Stories inside a Story, Storyteller Secrets, UPDATE

Stories that Entertain & Educate

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As a storyteller, I enjoy reading and hearing stories from other authors.  Daniel Lieske’s “The Journey Begins” is one of those authors who is both a storyteller and illustrator.  Great combination.  If you click on the image above you will be transported to an enjoyable journey through his imagination and story development.

pvjx8cnrnnktcuxfppmkThis past weekend, I saw Spike Lee’s production of “BLACKkKLANSMAN.”  Based on a true story about an African-American police officer who is able to infiltrate the local Colorado KKK with the help of a white Jewish officer.  The events took place almost 40 years ago, in a time I well remembered.  The film’s ending centers on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It ends with footage of the white supremacist, David Duke and  statements made by President Trump.  The connection is made and I wonder if more of these stories aren’t going to pop up as we move into the next Presidential election.  What do you think?

flowerBack in 1961, my elementary school friend, Darryl Yee, was hired into an all Asian cast movie called, “The Flower Drum Song.”  The movie centered on the cultural issues between Chinese parents born in China and their children born in the United States.  The movie setting was San Francisco.  Now, 57 years later, the newest all Asian cast movie, “Crazy Rich Asian,” has also had success on the big screen.  The theme is similar with a similar theme of Chinese born in the United States vs those born in China.  Traditions and cultural changes.    But this is a similar theme for any ethnicity coming from the East, West, or South.  The real issues in these stories are based on tradition in how another culture works.  thediplomat-mv5bmtyxndmyotaxn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg1odyzntm._v1_-386x572

  For example, both leading women, in both movies, wear red and have Chinese fans as part of their identification.  Is this a stereotype,  tradition, or identification of a culture?  The real concern in both of these movies focused on whether the next generation had lost their mother tongue and traditions in favor of adopting their new culture fully.  In both movies, there is a cannibalizing of both the old and new culture to create a new one.  While an older generation will say it has been watered down, the new generation feels it has taken the best from both worlds.

Stories have the power the change peoples thoughts, prejudices and stereotypes.  They have the power to raise up a righteous causes or  dictators.  Stories have influenced our culture, our understanding, and even how we make our decisions.  Stories can be as small as a 30 second commercial to a 3-hour blockbuster.  Stories are always thought as a form of entertainment, but good stories educate too!  What stories have had influence in your life?

Stories inside a Story

Cannibalized Stories

RampageWhen I go to see a movie, I play a small game.  The game is called, “Find the hidden stories within the story.”  It’s simple, all you have to do to play the game is find a story from the past that seems to have been slipped into the present story—kind of a mosaic of stories cannibalized to make a new-old one.  Rampage is one of those stories.

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It highlights the fears of the 1950’s when atomic energy was more feared than appreciated.  Most Sci-Fi movies in the 50’s had monsters or giant bugs that were created from atomic isotopes.  “Beginning of the end” (1957), centered on giant grasshoppers that eventually attack Chicago.  Where the 1954, “Them,” had giant ants that attacked the sewer system of Los Angeles.

The list of giant insect horror movies seemed to follow the same pattern.

forbidden-planet-robby-the-robot-1956_a-G-9343170-8363144Rampage (2018) has giant animals but in the 21st Century they weren’t created by atomic isotopes, we have evolved into genetic research and experimentation.  We can now make any creature our ID, a word that comes from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet.”  It stood for the subconscious.  Since today’s genetics scientists don’t have a conscience in what they are playing with, there is no limit to the number of creatures and stories that can be created.

mighty1Rampage also has elements from another era—the 1940’s.  In 1949, a film called, “Mighty Joe Young,” which was a take-off of the 1933, “King Kong.”  Mighty Joe Young is about a young woman who befriends a giant ape in Africa.  Rampage, on the other hand, has a primatologist who befriends an albino ape he saved while in Africa.

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But it doesn’t stop there.  Like the H.G. Wells story, “War of the Worlds,” nothing seems to be able to stop the giant creatures as they descend on Chicago.  I find it interesting that the three cities most adopted to get attacked by creatures or aliens seems to be Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.  How would the story change if aliens or giant creatures attacked Madison, Wisconsin, Greenville, South Carolina, or San Jose, California?

Isn’t it amazing that all the military power that can take down a country can’t take down a giant animal or insect?  And, like most of stories, the military always has an atomic weapon, I guess a trump card from the 1950’s to wipe out the creature(s) and the whole city.  But wait, we won’t have to do that.  Why?  Because there is always one individual who has been studying the creature and knows the weak spot.  Shakes of Smoke, the Dragon in, “The Lord of the Rings.”  There is always one plate, one Achilles hill, that can take down the enemy.

And our protagonist, who can be a young boy to a young girl, a student, or a librarian intern, always has studied the problem more than the experts and will be responsible for delivering the final blow.  It’s all part of the pattern of The Hero’s Journey—You got to love it!

