Dead Club House

Dead Club House
Haunted House in Cambridge

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blew Up My Head

I'm feeling grateful for this class, without which, I would have never blogged or created a website.

I'm thinking beyond this week that I'll remove the homework posts and keep the ghost ones and try to encourage people to send me ghost stories to post or to comment on these stories with their own similarly archetypal experience.

Ever seen a ghost?

The Dead Wife Returns

Here's another bit o' rocking good ghost folklore from Dredging the Choptank:

A magnificent bit of flood folklore from the southern end of Dorchester County in Hoopersville, a town on the southern chain of Dorchester islands, tells the wild tale of a very wet internment right before the storm surge of Hurricane Hazel.

An old fisherman had just buried his wife of many years in the family plot next to their house by a creek. As a fast and violent hurricane whipped the storm surge up over the family plot and to the steps of his groaning house, the grieving fisherman was convinced that his friends would come to rescue him, and, indeed, in middle of the howling wind, he heard a knocking at the door. He opened the door and there was his wife’s coffin, floating on the rising floodwaters, its lid loose and the water holding her up in a seated position. The water fanned out her hair and lifted one arm out to the fisherman. She had found her way back home. Feeling the house rock on its foundation, the old fisherman grabbed onto the coffin as his home sunk under the waves, and he rode the flood in the coffin with his dead wife until morning when he landed on high ground several miles away.

In [Thomas] Flowers’ version, the old man ditched his wife’s body and rode the coffin alone. In the Chesapeake Book of the Dead, the old fisherman is an old woman.


Dead deer at Blackwater Refuge, Dorchester County.  Hoopersville is just south of there.

The Legend of Big Liz

Here's my favorite Dorchester County legend from Dredging the Choptank:


During the Civil War, Big Liz’s plantation owner, John Austin, forced her to bury some ill-gotten, Confederate booty in the densely-thicketed Green Briar Swamp. After she dug the treasure’s watery hole, he decapitated her, and she still haunts the marsh and guards his abandoned gold. According to local legend, the treasure’s still buried in the swamp. If you drive to the DeCoursey bridge, honk your horn and flash your headlights, then the wind will blow, and you’ll soon hear her shuffling step. The car engine will stall as she limps into view, shoulders stooped, cradling her head in her arms, her eyes glowing. You’re trapped, frozen, and can’t move as she draws closer and closer.
"A swamp monster. That’s more like it," I said.

Blackwater Refuge that backs up against the Green Briar Swamp, Dorchester County, Maryland

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Different POV Rules

Hey writers!
So, here's another rumination:  why can POV switch in film but not in short story?  I was watching The Quiet Man (and I love that film) but the priest Ward Bond kicks off the story with a voiceover but when Shawn Thorton (John Wayne) sees Mary Kate Danaher for the first time, the camera switches to his perspective.
Is it because film has the great asset of the visual?  It's easier for a viewer to understand a perspective jump in film than reading it in story?

Blog Directionals

Hey bloggers!  What directionals we use in language is a reflection of how a culture orients itself in the world.  When referring in one post to an older post on the same blog, does one say the older post is below?  Underneath?
I did figure out how to internally link between posts but it's an interesting thought.  Is this post above the Thanksgiving post?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

Feeling thankful that:
  • I'm sentient -- I wake up with a brain and know that I have a brain
  • it rains here and there's oxygen and gravity
  • I hear music in the SC Performing Arts Theater
  • I program arts
  • my parents are alive
  • we will eat well today
  • we all have homes and I can do laundry inside mine and there's running water and electricity
  • we use language and it pours out of me
  • I lived once with my great grandmother
  • I can sing and walk
  • I have awesome friends -- see http://mysuperartfriends.blogspot.com/
  • I stand up
  • I express
  • I vote
  • I can drive to Pennsylvania and don't need a passport -- I am free to move about the country
  • I am published
  • I don't have the flu

I'm sure there's more . . .

Night Mirror

After I read a section of Dredging the Choptank to UB honor students, I asked the group about their ghost experiences.  Adjunct Christina Ralls told a story of seeing a man in her bathroom mirror at night when she was a child.  She’s been afraid to look in the night mirror since then. 
Two nights ago, I was surprised in my darkened bedroom by a pale blue triangle of light that was centered on the altar between the window and the vanity.  The light had no obvious source.  I stood in front of the oval vanity mirror, rooted, puzzled. No beams slanted in from the dim backyard.  The altar seemed lit from underneath by a gentle indigo light.  Then I noticed my own image in front of me.  I was me but the room and its furniture were not behind me.  Surrounding my image was black, black, black velvety darkness.  My image was brightly lit, again with no obvious source, and that white light didn’t bleed into the blackness around it.
Startled, I moved aside.  I couldn’t look again.
When I was five, when we moved into the house in Lutherville, I had a game with the mirror on the back of my parents’ bedroom door.  I told my mother that the girl in the mirror was a different girl than me.  I think the girl in the mirror broke away and moved differently than my body at least once.  It’s blurry.
One of the rules of Feng shui is don’t position your bed so you can see yourself sleep.  The house at night can be scary and mirrors are portals.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery of the Flip

