вторник, 10 июня 2008 г.

American Musicals

American musical theater uses singing, dancing, and music to tell interesting stories in exciting ways. People come from all over the world to see musicals on Broadway, New York City's theater district. Musicals are also staged in many other places. Some musicals start as movies, or are made into movies. A few famous musicals are listed here. The date after the name of the show is the year

Annie (1977), by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Here's how Little Orphan Annie was adopted by Daddy Warbucks. One featured song: "Tomorrow." Tony Award 1977.

Beauty and the Beast (1994), by Alan Menkin, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice. First it was a story. Then it was a movie in French. Then it became an animated movie musical. Now the tale of Belle and the Beast she came to love is brought to life on a stage.

Cats (1982), by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on poems about all kinds of cats written by T.S. Eliot, this play closed in 2000 after a record 7,485 performances. Its best-known song was "Memory." Tony Award 1983.

A Chorus Line (1975), by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban. The story of dancers whose dream was to be on the musical stage. Tony Award 1976.

Grease (1972), by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Teenagers in the 1950s sing and dance their way through high school. Grease was made into a movie starring John Travolta.

The Lion King (1997), by Elton John, Tim Rice, Mark Mancina, Roger Allers, and Irene Meechi. Based on the animated Disney movie, this show uses masks and puppets to tell the story of animals progressing through "The Circle of Life." Tony Award 1998.

Seussical (2000), by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The magic of The Cat in the Hat, Horton, and other Dr. Seuss favorites comes to the stage.

West Side Story (1957), by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. This groundbreaking show used music and dance to update the story of Romeo and Juliet to the West Side of Manhattan in New York City.

Titanic top

Togetherness goes only so far, as five American women ice hockey players at the Winter Olympic Games have found. They helped to win the gold for the US, but their pictures won't appear with the rest of the team on new boxes of Wheaties cereal. They're still students, and rules forbid college athletes' names or likenesses from being used for financial gain.

Speaking of likenesses, remember Lyuben Kovachev, the Bulgarian businessman cited in this space last week who bears a strong resemblance to Saddam Hussein? Iraq's leaders turned down his offer to serve in their new self-defense force. But perhaps they have another use in mind for him.

Another Milepost at the Box Office for 'Titanic' For the 10th weekend in a row, "Titanic" led all other films at box offices across the US and Canada Feb. 20-22, becoming the No. 2 moneymaker in industry history. Its gross revenues to date - $402.5 million - pushed ahead of "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and now trail only the $461 million earned by "Star Wars." Last weekend's top 10 films and their estimated grosses (in millions of dollars):

1. "Titanic" $21.0 2. "The Wedding Singer" 12.2 3. "Sphere" 7.7 4. "Good Will Hunting" 6.5 5. "Senseless" 5.3 6. "As Good As It Gets" 4.6 7. "The Borrowers" 4.0 8. "Palmetto" 2.9 9. "The Apostle" 2.4 10. "L.A. Confidential" 2.3

More Girls in School, but World Gender Gap Grows

Have you been summoned to jury duty recently? Results of a new study suggest that if you're impaneled for a trial you'll probably disregard the instructions of the judge in the case and vote according to your own attitudes and convictions. The Juror Outlook Survey found more than 1 respondent in every 6 who was likely to feel a bias against makers of tobacco products, asbestos insulation, or breast implants. One in 6 acknowledged a bias against politicians. And almost one-third distrusted any testimony by police officers.

