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Activated Stories

English, Literature, 1 season, 219 episodes, 2 days, 8 hours, 34 minutes
Professional actors bring your family a different folktale from a new location in every episode. Laugh and learn with 'act!vated' actors as they tell silly, thought-provoking stories while touring with their national touring children's show. Comments and story requests: (800)429-6576
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The Flying Bed

The Flying Bed is a story from India that bears similarities to many other stories, including Aladdin, East Of The Sun and West Of The Moon, The Golden Pitcher, and the Aesop's Fable The Lion and the Mouse. It tells of how one good deed deserves another, and everybody can be of help to somebody, no matter the differences in size or species. We come to you from Reno, Nevada, where we've been holed up since the pandemic hit. This is our first podcast in a couple of months, so we bring you up to date on our restricted explorations of Northern Nevada while we wait for things to change. We may not be able to go into stores very easily, but we got to pet wild horses! Stay safe and productive. And happy listening! Dennis (Ali, Ant, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Ant, Lion, Fakir, Passerby, Princess Lalun)
6/24/202024 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Golden Beetle

The Golden Beetle is a story about how a magical object comes to the aid of poor people in need, who then become careless with whom they share the secret of their good fortune. In that respect, it is somewhat like the Arabian Nights tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But here there is an added element of an origin story, explaining why cats and dogs fight like... well, cats and dogs. We come to you from Simi Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. We've been doing some work in the film and TV industry, and we had some performances scheduled, but they have cancelled because of the coronavirus COIVID-19. In the meantime you can attend our daily "Theatre Camp" on Facebook and YouTube. M-F Live at 3:00 PM PDT/6:00 EDT Your support is appreciated now more than ever Happy Listening, Dennis (Son, Hermit, Mrs. Wu, Cat) and Kimberly (Narrator, Cow, Mom, Mr. Wu, Dog)
3/26/202016 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Bamboo and the Stars

The Bamboo and the Stars is our first podcast story from the Philippines. Welcome to the family, Philippines! And it's yet another one of those celestial phenomenon stories that we seem to be uncovering quite a bit lately. (Story starts at 4:00.) We're in Yuma, AZ, just a short hop from the Mexico border. While in town we visited The Camel Farm, where we were able to feed and pet camels, goats, sheep, a zebra, a zeedonk (half zebra and half donkey) and a hinny (half horse and half donkey).  And we held a teeny baby goat, only a week old. We've been driving from East Coast to West coast, taking as much time as we can to see some sights along the way. This has included Saguaro National Park near Tuscon, full of cacti/cactuses/cactus (all are acceptable) that look as if they belonged in a cowboy cartoon. And we saw the Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas, made by a meteor that struck at least 10,000 years ago. So let's call it an even million. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Aponitolau, Baby, Star) and Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Star)
2/5/202017 minutes, 35 seconds
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Wishing On The Moon

Wishing On The Moon is a sort of male Cinderella story from the Inuit (Eskimo) people of Alaska/Canada. We wanted to sneak in one more story about the moon before the end of this 50th anniversary year of the walk on the moon. We're currently taking a holiday break in Atlanta, where we'll be for the end of 2019 before we start touring again in 2020. In this story, we mention the 1922 documentary Nanook of the North by Robert J. Flaherty. You can watch it on Youtube but we should caution you to take it with a grain of salt. Flaherty took a great deal of poetic license, including making up the name Nanook for the main character, a man he falsely states died of starvation. He also staged scenes and had his subjects use antiquated tools rather than more modern things they normally used. Still, it's a fascinating cinematic and anthropological relic. Happy watching, happy listening, happy holidays, and happy 2020. Dennis (Nukilik, Man 1) and Kimberly (Narrator, Man 2, Man 3, Akna, Man in the Moon)
12/28/201917 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Harpist and the Princess

The Harpist and the Princess is a story from Burma that is somewhat similar in theme to Beauty and the Beast, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Lohengrin, and a number of other stories in which a maiden falls in love with a person who has been transformed into an animal or beastly shape of some type. In many such stories, as in this one, she is asked to curb her curiosity to find out something about the beastly person -- his name, origin, appearance, or true identity. We come to you from Marietta, GA, just outside Atlanta, where we're getting a bit of a break from our usual activities, thanks to the holiday season. We took advantage of the time to attend the Atlanta Water Lantern Festival, where people come together to celebrate their hopes and wishes and dreams by decorating a wooden lantern and giving it a symbolic launch on the water. As haunted attraction enthusiasts, we also made a mandatory stop at Netherworld, one of the most phenomenal and awe-inspiring haunts in the whole country. This attraction, located near Stone Mountain, is open until the second weekend in November, so we were able to catch the final night, and were delighted by all the detail that went into the venue. Happy Listening, Dennis (Thi Hah, Wizard, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Person, Yi Yi)
11/28/201915 minutes, 47 seconds
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Ameen and the Ghoul

Just in time for Halloween, Ameen and the Ghoul from Persia (now known as Iran) tells of a brave man who defeats a terrible monster by using his brains rather than his brawn. It's a story in the tradition of Brave Little Tailor and Dragon of Krakow. We come to you from Warwick, RI, where we are wrapping up our annual fall jaunt in New England by spending some time scaring people at a haunted attraction in Abington, MA. And soon we being migrating south for the winter. Happy listening, Dennis (Ameen) and Kimberly (Narrator, Friend, Wife, Ghoul)
10/31/201916 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Wooden Tablet

The Wooden Tablet is a simple little story from China about the importance of keeping promises and honoring your elders. We come to you from Seekonk, Massachusetts, having just returned from spending nearly a month touring Vermont for the first time. We were amazed and impressed by the state's unspoiled beauty -- there are no billboards anywhere! We took a train ride and a boat cruise, and did a lot of hiking (and photographing wild mushrooms) and even toured Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and Cabot Cheese Factory. Now we're getting ready for Halloween once again! Happy Listening, Dennis (Father, Narrator, Grandfather) and Kimberly (Narrator, Ming, Servant)
9/26/201913 minutes, 34 seconds
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Rabbit Sells Corn

Rabbit Sells Corn is the first story we've presented from Canada. It originated among Native Americans up north (yes, we can call them Native Americans too, since they lived on this continent) and has undergone some modifications as it was transmitted to white settlers. And we, of course, have done some tweaking of our own. It stems from a tradition of animal stories that also seem to have much in common with African-American tales about tricky and deceptive and clever critters. We come to you from Attleboro, Massachusetts, as we wind down our summer touring season. Recently we performed on Cape Cod, where we took advantage once again of the Cape Cod Rail Trail to do some biking. This time, we rode a tandem bike for the first time ever. We also spent a day in Boston attending Wanderlust 108, an event that features a curious triathlon of running, yoga and meditation. And we took the “Bones and Bells” tour at King's Church, visiting a crypt in the basement of the church and then climbing up to the bell tower, which features a bell made by Paul Revere and sons. Happy listening! Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Fox, Bear) and Kimberly (Rabbit, Duck)
8/21/201918 minutes, 13 seconds
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Out Of Season

Out Of Season is a Cinderella-type story, rather similar to the Russian Vasalisa, which is rather similar to the story of Hansel and Gretel. These stories just won't stay in their own boxes. This is a tale from what used to be called Yugoslavia, before it was chopped up into smaller nations with less humorous-sounding names. We bring you this story from a country that no longer exists, from a town that didn't exist back then: Kill Devil Hills, NC. In fact, it didn't exist in 1903 when the Wright Brothers made history here. So the site of their experiments was recorded as Kitty Hawk, the closest town at the time. We've been taking advantage of the great beaches in this part of this state. We've also said howdy to some wild horses on Shackleford Banks, and we spotted an even dozen wild bears at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. But we did not, alas, spot any alligators or any rare red wolves. On the way here, we dug for diamonds (and didn't find any) at Crater Of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and panned for gold (we found some!) at John Reed Gold Mine in North Carolina. In Atlanta we spent a day at the Center For Puppetry Arts, admiring the varied puppets, some vary old, from many cultures; marveling at the genius of Jim Henson; enjoying a thoroughly imaginative puppet theatre production of Beauty and the Beast; and (literally) making a couple of friends, whom we call Buford and Otis, to bring home with us. Watch all of the latest Act!vated Adventures on YouTube And now, we're off again in search of strawberries, violets and apples. And maybe even some diamonds and gold. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Marta, December) and Kimberly (Anka, Gretchen, April, June, September)
7/27/201925 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Prince and His Servant

The Prince and His Servant from Poland is one of those folk tales that sound like it actually could have happened -- or something like it. It's a tale about betrayal and trickery, with a little plug for literacy thrown in to boot. We come to you from Heber Springs, AR., having just started our summer season of performing at libraries across the country. We drove out from Reno, where we always put together a new show. While we were there, we did a week residency at Acro Enso, a new facility that offers training in a variety of circus arts, including juggling, tumbling and handstands. We picked up some new skills that we plan to insert into our performances. Happy listening, Dennis (Henrik, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Frederick, Servant)
6/13/201918 minutes, 9 seconds
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Saving the Snake

Saving the Snake is a Middle Eastern fable about trickery and gratitude and learning from mistakes. It's similar to a story from the Arabian Nights, as well as to our earlier story Anansi and the Story Box; it even has some similarities to the “Brer Rabbit” stories. We come to you from the Bay Area city of Fremont, CA., where we're in the middle of a busy April performing in several Northern California schools and libraries. While in the area, we paid a visit to our old stomping grounds in San Francisco, where we hiked across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. Prior to that, we were in Southern California, where we visited some later stomping grounds in the Los Angeles area. We made this trip even more special by picking up Kimberly's birth mother and giving her a tour of La-La-Land; and we secretly arranged for our son Zephyr to fly in from the East Coast to meet his grandmother for the first time. There's only one way to celebrate such an occasion as this: we all spent a day at Disneyland. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Man, Tree) and Kimberly (Snake, Cow, Fox, Narrator)
4/23/201916 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Drum and the Tree

The Drum and the Tree is a Nigerian fable featuring talking lions and tortoises about the dangers of keeping the wrong secrets from the wrong people, and the problems that curiosity can cause. It's thematically similar to Bluebeard, Lohengrin and Pandora. This month finds us is Nipomo, CA., having just driven across half the country from Texas. Along the way, we stopped to explore the underground marvels of Carlsbad Caverns and the desert splendor of Joshua Tree. We also visited Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch in Arizona, where we were able to feed not only ostriches, but bunnies, goats, exotic birds, stingrays, and many other critters. (But no talking lions or tortoises.) If there's one thing funnier than feeling them lick food out of your hand, it's having a goat take food from your lips. Now we're gearing up for our annual whirlwind tour of California and then getting another new show ready for our 32nd summer season. Hope to see you there! Happy Listening, Dennis (Lion King, Tortoise, Tortoise Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, Lion Queen, Cub, Mrs. Tortoise) 
3/23/201921 minutes, 5 seconds
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How The Tiger Got Its Stripes

How The Tiger Got Its Stripes is an "origin" story, a fable about bullying, and a trickster tale all rolled into one. We're bringing it to you from Texas, having just driven across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama after having a great couple of weeks in Florida. We went snorkeling with manatees at Crystal River, took a a glass-bottom boat tour at Silver Springs State Park, and watched hundreds of thousands of bats take off at twilight in Gainesville. Now we're heading west, and soon we'll be back at familiar haunts in California. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Tiger) and Kimberly (Narrator, Monkey, Goat, Rabbit)
2/16/201916 minutes, 41 seconds
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Hina and the Moon

Hina and the Moon is a nature origin myth from what is now called Hawaii. It is one of many stories about Hina, who in some cases is a goddess and in others an ordinary woman. Sometimes she is married to Maui, and others not. Sometimes she goes to the moon, and other times she doesn't. We decided to have her take a trip to the moon, because this year is the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing, and libraries will be celebrating it this summer. Accordingly, we'll be having Hina take a trip to the moon on stage when we perform. We come to you from Charleston, SC, having just performed at the Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in the country, for its 246th birthday. We've also been touring Myrtle Beach, where we learned to do an old dance called the Carolina shag. And in the town of Bishopville, we visited the amazing topiary garden that has been maintained for nearly 4 decades by a man named Pearl Fryar. Our 2019 is off to a great start. Hope yours is too. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Man, Maui, Moon) and Kimberly (Hina, Woman, Narrator) 
1/15/201914 minutes, 24 seconds
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How a Bundle of Straw Became a Fortune

How a Bundle of Straw Became a Fortune is the Japanese take on the “exchange” type of story, which we could also call the “pay it forward” type. In it, an individual does a good deed by giving away something, and receives a gift in return; this gift is then given to someone else who needs it, and the hero then receives another “white elephant” in return, which is then passed on to someone else, etc. Finally, our hero receives his ultimate good fortune. We are currently performing a story of this type, The Boy Who Wanted a Drum (India) in our live stage production. It seems like a rather appropriate choice for a holiday season in which so many people give gifts and think about those less fortunate. By the way, we named the character in our version of the story Keisuke, after a young man we know in Japan. And you may catch the subtle reference to the classic Japanese animated film, Kiki's Delivery Service. We come to you from Simpsonville, SC, near Greenville. We are taking a bit of a holiday break between our stage performances and our offstage explorations that provide the fodder for our Act!vated Adventures videos. Have a peek at them! Happy holidays and happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Charcoal Maker, Blacksmith, Samurai) and Kimberly (Keisuke, Narrator)
12/19/201810 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tug Of War

Tug Of War comes from the Island of Andros in The Bahamas, and continues the tradition of a clever trickster animal getting the best of bigger and brawnier bully beasts. Our monkey is named Timmy, thanks to a listener and Patreon named Caleb. We come to you from Jamestown, Virginia, where we've just toured Jamestown Settlement, an amazing museum complex featuring meticulous recreations of a Powhatan Indian village, a colonial fort, and three ships that brought settlers over in 1607 -- among them Captain John Smith. In recent days, we've also toured Thomas Edison's old laboratories in West Orange, NJ, with tools and equipment still almost as he left them. We took a beautiful helicopter tour over Newport, Rhode Island. And we tried our hand at throwing hatchets at targets at Bury the Hatchet in Cherry Hill, NJ. Just another typical month in the lives of touring thespians. Follow all of the Activated Adventures on our new site for off stage shenanigans. We hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Elephant) and Kimberly (Timmy, Whale)
11/16/201817 minutes
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Boots and the Troll

Boots and the Troll is a tale that has many elements in common with other folk and fairy tales, including Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as countless others about siblings setting out to find their fortunes. We come to you from Abington, MA., where we've been performing as ghouls and goblins and other fearsome creatures in a Halloween attraction, which is something we like to do every year about this time.  Happy listening, Dennis (Michael, King, Troll) and Kimberly (Narrator, Boots, Lars)
10/23/201816 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Chinese Mirror

Yes, The Chinese Mirror is indeed a Korean story, a tale about fools and about how the introduction of something new often leads to comical results. We come to you from Scarsdale, NY, just north of New York City, which we just took a walking tour of. Since our last podcast, we've been to Maine, including Acadia National Park; we've been sailing and taking a high-speed "Eco Adventure Cruise" off the Maine coast; we've been challenging ourselves at Monkey C Monkey D obstacle course; we've been taking a nostalgic stroll (and train ride) at Boothbay Railway Village; we've attended the annual WaterFire event in Providence, RI; and we've even (ho-hum) worked in some skydiving in Connecticut. Here's hoping your coming month will also be eventful. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Merchant, Mother-in-Law, Neighbor) and Kimberly (Narrator, Vendor, Wife, Daughter)
9/15/201817 minutes, 1 second
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The Monkey Husband

The Monkey Husband from Japan is one of those many stories about a girl from a poor family marrying a beast of some sort or other -- including, of course, one of the best known, Beauty and the Beast. This one also seems to be related to a legend that Shakespeare borrowed for King Lear: a father with three daughters, of whom the oldest two are selfish and ungrateful, and the youngest is loving and loyal. Our monkey husband's name, Misue, was supplied by Elizabeth McFarland, who is one of our patrons on Patreon. We come to you from Mashpee, Massachusetts, on beautiful Cape Cod. Since we last spoke to you, we have traveled all the way from North Carolina, and had quite a few adventures along the way. We have documented these in our series of YouTube videos, Gozas on the Go; Act!vated Adventures. They include the Salty Pirate water park and the Wright Brothers flight site in North Carolina; the Virginia Aquarium, the Virginia Musical Museum, Warehouse 29 escape room and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia; Gettysburg, Hershey Chocolate World and Lost River Caverns in Pennsylvania; and Purgatory Chasm State Park, Art's Dune Tours and Hyannis Whale Watching in Massachusetts. Phew! And during all of that we managed to work in some performances. And we have more coming up. We hope to see you at one of them, if not on a whale watching boat. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Middle Daughter) and Kimberly (Misue, Oldest Daughter, Youngest Daughter)
8/16/201819 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Magic Pear Tree

The Magic Pear Tree is a strange little tale about greed, generosity, paying it forward, and poetic justice. It comes from ancient China, showing that these concepts are not just modern. It's somewhat similar to the stories about someone getting three wishes, and becoming so overwhelmed with greed that they end up with nothing. We come to you from Raleigh, NC. Since we last approached your ears, we went to Memphis, where we stopped by the pop music landmarks of Graceland and Sun Studios. We also visited a considerably older historic locale, Chucalissa Indian Village, an archaeological site that was home to a settlement of Mississippian Culture natives many centuries ago. From there we went to Chattanooga for the Fourth Of July and then Pigeon Forge, where we rode the thrilling Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, a hilltop coaster that zooms down and down and around and around and then down some more. Then we drove through the Smoky Mountains themselves, into North Carolina for our shows at the High Point Library. (A big howdy and thank you to podcast listeners the Singletons for coming to the show again.) While in High Point, we had to pay our respects to the world's largest chest of drawers.  On to Greensboro, and a repeat visit to Elsewhere, a truly fascinating art museum and play space that features shelves and shelves of old toys, books, appliances, tools and various other items left over from the days when the building was the home of a surplus and knickknack store. And finally, our travels brought us here to Raleigh, where we went ape at Go Ape, a treetop canopy course with zip lines, tricky bridges, and the really fun Tarzan vine. Gozas on the Go; Act!vated Adventures on YouTube every Sunday Upcoming Shows see a show near you Support Act!vated Stories on Patreon Happy Listening, Dennis (Farmer, Onlooker) and Kimberly (Narrator, Beggar, Customer, Onlooker)
7/15/201815 minutes, 38 seconds
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Common Sense

Common Sense is a story from Jamaica with roots in Africa that involves the legendary trickster man-spider, Anansi. Many tales are told about Anansi not only in Africa, but in America and nearby islands. He seems to have come to the New World along with the slaves, which is hardly surprising. This particular story is rather similar to Anansi and the Story Box, a tale from Ghana that we have performed on stage. We come to you from Jonesboro, Arkansas, where we are in the middle of our summer season, which we kicked off with 17 performances at libraries in Los Angeles County. In the midst of it all, we've managed to find time to take a float down the Buffalo River, as we try to do almost every year. And we're constantly on the lookout for bits of that common sense. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Old Man 1, Old Man 3) and Kimberly (Anansi, Old Man 2, Owl, Little Girl)
6/24/201816 minutes, 46 seconds
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Kaguya Hime

Kaguya Hime is a Japanese tale in the tradition of the stories about a childless couple who find a child of supernatural origin, and adopt her/ him as their own. (See, for example, The Snow Maiden from Russia.) It doubles as a nature myth, as some versions of it are intended to explain a full moon, and some versions explain the smoke arising from Mount Fuji (Fujiyama). This story was requested by podcast listeners in Tokyo, Japan, Sakura and George. We come to you from Reno, NV, which is our base of operations every May as we frantically put a new show together. We're getting ready to head to Los Angeles to open up a busy stand of 17 performances May 24th-31st for the Los Angeles County Library system. We're very happy to have with us a special guest, an old friend from -- would you believe -- Japan! Yukari is visiting us at Kimberly's parents in Reno this month, and she insisted on helping us work on the props and costumes for our new production. If you've been listening to our podcasts from the beginning, you may remember that we visited Yukari and her family in Japan in 2006. Now if you'll excuse us, we'll get back to rehearsing while you listen to the podcast. Happy listening! Act!vatedly Yours, Dennis (Bamboo Cutter, Suitor 2, Suitor 3), Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Kaguya Hime, Suitor 1, Soldier 1) and Yukari (Soldier 2)
5/22/201817 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Fly

The Fly is a trickster tale about a boy who is wise beyond his years and gets the better of his elders. He is part of a long tradition of clever "fools" who are really not so foolish, but save the day in the end. We previously performed, for example, The Boy Who Listened to Birds from Russia. We come to you from Dublin, the shamrock city in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we are wrapping up our Northern California tour and finishing our run of our production Hammer, Nail, Tell a Tale. And we are getting ready to buckle down to readying our new production, Tuneful Tales. Meanwhile, we took the time to celebrate Earth Day in Yosemite by making a brutal hike up a mountain to get a good view of a magnificent waterfall. Happy Listening, Dennis (Banker, Father, Judge) and Kimberly (Narrator, Boy, Mother) 
4/25/201812 minutes, 23 seconds
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The White Snake

The White Snake is one of the lesser known folktales collected by the Brothers Grim; it's one of those stories in which the hero is able to talk to animals, a story motif that was around long before Dr. Dolittle. It may seem strange to name a story after a reptile that makes only the briefest appearance in it, but the snake is still the one driving the action -- working undercover, as it were. We come to you from Turlock, California, where we're beginning a series of performances for the Stanislaus County Library system, as well as several school and library performances in the San Francisco Bay Area. We've finished our journey from sea to shining sea, and recent stops along the way include Quartzsite, AZ, where we saw the monument to Hi Jolly, a Middle Eastern immigrant who was hired by the U.S. Army to drive camels across the desert in the 1850s; Robolights, a fascinating collection of sculpture made from recycled objects in Palm Springs, CA; the BAPS Mandir, a magnificent Hindu temple in Chino Hills, CA; Hsi Lai, a magnificent Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights, CA; and the "fork in the road" in Pasadena. Hoping you have a great spring, and if you see a magical white snake, let us know. Happy Listening, Dennis (Jack, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Fish, Ant, Bird, Princess)
3/23/201819 minutes, 4 seconds
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Hop in My Sack

Hop in My Sack is an Italian story collected by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. The version he published was considerably longer, featuring a few more (mis)adventures for the young hero; we streamlined it for our podcast, which was already running long enough. Because we have come all the way from Alabama to California in the last month, and although we didn't bring a banjo on our knee, we did do a lot of other fun things. There was Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham (a gigantic abandoned steel mill that you can tour); the birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo, MS; Beale Street and the pyramid in Memphis; Pioneer Village in Searcy, AR; the National Weather Center in Norman, OK; the Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City; the Slug Bug Ranch near Amarillo (it's a Volkswagen version of the Cadillac Ranch); Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque; the Petrified Forest in Arizona; and Goldfield in Arizona (a restored mining ghost town). And at the same time we managed to brave some incredibly chilly weather almost everywhere; buy a new RV, move into it and sell the old one; and continue our daily dance steps in our Dance Across the Nation. Meanwhile, we also met up with Kimberly's two sisters and brother and an aunt and some nieces and nephews that we met previously; and she met another brother for the first time. Enjoy the podcast while we catch our breath. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Father, Lorenzo) and Kimberly (First Son, Second Son, Fairy, Boy, Doctor, Robber, Death, Townspeople)
2/23/201820 minutes, 31 seconds
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Li Chi and the Serpent

Li Chi and the Serpent is, like the better known Mu Lan, an old story of girl power from China. In this case, the hero(ine) is not battling an army, but a person-eating creature. But as in the story of Mu Lan, (spoiler alert) she succeeds where the men folk fail. We present this story especially for Chinese New Year, which comes up on February 16 to start the Year Of The Dog. We come to you from Prattville, Alabama, a suburb of Montgomery, as we dodge the cold as much as possible while making our way west. We've just come from Myrtle Beach, which was unusually chilly, and stopped in Atlanta, where we visited the birth place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just in time for his birthday. And along the way, we tested our wits at a couple of escape rooms. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Dennis (First Traveler, Second Traveler, Mayor, Dad, Villager) and Kimberly (Narrator, Villager, Serpent, Mayor's Assistant, Li Chi, Mom)  
1/19/201818 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Man Who Had No Story

The Man Who Had No Story is one of those stories about stories. Many times, they depict not only the origin of a particular story, but of all stories everywhere. (As it happens, we're currently performing one of these, Anansi and the Story Box, live on stage.) Others, like this one, show how you find amazing stories in places where you might least expect them. And this being Christmas time, it's altogether appropriate that this story features elves. And hey, do you notice certainly similarities to a well-known children's story that was made into a Hollywood musical starring Judy Garland in 1939? We're currently in Simpsonville, a suburb of Greenville, SC. Next stop Myrtle Beach. May you days be merry and bright for this holiday season, the year to come, and on and on. Happy Listening, Dennis (Jamie, elves, Thingamabob) and Kimberly (Narrator, Old Man, Old Woman, elves)
12/21/201714 minutes, 5 seconds
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Lazy Hans and Gretchen

Lazy Hans and Gretchen, from Germany, is about two very lazy people, and of course it's a moralistic tale about how being lazy leads to ruin. But it's also one of the "don't count your chickens before they hatch" stories that go all the way back to ancient times -- the story about the milkmaid spilling her pail of milk while daydreaming about the money she's going to make from it supposedly dates back to Aesop. Other popular variations include The Brahman Who Built Air Castles from India, and The Barber's Fifth Tale from 1001 Nights. We come to you from Pasadena, MD., as we make our annual trek southward in time to avoid the chill of New England, where we have been for the past couple of months. We discuss our visit to 5 Wits near Philadelphia, a company for which our son Zephyr works, and which provides some fantastic puzzle-solving indoor adventures in several locations. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Hans, Bystander) and Kimberly (Narrator, Gretchen)
11/16/201714 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Goblin's Bridge

The Goblin's Bridge is one of those stories about someone making a bad deal with a supernatural being. They (the stories, not necessarily the beings) are especially common in Germany and Scandinavia and sometimes involve a person making a deal for his soul with the devil. (The type has come to America in the form of The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet and The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving. ) Sometimes, as in the present tale, the deal is broken by resorting to trickery. We presented another variation of this motif last year in our production of Racing the Troll. We come to you from Foxboro (also spelled Foxborough), Massachusetts (also spelled in many other ways, but not correctly) where we are in the middle of haunting season. And as usual this time of year, we are working as actors at a "haunted" attraction when we can fit it into our schedule. Kimberly just returned from a little trip to California, where she celebrated a very big birthday by spending it with both of her moms -- her adopted mom and her recently discovered birth mom, with whom she was spending a birthday for the first time. Also especially for her birthday, she participated in a Color Run in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A color run means running through the streets and having people throw colored corn starch all over you. Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Hans) and Kimberly (Goblin, Griselda)
10/21/201716 minutes, 27 seconds
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The Three Advices

The Three Advices is a story of the prescient type; quite often, in such stories the main character has a number of odd items which happen to be exactly what he or she needs to solve problems that come up. In this case, the items are not physical objects, but pieces of advice that help the hero avoid danger for himself and others. And in the process he learns that patience and humility pay off in the end. We come to you from Attleboro, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston -- which has a very large population of descendants from Irish immigrants. We recently went into Boston to attend and participate in the Boston Dance Mile, a day of dance and fitness related activities culminating in a dance parade through the streets of the city. And we went whale watching off the coast of Plymouth with Captain John's Boats. We saw about a dozen whales, along with some other large fish and even a couple of huge leatherback turtles. That's something we don't spot every day out the window of our RV! Happy Listening, Dennis (Owen, Old Man, Servant, Sheriff) and Kimberly (Narrator, Kate, Finn, Tom, and Young Wife)
9/24/201718 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Monkey and the Boar

The Monkey and the Boar is a tale from Japan about two animal chums who outwit the humans who pose a problem for them. It uses the motif of the staged rescue, which has been used a number of times in movies and TV shows. This story appealed to us in part because when we visited Japan in 2006, we saw a young man with a monkey doing tricks in a busy plaza in Tokyo. We come to you from Wompatuck State Park in Massachusetts, where we are camping and preparing for the end of our 2017 summer tour. The park was the site of a naval ammunition depot from 1941 to 1965, and a few remnants of this history can still be found. There's also a spring in the park where you can fill water jugs free. We talk about our travels from West Virginia through Pennsylvania (where we stopped at the Strasburg Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, which our son Zephyr loved to visit when he was about 2) and Albany, NY, where we caught up with Zephyr at his current job of managing 5Wits. We also spent some time in Binghamton, NY, where the annual Spiedie Fest and Hot Air Balloon Rally was in progress. And how as your month? Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Man, Boar) and Kimberly (Narrator, Woman, Baby, Monkey)
8/22/201715 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Blind Beggar Of Baghdad

The Blind Beggar Of Baghdad is a story within a story, like many tales in the famous collection in which it can be found, and indeed like the entire collection itself, a group of stories spun by Scheherazade to forestall her doom. This story involves a beggar, a caliph (the head official of Islam) and a dervish (a sort of monk famous for their whirling dance of devotion). It's a cautionary tale about greed, and being blind to one's blessings. We're in Charleston, WV to perform for 6 libraries in the Kanawha County Library system. We're winding down a busy summer, having just finished libraries in VA and NC, where we at least were able to work in a day at the beach. Kimberly has met two cousins she didn't know she had (one of them is a librarian here; and she has another librarian cousin here that she hasn't met yet) and she recently met another cousin in VA that she'd been in touch with online. This is all because of her recent detective work on her family tree. We now head to the Northeast and, we hope, cooler weather. And maybe we'll encounter more lost relatives. Happy Listening, Dennis (Beggar) and Kimberly (Narrator, Caliph, Dervish) 
7/29/201720 minutes, 52 seconds
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Why Frogs Croak

Why Frogs Croak is an origin myth that explains why a certain animal makes a certain noise, though it also delves into the sleeping habits of bears, the length of days and nights, the importance of democracy, and other such profound matters. We come to you from Heber Springs, Arkansas in the middle of a very busy summer tour. We discuss our recent visits to the escape room called Lockdown in Jonesboro and to the Ozark Folklife Center in Mountain View. Here's hoping that the summer keeps you hopping with joy! Happy listening, Dennis (Frog, Bear, Sun) and Kimberly (Narrator, Eagle, Mayfly, Owl)
6/27/201718 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Shadow Builders

The Shadow Builders is one version of the legend of Karagöz and Hacivat (pronounced KAR-a-gerz and HA-jee-vaht), the beloved characters of Turkish shadow puppet plays, supposedly based on real individuals. According to this version of the story, they were masons who loved storytelling and merriment, and paid a price for being a bit too cheerful on the job. The tradition of these puppet characters being based on actual historical figures seems to have originated around the Turkish city of Bursa, which has a museum and an annual festival to honor shadow puppetry. This is a sneak peek of one of the four brand new stories that we'll be including this summer in our production Hammer, Nail, Tell a Tale that is designed to fit the library consortium's summer reading theme, Build A Better World. (Well, the stories are not literally new; like the other folk tales we perform, they're very old stories. They're just new to us. Well, no, they're not really new to us, either; they're just new in the sense that we've never performed any of them before. Well, at least not live. We've performed most of them in podcasts, but not on stage. There, we hope that's all cleared up now.) The stories we have chosen will reflect this theme not only in a literal sense – involving masons, a carpenter and a do-it-yourself trio of pigs – but also will deal on another level with the concept of making the world a better place and improving the lives of the people in it. We come to you from the “biggest little city in the world”: Reno, Nevada, where we always hole up every May to put together a new production. It's an especially big job this time , because we're doing four new stories, and – well, they're not really new – oh, you know what we mean. We hope to see you in person at one of our 50-something performances this summer. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Karagöz, Sultan) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hacivat, Worker, Servant)  
5/15/201718 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Further Adventures of the Third Little Pig and the Big Bad Wolf

No, it's not a sequel. It's not a fractured fairy tale. It's not something that we just made up. It's part of the original Three Little Pigs that normally gets omitted -- you might say that people are accustomed to hearing the Reader's Digest version. This "lost" segment features another example of the rule of three, with three additional desperate efforts by the wolf to lure the third little pig onto his plate. We come to you from Modesto, California, in the middle of an extremely busy April featuring 26 performances, as well as a photography session for our publicity shots, and frenzied preparations for our new production, our most demanding yet. But we're never too busy to stop and say howdy, either in a podcast or when you drop in at one of our live performances. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Wolf, Churn Vendor) and Kimberly (Pig)
4/24/201724 minutes, 47 seconds
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Old Joe and the Carpenter

