“We learn best in moments of enjoyment.”

– Dr. Ralph Smedley, Founder of Toastmasters International

FUNspeakable is a series of entertaining lectures Mark has put together. As an experienced public speaker and Toastmaster, Mark’s presentations have been very popular with colleges, community organizations and senior clubs.

Mark has a Competent Leadership and Advanced Communicator Silver Awards from Toastmasters International. He was president of Poway-Black Mountain Toastmasters in 2010 and earned the Bob Gusky Award for Exceptional Leadership. He has won or placed in several speaking contests.

FUNspeakable has a varied list of topics. Mark conceives and creates the presentations himself, using the Assistive Technology available for blind computer users.

He is available to do presentations in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and southern Los Angeles Counties. Schedule Mark to come and do a presentation of one of his established topics, or he can be a Master of Ceremonies for your event.

Below you will find a list of topics and detailed outlines.

Most are accompanied by a Power Point slide show and can run between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on your preferences.

Mark provides his own laptop and projector.

Contact Mark for information on fees.


Here are a few short videos from four of Mark Carlson’s most popular presentations.


This is an excerpt from the end of Mark Carlson’s FUNspeakable presentation about Amelia Earhart. It’s a curious story that begins in antiquity and in a fascinating way, connects directly with the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1937.


This is from the conclusion of Mark Carlson’s FUNspeakable presentation ‘Palomar – Bridge to the Stars.’ This presentation tells a fascinating and colorful drama that led to the biggest telescope in the world, the 200” reflector on Mount Palomar.


The fascinating conclusion of Mark Carlson’s FUNspeakable presentation about the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. This story details the liner, the last voyage and the legacy. But the ending comes with a twist.


A selection from Mark Carlson’s presentation ‘The Best of the Rest of the Story.’ This is only one of dozens of fascinating and compelling short stories that are guaranteed to make you say “Wow, I never new that!”


“The greatest speakers have usually been remarkable for the abundance of their ideas.”

– Dr. Ralph Smedley, Founder of Toastmasters Intrenational

  1. The Lusitania Sinking

In May 1915, during the height of the Great War, RMS Lusitania, queen of the Cunard Line, was carrying 2200 passengers and crew into the War Zone of the British Isles. They had been warned any ships flying the Union Jack were liable to be torpedoed by German U-boats.

In broad daylight in sight of the Irish coast, she was struck by a torpedo from the U-20 and sank in twenty minutes.

The loss of life was second only to Titanic, but the repercussions and blame went much farther and ultimately led to the United States’ entry into the Great War.


  1. From Silk to Silicon– The Genesis of the Computer

Would you be surprised to learn that the computer was conceived before the American Civil War? Or that the first major breakthrough in information storage was a byproduct of French silk weaving? Or that the first programmable computers helped to win the Second World War? This is the story of how the most influential technology in history became a reality. It’s not just gigabytes and microchips. The modern computer has a fascinating history.


  1. Hoover Dam – The Greatest Work of the Depression

From 1930 to 1936, tens of thousands of out of work, desperate men traveled to the hot deserts outside of Las Vegas, Nevada to find work on the biggest project in the history of civil engineering. The U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation were set on a goal to bring water to the arid lands along the vast Colorado River Valley. But could it be done?

Six major companies led by a hard-driving visionary dug huge tunnels and blasted thousands of tons of rock from the walls of the canyon to erect the biggest dam in history. The massive project was beset by accidents, deaths, strikes and the worst working conditions since the digging of the Panama Canal.

Here is the story of why and how it was done, and who did it.


  1. The Lamp at the Golden Door – Building the Statue of Liberty

Did you know that when Bartholdi first envisioned the Statue of Liberty he wanted it to be a lighthouse? Did you realize that the U.S. Government wanted nothing to do with it? And that when it finally arrived as a gift from the people of France to America there was no place to put it? Here is the story of how Lady Liberty came to be on tiny Bedlow’s Island in New York Harbor, how it was designed, built and finally shone her light on the New World.


