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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Merriam - How Tol'-le-loo Got the Fire for the Mountain People - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This particular flute is by J.P. Gomez http://www.heartsongflutes.com
The Native American flute has a haunting sound and I love to play it in the traditional  improvisational style.  It makes a great beginning and ending to Native American tales; playing it without pre-planned notes runs counter to my years of music training dependent on notation; and additionally playing a wind instrument is good for breath control, especially good for working against the cold and flu season.  Last week's Pawnee legend about corn and information about George Bird Grinnell made me think about how I value it, both for storytelling and beyond and also why storytellers should know more.  Of course I have a story to share, but first I want to mention other stories about this flute.

The story most frequently found about its origin is from the Brule Sioux and is the same story found in
where the Richard Erdoes attributes it to a 1967 New York City recording of its telling by Henry Crow Dog.  The link I gave doesn't mention that source, but it is the same story word for word and ties the flute firmly to courting.

Most legends about the flute come from the Plains folklore and Flutopedia's legends page
gives a variety of tales and references if you want to fall down the rabbit hole and do your own prowling about the flute.  Does that mean only the people of the Plains can claim it?

Dunberidiculous!  Travel south to New Mexico to the Pueblo peoples known as the Zuni and you can find a story about "The Four Flutes" in a book just new enough, 1926, that unfortunately it's not in Public Domain to print here.  In the story the Zuni sent four elders to Paiyatuma, the God of Dew, seeking new music and new dances.  The elders respectfully brought gifts to the Cave of the Rainbow and in return received a performance of the flute and a flute for each of them to carry back to the people.  Of course that is a "Readers Digest Condensed" version of the story from Aileen Nusbaum, who learned it because her "small son, Deric, was adopted by the Zunis, and as he sat as the feet of the elders of the tribe and listened to tales, she was able to record them."  That in itself is a bit of a story.

Still that's out west, so I was delighted to find Glooskap giving the flute in the Micmac tale of "How Glooskap, leaving the World, all the Animals mourned for him, and how ere he departed, he gave Gifts to men."  It's a very minor part of the story with three men who heard he was giving gifts to anybody coming to him.  The eldest "who was an honest, simple man, and of but little account among his people, because he was a bad hunter, asked that he might excel in the killing and catching of game.  Then the Master gave him a flute, or the magic pipe, which pleases every ear, and has the power of persuading every animal to follow him who plays it.  And he thanked the lord, and left."  There are many editions of this book from 1884 which carries the subtitle of "or Myths and Folk Lore of the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Tribes."  Charles G. Leland was one of the many 19th century amateur folklorists and he's faulted for taking liberties with his texts in an attempt to prove the Norse connection to the Native American.  It's a shame he diminished the value of his work because 21st (and even the 20th?) century scholarship has been able to provide the link he sought.  Personally I simply was seeking evidence of the flute among the Woodlands people of the Great Lakes and New England.

You've either been patient following these meanderings or have skimmed down to today's story.  Let's go back out west to Lake Miwok and the Miwok people in California for a dangerous story about the flute.  Why dangerous?  Because it's a lullaby and it's always dangerous to perform that if you want your listeners to hear the entire story.  My 1910 book deserves caution, too, so where it's a bit blurry it's not you getting sleepy.  I'll insert in the few places where things seem a bit too blurry to guess what is said.
"Recital of the Ancient Myths in the Roundhouse at Night"
The blurring is fairly easily figured out except for the names of Hoo'-a-zoo the Turkey Buzzard and Te-wi'-yu the Red-shafted Flicker, Sahk'-mum-chah the Cinnamon Bear and the first time our hero, Tol'-le-loo, the White-footed Mouse is mentioned.
"Tol'-le-loo the Mouse playing his Flute and putting the Valley People to sleep so that he can steal the Fire"
This is a story I call dangerous because it definitely is best told playing the flute at the points where it is putting the Valley People to sleep.  There's another similarly dangerous story from the North West Coast about how Raven steals water for people by telling an intentionally boring story to put to sleep the miser who has the world's water.

There's another danger telling this story.  I won't tell those names with the exception of our hero, Tol'-le-loo, the White-footed Mouse, as I'm unlikely to have the resources of Clinton Hart Merriam, who tried to learn the languages of the rapidly disappearing California Indians.  His work as a naturalist made the names of the various animals something he preserved in his telling the story.  It's also interesting to learn he abandoned his animal focus in favor of preserving the languages and customs of those Native Americans.  He was able to switch careers because he went on the same two-month Harriman Alaska Expedition mentioned in last week's article about George Bird Grinnell.  A decade later when Edward Harriman died, his widow gave Merriam a grant to study whatever he wanted and so he became instead an ethnologist.  It's sad Merriam's advocacy is largely unpublished and stored in the basement of the University of California Berkeley's Anthropology Museum.  Considering that museum's more than 3 million objects, field notes like those of Merriman, and the possibly disintegrating photos, sound and film recordings, researchers need to find ways to preserve and bring them into a useful view.  It sounds like the end scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Possibly that's a danger when too much is gathered.  Like Tol'-le-loo I got fired up in my own gathering, in this case stories, using the flute.  Today's article has gone on long enough.  Next week I want to talk about why the Native American flute is useful, easy to begin playing, and relatively inexpensive for a musical instrument.
*******************
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain
***************** 

