette relating to the blonde and the redhead?
  • Why do they play chess every night (or was this a special occasion)?
  • Who wins?
  • What story does Gordon Parks have to tell?

Post a link to a story inspired by this prompt in the comments section. I might have to tackle this one myself.

Carpe Diem – The Death of Robin Williams

The death and apparent suicide of Robin Williams saddens me. In addition to being a writer, I’m a comic actor and improviser and Williams is someone I’ve always greatly admired. I owned rainbow suspenders as a kid and quoted Mork and Mindy and his stand-up recordings all the time.

Williams once drew a doodle for a fundraiser that Live Bait, a small theatre company in Chicago, was having to raise money for their season. It was a fun and expressive drawing of Albert Einstein in a flying car in Williams’ flowing hand and it said, “Einstein traveling at the Speed of Life!”

I wanted that drawing so badly because I thought if I owned something Williams created, some of his creativity might rub off on me as well. Sadly, I didn’t win the drawing because it was one of the more expensive pieces to be auctioned off that night.

I did win a doodle by George Carlin, though. His drawing was a series of heavy straight lines connected in a series of angles. The straight lines seemed too stiff for the philosopher comedian, but I was glad to have it. If anyone has a copy of the Robin Williams drawing, I’d love to see a photo of it after all these years.

Like many, one of my favorite Robin Williams films is Dead Poet’s Society. 

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Robin Williams, as John Keating, kneeling on the floor speaking to his charges says, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.

But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!…of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

I ask this question of myself often.

Oh, Captain, my Captain, you will be sorely missed.

Flickr photo by Charles Haynes

Flickr photo by Charles Haynes

Anne Lamott on Williams’ suicide https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott?fref=nf

62 Days of Lunchbox Sketches in Under 3 Minutes

As working parents, our 4-year-old was in two different schools for daycare this year.

One of them provided lunch but for the other I had to pack him a lunch two days a week.

No matter how tired I was as I stuffed celery and juice boxes and bagels inside the Elmo lunchbox, I always included a quick Sharpie sketch on a Post-it note to let him know we were thinking about him during the day.

Sometimes the sketches were random things to make him laugh and sometimes they had something to do with what happened the day before. When I picked him up from daycare we would talk about that day’s sketch. It was a nice ritual and a fun way to let him know we care.

I saved the sketches and made this short video so he could remember them. I had to rescue them from the soggy lunchbox each day after school and some of them ended up more wrinkled and damp than I intended.

Shown together, the images tell a silly story of what happened to us and how much we laughed this year. Any images of commercial characters are parodies and not meant to infringe on any copyright.

Thanks for watching!

The music is Disco con Tutti, royalty-free music from http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free.

Close Encounters with Famous Writers – Maya Angelou

I met Maya Angelou once at a dinner theatre in Delaware of all places. She was doing a reading and I was trying to recruit her for a small film project I was working on. She graciously took a moment to talk to me about the project but let me know in no uncertain terms that she was way too busy to get involved. I didn’t care, though. It was nice to have met her in person and to have made a small connection with a brilliant and beautiful mind. She was a “phenomenal woman.” Her light has gone out, but her words shine on.

Viral Visuals – HYPERLAPSE Mindrelic

My hometown in hyperlapse. Mindrelic spent a little over a month hotel hopping in Manhattan (March 12th to April 29th) shooting time lapse. These clips were pulled from over an hours worth of footage.

They have prints available at http://www.redbubble.com/people/mindrelic (I have no affiliation with them, I just think this is really cool!)

Original post here: http://vimeo.com/24492485

Amazing Video featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson

A bit of inspiration for your weekend.

The Most Astounding Fact is a gorgeous video posted by Max Schlickenmeyer.

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”

This is his answer.

Stories are the WIldest Things

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Today is the day traditionally associated with the birth and death of the person (or persons) known as William Shakespeare.

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Shakespeare was an actor/manager as well as a playwright. He owned shares in the theatre and made really good money for his company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, eventually being sponsored by King James and becoming the King’s Men.

Shakespeare’s theatre, the Globe, had three different incarnations. The first burned down during Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII when a cannon  some embers caught the thatched roof on fire. The Puritans pulled down the second Globe when they declared theatre too sinful to continue. The third Globe now stands in Bankside, Southwark  near the original site of Globe one and two.

Sam Wanamaker, an American, built this monument to the great playwright and his plays. You can still see plays there during the warmer months. It is the only building since the Great Fire in London allowed to have a thatched roof.

Ben Johnson said the Shakespeare was the “soul of the age, the applause, delight, the wonder of our stage” and “…not of an age, but for all time.”

Shakespeare is also called the Bard of Avon and in the Victorian era, people so worshiped Shakespeare’s writing that George Bernard Shaw called it “bardolatry.”

Shakespeare was the third of eight children (only five survived into adulthood) and his younger brother, Edmund, was an actor as well.

His father, John, was a glover and leather worker and a “brogger” meaning he did a bit of illegal dealing in…wool…on the side. At one point John was also the town’s ale taster. How do you sign up for that job?

He worked his way up through political positions eventually becoming an alderman, but he also got into trouble for lending money with interest and withdrew from public life.

Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, came from a wealthy family and inherited her father’s farm. You can still visit the farm in Stratford today. Shakespeare references the family name in his play, “As You Like It.” The play takes place in an idyllic place called the forest of Arden. There are also scholarly editions of Shakespeare’s works with really great footnotes called The Arden Shakespeare.

There are not a lot of records of Shakespeare’s life which has caused speculation that he could be more than one person. Some people think he was the Earl of Oxford, Sir Francis Bacon, the Earl of Derby or even Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, thought to be a spy and a “rake-hell” and killed by a dagger through the eye during a drunken brawl.

Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway (no, not the one from The Princess Diaries) was eight years older than he was. They had three children, Susannah and the twins, Hamnet and Judith. In his will, Shakespeare left Anne his second best bed. While many take this as an insult, because Anne was already established and the daughters would have needed more from the estate, he most likely left most of his furnishings and estate to his daughters. Hamnet died when he was 11 and some say he was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s most quoted character, Hamlet.

Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford has a curse on it so that no one digs up the grave. It says, “Good friend for Jesus’ sake forebear//To dig the dust enclosed here//Blest be the man who spares these stones//And curst be he that moves my bones.” A bit tawdry and simple, another reason people cite when they make the claim that perhaps Shakespeare wasn’t really Shakespeare.

Shakespeare wrote in early modern English and gave us over 2000 of our common words and phrases. Some examples of words first used by Shakespeare are: eyeball, puking, skim milk, obscene, hot blooded and…alligator! If you’ve ever used the phrases, “seen better days,” “it’s Greek to me,” “you’ve got to be cruel to be kind,” “you can’t have too much of a good thing,” “forever and a day,” “pure as the driven snow,” or even “high time,” you are quoting Shakespeare. Check out these two great videos for more phrases. (Horrible Histories, Kenneth Branagh)

Harold Bloom has said that no other writer has created utterly different yet self-consistent voices for more than 100 major characters and many hundreds of highly distinctive minor personages. He says that Shakespeare’s characters are not alive and yet they have altered all of our lives and may have even taught us how to be more human. Finally, Bloom, in his influential work, “Shakespeare The Invention of the Human” says that the “ultimate use of Shakespeare is to let him to teach us to think too well, to whatever truth you can sustain without perishing…”

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!