Thursday, February 16, 2017

THE MOTH (due Mon. Feb 20)

True stories told live. The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It was founded by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales (Wikipedia).

Students must listen to one podcast from either the STORIES section or the RADIO section of The Moth site. Your choice. Include the title of the story in your written response.

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

17 comments:

  1. I decided to listen to the Radio Hour episode that was titled Mr. Rogers, Bellevue, Super Markets, and Coney Island. I liked the radio hour; it didn’t really feel like I was listening to a radio show where they just talk about anything with no real substance to it. This radio hour felt more like I was at a coffee house listening to people come up and tell their stories. They used jazz music as an interlude in between people telling stories and the announcer introducing them. During the stories you could hear people laughing and clapping, the way it would sound at an in person coffeehouse. As the people told their stories, their voices sounded like they were coming from a microphone on a stage. This is different than a microphone in a radio show or even on your phone. It sounded a little more echo-y, like what you are listening to is coming out of an amplifier.
    The episode contained 5 stories, each one was different and seemingly unrelated. The first one was a doctor telling the story of the first time she had to pronounce a patient dead as an intern. The second was about a 6 year old girl with a heart condition. The third was about Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers neighborhood. The fourth was about the troubles of dating in NYC for guys. And the last one was about a how a young girl spent her 12th birthday at Coney Island. I think my favorite was the story dating in NYC because it reminded me of a comedy routine.

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  2. I chose to listen to a piece from the story section of the Moth website titled Living on the Edge. This piece was delivered by a man named Paul Munafo, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Munafo was diagnosed with hepatitis in the 80's, and although he was later cured, extensive damage was done to his liver. This required him to have a transplant, and his story tells the audience of the trouble he went through to finally have the procedure done. What I liked so much about this listening experience was that the story is so very real. His words and emotions are very genuine, and this can be heard explicitly through his voice. This in turn makes the story very relatable. I almost felt as if I was sitting around the dining room table for a holiday and listening to my uncle tell a story of his past. All in all, this art form is very human and genuine. It creates a picture that although individuals may seem very different, we all share the same types of emotions.

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  3. So the Moth story I listened to was one of the stories in the Valentine’s day episode. It was titled “The Proposal” and was performed by Lucy Huber. The story Huber tells is exactly what would be expected based on the title, basically, it is the story of how Huber planned to propose to her boyfriend, Matt, and the subsequent events that followed. Listening to her was almost like listening to a friend tell a story — granted it’s more like listening to a friend tell a story that they might’ve rehearsed a few times before sharing and they also brought an audience to laugh at all the right times. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Huber tell her story, it felt raw and realistic, and I really enjoyed the slight touch of emotionality with the intermingling of humor, which I think kept the story interesting and lighthearted while still being impactful. It was definitely a feel-good story and certainly perfect for Valentine’s Day!

    I previously saw a Moth video prior to listening to this one and that story was way more emotional. I guess in many ways Moth is a forum for a whole spectrum of different genres of stories. I personally liked having the video form for the emotional story because I could see when the storyteller was getting emotional as opposed to the format I just listened to. In the case of “The Proposal, I think because it was such a lighthearted story, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on an element of the storytelling experience. Moreover, I was surprised how much I paid attention given that it was literally just a person talking without any background noise or theatrics. I think of part of what made it so appealing was as aforementioned, how natural the story felt, and the length of the story. It was neither too short nor too long.

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  4. I chose to listen to a Moth story called “How I Earned My Bitter Badge.” I chose to listen to this because I find Brian Finkelstein’s story is relatable. When I saw the title I was immediate interested in listening. The way he told his story of heartbreak and disappointment was comedic with hints of wit and sarcasm. I listened through the story twice because I felt like I missed a lot of it when listening to it the first time. The first time, I mostly paid attention to the comedic aspects of his story. Brian constantly cracked jokes that the audience seemed to enjoy from the laughter of the crowd heard in the background. The second time I listened through it, I caught more of the sadness and pain behind his story. These parts were subtler because he spoke them in a quieter, sadder tone. Perhaps Brian was hiding a lot of his pain within the jokes and made because that’s what I caught on to the first time I listened to the story.
    Many of us can relate to a relationship where we spend a lot of our time and energy with someone only to find that they don’t feel the same way that you do about them. One of the saddest things in life is finding that someone you have so much love for doesn’t love you back. It’s even worse to find that the person you love loves someone else. I feel for Brian Finklestein and his story of how he became bitter towards love.

