Useful Writing Stuff
Sometimes people ask me about writing. Here's the thing's I say.
Q: I have always wanted to write a story, but it seems daunting and I don't know if anyone would like it.
A: Write the story. It is worthy. Making it is worthy. Do The Thing. Tell the voice of doubt 'Not Today.'
Q: My gr4mmar and speling suck, I cant write good.
A: You'll learn the rules as you go. What's important is you write it down, and keep working to make it the best it can be. This may be the painter in me, but I like to write by building layers. Mistakes are common and frequent, because getting the point across is more important to me in the first drafts than making sure my letters are arranged correctly. Getting that final draft polished is important, but don't let perfectionism stop you from finishing that first draft. And when you've don't what you can do, that's what editors are for. (Like Lara Milton)
On social Media, Internet, and Marketing:
Just do what you're comfortable with.
I don't care what all these people are saying about "You have to get a twitter/instagram/tumber/youtube yadayadadydada' just do what feels right and natural to you. Weigh the good with the bad. (Because there are benefits, but chances are that if you haven't used social media and utilized those benefits yet, they are not going to work for you.)
Your job is to write stories. If you have other things that are taking gratuitous amounts of time away from that, consider if it's worth it. (With social media, chances are, it's not.)
Decide what you want out of writing.
Ask yourself questions. Research what you want. Research what that looks like. Research how to do it. There's a million ways to 'Make it', and the definition of it changes from person to person.
The only way to do it is to keep doing it, and there will be a million times you want to quit before it gets better, and it will be harder in more ways than you though possible. Do it anyway. (cuz goonies never say die)
On Writer's Block:
If you're stuck, try this:
Sit down at your writing spot, and think of something you DON'T want to write about. Then take it a step further and thing of the thing you want to write about least. Then go farther and think about the thing that would curl your fingernails to type on a keyboard. Write that. At least a page.
You'll have a different perspective of what you want to write about after that.
That first few hours of finishing something are ****** magical. Enjoy! Rejoice! Celebrate! Huzzah!!!
But you are not done.
Put it away for as much time as you can. A week at least, longer for novels. you need to forget about it for a while, and then come back with fresh eyes to chip away to become something to give to others.
I hate this part, and usually muster about 45min before I'm back reading it through again, but it does work.
And when all else fails, remember:
A Story of Further
Remembering the weekends painting on Further is like remembering a dream. Which if you consider the legacy of Further, is much like what it should be. A relic of an era of alternate consciousness, freedom, music, family, and what some call the hippy way of life. She still travels with a gang of Merry Pranksters under the caring direction of Ken Kesey’s son, Zane. In May 2015, after the filming of a new documentary about the bus, and before its movie release, I was privileged to attend the “Paint-Revamp” party, in which the aesthetics of the bus were enhanced, restored, and preserved. I won’t pretend to know everything about Ken Kesey, the Further Bus, the Merry Pranksters, or the history of its travels, because I don’t. This is just one story of many surrounding the mythos of Further. May there be many for generations to come.
“I should have brought my paint pens.” I told my husband Avery, as we bumbled along in his 1948 Cadillac hearse across the back roads of Oregon.
“We’ll grab some in Eugene.” He said, his hand confidently swaying the loose steering of the old wheel. If there was anything unconfident about his driving of a monstrously large Cadillac hearse, it was only in the directions getting into town.
Rust ornamentally donned the Cadillac’s fenders, and the old car had an inexplicable peaceful presence that reminds me fondly of a pleasant Hawaiian ukulele player. Yes, we call him a he; you can’t have that much life and not be called something. He was christened “Herman” after the memorable TV character, and by the several Herman Figurines that were painted and attached to various levers and knobs throughout the car: relics we had collected from Jimmy Flintstone in car events in Las Vegas and Detroit.
Avery builds cars, which is how we became acquainted with Further and her crew of Merry Pranksters in the first place.
I remember seeing Further for the first time as I walked into the backyard of the auto restoration shop Avery works for. Further was getting some much-needed electrical repairs, though you could tell she would rather be out getting her picture taken.
I know this because I asked her; she was quite distraught about it.
I reassured her --as I admired her eclectic and vivid artworks, ranging from a poised and seductive replica of Michelangelo’s David, to an ironic comic of Dorothy and the gang from Oz thinking “Oh Shit”-- that she would be out again soon better than before. Even in the back lot of the high-end auto restoration shop, surrounded by classic cars and racing machines, she looked like a gem among vagabonds.