I've been filming the Y-Art interviews with three Flip video cameras.  They're easy to manipulate and interviewees are not intimidated by their slight handheld case but they suffer from a paucity of consistency.  One new one is driven by double A batteries; one by triple A.  Supposed to hold an hour of video, after I emptied my HD Flip of its first interviews its status read:  18 minutes left.  And during the next interview it flashed low battery and shut down, not saving the video shot up to that point.  The older Flip imports AVI files to my PC at home but won't at the Mac in lab.  My newer HD Flip only imported audio files on my home PC so I can only access those at the lab. 
I need a flow chart.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

!?Y-Art?! is Up!

My final project/blog focusing on the justification of art is up, and I posted 4 interviews so far:  Jimi Kinstle, Gregg Wilhelm, Kendra Kopelke and Peter Toran.  Three more to edit:  Simon Fong, Joe Dennison and Todd Mion.  Interviewing and filming nine more on Friday:  Joan Weber, Marianne Angelella, Lisa Mion, Christine Demuth, Anthony Scimonelli, Raine Bode, John Wilson and Robert Hitz.  Phew.

Take a look !?Y-Art?! and discuss.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jimi of all Trades

It took a half an hour to upload and the quality might be grainy but here's the Jimi Kinstle !?Y-Art?! interview.  Jimi is the artistic director of Pumpkin Theatre, the president of the Baltimore Theatre Alliance, an actor, director, dancer, choreographer, founding member of the Flying Tongues improv group, the list goes on . . .

video

Technical challenges

Are we not learning in grad school that mistakes are part of the process and the learning experience?

Tried to upload the Jimi Kinstle interview on this blog yesterday and received an error message.  It's a 6:43 minute interview in M4V format.  I created that file in iMovies from the Flip AVI re-formatted in mp4.  Could it be a format issue?  A PC (at home) vs. Mac issue? 
My Flipcam imports differently with PC than with Mac.  In PC land, it'll only transfer audio files.  In Mac, a whole different screen comes up and I can grab the video files but they're harder to name.  Argh.
Will try today to upload Jimi interview from Mac.
Might also be a size issue.  Is 6:43 minutes too long for the web anyway?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Haunted Cable

From Dredging the Choptank:
I was working tech theatre at Essex Community College in Baltimore and standing at the fly rail backstage during a performance of Camelot. A thick, black, lighting cable had slipped and hung in a long heavy loop, blocking the offstage exit of one of the castle units. The tech crew waited in the wings to roll the castle units offstage in a complicated scene change, and Beck, our beloved production manager, stood beside me.
“Go tell Eric that we’re going to have dress that cable before we can clear the castle,” he said. Then he slowly put his hand on my arm. ”No, wait, you don’t have to.”
Rumor in the tech staff was that Beck was a warlock; maybe because he sported a long ponytail and could rip through lumber like butter. I don’t know about his religious leanings, but he saw the darkness coming before I did, a moving darkness darker than offstage, gathering around the cable, not really lifting it, but pushing it up, up over the edge of the castle. All the crew techs saw it, and shook their heads, as if their eyes would work better after the shaking.

“There could be a logical explanation,” said Joe.
“Maybe, but what?” I asked. “No one was up in the fly area. We all saw the darkness lift the cable up. What could that be?”
“Precisely,” he said finally. “I said could.”
“Maybe we want to believe the illogical because we want to believe the illogical,” I rambled. “But all of us together, having a group halluncination?”
“Isn’t there a hospital right next to Essex?” Joe asked.

Essex Community College is adjacent to Franklin Square Hospital, and some of its theatre department folklore recounts the recently hospitalized dead visiting the stage. A good percentage of the theatrical family believes in ghosts. We’re open to that sort of thing. In one theory, that belief is the reason that ghosts reveal themselves to us.


Gustave Dore's illustration of Lord Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, 1868

Thanks for all the Fish

Tomorrow I adopt a betta fish that’s been in the Earth Project art installation since September.  This fish’s other option is the Patapsco.  I’m oddly looking forward to its silent, circling company.  I might call it Aggie after Agatha Christie since the art installation was a little like her Ten Little Indians.
I’m an omnivore.  Can I still eat swordfish in the house with a betta swimming in the living room?
There’re betta blogs where betta art is posted.  How far am I from that?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

11/1/10 Freewriting on What do you express?

