virtualDavis

A storyteller's artifacts. Muddled fact and fiction, substance and void, text and image. Akin to squandering the afternoon in a distant relative's attic.

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire (image by virtualDavis)

Isn’t digital storytelling just enhanced storytelling? It’s just the newest chapter in humanity’s quest to improve the way we tell stories. We instinctively yearn for better communication, for storytelling innovation. And yet digital books, audio books, multimedia books tend to meet resistance despite their obvious appeal.

New scares old. Old doesn’t quite understand new. Or doesn’t want to…

In “Is It A Book, Is It A Movie…No, It’s Movie-Book!” we get a glimpse at the book world’s awkward response to digitally enhanced storytelling.

Many eBook writers shy away from multimedia publishing, preferring instead to stay with straight text… An eBook that features multimedia is not an eBook, they say. It’s… an app… What IS an eBook with multimedia? Can we continue to call an eBook an eBook knowing that now it may feature multimedia? … What about audio books? … [Or] movie-books… (Technorati Entertainment)

Let’s call it digital storytelling. Or storytelling in the digital age. Maybe we should just call it storytelling, because — no matter how resistant the publishing industry and book critics and schools and libraries may be — the public is embracing (and will continue to embrace) storytelling in all of its innovative new forms.

Let us imagine the first time a storyteller added innovative new technologies to their bag of tricks. Picture the proverbial caveman standing by the bonfire with his family, talking about the hunt from which he’s returned with a week’s food. In telling the story of creeping up on his prey, he describes his cautious steps, following the fierce Bigmacosaurus, slowly, quietly all afternoon. Until afternoon turned into evening. As daddy caveman describes the fall of night he slowly extinguishes the campfire leaving his wife and children sitting in the dark around the glowing embers. They pull closer together, absorbed in the story. Now dad begins to pace around them in the dark as he speaks, so that they are never quite sure where he is, and he begins to breath deeply, hoarsely, imitating the sounds of the Bigmacosaurus. And suddenly he leaps across the embers and pretends to drive his spear into the Bigmacosaurus, just barely illuminated as he writhes on the ground, bathed in the dull red glow of the embers.

The end.

“Time for bed, cave kiddies!” he bellows. But they don’t move. They cling to their mother, scared to death.

So dad adds kindling and blows on the embers, resuscitating the fire. Within a few minutes the interior of the cave is once again illuminated. The children are less afraid, but still too nervous for bed.

“But what if the other Bigmacosauri followed you home?”

“Yes, what if they come and get us tonight while we sleep?”

Dad takes a charred branch from the fire and proceeds to draw a picture on the cave wall. In the crude illustration a hunter with a spear crouches in tall grass beside a herd of Bigmacosauri. He explains to his children that he discovered the heard around mid-day, far away. He draws the sun directly overhead, and adds wavy water to portray the lake located half a day’s journey from the cave. Then he moves down the wall and draws himself in the mountains pursuing a single Bigmacosaurus, the sun much lower to the horizon now. He explains to his children that he successfully split the heard, forcing the biggest Bigmacosaurus to run toward the mountains which lay between their cave and the lake. He draws a herd of stampeding Bigmacosauri running off into the distance where the sun sets on the far side of the lake. His next drawing is of the the hunter right next to the Bigmacosaurus, spear high in the air about to plunge. A crescent moon is high overhead. He explains to his children that he wanted to drive the Bigmacosaurus as close as possible to home so that he could minimize the distance he would need to carry the meat. He explains how hard it was because wild Bigmacosauri are scared of cave men and don’t like to come near them. But daddy cave man succeeded, and now they have plenty of food. But the next time he wants to hunt a Bigmacosaurus, he will have to go all away around the lake to the far side where the sun sets. He draws one last picture, looking across the vast lake at tiny Bigmacosauri no larger than ants speckling the horizon beneath the setting sun.

The children have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, so the parents carry them to their beds and tuck them in.