Then there was the juror in Santa Rosa, Calif., whose vote could result in a new trial for an ex-felon found with a gun in his possession. George Mueller had been the only member of the panel who thought the defendant was innocent. But the jury deliberations were dragging the case close to the two-week mark, and Mueller "could not afford to miss any more" days of work. So he ended his holdout and voted to convict. Now the defense is seeking to have the case retried. More Girls in School, but World Gender Gap Grows

Comparing 1985 and 1995 statistics, a Population Action International study indicates 51 countries still have serious educational gender gaps, although others have made striking gains in educating girls. The Washington-based group says there were still 75 million fewer girls than boys in school in 1995, while the number of school-age children was rising. Most progress came in regions with the biggest gender imbalance - the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. The countries showing the greatest progress in reducing the gender gap:

1. Nepal
2. Oman
3. Algeria
4. Saudi Arabia
5. Togo
6. Lebanon
7. Congo
8. Egypt
9. Iran
10. Malawi

Ranking Nations in Terms Of Christian Persecution

File this one under Random Acts of Kindness. Newly married and not exactly rolling in wealth, Norma Hayduk was passing a park bench in Santa Fe, N.M., when she noticed an envelope sticking out between its slats. She might have continued walking if it hadn't had the words "For You" on the front. Curious, she picked up the envelope and found $100 in cash and a note inside. It said, in part: "Yes, this is for you.... Money comes [easily] in my life, and I am grateful for it. This is my way to express my gratitude. We live in an infinitely abundant universe. There is more than enough for all of us. Enjoy." The Hayduks say they'll put the $100 to good use and hope whoever left the envelope knows how much the gesture is appreciated.

It was, as they say, deja vu all over again when Earl Shaffer trudged out of the woods in northern Maine last week. The York Springs, Pa., resident, you see, is considered the first person to hike the entire 2,150-mile Appalachian Trail - covering it in 99 days in 1948. His 50th anniversary trip took 173 days. Will he try for a third? "Ab-so-lute-ly not!" Ranking Nations in Terms Of Christian Persecution

Saudi Arabia was the nation least tolerant toward Christians last year, a French group said last week. Paris-based Portes Ouvertes International (Open Doors International) is dedicated to protecting persecuted religious minorities. It rates countries annually on tolerance, using such criteria as attitudes of authorities toward Christians, the church's freedom to play a role in society, and relative level of discrimination. The 10 ranked least tolerant in 1997:

1. Saudi Arabia
2. Sudan
3. Somalia
4. Yemen
5. North Korea
6. Iran
7. Laos
8. Morocco
9. Vietnam
10. China

States With Most Firms On Fastest-Growing List

OK, you fancy yourself quite a movie buff. You've seen hundreds of releases, if not more. What would you say is the most memorable line of dialogue uttered on celluloid? If the decision of the compilers of the "Guinness Book of Films" counts for anything, it's "Bond - James Bond," by Sean Connery in the 1962 hit, "Dr. No." A close second, according to the publisher: Humphrey Bogart's "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" - from, of course, the 1942 classic, "Casablanca."

There are lawbreakers who delight in taunting the police, and then there's the inmate who escaped from Norway's Bastoey Prison one night last week. The facility is on an island in Oslo Fjord, so to make it to freedom on the mainland he had to steal the prison's rowboat. Once in the clear, he phoned back to report that he'd been successful. And then he complained that the boat was too heavy. States With Most Firms On Fastest-Growing List

California has nurtured more of the nation's 500 fastest-growing private companies than any other state, according to an annual survey by Inc. magazine. To qualify, firms had to have been independent and privately held through 1997. They had to have generated revenue for at least half of 1993 and reached $200,000 in sales in 1997. States with the most companies on Inc.'s top-500 list and the number listed for each:

1. California 83
2. Texas 44
3. Massachusetts 31
4. Virginia 26
5. New York 24
6. Florida 22 (tie) Illinois 22
8. New Jersey 20
9. Pennsylvania 19
10. Georgia 17
11. Maryland 16
12. Ohio 14
13. Colorado 13 (tie) Michigan 13
15. Missouri 12

'Antz' Is Proving Tough To Dislodge at Box Office

Strike another blow against the notion that all professional athletes are self-absorbed. Earlier this week, eight-year National Hockey League veteran Sheldon Kennedy rolled - literally - into Vancouver, British Columbia, and promptly threw a free party for the city's children, complete with a live band. A nice gesture. But there's more to the story. Kennedy had just completed a 136-day cross-Canada trip on in-line skates to raise money for a ranch he wants to build. A victim of child abuse, he plans the facility as a retreat for newer victims and their families.

