Does A 400-year-old Manuscript Prove That Australia Was Discovered By The Portuguese?

Manuscript KangarooThe Les Enluminures Gallery in New York recently purchased a 16th century manuscript from a rare book dealer in Portugal. The manuscript, dated between 1580 and 1620, features both text and music for a liturgical procession. The manuscript changed hand for the sum of $15,000.

When Laura Light, a researcher at the gallery, closely examined the content, she made an interesting discovery. She came across the image that looks closely resembles a kangaroo. She also found an image of two half-naked men wearing crowns of leaves.

Both images could prove that the Portuguese landed in Australia before the first recorded European landing by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. If true, the find would rewrite Australia’s history.

Australia’s The Age newspaper wrote that  “a kangaroo or wallaby in a manuscript this early is proof that the artist of this manuscript had either been in Australia, or even more interestingly, that travelers’ reports and drawings of the interesting animals found in this new world were already available in Portugal.”

Not everybody is convinced. Dr. Martin Woods of the National Library of Australia stated: “it could be another animal in south-east Asia, like any number of deer species, some of which stand up on their hind legs to feed of high branches“.

Other researchers argue that the manuscript may have been created a few years after Janszoon’s arrival in Australia, or could be the result of a 1526 Portuguese voyage to Papua.

Time (and a lot of research hours) will tell…

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing

Shia LaBeouf’s Weird Plagiarism Case

Howard CantourOn December 17, 2014 Shia LaBeouf released his short film Howard Cantour.com. It did not take long for sharp eyes to detect the uncanny resemblance to a comic strip by famous creatorDaniel Clowes.

LaBeouf took to Twitter to apologize for the mishap. Funny enough, even his mea culpa tweet seems to be plagiarized!

LaBeouf obviously does not know how to apologize. His tweet “[getting] lost in the creative process” doesn’t justify ripping off Daniel Clowes, especially considering the amount of time and work Clowes put into it.LeBeouf also answered numerous questions about the origins of the short movie without pointing out that he adapted it from the comic strip,Funny enough, even his apology about his plagiarism seems to be plagiarized! Andrew Hake noticed on Twitter that LaBeouf has already been caught once before in plagiarizing an apology. It seems that LaBeouf prefers trolling the Internet to find “his” apology instead of writing it himself.

According to Andrew S. Allen “We were led to believe by Shia and the filmmaking team that the story and script for HowardCantour.com was completely original,. There is a global outcry about the uncredited use of Daniel Clowes’ work. That didn’t come until it hit online. If it wasn’t for the legions of online Clowes fans, this may never have come to light.

As curators of a powerful but under-appreciated medium like short film where filmmakers spend years of work to make little or no money, the recognition you get from your work, and therefore attribution, is often all you have, so we take it seriously. Until Clowes grants permission and is credited in the work, we’ve pulled the film offline.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, users came together with the tongue-in-cheek hashtag #shialaboeuffilms to offer some suggestions for future projects LaBoeuf could create that would also be “inspired by someone else’s idea”:

Shia LaBeouf tried to close the unpleasant incident by stating that his behavior, tweets, plagiarism and public apologies were all part of his “performance art” for a project called #stopcreating. Guess what? He got the idea from Joaquin Phoenix.

Curious minds want to know – was that LaBoeuf’s final act of plagiarism?

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, TipTopWriter, Writing

Biographer Claims That Norman Rockwell Had “Gay” Tendencies To Boost Her Book Sales

therunaway.jpgArt critic Deborah Solomon penned a biography of Norman Rockwell, the popular painter and illustrator who passed away in 1978.

Her “American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell” was published in November 2013. In it, she claims that Rockwell had homosexual tendencies, and included sexual innuendo in some of his paintings.

Close friends and neighbors of Rockwell are livid. Jim Edgerton Jr. is one of four generations of Edgertons who modeled for Rockwell since the 1950s. He wrote an op-ed for the Berkshire Eagle criticizing Solomon’s biography.

He wrote: “My [family] completely refute the sexual allegations made by . . . [Solomon] . . . If my grandparents and [Aunt] Edith were still alive, they would say the same. As a close neighbor, they would know. The claim that he was a pedophile or had homosexual tendencies is baseless.”

