Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
© Tom Gilbert
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Imagination and Comedy with
Love Were Gene Wilder's Calling Cards
August 30, 2016
has taken me a day to process the death of actor Gene Wilder (83, died on August 28
from complications due to Alzheimer's disease). He was a very
talented actor who could show depth in comic or dramatic roles. He also
was a notable writer, not just for screenplays, but also a memoir and a
couple of novels and a collection of short stories (biography.com). And as is typical
when someone of
his stature passes we begin to learn more and appreciate more about
Wilder was best known for his roles in the Mel Brooks movies The Producers, Blazing Saddles,
and Young Frankenstein.
He also teamed with Richard Pryor for some hilarious "buddy" comedies,
including Silver Streak.
It was his role as Willy Wonka, however, that most of us cherish and I
found it interesting that Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was not a box office hit
when it was released in theaters in 1971.
100th Birthday to the National Park Service
August 27, 2016
I'll admit it, I've sometimes taken the amazing natural wonders of the
great outdoors in America for granted. What a shame! However, when I am
in the presence of nature's wonders I can't help but be humbled and
There are many fantastic
National Parks in the USA. Thanks to the National Park Service,
established on August 25, 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson (a
process surely inspired by our outdoors loving President Teddy
Roosevelt), we can visit and explore sites like Yellowstone with the
"Old Faithful" geyser, the Florida Everglades, the Grand Tetons, Grand
Canyon, giant sequoias and amazing underground caves, such as those at
Carlsbad Caverns here in New Mexico.
You might want to check out what the National Parks look like from outer space.
Even cooler for historians and the historically minded are the newly
digitized historic archives (a collaborative effort between Clemson
University and the NPS) where you can travel back in time to see photos of the parks "back in the day".
Happy centennial birthday, NPS! Here's to another hundred years.
Dead on a Winter's Night Memoir
August 24, 2016
Rolland Love is a bit of a modern day Mark Twain. He's adventurous and
likes to fish and the outdoors. He's been involved in re-enacting the
Lewis and Clark expedition. He teaches about life stories. And he spins
some very engaging tales. I've used his novel, Blue Hole,
in my 5th grade classes for a few years.
Now he has released his memoir, Born
Dead on a Winter's Night
and it is garnering lots of good reviews. If you want to check it out
he is currently presenting it a few chapters at a time during August
and September. It's an opportunity to read it for free in serialization
form (more here). I'm thinking of having
my 5th graders read it as part of my lessons on personal narrative
“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is
an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a
comedy, and a tragedy.”
Biles Has a Story of Gold
August 15, 2016
One of the greatest stories to emerge from the 2016 Summer Olympic
Games in Rio de Janeiro is that of gymnastic dynamo Simone Biles.
If you have been following the events you know that she is being called
the greatest female gymnast ever. Already she has won three gold medals
and has a shot at more. And she is only 19!
But to know her story is to know the real
gold. She had a rough start to life. Her father had abandoned the
family and she never knew him. Her mother was addicted to drugs and
alcohol and Simone and her younger sister spent time in foster care
before her grandparents stepped in and eventually adopted and raised
them. That was a fortuitous twist of fate. The grandparents assumed the
role of parents at a time in life when most parents are thinking about
retirement. It was a sacrifice, but they have a strong faith and they
passed that on to the girls. (see more with this story at the Daily Mail)
Simone Biles is 4 feet 8 inches, petite, but muscular and incredibly
talented. She had to work very hard to develop that talent. The amount
of time an elite athlete must train and the stamina and perseverance to
make the Olympic team is incredible. What a great story and a shining
light to others! Simone Biles has a real story of gold, more than the
medals and world titles she is achieving.
Golden Anniversary for Beatles Revolver Album
August 8, 2016
The Beatles are arguably the most influential rock band of all time.
Their songwriting and creativity were outstanding in their relatively
short recording span of seven years. When they released their seventh
album it was clear the group had taken both studio recording and
songwriting to a new level. Yes, Rubber
Soul set the stage, but 50 years later Revolver is still
considered one of the greatest albums ever. Many would say it is the
Every song is a gem; there are no duds. Highlights for me include Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Good Day
Sunshine, Here,There and Everywhere and She Said, She Said.
But no complaints on any other tracks, including Got To Get You Into My Life, I'm
Only Sleeping and For
If you visit The Beatles official website
you can find plenty of info about Revolver, including a video clip,
"The Making Of Revolver". But you can go even more in-depth with an
excellent special by Beatles audiophile and radio broadcaster/ producer
Paul Ingles. Everything Was Right: The Beatles' Revolver has
stories from various people connected to the album, the band and also
comments from some other musical artists, all articulating why the
album was so good along with some little known facts. One of those
tidbits is that the name of the album, "Revolver", had nothing to do
with guns. It was a play on words - an album spins on a turntable, so
this LP was a "revolver".
It's remarkable for me to realize that we are fifty years removed from
this incredibly cultural and artistic creative period of the
mid-1960's. This album more than withstands the test of time. If
anything, it might be better with age!
Ultra Running Dog
August 5, 2016
This is a tale of a dog unlike any other I've heard. It starts by
admiring the amazing physical accomplishments of ultra-marathon
runners. I do a bit of long distance running myself and have completed
a couple of full marathons (26.2 miles) and about a doze half
marathons. It takes a lot of training, stamina and perseverance. But
some runners will go on races that are a hundred miles or more, often
in extreme conditions.
Such was the case of Dion Leonard, a Scottish ultra-marathon runner. He
was in the middle of running a 155 mile race across the Gobi desert in
China. I guess you might not blame him if he started hallucinating. But
what he saw was not an illusion. On day two of the race a stray pup ran
up alongside him. She stayed with him for a few days and ran over 77
miles! They became fast friends and Leonard pretty much saw this as a
sign that the dog and he were meant to be together.
It turns out that would not be so easy. The expense and time (over
$5,000 and four months to get medical clearance, including a period of
quarantine) before this remarkbale little dog could join him in
Scotland was quite extensive.
After running a crowd-funding campaign and
utiliing the power of social media (there is a Facebook page)
plans are underway for Gobi, what he appropriately named the dog, to
join him at home by Christmas. Read more of this remarkable story here on Huffington Post.