Chaos Attraction

Sierra Storytelling Festival 2019, Day 2

2019-07-20, 12:47 p.m.

At breakfast, Mary told me about a couple she knows that were together for decades but never bothered to actually get around to getting married, and when they finally decided to do it on Easter, got married by the Easter Bunny. And she also mentioned a guy who brought his camel to the library. She also then mentioned some “camel beauty contest” in Saudi Arabia where 11 of the camels were ruled out for using Botox. Whaaaaat?

Seriously, I wish I hung out with Mary more often. (Except I sadly don’t get up to the area as much as I want to, and she’s hard to get a hold of on phone or email.) She is quotable and I love that.

Today was the long shows.

First up was Dalyrimple, who has a very plaid outfit. He told the story of Finn MacCool’s conception and how his poor dad Cool had a prophecy about him (“I told you there was always a prophecy”) and how basically falling in love got him killed. “And the smell of her female power violated his sense of safety,” something like that.

Kim: talked a lot about menopause, which made me want to drink knowing that that’s coming up someday. Dawn loved it.

“I remember when I had to wade through shag carpeting to change the channel.”
”I would tell my younger self, You think your butt is big now?!”
“Anyway, I digress, and that happens a lot.”
On wine: “Red makes me feel sexy, white makes me feel smart.”
“If you can’t lose it, decorate it.”
“That’s what you thought of when you were near death? Your Teavana thermos?”
On the class rabbit: “Eat a pellet, make a pellet.”
“I do not need to fit into anyone else’s box.”

Later she told a story about how she didn’t do well in school and was a chatterbox and was always getting report cards along the lines of “If Kimmy would entertain her work as much as she tries to entertain the class...” Then she had the right teacher who told her, “You have the gift of gab. With that you could rule the world.” Kim was all, “I KNEW IT!” On the report card that year, her teacher wrote “Kimberly is a pure delight.” Her mother was flabbergasted and sent a note back to the teacher saying, “What are you drinking?”

“And from that day on my life was different.” The teacher got her a job doing announcements, which she did in different voices. The teacher stayed in contact with her and saved all of her work..and everyone else’s.

She got another standing O.

Kirk: since he was continuing with part 2 from last night, he had to recap for all the newbies who came in this morning. Anyway: the king marries a second (ugly) wife and has the prophesied kid and another little brother, both 2nd wife and kids are treated like shit by the first wife (also uh...they have to get rid of the “buffalo spirit” in the wife so that procreation can happen....that was weird and involved spikes coming out of her body...????). By the time dad finally dies and the first son becomes king, the first wife has literally become a Jewish mother, saying “I thought I had a son!” when he didn’t do what she wanted. Kirk was all, “Every time I do this part I feel like a Jewish mother.” He also said, “love your wife, but do not tell her state secrets,” and “no man has ever risen to power without the complicity of a man has ever fallen without the anger of a woman.”

So anyway, after getting into a fight with his brother, the Chosen One (Sunjiata) stomps off and leaves with his real family and gets adopted by another king and all is great until he finds out that an evil sorcerer is taking over various nations, including Mali, where he’s from, and his older brother has run for it. So he has to come back and take over and get rid of the bad guy and unite all the tribes and whatnot. Huzzah!

Motoko on how to say her name: “Start strong and end...whatever.”
When she went off to college in America, her dad said, “No drugs and no men.” “Okay, dad.” -then she met her future ex-husband, so one promise was kept.

Most of her stories in her hour were about her son and were a hoot. Mostly she started out in a “you know you’re Japanese when” sort of style, in which her kid points out reasons you know she is. Such as “buying in bulk is an Asian tradition. Costco is our traditional heaven.” She had a 50 pound bag of rice and a gallon of soy saucei n the fridge and “she forces a bowl cut on you even when you are 25.”

“I became a professional mime and my parents refused to speak to me for seven years.”

“My son turned out to be a jock.”

After someone said something racist to her son, she asked if there was anything she could do and he suggested she get him certain Game Boy games from Japan. “So you see, it is expensive to fight racism.”