Old Joe and the Carpenter is a moralistic little yarn about two neighbors who are initially friends, but get into a small quarrel that escalates into full-scale estrangement until a wise stranger intervenes. The story is set in the Appalachian region of the U.S., which encompasses parts of more than a dozen states ranging from Alabama and Mississippi to New York. This story stems from the (inaccurate) stereotype of the region's inhabitants as backward, isolated, moonshining feuders. This tale will be included in our new production opening this June: Hammer, Nail, Tell a Tale. It consists of stories that somehow relate to building, to coincide with the library consortium's summer reading theme, Building a Better World. We come to you from Anaheim, California, where someone definitely built a better world by constructing Disneyland. We spent a day exploring the park with our son Zephyr (formerly a performer with our troupe), who flew out from the East Coast for a couple of days. Recently, we also got a "backstage" tour at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, a museum and dig site where millions of prehistoric animals have become trapped in tar pits and their bones preserved. These are nowhere near as old as dinosaurs, going back only about 50,000 years; but they do include some impressive extinct mammals like the mammoth and the saber-toothed cat (please don't call it a tiger -- it will growl at you). And now, it's back to pounding in these-here nails and splashing this-here paint on our production in progress. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Joe) and Kimberly (Wilbur, Carl) #beActivated #tryPod #tryPodAct
3/19/201716 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Robin

The Robin is a nature origin story from the Inuit people (commonly called Eskimo) of the far north. We thought it would be appropriate for the end of summer and the first hints of spring. We come to you from Mesa, AZ. Having spent the past month in Arkansas, we started our annual pilgrimage west. At Holbrook, AZ we headed south through the mountains on a scenic drive toward Phoenix. Next, we're on to California check our tour schedule for a show near you. Join us in the #beActivated campaign that encourages everyone to get up, get moving and be Act!vated. Happy Listening, Dennis (Father, Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, Robin, Bear)
2/27/201714 minutes, 53 seconds
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Aladdin and the Lamp

Aladdin and the Lamp is one of the many popular tales from the collection commonly called The Arabian Nights, though its more proper name is The Thousand and One Nights. It's an anthology of many folktales from many countries, and going back many centuries. Although generally these stories originated in Arabic lands, Aladdin is of uncertain origin, and actually may have come from China. We come to you from Heber Springs, AR., a sleepy little resort town that hums with tourists during the summer. It sits beside Greers Ferry Lake and Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery. The Greers Ferry Dam was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy in his last official appearance before his assassination. Every July, the lake is home of the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races. Yes, the boats really are made of cardboard, and are quite colorful. Happy Listening, Dennis (Aladdin, Stranger) and Kimberly (Mother, Vendor, Genies, Sultan, Sultana) 
1/22/201720 minutes, 35 seconds
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The Mouse Princess

The Mouse Princess is one of those tales about someone being transformed into an animal and then trying to be transformed back again. It's somewhat similar to The Frog Prince except -- well, it's a princess instead of a prince and a mouse instead of a frog. As in many other such stories (and many folktales in general) there are certain tasks to be completed and challenges to be met before the spell is broken. This story is from Scandinavia, specifically Finland, home of many Christmas-ish things like snow and reindeer and evergreens. Since the story deals with customs and traditions, and we are presenting it at holiday time, we also discuss the holiday tradition of hanging stockings. Incidentally, there is a reference to the late British author Brian Jacques (yes, it really is pronounced "Jakes"). If you didn't get the joke, you've been missing out on some great reading. We come to you from Greenville, SC. Our special guest is Ben Lafontaine, a listener who contacted us and asked if he could be involved in a podcast. We're happy to have him, and we're sure you'll agree he did a great job. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Lars), Kimberly (Farmer's Daughter, Mouse, Princess) and Ben (Father, Hans)
12/24/201616 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Frog and the Sky Princess

The Frog and the Sky Princess is a story from Angola in Africa, about a frog and a princess that involves the lead character successfully completing tasks to prove his worthiness to obtain a prize – in this case the hand of the princess in marriage. Yes, it's somewhat like the classic European tale The Frog Prince, though in this case there's no metamorphosis between species. But it's also curiously similar to an American legend. It was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 narrative poem The Courtship of Miles Standish, in which military captain Miles Standish wants to court the lady Priscilla, but is a bit too shy, so he sends his friend John Alden with messages on his behalf. Priscilla is indeed won over, but it is Alden she falls for and not Standish. The characters in the story were real people – John Alden did marry Priscilla, and Miles Standish has a state park named after him in Massachusetts (we've camped there); and Longfellow claimed the story was true. But most likely it was just a folk tradition that somehow became attached to actual people. We come to you from Greenville, South Carolina, where we're doing our annual Christmas tree sale to benefit our company.  We hope things are really hopping for you, and you're having a hoppy holiday season. Happy Listening, Dennis (Kimana, Hawk, Sun King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit, Sky Princess, Frog)
11/29/201614 minutes, 37 seconds
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Savitri is a tale from the Mahabharata, the national epic poem of India, written about 2500 years ago. It's somewhat similar to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, except things are reversed: it's the wife who goes to rescue her husband from death, and (spoiler alert) in this case she succeeds with her wits. We come to you from Abington, Massachusetts, where we are performing as ghouls and zombies and other spooks in one of New England's finest haunted attractions. And we are counting the gorgeous leaves we see everywhere. Well, not really counting, but you know what we mean. Happy haunting, Dennis (Father, Satyavan, Yama) and Kimberly (Narrator, Savitri)  
10/26/201617 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Hen is in the Mountains

The Hen Is in the Mountains is a sibling tale, one of those in which (spoiler alert) the youngest of the brood succeeds in overcoming obstacles where his or her older siblings failed. (e.g. Cinderella or The Flying Ship) It also involves a girl marrying a beast (as in Beauty and the Beast), and the bride of a horrendous husband prowling in their home and finding horrible secrets (Bluebeard). We come to you from Providence, RI, where we've been having a great time with Kimberly's sister Shannon, who is a guest star on this podcast. Yes, we said sister. As we explain in the podcast, Shannon is one of 5 siblings that Kimberly discovered only recently. She now has met two of them, and Shannon came out from Arizona to spend a few days with us exploring the Boston area. We hope you find lost connections, and avoid standing on trap doors. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Ogre, Mysterious Voice), Kimberly (Ingrid, Sonia) and Shannon (Mother, Marta)
9/25/201617 minutes, 42 seconds
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The Bottomless Cup

The Bottomless Cup is one of those stories about people getting gifts from elves, fairies, or other supernatural critters, and using those gifts foolishly or negligently. In some cases, the gift is a set of wishes rather than dishes – usually three of them, so that the person’s last foolish wish is to get the sausage off the end of his nose or some such. In this case the gift is more material, and the abuse of it comes in the form of neglect rather than rashness. We bring this story from France because we recently brought ourselves from France, visiting the Eiffel Tower – which we climbed this time – and the magnificent Musee de la Musique, with 5 floors of strange and rare musical instruments as old as 2500 years. We also dropped in at the Louvre, one of the world’s greatest art museums, where we saw the Mona Lisa. We come to you from Springfield, MA., hometown of Dr. Seuss, where we’ve just finished up our 2016 summer tour. We’ll be in New England through the end of October, after which we fly south for the winter. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator, Elf, Captain, Neighbor) and Kimberly (Woman)
8/24/201618 minutes, 35 seconds
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The Lady Of Stavoren

The Lady Of Stavoren is a tale that has been told for centuries, in dozens of variations. Stavoren, on the coast of The Netherlands, is now a village of fewer than 1000 people. But 1000 years ago, it was a major seaport. Then during the Middle Ages, a sand bar formed in the harbor that made it impossible for ships to get in and out. As a result, the city fell into decline. This story, probably entirely fictitious, was created to explain how the sand bar got there. In 1969, a statue of the Lady Of Stavoren looking out onto the harbor was erected in the town. You might notice that like our story of The Krakow Pigeons, this story explains how something originated as a result of someone’s rash, foolish, extravagant actions. We come to you from Hackettstown, NJ, where we are in town to return to the Northeast Branch of the Warren County Library. We’ve concluded our tour of the southern states, and next we’ll be headed to Pennsylvania and New England to conclude the summer. With any luck, it will be a little cooler. Hope to see you at a show! Happy listening! Dennis (Narrator, Stefan) and Kimberly (Magrit, Servant)
7/24/201621 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Krakow Pigeons

The Krakow Pigeons is a story from Poland that supposedly explains why the people of the city of Krakow have so much respect for pigeons, those nasty, pesky, obnoxious little -- oops, those birds which many people revile. It tells how a medieval prince named Henryk tried to unite Poland, which had been divided into five kingdoms. He failed, and the country remained divided until 1333 when King Casimir III took the throne. We come to you from Jonesboro, AR in the middle of our summer tour. It's the 20th anniversary of our first yearly performance for the Jonesboro library. We continue telling about our travels in Europe, this time focusing on Krakow, which was our favorite city. Old Town Krakow has the look of a fairy tale city, with many structures well preserved for centuries. We were able to see the fire-breathing statue of the famous dragon and Wawel Hill (which we climbed, just like the boys in our story). We mention that the famed astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) studied at the University Of Krakow (now called Jagiellonian University), which was founded in 1364-- by King Casimir III. Krakow was also home of Oskar Schindler's enamelware factory, now the site of two museums. Happy Listening! Dennis (Henryk, First Prince) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hans, Witch, Second Prince)
6/23/201622 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Three Heirs

The Three Heirs is a tale from Germany, in the tradition of worldwide sibling rivalry yarns. As usual in these stories, the youngest brother gets the best of his older siblings; even though they are older, bigger and stronger, and consider him a simpleton, he triumphs with his honesty and wits. Compare the Russian story The Flying Ship and the Fool of the World and the Hispanic tale Juan Bobo. The latter even involves a door and a tree like the present story. We come to you from Reno, Nevada, where we are in the midst of putting together our new production, Tales Afoot, which opens next month at libraries in Arkansas. The four stories included in this production are The Tortoise and the Hare, The Gingerbread Man, Racing the Troll, and Old Stormalong Races the Steamship. We tell you more about out trip to Europe, this time discussing Vienna and Berlin. Vienna is home of one of the world’s greatest opera houses, one of the world’s tallest churches, and quite simply the world’s best chocolate cake (at Sacher Café). It also features the Stock im Eisen, a tree dating back to about 1400, full of nails that people once drove into it for good luck.  And oh yes, there are plenty of horse-drawn carriages around. Berlin is the most modern city we visited in Europe, as so much of the old Berlin was destroyed in World War II.  We examined artwork on the remaining portions of the Berlin Wall and took our picture at Checkpoint Charlie, a legendary entry and exit point where the wall once stood. And we also saw many Buddy Bears, those distinctive fiberglass sculptures promoting peace. We hope to catch you at a show this summer. Happy Listening, Dennis (Father, Broderick, Farmer 1, Farmer 2, and Goblin 1) and Kimberly (Narrator, Peter, Hans, Goblin 2)
5/24/201624 minutes, 24 seconds
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The Crab Prince

The Crab Prince is a little-known story from Venice that has many similarities to the better-known Frog Prince. Like that story, it makes use of two themes common to many folktales: transformation of humans into animals (a tradition dating back at least to the Odyssey, in which Circe transforms men into swine) and the power of love to overcome evil -- i.e., break a curse. This includes Sleeping Beauty, among others. We come to you from Sacramento, California, after wrapping up two very busy weeks in our old stomping grounds of the San Francisco Bay Area and just beyond, doing shows and workshops at schools and libraries every day. We continue our account of our recent trip to Europe, with some details of Pompeii, an ancient city devastated by a volcano in the year 79; Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance; and Venice, the waterbound city where our story originated. We're getting ready to head to Washington and Idaho for the final performances of our current production, and then we'll head to Reno to finish getting our new production together. Looking forward to bringing our new stories to a venue near you. Happy Listening, Dennis (Fisherman, King, Beggar, Crab Prince) and Kimberly (Narrator, Griselda, Fairy Princess)
4/25/201623 minutes, 45 seconds
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The King's Ring

The King’s Ring is a story from Italy, which we’re not coming to you from, but would have been a couple of months ago. So before telling you the story, we’re telling you about half of our time in Italy (we’ll do the other half next time). This includes Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, Rome with its Forum and Colosseum and many other ruins, and Cinque Terra, a set of 5 colorful little seaside villages dating back about 1000 years. In the story we meet a King who has lost his ring. A peasant posing as an astrologer comes to the rescue, but not in the manner you might expect. We come to you from Los Angeles, where we’re meeting up with old friends (meaning friends we’ve known a long time, not friends who have advanced in years) and getting back on track after an accident that destroyed our old trailer. We have a new trailer, and we’re back on the road. In Los Angeles, we have some performances at schools and a two-day theatrical residency at the Asian Youth Center, sponsored by International Paper. Then we’re headed north to San Francisco for several public performances at libraries. We hope to see you somewhere along the way. Happy Listening,Dennis (Herald, Bystander, Antonio, Servant 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, King, Servant 1, Servant 3) Upcoming Shows this April in the San Francisco Bay area - You are invited to free children's theatre at local libraries.
3/25/201626 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Quackling

The Quackling, from France, is an odd fable in which not only is the main character a talking animal, but it's taken for granted that inanimate objects can talk as well. It involves quite a suspension of disbelief, even to the point that in the original story there is no explanation given for why the duck doesn't just fly or swim to solve his problems. This story is of the type in which the main character makes clever use of what appear to be useless objects in order to get out of a jam, and win fame and fortune. This motif occurs not only in folktales, but also in other types of fiction. As we mention, it was used with a great deal of originality in the science fiction film Paycheck. This is yet another illustration of how even the most inventive modern stories are derived from folktales many centuries old. We come to you from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, having just driven from Atlanta, where we landed after a monthlong tour of Europe. This included 6 days in Paris, where we not only visited the Eiffel Tower, but climbed it. We also toured the magnificent Palace Of Versailles, former home to royalty, luxury and historic events (it was built in the 17th Century, not the 18th as we say in the podcast). We went underneath the city streets in the Paris Catacombs, which are many miles of tunnels that have served as an ossiary (a place where bones are stored) for centuries. We visited a museum of musical instruments, viewing thousands of old, modern, curious and wonderful. And we toured the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral, which has been wowing people for 800 years. Next month, Italy. Happy listening,Dennis (Narrator, The River, The Hive, King, Citizen 2) and Kimberly (Quackling, The Ladder, Citizen 1
2/15/201622 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Gifts Of Wali Dad

It isn’t really a holiday story, but The Gifts Of Wali Dad from India (or is it Pakistan?) seems appropriate for the occasion, with all of its generous gift-giving. Collected by famed folklorist Andrew Lang, who heard it from a British army officer stationed in the Punjab (which was later split between India and Pakistan) who in turn heard it from a native of the region, it seems to be an absurdist cautionary tale about the consequences of being too extravagant. See if you can spot the reference to Cinderella and the (more subtle) reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark. We’re currently in Greenville, SC, where we’ve been selling Christmas trees as a fundraiser. We’re getting ready to make our way back west as we do at about this time every year. But first we have an exciting little detour that we’ll be telling you about later. Stay tuned. Happy Listening,Dennis (Wali Dad, King, First Servant) and Kimberly (Narrator, Jeweler, Messenger, Queen, Peri, Second Servant)
12/22/201518 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Troll and the Shoes

The Troll and the Shoes is one of those stories about racing in which (as in The Tortoise and the Hare) the hero wins by means of some skill besides sheer speed -- i.e., determination, imagination, knowledge, and/or (as in the present case) trickery. This will be one of the stores we will be presenting next summer at libraries for the summer reading theme "Ready, Set, Read." We come to you from Bowie, MD., having just wound up our fall stint in New England, and now beginning to migrate south for the winter. We were able to attend and perform at the New England Library Association's annual conference (this time in Manchester, NH). On the way south, we were able to catch up with a friend who is now one of the crew for the Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of a Seventeenth Century Dutch merchant vessel. We were able to go on board and examine the incredible workmanship of the vessel up close. We also went into New York City, and saw not one but two Broadway musicals in one day. The second was Matilda (based on the Roald Dahl book), which was merely good. The first was Allegiance, which was absolutely fantastic. A comic/tragic/poignant story about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, it featured excellent songs and choreography presented by an outstanding cast. Among them, playing two roles, was George Takei, best known for the original Star Trek series. With as much theatre as we've been exposed to, we're difficult to impress. This show really floored us. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Troll) and Kimberly (Greta, Rita)
11/15/201522 minutes, 1 second
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The Two Storks

The Two Storks is a transformation-into-an-animal yarn from what is now Iraq, though it hasn’t always been called that. It takes place in the city of Baghdad, which has been called that for just about as long as anyone can remember. Like certain other tales, including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, it features a plot complication in the form of a magic spell that the person casting it is unable to reverse. We come to you from Nickerson State Park on beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where we’ve been catching up on our biking. We’ve ridden the entire Cape Cod Rail Trail (22 miles) roundtrip, which means at least 44 miles, plus several more miles in side trips. We’ve finally concluded our summer season, our second busiest ever, and picked up a late addition of two performances at the Pawtucket Arts Festival in Rhode Island. We’ve also managed to make it into Boston a couple of times, including an attendance of the short film session of the Boston Film Festival. One of the films we saw, A Man Wakes Up, was a hilarious film without dialogue, written by and starring Amos Glick, who happens to be one of our former cast members, way back when we were still based in San Francisco about a million years ago. He didn’t know we were coming, and the look on his face was priceless when he spotted us in the lobby and slowly figured out who we were. Just goes to show you: you’d better watch out, because you never know when we may pop in. Happy Listening,Dennis (Prince, Omar, Guard) and Kimberly (Narrator, Adviser, Wizard, Princess)  
9/25/201522 minutes, 2 seconds
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Vasalisa and Baba Yaga

Vasalisa and Baba Yaga brings together two characters from Russian folklore who each appear in several other stories. Vasalisa is a sort of Russian Cinderella/ Hansel and Gretel, and Baba Yaga is the nasty old witch/ogre who lives in the deep dark forest and eats bad children. We come to you from Dedham, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston), where we just performed for the summer reading program. One of the stories we performed was Davy Crockett, which was appropriate, since we performed on August 17, which was David (Davy) Crockett's birthday. Three more performances after that, and our busy summer is a wrap. A big thank you to a family of longtime podcast listeners who traveled a great distance and even got a hotel room so they could see us perform in Williamsport, PA. It really made our day. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Stepmother, Kookla) and Kimberly (Vasalisa, Mother, Baba Yaga) Read the Story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga Watch the Slide Show featuring photos from the stage production
8/19/201521 minutes, 1 second
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The Fairy Palace

The Fairy Palace, a story from China, is one of those quest stories about going on a trek to retrieve or obtain something of great value. It also features another common motif: someone with extraordinary skill in weaving, spinning, or sewing. And it really does involve fairies. And a palace. In our case, it also contains a few references to other stories, including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Emperor's New Clothes, Harry Potter, and the film Casablanca. We come to you from Delaware Seashore State Park, as we take a rare 4-day break in the middle of this, our second-busiest summer ever. We're wrapping up our July appearances at 33 Delaware libraries and 5 Maryland libraries, before going on to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. On the way out here from Arkansas, we were able to stop at a log cabin in Tennessee that we've mentioned many times over the years in our popular story about the legendary hero who was born there: David ("Davy") Crockett. It looked very much as we'd pictured it, only more so. It really is right beside the Nolichucky River, which really does exist. We then spent Independence Day at Kiptopeke State Park on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, hiking and kayaking and exploring the terrain in quest of something else that rhymes with those two things – a futile quest since we don't have bikes at the moment. But we did discover a fleet of concrete ships (we'll pause for a moment while that sinks in) that served during World War II when steel was hard to come by. Evidently they worked okay, because they're still afloat now, just waiting for double-takes. We've also been on a mission to put our feet on almost every board on almost every boardwalk on the East Coast, including those in Ocean City MD, Rehoboth Beach DE, and Bethany Beach DE. We especially enjoyed Ocean City because of Trimper's Rides, an old-fashioned amusement arcade that's been a fixture since before your grandfather was a grandfather. We hope the rest of your summer is as charming and memorable as a boardwalk (not a bored walk). Happy Listening,Dennis (Merchant, Son, Passerby, Second Fairy, Third Fairy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mother, Old Woman, First Fairy)
7/28/201521 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Tortoise and the Hare

The summer is racing along at a rabbit's pace, so it's a good time to bring you "The Tortoise and the Hare", popularized by the Greek slave Aesop, who told a great many fabulous fables. In later centuries, many similar stories sprang up in many cultures around the world. This is a sort of sneak preview of the story for our audiences, as next summer we'll be unveiling a stage version of the tale that will incorporate some of the elements we've put into this podcast. By the way, do you recognize the references to other stories and songs we sneak into this story? (If you don't see the answers below.) We come to you from a sizzling Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we're delighted to be performing at the library once again. It's a pretty busy month, but since we have much more free time this month than we will have next month, we've been trying to play tourist while we can. We have seen dinosaur footprints in New Mexico, explored a cave and hiking trail near a waterfall in Oklahoma, and went swimming in crystal clear water in Blanchard Springs, Arkansas. And now the marathon summer is officially underway! Hope to see you in one of our pit stops. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Tortoise, Hare 2, Girl) and Kimberly (Hare, Hare 3)  (ANSWERS: The Wizard Of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Tar Baby, Bfer Rabbit and the Briar Patch; and the songs "The Battle Of New Orleans", "The Caisson Song" and "Into The Woods".)
6/25/201514 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Story Spirits

It's just like our last story, only very different. "The Story Spirits", from Korea, examines the traditional theme of an individual who wants to keep stories all for himself—and thereby demonstrates how important it is to share them with everyone. We come to you from Santa Fe, rich in art, history and Native American culture. We've also spent time recently in Albuquerque, and at the Grand Canyon. We took a train ride there from Williams, AZ (the last town on the old Route 66 to be bypassed by the new freeway, Interstate 40), an experience which included a theatrical encounter with some Wild West hombres. We also spent a couple of days hiking and exploring t Bandelier National Monument, an archaeological site where you can view the remnants of cliff dwellings once occupied by the Anansazi for centuries.  What stories they must have had to tell! Happy (Santa Fe and other) trails to you. And happy listening. Dennis (Young Jin-Sun, Adult Jin-Sun, Spirit 1, Spirit 3, Spirit 5, Spirit 7) and Kimberly (Narrator, Byung-Ho, Spirit 2, Spirit 4, Spirit 6, Screaming Bride)
5/23/201519 minutes, 24 seconds
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Anansi and the Story Box

Anansi and the Story Box is a tale from Ghana in Africa, about the legendary spider-man hero of the Ashanti tribe, and how he brought stories to the world. It bears certain similarities to the Greek myths of Pandora and Prometheus, and includes a plot point similar to The Tar Baby, which made its way from Africa to America. We come to you from Reno, NV, where we are putting together our new show that will premiere this summer.  We recently returned to our roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we hiked a trail at Land's End, near The Golden Gate. We also took a ride on the Niles Canyon Railway, a vintage train line that runs between the Bay Area towns of Sunol and Fremont.  The Fremont station is located in an area known as Niles, which was the early home of silent movie-making before it was relocated to Hollywood. We hope you will enjoy this story, and the great lengths to which our resident arachnid went to get it. Happy Listening,Dennis (Minor God, Nyame, Python, Lion, Fairy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Anansi)
4/25/201518 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Four Puppets

The Four Puppets is a story from the country traditionally called Burma, but now known as Myanmar. We bring it to you from Dublin, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Okay, so it's not Dublin in Ireland, but Dublin in California, back in the San Francisco Bay Area where we got our start almost 27 years ago. But this Dublin seems just as serious about St. Patrick's Day as the other one. Since we last saw you, we performed in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. And we visited three fascinating attractions in Arkansas. The first was the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretative Center in McGehee, a museum preserving the experiences of the thousands of Japanese-Americans who were interned (a fancy word for imprisoned) at the Jerome and Rohwer camps, which stood nearby. Among the prisoners was 5-year-old George Takei, a future star of Star Trek. Then in North Little Rock, we toured a submarine. That's right, a submarine on the Arkansas River. And equally surprising, it flies a Turkish flag as well as the American flag. You'd be right if you guessed that there's a colorful history there. The USS Razorback was commissioned in World War II and served the U.S. Navy for many years before being sold to Turkey, where it served the Turkish navy for many more years, under the name TCG Muratreis. Now it's the USS Razorback again, and it's back in the U.S., and you can go aboard. Then we were off to Hurricane River Cave, where we were not content to take the regular tour like normal people, but opted for the 4-hour extreme tour, which involved climbing, crawling through tight spots (if you think a submarine is close quarters, you should try this), wading in a river, and getting cold and covered with clay. We loved it! Here's hoping you have a month of adventures. Happy Listening,Dennis (Ang, Father) and Kimberly (everyone else)
3/16/201519 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Snake and the Frog

The Snake and the Frog is a trickster tale from the Island of Andros in the Bahamas. It's similar to many Anansi stories, and for good reason: Anansai the spiderman, according to legend, made his way from Africa to the New World to comfort and inspire slaves. Thus, we have many Anansi stories in the U.S., as well as in these islands just offshore. We chose this story because we recently returned from a 4-day trip to The Bahamas, visiting the cities of Freeport and Nassau. At Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport, we encountered a colorful character dressed in traditional costume, who told us about the Bahamian festival of Junkanoo (he believed the name to be derived from John Canoe), which unfortunately we'd just missed. It's a time of great revelry celebrating, he told us, freedom, peace, love and other good things. (Or good "tings", as the locals would say.) The dancing is accompanied by percussive music they call Kalik, apparently from the word click. We also enjoyed a couple of the wonderful beaches for which these islands are noted, including one called Junkanoo. This was in the city of Nassau, which we found a fun and colorful place to stroll around. We were able to watch artisans make and sell their crafts at the famous Straw Market, and visited the curious Nassau Library, which was formerly a jail, and the Queen's Staircase, built by newly freed slaves as a token of thanks. And we had a wonderful time just being on the cruise ship, enjoying the atmosphere and the entertainment and the great food and the fellow passengers. We're ready to do it again! Happy Listening,Dennis (Frog, Goat, Rooster) and Kimberly (Narrator, Snake, Owl)
2/20/201521 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Soothsayer

The Soothsayer is a tale from Persia (now Iran) about a poor and somewhat innocent laborer who finds a golden opportunity to advance himself, largely through taking advantage of chance occurrences.  As with The Bremen Town Musicians, his conquest of his adversaries hinges upon the latter overhearing and misunderstanding him. Other popular folktales that depend upon overheard and misunderstood snatches of conversation include The Brave Little Tailor and Rumplestiltskin. And notice that forty seems to be a popular number of thieves in Middle Eastern stories. We come to you from Miami, where we've just presented programs at the Miami Lakes Library, thanks to a generous grant from Target. We've also been trying to keep ourselves entertained during our time in Florida, with such desperate measures as manatee watching, going to Universal Studios to catch the new Harry Potter attraction Diagon Alley, and trying out a wild new water sport called flyboarding. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Ahmed, Guard, King, Thief Ringleader) and Kimberly (Narrator, Raha, Wealthy Woman, Royal Soothsayer, King's Attendant, Servant Thief, Second Thief)
1/18/201519 minutes, 1 second
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The Legend Of Slappy Hooper

The Legend Of Slappy Hooper is an American tall tale, suitable to accompany our belated wish that you had a great observance of the American holiday Thanksgiving. You will notice certain similarities to better known American tall tales like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and Old Stormalong – all of whom were also men of gigantic stature and extraordinary abilities. This tall tale, however, is of more recent vintage, apparently having originated sometime in the early Twentieth Century. It first appeared in print in 1946, in a book written by folklorist/ novelist Jack Conroy, who also wrote about (and possibly embellished) two other tall tales. His book was illustrated by Arna Bontemps. The work of Conroy and Bontemps had been funded several years earlier by the federal government, thanks to the Works Progress Administration, or WPA (later renamed the Works Projects Administration), a program designed to put Americans back to work after The (Not So) Great Depression. The WPA provided jobs in a wide variety of fields, from construction to the arts. The story of Slappy Hooper was retold more recently (1993) in another picture book by Aaron Shepard, who added a few twists of his own devising.  Among these was the florist episode, which we have borrowed with a tip of the hat to Mr. Shepard. We come to you from Greenville, SC, having just completed a weeklong residency at a school in Summerville, SC. Before that, we drove down from Massachusetts and along the way we dropped in at an amazing attraction in Charlotte, NC called Exit Strategy. In short, we have begun our winter migration southward. Happy Listening,Dennis (Slappy, Narrator, Bystander 1, Jim Dandy, Uncle, Mayor) and Kimberly (Narrator, Baker, Florist, Aunt, Bystander 2)
12/3/201414 minutes, 6 seconds
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Perseus and Medusa

A classic Greek legend/ myth about one of the most horrifying creatures of all time, arriving just in time for the haunting season. She was defeated by a hero who learned to "think outside the box" before that expression was even trendy. We come to you from Foxboro, MA, which has more going for it than the New England Patriots. For one thing, it's the home of the incredibly cool interactive adventure 5 Wits, where our son Zephyr works. And this year, it;s the home of Beelzebub's CarnEvil, the Halloween attraction he's dreamed of opening since he was 9 years old. It's finally up and running and scaring the wits out of people. Happy and Haunted Listening,Dennis (Narrator, King, Perseus, Guest 1, Graeae 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Medusa, Guest 2, Guest 3, Graeae 1, Graeae 3)
10/27/201414 minutes, 24 seconds
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The Two Sisters and the Hag

From Scotland comes The Two Sisters and the Hag, one of many versions of this story found in many countries, contrasting how good behavior is rewarded and how bad behavior is punished. We come to you from New Rochelle, NY, site of our most recent performances. We took some time to spend a day strolling in New York City, seeing the new memorial at the World Trade Center and the High Line, a former elevated train track that has now been converted into a city park. Before that, we were in Newport, Rhode Island, where we soared high over the water at Island Style Parasailing, the first time we've ever tried sky-skiing. We hope it won't be the last. And we've spent a great deal of time during the past month doing volunteer work for our son Zephyr, a former member of our theatrical troupe. who is putting the final touches on a haunted house he is opening in Foxboro, MA at the Orpheum Theatre. This fulfills a dream (read: obsession) he's had since he was nine. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Well, Tree, Hag) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hannah 1, Hannah 2, Cow, Bag Of Gold)
9/26/201422 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Monkey's Heart

The Monkey's Heart is a little fable from India about a crocodile that tries to trick a monkey into supplying its heart for a strange snack. There is a similar story in China in which a dragon rather than a crocodile is the villain. We come to you from North Kingstown, RI. We recently wrapped up our summer tour, and now we'll be in New England for the next month or so.  We recently had an opportunity to do some hiking and climbing on the amazing rock formations in Purgatory Chasm State Park in Sutton, Massachusetts. It's like having a naturally designed playground and rock climbing gym. And we paid another visit to Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA, which was the Good Doctor's hometown and inspired the imagery in many of his books. The sculptor who designed this amazingly realistic tribute happened to be Dr. Seuss' stepdaughter.  Happy listening (and watch out for the oobleck!) Dennis (Mr. Crocodile, Hunter, Narrator) and Kimberly (Mrs. Crocodile, Vendor, Snake, Monkey, Narrator)
8/22/201413 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Precious Cow

"The Precious Cow" is a little-known fable from Africa about the importance of valuing strong family ties above material wealth.  As we point out, it offers a bit of a twist to the "rule of three", a common characteristic of many popular folktales. We come to you from Chapel Hill, NC, having just completed a return engagement at the High Point Library. Among our audiences there were some regular podcast listeners, the delightful Singleton family, so we decided to let them say howdy on the next podcast – namely, this one. We also discuss our adventures climbing Pilot Mountain in North Carolina, and zip lining in North Carolina and Arkansas. Happy Listening,Dennis (Father, Oldest Son, Middle Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, Youngest Son, Cow) Upcoming shows in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Zip Lining in Hot Springs, AR at Ouachita Bend Zip Lining in High Point, NC at Kersey Valley
7/20/201418 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Golden Spinning Wheel

The Golden Spinning Wheel is a story from the country formerly known as Bohemia, and then Czechoslovakia, and now The Czech Republic. The story is the subject of a picture book by Lisl Weil in which musical notes are printed across the page along with illustrations of the story. The musical notes are from a piece of music inspired by the story, composed by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), who was fascinated by the folklore and folk music of his country, and infused much of his music with the flavor of both. He did the same for American folk music after spending 3 years here, and his masterpiece, the symphony called "From the New World", has been featured in Hollywood westerns. (The snippet of his music we use during the spinning wheel scene is from "Songs My Mother Taught Me".) We come to you from Heber Springs, AR, after making our annual trek across the country to begin our summer tour – which commenced this time in Fayetteville, AR. We had time along the way to see some interesting sights, including the Omaha Zoo, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas and Bluff Dwellers Cavern in Missouri. Are we having fun yet? Czech! Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, King, Dwarf, Guard) and Kimberly (Narrator, Dornischka, Stepmother, Stepsister)
6/23/201419 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Woman Who Flummoxed The Fairies