The ferry system linking the Hebrides Islands with Scotland is reconsidering its tariff policy. Why? In April, the company offered round-trip discounts to farmers taking their livestock to market on the mainland. All summer, crews watched as families drove aboard with sheep in their cars - only to bring them back two weeks later, claiming there were no buyers. It seems the animals had been left at cooperating Scottish farms while the islanders vacationed elsewhere. The ferry system calculates it lost well into the hundreds of dollars. 'Antz' Is Proving Tough To Dislodge at Box Office

The novelty film "Antz" remained the most popular at theaters in the US and Canada for the second straight week. At the same time, industry analysts were calling Eddie Murphy's heavily promoted "Holy Man" a major disappointment, with only a fifth-place finish in its debut weekend. The top-grossing titles Oct. 9-11, in millions of dollars:

1. "Antz" $14.7
2. "Rush Hour" 11.1
3. "What Dreams May Come" 10.9
4. "A Night at the Roxbury" 6.1
5. "Holy Man" 5.1
6. "Urban Legend" 4.8
7. "Ronin" 4.7
8. "There's Something About Mary" 2.8
9. "One True Thing", 1.9 10. "Saving Private Ryan" 1.3

Domain reselling!!!

Apparently a million dollars doesn't go as far as it used to. While it would still buy a lifetime supply of Diet Pepsi and dozens of Honda Civics, a cool million is now only good enough for a pair of top-level gay-oriented websites. In early November, the www.Gays.Com domain sold through Sedo's online marketplace for $500,000, making an interesting story about what the future holds for a company like Franchise Management International (OTC: FMII). Franchise is pending closure of a binding letter of intent with Netadventures, Inc to acquire the www.GayTravel.Com website in addition to a dozen other similar domain names. Upon closing the deal, Franchise would apparently join a short list of gay-friendly companies like PlanetOut (NASDAQ: LGBT), which currently trades on the Nasdaq, and Triangle Multimedia (OTC: QBID), a pinksheet startup which saw its gay and lesbian television network terminate its signal in May of 2006 due to financial problems.

Interestingly, despite the large gay market and relative scarcity of gay and lesbian public companies, Franchise's stock has remained quiet over the past few weeks. After an initial surge to over $.015 on the announcement of the binding letter of intent, the stock was bidding at $.0028 (less than 1/3 of a penny) on Wednesday afternoon with virtually no public interest. With a believed public market of less than 150M outstanding shares, Franchise is ironically valued about $80,000 less than the single www.Gays.Com website was sold for.

According to data on its website, www.GayTravel.Com had booked over 2.5M visits and over 26M hits from a period of 2003-2004. As claimed, they do appear to have the top �organic' search ranking through informal testing done on Google and Yahoo!.

Franchise trades on the loosely-regulated PinkSheets Quotation Service, and does not file periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. While this is fairly typical of small companies with a limited operating history, it certainly requires a larger burden on the individual investor. According to language in the Franchise press release announcing the binding letter of intent, the acquisition should close by early February.

About Franchise Management International

Franchise Management International, Inc is a premier provider of public charter and transportation services. The company has recently announced a binding letter of intent to acquire the www.GayTravel.Com website and other assets of NetAdventures, Inc.

On Wednesday, the company traded at $.0028, up 12%, on 25,000 shares traded.

About Triangle Multimedia

Triangle Multimedia was the former operator of the Q-Television Network, which terminated its signal in May of 2006. For more information, visit http://www.cinemaxpictures.com.

On Wednesday, the company traded at $.0001, no change, on 1,600,000 shares traded.