Somehow in that little bus encounter, it was made know to the Further Bus driver, Derek, (A laid back guy not afraid to get his hands dirty with mechanical repairs.) that I was a painter.
This was probably Avery’s fault.
Avery welded a new music stand for the Bus, and I painted it. It was happily dubbed “The Tree of Life.” I’m very proud of that music stand; it’s the work of Avery and I.
Word wafted of a paint restoration later on that year. Avery gave Derek our number, and I waited like a kid-on-Christmas to find out when or if I could go put paint on a masterpiece that people happen to call a bus.
A year later I was staring intensely at a selection of paintbrushes, paints, pens, and paint pens, at a craft store in Eugene. Derek said they would have paint and brushes and everything any of the painters would need, but Further was special, I wanted to make sure I had the tools I knew how to use.
“I knew I should have brought those.” I mumbled. My obsessive calculations had probably attracted the attentions of the other customers. Avery, ever supportive, smiled awkwardly at the perturbed onlookers and somehow helped me narrow it down. We left, with one thought echoing in our ears. These are expensive…. But damn she’ll look good.
Damn, she’ll look good.
We crossed a bridge and drove down the most picturesque, lush, green, and magical stretch of farm road this side of Oz. It was familiar in the way imagination says hello to a good dream.
“Kesey…” I said to Avery, many months, before when he first told me about the Further Bus.
“Yeah, he wrote a bunch of books,” said Avery.
“Kesey!” I remembered, and felt instantly ashamed for not remembering sooner. “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.”
In high school, I always arrived to first class long before sunup because my bus came early. I sat in the buzzing, florescent-lit hallways, surrounded by white walls, cold white floors, and locked classroom doors. I would stare out the black windows, too tired to read and too awake to daydream. I remember the strains of an outdated and overpopulated school, and the continuous fear of a shooting or mass violence to occur, like they reported on the news every week.
I woke up at 5:45am, caught the bus at 6:15, got to school at 7:15, and went to work at 4pm, got off at 10pm. I woke up in the dark and got home in the dark.
I thought of Chief Brodmen’s notion of “The Fog”, and wondered why public schools felt like a mental asylum. Our rebellious clothing and artwork were McMurphy’s triumphant expressions of being alive, every condescending adult was an incarnate of Ms. Ratchet, and every ditched spirit assembly was a stolen fishing trip.
I knew of Ken Kesey.
The Cadillac slowed in front of one of the green farms on the old back road. A gate was open, and we drove in.
I saw a score of people working around a big 1947 International bus, alive in all her painted glory. I grinned. “Hello Further.”
“Black is pretty dark, are you sure?” Zane Kesey asked me, skeptically. I had gathered a few armfuls of spray paint around Further’s giant wooden toolbox and had started spraying down some dark lines as a base coat. It looked pretty dismal.
I was aiming to make the base-coat look something like an orchid, though I realized partway through that it also looked something like a vagina. I remembered an old hippy woman in my college painting classes who was very vocal about interpreting any art remotely symmetrical and round shaped as ovaries. I vowed to not make this toolbox look anything like ovaries, or a vagina.
It was day two of the painting re-vamp for Avery and I. The day before had been mostly filled with sanding off Further’s primer coating. I’ve cleaned oil paintings that were a few centuries old; there’s a strange feeling that the ghosts of long ago are watching you. Sometimes they’re guiding your hand to make sure you get the grime and not the paint, sometimes they're screaming at you not to fuck-up their masterpieces. Sanding primer off of Further felt much the same, without the screaming.
Derek and some of the others had also pulled out Further’s toolbox and painted it white. It was a large wooden truck that was strapped to the back deck bellow the ladder to the roof, mostly used as a footstool.
On the first day I didn’t really know how I would contribute to the Further Bus. The protocol at that point was: find something you feel inspired to do, talk to Zane, see if he goes for it.
I fell in love with the old clunky wooden toolbox. I grew up around the romance of a toolbox and the people that made and fixed things. I knew that the best thing I could do for Further was give her a beautiful toolbox. I asked Zane, --rather nervously-- if I could paint the box, and he went for it.
It was now a little while later and the dark undercoat that was supposed to be something like an orchid --and not something like a vagina-- looked very out of character next to the bright and majestic 1947 International.
“Yeah,” I said, “This is the undercoat, the paint pens go over the top.”
“Opaque?” said Zane, with a grin I think only Zane Kesey knows how to do.