Then she talked about her son wanting to be a ninja at Halloween “and a cute little ninja was born,” and she made up this whole ninja code of behavior when he asked about it. Another kid he hung out with had some ah, costume confusion, which led to a sentiment I agree with: “There’s nothing wrong with being a princess witch.” Motoko followed the kids while trick or treating and hid in the bushes, to which her son said, “Mom, I’m the ninja, not you.” Anyway, the kids ran into some cranky WWII vet neighbor who yelled at her son about kamikaze pilots. The next year all three kids go as ninjas, and Motoko is forbidden from sneaking along.

The little ninjas pass by the cranky neighbor’s house and notice it’s on fire, so one of them runs to tell her mother and the other two ... I forget, saved him somehow. When the police asked if they could give the guy the kids’ names, the kids said no because according to the ninja code, they’re supposed to stay invisible and not boast of their achievements. Also, it’s cooler to be remembered as the Three Ninjas.

She did a mime act called “My Son’s Room,” in which she finds magazines under the bed (nuff said).

She also told another story about her brother believing in Santa (“If you believe in Santa, he’s real. If you don’t believe in Santa, he’s not real.”) but his friends didn’t, so there was a fight. After her mother told a friend’s dad about this, the dad dressed up as Santa and convinced the kids until high school. Now her brother plays Santa and says, “What makes you believe in Santa is being one.”

I have written down that Stephanie the emcee said the following about her dad: “He used to walk around with a ROCK PHONE and make fun of people on their cell phones. Now he has a cell phone and he’s That Guy.”

Antonio: “Thank you for being here today. Without you, this would have been a rehearsal.”

“When I told my parents I wanted to be a mime, they were speechless. I said no, that’s my job.”

He first talked about being at some political protest in Brazil and saying, “I’d like be a mime for peace. I had NO IDEA what I was going to do.”

“I reached down and brought out a military grade rifle. It was a MIME one, but they knew what I was doing....Then I let out a primal (mime) scream.” He turned the gun into a dove and made it into the newspaper.

He did a mime story about a deer and a tiger living in the same house and another one about a spider.

Then he talked about moving to Maine to learn how to be a mime and was terrified of all the skinheads running around there. He and his white-looking niece had their car run out of gas and he went off to try to find gas, and then freaked out when the guy who offered to find him some had a chainsaw and gun rack in the car. “This is not adding up to anything good!” He also red flagged because he needed diesel gas and this guy’s car took unleaded. “If this guy goes onto a dirt road, I’m jumping out!” The guy then asked what his job was, and...

“If I say I’m a storyteller, I’m going to have to explain to him for ten minutes what a storyteller is. If I say I’m a mime he’s going to cut me up and eat me...” He said storyteller and the guy actually knew what he meant. Turns out dude needed diesel for his chainsaw, and gave him gas for free, saying only, “If you see me broken down by the side of the road, you can tell me a story.”

Tim Tingle’s show blew my fucking mind. Judith Black’s “Bug Girl” has been the most amazing storytelling experience I’ve ever had, but this was #2. He starts off by saying that “my parole officer called and said if I don’t get a standing ovation, I’ll get ten more years...”

He also made a joke about “what we in Oklahoma call mountains,” which made Dawn laugh so hard I was all, “now YOU are gonna end up on the microphone.”

Anyway: he starts out with an ex-con calling him up and wanting to tell him stories about prison. Except somehow we never get there because the ex-con ends up telling him about how he went to prison because he and another guy named Clarence were forced to go to shitty Indian boarding school. Clarence got locked in a closet for 36 hours and they’d make every kid whip every other kid and shit like that. Clarence’s dad threw him off the second floor at one point, and eventually the guy (Cecil) and Clarence end up doing shoplifting, which leads to robberies. And getting super stupid about robbing a diner before everyone paid for their meals, with the sheriff in there, and taking off their masks to count their money... and then they made $7 and ended up ripping the $5 bill apart.... Wow, this is so dumb.

Anyway, Clarence shoots a guy after being yelled at to “get out of here!” (not something fun for a Choctaw guy to hear... a lot...) so Cecil gets 20 years and Clarence gets 30. Clarence is eventually sent to Alcatraz, and you may have heard of him because he got involved in that escape attempt. “They had no plans and still went through with it.” Clarence was about to kill a guard and the guard was all, “I have a family” and convinced him out of it, so Clarence helps him fake dead by cutting him behind the ear and smearing it on his neck, and when one of his compatriots wanted to shoot the guard in the head “just to make sure,” Clarence said not to waste a bullet. Later, the guard and his family came to the trial and testified so that Clarence only got life and not a death sentence.