Stories inside a Story

#Enough–The Story Continues

enough-national-school-walkout-protests-lawmakers-inaction-on-gun-violenceI had another article I was going to post today, but at noon I left my home office and drove to our neighborhood Starbucks for my birthday freebie.  While waiting for my drink to be made I stood by the newspaper stand.  The pictures of students protesting on the front page of the WSJ  caught my attention.  I bought the newspaper, grabbed my drink, and returned home.

I wrote a piece that addressed the Florida massacre back in February (“To Change Reality-Change the Story P3”).  I knew then this story was just unfolding and the story would gain momentum, and it has.   As of today,  the story is far from dying out, it was front page news on the Wall Street Journal, “Students Protest Gun Violence.”

Since the Douglas High School massacre, suggestions on how to deal with gun violence in schools has been discussed from arming teachers to passing a Stop School Violence Act.  I’m an educator, and have worked for 25 years in high schools.  As far as arming teachers, let’s just say, there are some teachers I wouldn’t want to see armed.  No, arming teachers is moving in the wrong direction.  There have been mass killings in churches, what would you say to a pastor or deacon holstering a gun?

980xOn the other hand, increasing the age, or making it harder to purchase a gun, is not the answer either. Cigarette Laws were passed to increase the age from 16 to 18, and now many state laws have 21 as the legal age to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  Under age children still are able to get a hold of a pack of smokes.

Increasing the price of guns won’t help.  When I was a kid, cigarettes cost .25 cents a pack.  Today a pack of cigarettes varies with Los Angeles and New York state pricing their smokes at around $4.35 a pack.  The laws and costs won’t detour smokers.  You must get rid of the product.

This is where the students have focused their movement on—removing the weapons.  According to the Wall Street article, “the students are demanding the ban on semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, and the expansion of background checks to all gun sales.”

ThompsonSubmachineAdInteresting enough, this was a similar argument used back in 1929.  Except the gun that the public wanted removed was the Thompson Submachine gun, and in 1934, the United States government enacted the National Firearms Act of 1934.  This made the sale of The Thompson Submachine Gun illegal for public sale, but could still be sold to the military.

The old adage, “Children should be seen and not heard,” is being shoved aside.  These are our future citizens and they are already becoming involved in our political process, and their voice is coming through Social Media as the tool for change, and it’s working.  The last generation to do this were the Baby Boomers, who became activists and politically active with everything from Civil Rights to United States involvement in Vietnam.  We kids couldn’t vote back then either!WT_May7_1970

Stories inside a Story

The Story Within the Story-Black Panther

Whenever I go out to see a movie, I don’t go because of the special effects, actors, cinematography, or great musical score; these are important elements that help tell a story.  But, what I must have when I leave my seat, in the end, is a good story.  The rest just enhances the story enjoyment.

250px-Black_Panther_OS_Vol_1_2I went out today to see Marvel’s newest release, “The Black Panther.”  I’m not going to critique the movie or actors, nor talk about the special effects or the music.  What I’m interested in–is the story.

The movie begins with a night scene of stars and a child voice asking someone to tell him a story.  I thought, alright that’s a good start.  As the narrator continues to tell the story, I began thinking to myself, “There is something familiar here. Where have I heard this story before?”

who-created-humansAccording to Sumerian legends, Enki, a son of Anu, king on another planet called Nibiru, lands on Earth, on what today we call Africa, to mine for gold to take back to save his planet.  There is something wrong with the Anunnaki’s planet’s atmosphere and gold is needed to repair it.  The Anunnaki are quite advanced in science and technology, and establish themselves on Earth mining the gold.

According to Sumerian tradition, it was the Anunnaki that genetically bred man into Cro-Magnon, which is who we are today.  The Anunnaki story is over 6,000 years old.

The Black Panther movie, on the other hand, seems to borrow segments from this ancient story.  It tells a story with advanced beings, living in Africa, who possess advance science and technology.  Don’t worry if you haven’t seen this movie yet I’m not giving anything away.  Story cannibalism is natural in the storytelling world.

Cs0FU66VMAAqBU_ “Black Panther,” is a new movie, but not a new story.  The first Black Panther story   originated back in 1966. It was part of Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) during the Silver Age of comic Books.  Like Batman, T’Challa (Black Panther hero) has no super powers and must rely on his proficiency in physical training, science, and technology to battle his opposition.

the-black-panther-party-wishum-gregoryInteresting enough, another Black Panther story began in 1966. It was formed by two men, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The original purpose of this organization was to make sure African-American citizens were armed like militia.  In time, the FBI got involve and soon discredited the organization.  The Black Panthers received too much negative media and political attention, and  by the 1980’s, the organization was gone, and so was the name, “Black Panther.”

It was Michael Margolis who said, “The stories we tell literally make the world.  If you want to change the world, you need to change the story.”  I think the writers of the Black Panther are on that path.  Brandon Sanderson wrote, “The purpose of a storyteller is not tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”  I also think this story has the potential to make its audience do just that.