“There’s a plan.” I nodded.
“Ok,” he said encouragingly.
Whoa, Zane Kesey trusted me with the Further toolbox.
That’s a moment. Holy crap thank you.
Though the little voice in my head continued to jest: it still looks like a vagina.
Riding in the Further Bus was like being on a spaceship.
After several hours of sanding the first day, there was some fiberglass work that needed to be done on the top deck. A wild-haired fellow by the name of Thumpa was doing the work, and acted with as many nerves about working on The Further Bus as I felt.
Fiberglass is weird stuff. You mix an intense chemical solution and paint it over special cloth. It’s like paper Mache with really itchy material, and glue that can spontaneously combust because the mixing process makes it hot. Avery and I helped hold tarps and hand down paintbrushes as Thumpa worked, smoothing and gluing, and letting it dry. (It looks great, Thumpa.)
The fiberglass was sanded down and smoothed after it dried, and it was decided that the best way to get rid of all the itchy dust was to take a drive and let the wind do the work.
Have you ever ridden in a magical caravan with crew of enlightening, joyful gypsy buddies while driving through the clouds, and rocking out? Me neither, but that’s what it felt like.
Avery and I sat together on the colorful carpeted benches of Further with our backs to the windows, enjoying the ride with people we didn’t know, but shared a joyful camaraderie because they were there with us on Further. We drove down the old green farm roads of Oz, and I experienced what it was like to be Merry Prankster.
We whooped and drove with the windows down. A few people did handstands in the isle as we drove, gripping their feet on the roof before tumbling down. We waved to everyone, and flashed the peace sign to all the cars going by, or to no one. It didn’t matter.
I comprehended there in that rumbling, colorful spaceship that the psychedelic 60’s had nothing to do with hippies, drugs, and war protests, but of living and celebrating the greatness of life as we live it. Novel concept. Though, I was saddened to realized that in this day and age living happily and freely is a novel concept.
The chains rattled and bounced as we drove down the road, the sun lit the zealously colored roof panels, and the wind tossed our hair around. We were all filthy from working, but no one cared. I had a bandana around my neck, and I felt like a kid playing cowboy instead of an artist protecting my lungs from paint particles.
Light. Wind. Color. Joy.
The drive was just to get the fiberglass of the roof, but in Further, it was a voyage through happy eternity. On those few miles of bouncing green Oregon backroads, we were free.
About two hours into painting on the toolbox my eyes started to get weird. I had been hunched over the box with my paint pens, making rhetorical patterns with different colors. One of the secrets to effective abstract art is to imply the principles of a fractal image; a skill that Jackson Pollock was doing before anyone knew what a fractal image was. It’s a lot of repetitive shapes, making a bigger shape into a bigger shape, into a bigger shape. Like the patterns on a leaf, Phi, and the golden rule.
Science makes good art.
The paint on the toolbox was beginning to look like something, and I was glad because I really wanted it to be good enough for Further. I shook out my wrist, rubbed my eyes, and looked around for my water bottle. I stopped a moment to enjoy the beauty of the pasture and the luminous grey clouds in the west. I swear that farm is really located in Middle Earth, or Oz, or some magical place in-between. I tracked down Zane and asked if the water from the spigot was safe to drink.
“Oh yes,” he said, “It’s good water.”
I pulled up the spigot handle and listened to it clatter onto the tall grass. I filled up my water bottle and drank. It was sweet and clear and wonderful. I wondered if this inconspicuous spigot was really the mystical fountain of youth. I looked back up at the sky as I drank more water.
“Nah, its just Oregon.”
I remembered my mom telling me about her visit the Oregon State Hospital in Salem when she was little; the actual hospital they filmed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. One of our relatives was getting over the trauma of losing an adult son, and they came to visit her. When I told my mom I was reading Cuckoo’s Nest for class, she told me that a woman at the asylum wouldn’t stop staring at her, but when mom turned to look at her, the woman screamed and ran away.
This made the narrative of Cuckoo’s Nest more potent for me because I knew that place was real.
Ken Kesey was the first Oregonian Author I had read who wrote about Oregon, and it felt like I was reading a piece of home. The Kesey’s and the Further Bus are Oregon treasures; legacies that must be preserved and respected.
And Zane was right, the water was good.