About PlanetOut Inc

PlanetOut Inc. is the leading global media and entertainment company exclusively serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

PlanetOut's digital media brands include Gay.com, PlanetOut.com, Advocate.com, Out.com, OutTraveler.com and HIVPlusMag.com, as well as localized versions of the Gay.com site in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. PlanetOut print media brands, published by LPI, include The Advocate, Out, The Out Traveler and HIVPlus, as well as SpecPub, Inc. titles. Transaction services brands include e-commerce Web sites Kleptomaniac.com and BuyGay.com, travel and events marketer RSVP Vacations, book publisher Alyson Publications, and direct marketer Triangle Marketing Services, among others.

PlanetOut, based in San Francisco with additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, London and Buenos Aires, offers Global 1000 and local advertisers access to what it believes to be the most extensive multi-channel, multi-platform network of gay and lesbian people in the world. For more information, please visit www.planetoutinc.com .

On Wednesday, the company traded at $4.25, down 4%, on 66,932 shares traded.

Important Disclosures and Other Information

THIS IS NOT AN OPINION TO BUY OR SELL SECURITIES. PQL Research, its affiliates, and its members, may hold various positions in Franchise Management International and/or Triangle Multi-Media and/or PlanetOut acquired in the open market at prevailing prices. It should be understood that these entities have intent to sell their holdings in Franchise Management International and/or Triangle Multi-Media and/or PlanetOut, whether for a profit or a loss, at any time, and for any reason. PQL Research editor Tim Fostik does not currently hold shares of Triangle Multi-Media or PlanetOut. PQL Research has been compensated 220,000 free-trading shares of Franchise Management International, Inc by a third-party to the company (Undiscovered Equities), to provide this report and subsequent coverage of Franchise Management International on PQL Research websites. PQL Research intends to sell this position into the open market, but as of the date of this publication PQL Research has not yet done so. PQL Research and its editors have not been compensated by Triangle Multi-Media or PlanetOut in any fashion for this release or coverage on any PQL Research website or service. PQL Research makes clear that its coverage(s) of securities are in no way expected to be �impartial' and often omit information that it may consider undesirable. Except factual information disclosed in company filings and/or press releases, all information cited in this release is to be considered speculative. PQL Research and Editor Tim Fostik are not licensed investment analysts, brokers, or dealers, and therefore, are not qualified to render investment advice. Investors are encouraged to seek qualified investment advice from licensed professionals as well as the many resources on the US Securities & Exchange Commission website at www.sec.gov.

Guess what? Juicy stories sell

AT THE risk of doing a Ratner, I have to admit: newspapers are a flawed source of investment advice. Newspapers, in common with your stockbroker, your independent financial adviser, your friend's brother's friend in the City and whoever sends those e-mails about American microstocks that are poised to explode, provide information with an ulterior motive in the hope of making themselves a profit.

A newspaper's ulterior motive, of course, is to entertain. The aim is to tell the most interesting story possible, in an effort to convince you to make the same choice of reading matter tomorrow.

While this may seem obvious, it creates a tricky conflict. In Britain's popular press, the definition of what is interesting is set by the general reader rather than the shareholder. Playing the markets is not yet our national pastime, so the potential audience for good news tends to be dwarfed by readers wanting disasters, scandals and failures. As a result, our papers can sometimes fall into the trap of emphasising the negatives: company profits slump on a day the shares rose, or economies head towards recession when their benchmarks do not budge. Never let the prices stand in the way of a good story.

That is not to suggest that British newspaper coverage is sensationalist or malevolent. It is simply that investors and news editors tend to work off a different agenda. Journalists are, by definition, reporting the past, while investors and analysts are guessing the future. Analysts with in-depth knowledge of any security will work to incorporate all possible good and bad news into the price long before the fact. This collective pricing of expectations is why markets often move in opposite directions to headlines.

So is there any reason why investors should pay attention to the media's worst excesses? If traders can, collectively at least, see through the hyperbole, is it right to assume that the media have no influence on the markets?