What comes out of us as art?  Is it emotion somehow transferred, memory, ideas, projections?
I wrote a screenplay for Simon in exchange for his website work and software loading help.  He had filmed footage of two friends walking through Mount Royal.  He told me what he had filmed and the key words that he had in mind for the male voiceover.  Then we watched the footage as I wrote on a pad.  I couldn’t hear Simon although he sat right behind me.  He seemed far away.  He stopped talking.  I typed up my notes, printed it and watched the footage with it, speaking it.  I made one more revision the following day but basically it was done.  I felt dizzied as if I had returned from a great distance.
“It was just, like, bleh,” Simon said, making a barfing motion.  “That just flowed out of you.”
It did.  It was unstoppable.

?!Y-Art?! Blog Content Thoughts

I’ll interview six super art friends on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.  I’ve been wondering if I should ask them to sign a release that states:  the interview will be posted on YouTube and on a blog.  I asked super art friend Todd that question and he reminded me that I write contracts for friends who are designing or directing at UB. 
Once I have some video content, I can create the blog.
I’ll definitely use a different blogspot template than this one.  Maybe the one Kari used. 
Maybe one of the Baltimore City murals should be the header photo but I’d have to give artist credit and find their name.
I have to compose the introduction:  something, like, Jenny made me do this or grad school is a great excuse for crazy projects with one’s super art friends.
I suppose I could migrate some freewriting posts from this blog to the ?!Y-Art?! blog.
I’m going to post video on the blog so I thought I’d test below.  I shot this video of a kid dancing in front of the Penn Station sculpture on a windy day.
video

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Phantom phone

In June of this year, I was trimming the bushes by the garage with the garage door open and the phone rang.  I had removed the old rotary phone from the garage to put it in inside the house in the upstairs hall when the old one there had broke. 
I stood next to the shelf, staring at the telephone wire, hearing the absent old phone ring its ancient clang.  It wasn’t physically possible what I was experiencing.  Focused and straining to listen, I tried to place the sound.  It seemed to be coming from the connector box but there’s no bell in that little box and certainly not a ringer that sounds like a rotary phone.
Was the ringing leftover energy?  Does the beginning have no end?  Is old dead Tom the previous owner who installed the line giving me a call?  How do I answer?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Phantom perfumes

In the last two hours of my grandmother’s life, I discovered that she was drenched in sweat and so I powdered her.  It was a Avon floral powder that she kept by her chair.  I smelled that powder on my hands off and on for years, sometimes when I needed her but not always.
Haunted scents lace folklore.  I know a man who lives in a house that used to belong to a smoker.  He has sealed the walls and cleaned the rugs and years have gone by but every once in a while at night he smells cigarette smoke on the way back from the bathroom.

Freewriting on How Does Art Change the World?

10/29/10, 5 minutes
I have seen theatre change the world, change little pieces of the world, little pieces of lives.  I’ve seen that confidence in facing a challenge make a person stand taller.  My docu-play One Particular Saturday told high school students and college students the stories of the Baltimore Race Riots in 1968.  The student actors returned to rehearsal the second night and said my mother or my grandmother or my aunt remembers tanks rolling down Harford Road and they had never told me.  Art tells history and heals wounds by opening up dialogue.  The Laramie Project will begin a dialogue about hate crimes.  Laramie will remind the audience of its empathy.  Studies prove that theatre develops empathy.  Perhaps because we feel along with the characters.  Perhaps because we’re in the middle of group art and have to rely upon each other.  Don’t we daily have to rely upon each other?
10/31/10 1 minute
I know Victorian London because of Oliver and Charles Dickens.  I know World War II because of the Sound of Music.  I know the Russian Revolution because of Dr. Zhavigo.
I want to spell check Zhavago.
Do you edit blog content or freewrite like above?

Friday, October 29, 2010

!?Y-Art?! Questions

I've been brainstorming on questions to ask my super art friends in the video interviews of my final project.  Here's the ones I have so far.  Please, feel free to wrestle with one of them.  They're big and rolling around the circuits of my brain.  I'm going to start freewriting on them. 
Why art?
Why not art?
How does it make you feel?
How does it change the world?
Does it change the world?
What is social justice theater?
What do colors feel like?
What does sound smell like?
How do you express?
What do you express?
What does it mean to express?
How do all your expressions feel outside your body?
What do they become then?
Do words have legs?
Can dancers paint?
Do we have one best means of expression?
Can everyone express?
Is everyone an artist?
Is everyone a story?
What does theater do?
What does playing an instrument do?
Why do we strive?
What is the difference between a sculptor and a pianist?
Is there a difference between a sculptor and a pianist?
Is the gift inherent?

Me in Babes in Toyland in Baltimore Actors Theatre in the late1970s. When we all tap danced together, that was art.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Story boarding

I story-boarded the !?What is Art?! video project on sketch paper to track flow, write text and determine which images I needed to load on the flash drive.  I drove around town, filming and photographing on Saturday and will definitely use this image:
I hope I can access the video footage -- I emailed the Sony HD file to myself and burnt two others on DVD+R.  I can plug in the Flipcam in the lab to access those files but they're AVI and I'm a little baffled on how to convert those all to MPeg4 for IMovies.
I tried to upload some Flipcam AVI footage here and after Blogspot thought about it for 20 minutes, I got a message saying there was an error.  What format should it be in?


