Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tis The Season...For Ghost Stories

Scrooge Sees Marley's Face in the Door Knocker Visual Arts Victorian Age Famous People Fiction

The call came out today. Immortal Work Press is collecting ghost stories. An anthology containing scary tales is not new--there's a whole holiday dedicated to fright. Then we have Thanksgiving (in USA, anyway...), and after that--and many times before--our attention turns to Christmas. You'd think that Christmas would be the antithesis of Halloween--a central point in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas--but for many, the season of giving includes giving chills, shrieks, and grizzly tales.

The press release is mere hours old, but here it is:

Call for submissions!
“Bring back the tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas!”
“You know what this Christmas party needs? Ghost stories.”
“Why does Nightmare Before Christmas have to be a Halloween or Christmas movie? Why can’t it be both?”
Immortal Works has heard your pleas and we are excited to announce our latest anthology, A Haunted Yuletide, slated for publication December 2020. And we need your submissions!
We’re looking for stories that send shivers up and down your spine and make you want to check under your bed for monsters. We want stories that will make you afraid to to go sleep on Christmas Eve, because who is this Santa person, really? Tell us about the family home in New England where Aunt Enid is buried under the floor. We want to know about the ghost of that little kid who keeps hanging around the bakery downtown.
In addition, please note the following:
Contributions should be short stories (between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length) that include ghosts and Christmas, although other winter solstice holidays will be welcome also (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc).
Stories should adhere to Immortal Works’ submission guidelines, i.e. they should be free from graphic sexuality, gory violence, and use of the f-word.
Send your work to jbarnson+subs@gmail.com as an attachment in .docx format, and put Haunted Yuletide in the subject line.
Use the standard Shunn short story format (found here: https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html)
The submission deadline is midnight MST on 29 February, 2020.
The editors of A Haunted Yuletide will be Jay and Julie Barnson. Jay Barnson is the author of the Blood Creek novel series. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Julie Barnson is a professional storyteller of the oral tradition who has spent years terrifying audiences with her ghost stories. She knows about the things that go bump in the night.
As compensation, authors will receive a percentage of royalties and an ebook copy of the anthology.

So, if you've got a story that's itchin' to be told next Christmas, click their Facebook page: HERE for more information. On a personal note, I get a kick seeing my friend, Bill Shunn's name in the release. Bill and I rose through the ranks of public education in Utah during the 1970s and 1980s, each conquering the foes of boredom and peer pressure. And, he's an amazing writer.

Christmas ghost stories--just think of the possibilities!

Then write them down and send them in.


Photo Credit

Image entitled “Marley’s Face,” scanned from Dickens, Charles.  A Christmas Carol — A Ghost Story of Christmas. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1868.  The illustration, based on a wood engraving by Solomon Eytinge, Jr. (1833-1905), appears at page 22 of the referenced work.

The image was placed online, courtesy Victorian Web and Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Canada; Associate Professor, Lakehead University.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I Finally Broke Down And Bought A Pair Of These...For Twenty Bucks...At The Gas Station


I remember when I first saw the design. I think like most, I wondered if they would even work. And if they did, how easy would they be to lose. Of course, the price tag for the originals were, in a word, steep. Because of events that took place a few years back (mostly, due to deaths...), I had the means to purchase authentic Apple products, phone, laptop. But I draw the line at paying list price for genuine Apple Air Buds. It's not that I wouldn't want them--I'd take them in a second. But, that price...I just can't justify it.

I saw the knock-offs that hit the market a few years ago. And because I already had cheap headphone substitutes, I never really saw the need to pick up a pair. That is, until this morning when I walked into our local Chevron gas station and saw them--pairs of faux air buds for $20. Finally, a price point that agrees with me.

I bought them. I charged them up, and turned them on.

I like them.