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Grinnell - The First Corn - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Storytellers live by our words, so this quote is worth remembering.
Part of living by our words of gratitude should, of course, include historic gratitude to our Native Americans.  Without the Wampanoag a little outpost in Plymouth wouldn't have survived.  I went looking for even more information online about those first celebrants of Thanksgiving after hearing on Friday Archaeologists have just discovered evidence of the original 1620 Plymouth settlement.  While thinking about gratitude, it's also interesting to see roughly ten other countries feel a similar need to "express our gratitude."

Looking back to 1970 when the 350th celebration of that settlement was held, a Wampanoag leader, Wamsutta, also called Frank James, was invited to speak, but his speech was later suppressed because it was considered inflammatory by the event organizers.  This led to Wamsutta giving the speech nearby at the statue of Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag in 1620.  In protest to the way Native American life changed starting with those Pilgrim immigrants, that speech led to the same day as Thanksgiving becoming the first National Day of Mourning.  It is an annual event which Wikipedia describes while stating their article has issues including a need for checking its neutrality and additional citations for verification.

However you view that first Thanksgiving, the archaeological investigation of the Plymouth settlement will reveal a lot about pre-colonial life.  The same article about the investigation also tells us the wild turkey, all the way down the coast to Florida, was cultivated as a food source by Native Americans.  Surely one of the other items enjoyed at that Plymouth feast was corn, a staple throughout the many native nations.  Here in Michigan I love to tell the story about Mondawmin (corn) and earlier posted Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's version of this Anishinaabe tale.  Recently I acquired a book of Twenty-Four Unusual Stories collected by Anna Cogswell Tyler.  (That link takes you to a print version or go to Loyal Books for an audio version -- they, too, are "Keeping the Public in Public Domain.)  The book is living up to its title and helped me discover a Pawnee story about their view of the origin of corn and a book by George Bird Grinnell I didn't know.

In fact I discovered Grinnell wrote way more than the three well-known and highly regarded books I have: Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales; Blackfoot Lodge Tales; and By Cheyenne Campfires.  All of those books through their retelling of stories reveal a man dedicated to keeping alive the culture of the Plains people.  His Wikipedia article link in the preceding paragraph is a typically serviceable, but dry link to information about him, but after today's story I want to give a more personal overview.  "The First Corn" came from his The Punishment of the Stingy: and other Indian Stories -- definitely a lesser known, but interesting book, found through a very long page revealing his many books listed on the Online Books Page.  That original book, as opposed to Tyler's copy, closes with footnotes to his The Story of the Indian and his The Indians of To-day.  Each of those books were written to generate public indignation over the condition of Native Americans around the turn of the twentieth century in an effort to cause reform.

There's more to be said, but let's taste the story and save the information about Grinnell for dessert.

from Twenty-Four Unusual Stories illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham



B
Corn was sacred to the Pawnee.  Current efforts to discover and preserve more about it continue, as seen in last year's article about "Nebraska gardeners eager to demystify Pawnee corn."

Before I talk about Grinnell, I want to include this livelier link about him.  It comes from a PBS special on the privately financed 1899 Alaska expedition of railroad magnate, Edward Henry Harriman.  Grinnell was one of many scientists and artists in a two month survey of the coast.  Names like photographer Edward Curtis, naturalists John Muir and John Burroughs are familiar enough, but the 126 passengers and crew managed to produce a critical baseline of the area with thirteen volumes of data requiring twelve years to compile.

Grinnell from his earliest years traveled among naturalists.  He and his brothers and sisters grew up playing at the Audubon estate and attending school taught by the ornithologist's widow, Lucy.  I had assumed his middle name of Bird was given to him by one of the Plains nations, but it was actually given by his parents.  The family had the resources to send him to Yale and, upon graduation in 1870, he was an assistant for the Peabody Museum which led him to a six month paleontology expedition in the "unmapped West."  Prior to that his academic career was described as mediocre, but this became the first of generally annual expeditions and a PhD in zoology.  Yet it was his interest and ability to learn from Native elders that led to his publishing and later recognition by Margaret Mead grouping him with George Catlin and Lewis Henry Morgan as "dedicated amateurs" in The Golden Age of American Anthropology.

He was indeed a publisher, joining first as an editor and ultimately having a thirty year career heading what was then Forest and Stream, but you can now find on magazine stands as Field and Stream.  Along the way he remembered his roots, founding the Audubon Society.  He was a friend and adviser to Theodore Roosevelt, supporting the National Parks Association and being instrumental in writing that led to the creation of Glacier National Park.  As a New Yorker he joined in the formation of the New York Zoological Society and he selected the site of the Bronx Zoo.