Typography rehearsal

I want to use our Monday video project as a rehearsal for EPub's final project.  For the final project, I'm going to interview my Super Art Friends, asking them Why Art and name it !?Y-Art?!  (Lately I've been very fond of exclammation points.)  So, I collected stills and video clips and want to address the other Big Question:  What is Art? 
Below are some typography samples.  I am leaning towards Bauhaus.
!?Y-Art?!
In Harrington
!?Y-Art?!
In Earwig Factory
!?Y-Art?!
In Blue Highway Linocut
!?Y-Art?!
In Bauhaus 93


!?What is Art?!
In Bauhaus 93
!?What is Art?!
In Bickley Script
!?What is Art?!
In Andy



John C. Wilson
Director, Actor, Theatre Project Board Member, Producer
In Broadway

Andrew Peters
Actor, Artistic Director of Glass Mind Theatre
In Garramond

Can we insert Word and/or InDesign files to iMovies?  I'd love to use fonts that iMovies doesn't have.

Pinned

I lived in the top floor of this house on Cathedral Street in Mount Vernon years ago. 
I loved my apartment; it was light, airy and circular but walking down the basement stairs made my chest tight.   I suspected that something horrible had happened in a little red rectangle of a room at the base of the steps.
My second year there, I awoke to the horrible sense that something else was in my bedroom.  The air was cold.  The something else could smell me, smell my fear.  I could hear it breathe, ragged and gulping.  It pinned me to the mattress; I couldn’t move my arms.  Gathering all my strength, I rose up and reached for my bedside lamp.  I read the Bible to make it go away or to make my fear go away.  Is there a difference?
Book of John or not, it returned.  Some nights it whispered gibberish into my ears, some long forgotten language. 
It did not follow me to my house in Hamilton when I moved.
Ghost folklore is riddled with stories of the living awaking to a cold presence that pins them to the bed.  Are we more accessible in sleep?  My friend Korinne told me to surround myself with light every night just before I fall.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A teaching moment

I taught a series of playwriting workshops at Roland Park Country School over the past couple weeks.  One of the 8 amazingly smart kids in the class is a German exchange student.  She's so brave, 17, here for a semester and living with a host family.  She's quiet and blonde and sweet and English is not her first language.  She was confused during freewriting and clearly worried about writing a ten minute short play in English.  We workshopped hers last and she was nervous as a cat.  But her play was brilliant, a scary little story about two people trapped in an old man's basement.  When she realized that we loved it, she clapped her hand over her mouth to hold all the joy.  She almost cried.  I almost cried. 
So, thanks, Anika, for reminding me to face my fears and showing me how beautiful teaching can be.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Living room Ghost

I woke up once, sitting on the end of my couch.  I had fallen asleep watching some television.  I started, sitting up straight and opening my eyes.   I was alone in the house but the figure of a man walked by me.  I shook my head clear and he was gone.  He was an older man, white, wearing a plaid shirt and khaki pants.  He walked with purpose between the end of the couch and the side table.  He wasn’t even looking at me. 
My friend Korinne once awoke in the living room and saw an older white man sitting in my arts and crafts rocker.  I was appalled but she said he looked happy to be there.
Two owners ago, before the Tom the truck driver and his family, the Taylors, a white couple and their son, lived in the house. The husband was a tin man, sold siding and formstone .  His company covered the shingle house with formstone; there’s a plaque on the southwest corner to prove it.   The husband died first and the old woman lived alone before she died, so said Tom.  They had cats.
Is Mr. Taylor stuck in the living room?  Is he waiting for friends to drop by?
So much history is lost. 

Folklore in History

I read last night at the Red Canoe Bookstore in Lauraville.  I read the beginning of Chapter 3 from Dredging the Choptank that tracks the protagonist's first visit to the Dorchester Arts Council and her experience with the upstairs hall ghost.  I wonder if I should read that section because it's so laced with context of Maryland history, xenophobia and the difference between the Eastern Shore and the Mainland.  I had trimmed history from early texts per my publisher's suggestion but I have a hard time separating folklore (the stories of a people) from its historic context (the story of a people).
A woman at the reading talked about Gettysburg ghosts and how their stories gave her a better view into our collective past.
This story is from the book:  I asked my friend Terri the difference between a historian and a folklorist and she said, "A tie."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On readings

