Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Chat With Sean Astin...Just Me And Five Thousand Fans

If there was one celebrity I would have liked to meet at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con, it would have been Sean Astin. Of course, it would have been an honor to meet many of the celebrities that were in town a few weeks back, but Sean would have been my choice because of one film he did back in 1990.

Memphis Belle

I usually steer clear of the celebrities at the cons. Many people pay good money and spend a lot of time in line to get an autograph, and/or a picture with the stars. I get in for free and get to talk about writing. And if I'm hanging around the celebrities, they have less time for the paying public. In fact, in the six Salt Lake Comic Cons I've attended, I've never once attended one of the star's panels.

Until this one, and it blew my mind.

Before the panel I ran into the person moderating. He and I were on a Harry Potter panel at the last event--great guy (the moderator, not Harry Potter, though I'm sure he is too...). We spoke and he asked me what question I would ask Mr. Astin if given the chance. I said I would ask about his experience filming Memphis Belle. The moderator wrote down my question and I thought it would be cool if it were asked.

Turns out it wasn't, and I'm fine with that. Mr. Astin's other films garner much more attention. Still, it would have been interesting to chat with him for only a moment and discuss the film that I connect with on a personal level. If you've followed this blog at all you know my father was a tail gunner on a B-17 crew over England. Yes, it would have been fun to chat about that.


The panel was a lot of fun. The star talked about filming The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he also discussed his charity work. The crowd went nuts when he was introduced. I hope he enjoyed his time in our little town. I was glad he came.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Two Of My Favorite People Happened To Stop By...

I can't call it "Con Crud" because I started feeling bad eight days after Salt Lake Comic Con ended. And I'm not "down-in-bed-unable-to-move-and-wishing-I-was-dead" ill. But I was feeling poorly this morning, so much so, that I decided to say home from work.

I wouldn't have guessed that two of my most favorite people in the whole wide world would drop by.

My father passed away over forty years ago and the one man who helped fill that void for me was my Uncle Arlin, my mom's brother. He and his wife Coralle stepped into our lives big time and helped give support to my mother and her three young children.

And I can't imagine my life without them.

We chatted and enjoyed each other's company. They always ask about my writing. I gave them a copy of my book. They were so grateful. But a book can in no way repay all they've done for me and my family. 

Eventually they needed to be on their way. They invited us once again to come up and spend time on their Idaho farm, and we said we really want to (because we REALLY do...). I hope we can find the time next spring or summer to make that happen. We hugged and said our goodbyes, then they drove away. It made being home sick a pretty great day.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Nice Gesture...

I didn't expect to get a picture sent to me this morning, a picture of my son who is serving a mission. If you're unfamiliar with Mormon Missionaries (or if all you know of them you've learned from The Book of Mormon musical...), the missionaries leave home and spend a year and a half or two years away preaching the Gospel.

And they don't have televisions.

This weekend our church held it's semi-annual conference where we receive instruction from church leaders. In America we can watch it on cable. Since my son and his mission companion (they're always together...) have no television, let alone cable, they watched conference at a home of a fellow member. At 10am, MDT, my phone buzzed and a picture of my son and his companion appeared on my phone, along with a nice message saying how nice it was watching conference with them.

Tonight my wife commented on how this will be the last conference my son will be in the mission field. The conferences are held every six months, so six months from now, he'll be home. I remember several decades ago when I was a missionary and it was conference time. Of course, we didn't have televisions, either. And even if we did have TVs, there's no way we would have been able to pick up a broadcast of conference in Denmark.

As we watched conference from the comfort of our home this morning, it was just a little bit better thanks to a nice gesture from a stranger. Then again, the church member's not really a stranger. She took in  my son, didn't she?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Little Arboreal Experiment...

My wife does a lot of reading. She reads about a lot of things, raising kids, home storage, homeschooling, and occasionally, yard work.

It was during one of these occasional reading adventures that she came across a way to improve your yard in many ways--one of the biggest being the reduced need for water in, say, a garden. It involved placing large amounts of copped wood over areas of our yard.

Yesterday morning as we slept in we heard what sounded like large trucks driving up and down our street. It turned out to be a tree trimming service, Steve's Trees, to be more exact. My neighbor hired them to do some trimming.


