Monday, August 22, 2016

Maurie Tarbox And "Hello Dolly!"...Simply Amazing

Last week my family attended a production of Hello Dolly at our local theatre. Having been in several shows at that theatre in the past couple of years, I knew many in the cast, so watching a show where you know the performers personally adds an extra element to the whole experience. Though many gave exceptional performances, one stood out. And it just happened to be the one who played the title roll.

I first met Maurie back at least a decade ago. She was a music director for a production of A Christmas Carol, and I'll be forever thankful a decision she and the other directors made when they gave a solo to my then six-year old daughter. My daughter still remembers it, and it was a proud moment for me to watch this beautiful little girl stand and sing her solo.

Over the years I've been fortunate enough to work many times with Maurie as she expanded her repertoire, from music director to director. Once again she chose my daughter and I to help out in several shows and she always treated us and all the performers with the upmost respect.

But I'd never seen her on stage.

Until last week.

She totally nailed it!

Really, I shouldn't have expected anything different. She's a pro, be it directing or while on stage.

There was one scene where Mr. Horace Vandergelder turned to Dolly and said, "Simply Amazing." The actor, the very talented Chuck Gilmore, could have been describing Dolly, the character, or the person playing her. 

The show plays for another couple of weeks. If you'd like to know more, click: HERE for details. Of course, everyone, from the excellent director--Jan, the fantastic choreographer--Addison, to the stage managers--Derek and Daniel, the costumers, prop people, other principles, to the ensemble, all contributed to make the show wonderful. I could (and probably should...) write a blog post highlighting all involved. It was a pleasure to just sit and watch the magic onstage. Thanks everyone for making our night so much fun. And a special thanks to Maurie, for the show and everything else.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

K.R....Who Are You?

A few months ago my wife got me a present. They purchased a D.N.A. testing kit from Ancestry.Com. Last week I got the results.

Turns out, as far as my ancestry goes, I'm pretty much what I would be if I had been born to my adoptive father and mother, which is kind of amazing.

In my culture, we research our ancestors. There's religious reasons for this, but it's so ingrained that it becomes who we are. We know where we came from and we work hard to learn even more. My parents, aunts and uncles have done a lot of the family research work for me. I know that my adoptive family comes form Europe, Great Britain, and Scandinavia.

Last week I opened up my D.N.A. results and guess what--according to my D.N.A. I come from Scandinavia, Western Europe, and Great Britain. In all honesty, where I come from doesn't really surprise me. I look like I come from that area of the planet. What did surprise me is how close that comes to the heritage of my adoptive family. It's like I'm one of them physically, and not just spiritually.

The Ancestry.Com also includes some other information. It identifies relatives. Turns out my D.N.A. connected me to at least one second cousin, a few third cousins, and many fourth cousins. The second cousin is my closest relative, according to the results, and the only information I have on her is that she's identified by the initials K.R. I've never met my birth parents--don't even know who they are. I've not devoted a lot of time to fine out, either. It's something that I figure I'll know one day. But now I have a nugget of information. I have something to research.

So, who are you, K.R.?

We share great-grandparents, all of whom are listed on my Ancestry.Com account.

Looks like I've got a real-life mystery on my hands.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Waiting For Lightning...

Storms rarely roll across the valley in the summer, so when we heard thunder echo off the mountains one afternoon a few weeks back, a tingle rippled through each member of the family.

Finally, rain!

From where our house sits, we can usually tell how bad a storm's going to be. From the west, clouds approach. If they're bringing rain the bottom of the clouds disappear like cotton being pulled from below. But when we can't see Antelope Island, it means it's big and we'd better make sure things that are prone to being blown away in storms are secured. 

We live surrounded by mountains. Thunder, like the sounds from celebratory fireworks, bounce off the Rocky Mountains until the sound disappears into space. In the summer rain's a luxury. When we heard the thunder, we stopped what we were doing and opened up the front door. Was the storm to the south, the north, the west? We weren't sure, but we knew it drew close.

Rain in summer means relief, and not just for the fauna . It means relief from the heat, from the dry dry air, from the sun that beats down on our house, our roads, and our heads when outside. In the sky the sun proves it's power from millions of miles away. It give and takes away life--it rules us and we bend to its will.

And yet, it can be tamed, if only momentarily, by the condensation of evaporated water that solidifies in the chilled air above and wanders by the wind's will until the weight of the liquid proves too heavy and it releases its load.

And sometimes, there's lightning.

And when there's lightning, we wait.

And watch.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yard Work...For A Vampire

I think I figured it out, or at least, it made sense this morning. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know of my distain for yard work. There's many reasons for this. First, I suffer from seasonal allergies, and the usually kick in in the spring, just after the snow melts and those crazy thoughts that doing some yard work may be fun tries to enter your mind.

But it's not just the allergies. Again, if you follow this blog, you also know that I'm not a fan of the summer sun and the summer heat. If I spend too much time in the outside in the summer when the sun's out, doing things like mowing the lawn or pulling weeds I get a headache and need to cool off.

So, when the time comes that my allergies aren't bad and it's not hot outside, I can find myself doing some yard work. Of course, there's one other thing that keeps me from going outside on my days off and pulling weeds--I like to sleep in on the days I don't work. I suppose you could say I like to stay up late the night before.

This morning I slept in a little bit, but I dragged my butt out of bed and did some yard work. Yes--I know it's hard to believe. Allergies didn't get me, but as the sun crept over the mountain, I packed up my tools and headed inside.

It was like I was a vampire, afraid the sun would burn me.

I was the Yard Work Vampire.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Salt City Steamfest Fashion Show...

Last weekend I attended another convention, this one not necessarily a literary convention, but more  a cosplay convention. It's called Salt City Steamfest and I've attended each year since 2013. There's rumors that this year's local celebration of all things steampunk will be the last. Of course, they said the same thing last year, and they did it again.

On Saturday they had a steampunk fashion show so I grabbed the Nikon and took some pictures. One thing that draws people, myself included, to steampunk is the ability to take it to so many places. Those who showcased their talents steampunked Star Trek, Wonder Woman, and Hell on Wheels, among other things. Really, the only thing that restricts steampunk are people's imaginations.

I attended Friday and Saturday. On Friday I participated in a Space Balrogs "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" panel. I finished second--just like last time. If you've seen any of the Space Balrogs Apocalypse panels, you know what I'm talking about. It was still fun.

The costumes was amazing, as usual. I don't know if next year you'll be able to see this level of cosplay. If Salt City Steamfest returns, then possibly. Also, at the large Comic Cons, people do dress up and use their incredible talents to impress. The fashion show at Steamfest--very impressive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My New/Old iPod Mini...What A Blast!

Over the weekend we stopped by a yard sale--not to pick up stuff, but to drop off. We rounded up some items around the house and basically gave them away. At the sale we laid out our free stuff. Once we did that, I noticed another free pile next to ours, and in that pile there was an iPod.

An ancient iPod.

And I grabbed it!

You may wonder why I would want this particular piece of technology. It's a fair question. The previous owner didn't. I had no idea if the thing even worked. But for free, I wasn't risking anything. I brought it home and powered it up. It worked. Not only that, but it had over five-hundred songs still on it.

Okay, so some of the artists I would not have chosen to put on my iPod, but some I definitely would. I had listened to a song or two, but hadn't really put the thing through its paces. Until today, that is. At work I fully charged the pale blue beauty and plugged in the earbuds.

I had a blast!

When iPods first came out, I never got one--we couldn't afford it. Plus, there was always the radio and the old standby--the Walkman to use instead. So I never got to enjoy the iPods with their hundreds of songs and unparalleled portability. It was a lot of fun, using the wheel to control everything and enjoying music, plain and simple.

Of course, it has many downsides compared to its modern counterpart. There's no Bluetooth--you have to be physically attached to the iPod. It's 4 gigs, which I'm sure was huge in its day. And if you're only talking about music--no videos, none of the extra stuff--4 gigs is plenty. And the battery's pretty much gone. I drained it to almost empty listening for only a few hours.

When I watched those hypnotic iPod ads more than a decade ago, they made iPods fun--fun to have, fun to use, fun to own. Today I caught a glimpse of just how much fun iPods really are.

...or were.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Time To Revisit Those Acrylic Grapes...

This is the second time I've comeback to this same topic, but I think it's time to return to it again.

Acrylic Grapes.

They're as popular as they are mysterious. For a certain age group in our culture (basically, everyone but millennials...), when they see these grapes, it brings back a ton of memories--I know it does for me. And when I saw this cluster of acrylic grapes at the Deseret Industries in St. George in September of 2011, I should have bought the darn things.

Just the other day I got a comment from a post I wrote on the same acrylic grapes back in 2013. It's just amazing how popular they are.

So, for those who never saw either my 2011 (click: HERE) or 2013 (click: HERE) posts, here's what they look like and how to make them. Since there's so many DIY'ers out there, maybe my humble post can be the start of an acrylic grapes revolution.

You never know.