Now, I can't say what the models that costs hundreds of dollars are like. I've never tried out a pair. I'm sure they're light years above my "cheapest thing I could find" models. The thing is, I don't need all the literal bells and whistles. I need something that works when I want it to, and allows my headphones to be physically disconnected from the device and not have a wire to connect the two headphones. That's pretty much it for me, and twenty bucks got me that.

There is one big drawback that comes with the purchase, however. I will now look like one of those guys...you know who I'm talking about...the guys who where those headphones. I hope it's worth it. And considering the price I paid, it probably is.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Looking Up At The Sky...And Thinking


Normally, on Monday mornings, I'm down in the basement hard at work for the great citizens of the State of Utah. This morning, I was also hard at work, but instead of being stuck at my desk, I was taking public transportation to attend training. Like any job, keeping up with constant change is important.

After the training, I was subjected to non-rush hour commuting. Basically, I had to wait for the next train that comes once an hour. Thankfully, I was prepared for the weather and it wasn't that cold. It was while I was waiting that I heard a low rumble and thought it might be the train. If so, it was about ten minutes early. That just doesn't happen. Since the train station is near several busy roads, I thought the sound was coming from a large truck passing by. I dismissed that, too, because the sound kept getting louder.

I looked up and saw six military helicopters flying overhead.

It got me thinking.

There's so much I don't know about military life and military operations. I wondered if these copters were returning from a mission, training or otherwise. I wondered if they were flying in the correct flight pattern (I have no idea if they have preference to fly anywhere they want...).

It's a little weird seeing military vehicles and planes, especially among us civilians. You see them driving in a caravan on the freeways. Where are they going? It's like they're a secret society and we're living in their world and not the other way around.

I took out my phone and videoed the aircraft as they flew by. I'm assuming they were flying to Hill Air Force Base, but they could have been going anywhere. There's so much I don't know about the military. I think it would fascinating to learn more.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Taking Several Walks Down Memory Lane...Or Stage


Normally, I don't participate in many social media challenges. You know the kind...where you're tagged to do something, then you're supposed to tag others to do the same thing (mostly I don't participate because people don't "tag" me...). But, a few weeks back, one came around that looked fun.

Because I was eventually tagged, I took part. If chosen by someone, we were supposed to post a picture for ten days that was to help bring awareness of the arts. I did it--ten pictures in ten days. I have no idea if it helped the arts or not, but I do know, it brought back a flood of amazing memories.

In the challenge, the "post-ee" was not supposed to include any explanations--just the picture. There were times I wanted to explain the photos and some of my memories, but I didn't. I haven't done a lot of plays, but doing averaging a couple a year since 2000, it adds up. I couldn't include every show I did, so I looked for some interesting shots.

It was fun.

It was memorable.

It made me miss a lot of people and the times we shared.


Of course, we can never go back--even if a person could somehow assemble everyone who was in a show to do the exact same show, no matter how long between those shows, things would be different. It can never be the same.

People do shows for a number of different reasons. We're supposed to do it mostly for the audience, and I suppose that's why I did them, too. But, when you're involved in live theater, other benefits can't help but come along with the ride. 

I'm slowing down as far as shows go. I'm averaging one a year the past couple of years, not counting my paid gig at Lagoon in the fall. It suite me right now. 

When I see the pictures I posted, they make smile. When I see others, I understand why they posted theirs--they mean so much to them. Who knows...I may just participate in more of these challenges after all.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people dancing and outdoor

Saturday, December 7, 2019

How Can Yesterday Be So Much Different...From Today?


I was up at 4am this morning--the cat wanted in, or wanted out...I can't really remember because you don't remember details at 4am.  You're supposed to be sleeping. And because I was up, I began thinking about the University of Utah game that ended several hours earlier. 

Tough loss.

I didn't watch the game. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I recorded the game and would have watched it if Utah had won. They didn't, so I didn't. I know I'm not the best of fans for doing this, but it allows me to remain sane under the circumstances.