There were many marvelous people at the painting-revamp that weekend doing various jobs on Further: hanging out, cooking food, passing out food, passing out, singing, and playing the ukulele. Avery was helping me on the toolbox, drawing a fantastic bull like creature on one of the side panels. It was many hours into painting and laughing and enjoying everyone’s company. My arm freckles progressively grew darker from a tan. A few short months after we painted on the Further Bus, marijuana would become officially legal in Oregon.
I don’t like to take things that alter my perception of reality, but I treasure the experiences of art and music that show you realities you didn’t know existed. Further is a strange conduit of crazy and weird in all the right ways. From an artistic perspective, she is a perfect interactive sculpture; you literally sit in her and let her take you were she goes. There should be textbooks talking about how well Further does Art.
It takes an incredible amount of vulnerability to reach out and see the grander realities of existence because you are equally exposed to the good and the bad. If you take acid, you could have a good acid trip or bad acid trip. You won’t have a trip at all unless you are brave enough to take the journey, but drugs are not the only way to take a trip.
I recommend riding in a hearse, myself.
I asked Zane if we could visit Ken’s grave. “Sure!” he said, like it was great idea. Avery and I followed a path behind one of the dark wood buildings up a little grassy hill. In a much different world than the restoration party bellow, was a small fenced cemetery, the trees of the swamp loomed behind it.
There is a purple bench in the Kesey cemetery. I sat on it silently with Avery.
The grass rustled serenely and soaked up the warmth of the sunny afternoon. A few grey clouds added to the beauty behind the graves, where green pastures flowed through the waves of hills, valleys, and patches of old forest like the backdrop of a Rembrandt. A few trees lined the back of the two headstones, and a short metal fence surrounded the space. Jed Kesey, who passed in a tragic van accident with the University of Oregon Wrestling team at the age of 21, and Ken Kesey are written on the two markers in front of us. Avery and I sat silently together on the purple bench with the rustling grass and the two well cared-for headstones.
I thought of my own brother, who died of a heart defect a year before I was born. I miss him in a terrible way that I can’t describe because I never knew him. His ashes were buried with my grandpa; the next of us to go. I remember seeing the little box of ashes when my mom brought it out. It never occurred to me he had not been buried. I was too young to go to the funeral, but we took flowers to the grave often, and next to my grandpa’s name on the gravestone was my brother’s name, with a picture of a teddy bear. My mom told me that his box of ashes was resting in grandpa’s hand. I felt great relief in this, relief my young mind couldn’t comprehend, but I felt it again on that little green cemetery on the hill.
They were together. There was love in that place.
We sat for many minutes in silence, each contemplating our own peace about death. We hadn’t spoken a word since we unlatched the gate. There are some places you don’t need to speak. Silence is a beautiful thing about a cemetery. It’s a peace that can be frightening if you look away, but all encompassing if you look at it with complete acceptance.
There are five hearses on our property back home. I have felt many beautiful and sad things sitting in them. From calm peace, like what I feel in ‘Herman’, to closed-off tension, and despair, like I feel in the hearse that once served as an ambulance.
Further feels like a cardboard box-fort with wheels, an awesome stereo, and a roof that wouldn’t cave in if you stepped on it.
Automobiles have hearts made of engines, circulatory systems made of tubing and lubrication, and nervous systems of wire and electricity. They eat finely-aged and well-cooked dinosaur bones, and if you crank the piston’s full of gasoline, spark, and air, they live. They are a lot like people, and if you listen, sometimes they will tell you their stories.
There are few things and places left on this earth that feel real. Art feels real, Hearses feel real, hospitals feel real, schools can feel real, libraries definitely feel real, and cemeteries feel real. (Nature IS real.)
No gloom existed here in the little green outdoor mausoleum. An old stained-glass window rests behind the headstones, and it felt like we sat in the most holy church on earth. It was ethereal.
Silence. Light. Peace.
Little relics adorn the headstones, love is in this place.
Engraved on Kesey’s headstone is: “Sparks Fly Upward”.
I think of the holes in Avery’s shirts when he welds and sparks fly on the cotton.
I stretched my fingers and wondered if the paint and dirt on my hands is disrespectful, then I remembered were I was and decided Ken wouldn’t have minded. Hope you don’t mind either, Jed.
Sparks Fly Upward.
Sparks Fly Upward.
I don’t remember the exact moment the toolbox was done, but I remember thinking it wouldn’t be right to return the toolbox to it’s place bellow the deck ladder without giving it feet.
I put two feet on one end of the lid: a good luck for all the travelers, and sure footing for all those on deck.