"The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies" from Scotland is a sort of trickster tale, a type of story in which a seemingly helpless individual triumphs by his (or in this case her) wits. It's also a cumulative story, meaning that it involves repetition, as new elements are added to the plot – somewhat like baking a cake, as our heroine does. We come to you from Reno Nevada, our annual pit stop where we put an old show into storage and whip up a new one in our theatrical kitchen. We think of the month of May as an excuse for Kimberly to sew new costumes and Dennis to write new scripts and music. We hope you can sample the end result of our recipes in the near future. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Fair Judge, Fairy King) and Kimberly (Margaret, Tea Kettle, Cat, Dog, Baby, Narrator)
5/20/201413 minutes, 59 seconds
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How the Kangaroo Got Its Pouch

Our story this month is "How the Kangaroo Got Its Pouch",  an Australian nature myth. Since it deals with kangaroo mothers and how they acquired the ability to carry their young around easily, we thought it would be a suitable story for Mothers' Day, which is hopping up in May. We're coming to you this time from Reno, NV, where we made a brief detour to buy a new touring vehicle. We bought it and got it ready in about 3 days, during which time we were able to spend Easter with Kimberly's parents.  Now we're headed back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where we have a few more performances before we start gearing up for the summer season and our annual trek across the continent. We hope to catch up with you somewhere in the Outback. Happy Listening, MateDennis (Narrator, Hunter, Byarnee, Kangaroo 2) and Kimberly (Mama, Joey, Wombat, Kangaroo 1)
4/22/201411 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Princess Who Couldn't Laugh

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} From Norway comes this classic story about a princess who was very charming except that she had no sense of humor.  This tale is rather unusual in that it's both a Rule Of Three story and a cumulative story. Rule Of Three refers to the three-part structure that many stories (and jokes) have: The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, etc. In this case, there are three brothers who each undertake a task in turn. A cumulative story (sometimes called a chain story) involves a series of actions in which something is repeated -- in this case, the actions all involve the goose. For additional examples of cumultive stories we have done, see Simple Ivan, The Drum, The Gingerbread Man and Something From Nothing -- as well as the familiar nursery rhyme "The House That Jack Built". We come to you from Needles, California, having driven across country as we do at this time every year. In just a few days, we have endured sub-zero termperatures and monstrous sandstorms, and now we're in beach weather again. Whatever the weather where you are, we hope your day will be brightened by this story. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, King, Funny Man, Peter, Hans, Man, Blacksmith) and Kimberly (Narrator, Princess, Herald, Paul, Cook, Goose Woman, Seamstress)
3/20/201418 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Tichborne Dole

The Tichborne Dole is a legend from England that may be true or based on true events. It supposedly occurred around 1150, and may explain the origin of a yearly custom in Hampshire, England, in which the aristocratic Tichborne family gives flour to the poor every March 25.  The custom supposedly follows the last wishes of Lady Maybela Tichborne, who was very charitable and also, apparently, very tough and determined. She was reputed to be such a heroic figure that even the wind, normally very blustery in March, cooperated in securing her legacy. We come to you from the very windy Oklahoma, having just driven from Jacksonville, Florida to Albuquerque, and then made our way back east toward Memphis. Phew! With all of our driving and residencies at schools and libraries, we still managed to drop in for a "spell" at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando, and take a leisurely train ride from Albuquerque to the colorful and historic little city of Santa Fe, where we indulged in a walking tour. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Roger, Servant 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Maybela, Doctor, Servant 1)
2/23/201417 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Tar Baby

The Tar Baby is a classic African-American story from slavery days, inspired by a similar story from Africa, presented especially for Black History Month (February). Read along script The Tar Baby is a trickster tale about the Rabbit (often called Brer Rabbit), who is a recurring character in these folktales. The story is a study in irony, because (spoiler alert) first the Rabbit gets into a jam only by putting up too much of a fuss and becoming unnecessarily angry; and then he gets out of it by pretending to fear something he really loves. It's like stepping into quicksand, getting stuck because you struggle too much, and then getting your enemy to help you out of it by convincing him you really don't want out. We come to you from Boca Raton, Florida, as we get ready to make appearances at the Davie/Cooper City Library in Davie. (We guess Cooper City lost the coin toss.) It's one of our presentations funded by Target grants, for which we are ever grateful. And we discuss our recent adventure at the Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek in Melbourne, FL. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Fox) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit)
1/15/201413 minutes, 41 seconds
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Winter and Summer

Winter has officially begun. And in honor of the season of Christmas trees, hot chocolate, ice skating, and heavy traffic at the mall, we bring you a story about winter – and summer – from the Acoma tribe of Native Americans in New Mexico. More specifically, it's a story about the changing seasons, and the importance of cooperation and balance. We come to you from Greenville, SC, where we've been welcoming winter every year for the past few years. Looking forward to Florida next month and wishing you the jolliest of holidays. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Summer.Chief) and Kimberly (Narrator, Winter, Daughter) Upcoming live show January 18th at the Davie - Cooper City Library. You are invited!
12/23/201314 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Crocodile, the Zebras and the Hyena

"The Crocodile, The Zebras and the Hyena" is a story that we adapted from a traditional tale related by Likua Kambembe, an African storyteller. He's a member of the !Xun (We dare you to try to pronounce it) Council of Elders, and helps direct the Kulimatji Project, which preserves the tribe's folklore. This is an origin story; i.e., a story that's intended to explain how something originated.  In this case, it's about how the crocodile came to hide in the water and ambush other animals. We come to you from Greenville, SC, after a busy couple of weeks presenting performances and workshops for school and library residences, thanks to Target grants. And we returned for our third engagement at The National Theatre in Washington, DC. Happy Listening and Happy Thanksgiving!Dennis (Narrator, Crocodile, Zebra 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit, Kangaroo, Zebra 1, Hyena)
11/22/201314 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Lizard and the Frog

From Uganda comes this tale about how two jungle critters who were once friends became foes, and in the process tells why frogs have no tails and why lizards have puffy cheeks. It seems appropriate because like the frog and the lizard, we recently swung on a rope from a tree when we went ziplining in the back yard of some friends near Lima, NY, where we recently performed. We come to you from Abington, MA, where we've been geting into the fall spirit by performing at a haunted attraction, as we love to do at this time of year.  And we ask your help in finding a couple of stories requested by a young fan who left us an absolutely adorable message. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Frog) and Kimberly (Narrator, Lizard) Upcoming shows in Washington D.C., Seaford DE, Wytheville and Grayson, VA
10/20/201314 minutes, 9 seconds
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"Talk", from Ghana in Africa, is a cumulative tale (meaning that phrases are repeated and added to as in "The House That Jack Built") about what happens when inanimate objects start to talk. For one thing, you feel like you're in a Disney movie. But also, this story could be considered a fable about how earth-shaking events affect everyone, no matter what their occupation or social status. Or a fable about how some people consder something weird, and others find it normal. Or just a plain fun story. We come to you from West Warwick, Rhode Island (It's a suburb of Providence like everything else in Rhode Island), where we've been helping our son Zephyr get ready to open his own haunted house for Halloween, as he's dreamed of doing for years. We'll also be performing at this and/or another haunted house as our schedule allows. The summer season has wound down, and now we're winding up for fall -- we have a busy scheule coming up, thanks to 12 Target grants. We hope to see you at a show. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Net, Bather, Stool) and Kimberly (Narrator, Yam, Dog, Tree, Branch, Stone, Weaver, Fisherman, Chief)
9/16/201311 minutes, 3 seconds
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Something From Nothing

From Jewish tradition somewhere in Eastern Europe comes this charming and inspiring tale about... well, charming and inspiring tradition. As popularized by the picture book of the same name by Phoebe Gilman, this story tells of a gift made by a grandfather for a grandchild (in Gilman's version, the child is a boy; in our version, she isn't) -- and subsequently remade several times. It begins as a blanket, then as it is worn out, it is transformed into smaller and smaller items. In the process, it delivers a yarn (pun intended) about preserving one's heritage and being resourceful with available resources. We come to you from Chicopee, Masachusetts, near Springfield -- birthplace of basketball and Dr. Seuss (at nearly the same time). We wonder if Dr. Seuss was a bouncing baby boy. Anyway, we recently took a jaunt down to Connecticut, where we attended some live theatre. First, we saw the musical "LMNOP" in Chester, Connecticut. Adapted from the novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (a former college classmate of Dennis), the story is a sort of satirical modern fairy tale about a country where letters of the alphabet are banned one at a time, making it very hard for people to communicate. It's a fun story especially for language lovers, and the production was outstanding, with a cast of great singers. We also attended two performances in New London by the National Theatre of the Deaf, whom we've been wanting to catch in action for years. We saw two performances of the same show so we could carefully observe the sign language used by people who use it every day. They did an entertaining presentation of fables and comic skits. Like many of us in theatre, they make something from nothing -- or at least almost nothing. Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Grandpa) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mother, Girl) * Read along as you listen to the story (Photo: Nathan Hale Schoolhouse in New London, CT)
8/20/201318 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Lion and the Three Cows

"The Lion and the Three Cows" is a fable from Afghanistan – the first Afghani story we've ever presented – about discord and mistrust, standing together versus falling alone. We come to you from Virginia, where we're doing a return engagement at 4 libraries before moving on to North Carolina and New Jersey. We've just finished our Midwest stint, after which we zipped across country to Baltimore to attend the annual convention of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in order to talk to principals about our assembly programs and residencies. The convention was held right downtown, next to the waterfront berthing the historic ship USS Constellation, next to Camden Yards where the Orioles were swatting at baseballs, and near the birthplace of Babe Ruth.  Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, White Cow, Lion) and Kimberly (Narrator, Black Cow, Brown Cow) Upcoming Shows: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts
7/18/201313 minutes, 45 seconds
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Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

"Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" is a story from Africa that explains this little mystery. Perhaps knowing why they do it will make it a little more tolerable this summer, but we doubt it. This is an example of a cumulative tale, which means the plot keeps repeating and building -- think of "The House the Jack Built" and similar poems and songs. And while we're on the subject of insects that sing, we mention cicadas, those elusive insects that hide underground and only emerge every few years -- some species only appear once every 17 years! We come to you from Joplin, MO, a town we were last in two years ago, volunteering with the recovery effort after the devastating tornado hit. We're happy to see that the town has been mostly rebuilt and is thriving. We've just opened our 25th summer tour, premiering our new show in Rio Vista, CA, then dashing off to Hope, AR. We have several more shows in Arkansas and one in the Chicago area before heading to the East Coast. Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Lizard, Rabbit, Lion) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mosquito, Snake, Crow, Monkey, Owl) Episode Links: The Iron Dragon (podcast episode #20)
6/17/201318 minutes, 55 seconds
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Tops and Bottoms

It's a sneak preview of Tops and Bottoms, one of our new stories for the upcoming season, and aren't you lucky to be hearing it now? Hailing from Scandinavia, this is a variation of a popular tale in many cultures, including the Southern U.S., where it was often passed down by African-Americans, and it has been published in a popular picture book. The story is of a type known as a trickster tale, which generally involves a smaller and weaker animal getting the better of a larger and stronger one. Examples can be found in Native American lore, which often features the Coyote Trickster. We come to you from Portland (the one in Oregon, not the one in Maine – or Nebraska, if there is one there), having come up from Los Angeles and vicinity since last we met. We presented several shows in the Bay Area and Northern California (including the second and third of our school residences funded by Target). Despite our sometimes hectic schedule, we managed to find time to take a simulated parachute jump at iFly before taking the long drive up the coast and through the redwoods to Oregon and Washington. All while rehearsing, sewing, composing music and making props for our new production opening next month. See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in California, Arkansas, Kansas this June. Free and open to the public. Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Bear) and Kimberly (Narrator, Fox)
5/15/201315 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Two Frogs

In honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival and Frog Month (you do celebrate that every year, don't you?) we bring you "The Two Frogs", a fable from Japan. We come to you from Holbrook, Arizona as we make our way back to the West Coast. Along the way, we visited The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa NM, The Mesalands Dinosaur Musuem in Tucumcari NM and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR. Catch an upcoming show live on stage in Los Angeles, Irvine, Palo Alto, Modesto,  orTiburon, California in March and April. Find out how to bring Act!vated to your school for free for two days. Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Osaka Frog, Boy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Kyoto Frog, Mother, Collector)
3/18/201319 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Farmer and the Werewolf

"The Farmer and the Werewolf" is a tale from Ireland, a country that traditionally has spun many yarns about such supernatural and sometimes frightening critters. The werewolf in this tale, however, is not an entirely vicious monster; he’s also a human who is appalled by his darker side, and wants to make amends. This is also one of those folk tales about the importance of keeping a secret, and the sometimes dire consequences of failing to do so-- a story somewhere between Ali Baba and Lohengrin. As it happens, this motif figures prominently in "The Bridge and the Dream", a Middle Eastern story that we're currently preparing for our new production that opens this summer. We just spent a week conducting a residency at Holy Family School in Jacksonville, Florida, and what a memorable week it was. After presenting two performances Monday morning, we settled in for a week of teaching workshops in theatre arts, writing, mask making, folk dancing and other skills related to our final project: a performance by the entire student body of our story of "How the Ice Cream Cone Was Invented". That's right: we turned what is normally a 2-person story into a 452-person story. While we were in Florida, we returned to St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, with its specimens of all 23 known species of crocodilian (the only facility in the world to have all of them). This time, something new has been added: Crocodile Crossing, a zip-line/ canopy tour above the reptiles. They might look up at you eagerly hoping you'll fall, but it’s quite secure. Good thing: these fanged beasts may not be quite as terrifying as werewolves, but they’re close. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Animals)and Kimberly (Wife, Werewolf, Neighbors, Animals) See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in Rogers, AR (2/23) and Farmington, NM (3/14) open to the public.
2/20/201317 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Girl Who Married a Snake

"The Girl Who Married a Snake" is from Bhutan, an Asian country that borders China and India. The tale bears a certain resemblance to the Frog Prince story types common in Europe, except that even when the good guys live happily ever after, the story continues until the bad guys get their comeuppance. We present it especially for Chinese New Year, on Feb. 10, when the Year of the Snake comes slithering in. We come to you from Stone Mountain Park, Georgia. Stone Mountain is not exactly a mountain, but it is one huge rock, and only about 10 percent of it is actually what you see jutting up some 800 feet above the ground. You can hike up to the top (we did) or you can take a funicular car (we did). That's one of those bus-size cars suspended from a cable. Stone Mountain has many fun activities during the summer months, but during this time of year, about the only thing available is Snow Mountain, where you can go snow tubing in 70 degree weather (we did). And marvel at the largest bas-relief in the world, a 90 foot by 190 foot carving of three Confederate leaders. Happy Listening!Dennis (Woodcutter, Priest, Prince, Neighbor) and Kimberly (Narrator, Snakes, Daughters) See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in Rogers, AR (February) and Farmington, NM (March) open to the public. Or catch another storyteller at one of these events in Virginia Beach, VA or Toronto, Canada
1/15/201316 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Long Winter

"The Long Winter" is an appropriately seasonal tale from the Dene tribe of Canada. The Dene tribe is often called the Slavey tribe, because they were sometimes enslaved by their enemies, the Cree. Similar to our popular Zuni story we call "Coyote and Eagle", this nature myth about rescuing warmth (in the case of the Zuni myth it's the sun itself) from a weather thief is a charming explanation of the cycle of seasons. We come to you from the North Pole (which looks suspiciously like South Carolina at the moment), where we're busy feeding Santa's reindeer, outfitting his sleigh and sewing holes in his gift bag. Have a happy holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in 2013. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Frog, Fox, First Cub) and Kimberly (Narrator, Duck, Eagle, Mama Bear, Second Cub) Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100 Spice up your envelopes with Coyote and Eagle story stamps
12/18/201212 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Drum

Though it's not really a holiday story, "The Drum" from India seems suitable for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with its theme of giving and gratitude. It's about a different kind of little drummer boy, who brightens the lives of many people with his generosity and creative use of a barter economy. And in the process, he gets what he wants most himself. We come to you from Wilmington, Delaware, where we're performing at the main library for about the fifth or sixth time (but who's counting). We've weathered out the first blizzard of the season, as well as Frankenstorm Sandy, which made it risky for us to drive into and out of New York City to do a performance at a school. But we made it! Happy Holidays and Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Cooking Woman, Potter, Husband, Robbery Victim, Wedding Guest) and Kimberly (Mother, Boy, Wife, Drummer)
11/17/201215 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Husband Who Was to Mind the House

The husband is disgruntled because he has to go to work every day, while the wife gets to stay home. So they decide to trade places. It sounds like the premise for a reality TV show, but it's the basis of “The Husband Who Was to Mind the House”, an old story from Norway that has at least inspired many sitcom episodes. It was first told in the days when it was rare for the wife to go out and work; but then, as now, housework was a fulltime job in its own right. We come to you from eastern Massachusetts, where we've been spending some time performing at our favorite Halloween haunted house, Barrett's Haunted Mansion. We also performed recently at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and were able to absorb the vibrant Halloween atmosphere of Witch City once again. Attending one of our performances was fellow podcaster Clinton of Comedy 4Cast, who strolled around town with us, as we took in a couple of haunted house tours. Speaking of scary things and Halloween if you would like to read a scary story drop by our website to read A Ghost Story from Gettysburg. Happy Listening! Dennis (Husband, Cow) and Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Pig) See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming Shows in Wilmington, DE and Rogers, AR open to the public.
10/16/201214 minutes, 32 seconds
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Wiley and the Hairy Man

From the swamp country of the Southeastern U.S. comes the story “Wiley and the Hairy Man”, an African-American trickster tale, especially for the Halloween season. It's about a boy named Wiley, who's rather wily, and uses his wiles and wits to outsmart The Hairy Man, who is rather hairy and spooky, with the help of his mother. Wiley's mother, not The Hairy Man's. We come to you from Braintree, Massachusetts, just south of Boston, and a little farther south of Salem, where we'll be performing in the height of haunting season. We talk about WaterFire, a summer event in Providence that we attended recently. Every year since 1994, this series of Saturday evenings in downtown Providence features fire on the water, originally conceived as installation art by local sculptor Barnaby Evans. It's grown into a major event with entertainment, concessioners, and living statues. As well as huge crowds of people having a good time. Our thanks to LaVar Burton and Book People Unite for helping us promote reading and literature. Call us and tell us how you pick a book (800) 429-6576. We might play your message on our next podcast. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Wiley, Dogs) and Kimberly (Mother, Hairy Man, Dogs) See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in Ramsey, NJ and Salem, MA open to the public. More about Waterfire in Providence Stamps with character available at Zazzle Listen to The Coyote and the Eagle Podcast #1 For folktale request and booking information call us toll-free at (800) 429-6576 and leave a voice mail Please leave a review on iTunes Download a free Bee Maze Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win some $
9/17/201220 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Ugly Duckling

Read Along Read the story as you listen at the Act!vated web site By special request from a fan, we bring you Hans Christian Andersen's beloved fable about judging people (or fowl) by their plumage. It's been the subject of songs and films -- Disney adapted it for the screen twice. In our version, as a further reminder of how uncool it is to tease other people, or talking ducks, for being different, we refer to him as the Somewhat Less Than Attractive Duckling. This story has much in common with The Knee-High Man, which is part of our current production. It also has much in common with Hans Christian Andersen's own life, which turned out to be more glorious than people ever expected. We come to you from Massachusetts, where we are winding down our summer tour. We just met up with our son Zephyr, who came to one of our performances, and then that night we saw him perform in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing". Our own little (non-ugly) duckling who's earned his swan wings. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Mother Duck, Farmer, Swan One, Wapiti, Other Animals) and Kimberly (Narrator, Duckling, Swan Two, Wife, Chicken, Cat, Other Animals) Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" for a chance to win $100 See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
8/15/201214 minutes, 40 seconds
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Momotaro, the Peach Boy

August is the month for peaches, with the month being designated as Peach Month and August 24 as Pie Day. What better time to present the story of “Momotaro, the Peach Boy”, from Okayama Prefecture in Japan. We come to you from Philadelphia, where we are making a repeat appearance at the Central Library. We performed the show one day after hiking 12 miles in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Park and two days after a return engagement at the James V. Brown Library in Williamsport. Since our last podcast we have presented a flurry of performances in Arkansas and North Carolina before arriving in Pennsylvania. And in between shows we took the time to visit Elsewhere, a fabulous museum (of sorts) in Greensboro, NC. Formerly a thrift store, Elsewhere consists of a curious collection of old oddments that the visitor is welcome to touch and play with. We also raced the turtles, fluttered with butterflies and roared at animated dinosaurs at Clyde Peeling's Reptileland in Pennsylvania. Here's hoping that your summer is peachy keen. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Old Man, Inu the dog, Kiji the pheasant, Oni the ogre) and Kimberly (Narrator, Old Woman, Momotaro, Saru the monkey) Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to put some cash in your pocket See Act!vated perform live! Upcoming shows in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts free and open to the public. Let's be friends on Facebook Help others find Act!vated Stories podcast on iTunes by leaving a rating or even better a review
7/16/201219 minutes, 18 seconds
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How the Ice Cream Cone was Invented

Like the Cadillac, the ice cream cone has an exalted place in American culture. So it's appropriate, we suppose, that we are near the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX bringing you the story of how the ice cream cone may have been invented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Our characters are based on actual individuals supposedly involved in the development of this iCone (that's our word for an iconic cone): Charles Menches, the former acrobat and circus manager who was the alleged inventor; Estelle Bordeaux, the daughter of a steamboat captain and the object of Charles' affection; and Earnest Hamwi, a Lebanese immigrant who was selling zalabia (a waffle-like sweet from which the cones may have been invented). Like the fair itself, the invention of the cone was the stuff of legend - so nobody knows exactly what the real story is. But we like the version of our tale, because it shows what can happen when you "dream big". Which just happens to be the theme of of the summer reading programs at libraries across the country. Which happens to be why we're performing this story at many of them. Which is why we happen to be in Amarillo, having just opened our new production in Albuquerqe, and now headed to our next performances in Arkansas. As for the reason we stand on our hands when we visit a place like The Cadillac Ranch... well, we just don't have a rational explanation for that. Happy Listening, Dennis (Charles and Buford) and Kimberly (Estelle and Ernie) Goza Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100 Check the Act!vated "Dream Big, Read" National Tour to summer reading programs for a show near you! Real Nerdy Food
6/10/201220 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Cherry Blossoms

It's Cherry Blossom Time! We've been spotting more of these colorful blossoms this spring, all over the country, than we have any other year. The custom of celebrating their appearance comes from Japan, so we bring you a Japanese story that is supposed to explain how the tradition got started. We're back in our old stomping grounds in Northern California, after a long and eventful drive from Arkansas, mostly on (sometimes muddy) backroads- including historic Route 66. Our adventures included horseback riding in Oklahoma, exploring the ruins of a 400-year-old mission in New Mexico, and stopping in the old mining town of Oatman, Arizona where wild burros roam the streets. And in Tehachapi, California, we visited Indian Point Ranch, a prime producer of ostriches, and fed some of Big Bird's distant cousins. Now we're having the last few performances of our current production, "World Tales", and getting ready for our next show. Happy Listening!Dennis (Kindly Man, Mean Man, Prince) and Kimberly (Narrator, Kindly Woman, Mean Woman, Dog) Act!vated Live on Stage this April: Catch the show in San Leandro, Riverbank, Belevedere-Tiburon and Fairfield in California. And see if you can catch the show at a library near you this summer. Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100
4/17/201222 minutes, 56 seconds
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Bremen Town Musicians

This familiar German tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm is given a new treatment by students from Forest Heights Elementary in Harrison, Arkansas. That's right - we let someone else do the performing while we just directed. These bright youngsters not only supplied all the voices, they supplied all the dialogue, which they improvised on the spot. It all happened in a podcasting workshop we conducted at Forest Heights, one of three schools we appeared at in Harrison. We come to you from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we just performed for the many-eth time at the Garland County Library. We had an excellent turnout, including a wonderful family from Austin, TX who have been listening to our podcasts for some time. Great to meet up with them! We also discuss our visit to Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia, AL and our attendance of the "Resonant Objects Workshop" at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. Happy Listening,Dennis (nobody this time) and Kimberly (nobody too) Catch an Act!vated Show live in California this April Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100
3/24/201212 minutes, 47 seconds
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Why Pigs Are Dirty

A long time ago, pigs were clean. At least in India. And then once upon a time drastic measures were called for. We bring you this story especially for National Pig Day (March 1), which we just know you were just dying to learn about. It's been around for 40 years now, thanks to Texas teacher Ellen Stanley. We come to you from South Carolina (still) where we recount our visit to Charleston and Edisto Island, where the reptiles love to hang out. Oink Oink, Dennis (Narrator, Tiger, Second Pig, Old Pig) and Kimberly (First Pig) Doing the Charleston in Charleston video Another pig story from our archives The Pee Little Thrigs Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100
2/15/201213 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Four Dragons

Happy New Year! That's a bit late for American listeners, but it's a little early for Chinese listeners. Because Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) is celebrated this year on Jan. 23 (Year of the Dragon). The exact date varies considerably from year to year (It will be Feb. 10 next year.) because it's based on a different calendar system. Anyway, the dragons knew when to come visit us, just in time for Dragon Appreciation Day (Jan. 16th) - all four of them, appearing in our Chinese story "The Four Dragons", which we even named after them. Being skittish around dragons because of their more sinister character in Western folklore, we wouldn't dare not name it after them. It's a tale about how four dragons in very ancient times tried to persuade the Jade Emperor (the supreme god of ancient Chinese folklore) to send water to earth because the people were enduring a terrible drought. We come to you from Myrtle Beach, SC, where we spent a day chasing and battling a dragon at MagiQuest, an interactive electronic fantasy adventure that you just have to see for yourself sometime. There are many different quests and adventures you can go on, collecting (virtual) objects with the aid of your magic wand, which you get to take home with you. It's like helping to create and act in your own fairy tale. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Dennis (Yellow Dragon, Black Dragon, Jade Emperor, Farmer, Earth People) and Kimberly (Narrator, Pearl Dragon, Long Dragon, Earth People, Guard) Read Along - Now you can read the story while you listen Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100 More about National Appreciate a Dragon Day
1/15/201217 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Strasburg Fairy

This fairy tale from Germany offers a fanciful explanation for why we decorate Christmas trees. It comes from Germany, one of the two countries where the tradition originated (the other was what was then called Livonia) about 450 years ago. But it was based on older customs and traditions going back to ancient Egypt. And we discuss the surprising history of Christmas trees. We're coming to you from Greenville, SC where we've become rather familiar with Christmas trees lately. And we relate our recent adventure doing an activity that we normally don't associate with this time of year: whitewater rafting at the fabulous U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. We hope your holiday season is a big splash. Happy Listening, Dennis (Count Otto) and Kimberly (Everyone Else) Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for a chance to win $100
12/15/201115 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Baker's Dozen

"The Baker's Dozen" is a holiday story from the Dutch settlers of upstate New York, about a stubborn baker who learns an invaluable lesson about generosity. The story commemorates St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) a day to honor a legendary figure who also figures prominently in another holiday later in the month. Many people would be surprised to learn that St. Nicholas was a real person; and they'd be even more surprised to learn where he came from. He lived in the Fourth Century on the island of Lyra, which was then owned by Greece but later became part of Turkey. He was a rather small fellow who apparently had a broken nose. About a thousand years ago, his bones were smuggled to Italy to protect them from invaders, and they've been kept there ever since. But just recently, the Turkish government requested that Italy send them back so they can be put to rest in the place where he was born. Nicholas was well known for his generosity, which included the habit of leaving coins in people's shoes - thus the tradition of gift-giving in December. Many legends arose around him, and his fame spread to other countries. Among the Dutch, he became known as Sinterklass, which later became the English Santa Claus, and the legends about him blended with traditions from Norse mythology, including the use of reindeer. Dutch settlers in America celebrated St. Nicholas Day by eating cookies shaped like him. We come to you from Winston-Salem NC, after spending October enjoying the beautiful foliage and the haunting season in Massachusetts, and sending time with our son Zephyr in Rhode Island. And we tell you about our most recent ziplining adventure and our pilgrimage to Mayberry. Happy Listening, Dennis (Baker, Boy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Old Woman, Mother, St. Nicholas) Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for your chance to win $100
11/16/201116 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Book Of Magic

"The Book Of Magic", from Russia, is one of the stories in the manner of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", about someone attempting magic and getting in over his head. And the solution involves a trick very common to folklore about magical spells. This yarn is a bit spooky, because we're getting into the "spirit" of Halloween early. We come to you from New Jersey, where the floodwaters from Hurricane Irene have receded just in time for us to end our summer library season - much later than usual, even though we started much earlier than usual. We discuss our recent trip to New York City, where we took a bus tour of Manhattan and saw "Billy Elliot" on Broadway. The show still has us tapping our feet! P.S. Nominations for Podcast Awards are now open. Please nominate your favorite podcasts this week. We'd be honored if you'd consider Activated Stories for the Cultural / Arts category. Thanks! Happy Listening, Dennis (Visiting Soldier, Varioius Spirits) and Kimberly (Narrator, Home Soldier, Various Spirits)  Stitcher - enter promo code "storytellers" to support A!S and for  a chance to win $100 West Pittson Library - flood damage
9/17/201116 minutes, 59 seconds
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Lin Po Po

“Lin Po Po” is often called the Chinese Red Riding Hood, as it features a wolf masquerading as a grandmother. But it also bears similarities to other popular European tales, notably The Three Little Pigs. We offer it especially for Grandparents' Day (Sept. 11) and Chinese Moon Festival (Sept. 28). Not only is the story from China, and not only does it involve a grandmother, but even the moon makes a cameo. We come to you from Dedham, Massachusetts as we wind down our summer tour. We recently took an introductory class on the flying trapeze at Jordan's Furniture store in Reading, Massachusetts. Yes, a furniture store. Jordan's has several outlets in New England, and they're unlike any other furniture stores you've admired rocking chairs in. Practicing what they call “shoppertainment”, each store offers something unique to entertain the visitors. The store in Reading is the only one to offer trapeze lessons, operated by the Trapeze School of New York which, obviously, also has several locations. For nearly 2 hours, we were swinging from a trapeze with the greatest of ease and doing back-flips in mid-air. We even got to do some catches. And we can't wait to try it again. Ready...Hup! Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Child 2, Wolf) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mother, Child 1, Child 3) Trapeze School New York
8/15/201117 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Two Princesses

The Two Princesses is a folktale from India that you probably haven't heard before, but listening to it, you may get a sense of deja vu. There are many similarities between this story and about half a dozen other stories that you definitely are familiar with. See how many of them you can name. Put your answers in the comment section or call our hotline (800)429-6576 so we can play your answers on the next podcast. We recorded this podcast in Pennsylvania, having just performed at the library in Williamsport - our first time there since 2004. While in Williamsport we dropped by the Little League Museum, beside the baseball stadium complex where the Little League World Series is played. We also saw the Grit building, which still bears the name of the legendary good news newspaper, though its offices were relocated to Kansas several years ago after 111 years in Williamsport. And we talk about the fantabulous City Museum in St. Louis, where we spent a blissful day climbing the walls. And the tunnels. And the airplanes. And the strange, twisting crawl spaces in abundance. Not to mention sliding the slides (one of them ten stories tall), swinging on the swings, watching a circus act, and all manner of marvels guaranteed to make you forget about the real world for a while - even root canals. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Second Princess, Ogre, Attendant, Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, First Princess, Ranee, Mrs. Ogre) Don't miss a live show this summer!
7/17/201121 minutes, 27 seconds
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“Rumplestiltskin”, as told by the Brothers Grimm, is one of the classic fairy tales about a supernatural creature who comes to the aid of a damsel in distress and demands a stiff payment (classically a first born child) unless the damsel can guess his name. We come to you from northern Arkansas near the White River (which we mistakenly call the Buffalo River, which is not far away) after having performed at a series of libraries in the area. We also volunteered to help with the clean-up after the disaster in Joplin, Mo. Our summer tour is well underway, having started in the Reno, NV area in May, where we encountered snow. And now we are sweltering in the Midwestern summer. We always did go in for variety. Happy Listening, Dennis (King, Rumplestiltskin, Servant) and Kimberly (Farmer, Cobbler, Miller, Daughter, Narrator) Read Along- Read the story of Rumplestiltskin while you listen
6/19/201116 minutes, 14 seconds
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This month we bring you the Italian folktale Misfortune, about a young woman who has just that, and is called just that (she's called Misfortune, not Just That) thanks to a mean hag who follows her around, lurking in the shadows, and undoing everything the girl tries to do. Until Misfortune confronts her misfortune. We come to you from Reno, NV, one of our perennial stops on the tour. When we open our new production here this month, it will be about the dozenth time we've appeared at the Washoe Co. Libraries, beginning with our first year in business back in 1988. But at the moment, we're hunkering down constructing props and sets and costumes, oh my. And rehearsing. Hope to see you at a show this summer. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, King, Hag, Weaver, Servant, Prince) and Kimberly (Queen, Daughter, Beggar Woman and Assorted Animals)
5/16/201112 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Twin Brothers

