Posts Tagged Rising Fire

The Blue Tongue Project: Finding Inspiration at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

At first glance this post about The Denver Museum of Nature and Science didn’t seem to have much to do with writing, reading, or friendship, but as I wrote it, I naturally found a way to tie in three of the topics of this blog.

In 2012, I attended the first Colorado State University Alumni Beer Tasting at which we not only sampled innovative small plates concocted with various beers, but also sipped selections from a number of breweries. The participants were treated to a talk on the history and science of brewing by Dr. Nicole Garneau, the chair and curator for human health in the DMNS Department of Health Science. She mentioned an experiment that was being conducted with volunteer visitors to the museum. As I am someone who loves many bitter foods but doesn’t like bitter beers (sours are another matter), I was greatly interested in this research into the genetics of “supertasters.” This was nicknamed the blue tongue project. Three thousand visitors participated in the study, and the results have been published in Frontiers of Integrative Neuroscience. Participating  was fun, interesting, and exciting. What more do you need to be inspired? You could come with ideas for stories set in a lab, or with a character as a study participant.

Having my curiosity piqued energizes me and gives me the inspiration to work on my own writing even if it isn’t a science fiction tale of experiments gone wrong. Currently, the Genetics of Taste Lab is conducting a study on the ability to taste fatty acids. Pretty much all you have to do to take part is show up.

One of my favorite exhibits at the DMNS is hidden away on the third floor. I’m always afraid it is either gone, or I’m lost, when I walk through rooms of stuffed animals to find it. The delight Konovalenko: Gem Carvings of Russian Folk Life sets off in me is well worth the search.

The first time I encountered this room full of carvings and dioramas, I was one of the few visitors. Lately, it has become more crowded, limiting the time I can stand in front of each tableau and marvel at the use of the different stones and the expressions on the sculptures’ faces. I expect these miniature people to stand up and sing bawdy beer songs. It isn’t hard imagining them coming to life after-hours.

There is plenty of other inspiration to be found, especially in the rotating exhibits. Currently on display is MAYA: Hidden Worlds Revealed. This exhibit would be a must for anyone writing about that  culture. The recently completed exhibit, Pompeii: The Exhibition, might have inspired those writing about that event, whether fiction or nonfiction. The overwhelming emotions the replicas of the dead brought up might provide inspiration for a natural disaster story or even pure horror. Remembering the exhibit made descriptions in Rising Fire by John Calderazzo come to life.

Many more opportunities exist at the museum, especially for members. The IMAX Theater is featuring three 3d films this summer. Topics  include D-Day, lemurs, and pandas. The museum offers classes, bird walks, and programs for families, including sleepovers. During the summer, the museum is open some Friday nights during which you can enjoy their cash bar. Why not join and enjoy some new inspiration for your writing? You might even build on a friendship you already possess–or possibly make a new one!




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What’s on YOUR bedside table?

The New York Times Book Review routinely asks the question above in its author interviews. Often, the books mentioned make me feel illiterate or at least lacking in erudition. I cheated a little on my own list below since one of the books I’m about to mention was actually on my chest of drawers. I relocated it to my bedside.


Here is a picture of the books that were next to my bed on Saturday, April 5.



And here is each book with a short comment.


I’d totally forgotten I’d asked for a copy of fairy tales for Christmas–in 2010 maybe! My idea was to read one per night so I could incorporate them into my work. I might have looked at one entry.















I asked for FAR FROM THE TREE for Christmas 2012. I read half of it and found it very interesting, but I had hopes of finding others who would like to read and discuss it.



This book was probably my newest acquisition. I’d read SENSE OF AN ENDING and loved it, but I found this one difficult to get into. Too fragmented, and then when I was reading it at night, the fragments were fragmented.















I have the bad habit of buying interesting sounding books at conferences and then never reading them


I loaned this to my friend N. so she could read the section on The Mommy Brain while I read about rearing babies the French way (see previous post). Although THE FEMALE BRAIN is interesting, it is more like a textbook that BEBE and I elected to finish BEBE before soldiering on in this one. I’m close to done.


RISING FIRE was loaned to me by a writing friend. I read the beginning and it is next on my reading list. It is written by a Colorado State University professor whom I once met at a picnic. I think he’s a friend of friends, too. Narrative/creative nonfiction isn’t my go-to style of writing, but after enjoying writing my blogging, I’m rethinking this as a possible creative outlet.



I started this novel, which I bought at an estate sale. I’ve seen Mystic River, of course, and enjoyed it, but I’d never read the author. The price was right so I picked this copy up this summer. Somewhere along the line. I started reading it, and even though I’m not a baseball fan, I enjoyed what I read. I put it aside to read THE FEMALE BRAIN. I may go back to it and read it concurrently with the nonfiction above.


My last “book” on the nightstand is a dream diary. I’ve read up on dreams and kept track of dreams at various times in the course of my life. It’s waiting for me to remember a dream and write it down.

The last item on my nightstand is the cause of me being behind on my reading.


My goal every week is to finish the Sunday Times by Saturday so that I can start fresh the next morning.  Sometimes when we’re away for the weekend, I ask my neighbor to please, keep the paper, so I can get a head start on other reading, but she usually gives it back to me anyway. I’ve read the Sunday Times since I was a teenager.

Probably I should say I read parts of the Times. We subscribed for the Book Review. If I read the whole paper all the way through, I’d be like my college friend June who saves the paper to read later but never gets around to it.


June last summer in NYC.

I’d probably read more books if I restricted myself to reading a few articles on line or had the Denver Post delivered instead of the Times. My latest excuse? You never know where an idea for a blog post might come from. I have a draft for a post generated from a story in last week’s edition and while glancing through today’s Styles section a feature caught my eye. I may want to address that issue here as well.

What books are next to your bed or wherever you tend to read?


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