All of this could have never happened if you look at his early youthful expeditions.  In 1874 he traveled with General Custer's Expedition to the Black Hills as naturalist, forming friendships with scouts like "Lonesome" Charley Reynolds.  His friendships, however went beyond the cavalry, leading to his adoption by the Pawnee, who gave him the name of White Wolf.  His 1875 expedition was the Ludlow Expedition to Yellowstone, leading to its conservation and Ludlow's proposal to save the Black Hills for the Sioux.  Fortunately the next year Grinnell's other responsibilities kept him from traveling with Custer to Little Big Horn.  Seeing his efforts from 1895 in The Story of the Indian and The Indians of Today written first in 1900 with various editions over the years, as well as his books of stories preserving Native culture, it's possible to overlook his grating language of that period  when he talks about their difference from "civilized people."  He tried to show it was a lack of development in non-Indian ways; not inferior, but coming from a different reasoning and motive.

In view of recent events with the Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Pipeline, I won't try to give political views. This introduction by Grinnell to Blackfoot Lodge Tales; The Story of a Prairie People gives a clue into how he would see it.


Grinnell may lie buried in his Bronx grave in Woodlawn Cemetery, but as he said in By Cheyenne Camfires, the narrator of a short story would stop at its conclusion and say, "The story is ended. Can anyone tie another to it?"  Some object and say Native American folklore has been appropriated by the non-native teller.  Back when collectors began to anthologize the stories, much was happening, including forced schooling attempting to erase that culture.  I believe the collection of stories helped preserve a valuable resource and teachings for which we all should be thankful.  As President Kennedy encouraged us, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
*******************
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain
***************** 

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Jacobs - Story-teller at Fault - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Whether you want to use a slightly more modernized version of "The Story-teller at Fault" or the original, it's useful (and fun!) to find a story where the storyteller has no idea what to say.

Yes, I know it happens so rarely.

Today's Public Domain version is from Joseph Jacobs' Celtic Fairy Tales,
but you can also find it somewhat revised in a  retelling in Naomi Baltuck's book about "Stories and Storytellers", Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folk Tales about Stories and Storytellers published by Linnet Books.

Literary stories and also stories from the times covered by Public Domain often benefit from re-telling.  To give you a taste of how Naomi Baltuck changed it, I suggest you compare it with her version since today's article is indeed about having your own way of telling.  I'm comfortable you will find her version respects Jacobs, who himself was collecting stories from the oral tradition.  That tradition is part of the folk process and deserves to remain living, breathing, personally interpreted.  After all, that's what live storytelling is all about!

My own copy wouldn't be as well reproduced, nor would Jacobs' book hold up to my scanning it.  This faithful version, complete with the original illustrations by John D. Batten, is online, along with other stories from Celtic Fairy Tales can be found at places like Sacred-texts.com and the Baldwin Project so it's better to use their work here.  Both sites also give Jacobs' "Notes and References" section.  Frankly that section is quite dry, but does show the tale has roots that go way back.

At the end of today's story I want to give ideas for you to create your own version of this old Celtic tale.