Edgerton’s father, James “Buddy” Edgerton, and Nan O’Brien wrote a biography in 2009 with the title: “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families”. This biography was written with cooperation from the Rockwell family, in contrast to Solomon’s biography.

Solomon and her representatives were not available for comment.  A spokesperson of  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Solomon’s publisher) stated that Edgerton’s piece “misrepresents what Solomon says about Rockwell’s sexuality in the book.” Really?

My personal take? Solomon wants to sell her unauthorized biography by shocking potential readers.

Leave a comment

Filed under marketing, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing

Why the Real Snow White Was Murdered in Brussels

magaretaMany fairytales are based on real persons and events. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm made it their mission to preserve Germanic folktales.

One of the most popular tales is for sure Snow White. But few people now that the story is based on a cause célèbre that took place in royal circles. It involves star-crossed lovers, child labor and death by poison.

The tantalizing tale starts with the beautiful Margaret, daughter of Count Philipp IV of Waldeck-Wildungen and Margareta of Eastern Friesland. Margareta was Philipp’s sixth child. Her mother died when she was four. Her father remarried. His second wife Catherine of Hatzfeld was a strict stepmother. She died childless a few years before Margaret herself passed away.

Margaret grew up in Freidrichstein Castle near the German town of Waldeck.  Life for many was far from a fairytale exisance.

For one, the area was known for its mining activities. The Waldeck family owned gold, silver, copper, lead and iron mines. In the local copper mines, much of the work was done by small children. The brutal working conditions and malnutrition stunned their growth. They were referred to as “dwarfs”.

Furthermore, Margaret’s hometown was the hunting ground of a grisly murderer. A local man suspected some children of stealing from him, decided to take matters in his own hands by giving the little suspects poisoned apples.

By the time Margaret turned 16, her relationship with her stepmother had turned so bad, that her father decided to send her abroad. She went to live at the court of Brussels under the protection of Mary of Hungary. Needless to say, her father also sent her there to marry well.

The young beauty got the eye of two prominent suitors: the Spanish Crown Prince Philipp and the Dutch Count of Egmont. Both suitors showered her with gifts and attention. Margaret and Philipp became lovers and he contemplated marrying her. That created a major problem for Philipp’s father; Margaret was not eligible enough. Marriages at that time were alliances between families, not love matches. Margaret could not offer the future King of Spain Philipp II any interesting political ties or benefits.

Soon after, Margaret’s health started slowly to deteriorate as she mentioned in letters to her father. She also wrote her last will and testament in shaky handwriting resulting from tremors due to poisoning. When she passed away at the tender age of 21, rumor circulated that she had been poisoned by or someone who hated her or by the Spanish court to prevent Philipp from marrying her.

Her life might have been short, but her legend will live on for many more centuries to come!

(Image courtesy of the Royal Library in Bad Arolsen, Reference: Genealogica iconica seu picturata comitum in Waldeck, antehac in archivo asservata ca.1580)

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, Language, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing

Throwing The Book At Bookworms – Texas Style

eckPoor Jory Enck! He borrowed a GED study guide in 2010. He got it at the Central Texas community of Copperas Cove located about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

In September 2013, a new law came into effect that defines the failure to return library books as thef, which is a felony. The new law makes sense; non-returning of library books drains recourses. In Texas alone, the libraries loose an estimated $18 million in “lost” books (around 1 million items). Since many communities have to deal with shrinking budgets and rising costs, they are looking for ways to have their library items returned in time.

The Texas procedure is as follows. Any library item that is not returned within 20 days carries a fine of $200. If this fine is not paid in time, a warrant will be issued by the municipal court for theft.

That’s what happened to Mr. Enck. The police went to his address due to a reported disturbance. Once they arrived, they arrested based on a previous warrant for theft of the study guide. He was promptly arrested for theft since he failed to return his overdue library book.

Mr. Enck was released on a $200 bond, and returned the book in question to library. He also turned to the media to state that he wouldn’t set foot in a library again: He also said: “I think I will probably just purchase a book from Amazon.”

Mr. Eck forgot to mention that he had not been able to return the guide earlier since he had to serve a three-year prison sentence for robbery.