  1. The Whole Kit and Caboodle – The Story Behind Idioms and Phrases

This is it, lock, stock and barrel, the scuttlebutt, the whole nine yards about some of the most interesting and odd idioms in common use today. Have you ever wondered where the phrase ‘letting the cat out of the bag’ or ‘dead ringer’ came from? How about ‘top notch,’ ‘upper crust’ and ‘right side up?’ Every one has its own unique etymology and origin. And now it’s your chance to find out who let the cat out of the bag. Mark Carlson, noted lecturer and author is going to be getting down to brass tacks. So don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, just jump on the bandwagon.

  1. Flying on Film – A History of Aviation in Film 1912-2012

A new book by Mark Carlson

The behind-the-scenes story of twenty of Hollywood’s most famous aviation movies from 1927 to 2000. Aviation and film historian and author Mark Carlson describes the production, aircraft, history and trivia of several popular movies from the silent era to the modern action film. Excerpts from interviews with famous actors, stuntmen, pilots and veterans help tell the story behind movies like Wings, Hell’s Angels, The Great Waldo Pepper, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Top Gun, Amelia, Memphis Belle, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and many others. If you like airplanes, movies and history, this is the place to be.


  1. The Reel Story Behind the Classic Movies

Many of the most popular film classics from Hollywood are based on history or biographies. The movie studios used some of history’s most interesting people and events and made box office blockbusters from them. But how much truth is there on the silver screen?

The Birdman of Alcatraz and Sergeant York, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bonnie & Clyde, the Battle of the Little Big Horn in They Died with Their Boots On, the world of the Mercury Astronauts in The Right Stuff, Mutiny on the Bounty, and the action-packed Top Gun are typical films in which Hollywood chose to follow it’s own path to truth. Film historian Mark Carlson shows you the real story behind the movie, the history on the silver screen.


  1. Drowned Eagle – The Amelia Earhart Mystery

On July 1, 1937, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea on the longest leg of their flight around the world. Their destination was tiny Howland Island, 2,600 miles away in the vast, empty Pacific Ocean.

Twenty hours later a few garbled and faint radio calls from their Lockheed Electra were the last ever heard from them. A huge air and sea search turned up no trace. To this day the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan remains aviation’s most enduring and puzzling mystery.

Here is the story of that last flight, the legends, myths and possibly, the answer to what happened to Amelia Earhart.


  1. Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy, Day of Sacrifice – the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor is one of America’s darkest defeats. But were the Japanese able to achieve the attack with such success only because of their cunning and planning? Or was there an American element to the attack? Were FDR, the Chief of Naval Operations and Churchill also responsible? Were the 3,000 men and women killed that day betrayed by a government who wanted the U.S. to enter the war? The spark of controversy has been fueled over the last 60 years and only now is another truth being revealed.


  1. Titanic – The Liner, the Legend, the Legacy – The last Titanic survivor died in 2009, but the story of the ill-fated liner still fascinates to this day. Learn the hidden facts of the Ship of Dreams, the stories of the passengers, crew and officers. What really happened that cold night in April 1912? How did the ship sink? Who was to blame and what was the legacy of Titanic?


  1. The Hindenburg and the Age of the Giant Airship – in May 1937 one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring eras of human history died in a cataclysm of fire and death at Lakehurst New Jersey. Learn the story of the huge behemoths that once dominated the skies, raining both bombs and goodwill across the world. From ‘Crazy old Count’ Zeppelin to Adolf Hitler, from the R101 to the Shenandoah, here is the story.


  1. Flights to Oblivion, Flights to Fame – The New York to Paris Race – The vast Atlantic Ocean, long a barrier to the emerging technology of flight was challenged by a few brave men-and women-in the years following the First World War. Learn the hidden and fascinating stories of the pilots and pioneers who risked and in many cases, lost their lives to reach across thee trackless sea for a $25,000 prize and worldwide fame.


  1. The Best of…Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story – 20 of the best of Paul Harvey’s most intriguing and memorable vignettes from history and legend. Find out the ‘rest of the story’ as you may or may not have heard it before. Guaranteed to make you say ‘Wow, I never knew that!’
  1. The Brooklyn Bridge: the Great Work of the Age – Built in an age of steam power and horse-drawn wagons, the bridge stands today as a monument to engineering and industry. Learn the story of the greatest engineering work of the age…of the men and women, of the triumphs and tragedies, towers of monolithic stone and spun webs of steel to bring to life Washington Roebling’s Magnum Opus. Learn what it took to make the dream of two cities into a reality.