The Story-Teller at Fault


AT the time when the Tuatha De Dannan held the sovereignty of Ireland, there reigned in Leinster a king, who was remarkably fond of hearing stories. Like the other princes and chieftains of the island, he had a favourite story-teller, who held a large estate from his Majesty, on condition of telling him a new story every night of his life, before he went to sleep. Many indeed were the stories he knew, so that he had already reached a good old age without failing even for a single night in his task; and such was the skill he displayed that whatever cares of state or other annoyances might prey upon the monarch's mind, his story-teller was sure to send him to sleep. One morning the story-teller arose early, and as his custom was, strolled out into his garden turning over in his mind incidents which he might weave into a story for the king at night. But this morning he found himself quite at fault; after pacing his whole demesne, he returned to his house without being able to think of anything new or strange. He found no difficulty in "there was once a king
p. 132
who had three sons" or "one day the king of all Ireland," but further than that he could not get. At length he went in to breakfast, and found his wife much perplexed at his delay.
"Why don't you come to breakfast, my dear?" said she.
"I have no mind to eat anything," replied the story teller; "long as I have been in the service of the king of Leinster, I never sat down to breakfast without having a new story ready for the evening, but this morning my mind is quite shut up, and I don't know what to do. I might as well lie down and die at once. I'll be disgraced for ever this evening, when the king calls for his story-teller."
Just at this moment the lady looked out of the window.
"Do you see that black thing at the end of the field?" said she.
"I do," replied her husband.
They drew nigh, and saw a miserable looking old man lying on the ground with a wooden leg placed beside him.
"Who are you, my good man?" asked the story-teller. Oh, then, 'tis little matter who I am. I'm a poor, old, lame, decrepit, miserable creature, sitting down here to rest awhile."
"An' what are you doing with that box and dice I see in your hand?"
"I am waiting here to see if any one will play a game with me," replied the beggar man.
"Play with you! Why what has a poor old man like you to play for?"
"I have one hundred pieces of gold in this leathern purse," replied the old man.
"You may as well play with him," said the story-teller's
p. 133
wife; "and perhaps you'll have something to tell the king in the evening."
A smooth stone was placed between them, and upon it they cast their throws.
It was but a little while and the story-teller lost every penny of his money.
"Much good may it do you, friend," said he. "What better hap could I look for, fool that I am!"
"Will you play again?" asked the old man.
"Don't be talking, man: you have all my money."
"Haven't you chariot and horses and hounds?"
"Well, what of them!"
"I'll stake all the money I have against thine."
"Nonsense, man! Do you think for all the money in Ireland, I'd run the risk of seeing my lady tramp home on foot?"
"Maybe you'd win," said the bocough.
"Maybe I wouldn't," said the story-teller.
"Play with him, husband," said his wife. "I don't mind walking, if you do, love."
"I never refused you before," said the story-teller, "and I won't do so now.
Down he sat again, and in one throw lost houses, hounds, and chariot.
"Will you play again?" asked the beggar.
"Are you making game of me, man; what else have I to stake?"
"I'll stake all my winnings against your wife,' said the old man.
The story-teller turned away in silence, but his wife stopped him.
p. 134
"Accept his offer," said she. "This is the third time, and who knows what luck you may have? You'll surely win now."
They played again, and the story-teller lost. No sooner had he done so, than to his sorrow and surprise, his wife went and sat down near the ugly old beggar.
"Is that the way you're leaving me?" said the story-teller.
"Sure I was won," said she. "You would not cheat the poor man, would you?"
"Have you any more to stake?" asked the old man.
"You know very well I have not," replied the storyteller.
"I'll stake the whole now, wife and all, against your own self," said the old man.
Again they played, and again the story-teller lost.
"Well! here I am, and what do you want with me?"
"I'll soon let you know," said the old man, and he took from his pocket a long cord and a wand.
"Now," said he to the story-teller, "what kind of animal would you rather be, a deer, a fox, or a hare? You have your choice now, but you may not have it later."
To make a long story short, the story-teller made his choice of a hare; the old man threw the cord round him, struck him with the wand, and lo! a long-eared, frisking hare was skipping and jumping on the green.
But it wasn't for long; who but his wife called the hounds, and set them on him. The hare fled, the dogs followed. Round the field ran a high wall, so that run as he might, he couldn't get out, and mightily diverted were beggar and lady to see him twist and double.
p. 135
In vain did he take refuge with his wife, she kicked him back again to the hounds, until at length the beggar stopped the hounds, and with a stroke of the wand, panting and breathless, the story-teller stood before them again.
"And how did you like the sport?" said the beggar.
"It might be sport to others," replied the story-teller looking at his wife, "for my part I could well put up with the loss of it."
"Would it be asking too much," he went on to the beggar, "to know who you are at all, or where you come from, or why you take a pleasure in plaguing a poor old man like me?"
"Oh!" replied the stranger, " I'm an odd kind of good-for-little fellow, one day poor, another day rich, but if you wish to know more about me or my habits, come with me and perhaps I may show you more than you would make out if you went alone."
"I'm not my own master to go or stay," said the story-teller, with a sigh.
The stranger put one hand into his wallet and drew out of it before their eyes a well looking middle-aged man, to whom he spoke as follows:
"By all you heard and saw since I put you into my wallet, take charge of this lady and of the carriage and horses, and have them ready for me whenever I want them."
Scarcely had he said these words when all vanished, and the story-teller found himself at the Foxes' Ford, near the castle of Red Hugh O'Donnell. He could see all but none could see him.
O'Donnell was in his hall, and heaviness of flesh and weariness of spirit were upon him.
p. 136
"Go out," said he to his doorkeeper, " and see who or what may be coming."
The doorkeeper went, and what he saw was a lank, grey beggarman; half his sword bared behind his haunch, his two
shoes full of cold road-a-wayish water sousing about him, the tips of his two ears out through his old hat, his two shoulders out through his scant tattered cloak, and in his hand a green wand of holly.
"Save you, O Donnell," said the lank grey beggarman.
p. 137
"And you likewise," said O'Donnell. "Whence come you, and what is your craft?"
"I come from the outmost stream of earth,
From the glens where the white swans glide,
A night in Islay, a night in Man,
A night on the cold hillside."
"It's the great traveller you are," said O'Donnell. "Maybe you've learnt something on the road."
"I am a juggler," said the lank grey beggarman, "and for five pieces of silver you shall see a trick of mine."
"You shall have them," said O'Donnell; and the lank grey beggarman took three small straws and placed them in his hand.
"The middle one," said he, "I'll blow away; the other two I'll leave."
"Thou canst not do it," said one and all.
But the lank grey beggarman put a finger on either outside straw and, whiff, away he blew the middle one.
"’Tis a good trick," said O'Donnell; and he paid him his five pieces of silver.
"For half the money," said one of the chief's lads, "I'll do the same trick.
"Take him at his word, O'Donnell."
The lad put the three straws on his hand, and a finger on either outside straw and he blew; and what happened but that the fist was blown away with the straw.
"Thou art sore, and thou wilt be sorer," said O'Donnell.
"Six more pieces, O'Donnell, and I'll do another trick for thee," said the lank grey beggarman.
"Six shalt thou have."
p. 138
"Seest thou my two ears! One I'll move but not t'other."
"’Tis easy to see them, they're big enough, but thou canst never move one ear and not the two together."
The lank grey beggarman put his hand to his ear, and he gave it a pull.
O'Donnell laughed and paid him the six pieces.
"Call that a trick," said the fistless lad, " any one can do that," and so saying, he put up his hand, pulled his ear, and what happened was that he pulled away ear and head.
"Sore thou art, and sorer thou'lt be," said O'Donnell. "Well, O'Donnell," said the lank grey beggarman, strange are the tricks I've shown thee, but I'll show thee a stranger one yet for the same money."
"Thou hast my word for it," said O'Donnell.
With that the lank grey beggarman took a bag from under his armpit, and from out the bag a ball of silk, and he unwound the ball and he flung it slantwise up into the clear blue heavens, and it became a ladder; then he took a hare and placed it upon the thread, and up it ran; again he took out a red-eared hound, and it swiftly ran up after the hare.
"Now," said the lank grey beggarman; "has any one a mind to run after the dog and on the course?"
"I will," said a lad of O'Donnell's.
"Up with you then," said the juggler; "but I warn you if you let my hare be killed I'll cut off your head when you come down."
The lad ran up the thread and all three soon disappeared. After looking up for a long time, the lank grey beggarman said: "I'm afraid the hound is eating the hare, and that our friend has fallen asleep."
p. 139
Saying this he began to wind the thread, and down came the lad fast asleep; and down came the red-eared hound and in his mouth the last morsel of the hare.
He struck the lad a stroke with the edge of his sword, and so cast his head off. As for the hound, if he used it no worse, he used it no better.
"It's little I'm pleased, and sore I'm angered," said O'Donnell, "that a hound and a lad should be killed at my court."
"Five pieces of silver twice over for each of them," said the juggler, "and their heads shall be on them as before."
Thou shalt get that," said O'Donnell.
Five pieces, and again five were paid him, and lo! the lad had his head and the hound his. And though they lived to the uttermost end of time, the hound would never touch a hare again, and the lad took good care to keep his eyes open.
Scarcely had the lank grey beggarman done this when he vanished from out their sight, and no one present could say if he had flown through the air or if the earth had swallowed him up.
He moved as wave tumbling o'er wave
As whirlwind following whirlwind,
As a furious wintry blast,
So swiftly, sprucely, cheerily,
Right proudly,
And no stop made
Until he came
To the court of Leinster's King,
He gave a cheery light leap
O'er top of turret,
Of court and city
Of Leinster's King.
Heavy was the flesh and weary the spirit of Leinster's
p. 140
king. 'Twas the hour he was wont to hear a story, but send he might right and left, not a jot of tidings about the story-teller could he get.
"Go to the door," said he to his doorkeeper, "and see if a soul is in sight who may tell me something about my story-teller."
The doorkeeper went, and what he saw was a lank grey beggarman, half his sword bared behind his haunch, his two old shoes full of cold road-a-wayish water sousing about him, the tips of his two ears out through his old hat, his two shoulders out through his scant tattered cloak, and in his hand a three-stringed harp.
"What canst thou do?" said the doorkeeper.
"I can play," said the lank grey beggarman.