We had discussed having a trimming service drop off their trimmings on our property a few times in the past--we even called a local company (not Steve...) to see if they would help us out. We never heard from them again. But Steve came through! He unloaded the chopped trees right on our driveway.

We spent the next hour and a half spreading the product on several areas of our yard. Will it work? Will the effects benefit our yard as was promised in the literature? Will our experiment yield positive results?

Time will tell.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tonight's Reunion...Looks Like Fun

I knew months ago today was the day when friends would gather, friends who shared a common experience half a world away all those many years ago.

And it was my intention to attend, except life got in the way. I had to work; I was scheduled and that's just the way things go sometimes. When I returned I saw pictures posted on Facebook and I hope it's okay that I used some of them in this post. Around 30 1/2 years ago I met four of these gentlemen, the four standing beginning from the shortest and moving right.

We all found ourselves living together in a type of school, but unlike any educational institution on earth. It's a center where men, women and married couples train to become missionaries. I remember that day. I remember saying "goodbye" to my mom and sister and entering an new world--literally.

We ate together, learned to speak/read the Danish language together, and we learned what it meant to become a representative of Jesus Christ. We did this for ten weeks.

There were six of us, five men (boys, really...), and a woman. It's safe to say that when we climbed aboard a van that took us from the unique school, we had learned more about ourselves than we did the Gospel, or the Danish language, or the Danish people.

We try to reunite when we can. I attended last year's reunion and I had a blast seeing old friends (we're really old now...) and reminiscing about the times we spent together those many years ago.

Tonight some of those special people gathered. I was unable to attend. I'm sure they had a lot of fun.

Det er jo kun en liden stund,
så er vort løb til ende,
og døden er jo kun et blund,
som vi fra søvnen kende,
og hvilen, vi alt smagte her,
vi ved, er mer end møjen værd;
hvad da, når vi skal kvæde:
Nu evig er vor glæde!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

J. Scott Savage's "Case File 13: Evil Twins"...A Book Review

Evil Twins (Case File 13, #3)*

I read J. Scott Savage's Case File 13: Evil Twins in one day. I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it on double speed. It took me just under three hours total.

It was a perfect book for me to read, a great way to enjoy a story in a short period of time.

If you're not familiar with J. Scott's Case File 13 series, it's written for middle graders, who want to read about scary things without being too scary. I like the books because they're fun and imaginative.

This book follows the same main characters found in books 1 and 2 of the series. Nick, Carter and Angelo find that after a failed camping trip, they are in possession of an amazing little creature. Because of their actions, they unknowingly unleash a plague upon their little community. The three must return the creature to its home in order to repair the damage.

This book continues the fun tradition Savage puts in all the Case File 13 books. So far he's tackled zombies and Frankenstein's monsters. In Book 3 the boys fight doppelgangers, but they're not just entities that look like someone else, they're baddies with evil powers. Savage creates lovable characters you root for and who show examples of courage at a young age.

If you're middle-grade child likes new adventures, give this series a try. And even if you're older, you may just want a nice break from your day and read a fun book. And if you download the audiobook and listen to it on double speed, it will only take you a couple of hours. It's time well spent!

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/18635043-evil-twins

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrating Our Anniversary...At Thyme And Seasons

Last week my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. We wanted to go somewhere new and we weren't sure where to go. Harnessing the power of the internet, my wife took to the web for recommendations. 

It came down to two--a place in Layton (about ten miles north...), or a place in Bountiful (about ten miles in the opposite direction...).

We went south.

I'm so glad we did!

My wife found an amazing place called Thyme And Seasons Market Place and it was good! The owner and executive chef Hai Fitzgerald converted the once convenience store to a market/restaurant that specializes in seafood and steaks. Those are two things we really like. Having never been there, we asked Hai for recommendations.

"We just got in some delicious escolar--best seafood in the place."

We ordered two dishes.

It's hard to see, but the menu is written on the wall and has a variety of options. Hai said you can come in every day and get a different meal. I believe it, too. Also, it's the kind of place that has all sorts of stuff up on the walls, old pictures, even money from different countries, so it's a feast for the eyes, as well.

As we left, I snapped a picture of a Lamborghini that parked next to our minivan. They had heard of the place, too. I'm hoping we find another excuse--and not just an anniversary--for us to return.