So far, nothing’s unusual about this, right? Just another evening at the cave.

But when the parents tuck themselves in, the cave man’s wife rolls over to her husband to whisper.

“I don’t know what you thought you were doing tonight, extinguishing the fire, making all those beastly noises, reenacting the hunt, drawing on the walls. Look how much you scared the children.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare them so much. I always tell them stories…”

“I know. Stories are good. But all that other stuff, it’s just, I don’t know. Not right. Can you just stick with storytelling? Just words?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Thank you. Good night.”

“Good night.”

But the next day the cave kiddies beg for a story. “Like last night, daddy. Not the boring old way.”

“Yes, like last night. Pleeease?”

Mother grimaces.

Father looks at mother and shrugs.

Fast forward. YouTube, Audible, Vook, iPad, Storify and SoundCloud blur past. From cave fire to Kindle Fire… Onward!

The Goose is Getting Fat

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

Not sure what a psychiatrist would make of this admission, but “Christmas is Coming” was my favorite carol as a child. No, scratch that. It was my favorite Christmas carol to sing as a child, though I preferred listening to others. Does this distinction make sense? Think of “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”, for example. Fun to sing given the right context, but I’d gamble that most of us have a long list of songs we’d rather listen to…

Originally a nursery rhyme, “Christmas is Coming” is most enjoyable when sung in the round with your brother and sister while commuting an hour over icy roads to school, patient mother at the helm occasionally joining in for a round.

If you’re inspired, but can’t remember the words, here’s a pre-Christmas gift for you:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

If you picked up on a subtle deviation in the first line, the change is mine. I’ve always sung about a single goose rather than a flock. Stick to the original if you’re a purist.

About a week ago a friend told me, “I can always tell when it’s you because you’re a whistler.” I guess I am. Not a good whistler, mind you, but an enthusiastic whistler. Sort of like my dancing! Not fun to watch, but plenty funny! And enthusiasm isn’t the only common denominator, though I’m not sure how to put my finger on the other similarity. Freestyle, perhaps. I’d like to say innovative, creative, improvisational or even uninhibited. But I’ll surely be called to account if I gloss up the merits of my freestyle whistling and dancing. Melodies and rhythms are flexible, mere inspirations for extemporaneous experimentation. Ah-ha, I’ve got it. I’m a jazz whistler!

What? Your BS detector is buzzing? Hmmm… Must need a new battery.

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Dare to whistle it?

Can Square and iZettle Revolutionize Busking and Micro-Philanthropy?

You’ve heard of Square. Buy on the fly. Accept credit cards through your mobile device. Cool, right? Listening to a Salvation Army bell ringer the other day I imagined a chilly Santa passing his iPhone around to pedestrians to swipe their cards instead of tossing change into the dangling cauldron. Off thought. But not out of the question.

In fact, universalizing (and lowering the bar for) credit card transactions could revolutionize micro-commerce. Remember that “clever web-based platform for social action, fundraising, group action” called The Point? A whole new boom in micro-philanthropy could emerge virtually over night.

While Square has been the darling of the venture capital world lately, its honeymoon may be coming to an end…

Enter iZettle, a smart new way that anybody can transact commerce on the fly.

Take card payments. With your iPhone or iPad!

Now anyone can take card payments. You and your friends. Your business. All you need is an iPhone or iPad and iZettle. (iZettle website)

Jag tar kort

iZettle (image by JonasG106 via Flickr)

Hold your horses, fellow Americans, the Swedes have pole position this time. We’ll have to wait until it deploys in the US. Or move to Sweden!

