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Josh Moeller
Josh Moeller

True Story



In 2001, Christian Longo, an Oregon man whose wife and three children have been discovered murdered, is arrested by police in Mexico, where he had been identifying himself as a reporter for The New York Times named Michael Finkel. Meanwhile, in New York City, Finkel, an ambitious and successful reporter, is confronted by his editors about a cover story he has written for The New York Times Magazine in which he has used a composite character as the focus of his story, violating basic journalism principles. Finkel briefly attempts to defend his actions but is unsuccessful and is fired. He returns home to his wife Jill and struggles to find work as a journalist due to his public firing from the Times.




True Story



Finkel becomes increasingly absorbed with Longo, who is likable but evasive about his guilt. Convinced the story will be redemptive, Finkel visits Longo in prison and corresponds with him for several months. Longo sends Finkel numerous letters and an 80-page notebook entitled "Wrong Turns," which contains what Longo describes as a list of every mistake he has made. Finkel begins to recognize similarities between Longo and himself, their handwriting and drawing, and Longo's letters and Finkel's journals. As the trial approaches, Finkel becomes increasingly doubtful that Longo is guilty of the murders, and Longo informs Finkel that he intends to change his plea to not guilty.


657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.


I first saw the movie The Sound of Music as a young child, probably in the late 1960s. I liked the singing, and Maria was so pretty and kind! As I grew older, more aware of world history, and saturated by viewing the movie at least once yearly, I was struck and annoyed by the somewhat sanitized story of the von Trapp family it told, as well as the bad 1960s hairdos and costumes. "It's not historically accurate!" I'd protest, a small archivist in the making. In the early 1970s I saw Maria von Trapp herself on Dinah Shore's television show, and boy, was she not like the Julie Andrews version of Maria! She didn't look like Julie, and she came across as a true force of nature. In thinking about the fictionalized movie version of Maria von Trapp as compared to this very real Maria von Trapp, I came to realize that the story of the von Trapp family was probably something closer to human, and therefore much more interesting, than the movie led me to believe.


Part of the story of the real von Trapp family can be found in the records of the National Archives. When they fled the Nazi regime in Austria, the von Trapps traveled to America. Their entry into the United States and their subsequent applications for citizenship are documented in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.


How did the von Trapps feel about The Sound of Music? While Maria was grateful that there wasn't any extreme revision of the story she wrote in The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, and that she herself was represented fairly accurately (although Mary Martin and Julie Andrews "were too gentle-like girls out of Bryn Mawr," she told the Washington Post in 1978), she wasn't pleased with the portrayal of her husband. The children's reactions were variations on a theme: irritation about being represented as people who only sang lightweight music, the simplification of the story, and the alterations to Georg von Trapp's personality. As Johannes von Trapp said in a 1998 New York Times interview, "it's not what my family was about. . . . [We were] about good taste, culture, all these wonderful upper-class standards that people make fun of in movies like 'Titanic.' We're about environmental sensitivity, artistic sensitivity. 'Sound of Music' simplifies everything. I think perhaps reality is at the same time less glamorous but more interesting than the myth."


While the von Trapps' story is one of the better known immigrant experiences documented in the records of the National Archives and Records Administration, the family experiences of many Americans may also be found in census, naturalization, court, and other records.


Readers looking for a first-hand account of the family's story should consult Maria von Trapp's The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1949) and her autobiography Maria (Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1972).


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Stout rarely mentioned his central role campaigning for the Monuments Men and then saving countless pieces of priceless art during the war. He spoke about the recoveries at Altaussee and two other mines briefly in that 1978 oral history, but spent most of the interview talking about his museum work.


His cousin recommended a neighbour friend, Benjamin Banneker, but according to historian Silvio Bedini (who wrote what is considered the definitive biography of Banneker), Ellicott had some concerns. "Andrew Ellicott questioned the potential competence of a black man without schooling or scientific training," Bedini explained in a 1991 article for the magazine of the DC History Center. "The prospect of relying upon an untrained amateur astronomer for the precise astronomical data upon which his survey would be based was not a cheerful one."