The life of Clarence Carnes really never got any better, but at least there was that. And then Tim found out that Clarence Carnes was his own long--disowned great uncle. “It was meant to be.”

If you thought this was an adventure story, you got this all wrong. You stare at a crowded Wal-Mart and try not to judge someone by what you see. “If you speak to the goodness of their heart they will speak it back to you.”

After he got off the stage, I gave him my compliments and he said, “When you start entering a story, the doors just open.”

I then went to the Story Slam, which I did not participate in this year because I really only had the one story going in my head this year and had already signed up for open tell on Sunday with that one.

Quotes from Tom the emcee:
“The crucial point is the end.”
“At six minutes, unfortunately, we have to cut your head off.”

What do I recall/can translate from quickly scribbled notes about this?
(a) one guy telling about his mom’s escape from the shtetl. (Or however you spell that.)
(b) someone having a painful landing while ski jumping
(c) My favorite was the story of the director of the schoolhouse having to be a bridesmaid for her brother’s future wife, who she did not get on with and got kicked out of the wedding after refusing to shave her armpits. “When I’m 77 and I’m in my rocking chair, what’s going to make me smile?” she said. The bride and her mother were not happy, but the bride’s dad was fine with her. Also has the quote “I was pretty committed to being drunk.” Though NOW she shaves, which some folks thought was a buzzkill.
(d) “When you go places, you wanna do something stupid.” That is about all I have down.
(e) The winner told a story about his dad mounting a dog on a car in a parade. His dad later killed himself but he sees his dad in the mirror every day. (Me too on the mirror.)
(f) Skydiving and dislocating a shoulder
(g) Mark did a story about being a city kid from SF and going to Idaho where he could finally be a cowboy, where he got punked by the cowboys until he roped a calf.
(h) One girl told a story about hearing a couple in an abusive relationship fighting in public and going in to break it up by saying, “I hear someone screaming and I DON’T LIKE THAT.” The end of it was, “You don’t always know what to do, but you do know what to do.”
(i) Mike from Hawaii said, “When I think of change” (the theme was change), “I think of volcanoes. He talked about bringing Pele flowers and gin.

Saturday night’s show:

Antonio: did another mime show about flight and an eagle that thought it was a chicken until it ran into another eagle that was very insistent that it could fly. Meanwhile chicken/eagle is all, “Don’t play with your food, just get it over with!” There was another mime show about a kid catching a butterfly.

Liz: “I want to hear a story from your mind,” her kid said. So she told a story about a Jewish mother bird who’s obsessed with making sure her kids will take care of her when she’s old and throwing them off her back if they give any answer other than yes (first one: “I don’t know,” second one is all “I want to move to California”) and finally the third bird is all “But won’t I be taking care of my own babies when you’re old?” That one survives. Geeeeeez.

“Hi Bishop! I am so like, How you doing? Squirrel!”
“Comedy is either because it’s funny or you recognize.”
“I see you’re weighed down with a story and I want to hear it.”

Anyway, she had us vote on what story to do but frankly, she gamed it so people would vote for the creepy horror story. So that was not so much my thing. It was about a guy who married a “boo-hag” that well....was gross, not my thing, oh well.

Kirk: told the story of the sugar addict kid who had a King Midas-situation that I’ve heard before. The emcee was all, “Would it be terrible if I said, what a sweet story?”

Motoko: told a story about “the greatest pickpocket in Japan” (“I rescue you from the burden of unbridled wealth.”) who meets his match, marries her, and then they expect the baby to be the greatest one ever. The kid has his hand closed in a fist...and it’s holding the doctor’s wedding ring. There was another pickpocket story, but at that point it was dark and god only knows what I wrote down. I think it was that the guy stole something for a kid and the kid ended up trying to kill himself and then the first pickpocket felt guilty and chopped off his fingers to prevent himself from stealing and then was all, “Actually, I’m left handed....”

Tim: told a story about a Choctaw family moving away from Skullyville after the New Hope Academy burned down and getting crapped on by the neighbors (there was also a lot a lot a lot about “scopenon grapes,” whatever that is and I have no idea on the spelling) and then getting a dog made things better with the neighbors. “Sometimes when miracles happen, they flow.”

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