  1. Palomar: Bridge to the Stars – In 1921 no one knew about galaxies, quasars or nebulae. The universe was limited by the shortsighted vision of the small telescopes and narrow view of the astronomers. But one man, with tenacity and his unbounded dreams unleashed the world of giant science by shepherding into being the largest telescope in the world. The 200” Hale Telescope on Palomar Mountain took 20 years and 6 million dollars to build. And the universe hasn’t been the same since.


  1. Apollo: Bridge to the Moon

Pioneers, Tragedy and Triumph – It’s been more than 40 years since Neil Armstrong proclaimed ‘One giant leap for mankind.’ We can look back at it with the pride of national accomplishment. But in 1957, no one believed we could fly into space, let alone the Moon. The panic of Sputnik, the pioneers of Mercury, the progress of Gemini and the tragedies and triumphs of Apollo were the greatest scientific and engineering challenge 400,000 Americans ever attempted for a national goal. John F. Kennedy took the first step. Learn the real story of our journey to the Moon, where the footprints remain to this day.\

In three sections. WITH POWERPOINT

  1. Confessions of a Guide Dog

Excerpts and stories from the humorous and inspirational new book ‘Confessions of a Guide Dog – The Blonde Leading the Blind’ by Mark Carlson and Musket

The author(s) tell the remarkable story of how they met, their travels, and adventures together.

This is your chance to learn not only how a Guide Dog is trained but how they do their job and, in Musket’s case make an awful lot of people fall in love with him.

He’s not your typical Guide Dog. This is their story – and they’re sticking to it.

For more information about the book go to

The author(s) will sell and autograph books at this event.


  1. In Defense of the Book

Since ancient times, humans have felt the need to communicate, to collect, record and distribute the knowledge of their cultures and experience. From the earliest clay tablets more than 5,000 years ago, to the scrolls of papyrus and bound books we found ways to preserve our legacy for the future. They are all readable even today.

With the ever-faster advance of technology the knowledge preserved is increasing. But the storage life of that same information grows shorter with each generation. And much of it is already lost forever.

‘In Defense of the Book’ is a profound, award-winning essay on the risky electronic path humanity has chosen, its limitations and its consequences for the future.


  1. Eyes on the Universe

A History of Astronomy from Pythagoras to Hubble

Primitive man began looking to the skies long before the advent of recorded history. He found strange lights and moving dots, and peopled the heavens with their gods.

From Pythagoras to Copernicus, from Kepler to Lowell, and from Hale to Hubble, this lecture outlines humanity’s search for knowledge in the skies.

The first primitive telescope in 1610 allowed Galileo to prove that Earth was not the center of the universe. In the 1920s Edwin Hubble made the universe far grander than ever imagined.

And his namesake the Hubble Space Telescope has given us vistas almost beyond imagination. See into the past and the future.


  1. The Doolittle Raid and Midway – Turning the Tide in the Pacific

In 1942 a small, daring and secretive bombing raid on Tokyo set in motion a path which would soon lead to the end of Japan’s conquest of the Pacific. Just six weeks later the nearly defeated remnants of the U.S. Pacific Fleet staked everything on a roll of the dice and smashed a victorious numerically superior Japanese Navy at Midway. But it could have been very different.

Learn how it was done, and how narrow the margin for victory really was.


  1. Admiral Nelson’s Three Great Battles

Over two hundred years ago, the mighty Royal Navy was the unchallenged master of the seas. But England’s ‘wooden walls’ were the only bastion of security against the ambitions of Napoleon Bonaparte. Only the audacious and clever tactics of a small, frail man who was often seasick stood between Napoleon and his invasion of England.

Admiral Horatio Nelson’s three greatest naval battles at the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar landed the triple blows which sank Napoleon’s dreams.