“The Twin Brothers” is a story from the former Czechoslovakia about two brothers who looked a great deal alike, and therefore were sometimes mistaken for each other. This is a motif that many writers have used, including of course Shakespeare. And as in most of these narratives, the brothers help each other out – or in this case, one rescues the other, aided by a magic sword and a talking fish. Doesn't every set of twins have those? We come to you from Arkansas, fresh off our treks to Nashville and St. Louis with our son Zephyr along much of the way – he provides a guest voice on this podcast, just like the old days. We talk about our adventures wall climbing in Nashville, and attending a haunted attractions convention in St. Louis. And Zephyr brings us up-to-date on the new literature-inspired attraction at the amazing place where he works. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Second Twin, Woodcutter), Kimberly (Mother, Hag, Innkeeper, Princess), Zephyr (Fish, First Twin) Upcoming Shows in California, Reno and Connecticut
3/21/201115 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Boy Who Sought the North Wind

This Norwegian Folk Tale is being presented especially for this harsh winter and in preparation for the windy March to come. It involves a motif common to many folktales: a young traveler is taken advantage of by an innkeeper twice, but the third time proves the charm. We come to you from Chattanooga, TN, having made our way from Charleston, SC., where we saw the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley (the first submarine to sink a ship in battle, which occurred in 1864) and the Charleston Tea Plantation (the only tea plantation in North America). From there, we went to Atlanta, and saw the former home of Margaret Mitchell, a pioneering female journalist and author of the classic novel "Gone With the Wind". We also toured the Center for Puppetry Arts, which showcases puppets old and new from all over the world, ranging from shadow puppets to puppets constructed from found materials to classics like Punch and Judy to the latest hight-tech animatronic contraptions. Needless to say, there is a great deal of coverage of the extraordinary career of Jim Henson. Just west of Georgia is the rustic retreat of Historic Banning Mills, which has a fantastic zip-lining course, and we were blissfully walking and zipping along among the clouds (almost) for several hours. And here in Chattanooga, we've toured two caves (Ruby Falls and Raccoon Mountain) and the famous Rock City, and took a ride up (a mile up) the side of Lookout Mountain on the Chattanooga Incline Railway. And oh yes, how could we pass up the International Towing and Recovery Museum? Happy Listening! Dennis (Boy) and Kimberly (Mother, Wind, Innkeeper) Activated Adventures on YouTube The Laugh and Learn Ledger
2/15/201126 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Man Who Dreamed of His Fortune

"The Man Who Dreamed of His Fortune" is a story from the "1001 Nights", otherwise known as the "Arabian Nights", a collection of folktales that can be traced back more than 1000 years. These tales have many parallels in many other cultures, and this one is no exception. In fact, it is strikingly similar to the Japanese tale we call "Follow the Buzz", which has been a popular part of our repertoire in the past. We chose this story especially because Jan. 13 is Make Your Dreams Come True Day, and Jan. 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, who made the landmark "I have a dream speech". Of course, nowadays his birthday, or at least his legacy, is always observed on a Monday. We come to you from Greenville, SC, where we have been holed up for the past month or so and dodging the snowstorms that have brought traffic (both on the road and in retail establishments) to a halt. We are preparing for our next performances in Goose Creek (near Charleston), before moving on to Tennessee. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Poor Man, Robber) and Kimberly (Wife, Robber, Policeman, Police Chief) The Dragon of Krakow video for Appreciate A Dragon Day - Jan 16
1/14/201113 minutes, 20 seconds
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Twelve Men Went Fishing

“Twelve Men Went Fishing” is a noodlehead story about the English village of Gotham, which was supposedly inhabited entirely by fools. But the rumor was not entirely deserved – these “fools”, as is often the case, were much wiser than they appeared. In fact, there is a legend that Gotham got its reputation because once upon a time the king was thinking about building a home there, and the residents didn't like that idea because of all the problems it would cause (probably higher taxes, among other things). So they had a plan: when the king came to scope it out, they all behaved as insanely as they could to discourage him from settling among them. And the ruse worked, but it also earned their town a lasting reputation as one big madhouse. In any case, this is one of the many amusing stories that have come down to us about the place. Nowadays, we are familiar with Gotham as a nickname for New York City, especially since Batman renamed the Big Apple as Gotham City. There's actually a connection with the old English folktales: Washington Irving, who thought Manhattan was inhabited by fools, nicknamed it Gotham in an issue of his magazine The Salmagundi Papers. We come to you in North Carolina, on our way to South Carolina, after touring New York and New Jersey. Before which we spent autumn in New England, visiting our son Zephyr in Rhode Island (we interview him on this podcast) and performing at Halloween haunted attractions in Rhode Island and Connecticut. And now, like birds, we're heading south for the winter. Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Various Gotham Men) and Kimberly (Various Gotham Men, Horseman) More about Espionage - the adventure place where Zephyr works
11/20/201015 minutes, 29 seconds
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Thor and Thrym

When you hear the thunder roll across the heavens, you're hearing Thor, the blacksmith of the gods, wield his hammer in Asgard. So said the ancient Scandinavians, and they told of a time when his thunder was stolen by the lord of the giants, an unpleasant fellow named Thrym. Like the Greeks and Romans (who also had blacksmith gods named Hephaestus and Vulcan respectively), the Norse folk acknowledged a hypothetical race of giants who were separate from and often antagonistic to the gods. And in this case, Thrym's thuggish theft of Thor's thrifty hammer threatens to throw a wrench into the thunder. But Thor comes up with a classic and rather comical ruse to get it back. Will he succeed? Tune in and find out. We come to you from New Jersey, where we recently put in some time volunteering at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, assisting the patrons of the center with an art project called “Brush with the Masters”. The idea in this series of projects is to encourage them to create art in the style of certain famous artists. The day we went was Andy Warhol day, and we assisted them in adding color to black and white photographs of themselves, then affixing those photos to posterboard in a repeated series somewhat like Warhol's portrait of the Beatles or a soup can. Great fun – Thor himself couldn't have produced better art than they did. Happy Listening, Dennis (Thor, Thrym, Narrator) and Kimberly (Loki, Freya, Narrator) September Laugh and Learn Ledger (nod to Thor, story of Hofus the Stone Cutter) Upcoming Live Shows: 9/21/10 Captain Jack in Sharon, MA - 9/22 Audience Participation Tales in Seaford, DE Request a folktale for us to "act!vate" by leaving a comment or calling (800)429-6576
9/20/201015 minutes, 19 seconds
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Damon & Pythias

Greetings! We're finally back on schedule with our first podcast since May when we were in Reno, about to set out on our summer tour. And now here we are, 3000 miles, dozens of performances and a new rear axle later. We come to you from Philadelphia, the birthplace of the U.S. And the "City of Brotherly Love" Which seems like an appropriate place to present a story about friendship. “Damon and Pythias” is a Greek legend about two friends who were even closer buddies than Damon and Affleck. It was reported by many ancient authorities as being a true incident that occurred sometime in the 4th Century BCE in Syracuse, during the reign of the tyrant Dionysius the Elder. Regardless of how much truth there may be to the story, it has come to symbolize the ultimate friendship, to such an extent that Shakespeare alluded to it as such in Hamlet. We offer this tale on the 18th anniversary of our departure from San Francisco and embarking on our extended tour of duty across the U.S. And while our trek hasn't been as ill-fated as that of Pythias, it has had its adventures and misadventures. Here's to the next 18! Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Damon, Herald, Servant) and Kimberly (Pythias, King) Catch a live show
8/15/201015 minutes, 7 seconds
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Rip Van Winkle

It’s our 100th podcast! And we’re celebrating 22 years of performing. So we thought it was appropriate to bring you the story of “Rip van Winkle”, since he spent 20 years sleeping – which is exactly the opposite of what we and our audiences have been doing. Long before science fiction writers got their hands on the concept of suspended animation, there was Rip van Winkle, created in 1818 by American author Washington Irving. Actually, created isn’t quite the right word. Irving, who was known to borrow the themes for his classic tales from folktales, did likewise here. His yarn about a man sleeping for a long period of time and then awakening to find the world drastically changed is similar to stories to be found in Germany, China, Japan, Israel and Ireland among other places.   Happy Listening! Dennis (Rip, Villager), Kimberly (Mrs. Van Winkle, Judith, Villager), Zephyr (Narrator, Stranger, Villager)   New CD! American Tales of U.S.
5/15/201022 minutes, 34 seconds
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King of the Birds

He may not exactly look like the cock of the walk, but the sparrow is officially the King of the Fowl – at least according to this folktale from India. But he paid a price for the foul behavior he exhibited in acquiring his crown. We present this story with the aid of guest stars Mike and Patricia, birds of a feather who tell us all about the pet cockatoos they’re so proud of and the peacocks that roam around the neighborhood. We’re in Los Angeles and vicinity, catching up with a whole flock of old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in years. Thanks to one particular family we know, we were able to become seagulls for a few days, living on their boat at the Long Beach marina. Nothing like having the waves rock you to sleep at night! One bird that has been on the wing for quite some time now is the eagle, the character in our Zuni story we call “Coyote and Eagle”. We recently had a chance to perform it for a group of storytellers in Phoenix, who put together an evening of story swapping especially so we could participate while we were flying through. Needless to say, our own eagle made quite an impression when she squeezed through a tennis racket. And for a bird’s eye view, it’s hard to top the Sandia Tramway in Albuquerque, the longest aerial tramway in the world. It took us WAAAAAY up to Sandia Peak, which was covered with snow that was being heartily enjoyed by a few late-season skiers. And now, we’re back in our old aerie of California, where we’ll be exercising our talons – er, talents, for the next few weeks. Hope to catch you at one of our shows! Happy Listening, Dennis (Narrator, Owl), Kimberly (Mynah), Mike Steele (Eagle), Patricia Pizer (Narrator, Sparrow) Buster Keaton and Nikolai (themselves) Zephyr interviewed as Captain Jack Sparrow on QATV Sean Buvala, Storyteller
4/16/201016 minutes, 10 seconds
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The Elephant's Child

“The Elephant's Child” is a tale from Africa, adapted from Rudyard Kipling's mangled English version in “Just So Stories”. It's one of various and sundry animal fables from various and sundry cultures explaining how various and sundry animals ended up with various and sundry unique physical features. We come to you from Birmingham, AL., where we are touring to present performances at the Emmet O'Neal Library in the Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook. While searching for a geocache in the suburb of Irondale, we stumbled upon the landmark Irondale Cafe, otherwise known as Fried Green Tomatoes. Actress/novelist Fannie Flagg used to eat here as a child – her aunt once owned the place – and it inspired her to write the best-selling novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”, which was made into the popular movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”. Naturally, we had to return for lunch. The options are limited for vegetarians, and as is often the case with Southern cuisine, everything is smothered in grease. But all in all it wasn't bad; authentic Southern cornbread is a delicacy you just can't get anywhere else. And the signature dish? Dennis give the fried green tomatoes a thumb almost completely up, while Kimberly's was more or less horizontal. Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Ostrich, Snake, Crocodile) and Kimberly (Narrator, Elephant, Hippo, Giraffe) Thanks to @shpmntbrook for suggesting this story on Twitter. You can request stories by leaving a comment here or by sending a Tweet to @activated Related Links Vulcan Irondale Cafe - home of the fried green tomatoes A!S on Facebook Watch the show live on stage 3/16 and 3/23 via Ustream
3/15/201011 minutes, 33 seconds
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Frog and Antelope

“The Frog and the Antelope” is a Native American story from the Kootenai (or Kootenay) tribe about a race between, appropriately enough, a frog and an antelope. It's one of many such race tales from many different races of human being, such as Aesop's “The Tortoise and the Hare”. In this case, however, the race is won by trickery rather than pluck and perseverance, so perhaps it doesn't illustrate very sportsmanlike conduct. On the other hand, the trickery is used to give a braggart his comeuppance. We chose this tale because at the moment many different kinds of races and athletic contests are taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia for the 2010 Winter Olympics. And guess what? The Kootenai tribe, in addition to being located in Montana and Idaho, also has roots in British Columbia. We'd love to be in Vancouver now – we loved the city and BC itself when we visited a few years ago – but it's been quite chilly enough where we have been for the past few weeks: the Sunshine State. And on this podcast we tell you about our recent exploration of The Everglades, including an overnight canoe trip to an island just offshore. We speak of it as one of 1000 purported islands in the system; actually the number should have been 10.000 (yes that's TEN thousand)! We hope you have a gold medal month. Thanks for listening! Dennis (Frog) and Kimberly (Narrator, Antelope) A!S Excursion through the Everglades - video
2/17/201016 minutes, 10 seconds
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Hans in Luck

“Hans in Luck”, a German tale from the Brothers Grimm, is as loaded with irony as its title character is loaded with material possessions that people would normally consider a blessing, but in his case prove to be burdens. His situation reminds us of our own; having left the stationary lifestyle behind years ago, we ironically feel much richer for not having so much “stuff” to weigh us down. We present the story with the assistance of guest performers who've also discovered this. They are attendees of the annual Families on the Road (FOTR) rally. (We recorded this podcast in a laundry room at a campground jammed with excited people, which explains the ambient sound – a euphemism for background noise.) It was a very successful event, indeed the largest such gathering ever, with 21 families in attendance. For the second time, we held the rally at Jetty Park, Port Canaveral, FL. This is an excellent location not only because it's right on the beach (within site of the NASA shuttle launch site) but also because it's right beside the cruise ship terminal, so we could watch the huge cruise ships pull out, including the Disney line. Among the fun activities the campers enjoyed were a relay race on the beach, a tie-dyeing session, a gross science session, a screening of the movie “RV” on an outdoor inflatable screen, a bonfire, and a performance by Act!vated Storytellers. Happy Listening!Dennis (Goatherd), Kimberly (Horse) Kelby Evans(Hans), Dylan DiMichiel(Narrator), Connor Evans(Peasant with cow), Jayden Dudley (Narrator), Adrian Dudley (Narrator), Sage Bove(Cow), Christian DiMichiel (Scissors Grinder), Rita DiMichiel(Narrator), Pete "Dutch" DeMichiel (Master), Courtney LaPointe (Goose Woman, Narrator), Kati Evans (Goose), Zachary Godwin (Narrator, Grindng Stone, Well) Families on the Road FOTR podcast 2008
1/20/201016 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Rainbow Crow

“The Rainbow Crow” is a Native American nature myth from the Lenni Lenape tribe of New Jersey. It's quite unusual for a nature myth in that it simultaneously explains the origins of four phenomena: fire, the rainbow, the crow's black feathers, and the crow's croaky voice. It bears striking similarities to the Zuni story that we call “Coyote and Eagle”, as well as to the Greek myth of Prometheus. We thought it would be an appropriate offering for the winter solstice, since it also deals with the first time the animals had seen snow. That's rather hard to imagine, since they were living in the Northeast, but there's a first time for everything. We come to you from a place where we probably won't have to worry about snow this holiday season: Florida. We'll be here through the end of January, and our tour will include a performance in Miami. If you decide to fly south for the winter, or you're already down here, swing on by! Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator, Owl, Great Spirit) and Kimberly (Crow, Coyote, Turtle and generic critter)
12/17/200911 minutes, 38 seconds
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Batcha and the Dragon

To mark the beginning of winter, we present “Batcha” a dragon story from the region formerly known as Czechoslovakia (it recently split into Slovakia and The Czech Republic). A shepherd strays away from home, discovers a serpents' lair, sleeps all winter like Rip Van Reptile, suffers the consequences of breaking a vow, takes a wild ride, and still gets home in time for dinner. We come to you from Delaware, en route to Florida for the winter. And we catch you up on what's happened during the two months since our last podcast, including Halloween in Salem, Urban Interactive in Boston, and two days of adventures in New York City. In the Big Apple, we saw Bon Jovi perform during a “Today Show” telecast, attended a taping of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”, and attended a fun Broadway performance of the classic musical Finian's Rainbow a hilarious modern fable featuring a leprechaun and lots of singing and dancing. We also watched the Veterans' Day Parade (which included Hollywood legend Tony Curtis) and ran into the purveyors of Myachi, a toy for all ages. We first encountered them in Florida nearly 7 years ago! Happy Listening (and beware of dragons and leprechauns) Dennis (Batcha, Serpent King, Wizard) and Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Dog Link to the Today Show featuring Families on the Road and a short clip from an interview with Kimberly
11/19/200919 minutes, 40 seconds
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Especially for the arrival of the autumn equinox, alias fall, we bring you “Moonlight Over Cassia Peak” a nature myth from China explaining the abundance of cassia trees around Lingyin Temple in the Wulin Mountains. The version we have borrowed presents the legend as a tale within a tale. We come to you from Fall River, MA, where we gear up for another haunting season in Salem. We've completed our 21st summer season, which took us from Monterey, CA to Medford, MA. Along the way, we performed for the American Library Association's annual conference on behalf of Scholastic Books (held in Chicago this year) and biked the Katy Trail in Missouri. And Dennis began writing about some of our travel adventures for Oh yes, and we have a guest star this time who's hardly a stranger to our podcasts or our shows: our son Zephyr, who now lives in Massachusetts and hadn't done a podcast with us since January. Happy Listening! Dennis (De Wing), Kimberly (Narrator, Queen) and Zephyr (Abbot, Wu Gang)
9/15/200913 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Dragon of Krakow (part 2)

Part 2 of the Dragon of Krakow - the exciting conclusion! Activatedly Yours, Dennis (the Cobbler), Kimberly (the Apprentice) and the Dragon Links: Part I <!-- document.write('<a href="javascript:;" onclick="TwitThis.pop();"><img src="" alt="TwitThis" style="border:none;" /></a>'); //-->      
8/26/20098 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Dragon of Krakow (part 1)

A story about a village terrorized by a dragon. Compiled from 4 live productions. Act!vatedly Yours, Dennis (the Cobbler), Kimberly (the Apprentice) and the Dragon Links: Part II <!-- document.write('<a href="javascript:;" onclick="TwitThis.pop();"><img src="" alt="TwitThis" style="border:none;" /></a>'); //-->      
8/26/20099 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Grove in Glenview, Illinois

The Grove A little oasis near Chicago, Illinois where you can explore nature and experience the past. Links: A!S Fan Page on Facebook '); //-->      
8/15/20091 minute, 30 seconds
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Theatrical Tour of Williamsburg, VA

We have been trying out our new video camera. Hope you enjoy these new travel videos. We'll be back to our regular podcast schedule next month, in addition to adding new travel videos in the future. A theatrical tour of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Visit Colonial Williamsburg Williamsburg, First City of Theater; article at Act!vatedly Yours, Dennis and Kimberly Links: A!S Fan Page on Facebook '); //-->      
8/15/20094 minutes, 33 seconds
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Brave Little Tailor

"The Brave Little Tailor" is a tale popularized by Disney, who rather appropriately cast Mickey Mouse in the title role. Disney got it from the Brothers Grimm, who got it from several European folk traditions. It's an inspiring story about how a little guy can defeat a mighty giant (or even several of them) with cunning and courage, as well as a cautionary tale about the dangers of tooting your own horn. It will be one of the stories featured in our new production "Triumphant Tales; Stories of Creative Conquest". This version is specially edited for the podcast, and features the guest voices of our nephew Joey (age 15) and our niece Jenny (age 12). We hope the end result leaves you in stitches.We also talk about our recent drive and bicycling adventure down the Pacific Coast, traveling from Seattle through Oregon and past California's own giants, the monumental redwoods.You'll hear us make a reference in the podcast to working on our set in the garage; but no, no, no that does not mean that we have a house somewhere. We're still on the road fulltime, just as we have been for the past 17 years. But we do know other people who have houses, including Kimberly's parents. And it's their garage where we typically have our marathon production week every May/June.Now we're off and running on our 21st summer season. Beginning June 11 in Monterey, CA, we literally tour from coast to coast this year, ending the season in Medford, MA. We hope to catch you somewhere along the way!Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Giant), Kimberly (Tailor), Joey (King) and Jenny (Giant)Comments and folktale requests 206-426-0436. Links: A!S Fan Page on Facebook '); //-->      
6/15/200916 minutes, 18 seconds
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Trittil. Littil and the Birds

"Trittil, Littil and the Birds" is a story from Iceland about an adventurous young man who outwits a troll, and of course wins his good fortune. There are many trolls living under the bridges and in the caves of Nordic folklore, but in this case the troll is female. Which is entirely appropriate, since we have two female guest performers returning to join us.We were inspired by the famous troll lurking under the Aurora Bridge in the Femont District of Seattle, where we were able to spend a few days showing our guests the sights, including the Experience Music Project, Pikes Place Market, the Chittenden Locks, and Elliot Bay Book Company. None of us got eaten by a troll, but we did get almost dissolved by the rain.Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, King, Father), Kimberly (Mother, Trittil, Littil, Princess), Libby (Young Man), and Eddy (Oldest Brother, Troll)Comments and folktale requests 206-426-0436. Links: A!S Fan Page on Facebook '); //-->      
5/15/200914 minutes, 57 seconds
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When April Went to Visit March

“When April Went to Visit March” is a story from the Ukraine about the seasons, or rather about one season, and how it can be unseasonable, especially in a chilly climate like the Ukraine. The months of spring are appropriately personified to reflect the weather that typically accompanies them: harsh March, airy April and mellow May. Except sometimes May may show the traits of March, so this tale offers a fanciful explanation. We come to you from Sacramento, California, where we are doing a series of library performances for National Library Week. And we're doing stories especially appropriate for Earth Day, which the Sacramento County Library System is commemorating with a green theme. And speaking of spring, we recount our recent visit to Saratoga, WY, which has a hot mineral spring that anyone can bathe in free at any time, year-round. But while we were there, we encountered some snowy weather, as we did during the entire month of March, which seemed to be anticipating the venting of a great deal of wrath toward May. Happy Listening! Dennis (March, Narrator) and Kimberly (April, May, Wind) Comments and folktale requests 206-426-0436. Links: Bead Fanatic Beads by Jen PrinkA!S Fan Page on Facebook National Library Week '); //-->      
4/17/200912 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Boo Brothers

“The Boo Brothers” is a story of sibling rivalry, virtue triumphant, and unorthodox horticulture from Korea. It parallels many stories, including one from the Appalachian region of the U.S. sometimes known as “Gol Golly Gee”, involving one or more individuals who refuse to help someone in need and then meet their downfall, as contrasted with a more noble person who takes the time to be of help, and is rewarded with riches and having a folktale named after them.We come to you from Colorado City (in Colorado, natch), after having driven from Florida in a very short time. Along the way, we stopped in Mobile, AL to attend part of the Mardi Gras festivities. Many people don't realize it, but Mardi Gras has been celebrated in Mobile even longer than it has in New Orleans. The festival in Mobile dates back as far as 1703, and the tradition of a parade dates back to about 1830 when one particular merry fellow got one going spontaneously, and the other folks in the community decided it was too much fun not to repeat. This year's celebration actually got underway last year, with events held back in November. But the party began in earnest in January, a month before Mardi Gras itself. And during that month, there were no fewer than FORTY-TWO parades. We missed forty of them.We also spent some time in Taos, NM, in the heart of ski country. The town of Taos is rich in history, being among other things the home of legendary scout Christopher “Kit” Carson—the house he lived in is now open for tours. But even more historic is the home of an entire tribe of Native Americans: the Taos Pueblo, which was built at least 600 hundred years ago, and quite possibly 1000 years ago. It's still home today to about 150 tribal residents who still live, as their ancestors did, without electricity or running water. Like the Pueblo, the entire town of Taos is constructed of adobe buildings. It was a fascinating place to spend a weekend, but we're relieved to be out of the snow.Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, HungBoo, Monsters) and Kimberly (Narrator, NolBoo, Wife, Bird, Monsters)Comments and folktale requests 206-426-0436. Links: A!S Fan Page on Facebook National Library Week Prosperity Podcast
3/15/200917 minutes, 59 seconds
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Anansi & Yamhills

Long before Marvel Comics created Spiderman, a spiderman was created by the Ashanti tribe of western Africa. The frequent trickster (and sometimes victim of other animals' tricks) has appeared in many aliases, and in many other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Central America and the U.S. Sometimes he appears as a spider, sometimes a man, and sometimes both. In the Southern U.S., “he” sometimes turned into Aunt Nancy. In our story for this month, he retains his original name and gender, even though he has been transplanted to Jamaica, mon. And alas, it's another one of those cases (like “Anansi Goes Fishing”, which we're currently performing on tour) where he ends up on the short end of the storytellers' stick. We thought an Anansi story would be particularly appropriate for Black History Month, otherwise known as February. (In Great Britain, it's celebrated in October.) The month, which was originally just a week, traces its roots back to 1926, when prominent historian Dr. Carter Woodson began crusading to remedy the way his fellow African-Americans had been neglected in the history books. February is also the anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment granting African-Americans the right to vote, and the swearing in of Hiram Revels as the first African-American member of the U.S. Senate. And February contains the birthday of the early civil rights leader W.E.B. DuBois, who along with Dr. Woodson, helped found the NAACP in 1909—during, would you believe it, the month of February. And you thought this month was just for presidents, groundhogs and chocolate. We come to you from Western Florida, a state in which we've been sojourning for the past couple of months. But we're on our way north and gradually back to the West Coast, to the region where we started. We hope you do your share of reading during Read Across America Week, the first week in March. Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, Hog, Monkey) and Kimberly (Anansi, Goat) Links Mentioned in this Podcast for voice mail service - use our # for reference if you sign up: 800.429-6576 Details for Share the Love of Reading are at Read Across America Week Library Lover's Month On Twitter we are @activated The Program Room by Monty Harper - podcast for Youth Services Librarians A!S Flier for 2009-10 touring productions to share with your favorite school or library. (PDF format) '); //-->      
2/15/200920 minutes, 43 seconds
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How Coyote Stole Fire

The Coyote is a prominent recurring anthropomorphic character in the folklore of many Native American tribes, particularly in the Southwest. He is generally portrayed as a trickster, a semicomic hero who gets the better of some of the other critters. (He didn't get his comeuppance until the Twentieth Century, thanks to the Roadrunner.) Our current stage production, “Creepy Crawly Critter Tales”, features a yarn about how the Coyote and the Eagle attempt to rescue the sun from a band of kachinas (spirits) who have stolen it. But in our podcast story for this month, it is the Coyote—aided and abetted by a few animal sidekicks—who steal something: namely, fire. This tale, although it involves animals, has strong parallels in the myths of many other cultures about the heroic figures who first brought fire to humankind: Prometheus among the Greeks, Maui among the Polynesians and Loki among the Norse, for instance. We come to you this month from Orlando, Florida, where we've assembled quite a cast of guest stars. We're joined by our son Zephyr, his girlfriend Cassia from Massachusetts, and their friends Amylynn from Chicago, Lani from Denver and Emily from Michigan. And as long as they were coming to Orlando long enough to do the podcast, we decided to dig up something fun for them to do. The best we could come up with was seven days at the Disney theme parks. Sorry, guys.Happy Listening! Dennis (Frog, Villager), Kimberly (Squirrel, Villager), Zephyr (Coyote, Villager), Cassia (Narrator), AmyLynn (Fire Being), Emily (Fire Being), and Lani (Chipmunk, Fire Being) Links: The Grove, in Glenview, IL - where Amylynn works as an interpretive guide Kim Possible Adventure at Epcot '); //-->      
1/23/200919 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Elves and the Envious Neighbor

“The Elves and the Envious Neighbor” is a story from Japan that we bring in especially for the holidays. Not that it's a holiday story, mind you. But it does feature elves, and indeed elves who give a gift... by taking something away! It also features a Scrooge-like character driven by greed and envy. In some respects, it's similar to “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. We come to you from Tallahassee, Florida, where we don't exactly expect to have a white Christmas. But it still looks very like that season around here, because we're surrounded by Fraser Firs, Canaan Firs, Scotch Pines and White Pines, oh my. We're babysitting a Christmas tree lot at the Tallahassee Mall, where we have the unheard-of opportunity to remain parked in one spot for more than a month—with free electricity thrown in to boot—as we start making preparations for next summer's tour. Yes, we've been away from the podcast universe for a while—since August, to be exact. And we bring you up to date on what's been happening in the meantime, including our fun, fascinating, productive October in Salem, where we met up with the LOUD Family, the subjects of the TV miniseries “Six for the Road”. And we answer that burning question on everyone's mind: where in the world is Zephyr? By the way, did you know that you can track the progress of Santa's sleigh online on Christmas Eve? We've been doing it for years. Amazing what they can do with radar these days. To all of you from all two of us, we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, and a fantastic 2009. Happy Listening! Dennis (Man, Neighbor and Elves) and Kimberly (Narrator, King and other elves) Links: Santa's Letter to RV kids (online through December) BLOCKBUSTER Total Access click to activate coupon for $10 off your first month. LOUD Family Track Santa's sleigh
12/21/200818 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Legend of the Rollright Stones

Stonehenge, Easter Island and the Old Stone Mill. What do they all have in common besides being situated on islands? They're all mysterious stone structures that have generated all kinds of colorful legends. The first two date to ancient times, the third to Colonial or possibly even Viking times. In the old days, folks were fascinated by rock formations that were even remotely out of the ordinary, and their imaginations ran wild, weaving fantastic stories about how such formations used to be giants, animals or spirits. It is one such formation that inspired our story on this podcast, "The Legend of the Rollright Stones". We present this tale without benefit of Zephyr, who's in Oregon attending Not Back to School Camp, an annual gathering for homeschoolers. We come to you from North Attleboro, south of Boston. Our story selection was prompted by our recent visit to Newport, RI (our first time ever to go there, and it isn't often that we visit a place for the first time anymore), where we saw the nation's oldest synagogue, the nation's oldest lending library, and Fort Adams Park, site of the annual Newport Folk Festival, which has showcased such legendary talents as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger (a co-founder of the event) and Joan Baez. Oh yes, and we also saw the Old Stone Mill, the third stone oddity mentioned above. Nobody knows who built it or when or why, but there has been speculation that Norsemen under Leif Erickson erected it when they allegedly dropped by a millennium ago – its style is similar to that of certain Scandinavian churches. Another popular theory is that it was built as a mill by Rhode Island colonial governor Benedict Arnold, great-grandfather of the more famous (and infamous) individual bearing that name. (Supporters of the Viking theory point out that even if Arnold did use it as a mill, that doesn't mean he built it, and it could have been much older.) Still another hypothesis is that it was a watchtower constructed or used by a Portuguese explorer around 1500. Hey, maybe all three are sort of true. We breezed through Newport on our bicycles as part of a 10-day bike marathon, starting from Norton, MA, then proceeding to Plymouth, Cape Cod, southern MA, then Newport and back up to Norton. We covered more than 320 miles in all, spending the nights in a tent and buying food at produce stands. What a great way to see the country! As long as you don't run over any big rocks. Happy Listening! Dennis (Farmer, Villager), Kimberly (Narrator, Fairy, Villager) and Zephyr (Marcel Marceau impersonator) P.S. Apologies for the audio quality of the past two podcasts. We've had major technical gremlins, which we've been struggling to put back into their cages. Hopefully, all will be peachy keen next time. Links: Read about Family on Bikes as they travel from Alaska to Argentina
8/29/200816 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Jester and the Straw Roof

"The Jester and the Straw Roof" is a trickster tale from India about a poor man who gets his due by exercising his wits - in effect, by playing a joke on someone rich and powerful, which is appropriate, since this individual is a joker by trade. But we trade the traditional concept of a court jester for the persona of Batman's nemesis The Joker, as interpreted by the late Heath Ledger, and ably imitated by our resident mimic Zephyr. We also are aided and abetted this week by our friend Cassia, since we come to you from her hometown in Massachusetts. We talk about the tour that Dennis and Zephyr took of Valley Forge National Park, just north of Philadelphia. During the winter of 1777-78, Gen. George Washington and his men took a very different kind of tour of this property, a military stand to fight back the British invasion. It was a harsh winter and the troops worked under extreme hardships, often having inadequate clothing and little food. Even Washington had it rough, sharing cramped quarters, with several members of his staff - although he certainly was better off than the troops. At least he was in a fine old house with servants and a comfortable bed; they on the other hand, slept in crude little log huts - or on the ground while they were constructing these! We were able to see some very accurate replicas of these huts, and they looked anything but inviting, in any kind of weather. We also toured Gen. Washington's painstakingly restored house on the Schuylkill River, furnished just as it might have been when he was using it, down to the pens and papers on the desk. We also mention the alternating days of bike touring that Kimberly and Dennis have been doing from Valley Forge to Bristol, CT, getting in as many as 65 miles a day - often on very hilly terrain. At least the soldiers never had do that! Happy Listening, Dennis (Maharajah), Kimberly (narrator), Zephyr (Jester/Joker) and Cassia (the wife) Learn more about Valley Forge
8/14/200819 minutes, 8 seconds
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Stone Soup