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  5. I chose to listen to the story "From Princeton to Prison". The first thing that I immediately picked up from the podcast was the lack of sound effects and music within the podcast. It was interesting to say the least; I was more focused on what the speaker was saying as it felt raw and true, but felt at first that his story could have been dramatized more as an audio story had there been accompanying sound effects. However by the end of the recording I respected the choice to keep the recording so simple as it created the somber tone the piece so clearly called for.

    Despite the lacking of sound effects I was still able to follow along and stay engaged just based off the podcasts content which is something I wasn't totally expecting. I think it's short length also had something to do with the fact that I never found myself zoning out like I have with previous podcasts.

    The actual content of the podcast was the point that stood out most to me. It was the story of a young man's arrest and holding following receiving money from family members that lived in the Middle East. It was a type of content I had yet to run across in my short time of listening to audio podcasts and it honestly opened up a whole new side of audio storytelling for me. Listening to his emotional journey was chilling. The range for audio storytelling is so much greater than I had thought, and this recording made me excited to discover all the ways the medium has and is being used.

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  6. I listened to Joe Charnitski’s “Haunted, Abandoned, Insane” which was in the stories section of the site. I got a good laugh out of it because of the way he was telling the story of going to an abandoned insane asylum with his friends. You know a story is gonna be good when the speaker says he has a friend named Gumby. I had to listen to it twice because I had to stop laughing after listening to it because of how good it was. He said that he and his friends were trying to have an encounter with ghosts but instead they got chased down the road by someone and it scared them, especially since they got into a small crash. Joe also mentions that he was using his Aunt’s car and that he felt like he didn’t wanna take the blame for what happened to it because she was going through the early stages of dementia but in the end he did let her take the blame for what happened to the car in order to escape losing his driving privileges. The way he describes the chase makes me feel like I was there with him in the car which was great. It makes me wish I had friends like him and that we could go ghost hunting and have an adventure like that because it sounds dangerous yet cool. Joe was an amazing storyteller and I hope he tells more stories because his story was the best and I loved every minute of it. Seriously, ghost hunting with a friend named Gumby and evading danger of losing driving privileges, you don’t get any better than that. I think my favorite line was “Ghosts aren’t the problem, people are” or something like and it fit the story because he was so worried about what his parents were going to say about the car rather than being followed by ghosts or crazy cult members who haunt abandoned buildings.

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  7. Being an indecisive person, the title of “Yes, No, Maybe” from The Moth’s Stories section stood out to me. My interest in the reasoning for this title piqued my interested and became my choice. In this personal story, Kirsty Hawkings describes the school crush she had, which later escalated with a note asking, “Do you like me? Yes/No”. However, upon engaging in conversation about the note, Kirsty’s crush says that his friend actually wrote it as a joke. She is crushed after this rejection but eventually gets over it. Years later, the two of them meet at a bar and eventually get married (turns out, he actually did like her back at the time). Kirsty then reminds us of the divorce she vaguely mentioned that she was going through in the beginning, giving the story a not-so-happy ending. Nevertheless, she ends on a more optimistic note, confident that she will continue dating using the new technology from this era, for example, Tinder. Listening to the story told, a lot of personal memories came back to me, not just from high school days, but also the feelings of being younger, in love, and more naive. Because there was so much relatable content in her story, I was able to keep my focus more easily as well as imagine myself in her shoes. There were a lot of twists serving as punch lines in her story, which made her delivery seem more like stand-up comedy. All in all, it made me seem more connected to Kirsty as a person, even though all I did was listen to her tell a story.

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  8. I listened to Jonah Lehrer's story called Attachment. Jonah had been a well renowned and successful author before his fall from grace. He had gotten outed for plagiarism by another writer, and his entire career came to an abrupt end. He describes coming home early from a trip where he was giving a speech and having to explain to his wife what had happened and what he had done. He said it was not until this awful time in his life where he truly began to realize what he was grateful for. Before he lost his career, he had never spent much time with his daughter. He had never even put her to bed until she was 16 months old. Losing his career allowed him to gain his family in return. It taught him what love really was. He said that although he sometimes longs for that sound of applause and the feeling of success again, what he has learned about life and love as a result of that mishap was worth it.