With detailed diagrams and colorful descriptions, learn how Nelson and his ‘Band of Brothers’ planned and executed the battles which cost him his life and made his name legend.


  1. Battles of the Civil War

Lee’s Last Hopes

Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and the Wilderness.

Places long since enshrined in the pages of history. At Antietam the bloodiest single day in American history resulted in Lincoln’s determination to find a fighting general. The fall of Vicksburg closed the Mississippi to the South. At Chancellorsville Lee lost his most effective general to sheer fate and yet was his most stunning victory. The three days at Gettysburg was where pride and an unquenchable faith in God’s blessing turned the tide against the Confederacy. Lee’s road to defeat began at the Wilderness when he first faced Ulysses S. Grant. See the battles in detailed diagrams and personal accounts.


  1. Three Jewels in America’s Natural Crown

A visual and geological tour of the most stunning and interesting attractions at three National Parks. Oregon’s Crater Lake, Wyoming’s Yellowstone and California’s Yosemite. Learn how these places were formed and see the beautiful and unique wonders that nature bestowed on America.


  1. NASA’s Golden Age

Three-part series focusing on Project Mercury, Project Gemini and Project Apollo. A reorganization of the ‘Apollo, Race to the Moon’ series. Contains more detailed information on each program, how it came to be, and what it led to.

Follows up with Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz.


  1. The Naval War of 1812 and the Birth of the United States Navy

In 1797 the Naval Act was passed, authorizing the staggering sum of $688,000 for the construction of a permanent navy. The six frigates built in every major Atlantic seaport were small, fast and hardly a match for the mighty Royal Navy. But they and their crews changed the world. Learn the story of how the U.S. Navy came to be and how it made the rest of the world take the new nation seriously.


  1. Standing the Test of Time – Building the Great Monuments

The Pyramids. Stonehenge. Karnak. Abu Simbel, Hatshepsut’s Obelisk, Machu Picchu. Four of the greatest and most enduring monuments to mankind’s industry, ingenuity and faith.

How were they built? What did it take to raise the huge towers of stone from the barren plains of Giza? How could the ancient Inca have carried massive stone blocks weighing many tons dozens of miles to place them with mathematical precision upon one another? The same questions remain for Stonehenge and Karnak. Here is your chance to learn some of the answers and plumb the mind of our inventive and amazing ancestors.



  1. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid at Giza is the only one of the Seven Wonders still intact, and even it is a pale shadow of its former glory. The Lighthouse at Alexandria and the Temples of Zeus are long gone. The almost-mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon has passed into folklore with no evidence of what it once was.

The Seven Wonders awed Mankind from the Second Century BC to the Modern Era. Today, archaeologists and architects have been able to recreate some of these magnificent structures that defined the world of the Eastern Mediterranean. Now you can see what they looked like and what it took to build them.


  1. Electronic Alzheimer’s – The Digital De-evolution of Mankind

An Essay

Can you find an address without GPS? Or remember a phone number? Do you know which way is north? Do you forget things you just read? A thousand years ago humans had phenomenal memories and could tell the time, date and navigate by the sun and stars.

Our dependence on electronic ways of storing and using information is affecting our evolution, and not all for the better.

Starting three million years ago, tools made us the master of our world. The Human race today is the culmination of environment, heredity and our technology. Mankind has learned to gather and store information in ways that have been both a blessing and a curse. This essay exposes an insidious trend that is again changing human evolution – but in reverse.


  1. Ghosts on the Little Bighorn – on June 25, 1876 two warring armies came to death blows in a quiet river valley in Montana. Elements of George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment and six tribes of the Sioux and Cheyenne nations fought for supremacy and survival. The battle of the Little Bighorn has long become the iconic clash between the red man and the white man. What led to the war? Why did Custer lead his men to doom? What really happened that fateful day? Now you can learn the truth about Custer’s Last Stand.


30 Andrea Doria – Collision at Sea

June 1956, the Italian Liner Andrea Doria, one of the most modern and beautiful liners on the Atlantic was nearing New York. Aboard her were nearly 1500 passengers and crew. Approaching was the Swedish liner MS Stockholm out of New York. Both vessels were equipped with modern radar and radio and were following the others’ progress.