"Stone Soup" is not only a popular folk tale with variants in many cultures and countries, it's also become a proverbial expression of sorts -- not to mention the name of a popular magazine for children. In some versions of the tale, the cornucopian object might be a nail, a button, or even an axe. And in some versions there is only one miserly individual involved, as opposed to a whole village. But there is something particularly resonant about the image of getting nourishment from a stone, and even more so about being able to feed an entire community, even if it involves a little deception. One reason for the story's endurance is that it can be interpreted in a number of ways. There's the concept, for instance, of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. There's the importance of pitching in to help your neighbors -- it takes a village to feed a village. There's the principle of making something from nothing, or at least being productive in difficult times. And of course there's the motif of applying psychology to encourage cooperation -- prompting people to contribute by appealing to their pride in creating a desirable outcome, rather than just telling them their efforts are needed (somewhat similar to Tom Sawyer's trick with the fence.) We come to you from the outskirts of Philadelphia, where we've returned to perform again at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Zephyr rejoins us after spending a couple of weeks in Winston-Salem, while Dennis and Kimberly report on their recent visit to Pennsylvania's capital city, Harrisburg, where they took a pleasant bike ride on a 20-mile loop that took them one of the finest nature preserves they've ever seen. Happy Listening! Dennis (Soldier, villagers), Kimberly (Narrator, Villagers), Zephyr (Villagers, including the Joker)   Links: Bike Trails (Harrisburg Loop) The Laugh and Learn Ledger (The Importance of the Arts article) Act!vated Ustream - Watch August 12th.
7/31/200815 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Peacock and the Crane

"The Peacock and the Crane" is one of Aesop's fables, and (surprise) it has a little lesson to teach: namely that it's wiser to make good use of the skill you have than to boast or make a display of yourself. The peacock has long been a symbol of vanity and ostentatiousness, and it may have been Aesop who started that tradition. NBC seemed to have had something else in mind, however, when it adopted a peacock for its network logo during the early days of color programming. We come to you, minus Zephyr, from West Virginia, where we are having a busy week during our summer library tour, helping youngsters "Catch the Reading Bug" (that's the theme of the summer reading program for many of the nation's libraries this year). Our first West Virginia performance was in Point Pleasant, so named because it is a pleasant point at which the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers come together. Up until 42 years ago, the town was best known as the site of the first battle between Native Americans and European settlers, which occurred here in 1774. As usual, the Natives (led by Chief Cornstalk) got the worst end of it. There's an impressive mural of the battle painted on the wall that runs along the riverfront by the national park that commemorates the event. Okay, that was the town's old claim to fame. But in November 1966 it was the site of the reputed appearance of a strange creature that came to be known as the Mothman. He stood about 8 feet tall and looked like a cross between a human and a moth. He may have been of extraterrestrial origin, or he may have just been the Reading Bug. Or he may have been someone's hyperactive imagination. We can't know for certain, because he did not strut around like a peacock, but hid in the dark like a moth. But whatever he was, he is now folklore, and that's where we come in. There is a life-size statue of him in downtown Point Pleasant, so you can form your own theories. And be thankful that it wasn't you who ran into him. Happy Listening! Dennis (Crane, Farmer) and Kimberly (Narrator, Peacock) Comments and folktale requests 206-426-0436. Links: The Coyote and Eagle can be found on the Out of the Bag audio collection. And here is a kachina activity sheet to print and color (.PDF) Award winning storyteller Sean Buvala offers teleconferences and coaching for storytellers. Reading bug PSA courtesy of the Collaborative Summer Library Program
7/17/20088 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Cat and the Mouse

In folk tales, as in cartoons, the laws of physics and biology often are violated without a second thought. Things get blown up, and then are fine; coyotes run off the edge of a cliff and hover in mid-air a moment before plunging; and mice have their tails cut off and then restored. As in the British story "The Cat and the Mouse", which is based on the cumulative list motif, similar to the nursery rhyme "The House That Jack Built". The best-known version of the story is itself told in rhyme by folklorist Joseph Jacobs, who included it in a volume of English stories published in 1890. And it was this version that was familiar to our winner in the Be A Character Contest, a young man from Indiana named Aiden. He requested this story, so we made him the mouse (Ouch! Sorry about that.) But of course we weren't content to copy someone else's version of the tale (tail) despite its appealing rhyming rhythmic lines. We devised, as usual, our own madcap, quasi-improvised retelling.We bring this podcast to you from Quincy, IL and Hannibal, MO, where we return to perform at libraries in both cities. And the libraries, we're happy to say, were not damaged by the recent flooding of the Mississippi River, though some parts of both cities definitely were soaked. So far, all systems are go for the annual Tom Sawyer Days held during the Independence Day weekend in Hannibal. And we're back to participate for the first time in several years.We also tell you all about our recent encounter in Hawaii with Wally Amos, the famous cookie guru who now is heavily involved with promoting reading, particularly reading aloud to children. Not only does he read to kids himself, he is chair of the Read It Loud Foundation, which has a goal of enticing at least 5 million parents to read to their kids each day for at least 10 minutes. He donates 10 percent of the profits from his cookie stores in Kailua and Honolulu to this endeavor, and makes promotional appearances across the country to promote it -- including Savannah, GA., where Read It Loud! Savannah already has enjoyed considerable success. One of the activities of the program in Savannah is to donate a book to the parents of each child born in the community. It's never too early to start!We salute Wally Amos and Read It Loud for the admirable work they do -- which, after all, is very much in line with the work we do ourselves.Happy Listening (whatever your age),Dennis (Narrator, Cow, Farmer's Wife, Butcher, Painter), Kimberly (Cat, Farmer, Baker), and Zephyr (Mouse)Link: Folktales to Read Out Loud
7/3/200812 minutes, 55 seconds
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Rough-Skinned Girl

"The Rough-Skinned Girl" is a Native American story told among some of the tribes in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada, particularly the Miq-Mak and Algonquin tribes. The title (Oochegeaska in Miq-Mak) also can be translated as "Burnt-Skinned Girl". This is one of innumerable versions of the Cinderella motif found around the world; but in this case the similarity is more than coincidence. Natives apparently heard the popular French tale, as related by French trappers, and adapted it to their own culture. We present the story with the aid of our guest star Mary, who's been a friend all her life (literally -- she attended Zephyr's first birthday party when we lived in San Francisco). She spent 10 days traveling with us under battle conditions, joining us in Reno as we were frantically trying to get our new show together, accompanying us on our 2000 mile dash to Arkansas, then aiding and abetting us during our show's first two performances in Hot Springs and Conway, AR. What a trooper. But once the pressure was off, we managed to have some fun, absorbing the local color along historic Bath House Row in Hot Springs, where we also attended an open mic poetry reading at The Poets Loft, the longest running open mic poetry night in the world. Mary wasn't content merely to observe, but also got up and read one of her own poems, followed by her a cappella rendering of "Goodnight Irene" in Japanese. We also spent an evening at The Brauhaus listening to the music of our friends The Itinerant Locals. And in Little Rock we took Mary to the Clinton Library and Central High School, site of the landmark 1957 school integration conflict. Now she's off to The Bay Area again, and we're off again on another summer tour. See you there! Happy Listening! Dennis (Father, Hunter), Kimberly (Sister, Hunter's Sister), Zephyr (Narrator, Sister) and Mary (Rough-Skinned Girl)     
6/19/200818 minutes, 18 seconds
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Aloha! That's a word that can mean “Hello”, “Goodbye”, or “I love you”. But in this case, it means yes,  we finally took our trip to Hawaii. We had a glorious week packed with activity on the island of Oahu, and we've devoted this podcast to telling you about some of the things we did, interlaced with some sounds we captured at the Polynesian Culture Center. We spent a day at the Polynesian Culture Center, soaking in the sights, sounds and tastes (a luau was included in our package) of several Pacific Island cultures. We visited Pearl Harbor, where we stood on a platform that overlooks the USS Arizona, sunk in the water a few feet below the surface.We went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay coral reef, where we were face to face with exotic species of fish we'd never seen before – Zephyr even had a close encounter with a huge sea turtle. We also went swimming at Waikiki Beach and Kailua Beach, where Kimberly used to swim when she lived in Hawaii as a child. And in Kailua we met Wally Amos, the founder of the original Famous Amos cookie company, who now owns a cookie shop there, and also is active in promoting reading to children.Now we're back at “home” (I.e., the Continental U.S.) and it's crunch time to get our new show ready for its premiere on June 11. We're now a two-person act onstage, since Zephyr recently retired, but you can still hear his voice on the podcasts.Our apologies for the tardiness of this post. In addition to our trip, we've faced a mountain of technical difficulties lately.Mahalo!Barefoot Dennis, Flower-Haired Kimberly and Sunburned Zephyr
6/3/200815 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Donkey and the Cucumbers

"The Donkey and the cucumbers", a simple little folktale from India, is somewhat similar to Aesop's fable about the fox and the crow, a warning that sometimes crowing too loudly will cause you to have to eat crow later. We enact it with the aid of our special guest star Cassia, who is visiting us for a few days from Massachusetts. Who ever heard of a red-haired donkey? But it was her real-life fondness for cucumbers (some might say an obsession with cucumbers) that prompted our selection of this story.We come to you from the beautiful city of Seattle and vicinity, where we're presenting a series of performances for the King County Library System. Previously we were in Portland, where Zephyr and Cassia met up with some friends, and dropped in at Powells, the fabled bookstore that may be the world's largest.And speaking of books (which Dennis keeps doing in this podcast) we had to put in a plug for a new book called "50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth". We know, there's already been a book by that title. But this one, by the same author (John Javna, assisted by his teenage son and daughter), is not just a revised edition of that bestseller, but a whole new volume that addresses the realities of the Twenty-First Century more effectively. We're recommending it not just because John's a friend of ours, but because it's an informative and important book.Happy Listening!Dennis (Washerman and Watchman), Kimberly (Narrator), Zephyr (Fox) and Cassia (Donkey) Link: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth: Completely New and Updated for the 21st Century
5/9/200813 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Princess and the Pea

So how did you sleep last night? Did a lump in your bed cause you to toss and turn? If this is ever a problem, you should be grateful that you're not as delicate as the princess in "The Princess and the Pea", the story we present this week. This tale was written by the celebrated Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), although he probably based it on a genuine folklore motif. First published in 1835, the story was immediately popular and has been translated, adapted, retold and mangled many times over the years. In 1959 the musical adaptation "Once Upon a Mattress" opened on Broadway and became a smash hit, further popularizing the tale. And more recently, a fractured version called "The Princess and the Bowling Ball" appeared in "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales".As usual, however, we do not fracture this story, though we may bruise it a bit. We always stay faithful to the original plot, while injecting and infecting it with our own colorful style and humor that will appeal to contemporary audiences. We enact this story with our special guest Sarah, one of our "adopted daughters" who's spending a week on the road with us. She's both a fellow homeschooler and a fellow RVer. And no, our story choice was not inspired by her own sleeping habits. She is not a princess, and in fact could probably sleep on a bowling ball.With Sarah in tow, we're having a busy April performing in Northern California; we've been particularly in demand for National Library Week. We've been revisiting our roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we originated nearly 20 years ago. And where, once upon a time, Kimberly was in a production of "Once Upon A Mattress".Happy Listening!Dennis (Prince), Kimberly (Princess, Royal Attendant), Zephyr (King, Other Princesses) and Sarah (Queen, Other Princesses)  
4/24/200813 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Farmer and Hercules

Aesop, according to tradition, was a Greek slave who flourished around 550 BC and told many fables, i.e. tales with a moral at the end. Many of these tales had animal characters, and many were actually much older than Aesop. In other words, if Aesop actually lived, or even if he didn't, he borrowed other stories in addition to possibly making up some of his own; additionally, it appears he wrote new stories long after his death, as many stories attributed to him were picked up from later generations and other cultures. We herewith present one of the stories he may have written during, before or after his lifetime, a simple fable about self-reliance that we, as you might notice, have embellished just a bit. We thought this story appropriate for the moment, because it deals with vehicle problems of a sort, and we've just experienced vehicle problems of many sorts driving from Albuquerque to Las Vegas. We include a special guest, Zephyr's friend Koree, who is visiting us for a few days from Arizona. We include an account of our stay in the Glitz Capital of the world, where Zephyr attended a haunted attraction convention, and the prices are high enough to spook anyone. Happy Listening! Dennis (Farmer), Kimberly (Mule, Woman), Zephyr (Hercules, Man) and Koree (Woman) Recommended Podcast: Dancing With ElephantsLink: Not Back To School Camp
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Be A Character Contest

In episode 75 we announced the "Be A Character" contest. Here are the details: Be A CharacterWe will name a folktale character after you or one of your friends in episode 80. You can be the hero! Or choose to be the villain if you prefer. All who comment will be entered into a drawing. You may enter as many times as you like. Comments do need to be relevant to the podcast (no spam) and may be posted about any episode or the show in general. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment or review at one of the following sites. iTunes Leave a comment here at our podcast site Do a short write up on your blogPodcast AlleyDramaPodPodcast PickleAny podcast directory site Or call us and leave a voice mail (206) 202-3976 Please leave a way that we can get back in touch with you. If you don't want to leave your email on a site just send us an email so if you win we can find out what your preferences are. Otherwise we'll just do what we want (insert evil laugh here). It is wise to send us an email just so we don't miss anything. We do not share email address with anyone. We typically do a podcast every other week. But every now and then we are sneaky and throw in an extra one. We like to record them on Mondays and air them on Thursdays. So if we stick to a normal schedule you will have until May 19th to enter the contest.
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Why the Bat is an Outcast

The poor bat has an evil image that it doesn't deserve. Because it's active at night, and hides in dark places like caves, and has a rather sinister appearance, it has inspired fear for ages. And Dracula wasn't exactly a helpful public relations person, either. But in fact bats are quite harmless, unless they have rabies -- which would put any critter in a bad mood.In Nigeria, folks long ago tried to explain the bat's reputation with a little story to account for its status among living things. In our version it's called, appropriately, "Why the Bat is an Outcast". It points out that bats don't appear to fit in with either birds or "animals" (i.e., mammals), though it has characteristics of both -- and by being reclusive, appears to be shunned by both. Scientists, of course, tell us that bats are indeed mammals, a sort of flying rat. But they're harder to keep as pets.We encountered only one bat recently when we walked through the caves at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and it was dead -- and encased inside a stalagmite! This was inside the Lower Cave, an optional tour that had us Indiana Jones-ing down a slope while hanging on a rope, descending three ladders, and then walking around with headlamps on our helmets. That's the real way to see a cave! Well, actually the real way to see a cave is in its natural lighting -- total darkness, which we also saw for about 5 minutes.On our way to Carlsbad, we spent a day in Abilene, TX, where we stumbled upon the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) and talked to executive director Sarah Mulkey. She told us all about the Center's mission of exposing the public, and particularly children, to the original artwork of prominent children's book illustrators. The current exhibition features Gerald McDermott, who illustrated some of the stories that we've performed in the past -- and will be performing again.Happy Listening,Dennis (Bruce the Bat), Kimberly (Birds & Beasts) and Zephyr (Narrator) 
3/13/200821 minutes, 3 seconds
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Zipling Video

Here is the video to accompany podcast #74. Watch Kimberly zipline through the Trees at Banning Mills on YouTube. The camera had to be strapped to the outside of our hand and could not be held or focused when we were on the zipline. But we think it still turned out pretty well. Hope you enjoy the ride!
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The Dreaming Tree

Dreams play an important role in many tribal cultures, providing a revered source of advice, enlightenment and law. Our rendition "The Dreaming Tree", a considerably "trunk-ated" version of a folk mini-saga from Brazil, illustrates how seriously indigenous peoples take this nocturnal activity. It also makes use of the tree as a symbol of wisdom, a motif common to many folk traditions. And there's a reminder that even a good thing can be carried to dangerous excess. This story about a potent tree seemed especially appropriate because we recently got a very good bird's eye view of some very nice trees, not to mention beautiful Snake Creek (which we just mentioned) at Historic Banning Mills, near Whitesburg, GA. It's called Historic Banning Mills because historically there were mills here (textile, paper, wood and others), and the ruins still stand. But now there's a rustic lodge up on the hill overlooking the creek, a serene location for a romantic getaway, a conference, or a wedding. At certain times of the year, the place is also abuzz with all manner of outdoor activities, including hiking, horseback riding, golf, skeet shooting (what did those poor skeets ever do to us?) and kayaking. And there's a very intriguing-looking ropes course on the grounds -- or rather in the trees. (If you don't know, a ropes course is a series of physical obstacles that involve climbing, designed to challenge your courage and tenacity and resourcefulness. If you don't know the ropes when you start, you'll learn before it's over.) Zipping Through the Treetops But the piece de resistance is what they call the Canopy Tour, a guided walk through the treetops on bridges too narrow even for ballerinas (though Kimberly did a pretty decent impression of one) and even, in some cases, a single cable. But oh yes, we almost forgot. There are also four ziplines, which are cables stretched from trees and/or towers on which the truly daring and/or truly insane soar at speeds up to 60 m.p.h. at altitudes of up to 220 feet. And you don't even need a pilot's license. It was the most exhilaratingly terrifying experience we've had in ages, and we can't wait to do it again -- this time with Zephyr, who was off in Massachusetts at the time. The Inns at Historic Banning Mills, and the Canopy Tour, are family owned and operated, by some right friendly folks. We highly recommend this place. (Note: When you visit their website, we recommend the multimedia tour, which uses an exquisite arrangement of a haunting Civil War-flavored waltz to provide a perfect mood for the slide show.) Read Across America In celebration of Dr. Seuss's Birthday and Read Across America week, we are bringing you this special podcast on a Saturday, even though Thursday is our typical air date. Find out what we are reading as we drive across America. How are you celebrating? You are invited to call in and share what is on your reading list(206) 202-3976. Happy Listening!Dennis (Jaguar Man and Grandpa), Kimberly (Narrator) and Zephyr (Fernando and Pedro) Recommended Podcasts: Brazilianisms and RVNavigatorRead a longer version of this story The Sleep Tree
3/1/200819 minutes, 22 seconds
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Don't Ever Look at a Mermaid

"Don't Ever Look at a Mermaid" is a story from England and vicinity, about a mermaid's infatuation with a mortal man; and like last week's story, it entails humans, or in this case, humanoids, assuming animal form. The mermaid motif, which is particularly common in Europe but also crops up in other cultures around the world (including Native American), may have inspired Hans Christian Andersen to write "The Little Mermaid" -- which in turn inspired Disney, as so many stories have, to put the same title on a very different story. In this version, the mermaid seems to represent temptation, which, like the mermaid herself, never completely goes away but reappears every so often.We bring you this story from icy, storm-ravaged Arkansas, where we're visiting friends and relatives (not necessarily in that order). But we're recapping some of our adventures in sunny Florida, specifically the two occasions when we donned snorkels. The first was at Biscayne National Park near Key Biscayne, the only national park that is almost completely underwater. We saw some coral, a few fish, a couple of lobsters (uncooked, of course) and the largest seahorse we've ever witnessed.The second time, we were at Crystal River, where we bathed with a few manatees who, like the humans who marvel at them, vacation in The Sunshine State at this time of year. Having learned our lesson from Key Biscayne, we rented wetsuits along with our kayak. The water was crystal-river clear, and we were able to get within a few feet of these incredible beasts, who generally stayed quite still on the bottom but occasionally swam right by us. We can understand how sailors might have mistaken them for boulders, but mermaids??As you may have noticed, this is a bonus podcast, wedged into our biweekly schedule because there's been just so much material to cover lately!Happy listening,Dennis (Hans), Kimberly (Mermaid, Wife, Dog) and Zephyr (Narrator)
2/22/200817 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Castle in the Lake

"The Castle in the Lake" from Tibet is a tale about a poor herdsman who undertakes a quest to change his fortunes. Like many other stories from many other cultures, he does so by submerging himself into a body of water. And the story also includes an animal transformation motif and a concealed identity motif, rather similar to "Lohengrin" and "East of the Sun and West of the Moon".We bring it to you from Everglades National Park in Florida, where we took a bicycle tour to snuggle up to those notorious Florida gators in their natural habitat. How many do you suppose we counted on a 15-mile trek on our Treks?We also spent some time in Homestead, where we caught a Mardi Gras parade in the city's old town section, a parade that included an outstanding (or outmarching) band and some wild animals -- including an alligator!And what would a homestead be without an outhouse? Hopefully the outhouses they had in homesteading days stayed stationary, unlike the ones we saw, which were on wheels and used in races. It was the 14th annual chili cook-off and outhouse race (is there a connection there?), and it was quite a memorable event that included some artistically designed and decorated outhouses.And then there was a truly unique homestead in Homestead, the Coral Castle. It was constructed by Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin from about 1920-1940, though he continued to modify it until his death in 1951. Though Ed was physically very small, he built this imposing complex by himself from granite blocks weighing several tons. Nobody knows exactly how -- one might call it (and many have) the Florida Stonehenge. He certainly was a brilliant technician, and also very good at fashioning tools from scrap metal. you'd be amazed how comfortable it can be to sit on a chair made of coral!Happy Listening!Dennis (Herdsman), Kimberly (Narrator & Woman) and Zephyr (Servant, King, Chief's Son)
2/14/200818 minutes, 40 seconds
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Saving Spring / FOTR edition

Saving Spring - a folktale"Saving Spring", a Scandinavian folktale, is one of numerous stories from around the world dealing with the cycle of the seasons -- such as, for example, the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. "Naturally", since this particular tale comes from Scandinavia -- a region that consists of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (sometimes Finland and Iceland are lumped with them as well) -- should revolve around a harsh winter, which is something they get a lot of in those parts. But we're not getting it in the parts where we currently are. This podcast was recorded at Port Canaveral, Florida, where the cruise ships leave from and come back to -- including the Disney line and the Carnival Line. We could watch these enormous vessels depart in the afternoon, floating by so close that we could just about touch them with a fishing pole. Families On The RoadWe were there for the third sort-of-annual sort-of-rally of Families on the Road (FOTR), an online community of families who live on the road full-time. And the folks who came to this one truly fit the bill. And there were oodles of them, too -- at least 15 families, making this by far the best-attended event yet of this kind. And we of course made use of as many extra voices as we could round up to be guest stars on this podcast. When you got talent like this, you gotta use 'em! We crammed about 25 people into one RV to record this episode. Below are some of the families we interviewed (in no particular order): The Davis Family (Stephanie and Kayla)The Evans Family (Kati, Auvi and Conner) The Elliot Family (Sue and Savannah) The Whitcomb Family (Tim, Sue, Tyler and Natalie) The Miller Family (Lara and Joey) The Smythe Family (Deb and Jonathon) CAST in order of appearanceAnnouncer ..... Abby BennettNarrators ...... Zoe Evans, Dennis Goza, Kimberly Goza, Cindy WhitcombMayor .......... Tim WhitcombOscar ..... Zephyr GozaGreta ..... Auvi EvansWolf ..... Conner EvansAnimals and Crowd .... an RV full of FOTRGuard #1 and #4 ..... Tyler WhitcombGuard #2 ..... Gayle BennettGuard #3..... Cindy WhitcombWinter ..... Chris ElliotSpring .... Sue Elliot Happy Listening!Dennis, Kimberly & Zephyr
1/31/200819 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Fisherman and his Wife

"The Fisherman and His Wife" is an old story that comes from the British Isles, among many other places, and in many other forms. (Notice how it's always something like "The Fisherman and his Wife" instead of "The Wife and Her Fisherman"? There's no doubt that sexism abounds in folklore.) It's a cautionary tale about greed and keeping up with the Joneses, one of those stories about an enchanted animal that grants wishes. Bet you've encountered one of those at some time.We get some very capable help this time around from Zephyr's friend Cassia, making another appearance as guest performer. She's visiting us from Massachusetts, spending five days with us at Fort Wilderness, the Disney campground adjacent to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. She and Zephyr are spending a day exploring each of the four theme parks, and they give us a report on the two they've hit so far-- namely, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. (Next on the agenda are Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios, formerly known as Disney MGM.) And this podcast was recorded on National Appreciate a Dragon Day, so if there's a friendly dragon in your neighborhood, give it a hug for us.Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator), Kimberly (Fish/Dragon), Zephyr (Husband) and Cassia (Wife)  Podcast Recommendation: Nina Kimberly The Merciless
1/17/200817 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Frog Prince

"The Frog Prince" from Germany is one of the many tales collected by The Brothers Grimm; it deals with the importance of keeping your word and also cautions that appearances can be deceiving. We go with the original version, which unlike the more popularly known version, does not involve kissing the frog. We just didn't have the mouthwash handy.We begin 2008 from Orlando FL., where we spent most of December. We did, however, take a brief jaunt to St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, and home of Castillo de San Marcos, a 300-year-old fort. (It's not 400 years old, as we mistakenly state in the podcast, but the city itself is OVER 400 years old.)Back in Orlando, Zephyr made a couple of pilgrimages to Universal Orlando, where he made observations and took notes to assist him in his own theme park planning ambitions. You can hear some of his feedback about the park on this podcast.We wish you the happiest of new years all year long and then some!Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator, King), Kimberly (Princess) and Zephyr (Frog Prince)
1/2/200813 minutes, 56 seconds
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Why the Evergreen Tree is Ever Green

Since there are evergreen trees everywhere this time of year, even here in sweltering Florida (if they're store-bought), we thought it appropriate to present "Why the Evergreen Tree is Ever Green", a fable that probably originated in Canada and illustrates the rewards of being kind to others in need -- an important thing to remember all year long, though it receives special attention at this time of year.It's our holiday podcast from Orlando, Florida, where the weather hasn't been exactly North Pole-ish lately, so we decided to seek chillier climes on the inside. Namely, at "Ice" the special exhibit of magnificent ice sculptures on display at the Gaylord Palms Hotel Convention Center through Jan. 3. This exhibit is now in its fourth consecutive year (at holiday time, only, of course) and is carved from 400-lb. blocks of ice -- some frozen quickly to give it a milky hue, some frozen slowly to make it clear, and some colored with food dye and sculpted into delectable shapes to make Hansel and Gretel salivate. There are deer, there are polar bears, there's a train, there's Santa's sleigh, and of course the obligatory nativity scene. All of it kept at a refreshing 9 degrees Fahrenheit. But we were issued parkas to keep us not quite frozen solid. One of the most fun things about the exhibit is a big slide that kids of all ages can slide down -- and like everything else in the place, it's constructed entirely of ice.The sculptures are created every year by artisans (a fancy word for wizards, it appears) brought over from China, where such ice festivals are a really big deal -- and have been since at least 400 years ago, when the tradition began with lanterns made of ice in Harbin.And, in keeping with the holiday spirit of charitable giving, part of the proceeds from this event go to Give Kids the World Village, a resort for kids afflicted with life-threatening illness.May you have a Cheery Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Quality Kwanzaa, a Cool Yule, a Fabulous First, and an all-around unforgettable 2008!Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator, Oak Tree, Old Man winter), Kimberly (Bird, Fir Tree) and Zephyr (Birch Tree, Jack Frost)  
12/21/200712 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Tragic Fate of Jack Sparrow

It's Jack Sparrow getting into trouble big time. No, we don't mean Johnny Depp (although Zephyr gives a big nod to him in his performance of the character); the folks at Disney have a habit of borrowing from older sources, and it's quite likely that the name Jack Sparrow came from this African-American tale related by noted author Joel Chandler Harris. A simple fable about the dangers of gossiping and meddling in other peoples' affairs, this story is included among Harris' writings about the fictional character Uncle Remus, a sort of African-American version of Aesop. An accomplished folklorist who heard these charming animal yarns from slaves when he was a teenager working on a plantation, Harris has come under fire in more recent times for the racist overtones in his heavy usage of southern black dialect and also for the very name Uncle Remus -- "uncle" was a demeaning term sometimes applied to slaves by their owners. But hey, he lived in racist times; and in view of that, his tone was perhaps far less insulting than it might have been. Harris was born in 1848 in Eatonton, GA., which we just happened to pass through on a Sunday morning in December, so we couldn't pass up the Uncle Remus Museum, with its statue of Brother Rabbit ("Br'er" Rabbit) in the yard. The museum, which features mementos from the life, times and work of Harris, is housed in a building comprised of two former slave cabins joined together. (You can see the seams on the sides.) It's on the property once occupied by the family of Joseph Sidney Turner, the "Little Boy" in the "Tales of Uncle Remus". We also dropped in at the Laurel and Hardy Museum in the hometown of Norvell "Oliver" Hardy, Harlem, GA. This town is so proud of its celebrated native son that the water tower sports a picture of him and his skinny partner, Stanley Jefferson -- who gave himself the shorter name of Stan Laurel so it would fit on signs better. This pair of comedy titans made over 100 films together of varying lengths over a period of about 30 years, and were also the best of friends. And they had a major influence on virtually every comic performer to come afterward -- including, no doubt, us. Happy listening, Dennis (Narrator and Fox), Kimberly (Rabbit) and Zephyr (Jack Sparrow, natch)
12/6/200711 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Crowded Hut

"The Crowded Hut" is a Yiddish tale about a man who lived with his family in such a dwelling, and liked to complain because it was too cramped. He sought the advice of a wise old woman (or a Rabbi in some versions) who offered some rather unorthodox advice. This story seemed, for reasons that become apparent on listening to it, to be appropriate for Thanksgiving, which is the day on which this episode is being posted.Several years before the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by settlers in Massachusetts, another group of rugged immigrants established the first English colony in the new world by the James River in Virginia, a settlement near present-day Williamsburg that came to be known as Jamestown. Since 1957, Jamestown Settlement has provided visitors a colorful glimpse into the beginnings of our nation. The site features not only an extensive indoor museum, but also replicas of Fort James, the Powhatan Indian Village, and the three ships on which the colonists arrived. Hands-on activities include opportunities to "steer" one of the ships, and to help dig out a dugout canoe, which the Native Americans fashioned from logs with the aid of fire.If you come here before April 2008, you can view a major, one-time, yearlong showcase called "The World of 1607". To commemorate the colony's 400th birthday, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation sent word to other nations that they were seeking artifacts from that time frame for a special exhibit. They expected SOME response, but they were absolutely SWAMPED with items from all over -- too many to exhibit at once, so they were divided into four parcels, to be displayed in rotation. It's amazing to think that while John Smith was struggling to get a new country started, Shakespeare was in his prime.The Settlement portrays the experiences and contributions of three cultures: the English, the Native American, and the African. Slaves on a ship bound for Central America were seized by British privateers (a fancy word for pirates with a permit) and redirected to Virginia, where their forced labor helped the new civilization survive and thrive. Their chapter in the story is often given scant notice in the history books, so it's especially welcome to see so much coverage of it here.We do hear a great deal about the Native Americans, of course, but what we hear is often wrong. The chief of the Powhatan Indians was not named Powhatan (accent on the first syllable, if you please); that's just what the settlers called him, after the tribe itself. And that romance between John Smith and Pocahontas? Forgeddaboutit! (What? You mean Disney got some things wrong??) Actually, when John Smith arrived, Pocahontas was only 8 years old. We also asked our guide (and they have many knowledgeable guides here, many in period costume) about the legend of Pocahontas saving him from execution at the last minute. Wasn't that really a staged initiation stunt or some such? Well perhaps, he said. But note that John Smith (yes, that was his real name) traveled to several countries, and kept lengthy journals; and it seems that just about everywhere he went, he reported that some princess had saved his life. Hmmm... Looks like he may have been a fellow spinner of folktales himself.Happy Listening!Dennis (old man), Kimberly (old woman) and Zephyr (narrator) assisted by various beasts
11/22/200715 minutes, 31 seconds
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We've just concluded our month of being a family of four rather than three; for the month of October and even for a piece of November, we "adopted" Zephyr's friend Libby from the San Francisco Bay Area. This week, rather than bring you a story as usual, we catch you up on what we've been up to during the busy three weeks (Yes, three. Yikes!) since our last podcast. And Libby gives her impressions of what it's like to be a fulltime traveler. Well no, she doesn't really do impressions of us, but she does tell of her experiences with us. It was a fairly busy time for our business, so we went to a number of schools; but one of the more memorable schools was a red one-room schoolhouse that only tourists enter these days. Its most famous visitor ever was not a person but an animal -- specifically a lamb. And the lamb's owner was a little girl named Mary. No, we're not kidding -- that little poem, one of the most famous in the world, was inspired by a true incident, and not even names were changed to protect the silly. This schoolhouse, built in 1792, was once attended by young Mary Sawyer, who secretly brought her pet lamb to school and hid it under her desk. Just how you'd keep that a secret is beyond us, but it definitely depends a great deal on the silence of the lamb. And this one didn't cooperate for long -- when Mary went to the head of the class to recite something, the lamb stopped being sheepish and made so much noise that Mary was no longer able to pull the wool over the teacher's eyes. The rest of the class was delighted, including John Roulstone, who was visiting from another community. Later, he scribbled down the first few lines of the soon-to-be-famous verses and handed them to Mary. In 1877, the little snatch of doggerel (sheeperel?) would provide the first words ever recorded on a phonograph -- recited by none other than Thomas Edison himself. The schoolhouse, which is open for tours during the summer (we just missed the season, but we were able to to peer into the window at its period furnishings) originally stood in the nearby town of Sterling. No, it didn't crawl or slide to Sudbury; it was moved in 1923 by none other than Henry Ford to its present location, a very fitting neighborhood for popular lines of poetry. Such as "I shot an arrow into the air./ It fell to earth I know not where." Or "Beneath a spreading chestnut tree/ The village smithy stands." Or "into each life some rain must fall". Or "ships that pass in the night". Or "I heard the bells on Christmas Day". Or "This is the forest primeval." Or "Listen my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere." All of these are from poems written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), who had a strong association with another building just a few yards from Mary's lamb's schoolhouse. It's the Wayside Inn, which Longfellow immortalized in his collection of narrative poems entitled "Tales of a Wayside Inn" (1863), including the celebrated verse version of Paul Revere's less than stellar ride, which Longfellow Hollywoodized into an epic achievement. The inn has been in operation since 1716, making it reputedly the oldest operating inn in the country. Many of the rooms have been preserved as they might have appeared nearly 3 centuries ago. Well mostly, restored is probably a better word than preserved, since the property was heavily damaged by a fire in 1955, revealing for the first time in ages a stairway that had been sealed off, and is now open to public viewing. From Sudbury, we headed to Salem for Halloween, hoping to land jobs at a haunted attraction as we did two years ago, and we scored. Zephyr was in hog heaven doing a Capt. Jack Sparrow impersonation. As always, we camped at Winter Island, the former Coast Guard Station that has been converted into a public park and campground. And before Libby abandoned us to head home to California, we took a train excursion to the Big Apple to catch a Broadway show. And then our "daughter" left the nest, and we're back to "normal", if that word ever applies. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly, Zephyr & Libby
11/8/200710 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Grateful Sparrow