"Never fear," added he to the story-teller, "thou shalt see all, and not a man shall see thee." When the king heard a harper was outside, he bade him in.
"It is I that have the best harpers in the five-fifths of Ireland," said he, and he signed them to play. They did so, and if they played, the lank grey beggarman listened.
Heardst thou ever the like?" said the king.
"Did you ever, O king, hear a cat purring over a bowl of broth, or the buzzing of beetles in the twilight, or a shrill tongued old woman scolding your head off?"
"That I have often," said the king.
"More melodious to me," said the lank grey beggarman, "were the worst of these sounds than the sweetest harping of thy harpers."
p. 141
When the harpers heard this, they drew their swords and rushed at him, but instead of striking him, their blows fell on each other, and soon not a man but was cracking his neighbour's skull and getting his own cracked in turn.
When the king saw this, he thought it hard the harpers weren't content with murdering their music, but must needs murder each other.
"Hang the fellow who began it all," said he; "and if I can't have a story, let me have peace."
Up came the guards, seized the lank grey beggarman, marched him to the gallows and hanged him high and dry. Back they marched to the hall, and who should they see but the lank grey beggarman seated on a bench with his mouth to a flagon of ale.
Never welcome you in," cried the captain of the guard, "didn't we hang you this minute, and what brings you here?"
"Is it me myself, you mean?
"Who else?" said the captain.
"May your hand turn into a pig's foot with you when you think of tying the rope; why should you speak of hanging me?"
Back they scurried to the gallows, and there hung the king's favourite brother.
Back they hurried to the king who had fallen fast asleep.
"Please your Majesty," said the captain, "we hanged that strolling vagabond, but here he is back again as well as ever."
"Hang him again," said the king, and off he went to sleep once more.
They did as they were told, but what happened was that
p. 142
they found the king's chief harper hanging where the lank grey beggarman should have been.
The captain of the guard was sorely puzzled.
"Are you wishful to hang me a third time?" said the lank grey beggarman.
"Go where you will;" said the captain, "and as fast as you please if you'll only go far enough. It's trouble enough you've given us already."
"Now you're reasonable," said the beggarman; "and since you've given up trying to hang a stranger because he finds fault with your music, I don't mind telling you that if you go back to the gallows you'll find your friends sitting on the sward none the worse for what has happened."
As he said these words he vanished; and the story-teller found himself on the spot where they first met, and where his wife still was with the carriage and horses.
"Now," said the lank grey beggarman, "I'll torment you no longer. There's your carriage and your horses, and your money and your wife; do what you please with them."
"For my carriage and my horses and my hounds," said the story-teller, "I thank you; but my wife and my money you may keep."
"No," said the other. "I want neither, and as for your wife, don't think ill of her for what she did, she couldn't help it."
Not help it! Not help kicking me into the mouth of my own hounds! Not help casting me off for the sake of a beggarly old ——-"
"I'm not as beggarly or as old as ye think. I am Angus of the Bruff; many a good turn you've done me with the
p. 143
King of Leinster. This morning my magic told me the difficulty you were in, and I made up my mind to get you out of it. As for your wife there, the power that changed your body changed her mind. Forget and forgive as man and wife should do, and now you have a story for the King of Leinster when he calls for one;" and with that he disappeared.
It's true enough he now had a story fit for a king. From first to last he told all that had befallen him; so long and loud laughed the king that he couldn't go to sleep at all. And he told the story-teller never to trouble for fresh stories, but every night as long as he lived he listened again and he laughed afresh at the tale of the lank grey beggarman.