Why might this nifty gadget and service give Square a run for their money?

iZettle… is Europe’s answer to card payments app Square, only it is a better solution. While Square uses the magnetic strip on your credit or debit card, iZettle securely handles the card’s chip… this could be one of those technologies whose time is about to come. (WSJ)

Having lived in Europe (1999-2003) I’m quite familiar with these smart chips. I’m not a finance tech wonk, but I suspect there’s an added security element when the chip is integrated. Maybe not. Whatever the case, much of western Europe used these cards, so even a non-US, European roll-out of the iZettle could make some waves. And it seems already to be receiving a warm welcome.

iZettle offers huge advantages over other systems that let businesses accept chip-card payments. (Forbes)

iZettle — the New, Better Square — Coming Soon to America? (Huffington Post)

I’m not one to prognosticate in the world of finance, but I can’t resist good storytelling. And this little video is good storytelling. The story arc is compelling, and the mashup of realistic video with cartooning is intriguing. It transforms a boring topic (credit card readers, financial transactions) and into something hip and fun.

Doodling plays on our earliest memories of drawing fantasies into realities. A scribble on a page was actually a friendly dragon just waiting to carry us across the river to a fantasy land filled with chocolate and trampolines. And if they can de-business-ize (It’s my blog; I can make up words if I want to! Consider it blogger’s license.) credit card transactions, make them easy, accessible and romantic, well then they deserve to give Square a run for their money. And hopefully along the way, some good will trickle down to the rest of us. I’ve mentioned micro-philanthropy (imagine a church service in which an iPhone with a card reader is in the collection bowl with the cash and envelopes), but the image that really tickles me is a busker entertaining an audience on a street corner and then tip via credit card using the busker’s mobile phone. That’s the day I slip away to wander the globe as an itinerant storyteller!

Doodles and SuperDoodles

SuperDoodle, by Warren (The Doodle Daily)

SuperDoodle, by Warren (The Doodle Daily)

A while back I stumbled upon (tweetled?) The Doodle Daily, a clever creative crash course in the art of doodling.

Actually, Warren, the blog’s creator wouldn’t call it that. He’s a fair share less pretentious than that. He originally set out to create and share a doodle each day for a year. He succeeded. And he got stuck succeeding, so we all can benefit from his so-far-bottomless fount of doodles.

I’d actually almost forgotten about Warren and his addictive designs until yesterday. He materialized out of the ether. Poof!

Okay, so it wasn’t really a poof. But he did post a comment that sent me somersaulting back to his doodle blog to catch up on his creative enterprise. And much catching ensued including the dazzling image above.

Deft doodle design! I like it a lot, but why? It’s just another dandy doodle, dude.

Or is it?

There are doodles and there are doodles. There are dumb-ditty-doodles and there are whipper-doodles. (Also Labradoodles, but they’re really far off topic, and I’m hoping to limit my present acrobatics to merely-slightly-off-topic…)

So what makes a whipper-doodle special? What defines a super whipper-doodle? Warren sums up his SuperDoodle thus:

Simple, clean
classic

He’s on to something. Of course whipper-doodle rules are far from universal, but it does seem that at least a few essential ingredients can be found. Perhaps simple, clean and classic should be on the list. Classic might be too limiting, though I understand what Warren’s going after here. It’s a familiar design despite being original. Or it seems familiar. It exudes familiar canonical design roots, perhaps…

I’d suggest that there’s more to it though. In this doodle, for example, there’s symmetry or near symmetry. Warren’s SuperDoodle combines two separate, reverse mirror images. The symmetry is instantly appealing, especially so because the design is a bit complex, a bit ornate. And yet Warren’s inky oracle plays with the symmetry, plays with the viewer really, by distorting the scale of the nearly symmetrical half. Perhaps the composite consists of two conceptually symmetrical halves that deviate in execution. Now I’m approaching the sort of gassy verbiage upon which dissertations are built!

Suffice to say that a whipper-doodle is more evolved than a dumb-ditty-doodle. It contains a sort of universal design appeal. I think of the glorious paisley in its infinite iterations, or the minimalist lines of prehistoric hieroglyphs or globally familiar brands such as the Red Cross, the Jewish star, the Nike swoosh. (If tucking these dissimilar entities into a single rucksack and calling them “brands” offends, please excuse. This is not my intention. Simply overlook that last sentence and leap-frog to the next paragraph!)

