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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
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Apr 29
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Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Please join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)See video of Act 1, Scene 1: The SettingProgram Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Reader: Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23

Palenque, the book; and George Stuart, Mayanist from Barnardsville

“Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya” roots in Barnardsville

by Rob Neufeld

See about Oct. 24, 2013 event at UNC Asheville

 

            One of the gateways to the glory of Mayan civilization is Barnardsville.  There, in a building circled by mountains, resides the library of George Stuart, who, with his son, David Stuart, has produced the book, Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya, the public’s introduction to the city that time forgot.

            For thirty years, the elder Stuart had been the staff archaeologist for National Geographic; and for seventeen, its Vice-President of Research and Exploration.  He is the author of such non-fiction best-sellers as The Mysterious Maya and Discovering Man’s Past in the Americas.  David Stuart, Schele Professor of Ancient Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas, Austin, is the world’s leading interpreter of Maya glyphs.

            Together, they have pieced together and gift-wrapped a rapidly growing body of research on the Maya’s best-preserved capital city—Palenque, obscured for a millennium by jungle and interpretive jumble.  David, at an early age, had been one of the scholars instrumental in unpuzzling the record.

 

How discovery works

 

            To tell the story of “Palenque,” the book, it is necessary to do a little digging into the layers of the Stuarts’ lives.

            At age twelve, George Stuart took an interest in arrowheads and pottery on display in Norman Fohl’s antique store in Camden, South Carolina.  “Are these for sale?” George asked.  “No,” Fohl said, “but I’ll take you out to a field and you can find some of your own.”  The local scholar took George under his wing. 

            George was out poking around the hills of Camden when University of Georgia archaeologists arrived and, impressed by the 17-year-old, hired him to draw skeletons.  It eventually got George the job of surveyor of the Etowah Mounds in Georgia, and, later, monuments in Dzibilchaltun, Yucatan.  Returning in 1960, he became a National Geographic cartographer.

            In 1973, George and his late first wife, Gene Stuart, took their four children, ages eight to eighteen, to Cobá in the Yucatan, where they made their home for two years.  “We lived in a thatched house that we had built,” George recounts.  “They (the children) learned more there than they ever learned in their lives, before and after.”  David, the youngest, was so bored, “he decided to take his crayons and pencils and go out and draw hieroglyphic monuments,” while his father surveyed the ruins.

           

Xoc and awe

 

            At age twelve, David Stuart accompanied leading Maya scholar, Linda Schele, to Palenque to help draw hieroglyphs.  When he returned, he delivered a paper to an international Maya archaeology roundtable, showing how the hieroglyph “xoc” (pronounced “shock”) was not simply a symbol for the word, “count,” but a phonetic letter of an alphabet, representing the vowel, “oo.”

            It had not been easy to figure this out, for the Maya were playfully artistic calligraphers.  The “oo” letter took several forms, including an abstract bracket and a jaguar’s head.  At any rate, the discovery, along with a few others, busted open the field, for soon archaeologists could not only translate the many tablets and writings the Maya had left; they could speak them aloud.

            At eighteen, David won a MacArthur grant based on his insights into blood imagery in Maya glyphs.  He was the youngest recipient that year. 

            People magazine called.  Dan Rather called.  David told Rather, George recalls, that “he was only going to give two interviews, and one was to the Washington Post because it was a local paper (the Stuarts were living in Silver Spring, Maryland); and the other was to Teen magazine.”  Fame was considered counter-productive.

 

Truly sensational

 

            The study of Mayan civilization—at its height in Palenque in the seventh century A.D. during the reign of King Pakal—is not just a magic lantern of sensationalism, though P.T. Barnum made use of it, touring two Salvadoran midgets, billed as “Aztec Lilliputians,” in the 1850s.  The Maya and their city, Palenque, require a changed understanding of pre-modern people.

              The Stuarts’ book illuminates the greatness of central American Indians—their architecture, art, educational system, world view, economic system, and technology.  With unadorned, lucid wording, matched by explanatory graphics, the authors tell the story of Mayan history and worldwide discovery at Palenque, the urban core of which included over 1,500 structures on a square mile shelf of land at the confluence of rivers.

            The tablets, a mixture of history and mythology, trace kings back to a progenitor, “Snake Spine,” who assumed the throne on March 28, 967 B.C.  (The Mayan calendar and its correlations with ours are a complex affair; and the hoopla about 2012 and the “end of times” is one of dozens or readings of what is just the end of a cycle.)

            The Stuarts take us through the centuries by explaining how glyphs are read and compared to flush out human details and historical shifts.  The story of King Pakal is particularly rich, the equal of “I, Claudius,’ as Pakal’s mother had to rule while the boy underwent a thorough private education.

 

Local and timely connections

 

            Palenque has special relevance for us.  Southeastern mound builders are of the same root culture. 

            Mayan lifeways inspire us.  For example, the Mayan notion of co-essences, by which every individual has a companion spirit—usually in the form of an animal—was adopted in 1995 by Philip Pullman for his best-selling children’s novel, “The Golden Compass.”  That was only six years after David Stuart, at the ripe age of twenty-four, had teamed with Stephen Houston at Vanderbilt University to explain the “way” glyph.

            George Stuart’s Barnardsville connection began fifteen years ago on a visit to his daughter, Ann, a veterinarian in the area.  He spotted his dream property and had Ann keep in touch with the owner, who called a few years later with an offer. 

            “I retired early from National Geographic just so we (he and his wife, Melinda) could get here quicker,” Stuart says.  He is in the process of donating parts of his collection to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The little road between his house and library is marked with a sign, “Yucatan Street.”

 

BOOK REVIEWED

Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya by George Stuart (Thames & Hudson hardcover, Nov. 2008, 240 pages, $34.95)

            

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