Perhaps not, although the actual effect may be quite subtle. The biggest influence on markets seems to be when the bad news is so juicy that it gets every drop squeezed out over days and weeks. Though price reactions tend to be relatively dispassionate when news breaks, a drip-feed of ugly headlines can damage investor sentiment even when the basic reasons for investment are unchanged.

Take BP. The oil group has spent much of the year limping between catastrophes, both real and reported. Its main US refinery exploded. Its Alaskan field lies idle after pipelines wore paper-thin. Its showcase Thunderhorse rig in the Gulf of Mexico faces three years of unplanned repairs. Its oil traders allegedly connived to inflate prices. Its senior management squabbled over succession plans. Its Russian assets were reportedly under threat of confiscation by nettled Moscow officials.

None of these stories knocked a hole in earnings forecasts, nor did they hit shares by more than a couple of points on any single day. Yet between April and September, BP stock dropped as much as 13 per cent, erasing almost a tenth of its value relative to Shell and underperforming ExxonMobil by nearly 20 per cent.

Lucas Herrmann, of Deutsche Bank, says that the sheer volume of press coverage gave an impression that BP's problems were endemic. Investors came to believe that the group had a culture of underinvestment and shoddy business practices, he argues. Moreover, the negative headlines drowned out positives such as BP's Azerbaijan project, which is running ahead of schedule and on budget. Deutsche Bank was advising clients to buy BP shares last week, claiming that its woes were overstated and shares oversold.

So is it sensible for investors to look for embattled companies? While this is a hugely risky strategy, it can be profitable. A little more than a year ago Marks & Spencer finally shook off its reputation as the hapless, dowdy frump on Britain's high street as it became impossible to deny the turnaround achieved under Stewart Rose, appointed chief executive 18 months earlier. Shares have since doubled.

In the latter months of last year, just as the M&S rally began, Compass grabbed the headlines with allegations that it had acted improperly to win business from the United Nations. Yet even before last week, when it settled the case to little media fanfare, the shares had rebounded by nearly 50 per cent.

As for BP, it is far too early to judge whether its recent failings are endemic or unfortunate. But it is worth noting that, as press coverage tailed off last month, its shares have outperformed both their peers and the wider market.

It would be a mistake for investors to ignore newspapers: they are, after all, one of the few sources of impartial, untainted advice available to the private shareholder. But when the average reader's tastes and predelictions are being put first, it may be sensible to try to look beyond the headlines.

One has got his story

Barney Davis said he was flipping through a magazine decades ago when an ad for miniature donkeys from the Mediterranean Islands caught his eye.

The 93-year-old said he and his wife, Pam, decided the small equines would make interesting gifts for each other to celebrate their anniversary. So they bought a pair.

"We just did it as a lark to begin with because they were cute," Davis said Friday as he sat in his apartment at the Carriage Inn retirement community in Bryan. "We didn't know we'd go into the business."

The couple, who will have been married for 64 years in August, named the male and female donkeys B.D. and Abby -- B.D. for Davis' initials and Abby because Pam's middle name is Abigail, he said.

"We brought them on home and didn't know one thing about donkeys," he said, chuckling.

Eventually, the pair grew into a herd on Davis' Somerville ranch. Davis, who served as mayor of Somerville for two years in the early 1980s, said he loved watching how the young foals interacted with each other, so he started taking notes.

"They were acting like children," he said. "We just played with them like they were babies. I started writing down little things I liked about them, then I collected that and just began writing a little story."

Davis said he decided years ago to get his story about two miniature donkeys published as a children's book. But his many attempts were rejected by each publisher he contacted, he said.

"They'd write back and say, 'It's an interesting story you have, but ...,'" Davis said. "They always had a 'but.'"

The Fair leads to some interesting stories

From a wayward steer to a mysteriously missing prize bunny, The Puyallup Fair wound down Sunday after an eventful year.

More than 1.1 million people visited The Fair over its 17-day run, which didn't set any records as poor summer weather loomed over most of The Fair's season. Still, it ranked in the top 20 fairs in terms of attendance during The Fair's 107-year history.