A few times earlier I've posted stories from Joseph Jacobs.  Very little is available about him personally.  This repeats my earlier information on him: While he was Australian, Jacobs is best known for his collections of English and Celtic folklore and I've earlier posted a little of his Aesop fables.  Here's the Wikipedia overview of him, but it doesn't begin to tell why his versions are still valued...they are flat out well told.

I mentioned earlier giving ideas for you to create your own version of this old Celtic tale.  As I worked my way through the story these came to me, but surely they are just a launching point and you may have other ideas to try.
  • Have you ever felt like "The Story-teller at Fault" with no idea what you could possibly say?  
  • Storytellers today often post a request for help on a topic.  The international email list hosted by the National Storytelling Network, Storytell, and even more international, Professional Storyteller, give internet ways to network.  P.S, is less active and more likely to lead to private discussion, but either are an option not available before the internet.  
  • Does your version want to include or eliminate the storyteller using that option?  
  • Would family or friends be part of your efforts to have a story? Remember the wife's reactions and response to the storyteller's efforts.
  • Where might you be while trying to come up with a story?
  • What kind of character (possibly a "Daemon in the box" of your computer?) would conduct you on your journey to a story?
  • Would it be done using a game?  If so, how is it played?  
  • What losses would you have?  This all reminds me of my favorite type of bet -- a mental bet, which of course means you lose your mind!  One might say that happened here.
  • Will you be transformed to an animal or . . . ?
  • What problems does that create?  Remember stories are all about having a problem to solve.
  • The mysterious visitor also might take you invisibly on a journey where you witness someone else sucked in gradually by the visitor's tricks.  Something about this invisible witnessing reminds me of the three visits Scrooge makes in Christmas Carol.  
  • That being "sucked in gradually" could occur earlier with the storyteller, condensing the story.
  • The essence of this version is witnessing incidents that could never occur.  It could be a dream, hallucination, or you could do a more realistic version.
Jacobs' Notes and References mention a possibility of this story going back to 1362, but he thinks it's even older.  By now you may even have recognized this story has its own tale type (always a great resource for creating a story or finding an existing story).  It's sometimes called "The Boy (or Man) Who Had No Story" and is given as Irish tale type 2412B because of Venerable Bede's account in the late 7th or early 8th century about the poet Caedmon, but both Scottish and Irish versions have traveled around the isles for probably far longer.  If you prefer the modern Aarne-Thompson motif, it's M231.1Bd.  If talk of motifs and tale types confuse you, don't worry, just know it's been kicking around long enough to survive your playing with it . . .but lets you (and your own audience) know its roots go way back.
*******************
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!



Saturday, November 12, 2016

"Can't think of a thing to say"

In the wake of Veterans Day, Election Day, all the political talk, talk, and more talk, 

"Can't think of a thing to say!"

How all of this will finally work out is beyond me.  Thinking of this and how this country will need to come together made me think of the last time our country was this divided. . . the election of that first Republican, Abraham Lincoln.  Since one of my major programs deals with abolition, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil War, it hits me in a way that only a historical perspective can bring.