After the first flush of my aesthetic crush fades, I catch myself asking what compels me, what draws me into Warren’s doodle? It’s clean and elegant, but it’s also playful. The near symmetry flirts with me, cocks her ringleted visage coquettishly and bats her eyes, smiles just enough to draw me in. I study the image, my eyes volleying back and forth, back and forth verifying accuracy, chuckling at the elements shrunk and stretched just enough to intrigue… I am drawn in. And I am smiling. Thank you, Warren.

Smile! I’m blogging you…

Smile! I'm blogging you... (image of and by virtualDavis)

Smile! I'm blogging you... (image of and by virtualDavis)

I remember seeing a t-shirt for sale once that said, “I’m blogging this.” Nothing more. Just a black t-shirt with bold white lettering across the front. I’m blogging this!

I should have bought it. It would make people laugh. People who know me. Especially the ones who don’t quite get it. Blogging, I mean.

But I didn’t buy it. I liked the idea, but I wanted to edit the message slightly as follows:

Smile! I’m blogging you…

On the one hand, it’s humorous, and on the other it’s an increasingly relevant disclaimer. The “fine print”. Not just for me, but for all bloggers. All journalists, storytellers, writers, artists, etc.

What do I mean by relevant? We are photographing and video recording and quoting each other around the clock nowadays. Look at the ubiquity of blogging, micro blogging, YouTubing, Facebook-ing and Google Plus-ing. We are busy documenting our lives as well as anyone else who flits across our paths.

I walked down Madison Avenue this evening as a man filmed all of us. Not a news reporter, but a plain clothed civilian. John Doe. Or Juan Sanchez… Why was he filming us? What will he do with our stolen souls? Thievery! Or not…

Smile! I’m blogging you…

One of my favorite English language writers, Michael Ondaatje, returns again and again to the theme of thievery in his writing. It’s a large part of storytelling. I suspect many writers, artists, etc. ponder the idea.

I prefer to think of storytellers as borrowers, not kleptomaniacs. We borrow characters, scenes and plots. We borrow the smell of bacon cooking three doors down, the sound of a cello being practiced (badly) somewhere on the other side of an overgrown juniper hedge.

Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948)

Vicente Huidobro (image via Wikipedia)

Not all writers admit that they are recyclers, borrowers or thieves. Chilean poet Vicente Huidobrodeclared, “The poet is a little God.” He aspired to invent worlds of words out of thin air and ambition. I invite you to evaluate his success.

With the advent of widespread social media it’s easier and more enticing than ever to collect and curate the perfect pair of eyebrows, the seemy backstory, the unpredictable twist of fate, the melodic denouement peppered with the fragrance of jasmine and fireworks on a summer evening… All from the comfort of our own desktops. Or smart phones. The 21st century storyteller is everywhere you are.

Of course, flanerie still serves the storyteller well, but his boulevards have been extended exponentially. I am an unabashed flaneur, but not just in the Baudelarian sense. I’m an urban flaneur, but I’m also a rural flaneur. I’m a café and sidewalk flaneur, but I’m also a digital flaneur. And I’m collecting and curating 24×7 (to the occasional regret of my bride and friends, I hesitate to add.)

I apologize. I understand that not everyone wants to be onstage all the time. Not everyone wants to have their almost lofty soufflé or their offkey arias recorded for posterity. I get it. I’m with you.

But, I can’t resist. You’re interesting. Not just your eyebrows and your bacon and your cello practice and your seemy backstory and your perennially deflated soufflé and your upside down melodies. You.

But rest assured that mine is an imperfect lens, a distorted microphone. I won’t steel your soul. I promise. I can’t. It’s yours as long as you choose to nourish it. I will borrow liberally, borrow, not steel, and I’ll do so with a sometimes distorted, always playful filter.