"We had our share of drizzle and a real shift in weather," said spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme. "The show must go on."

But great weather on The Fair's opening day generated the second largest opening day in its history, and the largest in three decades.

Many of the 71,213 people through the gates on the first day also brought donations for the Puyallup Food Bank this year, generating more food supplies for the agency than its annual main event through the U.S. Postal Service.

The record for opening day attendance is 74,716 set in 1975.

This year, The Fair's four-legged visitors created their own drama to get into the history books.

Harvey, a 2,040-pound steer on show at The Fair, broke through a plate-glass window. Apparently, Harvey was attempting to get closer to a cow, named Maybell, he had been eyeing for a while.

"He was attracted and she just wouldn't pay any attention to him," LaFlamme said.

The problem? Maybell was a plastic cow on display to show children how to milk udders.

The window was quickly boarded up to discourage Harvey.

That steer wasn't the only animal making headlines at The 2007 Fair.

A bunny rabbit named RJ mysteriously disappeared from The Fair just hours after winning a blue ribbon.

During a widespread search for the rabbit, a Puyallup School District groundskeeper stumbled across a box at the Quest Advanced Learning Center and nudged it with his foot. Out popped RJ.

Puyallup police gave the prized bunny a VIP escort to the fairgrounds so RJ could be positively identified.

"There were about 25 police officers all surrounding this little bunny," LaFlamme said.

His identity was confirmed not only because of the "RJ" on his ear, which anyone could have put there, LaFlamme said, but because there wasn't much fur on his paw.

As luck would have it, RJ had been judged shortly before disappearing and lost points because of the paw fur flaw.

It was the first time LaFlamme has ever seen anything like it. Checking around, she couldn't find anyone else who had heard of a 4-H pet being kidnapped at previous fairs.

There are still no leads about who stole the rabbit or how it ended up on school district property.

"But, it was a happy ending," she said.

For the second year in a row, The Fair continued to reach into Tacoma.

Puyallup firefighters representing The Fair visited Mary Bridge Children's Hospital for a day and brought some of the festival atmosphere to its young patients.

The firefighters handed out stuffed animals for patients, provided by Funtastic, along with Fair scones and Wilcox chocolate milk.

Two cartoon characters from The Fair accompanied the firefighters and brought a little cheer to the sick children.

Those who enjoyed it most seemed to be the older youth in their mid-teens, LaFlamme said. Perhaps it reminded them of fonder childhood memories.

"It just worked out beautifully all the way around," LaFlamme said. "We said we definitely wanted to do it again."

Other Fair excitement came from Gov. Chris Gregoire's visit on the last day. To help kick off the YMCA's healthy living program, she strapped on a pedometer and tracked her mileage around the fairground from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

"We were just so pleased to have her here," LaFlamme said.

Gregoire tasted scones, visited exhibits and answered the questions of anyone who came up to her during the same.

All-in-all, LaFlamme said, The Fair was a success.

history mystery

Do you like to ask questions? Do you like to dig into the past? If you do, then you can be your family's story detective. By talking with people and asking the right questions, you can uncover stories from the past — history — from someone who was actually there. You can solve mysteries about who you are and where you came from. When you record or write down these stories, you are making sure that important information won't get lost forever. Imagine: A hundred years from now, other kids might hear your grandma's stories because you saved them. GETTING STARTED: COLLECTING CLUES

First, choose someone to interview. Older relatives might have the oldest stories, but other relatives might have interesting stories, also. Think of Mends, too — remember that you don't have to limit your sleuthing to your family. For your first interview, make sure you choose someone who likes to talk.

Next, write down a list of questions. Test your questions by reading them out loud. Rewrite any questions that could be answered with a simple yes or no. The best questions encourage long, thoughtful answers. For example, if you ask, "When did our family come to America?" the answer might be just a year or a date. But if you ask, "How did our family come to America?" you could get a whole story.