I've tried hard to avoid political talk as it has grown only more divisive in recent years.  The idea of difficulty knowing what to say, on the other hand, is very appropriate here.

Do a search on Google Images for the phrase and you'll see things like a lawyer telling a client, "I could knock off the legal jargon, but then I'd have nothing to say" or a maitre d' asking a mature couple "Speaking or nothing-left-to-say-to-each-other section?"  Even those two parrots are a way to present a cartoon saying that.  Let's keep, not only civil, but a sense of both history and humor.

It happens to all of us at some point. 

Yes, even Stephen King said this, when he was talked by his publisher into getting a Twitter account.  Relax.  He may be happiest filling big thick volumes, but if you go to his website and scroll down to just short of the bottom, you'll see his Twitter account is still up and running.  Similarly it's time to keep our relationships "up and running" and not "unfriend" or otherwise avoid different viewpoints from our own.

I suspect small talk stops us all at some point, so try these ideas from PsychCentral-- it's worth planning ahead and these 10 ideas are worth considering and doing whatever it takes to have them in mind.

As a storyteller, true stories and also storytelling memorials are also important.  The Funeral and Memorial Information Center has a video and other ideas on how to have something very worthwhile, the Talk of a lifetime.

In fact storytellers and storytelling have a lot to say to us right now.  This past summer the National Storytelling Network opened its annual conference with a keynote speech by Rives Collins called "Storytelling in the Twenty-First Century: Why the World Needs What You Already Know."  Obviously I'm not going to repeat that in its entirety here, go to NSN's website and see all offered by this member-driven organization.  Many resources are there and members also have many additional benefits including Storytelling Magazine, which gave in its current issue a printed taste of his presentation.  (With 91 slides, four videos, and several songs, you can see why I say the text is only "a taste.")  As Michigan's State Liaison I'm proud to talk with people at any time about the organization, but this sentence in his speech is an action call about storytelling.  "The atrophy of wonder is one of the great hazards of adulthood, but I also believe that as a collective, not only can we nurture a sense of wonder in our children, we can use storytelling with adults as an antidote to the boredom and cynicism that preoccupies modern life."  Putting that in bold type is my own addition, but it is the reason for storytellers to speak up. 

As a blogger I can particularly appreciate a cartoon and comment from P.K. (don't be stopped because that stands for Pastor Kevin) as he had the nerve to show a blogger at his computer saying: I have nothing to say . . . I say it regularly.

Since some of my readers, whether officially storytellers or not, blog, while doing that Google Image search for "Can't think of a thing to say" I found 2 blog idea generating pages:
  1. http://www.brandcampblog.com/how-to-get-out-of-a-blogging-rut/ 
  2. http://www.creativecounselblogdesign.com/2013_05_01_archive.html
  3. but there are lots of other such idea generators for blogs.  Surely you can find a few!
In contrast I found storytellers tend to think differently.

In the past I've featured Gail Froyen, so I was interested when she said "I seldom tell in a 'formal'
setting any longer, but friends say I talk in story. I also listen that way."  I said back to her my own discovery (and that of other storytellers returning to acting) that "I've found it affects my memory. Was one of the two aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace, but tend to think and give the lines as if storytelling rather than memorizing."  It's also why, when a teacher who knew me and introduced me as having "all these wonderful stories memorized for us",  I had to correct her a bit and say "Oh, no, I know them by heart."  There is a difference.

Of course storytellers also have a tendency to hear something and say, "That reminds me of a story!"

Next week I have a story to fit that, so I hope you come back next week for a really classic Irish story of  what happens when a storyteller has nothing to say.  It will also include a challenge to create your own story.

On that note, I close with a photo of the World War I "Hello Girls" who made it possible for our soldiers to have their say.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Birthday Dragon!

This past week has been one of those millstone, er milestone, birthdays.  What better way to celebrate than with a dragon?!  I love dragons and dragon stories, so I want to share both a bit of non-fattening dragon birthday cake
and a story about dragons and birthdays.  It comes in "bare bones" format to let you personalize it from a storytelling colleague active in the state of Georgia, Janice Butts.  Here's a photo of Janice in a beloved purple hat.  There's a story also about the photo.  When I contacted Janice for permission to use her telling of the story, she said:

I am sure it is dated now, but the hat was a gift from a friend to 'her favorite storyteller', so it makes me feel very professional.  I assume you can get it from my website. If not, we may have a problem, because I lost the hard drive recently with all those pictures.
 Again, enjoy the story.  I look forward to finding this on your blog.

Let's face it, we store all our memories these days on devices that can easily lose everything in a crash.  I'm going to give her photo here and, after the story, I'll give you a way to recover photos you may have sent out into the world online. 

Now let's gobble up the story as Janice shared it long ago.

The Birthday Dragon

(Janice opened with this disclaimer:
You are most welcome to use it in any way you see fit.  I got the idea from a children’s book.  I no longer remember the original or know where to find it.)


When telling this Janice personalizes it, using the name of the person celebrating their birthday for "child."