    When telling the story, Jonah was very detailed. He allowed the listener to picture vividly the scene of him coming home and telling his wife what had happened, or days when he would be sitting with his daughter and letting her cover him with bandaids. You were able to capture the emotion that he intended in telling this story. Talking about the embarrassment he went through after that day must be difficult for him to do, and to admit that he was not much of a father before he lost everything.

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  9. I listened to Yes, No, Maybe by Kristy Hawkins; this story was so beautiful and delightful because she literally turned a painful part of her life into something laughable and uplifting for other people. This story sounded like a standup comedy because it had punch lines and it is extremely funny just like standup comedy. She used things that stereotypically would call untouchable subjects like divorce and old age to tell a comic story instead of just covering it up. I like how she gave a comparison of how relationships or crushes worked back then, it is crazy how different people interacted back then and how far technology has taken us today. Kristy stated that back then they would send letters if they had crushes on each other and then check yes or no stating if they liked the person back because there were no phones. It was just crazy to see how physical and how much effort was put into the things they did back then. In this generation, we barely even talk to each other anymore. Social media has taken away this experience of fully crushing on a girl and making the effort to find creative ways to win her over and get a chance to date them. In this generation we just go on social media and contact them. This lack of effort is taking away the beauty in relationships. In Kristy’s story even though it is definitely not one of the happiest stories out there, you can tell that the painful experience is a great addition to her life and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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  10. The Moth podcast I listened too was “The Proposal.” This podcast discusses the inner thoughts of a female proposing to her boyfriend, and the whole process of how she did the proposal. It was very reminiscent--not because i’m engaged, of course--in the sense that it is the innocent joyful love of a loving couple. It’s an ideal proposal story of how a proposal is supposed to be sentimental, and how the man is supposed to do them. However, this is a cute story of how a couple unknowingly proposes to each other. This sort of podcast is as if I am just listening to a friend speak to me. This feels more personal and open and more inviting to listen to. They exude a sense of community and personality by highlighting the individuals storytelling ability. With The Moth stories, there’s no certain structure that individuals have to follow, it’s more of the pace and style of the individual and that makes the storytelling more casual, comfortable, and immersive. It’s immersive in a sense because while I was listening to this in my car, I noticed myself laughing and tearing up a little bit--embarrassingly. These also represent an important aspect of an individual’s life, so it’s also a way to get to know people and become a well rounded human being. We see the good and sometimes bad memories of people we don’t understand, and sometimes we need that. We need to see other perspectives so our minds can be open the good and bad of others.

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  11. Dad:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z0O6hEeGQrXUOBh0JqaNo7ctnEu1pTLjTDFMUkt0i7g/edit?usp=sharing

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  12. I listened to a series of short stories from The Moth. The particular episode was titled “leaving, loving, and coming home” which focused on the human relationship to home, especially the yearning for a true sense of belonging. What caught my eye when browsing through the moth stories was quote attached to the episode: “We were in Ziggy’s world and no one wanted to go anywhere else.” Being familiar with David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, I was curious to find out if the story involved him. Sure enough it did. The account came from a woman named Suzie Ronson who worked as a hairdresser in Beckenham, London. This is where she met, Mrs. Jones who turned out to be David’s mother. From here she met his met his wife Angie. After successfully dying Bowie’s hair bright red at his request, the two became good friends. It was only a week later that the couple asked Suzie to go on the road with them. Promptly after, she resigned from her job and began a new life that was completely foreign to her. She recalled being in such a strange environment with avant-garde people. She didn’t even know Andy Warhol was. What I liked about this story was that even though her life changed completely, she still managed to find solace and a sense of belonging while on tour with David. Although this story was my favorite, the others were good as well. One was about Jonah Lehreh, who recounted his fall from stardom as an acclaimed journalist and the newfound connection he made with his family. Another, titled “Looking For Love in all the Dog Places” detailed the connection of a man and dog who was rescued when no one else wanted him, and finally, ”The First Cow” told of Albany Kucha’s flee from her village in Sudan to the place she now calls home in Portland, Maine. The thing I realized after listening to these stories was that many times people search for homes in places they see as familiar, when in reality, it is possible to find solace and comfort in places we never even dreamt of. I really enjoyed these stories, they all sounded very genuine, and there was no need for sound effects for me to make a connection.