Texas is not the only state cracking down on people like Mr. Enck. Iowa jails this kind of offenders for one week. A man from Newton (Iowa) served jail time of more than a week for not returning six CDs and eleven library books with a total worth of a whopping $770. Vermont and Maine are also cracking down people that don’t return their library items.

The Enck incident is for now an oddity. However, it could happen far more frequently in the (near) future, especially since after such an arrest, long overdue library items are suddenly returned.

So what do you think? Are libraries (and the government) correct to crack down on people like Jory Enck to preserve their assets?

Leave a comment

Filed under Grammar, humor, Language, marketing, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing

Pixar’s Golden Rules For Storytelling – Excellent Advise For All Writers

pixarPixar Animation Studios is known for its animated feature and short films. The Emeryville-based enterprise is known for its compelling story lines.

Following are 23 rules that will help writers to hone their storytelling skills. Enjoy!

  1. A character is more admired for trying than for succeeding (e.g., Finding Nemo)
  2. What interests you as a writer can be very different from what the intended audience is interested in. (Remember Toy Story 2?)
  3. Trying for a theme is important, but keep in mind that only at the end of the story will it be clear what it’s all about; that’s also the time to start rewriting!
  4. The bare bones of a story consist of: Once upon a time there was […], Every day, […], One day […], Because of that […], and that […], Until finally […]
  5. Keep it simple and focus by combining characters and avoiding detours.
  6. Write about what the characters are good at and juxtaposition them against their polar opposites. (e.g., Shrek and Farquaad). 
  7. Describe how your characters deal with challenges. (e.g., Ice Age)
  8. Write the beginning and the end of the story. Only then write the middle part. (e.g., Casablanca)
  9. Once the story is finished, let it go. It will never be perfect and will only suffer from too many rewrites.
  10. When suffering from writer’s block, make a list of what will not happen next
  11. Analyze stories you like and find out why they speak to you since it influences your writing.
  12. Start writing down the story and start editing and/or sharing it. You cannot write the great American novel in your head.
  13. Be creative by disregarding the first few ideas that come to mind since they will be (too) obvious.
  14.  Characters should have opinions and attitude since your audience doesn’t like them to be passive, malleable and too perfect!
  15. Get to the core of the narrative by analyzing what drives you to write this specific story.
  16. Stay true to your characters by putting yourself in their situation. (e.g., Poirot)
  17. Make your audience root for your characters by letting them overcome difficulties or even making the fail. (such as  Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in The Perfume by Patrick Sueskind)
  18. Keep disregarded writing; it will be useful at a later stage or for a different story you will write at one point in the future
  19. Know yourself and realize when you are really writing or just tinkering around.
  20. Use coincidences to get characters into trouble, but never to get them out of it.
  21.  To find your style, take a novel, story, TV show or movie you hate and rearrange them to your liking!
  22. Put emotion in your writing by identifying with the story’s setting and characters.  
  23. Figure out what the essence of the story is and how to tell it in a concise way. This will be the basis for your storytelling.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Selfie” Has Been Named As New English Word Of 2013

imageAccording to Judy Pearsall, chief editor of the Oxford dictionaries, “selfie” was first used in 2002 in Australia. ‘Hopey’ posted a photo of himself on September 13, 2002 with the text:

Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

The term became popular throughout the English-speaking world during 2013. The use of the word “selfie” increased 17,000%. A search on photo sharing app Instagram retrieves over 23 million photos uploaded with the hashtag #selfie, and a whopping 51 million with the hashtag #me.

The Oxford dictionary defines “selfie” as: “photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

There are several kinds of selfies: Helfie (a picture of one’s hair), Belfie (a picture of one’s posterior), Welfie (a workout selfie), and Drelfie (a drunken selfie)

According to publisher Katherine Martin, the term “selfie” is a typical Australian word pun similar to “barbie” for barbecue, “firie” for firefighter and “tinnie” for a tin of beer.

Other words that made the shortlist:

  • Twerk – a raunchy dance move to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance
  • Showrooming – to check out merchandise in shops and then order online for a lower price
  • Binge-watching – watching a marathon of episodes of a TV
  • Schmeat – a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue
  • Bitcoin – a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank

Leave a comment

Filed under Grammar, humor, Language, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing