Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Me, A Guitar, Then And Now...



It's been, what...30 years? Maybe longer. Back when I was in high school and lived across the street with my mother and sister in a house my father partially built, me and a couple of friends were in a band. I played bass,  my friend Todd played the drums and Todd's little brother, Blair was a monster on the guitar (truth be told, Blair was the best musician on all the instruments--Todd and I were pretty green...).

We didn't play too many live performances, but we did have access to a recording studio, pretty much free of charge and could use it whenever we wanted. How many high school garage bands could say that?

I imagine, not many.

We had fun, practiced whenever someone wrote a new song, and recorded after school and on the weekends. As Todd, the master sound engineer, took already recorded tracks and mixed them down so we could add new tracks and mix them down again, I remember laying down on the carpeted floor of the studio, listening to the song over and over again and eating Nabisco Grasshopper and Oatmeal Cream cookies as we waited for another chance to record. Our little band created such classics as Cat Logs, and the ever-entertaining, Corn Dogs Have No Eyes. Yes, we were on our way.

But then, life happened. We grew up, moved away, got married, had kids and mortgages and insurance and expanded waistlines. My friend wanted me to bring my bass to this weekend's Comic Con so I unpacked the Gibson RD Artist Bass and basked in the glory of its awesomeness.

So much has changed in the past 30 years. I no longer live in the home with my mom and sister. We sold the house after my mom died. My sister lives with her daughter in another city. The golden locks of teenage hair I once had (and never really fully appreciated...) are long gone, gone for almost 30 years, and there's no way I could ever fit into the clothes I was wearing, even if they still existed.

As I tried to remember how to play a bass guitar, I attempted to recreate the photo that was taken of me over 30 years ago. It's kind of close--I am holding a guitar and smiling. Now I smile because of all the good times I had attempting to maintain a steady bass line back when life seemed so much simpler.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Salt Lake Comic Con FanX Schedule...Can't Wait!


A good friend asked me if I would like to help out with this week's Salt Lake Comic Con FanX as a panelist. It's really an amazing honor to be asked so last week and this week I've been cramming (I haven't studied this much since grad school...) to hopefully offer some viewpoints and input that will be interesting to those who paid good money to come.

I'm also stoked because of the subjects of the panels--great stuff! And I'm also going to be joined by some incredibly talented people--many are friends, some I don't know who I'm hoping to get to know better.

Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Steampunk, Star Trek, Downton Abbey, Paranormal Stories at Walmart...just the best stuff ever! I am a very lucky dude!

If you're planning on going and you'd be interested in these topics, or if you'd just like to stop by and say, "hello," here's where I'm going to be:

Thursday, 4/17, 12 noon to 1pm, 251A

Paranormal Stories: The Case for the Supernatural at Walmart

Does the strange and fantastic hide or does it find more mundane environs? Join our panel for a collection of stories that take place in the most common places you can imagine.

Special Guests:

Sean Smithson, Scott Taylor, Johnny Worthen

Friday, 4/18, 10am to 11am, 250A

Brainstorming for Writers and Artists

The blank page in front of you, it’s time to come up with your next brilliant creation. What happens next? Join our panel of writers and artists for ideas about how to make your brainstorming more effective and let the seeds of good ideas grow into fully realized artistic work.

Special Guests:

Scott Taylor, Peggy Eddleman, Larry Correia, Jenni James, Chris Hawkes, Aneeka Richins, Jason Anderson

Friday, 4/18, 1pm to 2pm, 250A

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Films as Adaptations

The monumental effort required to bring Peter Jackon’s six Middle Earth films to fruition are astounding. That said, there are areas where the films as strong as adaptations of Professor Tolkien’s work, and areas that fans of the books find vexing. Join our panel for an examination of the films and a discussion of their merits.

Special Guests:

Scott Taylor, Robert J. Defendi, Julie Henderson, James Wymore, Blake Casselman, Tracy Mangum

Friday, 4/18, 7pm to 8pm, 251A

Steampunk for the Ages

The steampunk genre has come of age. The beguiling combination of steam-powered technology and alternate history has been entertaining for decades now. What steampunk entertainment will stand the test of time? Join a discussion of the best that the form has to offer.

Special Guests:

James Wymore, Dan Willis, Jennifer McGrew, Kevin J. Anderson, Scott Taylor


Saturday, 4/19, 10am to 11am, 251A

Downton Abbey: How A Stuffy British Drama Became One of TV’s Most Addictive Shows

The crossover between geekdom and Downton Abbey isn't at once apparent, but when you combine excellent writing, superb acting, and a co-production of BBC and PBS, you get a show that has some of the world's biggest geeks drooling for more. What is it that attracts geeks to this show? Why is it so good? How in the world does it relate to the X-men? All will be told.

Special Guests:

Cindy Grigg, Bryan Young, Ben Hodson, J.R. Johansson, Scott Taylor, Mette Ivie Harrison

Saturday, 4/19, 2pm to 3pm, 251A

Star Trek vs. Star Wars - Living in a Post-JJ Abrams World Part Deux

Between the reboot of Star Trek and the continuation of Star Wars, JJ Abrams will do more to reshape the world of popular science fiction more than almost anybody. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Is Abrams better suited to one property or another? What is the future of Star Wars and Star Trek? Which is better?

Special Guests:

Scott Taylor, Jason Hamilton, Bryan Young, Tyler Whitesides

Saturday, 4/19, 7pm to 8pm, 255A

World Building for Dystopian, Utopian, and Apocalyptic Futures: How to Do it Right

Sometimes in order to get the best out of your characters, you need to put them somewhere extreme. Whether you want to create the perfect world or the worst place possible for your characters to live out their story, it’s easy for these extremes to become flat and boring. Join our panel of writers to learn how to create a believable world that still puts the characters through their paces.

Special Guests:

Robison Wells, John Steiner, David Butler, Brad R.Torgersen, Scott Taylor

Again, it's truly an honor to be asked. Thanks Blake! I owe you, big time! I hope everyone has as much fun there as I know I will. Rock on!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Yes...It's A Purple Mailbox


Maybe 25 years ago I bought my mom a mailbox because the one she had was in such poor condition, it needed replacing. I picked one with wood on the sides to match the wood deck on her house.

The mailbox stood proudly in front of the house for years until my then brother-in-law built a nice brick mailbox, the brick matched the bricks on her house. He did a great job, but what to do with the old mailbox? We put it in the basement.

When it came time for us to build our house, I dusted off the old mailbox and we used it. It was in desperate need of refurbishing.

 

So, of course, we painted it purple.

Why purple?

It matched the front door.

After 10 years the mailbox needed re-painting and so we went to Home Depot and picked up more purple paint. Hopefully, it'll be another 10 years until we paint it again.


It's not the nicest mailbox--in fact, it's pretty beat up, but it's another connection to the life I once had, even though it's purple.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cap't Monkey And Tooele Boy And The Suspicious Sculpture...A Short Story

Dad's Guitar 005

 Big silver bean in Millenium Park.

 It's Time To Write! 

 I've found that Sunday nights are good nights to do a little writing and luckily, there's a website that accepts short stories--very short stories.

There are rules, of course. They'll only accept stories if you follow the rules and if you're wondering what those rules are, you're in luck! Because here they are!

1) Use the two photos provided in your story
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your post.
4) Add your story (Blue Link) at Leane's or Tena's sites.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

And so I accept the challenge for another week! Here's what I came up with!

Cap't Monkey And Tooele Boy And The Suspicious Sculpture

"Sir, can I ask you a question?" Tooele Boy didn't want to interrupt his mentor as the wiser, cultured man practiced a mash up of, As My Guitar Gently Wheeps and Led Zeppelin's classic, Black Dog on his Yamaha FGX730SC Solid Top Acoustic. However, Tooele Boy's tortured mind screamed for answers, answers he knew he alone did not possess.

The cap't lowered the beautiful instrument. "Looks like you just did," he said with a smile. A confused face met the musician, a look the captain had seen many times. After a moment, Tooele Boy responded.

"Well, can I ask you another question?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Cap't Monkey, I just returned from your last errand and I saw something, something large and mysterious--dare I say, suspicious."

"Do tell, my friend."

"As I walked through Millennium Park, reading the owners manual from my new pedometer, as I'm prone to do, a shadow passed over me, a menacing force full of foreboding and general ickiness. As soon as the darkness engulfed me, I stopped."

"Good heavens!" Cap't Monkey said with sincere interest. "Whatever was it?"

"I looked up and saw...well, I saw myself, but not myself. I stared up, or down at a distorted image of me, but not just me. Everyone around me, tourists, musicians, mob bosses, we were all twisted and deformed. Even mothers brought children to this horrid place."

"How terrible!" exclaimed the captain.

"Indeed! I knew not what to do."

"So, what did you do?" asked Cap't Monkey as he picked up his beloved guitar.

"The first thing I did was escape from underneath the hovering dread. Once I distanced myself from this thing, I looked back and noticed it was a sculpture, an incredible silver blob sat right in the middle of the park! Are you aware of this suspicious sculpture?"

"I am," he said as he strummed a perfect D minor, the saddest of all cords. "It's called Cloud Gate, better known as, The Bean."

"The what?"

"Formally dedicated May 15, 2006, Anish Kapoor's much-anticipated artwork showed the world that form can not only dictate the piece, but transcend it. Anyone coming in contact with Cloud Gate comes away with a different experience, a unique feeling that connects the viewer with the object with the artist. It's quite remarkable."

"I had no idea you knew so much about art!" an exasperated Tooele Boy said. "Once again, your intellect truly baffles me."

"It's more of a hobby, really, something that tweaks my interest from time to time. No, I've visted the famous bean several times, each time I see something different not only in the artwork, but in myself."

"If you're seeing something different each time, you must wear different clothes every time you go."

"You couldn't be more right," Cap't Monkey said. "You couldn't be more right."

Word Count: 478

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Call It...Homework


I found out about a week ago that I'm going to be on a panel at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX next week that discusses J.R.R Tolkien's masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Um...Wow!

The exact name of the panel is: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Films as Adaptations. Personally, I can't wait, but I realized when I found out I would be on the panel that I needed to brush up on my Tolkien. On Wednesday I downloaded The Hobbit in audiobook form and finished it the next day. It's been SO long since I read that book--great book!

http://saltlakecomiccon.com/*

Yesterday I rented and watched the first Hobbit film and today I rented the second one. Between now and next Friday at 1pm I need to watch all three of The Lord of the Rings films. If I had another week I'd listen to all three books, too--not this time.

Initial thoughts about the films? Peter Jackson sure made some great, long films! And instead of watching them for entertainment only, this time it's homework.


* Photo used without permission from: http://saltlakecomiccon.com/

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Agony And The Allergies...


How can something so beautiful be so frustrating? That what goes through my mind when I see all those blooming trees that seem to be everywhere right now. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen so many trees in bloom than I have this year.

 

"It's just because you're so affected by them right now," my wife said today and I know she's right. Things got so bad today that after dropping the kids off at their writing class, she had to take over the driving duties because I had to keep closing my eyes so often. I was becoming a driving hazard. 


Sure, there are medications I can take, but I personally don't like taking them. They make me more tired than I already am, and I have to keep taking them. Truth be told, I don't know how well they work for me. I've found some natural oils that seem to help. I don't feel so bad about taking those.


Everyone seems to love spring. I'd love it a lot more if it didn't affect me so much. But about the time I just can't take it anymore, things calm down and life returns to normal. I know I'll have another bout of allergies in the fall--those don't see to be so bad.

 

So, here's to the agony and the allergies! It's really a small price to pay for all the beauty, not to mention the beneficial aspects of all those blossoms. I guess it's just my cross to bear.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's An Underwood...And It's Beautiful


A discussion today with a co-worker made me think of something, and that something is as beautiful a piece of machinery as ever crafted by man...an antique Underwood typewriter. It's old, and in desperate need of repair--and it's heavy! But it's also an incredible piece of art. Here are some pictures I took of it tonight. It really deserves better pictures and to be cleaned up. I hope to one day see it refurbished, sitting on the corner of my desk in my study where I will type type on my Mac and create things people want to read. One day, but for now, enjoy!