Friday, November 25, 2016

on becoming a t.rex storyteller

Last Friday, Nov 25, several South Sound Story Guild members shared stories at our annual Tellabration! event in Olympia, WA. I told this story that I cobbled together from bits of comedy I have been working on at open mics in Salt Lake City for the past year or so. It came out pretty well!

All told, Tellabration! was a great success! We had a packed room and plenty of stories for everyone. There was food and music and lots of fun!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Right after Thanksgiving, I got to tell this story about meeting people. One of my favorite people ever was Edna. She and I were introduced at her home and this is how it went.

This story was told at Tellabration, a storytelling event that many groups put on worldwide around the same time. The South Sound Story Guild is a week late, but we still have a great time!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

how I almost died at willow creek

Here's a story I've told for years! Over a summer, my best friend and I explored a creek and found some adventures along the way!

This was from Nov 12, 2015 when I was the featured teller at the monthly gathering of the South Sound Story Guild.

Friday, May 1, 2015

gleeby's ideas: a heavy matter

Here's another graduate from my 'ideas' blog (gleeby's ideas). This story is the result of my last entry (Apples, Moons, Black Holes). Back in November 2014, I told it at Tellabration! in Olympia WA and got most of it recorded. It's wobbly and missing the first paragraph below, but still, here's what I got recorded:

A Heavy Matter
Mom and I walked into a restaurant one day and my mom said, "What if we'd rather they use a scoop like everyone else?" Years of living with and knowing my mom had me both smiling already and also frantically looking around. What had she noticed? Whatever it was would be hilarious. That was her sense of humor. Around her, you always have to pay attention. Listen. Look. Be aware. Finally, I found it. On every table was a sign proudly advertising "Hand Dipped Ice Cream!"

Through this and countless other experiences, my mom built paying attention and really, being curious, into all of her children. I can't speak for my brothers or sisters, but these are traits I look for in others and find in my most favorite people. It's what drew me strongly to this story about a young man we have all likely heard of. The way I first heard the story, an apple fell and hit him in the head.

In 1666, the Great Plague was in full swing. Isaac Newton fled the big city, heading to his mother's house in the country. Suddenly, he had a lot of time on his hands. As he was in the orchard one day, in what he called a "contemplative mood," he really did see an apple fall from a tree.

Isaac paid attention. In one of those great moments when a million thoughts suddenly all come together, Isaac became incredibly curious. Why did apples in Europe and England and everywhere all fall straight down every time? Thinking about this crazy idea from Copernicus and Galileo that the world was round, Isaac realized they were all falling toward the center of a round earth.

But what started the apples' downward motion? Nothing moves on its own. To move a rock across a field, something has to push it. Isaac realized the earth had a force of some kind pulling everything towards its center. He started talking to his friends about "gravity." He was onto something. People caught his infectious curiosity.

Over the years, Isaac and others began watching and measuring things. Isaac wondered how far this gravity extended. What if the earth was pulling something towards it, while at the same time, rotating away from it? Like the moon? A friend noticed this gravity was weaker when objects were further apart. Isaac noticed larger objects pulled more strongly than smaller ones. Putting the two together, Isaac came up with equations that could reliably predict where planets and moons would be in the future. The planet Uranus didn't follow the model, so people began looking for something that was pulling it off course. That's how they discovered Neptune.

Newton's ideas and equations were so accurate, no one had any better ideas on gravity for nearly 300 years! By then, scientists had found his model so reliable it was considered a law. They were also getting incredibly precise at measuring things. They found that everything pulls everything towards itself, not just the earth. They also realized Isaac's model wasn't always working in some cases. Mercury, for example, wasn't exactly where they calculated it should be. How curious!

In the 1940's, in his own contemplative moments, Albert wondered why that was so. He talked to his friends about it and pulled together some ideas we're still trying to wrap our heads around. The short answer was that the sun is so incredibly massive it has bent space and slowed time around it. With those adjustments, Mercury once again behaved as expected.

The question still remains, however: What is pulling everything towards everything else?

The only problem with science stories? They're all cliffhangers!

How would you finish the story?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Apples, Moons, Black Holes

I once had a book called How It Works. It was a large green book with bright orange pages just inside the cover. The book was filled with a number of modern inventions and a fairly decent description of how they worked. Those orange pages, however, at the beginning and end of the book, were filled with my scribbles and doodles. I don't remember doing this to any other book. In the top right corner at the front of the book I had at some point clearly identified the owner and myself:

Mitch Nelson, Future Scientist.

Factual. Solid. Irrefutable even.

So last year, I'm galavanting aimlessly around the internet. Absolutely no purpose in mind. This is fairly common for me, but can often be dangerous for the faint of heart! I came across the web site for the Discovery Center of Idaho. I've spent many a happy hour in similar places all over the northwest. Last March, as I sat in the lobby of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, I realized science had tons of stories. Stories I could tell. Stories I could tell at science centers!
So I'm going to try. At Tellabration! in Olympia, WA this year, I'll tell a story about Isaac Newton and the curiosity trail that really did start with a falling apple! Check out drafts and practice runs on my gleeby's story mill pages as the story comes to be!

Friday, October 31, 2014

gleeby's story mill: the river was... hungry?

Here's a graduate from my other blog, gleeby's story mill:

The River Was... Hungry?
For a while, growing up, Mom was in charge of the orienteering hike for girl's camp each summer. For us kids, that meant a family camping trip a week before girl's camp during which she would plot out the course for the orienteering hike.

The road to the campground followed and crossed a river as they both twisted up the mountain.  Each crossing was different. Some bridges crossed the lazy flow of a wide spot in the river. Further up, the bridge ferried us over small canyons which the river pushed itself through the rock sides forcefully. I remember at least one where the water fell from a cliff behind the bridge on its way eternally down the mountainside.

It was at this bridge we saw something strange: people. The people weren't strange. They were the usual backpack and hiking folks we often saw at this bridge. What caught our attention was that they were on the wrong side. While most people were looking up at the waterfall, these folks were staring down as the river disappeared into the forest.

And then it hit me! Excitedly, I told everyone, "It was THEIR backpack!" That was all it took. Our collective genes kicked in and all the Nelson kids spent the rest of the trip coming up with stories about how they lost their backpack.

What do you think was going on?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

business plan... possibly???

So I want to be a storyteller -- a paid storyteller. I keep getting this feeling I need a business plan. Like I'll forget something that will cost me without it.The problem is, it seems like I'm not really on the create a business plan step yet. I've got a lot going on in my life still. I had the thought this morning that the business plan for now could legitimately be to continue exploring storytelling as a hobby.
I'm also realizing that as an artist, I need to create. I really love and wish for my tagline to be true. I really do want to be a wanderer, a listener, and then a storyteller. What I often do instead is worry about making money. I worry about how to make this a business. I worry about and wonder how to approach clients to tell stories to.
I'm the most free, however, when I am wandering aimlessly. I often find myself at the right place and right time. I find myself in awe of what I see and hear around me. I'm enraptured listening to my pedicure lady tell me about how she started her shop. I was overwhelmed to watch my nephew tell his first story on his first visit to the Story Guild in Olympia. I'm fascinated with the different story a book and a movie get to be.
I am literally most alive in front of a group telling them all those stories. Sometimes, I'm even making up the stories right there on the spot. Not making them up, as much as watching them come together in amazing ways that awe me as much as the audience. Writing down the stories is a close second!
So the business plan for now is more of that: more discovering and learning stories, more sharing them in as many ways as I can think up. Everything else will come from that place... from that Mitch.