I put two hands on the other side: good luck for the hands that work to keep the bus fixed and going, for the artists who worked on her, and for high-fives to all Pranksters.
It seemed fitting for a toolbox.
Avery’s panel that looked strangely like a bull may be my favorite. It’s unfortunately the side no one will ever see, as it is facing into the bus. It’s the treat for the fixers and mechanics.
“We’ll have to get a clear mat to protect it!” said Zane, who smiled cheerfully at the toolbox. “Cool!”
Further is about Family, and not always the blood kind.
The weekend after we finished painting the toolbox, Avery and I were in town with my in-laws. Avery texted Derek if we could come out and see the bus again.
The six of us drove in my sister-in-law’s 1965 Ford Falcon back to the farm. The painting re-vamp party lasted for over a week, but we had to go back to work. I hadn’t expected to see Further again for a while.
We walked up and said hello. Zane gave Avery and I a jolly hug. He handed me a paint pen and I outlined the fin of a freshly sproosed up whale tail. They had bought some of the paint pens I used on the toolbox, and Further supported many new artistic additions from other skilled artists since I last saw her.
Somehow we got into the passenger side mirror, beside the doors.
We all painted on that bar.
Zane took this picture:
We went and visited Ken and Jed and the little purple bench again. No one spoke this time either. We sat on the bench and wondered about our own mortality. Candles had been lit recently by the headstones, earlier in the week they had a ceremony.
Sparks Fly Upward.
We drove home in the Falcon, six of us crammed on old bench seats, feeling lucky and alive. There was paint on my hand were I had pressed in the paint pens to get them to flow, even though I knew the paint wouldn’t be gone by work on Monday.
On those back roads of Oz, I felt no less enlightened on the Further Bus as I did in the Cadillac Hearse or the Falcon Station wagon. This is beautiful Oregon, these are my people, this is my home, and Further is a magnifier for that remarkable reality.
Thanks Further, here’s to the stories.
Never stop making them.
Give Your Despair to Art
We are a flame.
As you live, the world will do everything it can to snuff it out, change the heat, change the color, and turn it into something else.
Your job is to keep that flame going no mater what. Take the storms and use it to glow brighter, so when you leave this world you a ‘better’ light than when you began.
I think we kill ourselves by snuffing out our lights. It takes a while to get it burning again.
Keep it safe, no matter what.
Life will through shit at you. That’s the way it works. Don’t let it kill your light. I recommend taking the tumultuous energy and giving it away to art.
Nitty gritty gross paint on canvas cut with a box knife painted on the hard wood floor. There is paint on your hands and shirt and boots and you had to spit on it because there wasn’t water available; you pushed in the pencil and markers so hard they broken, and when you thought only you could hear others were wondering what were you killing up there?
You're not killing anything, you’re creating something from nothing. You’ll hate everything about it. It’s art. Once it’s done, it doesn’t belong to you anymore.
That’s what artists do; we give ourselves to our work, literally. We give away the things we feel to the medium. Translate and interpret how you will.
Never forget what an important tool this is. As artists, (humans) we feel so much, but we are not creatures meant to keep it all. If it burns you, let it burn a canvas, or a saxophone solo, or paint by number, beadwork, astrophysics, etc.
It does not have to be a masterpiece, but it probably is.
You are human, and you must create, you must keep the light burning, and you must let the terrible things go.
A visual guide to finishing the first draft of your story
For None-Linear Writers & Linear Writers having trouble being Linear.
It always starts the same:
AN IDEA! A THING! $@*%! A STORY!
Everyone does this daily, but some of us write it down.
Part 1: Inspiration
Who what when where why how.
Part 2: Write the Inspiration
Write concepts or ideas that you know will happen,
especially the idea that first got you hooked.
Everything about them may change, but the essence of what they are is what you are trying to capture here.
Don't obsess over detail, that's waisted energy at this point.
Part 3: Construct an Outline
Outlines are better when organized by the story's
INTRO, CONFLICT, & RESOLUTION
Get messy. Bubble graphs, sticky notes, research, and everything else.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLETE YET
Part 4: Fill in the Holes
This takes time. Make a consistent writing schedule.
Read through your draft,
IGNORE HOW BAD IT MAY SOUND.
Write in stuff you are inspired to write when you are inspired to write it.
Aim for a certain word count a day, write mind babble if you have to.
Part 5: Finish Filling in the Holes
This is where intense creative problem solving happens.
