Two More Public Radio Stories

 

I’m taking over the public radio airwaves next month! On March 2nd and 28th I’ll have radio stories on public radio. Listen in at 5 PM on 91.7FM or afterwards on KALW.org.

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Josh Miele: Technologist for the Blind

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On March 2nd I profiled Dr Joshua Miele, a blind scientist and inventor who said no to NASA to start his own innovation lab that designs accessible technologies for the visually impaired. (Edited by Angela Johnston, with sound design by James Rowlands.

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Walking the Philosopher’s Way in McLaren Park

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On March 29th I’ll report on a public art and trail project created by artists Susan Schwartzenberg and Peter Richards. The Philosopher’s Way was designed to transform one of San Francisco’s big, scary parks into a scenic, philosophical retreat. (Edited by Ninna Gaensler-Debs with sound design by James Rowlands.)

 


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Update!
My public radio profile of the amazing Dr Josh Miele was picked up for rebroadcast on Gatewave, a NYC nonprofit radio network broadcasting to the blind and visually impaired. “Our World” is a 30-minute broadcast that airs on Wednesdays. “My living room” is a place I will be dancing out the joy for the next 15+ minutes.

 

Marketing the SF Film Festival

 

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Though I’m typically found in the Creative Dept, I’m getting another glimpse at life from the Marketing side of the room for the 59th annual San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21st to May 5th).

As their Marketing and Publications Intern, I don’t get the best desk chair, but I am getting front row seats to the internal process of putting up a major international film festival — as well as seats for new films, and filmmaker events like this post-screening Q&A with Eye in the Sky director Gavin Hood and SFFS’s Executive Director Noah Cowan. Exciting!

 

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Judging is Fun! (and not easy…)

The Kansas City Film Festival hasn’t forgotten me, it seems. Since I haven’t entered the short screenplay contest for the past three years, but did well in the two I did enter, KCWIFT (Women in Film and Television) asked if I’d be a preliminary judge for this year’s contest. A honor and a half! I now have a whole new respect for their process: judging isn’t easy, but it is great fun to read new work. Can’t wait to see who wins!

An Aural History of Emoji

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For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2015 was not a word, but an emoji. Specifically: 😂 To celebrate the past, present, and future of those irresistible little pictographs, here’s my first ever radio story on KALW Public Radio (91.7 FM in Northern California), featuring renown Game of Thrones Language Creator David J Peterson and special guests from Oakland International High School. (With a cameo by Bitmoji.)

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Thanks to everyone at KALW for making work so playful. Special thanks to Chris Hoff for the creative sound design, and to Ben Trefny for great editing/ coaching, and for a stellar job of voicing my intro.

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Addendum: In the story I reported that Facebook would introduce a ‘reactions button’ and three months later, it has appeared:

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Facebook’s new ‘reactions’ spice up the ‘like’ button.

 

Meeting the Father of Languages (Dothraki, mainly)

photo by Frank Lee
photo by Frank Lee

Was thrilled to attend a lecture on translation by renown language creator David J Peterson tonight at CCA.

After describing how he builds his many invented languages—such as Valerian and Dothraki for Game of Thrones—he told a fascinating story about how he discovered his calling. Thanks to his Mexican father, he grew up fluent in Spanish as well as English. He had no particular interest in either, though, until one morning in high school he woke up humiliated because millions of people could speak French and he could not. He started studying it that day, and quickly added on more and more—Russian, Japanese, Middle Egyptian, Arabic, etc. By college he was creating languages and sold his first custom-deisgned one to a D&D Dungeon Master who saw his post on AOL. “His mom send me a check for $40, it was great.”

Now, as the creator of 11 languages for five or six shows—most notably Valerian and Dothraki for Game of Thrones, he’s created a lucrative career that had never really been on the books before. Sure, there was Klingon, invented by Marc Okrand, and the Tolkien languages such as Quenya (Elvish), but no one had really put “language creation” on their radar as a viable business before Peterson.

Hearing him speak it’s clear that he has a profound understanding of the mechanics of language, and a a deep respect for etymology and the evolution of language systems. He’s systematic, but you also see how intensely creative his is in every aspect of his choices—he takes each decision through a stringent creation process that involves a complete imagination of the entire culture, including its evolution over time. Quite the fascinating engine he has on his shoulders.

This explains why the languages he creates feel so meaty and authentic—they have, at root, a deeply complex inner logic. A coherent system. It’s something you pick up on subconsciously, even if you don’t speak that language. (HBO did create a Dothraki language primer, if you want to learn it.) Someone in the audience asked why he couldn’t take more shortcuts, and my answer to that is because we’d instinctively know he did, and the world would not feel as authentic. It takes someone with David’s care, dedication, and abilities to pull this off so well. I’m not the only one glad that he’s found such a creative way to channel his innate talent for writing and invention.

Oh, and he also happens to write books. His new one, The Art of Language Invention, just hit the shelves today.

David J Peterson