This week we present the Japanese fable "The Grateful Sparrow" (otherwise known as "The Tongue-Cut Sparrow" in a harsher version), a cautionary tale about greed and gratitude. We come to you from Pennsylvania, with our special guest star Libby, Zephyr's friend from the San Francisco Bay Area. A glutton for punishment, she's spending the entire month of October touring with us, to get a taste of the glamorous life. Amish Farm and HouseWe report on our visit to the Amish Farm and homestead in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a preserved two-story dwelling open for public tours. In the heart of a busy shopping and tourist district, the Amish attraction sits right smack next to a Target store. But step inside, and you quickly forget that you're in the Twenty-First Century. A knowledgeable guide explains the facts of the Amish lifestyle and answers your questions -- and there were some interesting questions from our inquisitive tour group. The 15-acre farm, which was opened for public tours in 1955, features a stone farmhouse built in 1803 and a one-room schoolhouse opened for tours last year. Field of Screams But the reason we were in Lancaster to begin with was so Zephyr and Libby could "work" (i.e. volunteer) at Field of Screams, which many consider the premiere haunted attraction in the country. (If you build it, they will scream.) Every October, this place comes alive with the sounds of ghouls and goblins and patrons getting their wits scared out of them. The complex features two haunted houses, a haunted hayride, and a special "Little Screamers" section for the younger ones. And it is, we can attest, an extremely popular place. Happy Listening, Dennis (narrator), Kimberly (wife), Zephyr (husband) and Libby (sparrow)
10/19/200714 minutes, 55 seconds
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Traditionally, Native Americans have enjoyed telling myths about how various natural phenomena originated. And "naturally", the members of the Seneca Tribe (part of the Iroquois Confederation) were greatly impressed by Niagara Falls, as millions of visitors have been in more recent times. Niagara FallsThis week, we bring you our wacky version of the tale we call "Niagara", which is perhaps the best-known account of how this majestic landmark came to be. It's certainly more poetic than the scientific version of a huge glacier trucking through 10,000 years ago, and it also features an important theme about the hazards of greed and the importance of revering nature. Niagara apparently comes from a Seneca word, but nobody's certain which word or exactly what the name means -- our favorite version is "thundering water". Originally located about 7 miles north, near Lewiston, NY and Queensland, Ontario, Niagara Falls moved southward to its present location over the years due to erosion. (Yes, you read that right: these waterfalls are nomadic, just like us!) There are three waterfalls in all, although the smallest one, Bridal Veil, is the Cinderalla of the group, tucked behind an island where most people don't even see it. There's Horseshoe Falls, which is 173 feet high and 2600 feet wide, and American Falls, which is 70 feet tall and about 1100 feet wide. (American Falls was taller until 1954, when a massive rockslide deposited some enormous boulders at its base. Hmmm... it was sort of like the Native American story.) Fed by the 35-mile long Niagara River -- one of the few rivers on this continent to flow north -- Niagara Falls drops 100,000 cubic feet of water per second over the cliffs in peak season. We reminisce about our past visits to this splendid sight, including our first time during a very harsh winter, when the falls were surrounded by ice and snow. Maid of the MistAnd we talk about our excursion this time on a Maid of the Mist boat, one of the vessels that have been taking tourists out to the bottom of Horseshoe Falls since 1846. In 1960, one of these boats rescued a 7-year-old boy who was swept over the falls, the first person ever to survive such a fall without protective gear. Other foolhardy folk have made the plunge over the years in barrels, and some have survived -- one 63-year-old woman did so in 1901. One man survived the feat, spent 6 months in the hospital recovering, and later died from injuries sustained when he slipped on an orange peel in the street. On this podcast, we also discuss Zephyr's latest jaunt to North Carolina to perform with his band; and how in his absence mom and dad took a bicycle ride to Canada.Happy Listening! Dennis (Water Spirit); Kimberly (Girl) and Zephyr (Old Man) Podshow PDN {podshow-8b43d004c51befb0130f707c57757718}
10/4/200717 minutes, 40 seconds
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Johnny Appleseed

He roamed the country barefoot sleeping under the stars, in clothes he made from sacks, with a cooking pan on his head. Everywhere he went, he planted apple seeds, gave things away, took care of animals, and made friends. He was John Chapman (1774-1845), better known as Johnny Appleseed, a legend in his own time, and still a legend today. Despite living a life of philanthropy, simplicity and voluntary poverty, Chapman left behind an estate of apple nurseries worth millions -- and he would have been even richer if he hadn't been so careless in his bookkeeping. We recount some of the tales told about him, most of which were in fact true. Another man who became a living legend was author Mark Twain, whose footsteps we have traced around the country over the years. Recently we were back in one of his old haunts, Hartford, Connecticut, where he had a colorful and fabulously elaborate mansion built in which he and his family lived for some 17 years while he wrote his masterpieces. You can tour the bedrooms, the dining rooms, the drawing room and the billiard room, which have been restored in painstakingly authentic detail. Happy Listening! Dennis (Johnny the seedy), Kimberly (Mom) and Zephyr (boy and snake)
9/20/200713 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Legend of Scargo Lake

Lake Scargo in Dennis, MA (on Cape Cod) is the home of a colorful Native American legend about how the Lake came to be -- one of many such Native tales about the origins of natural phenomena and landmarks. Princess Scargo, daughter of chief Sagem of the Bobuset tribe, is presented with four little fish by a suitor, and the rest is the stuff of legend. Today, you can find descendants of these silvery fish (no, not silverfish) in Scargo Lake. And you can get a good look at the Lake, and the surrounding territoryterritorty, by climbing Scargo Tower in East Dennis. Not a terribly high structure, but it's located atop the highest point on the Cape, so the view is pretty impressive. But we got a look at an even more impressive tower, which affords an even more impressive view: Pilgrim Monument, the 252-ft. monolith in Provincetown, right on the tip of the Cape. The tower commemorates the arrival of the Pilgrims in November 1620, when they hammered out the groundbreaking Mayflower Compact. The cornerstone was laid in 1907 by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt for this controversially designed structure modeled after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, and construction was completed in 1910. We biked to Provincetown from Nickerson State Park, a distance of about 35 miles, and stayed at a campground just outside town in our teeny tiny tents. Then we used our bikes to explore this colorful little seaside resort with lots of historic buildings, the largest percentage of Portuguese population in the country, and also the largest percentage gay population. Although the year-round census is only 3500, it explodes to 50,000 during the summer. There are three resident theatres in this town that was once the home of playwrights Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neil, as well as novelist Norman Mailer. Happy Listening! Dennis (Chief), Kimberly (princess) and Zephyr ("Hulk")
9/6/200712 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Little Red Hen

“The Little Red Hen? is an English fable based upon repetition, like many of the other stories we’ve done. In this case, the barnyard animals learn the importance of industriousness – that only those who share the labors also share the rewards. We chose this story in part because Zephyr came back to us with streaks of red in his hair – from Not Back to School Camp in Oregon. He attended a weeklong session there at the end of last summer as well, and had a great time and met some great new friends that he’s been in touch with since then. Not Back to School Camp is an opportunity for homeschooled teenagers from across the country to get together and exchange experiences, talents, creative projects and annoying habits. There’s even a prom just like a regular school (Not. Well, there is really a prom, but we can't vouch for the rest.) While he was away, mom and dad caught a ferry from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard, an island about 20 miles offshore that’s long been a favorite vacation resort for politicians (including, of course, the Kennedys) and other celebrities. In the seventies, MV residents started a petition to have the island become our 51st state – but as of now, it’s still officially part of Massachusetts. We spent two days biking around the island, and stayed at a campground with our tiny tent. (There was nothing tiny about the camping rates, nor anything else on the island.) In the town of Oak Bluffs, we saw the Flying Horses, the oldest continuously operating carousel in the U.S., having been built in 1876. And we thought WE’D been going around in circles for a long time! Happy Listening! Dennis (Narrator), Kimberly (Hen) and Zephyr (Goose, Duck, Lamb)
8/30/200712 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Hippopotamus and the Tortoise

Like the familiar tales of “Rumpelstiltskin? and “Lohengrin?, the Nigerian animal yarn called “The Hippopotamus and the Tortoise? deals with a character (the hippo) whose name is a secret, and another character (the Tortoise) who successfully guesses it.  The consequences of the successful guess vary from story to story, but in this case, it results in the hippo and his descendants finding a new habitat to inhabit. We recorded this story with guest stars Joey (age 13) and Jenny (age 11), who are our nephew and niece respectively; and Ellie (age undetermined) who’s our “adopted daughter?. We were in Sacramento for our second cross-country flight in less than a month, this time for the Homeschool Association of California Conference. And what a great conference it was! We presented a well-attended performance in addition to workshops on writing, sign language, physical comedy, mask making and reflections on our 15-year odyssey across America. Our programs were met with enthusiastic response, and we also had a good time attending other presentations. There were a fire twirling demonstration, a rocketry demonstration (you know how cool kids think it is to see things blow up), a skygazing session with large telescopes set up in the courtyard, a swing dance class, a dance for the teens, and a jam session for aspiring musicians, among other activities. We very much hope to return next year! Our apologies to Libby, Hannah, Melia, and Molly, who did some great work on the FIRST version of this podcast, which we recorded with them before they all left the conference. And then, due to technical difficulties… Happy Listening, Dennis (the Hip Hippo) and Kimberly (the Narrator) with Ellie (Tortoise), Joey (Monkey) and Jenny (Hippolyta)
8/23/200710 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Foolish Friend

There's nothing wrong with trusting your friends, as long as you don't entrust them with responsibilities they can't handle. A certain king learns that lesson the hard way when he sticks his neck out a bit too far in "The Foolish Friend", a folktale from India.But rather than just tell what happens from beginning to end, we start after the big blunder and do some detective work to piece together what happened. Yes it's "CSI Bombay", our retelling of the story modeled after the hit TV series "CSI Las Vegas", which Zephyr is obsessed with these days. (CSI stands for "Crime Scene Investigation").We're coming to you from Nickerson State Park out on Cape Cod, where we're taking advantage of one of our favorite biking trails. The campground has rebuilt and regrouped after the disastrous fire that destroyed the historic headquarters building the last time we stayed here.We just left the historic city of Salem, where we had a return engagement at the library. But we've enjoyed many other visits to this colorful town as well, a town where history seems to seep out of every crack in the pavement and clapboards.The city is best known for something that actually happened a few miles up the road: the infamous witch trials of 1692 actually took place in Salem Village, or what is now Danvers. Nonetheless, it is the city of Salem that has become associated with the ugly episode in the public ,mind, and Salem has returned the favor by erecting a monument to the victims, and by establishing many tourist attractions commemorating the tragic events. We have the fondest memories of being in town two years ago for Halloween (a holiday for which this town pulls out all the stops); and thanks to Zephyr's passion for "haunted house" attractions, all three of us were hired by Witch Village to help handle the onslaught of revelers.  Zephyr scared the wits out of people in a "haunted house". Kimberly helped hold down the fort at the information booth. And Dennis escorted candlelight ghost walks, exploring some of the reputedly  REAL  haunts of Salem. When work was done well after midnight, we'd hop on our bicycles and ride to our campground on Winter Island -- in the snow one night!It doesn't take a forensic investigation to realize that delving into the mysteries of Salem's past can be a very memorable experience.Happy Listening!Dennis (Investigator), Kimberly (Queen and Darwin), and Zephyr (Investigator)
8/14/200717 minutes, 10 seconds
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Charlotte Brown was a young woman who married Capt. Nelson Cole Haley, skipper of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan out of Mystic, CT. No doubt about that. But there is a rumor that before she married Capt. Haley, she was ditched at the altar by another man who then heaved ho aboard a whaling ship; and because of that, she disguised herself as a man and signed up as a whaler herself. Because the story is undocumented, that makes it a folktale, and therefore fair game for us to have some fun with. If the yarn is true, then Charlotte joins the ranks of several women who are known to have passed themselves off as sailors -- including some who were pirates. We heard about Charlotte Brown Haley when we visited Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where the Charles W. Morgan is anchored. The 105 ft. whaling vessel, built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA., still looks pretty much the same as it did when it hunted down whales and chopped them up in the blubber room. (Yuck!) You can step aboard her (If they called ships her, why didn't they let "hers" work on them too?) and see where the first mate had his own tiny berth, the second and third mates had to share one, and the rest of the crew were sardined in the forecastle. And you also can see photographs of the ship's various captains -- including Haley and his wife Charlotte.Mystic Seaport has a number of exhibits related to ships and whaling, including a small craft display and an impressive collection of figureheads. And there are a number of activities especially suitable for younger kids, such as rope making. A troupe of three performers also presents the story of Charlotte Brown Haley at various times throughout the day.Our version of the story is performed with two guest stars who are friends of Zephyr's: Cassia (who also assisted us two weeks ago) and Daniel, the drummer in Zephyr's band who has a mean falsetto.Happy Listening!Dennis (Captain), Kimberly (Narrator), Zephyr (Jack), Cassia (Mom) and Daniel (Charlotte)
8/9/200713 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Three Goats

Three wishes. Three oranges. Three musketeers. Three brothers. Three bears. Three little pigs. And three goats, of course. The pivotal number in folktales and fairy tales is back again with a starring role in "The Three Billy Goats", otherwise known as the "Billy Goats Gruff", a tale that seems to have originated in Poland, Norway and/or Germany. This tale is reminiscent of how some jokes are structured, with the three steps leading up to a punchline. Indeed, there are jokes based on a similar progression in physical size; and this story, you might say, has its own punchline at the end as well.We come to you from the San Francisco Bay Area town of Walnut Creek. Yep, that's in California. We flew out from Providence for the weekend just to perform three times at the inaugural Chevron Family Theatre Festival at the magnificent Dean Lesher Center. The event was a great success, with sold out houses. We enjoy our shows in libraries and school cafeterias, but it was refreshing to perform again in a real theatre with a lighting technician and the works.Our stage manager for the event was Zephyr's friend Libby, who is our guest voice on this week's podcast. And now we're back on the East Coast until our next cross-country flight -- two weeks from now for the 17th Annual HSC Homeschool=Education Conference in Sacramento Aug 16-19.Happy Listening!Dennis (narrator and biggest baddest goat), Kimberly (middle and none-too-bright goat), Libby (little goatlet in the gauntlet) and Zephyr (troublesome troll whose goat gets got)
8/2/200713 minutes, 17 seconds
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"Orpheus" is a Greek myth about a musician who was so good (or so "awesome" in contemporary musicians' lingo) that he truly inspired awe in all living creatures. Unfortunately, his talent didn't help build his patience any, and it proved to be his undoing when he had an opportunity to rescue his wife Eurydice from tragic death.We chose this tale mainly because of Cerberus, the three-headed dog. What does this have to do with anything? Well, the three headed dog appears in one of the Harry Potter books -- only he's given the name Fluffy. And this isn't the only bit of folklore and mythology that J.K. Rowling borrows. There's the phoenix, the fabulous bird that is reborn out of its own ashes; the hippogriff, which is similar to the griffin, which she also uses. And in the story of Orpheus, as in Harry Potter and many other stories, the serpent is used as a symbol of evil.So what does this have to do with anything? As if you didn't know, this past week marked the release of the seventh and final book in the series. And we, of course, were in line at midnight to buy our copy like millions of other folks.Were you surprised when you found out in an earlier book that Remus Lupin was a werewolf? Well, you wouldn't have been if you'd been as familiar with Latin as Rowling is. The name provides two very strong clues: "Lupin" is from the Latin word lupus meaning wolf (if something is wolf-like, it is said to be lupine) and Remus was the brother of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. According to legend, the two boys were raised by ... wolves! (This also inspired the story of Tarzan.) In this episode, we discuss these Latin clues, as well as some of the other mythology in Harry Potter.Our special guest this week is Zephyr's friend Cassia from Massachusetts; she spent a couple of days living with us and got a first-hand look at the glamorous life of a touring actor.Happy Listening!Dennis (Orpheus), Kimberly (narrator and Cerberus head), Zephyr (Charon, Hades and Cerberus head) and Cassia (Eurydice and Cerberus head) 
7/27/200715 minutes, 5 seconds
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Elves and the Shoes

"The Elves and the Shoes" from Holland is one of the simple but charming little accounts of the interaction between humans and elves, who were always playing pranks (the elves, that is -- although the humans may have done so as well). In this case, the prank involves the wooden shoes for which the Dutch are famous.The Dutch are also famous for chocolate, so what better time to do a Dutch story than when we're in the chocolate capital of the world -- Hershey, PA. Especially since it's in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. True, the Pennsylvania Dutch are not really Dutch for the most part; they are descendants of settlers who came to the area primarily from Germany. (The German word for German is Deutsch, pronounced "doitch", which sounds like Dutch.)Hershey is named for Milton Hershey, the king of chocolate, who was born in the area in 1859, and after many years of hard work, developed his chocolate-making process, established his factory, and built up an entire community around it. The factory is still here, of course, pumping out the enticing aroma of coacoa all around. So is Hershey Park, which he also developed, although it has grown into an amusement park with some of the most thrilling rides around. (We're especially fond of the coaster called Great Bear.) And there's a visitors' center called Chocolate World, which offers a Disneyesque ride through a simulation of the factory, except with singing dairy cows. Mr. and Mrs. Hershey used their vast fortune to improve the lives of the less fortunate, and they were especially dedicated to assisting disadvantage children. To that end, they established Hershey School, which occupies 10,000 acres and currently has a student body of 1100. We performed at the school 15 years ago in the luxurious and cavernous Founders Hall, and we were astounded by the facilities and the type of care the students were provided.Happy Listening, Dennis (elf), Kimberly (elf) and Zephyr (Styff)
7/19/200714 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Talking Mule

What happens when animals and objects start talking? Unless you're watching a Disney musical, it might be rather confusing. In "The Talking Mule", a whimsical little story from South Carolina, we see how such an incident could put things into perspective; and even more perspective is provided by one animal who thinks it's ridiculous to believe reports about all the others being so eloquent. This doubtlessly is derived from an older African fable in which it is a talking stool that scoffs at the notion of a yakkity yam.We present the story with -- well, we don't really present the story at all. Zephyr does it all by himself, which is only fair, since we've had to do several stories without him. And he places the action long ago in a galaxy far, far away, giving him a chance to do some of his best character voices.We come to you from Maryland, after the three of us have been reunited in Washington, DC. Zephyr tells us about his latest weeklong getaway to North Carolina to work with his band. And Kimberly and Dennis finish the account of their leg-thrashing bicycle tour from Pittsburgh to DC, including a stopover in Harpers Ferry, WV, where John Brown staged his famous raid in 1859, an event that may have sparked the Civil War. It was Kimberly who concluded the trek in Washington DC, at the end of the canal where there's a gate that was formerly used to let the water through. Nowadays, it's near a luxury apartment/office complex called... well, you know.Happy Listening,Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr (the entire cast of Star Wars)
7/12/200712 minutes, 28 seconds
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John Henry

John Henry is one of several larger-than-life American heroes associated with specific occupations, like Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Old Stormalong and Febold Feboldson. But the incident depicted in the many versions of the John Henry ballad actually may have occurred in some fashion. There's just no way to know when, where, how and wherefore. But it's nice to believe there's some to truth to this parable about people being stronger than the machines they create. One reason it's so difficult to trace the mists of myth is that John Henry is a common name, and it appears to have been especially common among African-Americans working on the railroads. According to one version of the tale our hero was a former slave, and in another version, he was a prisoner rented out as a laborer. The town of Leeds, Alabama claims to be the site of the famous episode, but so does Tackett, West Virginia, which even has erected a statue of the most famous hammer-wielder since Thor. There's also more than one Big Bend Tunnel; but there's only one C&O Railroad. There's also one C&O Canal. Or at least there was. Well, the canal's still there, but it's no longer canaling. Begun on July 4, 1824, the canal was planned to extend all the way from D.C. to Ohio (thus the name Chesapeake and Ohio Canal) but was halted at Cumberland, MD. During the period of operation, this shallow waterway ferried coal, grain and other freight on boats pulled by mules. Crews working on these boats sometimes brought their families along on these slow journeys, making them the 19th century equivalent of RV families. Today, the canal, is a national park, and it's paralleled by a bicycle path 184 miles long that we've been wanting to trek on out Treks for a long time. With a week off during our busy summer schedule (because of, appropriately, the Fourth of July) and with Zephyr off in North Carolina again, Dennis and Kimberly decided this was the time to do it, even though it means we have to alternate days, and thus each only do half the route, son one person can drive the RV along too. But wait! We didn't have to settle for just one trail. We discovered another one in Pittsburgh (YRT) that connects with the C&O in Cumberland. And our last show before the break was in Pittsburgh. So instead of divvying up a mere 184 miles, we're doing 330. There now we feel more akin to John Henry. Happy Listening, Dennis (John) and Kimberly (the Foreman) Goza
7/5/200718 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Three Wishes

"The Three Wishes", a European tale that comes to us by way of The Brothers Grimm, is one of many stories dealing with the well-known motif of wishes coming true -- including "Aladdin", for instance. In this example, a rash and foolish waste of opportunities leads to regretful results in the end. (It reminds us of people who win the lottery but end up broke.) But in the process, we learn about a comical usage for a string of sausages.We discuss two places that demonstrate how wishes can come true, especially for smaller children: the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and COSI, the science museum in Columbus, Ohio. We drove through both of these cities this past week on our way to Pennsylvania, and we've spent a good many hours in both museums, particularly when Zephyr was younger.The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a four-floor affair, and has been called the largest children's museum in the world. Every Halloween, the museum mounts an imaginative haunted house, built around a different theme every year. This is where Zephyr got bitten by the haunted house bug (or was it a vampire?) at age 9.COSI, on the site of the old Columbus High School (the front facade of which is still preserved) is one of the biggest and best science museums in the country. But we liked it even better back when it featured "Adventure into the Unknown", the archeology-inspired (think Indiana Jones) interactive exhibit that sent kids and kids at heart scampering to uncover clues, solve riddles, and find the ultimate treasure -- which turned out to be some very useful advice on the art of problem-solving. It was all done in a very detailed, moodily lighted, inspiring atmosphere. Oh, why are we telling you all this when you can't go attend it anymore? Well, maybe you could pressure the museum to bring it back.And this, by the way, is our 50th podcast! Phew!Happy Listening,Dennis (axe swinger), Kimberly (sausage woman) and Zephyr (Narrator, elf) GozaP.S. We recommend another podcast favorite of ours "123 Listen to Me" produced by family from South Africa.
6/28/200715 minutes, 3 seconds
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Sicko Movie Review

Bonus EpisodeThis week we saw a sneak peek for a film that we just had to talk about. "Sicko" by Michael Moore opens nationwide June 29th. We hope you enjoy our review. Please check back on Thursday for the regular episodes of Activated Stories. D, K and Z Goza
6/25/20074 minutes, 55 seconds
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He thought he was the cock of the walk, but this overly vain fowl cries foul when he truly turns vane--i.e. becomes a weathervane. It's "Half-A-Chick", the curious Portuguese fable about the consequences of arrogance. One of the curious things about this story is that the main character is an oddball. Okay, nothing unusual about that; plenty of stories have leading characters who are misfits. (Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Harry Potter, etc. etc.) But you'll notice that such characters almost always turn out to be noble and virtuous despite the way other people ridicule and mistreat them. In this case, just the opposite happens -- Half-A-Chick has a double-sized ego, and meets his downfall because of it.This week, we come to you from the heart of the bustling resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Technically, it's called Hot Springs National Park -- the entire city of 35,000 residents plus hordes of tourists is a national park!) We recorded next to the Visitors' Center, beside one of the many fountains where you can fill up jugs with 143 degree mineral water that's been brewing for 4000 years before spouting from the 47 springs around here. We were right there on "Bathhouse Row" which at one time sported several trendy bath houses and health spas that were frequented by such notable visitors as Al Capone. Today, these structures are preserved as historic buildings, but only one remains in operation as a bath house-- although other bath houses can be found at some of the hotels in town. We mourn the Libbey Memorial Physical Club, the truly unique establishment we luxuriated in on out last trip here. Nothing else like it in Hot Springs or anywhere. (Read about our previous visit to the Bath House)At our performance at the Garland County Library, we met another boy named Zephyr! Moreover, his parents are performers too. That night, we watched their hilarious oom-pah rendition of various American pop songs and originals at the Brauhaus German restaurant. Zach and Cheryl, who moved here from Seattle, call themselves The Itinerant Locals, and they have quite a memorable sound!After Hot Springs, we wrapped up our tour of Arkansas with an experience that can be duplicated nownere else in the world: we went digging for diamonds in the diamond fields near Murfreesboro. We didn't find any of the precious gems (an average of about 2 per day are found there - infact a big one was found by a 13 year old not too long ago) but we had a great time playing in the mud!Happy Listening,Dennis (the Spark), Kimberly (the Water) and Zephyr (Half-A-Chick) Goza
6/21/200718 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Greedy Brothers

Row, row, row, your boat... well actually we were paddling canoes and kayaks, but we did go gently downstream for the most part--except for Zephyr, who had a kayak crackup. We were canoeing on the beautiful Buffalo River in northern Arkansas, with vessels and gear provided by Dillard's Ozark Outfitters, a family operation near the town of Yellville, where we opened our summer season.The Dillard Family is quite a presence in this region, and the Dillard name crops up everywhere. And it's been that way at least since the 1920's, when two Dillard Brothers opened up the now-defunct Dillard's Ferry, the site of which was the endpoint of our excursion. It was a 10.5 mile jaunt, which took us about 5 hours, a gallon of water and several ounces of sunscreen. And we figured 5 hours was just barely enough to get into the "zen" of the experience. How we envied the scout troop we encountered who were spending an entire week on the river!Our story this week is "The Greedy Brothers" from India, a fable about family relations and the wisdom of fathers - just in time for Father's Day!Happy Listening,Dennis (Father), Kimberly (brother) and Zephyr (Napoleon Dynamite brother) Goza
6/14/200719 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Three Brothers

In the spirit of family businesses, which we have been celebrating lately (and one of which we've been operating for years) we present some family monkey business: "The Three Brothers", a nonsense tale from Italy. If you look really hard for the point of this story, then you're really missing the point of this story. Celebrity voices have been impersonated, though not necessarily imitated.The Dutton FamilyOne family business we encountered this week was the Dutton Family operation in Branson, MO. When you think Branson, you probably think country music, and if so you'd be partially correct, but certainly not entirely. There are plenty of hillbilly song and comedy revues in town, but there are also many other types of entertainment as well. This little city of about 6000 people also features a Ripley's museum (What tourist town doesn't?) and an extensive exhibit of Titanic artifacts housed in their own building-- a reduced scale, half-segment ship-shaped (and presumably ship-shape) building colliding with an ersatz iceberg. There's a troupe of Chinese acrobats appearing in town, and at the Dutton show we attended, there was a preview of a Samoan fire-dancing performance.Even the musical acts themselves are richly varied. There's a rock'n'roll revue, a Beatles tribute, and one of the countless knock-offs of "Riverdance". Many famous singers have opened their own theatres here, including Bobby Vinton (Oh, how Kimberly's late grandma adored Bobby, a fellow Pole) and Andy Williams -- yep, he's still kicking, and his Moon River Theatre, it appears, is still full and flowing.Which brings us back to the Duttons. We went to their show expecting essentially bluegrass or something along those lines, but we were very pleasantly surprised. There was some country music, of course (it's hard to leave it out in Branson) but the songs they performed were classics like "Wabash Cannonball", rather than the over-commercialized ear candy that often passes for country these days. We were also delighted by their rendition of the tongue-twisting Hank Snow staple "I've Been Everywhere", which very well could be our theme song. But the program also included classical music (which actually is what they cut their teeth on), pop, ethnic, a touching tribute to veterans, and even Broadway, including a suite from "Mary Poppins" with rather elaborate set and costumes. Toss in some jaw-dropping razzle-dazzle musicianship (it seems to be in their genes to be able to play just about any instrument behind their backs) and some side-splitting humor, and you have a show guaranteed to please even Oscar the Grouch.And the theatre isn't the only thing the Duttons (all three generations of them) have going for themselves; their inn is right behind the theatre, and their cafe is right next door. Oh yes, and if you appreciate homemade fudge, you've found paradise. Happy Listening, Dennis (Larry), Kimberly (Curly) and Zephyr (Moe)
6/7/200720 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Drummer Boy

"The Drummer Boy" is our story this week, and no, it's not a Christmas Story. It's a possibly true tale from The Civil War about a young man who receives a valuable lesson in tolerance and forgiveness. And by the way, the drummer on our soundtrack gets an assist from Daniel Wilcox, the drummer in the rock band to which Zephyr belongs.We recount not only our experiences with many significant Civil War sites over the years, but also our recent visit to Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa. This complex sprawling over many acres features both indoor and outdoor exhibits and demonstrations, including an Ioway Indian Farm from around 1700; an 1850 settlers' homestead; a farmhouse from 1900; a farming museum; and an entire recreated village from around 1875. The latter includes an elaborately detailed bank, newspaper office, milliner's shop, and other businesses. And since we were visiting the facility on Memorial Day, we also witnessed a procession down the center of town to the cemetery, where a ceremony was held honoring veterans in general and particularly those of the Civil War. And this was followed by a baseball game, played with rules and uniforms from a bygone era when there were no gloves, no multimillion dollar contracts, no unsportsmanlike behavior, and no bloated egos.Strolling about Living History Farms (well, you're transported part of the time by a dusty tractor-drawn trolley), you get to ask questions of guides in period costume, and see how our ancestors lived up close. You can see their tools, their livestock, their buildings, and when we were there we had plenty of opportunities to witness how lunch was cooked on an open fire by various pioneers from several different eras. Zephyr even had a chance to help out on the farm, dumping a bucket of corn into a one-horse-power grinder. Somehow, we don't think he was persuaded to make a career of it.And speaking of Zephyr, he figures prominently in another tale we spin this week. And this one, unfortunately, is quite true. Or perhaps fortunately, since it ended well--namely with everyone getting a good laugh.Happy ListeningDennis (Narrator, General Lyon), Kimberly (Mother, soldier) and Zephyr (Drummer Boy, rest stop attendant)P.S. We found another podcast by another family you might enjoy "Dancing with Elephants"
5/31/200717 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Snow Maiden