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  13. I listened to The Met, Mrs. Vreeland, and Me by Andrew Solomon. The story was about how an awkward teenager who couldn’t find his niche, ended up finding one amongst a group of sophisticated people working in the Metropolitan Museum of Art who were in their own ways no different than the people he was trying to fit in with as a gawky teenager, except now he had the opportunity to do something greater than his peers.

    At first his voice felt a little snobby and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy listening to him speak, but as it progressed, the story softened me up to him. He changed his voice whenever someone else spoke and the voices were very distinct making it extremely dynamic, almost like there were actually other people performing his story with him. His flow was like a steady stream; pleasant. The flow was mainly thanks to punch line after punch line of sarcastic humor or funny situations that happened at the Met.

    The story was very inspiring. It started off with an awkward teenager and ended with an awkward teenager, but the change was finding his place in the world despite not being popular or having braces, or whatever it may be that limits someone from thinking they can’t achieve something. It also taught some other lessons throughout it, especially about standing out just enough while still keeping true to who are. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this podcast and related with Mr. Solomon with his search for finding himself and where to belong.

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  14. The Moth story I listened to was "Whatever doesn't Kill Me" by Ed Gavagan. I actually was in the car listening to WNYC and this came on. It started out with his memory of waking up in a hostpital bed, in pain, to two homicide detectives at the foot of his bed asking if he could identify the gang members that had tried to kill him. The story was about Ed beng randomly attacked by gang members trying to complete their initiation by killing a random person. The only reason Ed survived was because he knocked on of them out. THe rest of his story was about his ensuing struggle; he couldnt continue his business in building furniture, he didn't have insurance to cover all of his medical bills, he could no longer pay his rent and became homeless, and, on top of all of that, he was struggling with PTSD. He detailed how his life spun out of control, and how he realized eventually that he would never be able to get back what he used to have. He eventually moved in with a friend, a bartender, until he got back on his feet. He started working as a day laborer on different construction projects. He tried to get counselling to rebuild his life. The turning point of the story was when he realized he needed to regain control of his life by getting what he wanted. He asked his friend that he moved in with to marry him-- and she said no, because he was still recovering. As he worked to regain control of his life, 6 months later, she asked him to marry him.The story ended with him being married, successfully running his own company, with a two year old daughter. I was listening to this in the car with my mom, and we had pulled into the driveway and parked to listen to the rest-- and by the end, we were sobbing. This was by far the most emotional story I've ever heard on Moth.

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  16. The story I listened to was "The Girl from Backenham" which is a story of a woman who wasn't particularly good at doing anything. She established herself as a cosmetologist who specialized in hair. Little did she know that finding her way into hair changes her life forever. She meets the mother of a famous singer and sets up a way to get to the mothers house to get to the singer. She eventually cuts the singers hair and he loved it so much he took her on tour with him. She stuck around until the end and after all the concerts, she married him, and even had a child with him. Taking a chance and going after something or someone who interest you can take you a long way. Throughout her entire journey she was exposed to so much. Coming from a small town backround she entered the rock music scene and witness new things, like same-sex attractions and new countries. She may not have known how to react to all of it but she seemed to keep an open mind. She made something of herself and it was all because she took a chance. She loved every instance of her journey. She sounded very reminiscent of this memory she holds dear. She tied humor into it but was very sincere the entire time. The story was not particularly interesting but i did like how she conveyed it. The humor and emotion lured me in and kept me through it all.

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  17. I listened to a podcast called “Yes, No, Maybe” by Kirsty Hawkins from “The Moth”’s series. I really loved her storytelling ability right from the start. While she made countless jokes and had punchlines throughout her story, none of it felt fake, forced, or cheesy. She sprinkled humor into the tale exactly where and when it was needed. Furthermore, she ingeniously went full circle in her story, beginning with talking about how she was recently divorced, then delving into a story from her childhood which led into how she met her (now ex) husband, and then back into her current dating life post-divorce. What I enjoyed specifically was how she took a story that was not serious to the point of being upsetting or depressing since it took place way back when she was in middle school, but somehow made it relatable and made those listening understand her emotions at the time. By choosing a story that most have experienced, that of being rejected by a middle school or high school crush, and adding the occasional joke, I feel that Kirsty really connected with the live audience as well as those who will continue to listen to the podcast.

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