Reading excerpts from my book live is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.  Live readings put me up there at the podium and me alone.  Readings are scarier than acting; there’s no character to hide behind.  Readings are scarier than producer announcements; all the content is mine.  Readings are me squared up there:  me the performer and me the writer.
But Albert Brooks might be right and this whole shooting match is about facing our fears.
I’ve come to believe that readings are more than a pitch to buy the book; readings are about storytelling.   Dredging’s stories are based in oral folklore and that makes them easier to read in a storytelling fashion.
So when I read this Tuesday at the Red Canoe at 5:30pm, I’ll remind myself that I am telling stories, no different than my ancestors in the caves of France.  I am telling stories that can possibly help the temporal face their temporality.  I am telling stories that are hundreds of years old and are still happening today.
I just need to warm up my voice and hit all my consonants.
Red Canoe Bookstore Cafe

The effects of adversity on man on the moon polenta

From my journal 9/29/10:
I'm beginning to create meals from whatever I have in the fridge or the cupboard.  I think that might be the definition of a cook.  In these tight financial days, that kind of skill saves me money and keeps me running.
Does adversity create better conditions for art?  Force one to be more creative with limited supplies?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What is the definition of art?

From my journal 9/26/10:
A few days ago, I watched a squirrel bury a nut in the front yard, in the dip where I usually put the trash can.  I stood on the porch.  The squirrel furtively ran its paws through the grass to hide the treasure, fluffing, gentle, caressing, almost like painting, almost like dance.
Is that how art begins?  Twisted through the necessity of survival?

The Mystery of the Phantom Spotlight

I blame Nancy Drew for this ghost story voice in my writing.
I don’t remember what day or month or year it was but I was working at Baltimore Shakespeare Festival (BSF) and it was 4:30 in the afternoon. BSF is housed in St. Mary’s Outreach Center that was originally built as an Episcopal church before the Civil War.  The hillside graveyard beside it is guarded by hulking ancient trees.  A minister’s wife is buried next to a lobby wall.
The stage was empty that afternoon; below is a shot of BSF’s production of Antigone to give the reader an idea of the space.  I was on my way to the booth in the back of the house.  The lights in the theater were off.  The afternoon sun provided enough for me to see.  The dimmers were off; there was no electricity in the system.  As I walked past the downstage right corner of the stage, a spotlight came on, a special from the previous show.  I stopped and stared.  I walked to the booth and unlocked it; the board that controlled the light circuits was not on.  I could see the spotlight through the booth window, a perfect white circle shimmering on the parquet floor. 
I gotta tell somebody, I thought.  As I walked past the stage corner on my way back to the office, the spotlight evaporated and the room slid back into its previous dim.
Antigone, directed by Raine Bode, lighting Alex Pappas, costumes Heather Jackson, scenic design me.  That's Jimi Kinstle, Noah Schecter, Dana Whipkey, Molly Moores, and Stephen Patrick Martin onstage with the burnt out car.  I think Bode took the photo.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On influence

Kari started this conversaton about artistic influence and it's been rattling around my head.

Do we appreciate product better if we know process?  Why do we love those shorts on the making of films?  Why did I buy a book of essays by playwrights on their favorite writers?  Do I really see the finger traces of Shakespeare and Noel Coward and Larry Gelbart in all my work?  If I write a paragraph on influences on the history page, what does that say?

On self promotion

I've always had to force myself to market.  I make lists of marketing tasks and am lucky to do half.  I print out Dramatist Guild deadlines and rarely submit.  I sent out a boatload of plays when I left banking to little fruition which lead me to believe that live networking was preferred.  Right now I should send out letters about the Dickens play to professional theaters that have produced Christmas Carol but that keeps falling to the bottom of the list.
It's hard to sell yourself.
Not a lot of artists have both the creative juice and critical selling skills.
During my Center Stage internship in college, I realized that all the actors were gypsies who had to sell themselves constantly.  I didn't want that.  Couldn't do that.
When I was briefly the Development Director at the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, I asked Merrell Hambleton how she and her husband T. Edward pitched the Public Theatre.
"We believed in it," she said.  "That made it easy to sell."
We have to believe in the product that is our art.
I'm not sure if this culture encourages that self promotion. 
Where is the line between vanity and a sense of self worth?
My recent poverty has been fueling my latest focus on marketing.  I don't mind it as much of late.  I don't taste the bitterness in my mouth.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nannie's Voice

This is my first and my favorite ghost story but I write out of order.
My great grandmother died in our house in Lutherville when I was fourteen.  She was 97 and had been an invalid for half my life at that point.  The Sunday she died, she looked like she had fallen asleep in her chair.
In the last month of her life, she spouted scripture verbatim.  In the last week of her life, she told us that her long dead siblings were showing up to visit her. 
“Jenny was here,” she said.
A week after my great grandmother passed, I was in my bedroom, answering a homework question on the silent character of Nanny in Paul Zindel’s play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds.  Everyone called my great grandmother Nannie. 
In her last six months, Nannie forgot how to use her intercom system to call for help and would just randomly call our names, her voice wavering but honeyed.  My bedroom was above what had been hers so I could hear her best. As I thought about the character of Nanny that spring night, I heard her voice call my name.  Once.  I turned.  Nothing had changed in my room.  She called again.  She sounded calm and I knew she was safe.  I knew she was home.  And I knew that energy does not die.

