The spine of ghosts

Mama Boo at the beach in 2014

Mama Boo at the beach in 2014

Mama Boo here, working on my first assignment for the family computer classes.

Here we are in the first week of computer class, and we’re talking about storytelling. One of the things I liked best about this week’s computer class is the “story spine,” which you can use to build all kinds of stories. Basically, you set up the story with a narrative of what usually goes on, setting the stage with the normal, as it were, and then you have a “then one day” section that introduces the event. What’s the event? Whatever you want it to be! Then the characters have to react to that (“and because of that…” “and because of that…” etc.), until the climax portion of the story (“until finally …”). Then it ends with some kind of resolution or change and there’s a new normal (“and ever since then…”).

So here’s the Boos’ story using the story spine.

Once upon a time there was a mother and son, who lived happily in Bovine County, milking the cows and feeding the pigs and raising hay and such. The boy had just started school and he was very excited about learning, especially about animals and bugs, and soon he didn’t want to milk the cows any more but just read books. Etc.

Then one day... [well, this is the part I’m not going to tell; this is the mystery part and you can try to figure how how and why] … they became ghosts.

And because of that, the family got real scared and tried to get rid of them, thinking the ghosts were something that needed to be purged, something frightening. But the mother and son just tried to show them that they were just as friendly as before, no need to try to exorcise them or burn down the house or move the whole farm. It took quite a bit of convincing, and the kids were the ones to first take a shine to the ghosts. Well, especially Little Boo, whom they had missed so terribly and were excited to play with again. Eventually nearly everyone decided that the Boo’s (as they now came to be affectionately known) were a welcome re-addition to the Burgeron family. Those that didn’t like it, well, they just had to hold their peace because the Boo’s were here to stay.

And because of that, Mama Boo and Little Boo continued to participate in the daily life of the Burgeron family through the generations, each child growing up thinking that ghosts were just a normal part of life. They felt bad when they discovered at school that other kids weren’t so lucky as to have ghosts living at their house. Some of the neighbour kids told their parents, who told the sheriff, who told the state police, who said “ah heck, Marty, we know the Boo’s from way back. Lighten up a little. It’s the 20th century, and it’s time to welcome ghosts into our communities.” Sheriff Marty wasn’t really convinced, but he knew enough to keep his head down and go along with it.

Until finally … the county commissioners got involved. Someone in Bovine had read an obscure article in an even more obscure medical journal from across the globe suggesting that a community with ghosts living in the open, visiting different buildings with impunity, had seen a jump in the death rate from unexplained causes since the ghosts came out of hiding. And boy if that didn’t cause a ruckus at a public meeting called precisely to discuss the issue. The Burgerons and their friends defended the ghosts, but the tide seemed to be going against them. It looked like the ghosts may be run out of town. The county even called in the Texas Daredevils, the motorcycle dispatch.

But before the final vote, the flood came. No, not the big one of ’57, but one bad enough to take everyone’s mind off the ghosts for a bit. And wouldn’t you know it, Mama and Little Boo became heroes. At least for a time. They were able to warn a family who was sleeping through the flood that the water was rising quickly under their beds and they’d better get to the top of the house, quick. Which they did. And after the flood, no one much felt like bringing back the no-ghosts-in-our-backyard issue.

And ever since then, the Boo’s have lived quietly with the Burgerons, occasionally venturing out into the wider world, but mostly happy to stay at home. The people of Bovine County know the value of a bit of spirit activity here and there.

Can’t fight the natural zombie

I’ve been playing #TvsZ this weekend, a game on Twitter designed to help new people learn Twitter, to do digital storytelling, and to have fun. Check out for details.

Yesterday, while I was still human, I did a post on my other blog to create a #safezone to avoid zombies for an hour. That post was done on a phone and I couldn’t easily embed tweets or images (the latter I couldn’t do at all, the former would have been quite time consuming on a phone). Some of my time was spent in @NanaLou022’s #safezone called #NanasPlace, which you can read about here, thanks to Nana Lou Storifying our tweets while there.

Then today I got turned into a zombie by a #zapbite–basically, a bit that can’t be defended by any means. It turns you into an instazombie, according to @MTPcgr:


So then I became a zombie.



But I heard about something called the “non-violent zombie coalition,” started (I think) by Nirmal Trivedi:


As a newly-turned zombie, I decided to join. I still had feelings for the humans and an instinct to avoid killing them. I asked, though, what #nvzc zombies eat. Trivedi replied:


So I made a pledge:


And another one:


All along I knew that my resolve was weak, but I hoped my fellow #nvzc members would help support me when I starting having cravings.


Then I went dark for the rest of the day, hoping that if I stayed away from humans I would keep the natural zombie urges down. Eventually I resurfaced. Fortunately, the humans were all in #safezones at that time and I couldn’t #bite any of them. But unfortunately, none of my fellow #nvzc members were around to help me, and try as I might, the natural zombie won out. I recorded what it sounded like when it broke through:


I still have enough decency left to feel badly for having left the #nvzc even after solemnly pledging. I tried. But peace is not easy for a zombie, and I’m a weak zombie. I admit it. I have a problem. And I need brains. Now there is a new rule that allows for a third species: there are now humans, zombies and #chorus members, who are no longer part of the main game actions (they can’t be bitten by zombies or bite humans, or #swipe zombies away from other humans), but they act as a Greek chorus might, commenting on the game, moving the narrative forward, etc. This is a mighty interesting move, but this zombie wants to play, not watch. The hunger is strong with this one. At least @NanaLou022 offered me some of the #Burgeron106 sheep in her #sheepshed (see here for the sheepshed safehouse she created).  


So my hunger is staved off for awhile, long enough to sleep. But sheep brains just aren’t as tasty or nutritious for us zombies. Tomorrow I’ll be on the hunt again.

What happened to the Boos?

This is in answer to the daily create for June 15, 2014: “The Burgeron family in Bovine County is well known. Of course stories about the family are heard, rumors. Tell a story that is whispered in Bovine County. Make it ART.”

It’s all part of the Burgeron summer of ds106, happening here:


A cropped version of a photo on Flickr, here.
A cropped version of a photo on Flickr, here.

Many of you who are familiar with the Burgeron family know of the family ghosts, Mama Boo and Little Boo. See here for a post about Mama Boo that has a link to another about Little Boo.

In that post, Mama Boo says she’s not gonna tell us what happened to them or how they became ghosts because she says all that matters is that they’re still around and hanging out with the family and having fun and singing and such, so why dwell on how they got there? But really, how can she think we’re going to just rest with that? There have been rumours ever since she and Little Boo showed up, so many years ago that few can now remember when it was. It was all so hush hush at the time that no one seems to have written down what happened, and now those who can remember aren’t around anymore.

Some say the Boos drowned in the floods of ’57, but that makes no sense because we know they were around before that. At least, that’s what I heard from someone who said she heard it from one of the family members, who heard it from his grandpa, who said he distinctly remembered them being around during the war to end all wars.

Some say they succumbed to that god-awful flu that wiped out so many people during that god-awful war, but so did several members of the family, and why were the Boos the only ones to hang on as ghosts? Others say they died in an accident involving the family still, and the strength of that backwoods brew kept them going as ghosts for the foreseeable future. Well maybe, but then why aren’t the rest of the Burgerons who took some mighty big draughts of that stuff while alive also ghosts after they passed on?

I got no answers here, only rumours and unasnwered questions. Somehow we gotta get that Mama Boo talking.