Be sure to collect basic facts, such as each person's name, age, and birth place. Then ask questions like these to help uncover interesting stories:

* What was your life like before you came to America?
* How was it different in America?
* How did you feel when you first arrived in America?

Sometimes, people don't remember how their family came to America. In that case, your questions might give you clues to other mysteries. For example, you might ask:

* What did you do for fun when you were growing up?
* What was school like when you were a kid?
* What were some of your favorite family meals or special treats?
* How did you celebrate holidays and birthdays?
* What are your favorite family traditions or treasures?
* Do you have any old photos you can share with me?

Often, these questions lead to new questions and great stories. THE INTERVIEW: SOLVING THE MYSTERY

When you're ready for the interview, you'll need a pencil and a piece of paper to write down the answers. Or you can use a tape recorder or video camera and take notes later. (If you use a recording device, make sure to test your equipment first: You don't want to get started and find that you have dead batteries or no tape.)

Find a time and a quiet place to interview, where you won't be interrupted. Don't rush; give your interviewee time to think about his or her answers. Pay attention to the answers so you can follow up with more questions. For example, if Uncle Rudy tells you that his family came from Germany, you might ask:

* Why did they come to America?
* How did they get here?

Before you finish, ask one more question: "Can you think of anyone else I should interview?" The more people you talk with, the more mysteries you solve and the richer your story will be. Finally, be sure to thank everyone for their time. SHARING THE STORIES

You are ready to share your detective work with the world! Look over your notes or listen to your recording. What did you discover? Is there an interesting story to retell? Are there important facts to share? Here are a few ways to present the evidence you collected. Of course, you might come up with other ideas, such as:

* Rewrite your favorite story into a picture book. Illustrate it with photographs or your own drawings. At the end, be sure to mention your sources: Where did you get your information?
* Collect family photos and arrange them in an album. Write a fact, memory, or story caption for each one.
* Make a family poster or collage.
* Use a computer to create a multimedia presentation. You could even use the voice of the person/people you interviewed.

A long and interesting story

Timothy lived in a cottage high on a mountain with his aunt Lucretia. Lucretia was a wizard s daughter and made potions and magic spells for the villagers below. One morning she said to Timothy, "I want you to gather some of the yellowroot that grows up by the stream. It's for a potion I'm making, so don't dawdle along the way."

"I won't," said Timothy.

Lucretia sighed. Timothy always meant to do the things she asked, but he was as curious as a puppy and he often forgot. Then there would be no wood for the fire or butter for the bread.

"You'd better not," she said, "or I might turn myself into a crow and snip off your nose."

Timothy grinned. Aunt Lucretia was teasing, but he knew that she really could change herself into a crow or a frog or whatever else she wished.

"I won't dawdle," he promised again and set off up the slope, whistling.

But instead of going straight to the stream, he remembered a nest of robin eggs he wanted to look at. Then he followed a bee until he lost track of it in a bush. When at last he came to the stream, he was surprised to see an old woman wading across it barefoot. She wore a long, ragged skirt of red velvet, and her snow-white hair fell in braids over her shoulders. She looked almost like Aunt Lucretia, except that Lucretia had hair the color of beech leaves in autumn.

Timothy scrambled down the bank and helped the old woman up.

"Thank you, sonny," she said in a creaking voice as she sat down on a large rock.

Timothy stared at her curiously. "Excuse me," he said, "but where have you come from? And why were you wading across the stream?"

"Well, sonny," said the woman, flapping her skirt to dry it, "that is a long and interesting story. If you have the time, sit down, and I'll tell you about it."

Timothy quickly sat down on a rock.

When I was a young girl (said the woman, looking at Timothy), I had a pet dragon. My father was a great king and could afford to buy me anything I wished. It was a very small dragon and probably would have made a very nice pet. But I was rather a nasty child, and when found out that my dragon hated to be teased, I spent all my time thinking of new ways to torment it.

"Supper's ready, Dragon, dear," I would call, and then put out a dish full of mud. I hid its rubber ball in a bucket of tar and one night I tied pillows on its back and made it look like a camel. The next morning my dragon had disappeared.

