Creative Storytelling: Five Ideas

lahikmajoe:

Wow, I really like these ideas. While already employing some of them, I plan to incorporate even more. Thanks The Daily Post. Good stuff.

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Itching to do something different on your blog? Want to tell a story in a new way? Here are five quick ideas:

Use pages and links in fresh ways.

The bear blogging at Hello, I am a bear shows how you can use the standard features on your blog — posts, pages, links — to experiment with digital stories. Consider “You are a bear,” which uses links and pages in a choose-your-own-adventure tale. In the story, you make decisions from the point of view of a bear. The blogger — er, bear — cleverly creates various paths and different endings depending on your actions.

Combine forces with someone else.

We love the writer-artist collaboration between Virginia-based blogger Shelley Sackier and Sweden-based cartoonist Robin Gott on Shelley’s blog, Peak Perspective.

Illustration by Robin Gott, "Give Me the Straight Dope," Peak Perspective

Illustration by Robin Gott, “Give Me the Straight Dope,” Peak Perspective

Shelley’s humor and strong voice and…

View original 472 more words

Paid in Guinea Pigs

Meerschweinchen

Here’s a book about the little sea pigs

For a long time, Elaine said that she would only be paid in Guineas. Because someone insisted that Guineas are not legal tender, she’s now accepting Guinea Pigs instead.

So, while we were chatting about it, I remembered that I had a book about Guinea Pigs in German. However, they don’t use that word – they’ve got their own German word for these animals.

They’re called Meerschweinchen, which directly translated ‘Meer‘ means ‘sea‘ and ‘Schweinchen‘ means ‘little pig‘. Weirdly enough, when Germans talk about these little furry mammals, they’re referring to them as ‘little sea pigs‘.

If you want to reimburse Elaine for any work she does for you, you’ll need to pay her in that currency.

Having cake and discussing which direction we’re all going

IMG_0241

Box of pastries…carbohydrates a plenty

Although I’ve got writing assignments and plenty of other obligations, I realised recently that I hadn’t been keeping the horde of my readers up to date on what’s going on hereabouts. For one thing, Elaine came to visit and we continued our Cake Across Europe tour that we began last year in Palermo.

Oh, here’s a collection of what I wrote about all of that:

Palermo Posts

And here’s some of what Elaine made from that trip

Nobody’s Perfect. Even me

Alone and existential in Palermo – What to do?

It seems that while everyone else is cutting carbohydrates out of their diets, Elaine and I go the other direction when we’re together. Plenty of my friends and acquaintances are toying with variations of high protein/low carb eating. Listening to those who’re obsessed with the Paleo Diet, many of our modern health problems are directly related to the effect sugar has on us. The argument goes that because carbs turn to sugar, we’re better off decreasing them as much as we can.

While I’m not going to wade into that debate here, and it’s a tangent I’m not prepared to go onto at this point anyway, I will concede that Elaine and my cake consumption is not the ideal health choice we could make. If I thought anyone was mad enough to actually look to either of us for nutrition advice, I’d include some sort of ‘Don’t try this at home, kids’ warning. Luckily, that’s not a concern.

Instead, the thrust of our week together was brainstorming and planning for how we’re going forward with our online presence. Because at our age, we’re sandwiched between the generations of people who didn’t have any of this technology and the digital natives who have grown up with it all around them, we’re in a position to have watched the good and bad that can be created in an online community.

People get bent out of shape because of something that was said in response to a post on Feckbook, and things can so easily escalate into name calling and blocking and genuine bad blood. We see the power of curating content and believe that our wall or stream on various platforms is like our virtual neighbourhood. So an ongoing topic between us is what to do when people get unruly on your page.

When it’s a genuine exchange of ideas, both and Elaine and I can overlook a bit of invective. A bit. However, when it turns to personal attacks, there’s an advantage in editing out the more cruel voices. Is that suppression of ideas? Censorship?

Yep, it is. It’s my wall. Go pollute your own space with your poison.

I’ve watched carefully over the years how major media sources deal with readers comments. When users still have some ability to stay anonymous, it seems there’s more inappropriate behaviour, but even people using their real names can be schmucks.

So, I’m curious what experiences you’ve had with this. Have you altered the settings on your blog or social media platforms where comments have to be approved first? Do you even bother with such thoughts? What’s your position on this? Don’t be shy.

Getting back outside

IMG_3960

Deep into the fantastic autumn we were promised, and now that the Oktoberfest is finally behind us we can get onto the real heart of the season.

For mid October we’re having a genuine heatwave in Munich. It’s too late to call it Indian Summer, I believe. It’s warm and gorgeous in the daytime and not much cooler at night: it’s an Autumn Wonderland.

There has been leaf kicking, as well as plenty of conversations about how this is the best time of year. I wouldn’t bother getting into a discussion about it if you disagree. If you prefer summertime, you’re simply on the other team.

Winter? Well, that way of thinking has its place. I’m always up for a long dog walk in the snow, and huddling up in front of a fire is an exquisite pastime. Everything’s in a sort of hibernation, which appeals to my desire to ruminate and reconsider all of the things.

What about springtime you ask. Hmmm, you could probably make a case for that most tempestuous of seasons. I’d even entertain your arguments to be clear, whereas I’d ignore whatever the summer and winter folk had to say.

Nevertheless, I still find my mind wandering back to the fall. When you know everything’s dying, but it’s so beautiful while it’s doing it. The feeling that this moment in time is so precious and so fleeting – it reminds me to savour the now.