This is where you will hit the writer's runner's wall.
Power through it! You are very close!
Part 6: YOU HAVE FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT
Congratulations! Something exists now that did not exist before. Most people give up before they get here. If you finished your first draft, you are above average. Celebrate!
Take note of the sketch above. Notice how rough, incomplete, and inaccurate it looks?
That's what your draft should look like.
A first draft is the messy, gritty, foundation.
The grittier it is, the more footholds you will have to work with later on.
Be proud of your work; you have found the diamond ore.
Now put it away and do something completely different.
The more time you let pass between reading the first draft, and carrying on to the second, the better. I'd recommend several weeks at least.
Writing something new!
Never stop asking questions.
The real work is about to begin.
Why "The Martian" is Important
December 14th 1911, Roald Amundsen’s expedition sets foot on the last uncharted location on earth; The South Pole.
July 20th 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the first to set foot outside of our blue planet.
Humanity reaches Mars…. ?
"The Martian" by Andy Weir is important because it sates humanities hunger for exploration like a home cooked meal, and reminds how important it is to pursue challenging, dangerous, and uncharted territories of discovery.
Harrowing stories of survival and new horizons are more than entertainment we crave; they are tests of our soul, elations of spirit, and reasons to keep learning.
“Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.” – Ernest Shackleton.
Science Fiction isn’t just for nerds, it’s the frontier for the pursuit of knowledge, where questions can be asked and theories can be made before the technology, funding, and social acceptance exists. It promotes curiosity and discovery, asking the omnipotent question “Why?”
And more importantly, “Why not?”
“Hurley is a warrior with his camera and would go anywhere or do anything to get a picture.”
-Lionel Greenstreet, First Officer of the Endurance.
Born in 1885, James Francis (Frank) Hurley ran away from public school and hopped a train to work in a steel mill when he was thirteen, where he found his interest in photography. Encouraged by the mill foreman, Hurley taught himself the technical aspects of photography.
At age twenty, Hurley worked for a postcard business and was well regarded for the technical quality of his images – and for the dangerous lengths he would go to take them.
Like standing next to a moving steam engine.
Hurley was truly passionate about photography, and he was willing to take risks to get them; he was perfect candidate for an Antarctic expedition.
When Hurley heard word about Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition, he was set on going, though he had no connections. Hurley found Mawson on a train, and for the duration of the trip, sold his character and skills to the Antarctic explorer.
His efforts where fruitful; two days later Hurley was invited to travel with Mawson’s Australasian Expedition to Antarctica.
Hurley accompanied The Australasian Antarctic Expedition From December 1911 to March 1913, during which he worked tirelessly under harsh conditions, though his enthusiasm for capturing the perfect shot remained throughout every hardship. His spirit was a valued asset to the team, and no doubt kept many men reminded of their greater mission when times seemed most dark and dire.
When he returned to Australia, Hurley assembled the Film Home of the Blizzard, chronicling Mawson’s expedition. Shortly after, he joined the party set out to retrieve Mawson in Antarctica, who had been stranded unexpectedly over the winter.
The Doomed Endurance
“All day we have been utilizing the ship as a battering ram.” Hurley clambers up a mast to get photos of the ship, which is “shattering the floes in grand style.”
-Frank Hurley, aboard The Endurance
Not long after returning with Mawson, Hurley was riding south again on Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 Imperial Tans-Antarctic Expedition. It would be Frank Hurley who photographed the infamous destruction of the Endurance, as it was crushed in the icepack. Hurley dove into the icy waters to save his slides from the sinking ship. When the party was about to man-haul sleds to the coast, Shackleton allowed only 120 of his glass slides to be saved; around 400 where shattered because Shackleton worried Hurley would risk his life to retrieve them.
Hurley waited with the crew of the Endurance on Elephant Island while Shackleton and a small crew made a dangerous voyage 800 nautical miles to the nearest island with which help could be obtained; South Georgia. The party was eventually rescued in 1916, Hurley capturing the moment in the photograph bellow.
The "War Boy"
Frank Hurley’s career extended far beyond the South. His photography of World War I remains as one of the most potent historical recordings of the time. It is during the war he was dubbed “The Mad Photographer”, as his insistence for the perfect shot in the face of danger was readily displayed. Hurley took some of the only known color photographs of World War I.
An Early Practitioner of Photomanipulation
Long before the world knew of Photoshop, there was darkroom photography manipulation, and Hurley would often merge multiple shots capture the feeling of the moment. This was frowned upon by some historians, more notably Charles Bean who in Hurley's later career did not get a long.