"The Snow Maiden" is a tale from Russia that symbolizes the determination to find hope and cheer in the long harsh winters. In some versions, there is an additional motif about the importance of trust and the dire consequences of not trusting - somewhat similar to the German legend of "Lohengrin", among others. It was such a version of this story that we included in one of our productions 16 years ago, when we were just touring the San Francisco Bay Area. Zephyr, of course, was a baby at the time, and we hired other performers to round out the cast. For this production, our additonal performer was 8-year-old Megan Cohen, the first homeschooled child we ever met.Well, for this podcast, we are fortunate enough to have another very talented youngster fill the role: Devon Wood, a 10-year-old Iowan whom we met last year when we did a residency at her school. She and her mother and aunt drove many miles to see us perform this week at a school in Altoona, Iowa. We wanted so much to use Devon's talents on our podcast that we recorded it ahead of schedule, before we'd even outlined a script. No problem: she can improvise with the best of us, and everything you hear her say just came off the top of her head.  Bicycling CapitalWe also discuss our recent visit to Sparta, Wisconsin, which bills itself the Bicycling Capital of America. In addition to being the home of the world's largest bicycle, the town is the site of the intriguing Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bike Museum. Space and bicycles in the same facility?? Hey, why not. Weren't Wilbur and Orville bicycle mechanics?Deke Slayton, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, grew up in Sparta and attended Sparta High School. Alongside memorabilia of his distingusihed career, you can view some really incredible speicmens of bicycle design from the entire history of the critter, including some about which very little is known. See an ice skating bike with a blade insted of a front wheel, a lawnmower bike with mower blades up front (the Huffy), a velocipede, a Draisine, and other contraptions too numerous to mention. (And this is only half the museum's collection--the others are in storage!) Oh yes, and there's a delightfully dreadful bike safety film from 1963 called "One Got Fat", which has kids riding bikes wearing hokey monkey masks and tails, and meeting their demise one by one when they ignore various safety rules. (The tenth rider in the group, the only human, follows the rules and survives, and is therefore able to gorge on the lunches of everyone else--thus the title.) It's amazing to think this film - narrated by the superannuated Edward Everett Horton, who among other things narrated the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons - was actually shown to school students, some of whom it may have traumatized for life. But as a kitschy relic, it alone is worth a visit to the museum.And we mustn't forget the gift shop, in which you can purchase bicycle-shaped pasta. How could we possibly pass that up!Happy Listening!Dennis (the narrator), Kimberly (Marfa) and Zephyr (Vasili) Gozawith Devon Wood as the Snow MaidenP.S. You can now find us at Odeo (odeo/24cd4db7aea23f13)
5/24/200713 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Golden Goose

"The Golden Goose" is a story from the Grimm Brothers about the charms of innocence, and how the gift of laughter is sometimes the most valuable and rewarding asset of all. We present it with the aid of guest performers the Krucks Family from the second annual rally of Families on the Road (FOTR), held this year in the resort town of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Wisconsin DellsWisconsin Dells is officially the water park capital of the world, and we took advantage of one of the indoor water parks, as those outdoors are not yet open for the season. We also played a couple of rounds at some of the town's numerous miniature golf courses. We visited the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, a hands-on science museum that features one of three editions of Mir, the Russian space station that stayed in orbit above the earth for 10 years. The one housed here is one of two still in existence, and you can actually go aboard it! Nearby is the arena for the Tommy Bartlett Show, a spectacular 90-minute stunt production that features boats and water skiing. No visit to Wisconsin Dells would be complete wihtout a tour of Wizard Quest, a unique indoor theme park/ scavenger hunt that challenges your wits and powers of observation. You have 90 minutes to free 4 virtual wizards (The wind wizard is called Zephyr--how cool is that) by solving riddles--the answers are cleverly concealed in the exhibits. Fun for all ages as you discover secret passages and compartments, slide down chutes and wrack your brains. Watch the FOTR Superhero Video.(best to turn your sound off)Come Play IN the Folktales! Take a ride on logging trucks working at Paul Bunyan's new lumber mill. One adventure will take you on a journey with a young girl and her friend the Water Spirit. But beware! Evil forces are at work, and you're stuck between the ultimate battle of good and evil! Will you survive when the battle sends you over the edge of a 121-foot drop to the frigid waters below? Act!vated Story Park is free to download and play with RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. Happy Listening,Dennis (Narrator and 2nd Son), Kimberly (3rd Daughter and Princess), and Zephyr Goza (Simpleton "Kirk")And our special guest stars the Krucks Family: Tim (Old Man, Farmer and Parson), Pam (1st Daughter), Cody (1st Son and King) and Sarah (2nd Daughter)
5/17/200716 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Proof in the Painting

"The Proof in the Painting" is a tale that originated somewhere in Europe--we haven't been able to trace its exact origin, so if you have any information on that point, please let us know. The title is our own creation, and it is of course a play on the old saying, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating", because the story illustrates how the best way of judging success may not be the most obvious.We're coming to you from Fox Lake, Illinois, where Kimberly rejoins us after returning from two weeks in Reno. Dennis and Zephyr, meanwhile, have returned to the Chicago area from the Detroit area, where Dennis took a little trip to Windsor, Ontario, and Zephyr spent three packed days (and nights) at HauntCon 2007.Haunted Attraction Convention HauntCon is the annual convention and tradeshow for the haunted attraction industry, of which Zephyr is an enthusiastic accomplice. He's worked at a number of noted (or notorious) haunted houses, even dragging mom and dad into the act a couple of years ago in Salem, MA; he also designs his own haunts, of course. This event featured an exhibition of the latest props and gizmos, movie screenings, seminars and a costume ball that featured vampires, ghouls and demons milling about in the hotel lobby among the (hopefully) amused business travelers. Zephyr also participated in a tour of the world's largest (and possibly other kinds of -est) haunted house, the four-story Erebus in Pontiac. Happy Listening,Dennis (the rich man), Kimberly (Agnatha) and Zephyr (Theocles)
5/10/200710 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Baker and the Judge

"The Baker and the Judge" is a story that has been told many times, perhaps most notably by the great French writer Francois Rabelais in his epic masterpiece of satire "Gargantua and Pantagruel". But it may have originated in Israel, and in one version of the tale, the judge in question is the legendary King Solomon, who also is reported to have offered an unusual solution to the problem of two mothers quarreling over the same child.We bring it to you from Chicago, where we've been holed up for the entire month of April--well, except for Kimberly, who's spent the past week visiting her parents and grandmother in Nevada. This is the first podcast that Dennis and Zephyr have done on their own.Why did we choose this particular story? Well, if we must have a reason, let's say we did it because Rabelais gave us the word "gargantuan", and that describes the Sears Tower in Chicago, which we visited this past week. It's the tallest building in North America, and for 25 years it was the tallest in the entire world. The 110-story titan stands 1450 feet tall, with the antennae on top adding another 275 feet for a total of 1725. The structure is actually a cluster of nine towers of various heights, with only two going the distance (The base is laid out like a tic-tac-toe board!) One of the designers allegedly illustrated the concept to a colleague by pulling cigarettes out of a pack at different lengths. And you thought those things were utterly worthless!We also saw another famous tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Well, not exactly. We saw its twin, the Leaning Tower of Niles. Well, okay, so it's only a half-size twin. It still is a close enough copy to save us airfare to Italy. Standing 94 feet tall with a tilt of 7 feet off center (as opposed to the original's 177-ft. height and 15 and a half ft. tilt), the Leaning Tower of Niles was completed in 1934, only 700 years after its famous lookalike.And we visited another building in Chicago, the Old Post Office. Normally, there's not much interesting about it, but this week it was the location for the shooting of a scene from the new Batman movie. We didn't arrive in time to to see any filming, but we were able to get a glimpse of the set, which represented Gotham National Bank.Happy Listening!Dennis (Narrator and Sniffer), Zephyr (Baker and Judge) and Kimberly (mime) 
5/3/200711 minutes, 10 seconds
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Water to the Ropes

"Acqua alle funi!". It's Italian for "water to the ropes", and it's taken from a story about taking a courageous stand and speaking up when everyone else is afraid. It's a tale rather similar to The Emperor's New Clothes, but this one is true.It happened in the Sixteenth Century in Rome, when Pope Sixtus the Fifth decided to have an enormous obelisk moved to a new location in St. Peter's Square, under the direction of architect Domenico Fontana. A worker named Bresca di Bordighera exhibited a great deal of courage and perhaps saved many lives. His descendants are still honored today.We learned of this story while visiting Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., just outside Chicago. Founded in 1967, Fermilab (named after Nobel Prize winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi) is a huge research complex dedicated to studying the composition of matter with the aid of "particle accelerators", which smash subatomic particles so scientists can get a look at their innards.Fermilab occupies 10 square miles formerly occupied by farms, and by the defunct village of Weston. Some of the barns and other buildings have been preserved to use for storage and social events.Also in Chicagoland, we visited Ahlgrim Acres, a funeral home in Palatine. Wait a minute? Why on earth would we go to a funeral home? Why, to play miniature golf, of course. No joking; for the past 42 years, the basement of this establishment has featured a 9-hole miniature golf course, as well as shuffleboard, ping pong, pinball and other amusements. All open to the public, free of charge! And it's a very challenging and fun golf course, designed in a haunted house motif, complete with spooky sound effects.Happy Listening!Dennis (Domenico Fontana), Zephyr (Bresca) and Pope Kimberly the First and Last. 
4/26/200714 minutes, 33 seconds
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We bring you the story of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, about whom many legends have been handed down. Pele is identified with Mauna Loa, the biggest volcano in the world and one of the most active.According to tradition, Pele is accompanied by a white dog, which she sends out to warn people that Mauna Loa is about to erupt. Supposedly, rangers spotted such a dog before the eruption of 1959, but were unable to locate it afterward. (No word on anyone seeing the canine before the volcano's most recent eruption in 1984.)It's been said that anyone removing volcanic rock from Mauna Loa (a violation of law) will be cursed with bad luck. This is one reason we thought the tale of Pele would be suitable for Earth Day, an event designed to remind us that we all must respect nature or bring misfortune upon ourselves.The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, and was the result of years of effort, spearheaded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who first proposed the idea in 1962, getting a favorable response from President Kennedy. While the first year's event was observed by 20 million people, it is now observed each year by about 500 million worldwide. The date, April 22, may have been chosen in part because it is the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day.The legend about lava theft from Mauna Loa, rather than being an ancient tradition, is actually of modern origin: it appears to have been invented by a park ranger. Which is appropriate, since we're also commemorating National Park Week (April 16-22). Accordingly, we discuss some of our favorite national parks and some of the memorable experiences we've had exploring them. Happy Listening,Dennis "Namakao", Kimberly "Pele" and Zephyr "Kamohoali'i"
4/19/200711 minutes, 32 seconds
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Beauty and the Beast

This week's story is "Beauty and the Beast", an immensely popular folk tale that first appeared in print in France bout 250 years ago. Like most popular folk tales, the story has many versions in many different cultures. It has inspired a number of novels, plays, films, a TV series and a Nintendo game (Donkey Kong). The most successful film adaptations were the 1946 French movie directed by Jean Cocteau, and the 1991 Disney musical edition. "King Kong" was also based on this legend.The Disney animated feature, of course, has been transformed into a successful stage musical, and we recently attended an outstanding production of it at the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, featuring some of Zephyr's friends in the cast.D.E.A.R.Drop Everything and Read! On April 12th stop what you are doing and read for 5 minutes to celebrate Drop Everything and Read day.Zephyr, by the way, has finally left North Carolina and caught up with us in Chicago, just in time to complete Act!vated Storypark, a new fun activity feature which will be on our website (soon!) based on some of our folk tales, and created with Roller Coaster Tycoon.Happy Listening,Dennis (father), Kimberly (Beauty) and Zephyr (the Beast)
4/12/200714 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Ghost and the Rock

"The Ghost and the Rock" is our retelling of storyteller Jim Flanagan's retelling of a ghost story about Gettysburg. We met Jim at a PTO Convention in Valley Forge, and he allowed us to use this tale, called "The Shadow in the Back Yard", from his book "The School of Scary Stories". This little yarn, which takes place in the present,but involves a classic ghost story motif, makes an important point about respecting and preserving history. Bicycling through History And history was very much a part of our experience this week in Pennsylvania, as we (Dennis and Kimberly) took in about 80 miles of territory on our bikes while Zephyr was practicing and performing with his band in North Carolina. First, there was Valley Forge itself: we toured on bikes through the park where General George Washington's troops spent a miserable winter in 1777-78 defending the area from British invasion. Although Washington himself, and his wife Martha, were considerably more comfortable in the house that served as the army's headquarters, and which today is open to the public. Then we pedaled from the town of Plymouth into downtown Philadelphia and had our lunch by Independence Hall, where delegates spent a sweltering summer in 1776 hammering out the beginnings of the new nation. The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution were all signed in this picturesque building that recently guest-starred in the movie "National Treasure". We also dropped in to visit the fabled Liberty Bell, just across the street. On to Lancaster, where we joined our first ever group bicycle tour for a quaint ride through the countryside, past many Amish farms. And then there was Gettysburg, the site of another important military operation in another landmark war, nearly a century after Valley Forge. And whereas the soldiers at Valley Forge had to deal with insufficient clothing in a bitterly cold winter, the soldiers at Gettysburg wore stifling wool uniforms in the middle of July. It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, killing about 50,000 troops. No wonder there are so many ghost stories in the area. And with those wool uniforms, no wonder the ghosts are so restless! Happy Listening, Dennis ("dad" and "son") and Kimberly ("mom", "daughter" and "geologist") Goza
4/5/200714 minutes, 35 seconds
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What Other People Think

"What Other People Think", a story from the Grimm Brothers, warns about the dangers of paying too much attention to naysayers. It's a yarn that can be found in many variants in many cultures, usully with hilarious results.We perform this tale with the aid of some special guest stars: Wylie, Nash and Trina, all teenage friends of Zephyr's in North Carolina, as we spend a couple of weeks in and around Winston-Salem and Greensboro.Winston-SalemWinston-Salem is the combination of the cities of Winston and Salem, which joined forces in 1913. Salem was settled in 1766 by members of the Moravian sect, who are still active in the community. This part of the double municipality includes Old Salem, a living history center that features many historic buildings that have been preserved/ restored/ whatever they do to them.And (shhh!) it may be a well-kept secret, but if you're an avid cyclist and you do some poking around, you'll find an excellent scenic bike trail around Salem Lake, as we did.Happy Listening. Dennis (the Dad), Kimbery (the Donkey) and Zephyr (the Son) Goza
3/22/200710 minutes, 47 seconds
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Clever Tom and the Leperchaun

"Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree"... It's been the title of a hit song, and a popular saying associated with several folk-type stories about returning convicts, soldiers and others. It probably inspired the current custom of posting stickers of yellow ribbons to show support for troops. But chances are it all started with an Irish tale about a leprechaun. And it may originally have been a red garter rather than a yellow ribbon. (Come to think of it, did you know that leprechauns themselves originally were dressed in red rather than green?) This week we present "Clever Tom and the Leprechaun", a classic yarn about a fellow who thinks he's about to snag the treasure of one of the Wee Folk, but is not quite as clever as he thinks. We come to you from Montgomery, Alabama, a city rich in history. Currently the state capital, it was also the site of the first Confederate White House. It was the home of country music legend Hank Williams, and legendary novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. (While stationed here in the army in 1919, Fitzgerald met his future wife Zelda--an encounter that inspired his short story "The last of the Belles"). But it was the city's role in the civil rights movement that really secured its place in modern history. In 1955, a 42-year-old seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, as African-Americans were expected to do at that time (a refusal motivated in part because she'd had a previous incident with the same driver), and after being arrested, agreed to become a guinea pig for a court case testing the city's segregation of the buses. The arrest sparked a year-long boycott of municipal buses, and a civil rights drive headed by a 26-year-old Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. Happy Listening, Dennis ("Tom"), Kimberly (Narrorator) and Zephyr (the "Leperchaun" - catch him if you can!)
3/15/200711 minutes, 38 seconds
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Tappin the Land Turtle

Do they give tornadoes names as they do tropical storms? We'd like to propose the name Tappin for the tornado that we recently dodged in Alabama. Tappin the Land Turtle "Tappin the Land Turtle" is an African-American fable about a turtle whose family was hungry because times were so hard. But he noticed that the uppity eagle had plenty of food for his babies. So he asked the eagle about this, and enlisted the eagle's help in finding more food. But when he incurred the eagle's displeasure, he ended up on a magical adventure that brought him even more abundance than he'd anticipated. It's a tale that goes back to the days of slavery and incorporates several reminders of that era: the hunger, the separation of "higher" and "lower" classes (the turtle and the eagle) and the dream of a life of plenty, symbolized bt the cornucopia-like dipper. In some versions of the story, Tappin returns to the Sea King and receives an enchanted cowhide, which, as it turns out, whips everyone (like the overseer on a plantation) and causes the markings on Tappin's shell, like those on every turtle thereafter. Hiding from Tornadoes in Alabama We thought about this story because we were rather like a turtle ourselves when the tornado whipped through. We'd just performed a couple of shows in Ozark, AL., and heard that severe storms were on the way. Keeping abreast of the developments by listening to the radio, we realized that the twister would bypass us, but we could get hit by hail. So we took refuge under the canopy of a car wash--our own turtle shell. (But we weren't the only ones who got this idea.) We were thoroughly impressed by the work done by the staff of local radio station KMX, who handled the crisis calmly and efficiently, providing up-to-the-minute information and putting in some very long hours. Visit the station's website for the local take on the disaster, and some information about how you can contribute to relief efforts. George Washington Carver TriviaWe also talk about Dr. George Washington Carver, a former slave who settled in Alabama and became one of the world's great scientists, despite not even obtaining a high school education until his twenties. How many products did Dr. Carver derive from the peanut? The answer may astonish you! And be the first to hear the news about an upcoming Roller Coaster Tycoon project that Zephyr is working on for the web site. Happy Listening, Dennis (Eagle/King), Kimberly (Narrator) and Zephyr (Tappin) Goza
3/8/200714 minutes, 22 seconds
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Pied Piper of Hamelin

Celebrating Read Across America WeekWe're in Georgia, but we're talking about Springfield, Massachusetts, home town of Dr. Seuss--some of the things and people he saw there growing up figured in his books, thinly disguised. Mar. 2 is his birthday, so we wanted to pay tribute to him by performing one of his stories. Unfortunately, we can't afford the royalties; so we opted instead to do a Seuss-like story: Robert Browning's verse retelling of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Like a Seuss book, the tale features colorful characters, animals, a fanciful plot, a valuable lesson, and most important of all, catchy and light-hearted rhymes. Pied Piper of Hamelin The Pied Piper legend is much older than Browning, dating back to 13th Century Germany. The earliest known reference to it is a depiction on a church's stained glass window around 1300. It includes a likeness of the notorious musician and a group of children, and apparently refers to a real tragedy that either caused a number of children to lose their lives or leave the city. (It may have been a flood, an avalanche, or a plague. Or the piper may have been a real person who actually lured them away. Nobody knows.) The story has been popular for ages, and has been the subject of at least eleven films, beginning in 1903. Robert Browning (1812-1889) was, like his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the great poets of the Victorian Era. His line "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be" was borrowed by John Lennon for his song "Grow Old with Me". Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) wrote the famous line "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways" to her husband. Browning's version of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" was written in 1842. Robert Browning is one of the few poets who ever lived who never supported himself by any other means but writing poetry. He also had the distinction of being the first person ever to have a recording of his voice played after his death.Dr. Seuss Dr. Seuss was born to German immigrant parents (Seuss actually should be pronounced to rhyme with "voice".) in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. Before becoming a successful children's author, he drew political cartoons and worked in advertising--his slogan for a popular pesticide, "Quick Henry, the Flit!", became a popular catchphrase for many years. Among his other achievements, apparently, was coining the word "nerd". Although he was one of the most popular children's authors ever, he had no children of his own.We've finally left Florida behind after spending about a month there, and are heading north. During the past week, Zephyr put in the last of his appearances at Universal Orlando, where one can find a tribute to Dr. Seuss.Another great tribute is the Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden (, beside the Springfield Library. We talk about visiting it a few years ago, and getting soaked in a Seussian downpour. And we also have a listen to a musical tribute, the song "Seuss on the Loose" by Mr. Billy. ( Share Your Ideas What are you doing to Celebrate Read Across America week? Visit for more ideas and leave your comments here.Happy Listening, Dennis (the Mayor), Kimberly (narrator) and Zephyr (the Piper) Goza
3/1/200714 minutes, 31 seconds
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Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Did you know that "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is not really a folk tale? That's because it was written, at least in its present form, by the English poet Robert Southey (1774-1843) although he may have based it on an actual folk tale of some sort. In our version, which is based on his, Goldilocks is a Valley Girl and Papa Bear is a hippie. And does anybody really eat porridge? We come to you from Orlando, Florida, where Zephyr has made his umpteenth venture into Disney MGM and Disney's Animal Kingdom. In the latter, he rode the brand new ride Expedition Everest. He also made his presence known for the first time at Universal Orlando, devoting a day each to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. (His offical judgment is that the Spiderman ride is "officially awesome".) Meanwhile, mom and dad had a brand new experience at SkyVenture, a training facility for skydivers. They didn't jump out of any planes, but they did float on a column of air and felt like Spiderman for a few minutes. Happy Listening, Dennis (Mama Bear), Kimberly (like-Goldie-ya know?) and Zephyr (Papa and Baby Bear) Goza
2/22/200716 minutes, 11 seconds
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Back on Thursday

We had to take last week off to put the final touches on our new Shakespeare production Shakespeare Shazam. After 14 hour days of sword fighting, sewing, rehearsing and breathing Shakespeare the show is up and we'll be back to our regular schedule of a new podcast every Thursday!Happy Listening,Dennis "The Bard", Kimberly "Mom" and Zephyr "Lenny"http://www.activated-storytellers.comThe Act!vated Storytellers are currently in Orlando, Florida
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This week we present the Japanese folk tale of Amaterasu, a goddess who was in charge of the sun, and went to hide in a cave when her feelings were hurt, taking the sun away with her. How did her siblings coax her into returning and bringing back the sunshine? Find out in this, one of many, many tales of catastrophic floods and storms from many cultures throughout the world. We chose one of these stories for this week because we just paid our first visit to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit. We found the city itself in pretty good shape, but in St. Bernard Parish, the destruction is still jaw-dropping 16 months after the disaster. We were in town to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, expecting to wield hammers and saws in the reconstruction of damaged buildings. Instead, we were hooked up with a partner program called Play Helps, created by the Children's Museum of Manhattan to use the arts as therapy for children traumatized by 9-11. We spent a couple of days at Andrew Jackson Elementary School (formerly Andrew Jackson High School) having fun playing with musical instruments and playing with the students who were playing with them. We also participated in a family fun night at the school, and made up a theatre/sports game for the occasion. We worked with a retired gentleman named Danny, who, like us, is a fulltime RVer. He demonstrated for the kids a Native American flute and a Tibetan singing bowl. It was, we hope, reassuring for the students to meet folks like us who live in an RV by choice, since most of them have been living in FEMA trailers out of necessity. Happy Listening, Dennis "Susanowo", Kimberly "Amaterasu" and Zephyr "Tsuki Yomi"
2/8/200715 minutes, 34 seconds
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Pecos Bill

Who was the tallest, strongest, most "Texas" tall tale hero of them all? Why, it was Pecos Bill. Pecos Bill In the heyday of the cattle drive, when cowboys would gather around the campfire after a hard day's work, they might entertain themselves by outdoing each other in spinning whoppers. Pecos Bill grew (and grew, and grew) out of those informal contests; and many fantastic deeds and adventures were attached to him. In our version of the narrative, we relate how he was lost on a cross-country  trip as a baby and raised by coyotes, then rejoined the human race as a cowboy. At this occupation, he earned a name for himself by inventing the lasso and taming a cyclone. And then there was his legendary courtship of Slew-Foot Sue. Texas During the past week we crossed the Pecos River, and we even passed through Pecos, Texas, where we had a rehearsal next to the West of the Pecos Museum and the National Rodeo Hall of Fame--which was established here because Pecos was the site of the world's very first rodeo, back in 1883. (The word "rodeo" comes from the Spanish word meaning "surround", which is what cowboys did a lot of.) Families on the Road We also attended a gathering in Dallas for Families On the Road (FOTR) a nationwide group of RV'ers (and often homeschoolers) who stay in touch online. The gathering was held at the clubhouse of the Dallas KOA. And the following day we drove to Houston and visited the Free Range Family, a homeschooling family who are preparing to go on the road fulltime--and who attended two of our performances last year while they were living in New Jersey. Happy Listening, Dennis (cowpoke), Kimberly (Slew-Foot Sue) and Zephyr ("Bill")
2/1/200716 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Spirit Wife

The Spirit Wife"The Spirit Wife", a legend from the Zuni tribe of New Mexico, parallels the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It tells of a young man whose wife has died, and he goes on a quest to reclaim her from the land of the dead, with the aid of some enchanted animals. He does succeed, in a way, but he also pays a heavy price for his impatience. We present this story in the style of an old-fashioned movie trailer. Albuquerque, New Mexico This week we tell of our recent stay in Albuquerque, during which we performed at the brand spanking new Rio Rancho Library, took a chilly 20-mile bike ride that passed through Old Town, and toured the National Atomic Museum. We learned some interesting facts about radiation, saw a quaint display of atomic medical quackery, and viewed a film about the development and use of the bombs that devastated Japan. We also talk about the exhibit honoring the Navajo "code talkers" during World War II. Happy Listening! Dennis (the husband), Kimberly (the Spirit Wife) and Zephyr the narrator
1/25/200717 minutes, 11 seconds
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Simple Ivan

This week we bring you the Russian folktale "Simple Ivan", one of our perennial favorites, and part of our newest production, "Quizzical Quests", which we opened this month. Onstage, we act out this story in pantomime. But since pantomime is rather difficult to see in a podcast, we've added vocies and more narration. "Simple Ivan" is one of the classic "noodlehead" stories, with variants found in many cultures. (Ivan is the Russian equivalent of John or Jack.) Ivan is lazy and likes to just sit at home staring at the wall, so to trick him into going outside to get some exercise, his mother tells him that he might find some money. He takes the bait and goes out on an excursion, but doesn't find money; instead, he has a series of encounters in which he meets people under different circumstances, and doesn't know how to behave. He returns home after each incident, and explains to his mother what happened. She advises him what he should do, and he follows her advice on his next outing, but finds his newly acquired behavior to be totally and hilariously inappropriate for the next situation he discovers. Although we are in Albuquerque this week, we discuss our experiences last week in Las Vegas, where we opened our new production. We try to wrangle some of the secrets out of Zephyr that he learned on his backstage tour at "Star Trek: The Experience". (He stays tight-lipped.) We also recount our delightful evening watching Penn and Teller's show; and Dennis recalls when he first saw them, then as two-thirds of a trio, performing in San Francisco in 1980. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly (mom) and Zephyr (Ivan) Goza
1/18/200715 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Iron Dragon

The Iron Dragon We're in Las Vegas, but we're talking about Reno and the Sierras. That's because this is our first podcast in three weeks, as we took a couple of weeks off during the holidays. So this week, we catch you up on what we were doing during that time - namely visiting Kimberly's parents in Reno and working feverishly to get our newest production ready. Don't think for one minute that we were taking a hoiday vacation - although we did manage to sneak in a skiing excursion to the Sierras. And since we've spent some time lately in and near the California Gold Rush country, we bring you a story from tht region, a tale told by Chinese immigrants who helped build the railroad. We call it "The Iron Dragon", and it involves a group of laborers who come over to seek their fortune and instead find very harsh and dangerous working conditions. Several of them die on the job and one of the deceased workers returns in spirit form to haunt his comrades. They decide that in order to give rest to the souls of their fellow Chinese laborers, they must undertake a special construction project on the side. A wonderful illustrated version of this story can be found in the book The Iron Moonhunter by Kathleen Chang (San Francisco: Children's Books Press, 1977). The Iron Moonhunter (Fifth World Tales)Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
1/11/200716 minutes, 11 seconds
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We are here!

No we have not fallen off the face of the earth. We just had to spend the last two weeks making props, and sewing costumes and pages for our giant oversized book that we use in our live stage productions. We have adopted a new dragon! Made a tree that grows rotten oranges and found an "odd" sage. We are happy to report that our new show went up today at a school in Las Vegas to roars of laughter!  We'll be heading East from here -hope you get a chance to see us perform live. We'll be back on Thrusday with a new story and tales of our travels to Reno and Las Vegas.Thanks for hanging in there!Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
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The Gift of the Magi

The wanderer has returned, to continue wandering with the rest of us. Zephyr just got back from his 10-day jaunt to North Carolina, where he recorded a mini-album with his punk rock band in Winston-Salem. He brought along a rough cut of the disc, and we play a brief excerpt from it on the podcast. He rejoins his parents in the San Francisco Bay Area, our old stomping grounds, where we've been stomping longer in recent days than in years - and indeed more time than we've spent just about anywhere in years. But after a performance at the Mitchell Park Library in Palo Alto, we're ready to hit the highway again. The Gift of the Magi This week's story is "The Gift of the Magi", which is appropriate for two reasons. First, it is of course a classic Christmas Story; and after a 3-month buildup, Santa is just about ready for his yearly cruise. Additionally, the author of the story, William Sydney Porter (better known by his pen name of O. Henry) was a native of the same area Zephyr has been visiting. He was born in Greensboro, N.C. (where the band's drummer lives) in 1862 and died in 1910. During the last few years of his life, he wrote fiction at a whirlwind pace, and became famous for his trademark surprise twist endings, such as the one in "Gift of the Magi". (He also, incidentally, coined the term "banana republic".) It's likely that the character of Della in this story was modeled after his first wife, who died of tuberculosis, from which he also suffered. Dennis shares his favorite Christmas story, an incident he read about in the news two or three years ago, and recalls as best he can, despite being unable to find the details anywhere. If anybody has any info on this story, please pass it along to us. And as we make it clear in our podcast, we extend happy holiday wishes to everyone, regardless of their religion, customs, or brand of holiday cheer - or lack thereof. See you in 2007! Happy Listening, Dennis (the narrator), Kimberly "Della" and Zephyr "Jim" Goza
12/21/200613 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Swan Maiden

Lake Chabot High above the East Bay town of Castro Valley, California - just a few miles across the bay from San Francisco - is Lake Chabot Campground, part of the California State Parks. It's one of the few campgrounds available in the S.F. Bay Area, and just about the only reasonably priced one. So we've stayed there often during the years, and have many colorful memories of the place, some of which we'll share on this week's podcast. Dennis and Kimberly are spending a few days at this campground (while Zephyr is in North Carolina recording with his band A Simple Disaster) to focus on getting the new productions together. The Swan Maiden Since we are encamped overlooking a lake, we thought it would be appropriate to bring you the Swedish folktale of The Swan Maiden, about a hunter who sees three beautiful swans alight at a lake, and then before his eyes they remove their feathery cloaks and become beautiful young maidens who swim in the lake. Later, they put their feathers back on and fly away. He falls in love with the youngest of the swan maidens and can't get her out of his mind. So on the advice of his mother, he goes back to the lake and awaits their return, whereupon he steals the youngest swan's feathers, so she cannot turn back into a swan. She agrees to marry him (what other answer could you possibly give to a guy who steals your feathers?) and for a time it seems they are living happily ever after. But ultimately, the hunter pays a heavy price for "clipping the wings" of a free creature. This story has parallels to many other tales, including Swan Lake (the basis for the Tchaikovsky ballet) and Lohengrin (the inspiration for the Wagner opera - what is it with composers and swans, anyway?) as well as several other variants-some involving other types of fowl-from China, Japan and India. There's even a similar story in The Arabian Nights. Happy Listening, Dennis "the Hunter" and Kimberly "the Swan Maiden" Goza
12/14/200614 minutes, 30 seconds
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Round Three - Pickle Tales Storytelling Contest

This week's challenge really had our brains doing overtime. "And now a word from our sponsor..." that's what they threw at us. So we pondered, brainstormed and batted it about for a few days before we finally came up with a piece we call "In Wolves Clothing". Have a listen and then vote for your favorite by logging in on the Pickle Site, logging in to the forums (Yes, they make you log in twice) there you should see the place to vote and make comments. If not, click on Forums > Podcast Discussions > Pickle Tales Round 2 (it is pinned on the top). UPDATE Voting for this round begins December 13th (not the 11th or 12th as originally scheduled) and ends at noon (ET) a couple of days later - that's 9 am on the west coast. Please check the Pickle site for details as we will be off sewing costumes for a new show up in the woods and Zephyr is off recording with his band in North Carolina. Thanks for listening, Dennis (Red's Wolf), Kimberly (Red and the Director) and Zephyr the announcer
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Alcatraz Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay was a notorious federal prison from 1934 to 1963, and a military prison and military base for many years before that. On a return trip to our old hometown of San Francisco, we finally took a tour of The Rock, beginning with a ferry ride from Pier 33. Once on the island, we participated in ranger-led tours (the island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) and an audio tour that told us about the prison's colorful history - including a riot in 1946 that left 3 guards and 2 inmates dead. On hand was Darwin Coon, who was an inmate here from 1959 to 1963, to promote his book "Alcatraz; the True End of the Line". RapunzelThis week we present the Grimm Brothers story "Rapunzel", one of the best known fairy tales in the world, and one of the central plots in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods". The story involves a woman who craved greens from a neighbor's garden so strongly that she was willing to give up her firstborn child for them; and the neighbor, unfortunately, was quite willing to take the child. This epitome of a nightmarish neighbor also happened to be an evil sorceress who imprisoned the girl (whom she named Rapunzel) in a tower, climbing up to see her by way of Rapunzel's long, long hair. But even a tower can't keep her away from handsome princes forever� Upcoming Public PerformancesThey are live and they are free (thanks to your public libraries and community centers) Dec. 20th in Palo Alto, CA Jan. 17th in Rio Rancho (near Albuqurque), NMFeb. 1st in Laurel, MS Mar. 10 in Prattville, AL ...more (too many to list here!) Happy Listening, Dennis the Prince (also husband and narrator), Kimberly "Rapunzel" (and wife), and Zephyr the "crone"
12/7/200615 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Pee Little Thrigs err.... make that The Three Little Pigs