Will you lend me the mischievous glimmer in your eye when I ask you what you want for Christmas? Will you lend me the fierce gate, knees high, hips restrained, stride impossibly long that I remember from the first time I watched you walk toward your airplane when heading back to New York City from Paris? Will you lend me your hurt and confusion and quirks and dreams?

I’ll do my best never to betray you, and I’ll always resist your soul.

I promise.

virtualDavis Caricature #2

virtualDavis Caricature #2

virtualDavis Caricature #2

Remember the last caricature experiment? This next virtualDavis caricature was created by a gifted digital artist who goes by konko on fiverr. He was a friendly fellow and I’m considering having him create some additional images, this time of non-virtualDavis subjects. Vanity be damned! You can check out some examples of konko’s digital artwork in his online portfolio.

Soon I’ll share another fiverr caricature, an image that endows me with a fatter but tougher look. Until then, you might want to invest five of your own hard-earned ducats in a personal caricature to adorn your holiday card. Or your business card? Might be a handy way to let clients know you don’t take yourself too seriously. Of course, if you’re a surgeon or an attorney, you might want to pass on this genius idea. Back to the drawing board…

I’m not sure what I like so much about caricatures, except they seem to offer a self-deprecating way of looking at ourselves. And that’s categorically a good thing!

Have you ever noticed how many realtors include their photograph when advertising the properties they are listing? It’s weird. If I’m looking for a house, use that extra space in your ad to show me the kitchen, the back yard, the bathrooms. We’re in love with our own images. In the age of social media, we eagerly post pictures of ourselves all over the place. I’m no exception. Google keeps track, so there’s no denying it. But — despite frequent advice to the contrary — I tend to post goofy pictures of myself. Snapshots in quirky hats are a favorite. In other words, I try not to take myself too seriously, inviting others to chuckle when they see my photos. If I ever run for president, this may come back to haunt me, but I see it as being a bit like caricatures.

When I was young, there used to be a Mexican restaurant in Plattsburgh, NY called the Tijuana Jail where caricatures covered the ceiling. Diners who frequented the restaurant were eventually memorialized in exaggerated cartoons for the amusement of others. Both of my parents were up there, looking about as silly as they’ve ever looked. I never asked them, but I’d guess they liked being up there on the ceiling for everyone to laugh at. And probably all of the others did too. I hope so.

Sarah Kay: Seth Godin’s Last Domino

Seth Godin's Last Domino: Publication of Sarah Kay's poem "B" marks the end  of the year long Domino Project.

Seth Godin is turning the page on The Domino Project following publication of Sarah Kay's poem "B".

“Projects are fun to start, but part of the deal is that they don’t last forever.” ~ Seth Godin

A year after Seth Godin launched The Domino Project he’s calling it quits. He summed up the takeaways in his post, “The last hardcover” which merits more rumination (preferably with several friends including an author, a publisher, and editor, an agent and a bottle of eighteen year old Laphroaig,) but absent the minds and the bottle of Scotch at 9:00am in my study, I’ll limit myself to an invitation and a few amuse-gueules.

First off, why’d he quit? What did he learn. And why’d he do it in the first place?

“The plan was to build a publishing imprint, powered by Amazon and filled with thoughtful books by inspired authors.” ~ Seth Godin

Right. So it was an experiment, Godin’s a laboratory for testing “what could be done in a fast-changing environment. Rather than whining about the loss of the status quo, I thought it would be interesting to help invent a new status quo and learn some things along the way.” (“The last hardcover”) Did you catch that? Godin stepped away from the traditional publishing world which had become increasingly bogged down in neigh saying and resisting the rapidly evolving publishing industry in order to help reinvent the publishing industry! That’s an ambitious experiment by my yardstick. And by his own estimation, it was a largely successful experiment.

It’s worth noting that even envisioning, announcing and launching The Domino Project was a successful experiment. The impact was real and the aftershocks are still tickling the tummies of the publishing industry. But catalyzing debate, driving change and incubating/publishing “twelve bestsellers, published in many languages around the world” is only part of the equation, you can bet on that. Savant Seth’s projects are rarely so tidy. They have tentacles and afterlives… He’s experimenting again. Authors need closure. Start a book; finish a book. Go on to the next. You can be sure that the phoenix already incubating amidst The Domino Project ashes will rise again, will rise soon, and will awe/shock many.

Prime time to reference Sarah Kay‘s short poem B, The Domino Project’s dazzling caboose and one of TEDTalks’ most riveting performances. Did you see it?

“There are plenty of things that I have trouble understanding, so I write poems to figure things out. Sometimes the only way I know how to work through something is by writing a poem. And sometimes I get to the end of the poem and look back and go, “Oh, that’s what this is all about.” And sometimes I get to the end of the poem and haven’t solved anything, but at least I have a new poem out of it.” ~ Sarah Kay

I understand this as if I’d written it, spoken it, myself. I wonder, wander and write to figure things out, to discover and ponder and sometimes even untangle the mysteries and adventures which swirl around me. Sometimes, not often. But at least I have the poem, the story, the journey. I suspect that Godin nodded his shiny pate when he first heard Sarah Kay explain what compels her to create poetry. I suspect that he realized Kay’s poem was the perfect way to conclude an experiment that had succeeded before it began, an experiment that discovered more mysteries and more adventures than it untangled or resolved. Whether a book, another project or a still unfathomable experiment, I’m confident that Godin’s next experiment will both awe and shock in the tradition of the best poets and oracles.

Until then, I offer you several remaining bite-sized-but-brain-busting amuse-gueules to challenge your own experiments.

“The ebook is a change agent like none the book business has ever seen. It cuts the publishing time cycle by 90%, lowers costs, lowers revenue and creates both a long tail and an impulse-buying opportunity. This is the most disruptive thing to happen to books in four hundred years.” ~ Seth Godin

“There is still (and probably will be for a while) a market for collectible editions, signed books and other special souvenirs that bring the emotional component of a book to the fore. While most books merely deliver an idea or a pasttime, for some books and some readers, there’s more than just words on paper. Just as vinyl records persist, so will books… because there’s something special about molecules and scarcity.” ~ Seth Godin

“If you’re an author, pick yourself. Don’t wait for a publisher to pick you. And if you work for a big publishing house, think really hard about the economics of starting your own permission-based ebook publisher.” ~ Seth Godin

“Publishing is about passion and writing is a lifestyle, not a shortcut to a mansion and a Porsche. Bestselling authors are like golfers who hit holes in one. It’s a nice thing, but there are plenty of people who will keep playing even without one.” ~ Seth Godin

By the time you read this post, the publishing industry will have already changed again. It’s changing that fast. Faster! If we learn nothing more from The Domino Project it is to stop lamenting, denying and resisting. Start inventing.

“This world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to reach out and taste it… never stop asking for more.” ~ Sarah Kay

I invite you to stop whining and start inventing!

Buggy Microsoft Mail Merge

Microsoft Office 2008 (for Mac) is driving me craaazzzyyy!

Microsoft Office 2008 (for Mac) is driving me craaazzzyyy!

There is a bug in MailMerge for Office 2008 where all the names of the categories don’t show up by name; so you may see no text next to some of the checkboxes. It’s highly aggravating if your mailing list happens to be one of the categories that doesn’t show up. If that’s the case, the only solution I have found is to try each of the checkboxes, one at a time, and see which one has the number of records that matches your mailing list. So yes, trial and error. (How To Use Mail Merge in Office 2008 for Mac to Print a Holiday Mailing List on Labels)

Mail merging on my old DOS box in the 1980′s was pretty easy. Mail merging on all of my PCs in the 1990′s was easy. Even a handful of Mac mail merge experiences during my college years working on the student lit mag and summer jobs as a dock boy on Lake Champlain were pretty effortless. Old technology. Straightforward. Painless.

But I’ve been trying to print labels for our holiday cards using Microsoft Word (as part of the Office 2008 suite for Mac), and I’m seriously ready to start mashing things… What the heck?!?!

How can one of the simplest processes personal computers solved decades ago be sooo clunky? I couldn’t even find decent instruction within Word or Entourage (aka Outlook, where my addresses are stored) and had to hit up Google for step-by-step guidance. And I quickly realized that my question and frustration is not unique.

What is going on here? Is this a sign of the times? Have we allowed mail merge for print to slide by the wayside because nobody’s interested in paper anymore? Is Microsoft behind the national trend away from a self sustaining postal service? Is this another hint of the global digital-only future?

Mail merge should be easy. If for no other reason than businesses need it. Real people who send out mass mailings, invitations and holiday cards need it. Come on, it’s mail merge, folks. I know it’s “old school” and inevitably obsolescent. But not that “old school”! Not that obsolescent! I mean, I’m not asking for bug-free Morse Code or windless smoke signals…

Here’s the thing. I want my word processor to be able to talk to my address management software, and I want to be able to spit out labels. Or envelopes. Or — gawd-for-flippin’-bid — actual, mail merged letters without bugs. Without pulling my hair out. Without wanting to chuck my Mac out the window and cardiopulmonary resuscitate my creaky old Dell just to send out holiday cards. It should be easy. Intuitive. Quick. Bug free!

Thanks to the Ivanexpert.com, I’m stumbling forward, though not 100% successful yet. Thanks to my bride getting our holiday cards off the to-do list and into production, I’m fumbling and grumbling. Thanks to you, tolerant reader, I’m feeling vented and decidedly better. Have a nice day, and happy holidays!

Brooding & Sultry

Brooding & Sultry

Brooding & Sultry: An apparition summoned from the glossy pages of Wine Spectator early in the morning...

Saturday morning found me soaking up the early December sunrise and flipping through the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2011. Perhaps the only oenological pleasure surpassing sipping (and swallowing) fermented grape juice is reading (and imitating) wine reviews. I’ve scribbled a few myself over the years and toyed with collecting them into a fun collection of poems, vignettes and doodles. I won’t submit you to my bizarre brand of wine esoterica, not yet, but you might enjoy this curmudgeonly if slightly pompous fart who wafted out of the magazine pages briefly before vanishing into thin air to the surprise of my dog, Griffin, who sighed and rolled over to reflect on breakfast past and a sunny walk to come.

Perhaps that audio clipped played for you? Perhaps not. It’s a bit of a memory glutton, so — depending on your internet connection — may be a bit grumpy. If listening requires too much patience, consider abandoning the mission. It’s a trifle. A goofy trifle. An audio sketch. Half baked at best. A better idea altogether? Tuck in next to a roaring fire and open a brooding but sultry bottle of claret to quaff with fresh baked bread, pheasant pate and runny Époisses. Aaahhh…

A Brief History of Storytelling

Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia (image by harvest breeding via Flickr)

Storytelling is often thought to have originated in Mesopotamia, where shamans would tell stories orally as a means of teaching and entertaining communities. Before we had written language, storytelling was told through a combination of drawings, which were often prompters for the storyteller to then bring the story to life through voice, dance or music. When writing was adopted in societies, various forms of media were then used to record these stories, for example etching on bark, or drawing on pottery or bones. (Simply Zesty)

A bit slapdash, perhaps, but a tidy nibble at the bigger story… Check out the post, “Social media has evolved into the art of storytelling, and we must all become masters of it.” if this nibble’s made you hungry for more. Though I should warn, the post’s thin on history and long on latter day storytelling jingoism.

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