My matriarch:  Nannie in the glasses, her daughter and my grandmother Marjorie, and her daughter and my mother Susan in the hat, in a crab house in New Jersey

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dredging Trailer is Up

Tuesday I uploaded the Dredging the Choptank book trailer on YouTube.  So far, the video has had 33 views and one comment.  Check it out and look for the head of the woman by Dana's (the guy in the white jacket) head in his close up.

Telling ghost stories in the swamp

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In the midst of life there is death

Sad day today.  My friend Todd's Mom's memorial service was held today.  His Mom Peggy was a very cool woman and her memory will be kept alive through all our memories of her.
Appreciate your parents for timing is fleeting.

Dredging the Choptank website

Homepage:
Background photo of Blackwater Wildlife Refuge (below)
oh, and I bought the domain:  http://www.dredgingthechoptank.com/
Across the top in green or red font like book cover:  Dredging the Choptank
Buttons underneath – clouds if I can – same font? - with links to home, text, history, contact pages
In text boxes below (same font?):
Chilling and mysterious folklore comes to life in this supernatural thriller about a writer investigating ghost legend in a town in denial.  Stakes are raised when the writer protagonist discovers a Native American burial ground under an Eastern Shore jail and begins hallucinating black shapes and undulating snakes.  This poltergeist fable is based upon the spirit myth of Dorchester County as well as the author’s personal ghost narrative.   Like a parable with a little bit of dangerous truth, except for the final chapter, the stories are true.
There’s a ghost inside all of us, just dying to get out.


Fall 2010 News:
·        Local Authors Reading, Wednesday, September 29, 7pm, Barnes & Noble, Oliver Street
·        Reading, Tuesday, October 12, 5:30pm, Red Canoe Bookstore, Harford Road
·        Upload of the Dredging the Choptank trailer on YouTube, a film by Anthony Scimonelli and featuring Kimberley Lynne, B. Thomas Rinaldi, Dana Whipkey and Dave Kiefaber, September 28

Thumbnail of book cover and link to Amazon

Text page:  Text box over background image
Chapter One, Haunted Hunting

Once, in a place that seems outside time, I wrote a ghost walking tour for a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. As I collected local folklore, a Cambridge resident named Mr. Travis told me this ghost story that happened in his hunting lodge. Hunting’s popular on the Eastern Shore; it’s rural enough for its populace to still use weapons to catch dinner.
“It wasn’t much,” Travis said of the lodge. “Just a couple of bedrooms and a kitchen and a bathroom. Up on stilts because of all the flooding.” The house stood on its stilts on isolated Aisquith Island in the haunted, southern underbelly of Dorchester County. Aisquith hovers only a few feet above sea level, floating between miles of wet fen and the Honga River. Before the lodge was built, its low woodlands were the sacred ground of a Native American Indian graveyard. Before John Smith showed up in 1608, indigenous people had developed a millennia of civilization, and, in the history of this country, live conquering people plow dead people under.
Travis says he regularly hears children laughing when there’s nothing but cattails and marsh holes for miles, and every time he returns to the lodge, the salt shaker has inexplicably spilled over. Things happen there.
One of Travis’ friends stayed with his young son in the lodge. The son got up in the middle of night to get a glass of water in the kitchen. The mattress spring squeaked, and an owl hooted outside. In the living room, a strange man rocked in the rocker. He wore a plaid shirt and blue jeans and had a black plait of braided hair. He was strange only because the boy didn’t know him. He thought perhaps the man was one of his father’s hunting buddies; the ways of the adult world were still a mystery to the boy.
“Hello,” said the boy. The rocker creaked. The man seemed to have shape and weight, like a living man.
The man nodded, and when the boy returned from the kitchen, the man was gone.
The boy tapped his sleeping father. “Where did the man go, Dad?” He asked. “The man in the living room. He looked so real.”
They searched the lodge house and found no one. They looked outside into the wavering, dark pitch of the Eastern Shore night. One lone green ball of light glided over the undulating marsh grass and then vanished. The son asked to leave.

There’s no sanctuary from the past; not even our living rooms are safe. I’m scared to look into my Baltimore living room late at night for fear of seeing even briefly into another dimension. My friend Korinne once slept on my couch and awoke to see a man seated in my arts and craft era sliding rocker.
“Didn’t that freak you out?” I asked the next morning, aghast.
“No,” she said, smiling and sipping coffee. “He seemed very happy to be here.”
“What’d he look like?” I stuttered.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said calmly. “Older guy, white, I think he was wearing a dinner jacket.”
I realized that my ghost stories and Travis’ ghost stories match the collective archetype, that they’re not singular but fall into the same pattern as the rest of humanity.
Korinne was born in Detroit and lives in New Hampshire. She has the long blonde hair of a mermaid and the terrible gift of prescience. She says that something big is going to happen to me, but something happens to everyone.