A Life Well Lived
Frank Hurley's career span well beyond the stories of Antarctica and World War I. His death was 16 January 1962.
Recommended Reading & Resources
Kodak's noteworthy tribute to the Endurance Expedition:
The images of Frank Hurley’s photography are courtesy of The National Library of Australia, where many of Hurley’s Photographs can be viewed. Learn more about them and their resources here: http://aunl.org/
“Leaning on the Wind” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an2386866,
“Ernest Shackleton, Captain Frank Worsley and crew setting out from Elephant Island” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an970745 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/970745 “The Aurora” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an863520 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/863520 “Shakespeare” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an2384470 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2384470 “The end of the Shackleton Expedition ship ‘Endurance’” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an860066 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/860066 “A small ship came into sight; Wild gave orders to kindle the beacon.” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an2384058 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2384058 “Looking through a ruined cathedral window on to a battlefield cemetery” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an1866119 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1866119 “Death’s Highway, an exposed road in the battlefield near Ypres, Belgium, 1917.” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an6298236 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/6298236 “Australian Infantry wounded near Zonnebeke Railway Station, after the first battle of Passchendaele, October 12, 1917” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an6298250 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/6298250 “Frank Hurley climbs a rocky face in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an3885448 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3885448 “Frank Hurley photographing fro the tip of the jib-boom of the Discovery, Banzare, 1929-1931” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an92416 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/92416 “Passenger Train hauled by a P class steam locomotive coming off old Hawkesbury River Bridge, Sydney to Newcastle, pre 1946” Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia, an1612418 http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1612418
When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.
- First verse, Robert W. Service, The Quitter
Robert Service unknowingly summarized the human response to many who explored Antarctica in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, roughly 1897-1922, but it was the British-Australian geologist Sir Douglas Mawson who recorded the poems inspiration in his account of survival crossing the vast white of George V Land.
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was Australia’s first major scientific exploration endeavor beyond the Australian continent. The expedition successfully charted Antarctica’s coastline, and was the first expedition to use radio communication on the continent, which also allowed the expedition to make meteorological observations not previously available.
“The task of the geographer is to fill in the details provided by the navigator.”
Unlike many of Mawson’s historic counterparts in the Heroic age of Antarctic Exploration, Mawson was known for his drive to explore without the claim to glory other men of the era strived for. He was a man of science, onset with the noble task of enduring hardship in the pursuit of knowledge. Antarctica, being the indifferent, harsh, beautiful, and unpredictable vixen that she is, gave Mawson a gritty experience of survival, perseverance, and spirit in the endless white of George V Land anyways, an experience that he himself describes:
“Never have I come so near an end; never has anyone more miraculously escaped.”
New Antarctic Friday: Douglas Mawson's Escape from George V Land, and the Poetry that saved him.
This Friday will be the first Antarctic Friday! This week will be an article about Douglas Mawson, and the poetry he thought about while traipsing the desolate plains of George V Land, Antarctica. It's a really cool story with really cool connections to poetry. See you this #AntarcticFriday!
The Fleetwood Skies is OUT!
Available now on Kindle!
Very excited for this. And Stoked. (On facebook I used the word 'Terristoked' and it's starting to stick.)
This is the first story I have professionally published. I say 'Professionally' published, even though it's considered "self published" because I hired and editor and did a ton of research and it's a job to me now.
And you know what... I dig it. :)
Thanks for reading this post. Thanks for being around, thanks for sharing this crazy world with me. *Sobs in corner for a few moments.*
BUT ABOUT THE STORY,
I wrote this story over the span of a few weeks last summer. It was a difficult time, and I couldn't write about adventures in Antarctica any more (that's The Book), no matter how many episodes of The Munster's we watched (The main character in Fleetwood Skies is named after the Actress who played Lilly Munster.) So I sat down and pretty much wrote this story all the way through. Which is totally not how I write at all. But it came together beautifully, and it's been sitting on my shelf, waiting for something. My editor cranked it out on short notice, and I designed a cover, and it just fell into place. It's very special, and personal. It's hard to read sometimes, but that's alright.
I hope it entertains you, inspires you, makes you laugh, or perhaps even makes you feel like there's magic in the world. It does for me.
Thanks for being here, Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening.
I hope there's many more stories to come.
