Monday, November 07, 2005

Smooth, Lemony and Gabby

Just returned from a trip to Johnson City, Tennessee. I have now driven past the highway exit sign to Jonesborough, TN so I feel my life is that much closer to being complete (j/k). Jonesborough, TN is somewhat of a Mecca for some Storytellers. Next time I might actually get off the freeway.

I did however spend Saturday night with Karen and Tim Dietz. Karen is the executive director of the National Storytelling Network. I did an interview with her and you can hear it at

We ended up with dinner at steakhouse restaurant with Texas in the name. After a 15 minute wait or so we ended up seated at a table not in the smoking section but only about 10 feet from the Bar. You can smoke in the bars in TN and folks were taking advantage, by the lung full, of the ability to not have the government interfere with their lives. I could feel the smoke crawl up my skin. By the way, portions at said dining establishment were really large. Yum.

We had a crabby wait staff member. Our party inquired about the availability of on-tap beers. She replied that they had all the usual. When pressed for a list, she replied, "All the regular ones." Hmm. We then asked what they had in bottles and she replied, "Oh, about 30 of 'em." When asked for a list or even some examples, she replied after a deep sigh, "Well, what kind do you want?" Our party answered with an obscure German import and, rest assured, this harried young woman had not heard of it. At that point we gave up. Looking around the place during dinner, we did come to the conclusion that the at least 15 of those 30 kinds of beer had the name "Miller" or "Bud" in them.

The iced tea in Johnson City that night was full flavored, had a rich texture and smooth delivery with just a hint of lemon.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's good to be the Queen.

Happy Birthday to daughter number four who is now seven years of age. She wanted to do something exciting. Specifically, "Take us all somewhere but don't tell me. You know somewhere good, not just like McDonald's. Maybe miniature golf." It's good to be the queen.

So something good turned out to be a trip up to northern Arizona, specifically to Prescott. (Now when Gina reads this she is going to be mad that I didn't tell her we were there. Shucks. I am in trouble. ). You know, when you travel like crazy like I do, you start to collect those frequent flyer hotel stays. MMM. Free rooms. MMMM.

Of course for the girls, four of them, the most exciting part of the trip is that none of them knew where we were going. All the way up there (about 90 minutes) Kelsey kept complaining that is was taking too long
'to go golfing or to eat." It's good to be the queen. Michelle, dear wife, had managed to pack for all of them and get their bags into the back of the van with none of them knowing about it. Pretty darn amazing if you ask me. Michelle even managed to bring along a favorite stuffed animal of daughter number three. She got it out of daughter's bed and into the back of the car between wake up and drive away. Michelle is amazing. It's good to be the queen.

So with an overnight trip consisting of hiking, swimming, mall-ing, Macayo-ing, everybody-gets-their-own-bed-in-the-hotel-cuz-we-got-two-rooms-ing and other fun, everybody is happy. Except for the waitress at Macayo's restaurant in Prescott, who at the end of a long day, still had to sing happy birthday dear seven year old and "none of the table guys are here to help me" didn't stop her from finding the manager, herself, the dishwasher and some person who walked by to sing to Kelsey.

It's good to be the Queen.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

BBQ Storytelling Moment Lost

In walking through the airport in Memphis Tennessee, I've learned several things. One is that there are about 125 gates in the entire airport. About right for a place like this. But, there are 150 BBQ restaurants in the airport. All open for business at 9am or earlier. Yee haw. WWED? What Would Elvis Do?

I ended up in Memphis after having been bumped from a flight out of Birmingham Saturday night. Oh, the joys of travel. Well, I ended up with a paid meal, hotel room and $300 worth of travel vouchers for "a future flight anywhere that Continental airlines flies." Ohh, the joy. Nothing but sirens and waiters in downtown Birmingham on Saturday night. But there is a story in here somewhere.

Oh, yes. While having my free dinner in the hotel restaurant I experienced a moment. A couple, in their mid 40's or in their mid-30's after too much cigarette smoking, came in for their honeymoon dinner. No kidding. Now, there is NO ONE in this restaurant at 930PM at night 'cept for three bored wait-staff and one zoned-out Arizona storyteller eating French Dip. The man was dressed in jeans, alligator boots, a tuxedo shirt, black suspenders, untied bow tie and a pack of unfiltered Camel cigarettes. She is in jeans, white blouse, black pumps, with a huge bouquet of handheld flowers and a full-length, head-to-toe lace bridal veil. Starting with a white tiara (sp?) and down to its lacey train dragging on the ground, she was the bride of the night. They took a seat around the corner from me.