An audio posting of me reading a different chapter (which one?) – if I can record that in time
Image on top of gravestone in Christ Church graveyard?

History Page: 
Text box over background:
From Chapter Six of Dredging the Choptank:
I asked my friend Terri the difference between a historian and a folklorist. She put down the newspaper she was reading and said, “A tie.” She’s from Brooklyn, and she speaks her mind. Even when she’s sleepy, she has fire in her eyes.

Text box over background:
Author Kimberley Lynne has been writing since she was nine.  “I began writing to figure out reality and I’m still trying to parse that out,” says Lynne.
Lynne is a graduate of Loyola University with a B.A. in English/Fine Arts.  She is currently enrolled in University of Baltimore’s M.F.A. Creative Writing and Publication Design program.  Thirty-five productions of her plays have been produced in Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York and Minneapolis.  Lynne is a member of Actors’ Equity and the Dramatist Guild.
In spring 2003, the Dorchester Arts Council commissioned Lynne to write a ghost walking tour of High Street in Cambridge, Maryland.  (That ghost tour is still operating out of the DAC.)  From the collection of all that folklore, Lynne developed her first novel, Dredging the Choptank, the story of a writer who is swept away by a river spirit. 
Loyola University’s publishing house, Apprentice House, published Dredging the Choptank in May 2010.  Lynne hopes one day to be sold in her alma mater’s bookstore.

Contact page: need text box?  Image of Blackwater?
Image of me reading over background image
Links to:
YouTube and trailer

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wood Nymph

I wrote a ghost novel called Dredging the Choptank, a combination of Dorchester County folklore mixed with my personal spectral experience and my friends’ personal phantom experience.
This past May, my videographer Anthony, three actors, my buddy Raine and I traveled east to the Green Briar Swamp by Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in the belly of Dorchester County to film the book’s trailer.  The Native American Indians call the Green Briar Swamp a thin place or an area where the curtain between us and the spiritual world is flimsy.  Dogs don’t go in there.  People disappear there, their footprints just stop.  Much of the county’s ghost folklore stems from that tangled web of briar and marsh.  Anthony first thought that we could film anywhere but I insisted that we film somewhere in Dorchester where the water table rises up to your ankles.  That water soaks the stories of the county and its energy is palpable.  We drove past Cambridge and off a country road onto a weeded track leading through the woods.  The world fell away and flocks of dragonflies and mosquitoes followed us.  We stopped by an emerald green pond. When Anthony did the sound check, the wind ruffled my skirts.  The sense of being watched was so intense that we finished filming in less than two hours.  Hornets circled us.  Poison ivy grew hip high.  Quicksand pockets bubbled.  Something wiggled in the murk of the pond water. 
Anthony got good footage, including some shots of the forest floor.  In the video, something in the wind moves the vegetation and makes it seem alive.  Branches and marsh grass seem to reach for me.  After viewing the first cut, Raine suggested that Anthony layer some footage over a section where her husband Dana was pretending to be dead with fake blood dripping out of his mouth.  So Anthony layered the forest floor footage over Dana and something amazing happened.  In that second version not only was Dana mottled with the floor texture but a tiny perfectly beautiful head of what seems to be a woman floated right next to his right ear.  She seems to be listening with her pixie head tipped.  She looks porcelain.  She looks like a doll.  When I first saw her, I freaked out and didn’t want to use my home pc for a while.  I didn’t want to watch the trailer again but I showed it to Raine, Dana and Dave.  I told Anthony.  He’s surprised as I am.
I’m loading the trailer onto YouTube this week.  Look in the video for the wood creature who is grinning at Dana.   My friend Korinne thinks that the nymph is looking at him and thinking:  yum, food.
I took this photograph of Dana right before Anthony filmed him.
When the trailer is uploaded, I'll add a link.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shadows on a Cave Wall

Years ago, I stood on a balcony around midnight at the Ritz Carlton Dana Point, facing the Pacific.  To my right, north, beyond the end of the hotel building, a grassy slope rose up from a cliff above a skinny inlet.  On a lawn across the thin squiggle of bay was a tent:  big, white, billowing, for a party or a wedding maybe.  The wind blew and the staked lines flapped.  When I had walked out onto the balcony, the tent seemed dark, but as I turned it suddenly was brightly lit from within.  Shadows of figures waltzed inside, weaving, undulating on the walls, fleeting, happy.  I watched them for a while and returned to bed.
I wondered why the women wore full skirts and the men tails.  Maybe it was a costumed event.
The next day I mentioned the party to the hotel’s conference manager and she was confused.  The tent had been erected a day early for a party that was happening that evening.  The tent had been empty the night before.  The tent had no electrical source. 
I could not have seen what I had seen.
The mysterious light inside the tent had an orange sepia tint, very beautiful, far away and pressed right up against my heart all at the same time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Considering the brand that is me