DisneylandWhat better way to spend a Thanksgiving than by going to Disneyland? Well actually there must be dozens of better ways. The place was packed like a glass slipper on the foot of Cinderella's stepsister. But that didn't deter Zephyr and his "big sister" Ellie from spending a full day there, and we do mean a full day - from 9:00 a.m. until nearly time for the RV to turn back into a Thanksgiving pumpkin. They found the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride to be totally remodeled to pay homage to the movies that pay homage to the original version of the ride. The newly revamped Space Mountain was also back in operation after too long in inoperation, and the Haunted Mansion was given a complete makeover for Yuletide. Santa Monica and Venice A couple of days later, we took a stroll, for the first time ever, from the Santa Monica Pier (where we rode the roller coaster) to Venice Beach, soaking up the colorful atmosphere of street performers, arts and crafts vendors and inline skaters skating in anything but a line. The Three Little Pigs For no particular reason, we decided to present "The Three Little Pigs" this week, or as we call it, "The Pee Little Thrigs". That's because we thought it would be fun to tell the story in spoonerisms, a type of slip of the tongue (or "tip of the slung") that involves switching the first letters between two words. Thus, "hung out the flags" becomes "flung out the hags". Spoonerism was named after Rev. William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), an instructor at Oxford University. Telling fairy tales laced with spoonerisms was popularized by comedian Archie Campbell (1914-1987), writer and star of the TV series "Hee Haw"; it was also used by the dwarf Doc in the Disney classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" (more correctly Dwarfs). Hey! We knew there was a logical reason we decided to do it this week! Get "Act!vated Stories" on your cell phone!Now you can listen to our stories on your cell phone! Just enter your cell phone number here   or visit for more information. Happy Listening, Dennis: the narrator, Hester the 3rd Pig (also the Brick Seller), Kimberly: mother pig and Lester the 1st Pig (also the straw seller) , Zephyr: the wig bad bolf, Jester the 2nd Pig (also the stick seller) Goza
11/30/200614 minutes, 44 seconds
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Round Two of the Pickle Tales Storytelling Contest

Thanks to all who voted for us last round we netted a whopping 1/3 of the votes and we have made it to round two of the Pickle Tales storytelling contest. For this round we were issued 3 sound effects and told to come up with a story. So, we told the "Fiddlestick Family and the Eggs" a traditional folktale from the Ozarks that we just made up. Listen to the six stories in this round. Some of the other stories may be "PG-13" (ours is "G"). One of the stories in this round will be eliminated (we are hoping it won't be us!). Voting happens today Nov. 27th through the 30th (ends at noon Eastern) at Podcast PickleYou can also get there by going to the Podcast Pickle homepage, then looking under Forums > Podcast Discussion > Pickle Tales Round II.Thanks for your support,Dennis "Pa Fiddlesticks", Kimberly "Ma" and Zephyr the narrator and "Cousin Clem"
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The Lion and the Mouse

It's Cool to be Kind!Welcome to our ThanksGIVING episode! This week we are focusing on putting the "giving" in Thanksgiving and spreading Random Acts of Kindness. Last week we talked about the Green RV in which college students travel the country, usimg their life on the road to find their road in life. This episode expands on that as we talk about the Extreme Kindness Tour. In 2002 four young men from Canada decided to hit the road on a 3 month Extreme Kindness Tour. Find out about what they did to promote kindness and "pay it forward". Check them out at where you'll find their blog, information about their tour, a schedule of upcoming appearances, a counter to log kindness and some video clips from their tour. We've also got some other stories about people who have made a difference in the world by focusing on "paying it forward", including Larry Stewart of Lee's Summit, Missouri who decided at Christmas time in 1979 to take $200 out of his bank account and anonymously pass it around to those who were less fortunate than himself. He has been known only as the "Secret Santa" as he continued his giving spree throughout the years, giving more and more. He is now dyeing of cancer and has decided to reveal his identity so that others may continue his legacy. His story was in the news this week. Also find out a bit about Podcamp West; and Zephyr tells his tale about his run-in with mall security while trying to give out "Free Hugs" in Massachusetts. More about Pay It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness The Lion and the Mouse In the spirit of giving and doing for others we bring you the Aesop fable about the unlikely acts of kindness between a lion and a mouse. A mouse promises to help the fierce lion if only the lion won't eat him. But how will the mouse repay the lion? Folklore and Philanthropy Lesson Plans If you'd like to extend the connection between folklore and the spirit of generosity with your children or in the classroom be sure to visit Round II of the Podcast Pickle Storytelling Contest Thanks to those who voted in round I of the Pickle Tales Storytelling Contest. THANKS to you we've made it to round II and have been issued a new challenge! This time we have to tell a story incorporating 3 sound effects selected by the folks at Podcast Pickle. Come find out how we did it in the never-before-heard "folktale" from the Ozarks that we just made up. Enjoy "The Fiddlesticks Family and the Eggs" and 5 other stories and vote for your favorite November 27th-30th. Your Turn! What will YOU do to pass along kindness? We'd love to hear about it. Leave us comments and we'll share your random acts of kindness with the world. Remember, it's cool to be kind! Happy Listening, Dennis (the narrator and hunters), Kimberly the "mouse", and Zephyr the "lion" Goza
11/23/200614 minutes, 26 seconds
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Define your own road in life!Road Trip NationWe're revisiting our roots and catching up with old friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we stopped in at San Jose State University to attend a presentation about Roadtrip Nation, a PBS program that dispatches teams of 3 college students to travel the country for 6 weeks in a green RV exploring career options by interviewing prominent personalities in business, entertainment, law, public service, and other fields. The team of students we met today interviewed the CEO of Starbucks and leaders of other well-known businesses, as well as stand-up comic Wanda Sykes and talk show host Wendy Williams. And their experience on the road this summer has given them valuable insight into what directions their own lives should take. RoadTrip NationOn PBS MuLanThis week, we present a story about someone else who had to courageously forge her own path: The Song of Mu Lan, a folk tale from China. (Which we've been performing onstage as part of our production "Daring to Dream".) It's the saga of a teenage girl who disguises herself as a man in order to join the army and fight in place of her ailing father, thus preserving family honor. And according to tradition, she served her country extremely well and even became a high-ranking officer. We don't know for certain whether The Song of Mu Lan is a true story, but it was written as a poem about 1500 years ago. The name "Mu Lan", which is translated as "Magnolia", means literally "wood flower", a very appropriate name for a person who appeared as delicate as a flower but turned out to be as durable as wood. Study Guide for The Song of Mu Lan Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
11/16/200615 minutes, 7 seconds
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Nominated for Storytelling Podcasting Award

Recently we entered our story "Simple Ivan" in an online contest for storytelling podcasts. It was judged on creativity, writing, and skill of production. And we are happy to announce that it has been selected as one of 12 finalists. Now listener votes will determine if it moves to the next round. Six of the twelve stories have already been released in episode "A" and were voted on Nov. 6th-10th. "Simple Ivan" is a part of the "B" group that was released today, Nov. 13th. Voting for this round will end on Nov. 16th at noon (ET). Anyone can listen and vote. Some of the stories may be "PG-13". If you would like to participate in the voting process you will need to register at (it's painless). You'll see the log in/sign up box on the top right of the page. Then go to the forum to vote for your favorite story (under "Podcast Discussion"). And so long as you are there, why not to add us to your favorites and leave us your comments. Voting for this round ends Nov. 16th at noon (ET). The top six stories will go on to the next level. Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
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Hansel and Gretel

It's National Geography Week and Children's Book Week, November 12-19. And we have just the tale to celebrate both occasions: Hansel and Gretel (a la Lemony Snicket meets Wizard of Oz). We are back in San Jose, having been to Sacramento to appear on the ABC-affiliated show Sac and Company and to Modesto to perform at the library this week. We'll tell you a bit about the inner workings of a live TV show. And right now Zephyr is helping pull apart Callson Manor, the haunted house he worked at last week, while we babysit the property at night. Nominated for Storytelling Podcast Award!Our story "Simple Ivan" has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the Pickle Tales "Tell Me a Story" Podcasting Competion. Now listener votes will determine if it moves to the next round. Register with Podcast Pickle so you can participate in the voting process November 13-16! And so long as you are at it be sure to add us to your favorites and leave us your comments. Please check back for more information and links November 13th. Hansel and GretelHansel and Gretel get ditched in the woods and have to escape an evil hag who lives in a sweet house and find their way back home. In our version they meet a few other storybook characters who give them some bad directions along the way. National Geography Week We've been traveling full time since 1992 and have had more than our share of bad directions. Nowadays, we use GPS, computer map programs and Google Maps on our cell phone to get where we are going. But way back when we started touring, we had to rely on people to give us directions. It's amazing we got anywhere! Hardly anyone knows the name of the streets in their hometown. And we have repeatedly scratched our heads after hearing "Well, you turn left at the old Jones place and if you come to the train tracks you've gone to far!". And "Just turn right at the corn field." We'd like to point out that we are in Kansas and surrounded by cornfields but don't have the heart. So bottom line, study those maps and read those street signs so you can help someone find their way. And if you want to get anywhere, learn your geography and how to use a GPS! Or else you will have to leave some bread crumbs! Rescources for National Geography Week Children's Book Week Zephyr has been reading the entire "Series of Unfortunate Events" to mom and dad this month. And in this episode Dennis recounts his encounter with Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket). Reading out loud is an excellent way to celebrate Children's Book Week. We hope you'll celebrate by following a map to your local library to see what special events they have planned. And while you are there, check out some childrens' books. Especially in the folktale section (Dewey Decimal 398.2). And be sure to get a copy of "Tales from Under the Crevice" or the sequel "Tales from Under the Nook" by our resident young author Zephyr Goza at your library or bookstore, or online at Activities and ideas for Children's Book Week at Education World Happy Listening! Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
11/9/200618 minutes, 57 seconds
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Isis and the Seven Scorpions

Do you know the way to San Jose? We hope so! Cuz that is where we are podcasting from this week. San Jose is home of the Rosicrucian Museum and burial site for many of the Donner party, pioneers who struck out on the Oregon trail, took a wrong turn and got stuck for the winter. Mummies, tombs, and hieroglyphics!At the Rosicrucian Museum, the curators who were decked out in full Egyptian regalia (since we visited on Halloween), led us on a tour of an ancient tomb replica. The hieroglyphs at the tomb's entrance welcome visitors who brought the deceased food. Hey, you get hungry when you're dead and have to wait 20 years before entering the afterlife! Once inside the tomb we learned that the East wall represented birth and life since the sun rises in the east. The south wall depicts scenes of hunting and fishing portraying the deceased as being very skilled. The wall to the west is where the sun sets and so upon it we see the dead meeting the gods of the afterlife. And upon the north wall is a scene of judgment including a scale with a heart weighed against the feather of truth. And on the ceiling was the goddess who eats the sun and gives birth to the moon and then eats the moon and gives birth to the sun each day. Wonder if she gets a tummy ache? The ancient Egyptians believed that whatever is depicted in hieroglyphics becomes true and therefore heiroglyphs were very sacred. And because of this power, only a few scribes were trained in the art. To become a scribe you had to be a boy and a rich one at that. Then you had to attend school, where you get to sit for eight hours copying the same text over and over. And if your teacher felt you weren't quick enough they would beat your back. If you were dedicated and studied hard enough you would become a scribe, one of the most prestigious positions in the Egyptian society. You can visit the Rusicrucian Museum online at and find a virtual tour and an audio tour that you can download. Better yet visit it in person whenever you are in San Jose. The Rosicrucian Museum is located in Rosicrucian Park, a picturesque facility encompassing an entire city block. It's the world headquarters of the Rosicrucian Order, a mystical society dating back to antiquity. Many notable historical figures are said to have been Rosicrucians, including Francis Bacon and Benjamin Franklin. The French impressionist composer Claude Debussy was a member of the order, and his music reflects its mystical nature. Isis and the Seven ScorpionsWhile we were at the Rosicrucian Museum we learned this story and thought we'd share it with you. Isis, accompanied by her seven scorpions, makes her way to a town in the Nile Delta. The scorpions Petet, Tjetet, and Matet led the way, Mesetet and Mesetetaf walked beside her, while Tefen and Befen brought up the rear. Upon their arrival to town a noblewoman refused to give them shelter, which angered the scorpions. Meanwhile, a peasant girl offered her humble dwelling to Isis who was seeking refuge. However, the scorpions decide to teach the noble woman a lesson by poisoning her son with their venom. Distraught, the noblewoman seeks help for her dying son. Find out what happens to the boy, what Isis does, and what becomes of the noblewoman and the peasant girl. "Isis and the Seven Scorpions" reminds us of another folktale with seven little guys who care for a maiden... And here is another Egyptian story incase you missed it back in August: Rhodopis, the Egyptian Cinderella. More EgyptianAn introduction to Egyptian hieroglyphic writing and numbering. Interactive examples allow users to create hieroglyphic numbers and fractions. Write in hieroglyphics Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
11/2/200614 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Dragon of Krakow

We are back in our old stomping grounds, where we began our theatre careers, our film career (in Zephyr's case), our company, our family and our life on the road. This week we come to you from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, after performing at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. Lake Shasta CavernsWe tell of our recent trip to Lake Shasta Caverns, discovered by Charles Morton in 1878 near Mt.Shasta. The caverns are situated by Lake Shasta, the second-largest manmade lake in the country--it covers five former towns and contains sturgeon up to 30 feet long! We took the three-part tour (boat, bus and shoe leather) of the caverns and discovered some of the most graphic rock formations we've ever seen in the many caves we've toured. Learn how to tell stalactites from stalagmites. We'll give you a couple of ways to tell them apart. And find out what helictites are. (No, they're not a frozen dessert on a stick, but they look like it.) More about Lake Shasta Caverns The Dragon of KrakowThe story of "The Dragon of Krakow" (sometimes known as "The Dragon of Wawel Hill" or "Krakus and the Dragon") is a folktale from Poland. We've been touring the country with this story since May 2006. Just a few more months to see it live on the west coast, as it will be closing in December to make way for our new production. Check the Tour Schedule for upcoming shows What happens when a young boy learns to deal with the trouble he has stirred up? A shoemaker's apprentice, egged on by peer pressure, awakens a sleeping dragon, which devastates the village and terrorizes the people. When the villagers are unable to defeat him, the apprentice realizes he must correct his own mistake, which he does with imagination and resourcefulness. More Dragon Stories brought to you by Tina Hanlon of Ferrum College. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
10/26/200619 minutes, 2 seconds
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Romeo and Juliet

Oregon Shakespeare FestivalCostumes, props, sets, Shakespeare. What goes into putting together the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland? We tell you some of what we learned on the backstage tour at the Festival (a tour conducted by veteran Festival actor Rex Young), including an inside glimpse of the Elizabethan Stage (America's first Elizabethan theatre), the Angus Bowmer Theatre (named after the Festival's founder) and the New Theatre. Begun in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs 11 shows in three theatres from February through October every year. This year 82 actors protrayed 195 characters in close to 800 shows. Each actor plays 2 to 3 roles and understudies one to two other parts. And for every actor that you see on stage there are 4 people working backstage designing and building the costumes, sets, lights, and making the magic happen. More information about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Zephyr Haunts Ashland and TumwaterScience Works Museum in Ashland offers hands-on educational (and fun!) exhibits for children, including the paper airplane launcher for flying airplanes they have been taught to make. A special exhibit of toys and games is coming soon, as is a Halloween haunted house which Zephyr helped design - having recently contributed his talents to a much larger attraction called Twilight's Terror in Tumwater, Washington. Romeo and Juliet (The Four Minute condensed comical version) William Shakespeare's classic tragedy about star-crossed lovers from dueling clans has roots in the Greek legend "Pyramus and Thisbe" (which he also invoked in "A Midsummer Night's Dream") and has inspired books, plays, movies and tv shows throughout the ages. Variations of this tale exist in many other cultures as well; a hit song on the radio in the Sixties called "Running Bear and Little White Dove" related a similar story involving Native Americans from warring tribes. "Romeo and Juliet" illustrates Shakespeare's extraordinary ability to transform a borrowed plot into something wholly original, and uniquely his own. And coming up for 2007 our own national tour of "Shakespeare Shazam", an introduction to the Bard's work. We act out passages from such Shakespearean masterpieces as "Romeo and Juliet", "Macbeth", and "Hamlet", in both the original version and modern English. More about Shakespeare Shazam Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
10/19/200615 minutes, 22 seconds
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Gingerbread Man

How do you tell the difference between a Sea Lion and a Seal? The ears are a dead giveaway. Bull Sea Lions weigh up to 2400 lbs and the cows are about 1/2 that size. Learn about Sea Lions and the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence, Oregon in this episode. Sea Lion CavesThe Sea Lion Caves was voted one of the top 10 places in America to go out of your way to see by USA Weekend. It's the largest sea cave in the world, within sight of the most photographed lighthouse in the world. More photos of the Sea Lion Caves and Heceta Head LighthouseVisit the Sea Lion Caves The Gingerbread ManA stop at the Gingerbread Village restaurant in Mapleton inspired us to tell the story of the Gingerbread Man (or Boy). He's running as fast as he can. He's running from the little old lady, the little old man, some threshers, some mowers, a cow, a pig, and a fox. Will anyone catch the Gingerbread Man? And what is a thresher?? More Act!vated:Upcoming Public Shows Our Japan Journal Next week is Teen Reading Week! So go read a teen, if you can. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
10/12/200616 minutes, 53 seconds
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Bremen Town Musicians

Our last podcast from Washington until who knows when? Join us this week to rock out in Seattle at the Experience Music Project under the Space Needle. Explore the Science Fiction Museum and do a double take at the Double Take Exhibit. We enjoyed the huge Queen Alien and memorabilia from Sci-Fi movies, TV shows and books; played the keyboards, electric guitars, and drums and sang our hearts out in the jam rooms; and we learned to look at art in new ways. Visit these awesome museums at the Seattle Center Experience Music Project Double Take Exhibit Science Fiction Museum The Bremen Town MusiciansA worn out donkey decides to head to town to try his luck at being a musician. Along the way he meets a hound dog, a cat and a rooster and convinces them to join the act. Find out what happens when our troubadours meet up with a band of robbers! Will they get that record contract? Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
10/5/200615 minutes, 14 seconds
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Zoro, the Flying Apprentice

Up, up and away! Visit the Museum of Flight, learn about Leonardo Da Vinci and his plans for a flying machine, and hear the story of "Zoro, the Flying Apprentice". This week we survived a 27 mile bike ride which took us across the floating bridge and up the hills of Seattle (both ways). Visit The Museum of FlightYes, there really is a flying car or "AeroCar". And have you heard of the X-jet? It's a personal transportation device - or what we've dubbed the "flying podium". It goes up 10,000 feet and 60 miles per hour. Take a tour of Air Force One, a Concorde jet and see the original Boeing factory where they made planes out of wood and canvas. And how about flying a plane for a month? Hey, where is our flying motorhome? The Museum of Flight has an upcoming exhibit "Leonardo Da Vinci; Man, Inventor, Genius" opening October 1st (closes January 28th, 2007). Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, art historian, natural scientist, writer and inventor. The drawings in his notebooks included designs of flying machines. You will find the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington or online at Zoro, the Flying ApprenticeAround 1485 Leonardo Da Vinci drew detailed plans for a human-powered ornithopter (a wing-flapping device intended to fly). And legend has it that a young apprentice named Zoroaste (egged on by the mischievous Salai) took the machine out for a spin. You'll find another version of this story in a book called "Leonardo and the Flying Boy" by Laurence Anholt. It's Banned Book Week (Sept. 23-30)You won't believe some of the books that have banned! Such as "I Am the Cheese", the Harry Potter series, and "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes. Catch the Activated Storytellers performing a live musical production of "Alias, Don Quixote" at a library. Upcoming appearances are scheduled in Oregon and California. Check the itinerary for more information. And learn more about banned books at the American Library Association site. Happy Listening! Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
9/28/200613 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Most Beautiful Thing in the World

Seeking geocaches and "The Most Beautiful Thing in the World". This week the Activated Storytellers come to you from Olympia, WA with a story from China. "The Most Beautiful Thing in the World" from ChinaThis is one of the stories we use when we conduct one of our weeklong Artist-in-Residency programs in schools. We direct students in all aspects of theatrical production, including developing the script from a story, designing and building props and costumes, and acting. In this tale, a king sends his three children out into the world to find the most beautiful thing. The one that succeeds will inherit the crown. Post Your ThoughtsWhat do you suppose is the most beautiful thing in the world? Is it a smile? Is it a place? Something someone did? We'd like to hear YOUR story! You can post your thoughts here and we'll read the best ones in an upcoming podcast. Geocaching & LetterboxingSince the theme this week is seeking treasures, we decided to focus on Geocaching, the game where you are the search engine. If you are new to Geocaching, and a GPS unit will get you started. Type in your zip code, copy down the clues and get ready to do some real life treasure hunting. Be careful though and don't let the muggles spot you! Geocaching got its inspiration from letterboxing, which started about 150 years ago, and is still practiced today. But Geocaching as we know it, with the aid of a GPS device, started only about 6 years ago. We chose to focus on Geocaching because the Olympia area has quite a number of interesting caches, some of historical interest. In addition to being a lot of fun, this game offers an opportunity to learn things while challenging your detective skills.  InspirationA couple of weeks ago we presented the story of "The Apple Dumpling" and pointed out how it reminded us of the guy who swapped a red paperclip on for something bigger and better, until he got his dream - a house. Well a family of listeners heard the story and decided to try it for themselves! This family's goal is to live on the road like we do, but first they need a bus. So they decided to trade a little red matchbox bus for a real one! You can check their progress at A Bus 4 a Bus. National TourWe are bringing our live theatrical productions to schools and libraries on the West Coast through December and then we'll be heading east. Please visit our web site for more information about school assemblies and residency programs, or to find a free show sponsored by a public library to bring your family to. If you'd like to pass on information to your school you also find a flyer that you can download, print and share on our site. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
9/21/200615 minutes, 53 seconds
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Red Riding Hood

From the End the Oregon Trail, we discuss pioneers and tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Also Zephyr gives a report about "Not Back to School" camp and find out a bit about roadschooling. Back in 1843 families started heading west. They heard the stories of a better life. They saved up about $900 dollars ($100,000 in todays market) and made their way to Independence or St. Joseph Missouri to hook up with a wagon train. Loading 2000 lbs of supplies into a small closet sized wagon they were off on a 4-6 month journey following the Little Blue river northwest. They left in May headed west past Chimney Rock where they stopped to sign their names and on to Independence Rock hopefully by the 4th of July, past the Rocky Mountains along the Snake River and to the Oregon Territory. By the way, the Oregon Territory at that time included not only Oregon but Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming. The pioneers on the Oregon Trail were primarily well educated families who brought books with them and continued to school there kids on the treck. Books by Hans Christen Andersonand titles such as "Little Women", "Hamlet", "The Robber Kitten", "Little Red Riding Hood" could be found bouncing along with the bacon, coffee, rice and churning butter. So this week we tell the story of the little girl in the red cloak on her way to grandmother's house. Learn more: About the End of the Oregon Trail Museum and Interpretive Center and About modern day Families on the Road Happy Listening! Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
9/14/200612 minutes
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The Apple Dumpling

Visiting Eugene, Oregon - home of University of Oregon and the jogging and bicycling capital of the country. Zephyr is away at a camp for homeschooled teens this week, while Dennis (dad) and Kimberly (mom) are visiting relatives and learning the nearly lost craft of food canning. After spending an afternoon picking apples we decided to present the English story "The Apple Dumpling". See if it reminds you of the guy who used to trade a red paper clip for something bigger and better and ended up with a house. Read the MSN story about trading a paper clip for a house. Happy Listening, Dennis and Kimberly Goza
9/7/200618 minutes, 1 second
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Sadako and the 1000 Cranes

Podcasting from Redding, California enroute to Eugene, Oregon. We're just getting our feet reaccustomed to American soil having landed yesterday from our wonderful 2 week trip to Japan. We bring you greetings from our Japanese hosts and the true story of "Sadako and the 1000 Cranes" and WWII.  We'll also give you a sneak peek at Tokyo DisneySea's new ride the Tower of Terror (opening Sept. 4th). "This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world". Learn how to fold a paper crane.Join the Thousand Crane Club and make cranes for peace.Manzanar National Historic Site Memorial Center in Michigan Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
8/31/200617 minutes, 9 seconds
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Toyama no Kin-san

Podcasting from Kumagaya-city where we performed our first international performance.This week we visited Tokyo Tower, Ginza shopping district, the Hei Jinja shrine and met the folks from Japanese Pod 101 in Tokyo. We also took a boat ride down Arakawa river and visited Edo Wonderland - a living history park with costumed characters and live theatrical performances.This week we bring you "Toyama no Kin-san" a Robin Hood type story that we saw performed at Edo Wonderland. (Our apologies for the inferior sound quality on this podcast but our sound equipment is back in the U.S.) Happy Listening,Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
8/24/200612 minutes, 36 seconds
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Follow the Buzz

Podcasting from Kumuyaga, Japan Learn about the flight over, eating out in Japan, a haunted house (Obake Yoshiki "Ghost Mansion") for Obon (Festival of the Dead). Presenting "Follow the Buzz", one of the stories from the show "Daring to Dream" which has been touring the U.S.A. since May 2005. (Available on the West Coast through December 2006.) Check your library for "The Bee and the Dream". Vocabulary:Nippon/Nihhon - Japango-shujin - husbandokusan - wifetomodachi - friendyume - dreammitsubachi - bee / beeshai - yestakara - treasurebaka - crazyarashi - stormza za - "rain"goro goro - "thunder"kuma - beargoto - robbershajimemashita - nice to meet you (first time)kochira koso - same hereyoroshiku onegaishimasu - please be kind to me as I will be to youki - treegomen nasai - I am sorryhon - books To learn more Japanese please visit Japanese Pod 101. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
8/17/200615 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Boy Who Listens to Birds

This week, we revisited our roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Zephyr attended the famous (in rock music circles) venue in Berkeley where Green Day, among others, got their start. We toured the Jelly Belly factory (the Goelitz Candy Co.) in Fairfield, and found that the owners are very appreciative of Ronald Reagan for helping popularize their jelly beans, but show little acknowledgment of Harry Potter, who's helped promote its Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans. And we returned to perform at several Sacramento Libraries. Our podcast story this week is "The Boy Who Listened to Birds", one of the "noodlehead" stories from Russia. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
8/10/200619 minutes
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Paul Bunyan

Podcasting from Ukiah, California. This week we were inspired by a drive through Redwood Forest. We hiked amoung trees that are thousands of years old and hundreds of feet tall. Some are big enough to build several houses. The trunks of others have been turned into a 20' room, two story tree houses and even a gas station. There have been several reported sightings of Bigfoot in the area. We didn't catch a glimpse of the elusive Sasquatch but being surrounded by such tall trees we decided the story of Paul Bunyan was a perfect fit. Paul Bunyan was soooo big. How big was he? Why when he was just a baby his parents had to put his cradle out to sea. Follow Paul and Babe the Blue Ox on their journey to the logging camps across America. There was the summer that was soooo hot and the winter that was soooo cold. How hot was it? How cold was it? Well you'll have to listen to find out of course. After the story the Activated Storytellers discuss the origins of Paul Bunyan stories. Paul Bunyan Activity MapDownload the official Paul Bunyan Activity Map (.pdf) and print it out. Enjoy coloring and using the map to follow Paul's Journey. Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
8/3/200614 minutes, 17 seconds
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Egyptian Cinderella

Why do Wolves get such a bad rap in folktales? The Activated Storytellers visit Wolf Haven in Tenino, Washington to find out more about wolves and the role they play. What happens when wolves are erradicated? And did you know there is a joker in every wolf pack? Stories about wolves have been told for as long as we can remember as have stories about a Cinderella type of character. The Egyptian Cinderella is the oldest Cinderella story known to man. It comes from Egypt and it may even be true--at least we know that it's based on real events. The prince became the pharaoh Amasis, who ruled over Egypt for 44 years. And he really did marry a former slave girl from Greece. In this version of the story, the slave girl is named Rhodopis, and the prince must find a bride by his 21st birthday. He turns for help to his pet falcon, since falcons were revered as messengers of the sun god Horus. Wolf Pictures on our travel blog: Wolf Haven (July 24, 2006)Wolf Park - a Halloween treat (November 1, 2003) Visit: Wolf Haven in WashingtonWolf Park in Indiana Extend the story with the Cinderella Trillogy Lesson Plan from ArtsEdge Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza
7/27/200615 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Knee-Hi Man

Are Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr really a family? Find out this week as the Activated Storytellers podcast from Ocean Park, Washington. This week's story is the Knee-High Man, an African American tale from Alabama, about the importance of recognizing one's own unique gifts. Also: a couple of little stories about bumping into one of our fans and a past cast member in some unexpected locations. And this week our Web site was awarded one of the best educational resources on the web by studySphere! Happy Listening, Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
7/20/200617 minutes, 8 seconds
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Old Stormalong

Coming to you from a rain forest! The Activated Storytellers bring you the great American legend "Alfred Bulltop Stormalong". What will Old Stormalong do when the pirates attack? How will he defeat the mythical sea creature the kraken? This week we attended a kite festival in Westport, Washington. We'll tell you all about the festival and the parachuting teddy bears! Thanks to the students and residents from the Quinault tribe who played the pirates and crew members in this podcast. Read Old Stormalong (even more adventures!) See parachuting teddy bears, kites and rain forest pictures Make a paper kiteSee the Act!vated Storytellers live! More kites! At the Kite Museum in Long Beach, Washington Happy Listening! Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Gozaa.k.a. The Act!vated Storytellers
7/13/200613 minutes, 3 seconds
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Davy Crockett

You won't believe the stories that Davy Crockett has to tell about wrestling a bear, marrying Sally-Ann-Thunder-Ann-Whirlwind Crockett and journeying to the North Pole to save the earth. But he was indeed a real person, a congressman who lived from 1736 - 1836. You can even see his gun "Ol Betsy" at the Alamo in Texas. Read the story and play with the "animuls" at Davy Crockett This week we are podcasting from a campground in Rochester, Washington. We recorded on the 4th of July and reminisce about our past few years when we spent the Fourth of July in "America's favorite hometown" Hannibal, Missouri. We'll give you some background information and insider tips about the National Fence Painting contest which takes place yearly in Mark Twain's Boyhood home and the setting for his books "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn". You'll find pictures and more information about Hannibal, Mo on these pages: Hannibal - July 02 (article)Hannibal in July 03Hannibal in July 04Hannibal in July 05Hannibal in Winter 2001 Read about our most recent trip to the Alamo Happy Listening! Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr
7/6/200611 minutes, 20 seconds
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Do I need an iPod?

We've been getting a lot of congratulatory emails this week about the new podcast and one comment we are continually getting goes something like: "That's great. Wish I could listen but, I don't have an iPod." Well, here is the good news: You don't need an iPod ... (or PDA or any other type of device) to tune in to an Activated Story. All you have to do is click on the POD image or the direct download link and the audio file should open in your prefered media player. It may take a few moments to download (depends on the speed of your internet connection). Just turn the sound on your computer and happy listening. The Gozas(who don't own an iPod either)
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The Emperor's New Clothes

We are back with the second episode. And this time we are podcasting from Lewis and Clarks' final stop, Fort Clatsop. This is where they spent the winter of 1805-06, 200 years ago. This week we bring you Han's Christian Anderson's story "The Emperor's New Clothes". Hear the story adapted from the touring theatrical production and listen to tales about Lewis and Clark, the fort and the fire. You will find pictures of Fort Clatsop (scroll down to 6/26) and "The Emperor's New Clothes", the stage production on our web site
6/29/200614 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Coyote and The Eagle

Premiere Podcast The Activated Storytellers bring you the story of "The Coyote and The Eagle", a Zuni legend of how the sun and moon came to be in the sky. Listen to the story and hear about the Goza's recent visit to the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. Visit our website to see pictures from our trip to Mesa Verde.   Read a story, catch a live performance or bring us to your school or library. For more information please visit the Activated Storytellers web site
6/22/200610 minutes, 10 seconds
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New Act!vated Podcasts

What has six legs and eight wheels, and wanders all over the country leaving a trail of laughter? Answer: the Goza Family, better known as Act!vated Storytellers, who have entertained, informed and inspired audiences of all ages in 44 states (and counting) plus Washington, D.C. The "six legs" belong to the three performers: Dennis Goza, his wife Kimberly, and their 15-year-old son Zephyr. The "eight wheels", of course, are their "home" on the road; they log an average of nearly 4000 miles per month bringing educational entertainment to schools, libraries, museums and other venues to audiences ages 2 to 102. And starting this Thursday, June 22, 2006 they'll be bringing "Activated Stories" to your computer!