I pretended not to care, but I remembered a great golden tear the last time it had looked at me.

"Poor little dragon!" I cried. "I'm going to find you and I'll never mistreat you again!" And I set out to look for it.

Nobody I met on the road had seen a lost dragon, but after many miles I heard strange snuffling noises coming from behind a hedge. Eagerly, I ran to look and was surprised to see--not my dragon--but an old man sitting by a fire and crying into a large red handkerchief.

"Oh, you poor man," I said. "Why are you crying?"

The old man looked up and blew his nose. "That," he said, "is a long and interesting story. If you have the time, sit down, and I will tell you about it."

So I sat by the fire next to him, and he began.

Many years ago, I was a soldier in the King's Guard (he said). I was young and eager for adventure, but guarding the king was about as exciting as oatmeal. He was never in any danger. Just when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever draw my sword, word came from a nearby village that a terrible monster was making mincemeat of the population. Seeing my chance for adventure, I rode to the village and followed the trail of burned cottages and uprooted trees to the mouth of a large, dark cave. I tied my handkerchief over my horse's eyes and drew my sword.

"Monster," I cried, "come forth and fight!" With a roar like an exploding cannon, it leaped out of the cave. My horse threw me to the ground and ran for his life.

I remained where I was, for I did not have the strength to rise. The monster towered over me. Its nine heads--three dragon, three lion, and three snake--breathed fire. Its tail rattled with glistening spines as long as spears.

"Monster," I cried, "can you explain your wicked deeds?"

The nine heads glared at me. Then the middle one--a lion--roared, "That is a long and interesting story. If you have the time, sit down, and I will tell you about it."

"I am sitting down," I said. "Go on with your story."

Very well (said the monster, settling itself on its fifty haunches). Long ago, I was human, the only daughter of a poor, widowed stonecutter. My father and I had little, but we loved each other dearly. One day a rich merchant asked my father to cut the stones for a house he was building. The man liked my father's work so much that when he died, he left my father his house and all the treasures in it.

My father and I were overjoyed, but our good fortune soon turned bad. The merchant had a sister who was an evil witch. When she heard that she had got no share of her brother's treasures, she stormed down from her cottage in the mountains and burst into our new house.

"A curse on you, stonecutter," she cried. "My brother was a fool, but you shall be a bigger one!" She waved her hands with a noise like thunder.

Suddenly my father forgot everything that had happened. He became frightened at finding himself in the merchant's house drinking from gold cups, and he insisted that we put on our ragged clothes and go back to our shabby little hut.

"No, Father, it's a trick," I cried, clinging to his hand.

"Get out, girl," the witch snarled, pointing her bony finger at me. "If I ever see you again, you will bring a more terrible curse upon yourself!"

Three weeks later, my poor father died, penniless. I went back to the merchant's house, but the witch had left it as bare as an eggshell.

Furiously, I set off for the witch's cottage. But the path I was following began to behave strangely. It kept leading me to the edges of cliffs, or into tangles of thom bushes. Finally I became completely lost. I wandered for days, nearly dead with hunger and thirst.

At last I came upon a little stone cottage and collapsed on the doorstep. A short, chubby man with a curly beard carne out to see what the trouble was.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I whispered, trying to sit up. "Please, who lives here?"

The little man looked at me with eyes like shiny black buttons.

"That is a long and interesting story," he said, "but it's none of your business. And will you please tell me why you're sitting there instead of picking yellowroot for your aunt as you were asked to do?"

Yellowroot! Timothy nearly fell off his rock. The chubby man, the daughter, the monster, the soldier, and the princess disappeared like smoke.

"Aunt Lucretia!" he cried. For the white-haired old lady had turned into his autumn-haired young aunt.

"Yes, it's me," she laughed. "I believe you would have sat listening to that story for the rest of the week! Do try not to dawdle so much, won't you?"

And Timothy did try."