Website designer Simon Fong has been developing my Kimberley Lynne (KLL) website since December and he should have it up in a few weeks.  Since I don’t need a 2nd general KLL website and my definition as an artist is more diverse than the crazy ghost lady author of my novel Dredging the Choptank (DTC), for the midterm, I’ll create a website specifically for the book, and that site will sustain the ghost blog I described in last week’s homework.
Simon’s design for the KLL website is black background towards bottom and photo of me across top in front of red with navigation buttons halfway between me and the text.  I must ask him what fonts he used but looks like Times Roman.  All the pages match the home page (home, works, about Kim, reviews, contact, shop).  Text frame boxes are oriented to left with book cover icon to right.  Do I match that format?
What is the goal of the DTC site?  Direct people to readings, sell the book, sell the book, and sell the book.  Where should the visitor’s eye go when they enter?  To the book cover icon and link to Amazon?
Home page – Dredging the Choptank title in upper right header
  • Background image of divine proportion spiral?  A waterspout kills the book’s protagonist.  There are national weather sites with tons of free images of tornadoes. 
  • What background color would pop out the book cover best?  Black or red are too much like Simon’s design.  A close up of the Blackwater swamp sky?  The photo below from the back of Blackwater Refuge and a mile from most of the stories?  An extreme close up of a Christ Church graveyard gravestone?   All pages should have the same background.
  • What typography?  Match the Dredging cover?  I must ask publisher Kevin Atticks about the book cover fonts.  What color fonts?  Straw to match the grass in front of the Howard House on the cover?
Description of the book in a text box to the middle left.  Should the box be tawny to match the grass in foreground of the Blackwater shot?
Recent readings in another text box underneath that but offset.
Book cover with link to Amazon to the right, along with link to the YouTube book trailer.

4 Interior pages – navigation buttons across top and always there on every page.  What do the buttons look like?  Cartoon ghost?  Skulls?  Unevenly shaped clouds against the Cambridge sky?  Labels:  home, text, blog, history, contact, shop
Text page:  a chapter of text (Chilled Wind Chapter Three, the reading one) and sound audio of me reading another chapter (maybe The What chapter.)  I can record in the AV media lab or the theater.  I had thought about a separate photo page but I think I’d rather scatter photo images throughout.  On the text page, next to text frame, will be some photo of a Cambridge ghost locale:  the Big Liz bridge, Hannah Madier’s grave in Trappe, the Christ Church graveyard, or Spring Valley.
Ghost Blog page:  The photo of the Howard House from the cover at the top of the blog?  Transfer the test ghost stories from this blog to that?  Cajole friends to write their versions of their DTC book stories?  Is that dicey?  I need to talk to Greg Seagle at Towson about precedence of collecting folklore on blogs.  The ghost tips from my pagan friend Korinne can be blogged because Korinne can blog as well.
History page:  I don’t think my bio should be identical to the text on About Kim page in the KLL website.  Maybe this history is more about the evolution of the book and my resume specifically as a writer?  Place a photo of me at the Red Canoe reading in the middle surrounded by text?  Does the text go in a spiral on this page? 
Contact page:
Followed by a photo of me reading the book? 
Links to:
·         Apprentice house
·         Kimberleylynne.com
·         Red canoe
·         UB Barnes and Noble
·         The turning wheel
·         CityLit
·         YouTube and trailer

Across bottom of all pages:  Copyright Kimberley Lynne 2010 All rights reserved


The Rosetta Stone

When I designed props for a production of Waiting for Lefty years ago, I bought a small radio for the character of the newspaper man.  I bought it with my own funds because the show budget was so tight.  I don’t think it worked when I bought it; I think I found it in a Fells Point antique store.  It’s a Philco brand tube radio from the thirties with an oak chest that’s open in the back, a dial with frozen hands, and a curved handle on its top.  It sat for nearly a decade, silent and unplugged in my living room.
Then one night as I wrote upstairs and my housemate Terri knitted on the living room couch, it began to make noises.  Its dial lights didn’t come on but it emitted static that was wet and constant with the drone of many voices underneath, distant, fogged, and urgent. 
Terri called me downstairs.  “Make it stop!”  she squealed.
I stood helpless.  “How the hell am I going to do that?”  I strained, listening, trying to decipher words but the static was too thick and the voices too far.  I needed a Rosetta Stone.  “What do you want me to do?”  I asked it.
“It’s not stopping.  It’s not plugged in!”  Terri was still clutching her knitting needles.
Herb/spice sage, Salvia genus that is part of the mint family, is lit in dried bundles to smudge, cleanse and purify, based on a Native American tradition.  Terri and I burned a sage bundle around the radio and down the stairs to the basement.  By the time we returned from the basement, the static wails had subsided. 
Every once in a while the radio will spurt one short blurt of bubbling static but the voices have not returned.  Good thing.  I need a translator.