So, at 4am this morning, a thought ran through my mind. Why did this morning feel so much different than yesterday morning? It really shouldn't. Nothing about my life--as far as where I live, how much money we have in the bank, pretty much everything--had not changed at all. Sure, I was one day older, but after living over 55 years on this planet, the past twenty-four hours didn't affect me much.

But, it had, and to thousands of other University of Utah fans, today was definitely different. 

Yesterday, man, did things look good! Of course there was the game to play, but think of the opportunities that lie ahead. The chance to play for the national championship playoffs, or at least, to get to play in the Rose Bowl! Just thinking about it made us all giddy.

And I think that was the problem--we forgot about the team on the opposite side of the field. For the past two weeks everyone who followed college football heard Utah-this, and Utah-that. After Oregon lost in Arizona, they fell out of the discussion. I have no idea if the players got caught up in the hype--hopefully not, but I'm pretty sure many fans--including myself--did.

And we paid the price.

So, we woke up to a different world, a foreign world, a world we didn't think existed, didn't think could exist. It's a world that's now reality. When I saw that the team I follow was not dominating, but being dominated, I tried to put a good spin on it. This was one of the funnest years to watch the Utah Utes play in a long time. And even though a lot of dreams and "what ifs" died on the field in California last night, I didn't want one game to ruin an incredible season.

So, there's one more game left--not the blue ribbon, or even the red, but looks like it's white. And when that game is over, I hope I get to watch it. Great job, Utah! You make this fan proud.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Instead Of My Dinner With Andre...I Had My Lunch With Todd


It' hard to believe that ten years ago (or maybe a little longer...), I had never met Todd Wente before. Then, in a matter of months, not only had I met him, he and I were in a performance group together. It was called A'cabbella, a Christmas handbell and singing troupe. Soon after that, he and I were in our first show together.

We've been doing shows together ever since.

But, it's been a while since I last hung out with Todd. We decided today would be the day to change that. The location: Crown Burger on 33rd and State. The Menu: fast food. The topic of conversation: lots of things.


If you haven't met Todd, he's a force of nature. I can honestly say there's no one quite like Todd. I guess you can say that about anyone, but some people make you realize just how unique they are. Todd is one of those people. Today, we broke bread, we had some laughs, we talked about shows, school, FanX, and second careers. And after a while, with the food long gone, it was time to go.

Working at home, and not doing as many shows as before, there are many friends I don't see near enough. I suppose that's part of getting older. Other things take precedence, priorities change, the importance of time changes. 

I guess, with time separating events like today, they mean even more. And if any of you (that know Mr. Wente...) are thinking of having lunch with him, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Poster Of Memories...


I found the poster while digging around in the basement looking for Christmas decorations. It is a Christmas decoration, of sorts. It was meant as a promotional poster. It ended up being a memento, complete with signatures and well wishes.

It's a poster for Rodger's Memorial Theatre's production of Scrooge from December, 2000.

And it's amazing.


The theatre passed out these posters for us to place them around town, at our work, at home, basically anywhere people would see them. I had one hanging up in my cubicle and I received more than a few comments about how great it looked. Ebenezer practically jumped off the poster with rage. You, as a viewer, knew the pain of that man.

When the show ended, I took my poster to the theatre and I had the cast members sign it for my son. He was my oldest and he was only five-years old at the time. I thought it would be a cool thing for him to have, maybe frame it and put it up on his wall. I didn't know if he'd ever do another show--turns out, he caught the bug. In the next few years, he did other shows--he was even Chip in the theatre's production of Beauty and the Beast a few years later.


I snapped a picture of the poster and thought it would be a good Pic Of The Day. That's what I did, and I got many comments on the poster on social media. I wonder if any of them saw the words and memories around the edges.

I took out my phone and videoed the poster, including the signatures and thoughts the cast members left for a child. 

The show took place before the advent of social media, before Facebook, before Instagram. In the almost twenty years since those sentiments were written, many have moved away, some have passed away, children grown to adulthood, adults grown older still. In a word, it's been a lifetime since we met on stage and performed a classic story. And for me and my son, a good lifetime.