"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Legend of NaBloPoMo

A lot of my blogger friends have been very prolific lately, having decided to write an entry in their online journals every single day for the next month. I am very happy for them, and look forward to reading their posts with great anticipation. Last year I participated in the blogging frenzy myself, but after much reflection and gnashing of teeth, I have decided not to join in again this year. For one thing, my output lately has been pathetic -- a paltry sum of only nine posts during the month of October, and only one so far in November -- so I have very little faith in my ability to come up with a post each day this month. And even if I did, they would be horrible. To give you a perfect example of this, a friend in the UK (whom I refer to as "The Madman Across The Water") recently sent me a little bit of British Humour (hah!) that goes like this:
"Council tax re-valuers want to charge us more if we live in a nice area. So, that ought to mean discounts for those of us who live in rough areas. We have a huge council house at the end of our street. The extended family who live there is run by a grumpy old woman with a pack of fierce dogs. Her car isn't taxed or insured, and doesn't even have a number plate, but the police still do nothing. Her bad tempered old man is famous for upsetting foreigners with his racist comments. A shopkeeper blames him for ordering the murder of his son and his son's girlfriend, but nothing has been proved yet. All the kids have broken marriages except the youngest, who everyone thought was gay. Two grandsons are meant to be in the Army but are always seen out in nightclubs. The family's odd antics are always in the papers. They are out of control. I mean, honestly - who would want to live near Windsor Castle?"
Now keep in mind that had I been participating in the Big Blog-athon this month, that little bit of piffle you just read above would have taken up an entire post, people. Worse yet, since groaning about Nablopomo is one of the most popular topics to write about during Nablopomo, there would be at the very least several entries expressing the general theme "I have nothing to write about, but I'm posting anyway", as I did ad nauseum last year. I might even be reduced to posting full-color photos of my big toe. There would be a great hue and cry in the comments of "For the love of God, someone stop him before he posts again!"

No, it would not be pretty, and you should thank me for not writing every day. I am doing you a favor, honestly.

However, since Nablopomo is a hot topic in the Blogosphere right now and thousands of people are participating, I thought I would write at least one post about it as there seems to be a lot of confusion about what "Nablopomo" means and how it got started. While many people think it stands for "National Blog Posting Month", I know the true story.

In reality, NaBloPoMo was the name of the wise chief of a small, relatively obscure group of Indians who lived in upstate New York in the early 1800's. NaBloPoMo of The PoCoNos, as he was known, was different from most other Indians of his day who were warlike and uncommunicative; instead, Nablopomo was well-educated and had traveled extensively, and taught his people advanced language skills which they would use in creative, often sarcastically humorous ways.

One day in the late fall of 1807, the Pocono Tribal Council had gathered for one of their big pow-wows. There was an exchange that went something like this:

Indian #1: "All hail Nablopomo, our wise and well-educated Chief!"

Rest of Indians (in unison): "Huzzah!"

Nablopomo: "Thank you my brothers."

Indian #2: "Tell us, oh wise Nablopomo. The sun sinks low in the sky and the days are becoming short. Our people are bored and restless and in need of an activity which will bring them together in peace and harmony. What shall we do?"

Nablopomo: "I have a vision. I want all the tribe to go into the forest and gather tree bark and berries. We will grind up the tree bark with water, pound it into a paste and press it into thin sheets. After it dries into parchment, we will mix the berry juice with animal tallow and make it into ink. Then, every day for a month, we will use chicken feathers dipped in this ink to record every detail of our lives. We will write down all of our thoughts about every thing that happens to us or anyone we know, and then attach these writings to the log of a big tree in the center of camp. Each day, the tribe will gather at this big log, or "b'log" as I will call it for short, to read these writings."

(Indians look confused and murmur nervously amongst themselves. Finally one speaks up.)

Indian #3: "But Nablopomo, the cold of winter approaches and this is surely much work and effort to do these things you ask. How will it benefit the tribe?"

Nablopomo: "We will all feel really good about ourselves and have a great sense of accomplishment."


Nablopomo: "And maybe we'll bake cookies."

Rest of Indians (in unison): "Huzzah!"

Nablopomo: "Hey, don't bogart that peace pipe."

And so it came to pass that every day for the next month, Nablopomo and his tribe indeed wrote down everything that crossed their minds, and posted their thoughts on the big log for all to see. They posted recipes for pemmican and caribou, and drew pictures of their family and pets.

There was also much gossip about members of other tribes. For example, among the nearby Buffalo Spears clan was a young squaw who was said to have been able to calm savage beasts with her lovely singing voice, and mesmerize young braves with her lithe movements. But then her singing became mostly just grunts and moans, and when she tried to dance she stumbled about clumsily and nearly fell over. She began wearing skimpy buckskin outfits and staying up all night. Finally, tribal elders were forced to take her two young papooses away from her. It was just embarrassing, really, but for some reason all the tribes were fascinated by her actions and wanted to write about them.

We know about all of this today because the writings of Nablopomo and The Poconos are all that survived of the tribe. Sadly, because they were so busy making parchment and ink, and writing and posting for the entire month, they neglected to gather food and supplies or to insulate their teepees in advance of the rapidly approaching harsh winter, and the entire tribe perished of cold and starvation during a terrible blizzard in early 1808.

There is a great lesson to be learned here, and that lesson is this: "Nablopomo and The Poconos" would make a excellent name for a rock and roll band.


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