You know, I almost walked over and gave them a wedding present of the story of the "Gold Ring." Simply put, a couple gets a ring upon their marriage with one wish in it. Only they are aware of its magic. Throughout their married life they encounter many difficulties but they never use the wish "just in case something worse happens." Working together, they survive every tragedy the encounter, never using the wish. They die and are buried together with the ring, their now grown children never knowing just how special the ring was but knowing completely how much their parents loved each other and them.

But, I didn't walk over to the new couple. He got up once to go outside to inhale a brush fire of unfiltered cigarette magic. When he came back in, I thought I would go offer but just couldn't get myself up to go to them. Wouldn't that had made a great story for their lives (or at least at their post-divorce party) about this nut who told them a story in a downtown restaurant when they got married?

I think this is one of the non-story storytelling moments I will always regret. I thought about it all the way back from Memphis to Phoenix.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Lady and the Storyteller

I've been teaching an introductory storytelling class and typical for summer, the group is small. Once a week, we gather together for the students to share the story they've been working on each week. It's a lot of fun. We videotape the tellers and use that for self and group feedback.

Last week, my students (who are actually all high school students this time around) each tackled a large traditional story. Although we don't assign stories, they all came back with a very similar type of story. For example, one of the more reticent students took on "Lady and the Tiger" to tell and experience.  Each of these young people did a great job telling, self evaluating and giving feedback to each other. For some of the students, the last class was a grand experience in getting past fear and hesitancy and simply jumping into experience of  public storytelling. I love being a storyteller and I think that I love teaching even more.

My <b> Tip of the Week</b> for you this week is: JUMP IN. I've used this tip before and I will use it again. If you want to be a storyteller, tell stories. As a painter is not a painter until she picks up brush and paint, so a teller is not a teller until he tells a story. Don't give into your fears that you might not know all the rules or you might do it wrong. There's a new book right now that is being promoted as THE BOOK to give THE rules of storytelling. Don't you believe it. Suggestions, guidelines, ethical discussion- those things are all good. Don't get too concerned in the beginning about breaking rules. For me, the "rules" of storytelling are more like pools of refreshing water than pits of unforgiving lava anyway.

Maybe you've been hesitant about telling stories. Maybe you've been waiting for a '"sign" to tell you to start. I am happy today to be your sign-bearer. Jump in and start telling.

Grandma, What Big Search Engines You Have

"Oh, grandmother, what big search engines you have!"

It’s fun for me to read the search words that people use to find with search engines. All hail the Google. In the last few days, I’ve seen things like: storyteller, king midas, business speech, hospital shop, lodging for storytelling convention and audio stories. This afternoon there was a search for "nubile girls" and we came up in the top ten. Sorry, you will have to go GOOGLE that to see which article in our site came up with that keyword. Actually an easier way is to go to the ARTICLES link on our site, type in whatever word you are searching for then CLICK on the search button. But I have to warn you, it’s not nearly as scandalous as it sounds. So go forth and Google or Search as your heart desires.

But that leads me to this question: So, what do you know about the Brothers Grimm?

We’re seeing an increase in the searches for variations on the name Grimm. Why? There’s a way-off-the-mark (or so it appears) movie coming out in the U.S. at the end of August that uses the Brothers Grimm as tale-weaving con artists. However, it appears that the movie's pre-release hype is promoting people to find out more about the Grimm fairy tales.

Here is your "Tip of the Week": So arrives now the opportunity in your classrooms, libraries, homes and wherever else you Tell to develop some programming, displays and new tales to go along with this apparently renewing interest in the J&W Grimm Brothers. If it’s hitting the search engines now, the Grimm interest might be pretty heavy in a few weeks. Perhaps for the brief time that the Grimms will be of interest to popular culture you might spark some long-term interest in story and literature.

If you do the search in the Articles section of, you’ll find four articles that deal with the Grimm Brothers, two of which are rather in-depth. We’ll be building more Grimm Brothers materials over the next month including a new CD that I am releasing. Please come pay us a visit. Feel free to Google us if you’d like.

"The better to find you with, my dear."

Here is yet another

Here is yet another post right from my desktop. Try to be as excited as I am

The Second First Post

The Second First Post