Regardless, a few months later, he wrote a letter to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson about his work on the boundary stones. "Jefferson had been saying publicly that he didn't believe black people and enslaved people were of the same standards as white people in terms of brains and physical abilities," said historian Jane Levey, interim editor of the DC History Center's Washington History magazine. "Banneker basically goes on about how he needs to change public opinion about black people's abilities."


"He writes to Jefferson saying he freely and clearly acknowledges he's of the African race," said Audrey Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum. "He had a pride in his race and of his colour. He was a mathematical genius, a clockmaker, and he was interested in riddles." He also published six farmers' almanacs, using scientific methods. "He was a renaissance man."


Rediscovering America is a BBC Travel series that tells the inspiring stories of forgotten, overlooked or misunderstood aspects of the US, flipping the script on familiar history, cultures and communities.


If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter called "The Essential List". A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.


Through our close family of producers, directors, cinematographers and post-production wizards, we rally the best creative pros to your project and produce commercials, documentaries, brand films, sports features, episodic tv, you name it. We work big, small, across the street or on the other side of the globe for agencies, tv networks, universities, pro sports teams, other production companies and directly for regional and national brands that have a story to tell. Frankly, we produce the heck out of stuff, all while making sure the process is smooth and enjoyable along the way.


Widely hailed as the first science fiction story, A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata is a voyage to the edges of the universe and reason. The title is the first clue that this will be a tall tale. As much a predecessor of Douglas Adams as Jules Verne, Lucian's fantasy explores not only outer space (where he brokers war and peace between the inhabitants of the sun and moon), but also the Elysian fields, the geography of the Odyssey, and the interior of a giant whale. We get to meet Homer, Pythagoras, Socrates, and other immortals, as well as a host of bizarre creatures. The text is riddled with puns, innuendo, parody and satire; however most of this humor will escape the modern reader. Suffice it to say that this was considered pretty funny in the second century C.E. The narrative breaks off in the second book. Whether there were more adventures or Lucian just ran out of ideas is unknown.


Not much is known about this memorable woman. What we do know was written by others, as none of her thoughts or feelings were ever recorded. Specifically, her story has been told through written historical accounts and, most recently, through the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi. Most notably, Pocahontas has left an indelible impression that has endured for more than 400 years. And yet, many people who know her name do not know much about her.


The Oral HistoryThe recently published (2007) The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History by Dr. Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star," based on the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi tribe, offers some further, and sometimes very different, insights into the real Pocahontas.Pocahontas was the last child of Wahunsenaca (Chief Powhatan) and his first wife Pocahontas, his wife of choice and of love. Pocahontas' mother died during childbirth. Their daughter was given the name Matoaka which meant "flower between two streams." The name probably came from the fact that the Mattaponi village was located between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers and that her mother was Mattaponi and her father Pamunkey.Wahunsenaca was devastated by the loss of his wife, but found joy in his daughter. He often called her Pocahontas, which meant "laughing and joyous one," since she reminded him of his beloved wife. There was no question that she was his favorite and that the two had a special bond. Even so, Wahunsenaca thought it best to send her to be raised in the Mattaponi village rather than at his capital of Werowocomoco. She was raised by her aunts and cousins, who took care of her as if she were their own.Once Pocahontas was weaned, she returned to live with her father at Werowocomoco. Wahunsenaca had other children with Pocahontas' mother as well as with his alliance wives, but Pocahontas held a special place in her father's heart. Pocahontas held a special love and respect for her father as well. All of the actions of Pocahontas or her father were motivated by their deep love for each other, their deep and strong bond. The love and bond between them never wavered. Most of her older siblings were grown, as Wahunsenaca fathered Pocahontas later in his life. Many of her brothers and sisters held prominent positions within Powhatan society. Her family was very protective of her and saw to it that she was well looked after.As a child, Pocahontas' life was very different than as an adult. The distinction between childhood and adulthood was visible through physical appearance as well as through behavior. Pocahontas would not have cut her hair or worn clothing until she came of age (in winter she wore a covering to protect against the cold). There were also certain ceremonies she was not allowed to participate in or even witness. Even as a child, the cultural standards of Powhatan society applied to her, and in fact, as the daughter of the paramount chief, more responsibility and discipline were expected of her. Pocahontas also received more supervision and training; as Wahunsenaca's favorite daughter she probably had even more security, as well. 041b061a72


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