In the back of my mind I know the long, dark nights are just round the corner. Impatient and grumpy travellers on public transport we’ve got to look forward to and the once white snow getting increasingly dirtier and mushier. We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely coming. Encroaching upon our cheery last gasp of warm wind.

Don’t get me wrong. Aside from writing about it here, I’m not thinking much about the cold. Too busy revelling in the red and then yellow and then golden leaves. Even scrawling it here is keeping me from getting back outside.

Ushering them out the door: don’t tell a Scot what to do

IMG_0722.JPG

Have been chatting with the Scots in my circle of friends, and it looks like they’re going to go with Independence. This has been building for a while…apparently the whole ‘We’d rather govern ourselves‘ thing isn’t a new concept up north.

The curious thing is that not so long ago I agreed with the pundits who seemed to believe that at the last minute those more inclined to tradition would scurry back over to the side of staying in the UK. It seemed only practical.

What happened exactly? Between then and now?

Well, it seems the folk responsible for convincing the Scottish to vote to stay in the UK have chosen a rather curious tactic. The Better Together campaign are employing a mix of scare tactics and condescending rhetoric that’s supposed to freak out Scottish voters.

Just in the last few days, the news has been a mix of:

Well, if you vote for Independence, you can’t continue using the Pound Sterling as your currency.

Oh, and joining the EU isn’t going to be as easy as you think.

And anyway, hasn’t it always been better when we’ve all stayed together.

Behave now and vote for the security that we’ve been providing you all along.

With just the right amount of fear mongering and condescension, it seems the people who wanted to keep Scotland in the fold have instead ushered them out the door.

Simply staring out the window

 

Staring out the window one day long ago in Hamburg

Staring out the window one day long ago in Hamburg

Stumbling round the web today, I happened upon a New York Times article that was talking about how our brains work. The whole thing is worth reading, so I’ll link to it here:

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

However, you don’t need to read the whole thing to get what I thought was the best part. Never hurts if you can slide the word stick-to-itiveness into a sentence…here, enjoy:

This two-part attentional system is one of the crowning achievements of the human brain, and the focus it enables allowed us to harness fire, build the pyramids, discover penicillin and decode the entire human genome. Those projects required some plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

But the insight that led to them probably came from the daydreaming mode. This brain state, marked by the flow of connections among disparate ideas and thoughts, is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. You might be going for a walk or grocery shopping or doing something that doesn’t require sustained attention and suddenly — boom — the answer to a problem that had been vexing you suddenly appears. This is the mind-wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected.

Did you read that? Daydreaming mode. That’s the best mode. I excel at that one.

Have had some long meandering conversations this summer with some of my favourite people, and quite an unlucky few have difficulty with down time. Time when they don’t actually have to be doing something. It’s a topic I find myself coming back to again and again.

Writing and playing music and teaching are all things that I enjoy. They bring me untold pleasure, and I shine when I’m in my element. Yet, if there’s one thing I’m exceptionally good at, it’s idling. Doing as little as possible.

You don’t put much value in such a thing? Yes, I suppose I get that. Probably not going to change your mind on this one, anyway, which is why I was so thrilled to see the above-mentioned article. Don’t take my word for it.

The creative answers that make the breakthroughs? They don’t necessarily come when you buckle down and try harder. They just might materialise while walking the dogs or catching a street car. Or the one of the best scenarios for daydreaming?

Simply staring out the window.

Go ahead and try it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

German words and not talking opera

IMG_1395

She looks somehow optimistic, doesn’t she? What’s that she’s holding in her hand anyway?

You know, it can be a bit odd when you tell someone you like living in Germany. The person cocks his head, and either says it outright or visibly thinks, ‘But you could live in Spain or Italy…or anywhere. Why Germany?’

Then you admit that you actually enjoy speaking the German language…oh, and that you genuinely like the people.

The person you’re talking to cannot fathom that last bit. It is simply unfathomable.

Germans are boring. Everyone knows that (they’re not boring, but stereotypes are persistent). Actually, some Germans are painfully dull. However, I’ve met some Brits and dare I say even more Americans who’ve got the personality of drying paint. Every culture has its share of the socially inept. The comically uncurious.

Germans are humourless (aside from slapstick – many Germans adore Mr Bean, after all – the German sense of humour is  utterly language dependent…you’ve got to know the parlance to get the jokes). They’ve got a sense of humour. Do some individuals take themselves too seriously? Well, sure. Of course. I avoid those. I seek out the ones who see the lighter side of life here. The ones who can laugh at themselves.

And finally? Germans are orderly rule followers. Well, this one’s kind of true. It is true. There are exceptions, but on the whole there is a social order here. People do what they’re expected. They break rules and sometimes they lie, but for the most part rules are there to be adhered to.

Is that so horrible?

It’s rather good for someone of my ilk (a bit whimsical) to live in a society where things are reliable. If a German tells you he’s going to do something, generally that something gets done. It’s sort of refreshing.

What got me thinking about all of this? Well, I read this very funny page by Ed M Wood:

My Favorite German Words, My Barber and I

Go ahead. Click on the link above. It’s not going to hurt you.

There’s so much in here I can relate to. The words he chooses are some of my favourite. The way he winds the story of him and his barber through the list of words? Yes, I like that, as well.

My friend Amy has one of those calendars where you learn a little bit of German everyday, and she regularly regales me with the more ridiculous things that the damned thing is trying to teach her. If you think Ed M Wood‘s article is funny, you should hear Amy arguing with her German calendar.

Here’s the one from yesterday:

 

Quatsch keine Opern!
(Translation: Be brief!)
Literally? “Don’t talk operas!”
I like that a lot. Don’t talk operas for goodness sake. Not bad advice.