Yet in a few terrifying minutes, both vessels steered a course that led them to collide. The Stockholm lost her bow as she sliced into the Doria’s starboard hull, killing dozens of passengers and dooming the lovely ship.

The true tragedy took place before the eyes of the world as the crew abandoned the passengers and left them to fend for themselves.

This is the story of the first televised sinking of a modern ocean liner.


Some of FUNspeakable’s Satisfied Customers

OASIS of San Diego

Belmont Village San Diego

Glenview Carlsbad

Seacrest Village at Rancho Bernardo

Casa de las Campanas, Rancho Bernardo

Senior Summer School

Golden Door Resort & Spa

Lions Club of Rancho Bernardo

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Order of Daedelians

Quiet Birdmen

Planes of Fame Air Museum

Pearl Harbor Survivors

Solana Beach Senior Center

C.R. Smith Museum

Seattle Museum of Flight

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Jewish Family Services

Unite For Sight International Vision Conference, Yale University 2006

Unite For Sight International Vision Conference, Stanford University 2007


‘Mark Carlson has done several very interesting talks at the Golden Door. He is a true storyteller who captivates his audience. Additionally, Mark has a warm and comfortable sense of humor which comes across in all his presentations.’

– Alex Bunshaft Evening Program Director, Golden Door

‘Mr. Carlson has extensive knowledge of his topics and his presentations are consistently well-prepared, and presented in a professional manner. A man of good character and high integrity, it has been a pleasure having Mr. Carlson serve our members. We always receive good reviews and requests for his return.’

– Carolyn Collins OASIS Program Manager

‘Mark Carlson is a top-notch presenter. Not only will the audience learn from his wealth of knowledge, but his perspective may cause you to question what you have previously believed about history. Mark successfully creates a wonderful balance of facts, philosophy and humor.’

– Sarah Cushman, Program Manager OASIS of San Diego

‘Mark Carlson is a superb lecturer and master researcher.  Our audience was captivated by his presentation entitled  ‘The Titanic Legacy.’  His love of history and passion for discovering the hidden details made us feel as if we were on board the Titanic.

– Louise Oliverio, Program Chairman American Airlines Vanguards

‘Some speakers are articulate, and smart, but Mark goes way beyond…. he’s hilariously irreverent and, when appropriate, serious.  He has an arsenal of intriguing topics from space to the civil war.  In the unlikely event Mark is given a topic about which he is not an expert, he’ll become one, in short order. Yes, I think he’s a genius, but only because it’s true!’

– Sharon McCabe

‘Mark Carlson has been coming to Rancho Vista Retirement Community for lectures i.e. the Hindenburg, Lindbergh Flight, He is a fascinating speaker and keeps the interest going. Our residents thoroughly enjoy coming and participating each time.’

– Sherrie Canales Director of Activities, Rancho Vista

‘I am amazed by the depth of knowledge that Mark displays on such a variety of subjects. He is the consummate storyteller and makes learning seem fun. I attended Palomar and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mark’s storytelling presentation style made the time go by quickly as he mesmerizes his audience with intriguing details.

If you have an opportunity to attend one of Mark’s lectures you will not be disappointed. He is one of the best presenters I have encountered.’

– Jack Doxey, Founder, Poway-Black Mountain Toastmasters

‘Mark is a joy to work with. He puts his audience at ease with his vast knowledge and sense of humor. Mark is professional, engaging, an electric speaker you wouldn’t want to miss.’

– Joan Esnayra, Ph.D.

President, Psychiatric Service Dog Society

‘Mark is a genuine research historian. He intrigues patrons with myth-busting facts and incredible true stories.  As a host, he treats all visitors with a personal, almost conspiratorial bonhomie which is both charming and effective.  He happens to be legally blind, but that just allows him to augment his presentation with lovable guide dog, resulting in a combo so likable it’s almost unfair.’

– ‘Rossco’ Davis, Education Resources

San Diego Air & Space Museum

‘Whatever he’s selling, I’m buying it!’

– Wanda Smith

For fees and scheduling a talk, Contact Mark