Birth of a Book

It’s easy to forget how much time, effort and manpower goes into creating a book, far beyond the author sitting down and actually writing it.

As writer Mark Welker points out on his blog, “many other things may die with the printed word, including the intersection of craft and art, and the beautiful things humans can produce when working together.”

This beautiful short vignette (just under 2mins long) shows a book being created using traditional printing methods, and is a wonderful reminder of the value of the printed book, and the enormous effort that goes into its creation for our benefit.

Enjoy.

Birth of a Book from Glen Milner @glen_milner on Vimeo.

M is for Music

I’ve been looking forward to this post because by golly did I hear some good music while I was frolicking across Europe. And no, I’m not talking the latest pop rocking rapping top 40 hits on the radio. I’m talkin’ the stuff you hear in the streets; local live folk music, buskers and the like.

Get excited.

First stop, Krakow, Poland, where I stumbled across these two amazing fellas playing and singing their little hearts out. Not only are they so adorable in their little outfits, but even though I have no idea what’s they’re singing about, I just want to sing along too. Observe:

Next stop, the streets of Edinburgh.

I swear, my ears are fine-tuned to catch the sound of bagpipes from afar. I liken it to the Sirens of Greek Mythology; the sound lures me closer and closer until I’m practically playing those bagpipes myself. Of course there’s no deadly rocks and imminent death involved, which is certainly a positive, but you get the idea.

I like bagpipes.

It may have something to do with my time at university during my undergraduate degree. Somewhat isolated in the Northern Tablelands, Armidale is the home to the University of New England, a 6 hour drive north of Sydney, its sweeping landscapes and natural beauty are something to behold. While there I lived on campus, which was a 20 minute stroll to the university campus along a quite spectacularly scenic elm-lined road overlooking grass fields. It was during my afternoon walk home that I would often hear the faint sound of bagpipes, which would sound louder with each gust of wind that carried the music close.

It was quite beautiful to see the lone shadow of a student practicing in that far away field by sunset. The poor kid had obviously been banished to the fields, for really, what could be more irritating than trying to study, nap or watch television in your dorm room with the deafening sound of bagpipes next door? I see the dilemma, but it worked out quite well for me. I could almost imagine I was standing in the Scottish Highlands.

In any case, this guy may not be playing in beautiful fields by sunset, but it still had the desired effect. Observe:

Last stop, we remain in Edinburgh but head to a narrow, dimly lit pub one cold winter’s night. My host, Beatrice, tells me I must experience a taste of live Scottish Folk Music before I leave.

On entering the pub, we squeeze through the crowd past the bar and find two rare seats by a table occupied by a group of drinkers, all with instruments. They were chatting away over large mugs of beer and I observed through their conversation that they didn’t all know each other. It all looked very casual, but when the music started it was nothing short of magnificent.

In what seemed to me a mix between wonderful improvisation and perfect synchonisation, this group of mismatched characters played their fiddles and bagpipes and tin whistles, and I could not help but tap my feet and smile.

There was no ceremony or formality. Every now and then one of them would just stop and turn around to chat with a patron or fetch another drink. They each played when and how they pleased and yet somehow managed to sound like a perfectly orchestrated troop of musicians. It was spectacular.

I’m sorry about the poor quality of the video. I was seated behind one of the musicians and was trying to subtly take my video without being the overtly conspicuous tourist that I am.

Enjoy.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

If, like me, you share a love of books, writing and stories, then watch this beautiful short animation that has been nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. You won’t be disappointed.

Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story.

Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a new narrative experience that harkens back to silent films and M-G-M Technicolor musicals. “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is one of five animated short films that will be considered for outstanding film achievements of 2011 in the 84th Academy Awards ®.

EDIT MARCH 2012: The film ended up winning the title of Best Animated Short.

D is for Dance

I’ve always been a fan of dance, in particular the ballet, and have been fortunate enough over the years to have seen a number of excellent performances in Australia. The idea of telling stories not with words but with movements and music is awe inspiring to me.

So how could I resist when I saw a poster at Edinburgh train station advertising Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty? I couldn’t, of course, but I was coming to the end of my trip and money was in short supply. I had another week in which I needed to feed myself and Katy without food at least every three hours is not a happy Katy.

So what to do?

My Italian bred, Scotland-living host, Beatrice, and I went to the magnificent Festival Theatre to assess the situation for that evening’s show. It was my last night in Edinburgh and Beatrice had never been to the ballet before, so our fingers were crossed.

Luck was with us that day as it would seem, when we were told we could not only get tickets but, being after noon on the day of the performance and being the students that we are, tickets would be 10 pounds. TEN POUNDS I TELL YOU!

On receipt of our tickets, we saw the words ‘restricted view’ stamped in bold at the bottom, but were not at all disheartened. Did I mention they were 10 pounds?

The performance was beautiful and the costumes were outstanding. Visually, it was a masterpiece of a show and Tchaikovsky’s music never fails to disappoint.

As for our seats, well, I’ll leave it up to you to decide how restricted our view was:

Curtains closed before the performance

Probably the best seats I’ve ever had in my life!

I leave you with a trailer for The Sleeping Beauty so you can see some of the production in action.

The benefits of book piracy

Neil Gaimen, author of American Gods and Stardust, gives a wonderfully encouraging and straightforward look at the potential benefits that the internet, copyright piracy and offering your books online for free can have on writers and the publishing industry.  Well worth the watch.

Thanks to the lovely and talented Charlotte English at Words About Words for sharing this gem of a video with me.  The first book in her new fantasy series, Draykon, is now available to buy from Amazon and Smashwords.  Check it out!

~storytelling nomad~

Snape. Snape. Severus Snape.

Book you’ve read the most number of times

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 20

I have read the Harry Potter books A LOT of times in more than one language.  And I’m okay with that.  However, in light of the fact that I’ve already discussed my love of these books already within this challenge, I feel inclined to instead share with you this ridiculous Harry Potter related video, which recently had me in stitches for the greater part of the day.  Be warned, you might have the words “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape” circling around your head for a few days after watching this.

Also, I feel I must add that I have not yet seen the new movie, which devastates me so, but unfortunately work hours won’t permit it for another week.  In any case, although yes, I have read the books a thousand times (not an accurate calculation), and yes I know what happens, I must say that I am insanely jealous of all of you who have had the pleasure of seeing the movie.  So feel free to boast and tell me how spectacularly awesome it is, but please don’t tell me what happens, or what they missed or what they added or what they did or didn’t do right.  I’m in a Harry Potter bliss bubble at the moment and I simply can’t have you popping it.  Deal? DEAL?

I will return this act of charity with many cyber love hugs.

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 11

Book from your favourite author

I have to pick just one? Okay, you win today Miss Rowling.  And just to be different, I’m going to showcase The Tales of Beedle the Bard.  This book of wizard children’s stories/fairy tales appears in the last of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is the key to helping Harry, Ron and Hermione find and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes.  Within, is the Tale of the Three Brothers, which I think the movie adaptation did an amazing job of recreating.  I absolutely loved the animation.

For those of you who haven’t seen the animated version of the Tale of the Three Brothers, or just want to be once again in awe of such epic awesomeness, check it out here.

In true J.K. fashion, this book was originally released as only seven copies, one of which was auctioned off and purchased by Amazon for I.5 million pounds ($3.8 million), with the money going to charity.  Well played J.K, well played.

~storytelling nomad~