Going on an (Irish) Adventure
An interview with Brianna Hull
The overcast light of Portland reflects over Brianna Hull’s chair as we set up our devices for a Skype chat, long over due, but particularly exciting with Bri’s recent announcement. Through the screen on my phone, I see her place a bookmark into the pages of a book called "An Hobad." It looks familiar, but I can't place where from.
"I got it a few months ago." says Bri excitedly, holding the cover to the camera, where I could better see the iconic mountain illustration, and florid white script. "I'm studying the Irish language. I've gotten to where I can read full sentences now. It's the Irish translation of ‘The Hobbit!’"
Bri is studying theatre at Portland State University, but she will be fulfilling her language credits differently than the average student this summer. "I'm going to be studying the Irish language," Bri says with gusto "I have been accepted into the National University of Ireland, Summer Irish Language Program in Galway, where I'll be staying with a family."
As the May rain taps against her window, she tells me that the program lasts a bite under five weeks, in which she will be immersed into an intense courses in Irish.
As well as studying her translated Tolkien, Bri has also been studying Irish online. "Irish is such a beautiful language. Parts of it are a lot easier than you would realize. For example, 'grandmother' is literally the words for 'old mother'."
Indeed, grandmother, in English, translates to seanmhathair in Irish. The formula, Bri explains, is; sean ("old") + m(h)athair ("mother"). The fluid words remind me of Tolkien's eloquent elvish language, and "An Hobad" seems a perfect fit for Irish study.
Bri's fascination of Irish spans beyond the world of fiction, however. She is a proud Irish descendant (and red-head) who grew up with stories and traditions passed down from her predecessors.
When I asked her about her favorite memories of Irish tradition, she answered thoughtfully about her seanmhathair, specifically, about the wake. After her grandmother's funeral, there was a party to celebrate her life, which was very impactful to her. "It's probably different from Homeland Irish to American Irish, but it was still great."
Other significant memories include her mother's "Chunky Irish Stew", and a white handkerchief Bri's seanmhathair instructed her to place it in her bodice on her wedding day.
Bri's ancestors from Ireland crossed the ocean to the United States (in 1860 at the end of the great famine that claimed the lives of over one million people.) Bri's tone turns reflective and solemn as she recounts the toils of per predecessors, and a picture of a people as hearty as the "Chunky Irish Stew" is painted.
During her stay in Ireland, she hopes to visit the site of the Sullivan house, where her bloodline used to live. "Ten years ago it was believed to be standing,” she says hopefully.
Perhaps it's a sense of disconnect created from time and a combining of cultures that has brought Bri to her goals. In learning the Irish language, it's history, and the culture; she wants to use her future visibility as a film and tv actor to promote the preservation of Irish traditions. She is also keen on working on films with an Irish Language dub-over.
Just as her ancestors worked to create a new life after the famine, Bri has been working tenaciously for a such an experience since she graduated high school seven years ago. "It has been a struggle to finally make it happen. Persistence paid off, I had been working on this particular opportunity for several months, almost given up, but I was given new hope with a scholarship opportunity."
In Ireland, Bri will acquire books and supplies for her classes. The intense Irish language courses will also include ventures to various areas to experience the culture, music, and history. If she can acquire the funds, she hopes to fix her laptop so she can process video blogs and stay in contact with friends and family while she is there, but she has plans to produce videos on her experiences when she returns regardless.
Besides the seriousness of her motivations, I asked her if there were any other missions she hoped to accomplish during her stay. She laughed and admitted there was one: "Having a Guinness at the Guinness brewery in Dublin.” Bri will also be attending a red-head convention, in which she hopes to win the prize for "furthest traveled red-head."
There is a yearning in her voice for a chance to connect to her heritage, as well as a genuine love for the culture. "Culture is in the language. There is something that is just welcoming in Irish. I want to do my part to preserve it."
Indeed, the language has already become a daily part of her life. She confides that she often says to her partner Tom, "Tom! Uisce, le do thoil!" which means, 'Tom, water please!"
As we say goodbye, Bri pulls out the bookmark to find her place in "An Hobad". I ask her why she chose to study Irish with The Hobbit.
She laughs heartily, and replies most fittingly, "It is my favorite book, I thought it was appropriate because I’m going on an adventure!"
Fortunately for us all, Bri has agreed to recount her experiences with us again once this particular adventure is over.
Bri has a go-fund-me page to support her journey, (and help her get that pint of Guinness.)
Also, you can follow Bri’s adventures on twitter
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