Child lives in poor village at the bottom of a mountain.  The whole community is poor because they don't have enough water to grow good crops.  When it is time for her birthday, child's mother says she can ask anyone she wants to her birthday party.  Child wants the dragon who lives at the top of mountain, as child has never met him, but heard lots of scary stories.

Mother refuses, but child decides to go find said dragon and invite him to party.  Child climbs the mountain 3 times, first 2 times dragon's fiery breath does not allow child to get near.  Third time, child manages to invite dragon to party.  He is touched and agrees, invites child to ride down the mountain on his back.  As they take off, his tail knocks away rocks that have been holding back a stream and brings water down with them.  Dragon is welcomed because of the water, and all live happily.  Each year since then the community has celebrated child's birthday because child brought water to them.

Janice closes with. . . what else? the song, Happy Birthday. 

LoiS here again.  Yes, you can sing that song without fear of royalty problems.  Back on October 2, 2015 I was able to report here the following wonderful news: I'll try to avoid my rant about copyright here -- the end of my Keeping the Public in Public Domain segments clearly shows my sentiments -- but I'm ecstatic about this long overdue ruling!  Warner/Chappell earned $2 million a year on a song dating back to their piano arrangement in 1935.  Most or all of that money will never be repaid.  Thank heavens the public kept the song alive.  Public Domain was intended to keep our cultural heritage alive, which Sonny Bono and his 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, saving Micky Mouse from entering the Public Domain, has gone a long way away from that intent. 

I will add to that, the same corporate interests that went into the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act want to see the Trans Pacific Partnership approved.  TPP is even worse because it will remove control of copyright from the control of the signing countries and make it no longer governed by the affected countries.  For World Read Aloud Day this year I explored the issue including also Intellectual Property and Digital Rights.  Take a look at the link to that article, because it will give you other resources to look into the issues which can affect us all.

Similarly the crash of a computer can be devastating, losing beloved photos.  I recommend regular back-ups.  Personally I use Carbonite because it covers so much inexpensively and without my needing to remember to do something.  Many of us have pictures on the internet, possibly Facebook or Google Plus or . . .   Performers put them on websites and are sometimes in articles.  (I HATE photos taken of me, but it's a necessity in my work.)  Here's an easy way to recover those online photos.  Search your name on Google.  In Janice's case, I added "storyteller" to avoid any others with her name.  I didn't trust my memory to find her website again and that was what I was seeking at first.  It didn't on the 1st page give me her site, BUT it included images!  When I went to her site, the purple hat pic she wanted me to use wasn't there BUT it was right there on the Google Images.  Clicked on the photo, then Save Image As, and it went to my Downloads.  An easy way for you to prowl the many images of yourself online and also save many of those photos you lost when your hard drive was lost!

I was happy to return the favor Janice did with today's story and guess there will always be a BUT or a Butt somewhere online.  For fun and even to buy her enjoyable CD, "Livin' Above Her Raisin'; Stories of the Blue Ridge Mountains", be sure to go to her site linked in my first paragraph above.

There's another local storyteller who also loves dragons I've mentioned here before, Loretta Vitek, has in her email signature the perfect things to end today's article. 
There is always a story, be a shame not to share it!
Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons,
for thou would be crispy & good with sauce.
Arriverdella



Monday, October 31, 2016

Hearn - Yuki Onna - and - Riki Baka - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

The Kwaidan image I've used is from "What are Kaidan?" and, besides discussing Kaidan  on the page's sidebar is a listing of other stories of the genre dating back to the earliest Japanese literature.  It also explains why Hearn called it Kwaidan.  Down in the comments the article also tells a bit more about how these stories came from Hearn's Japanese wife, Setsu, and Hearn's honoring her and her contribution.  (She was from a samurai family, which also explains how often samurai feature in his tales.)  If you Google the images for Kwaidan you will find there are many there including from the movie by that name.  Kobayashi Masaki’s 1965 film is thoroughly reviewed in Weird Wild Realm Reviews.  As a result I can give you this picture from the start of today's first story.  Whatever your weather may be, wherever you are, this should give you a bit of a chill.
That last image came from Nami as the Yuki Onna, which also includes video and more about this  traditional figure in Japanese literature, film, manga, games, and even a symphony.  Wikipedia's article on Yuki-onna is yet another link.  Personally I like Matthew Meyer's more traditional looking image of her.  His site again discusses her and generously shares via Creative Commons license.  He has a comprehensive Yokai database of online Japanese ghosts and monsters and Meyer's artwork, too.
Yuki Onna by Matthew Meyer

Today's story was so short and I've an even shorter tale that also fascinated Hearn.  It's not a monster or possibly even ghostly, but it harks back to two other stories given here, "Before the Supreme Court" and "Strength."


This wraps up this series of Hearn tales, but I hope that, like him, you have gotten enough of a taste to pursue even more.  The books are online, there are videos, articles, images, and much to discover.

Happy Haunting this Halloween!

**************************

Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain
***************** 

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!