Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pioneer Village's Wild West Shootout...My First SOPIK

Last week one of my blog posts stood out from the others. It was the one with my friend from college who passed away almost twenty years ago. For me, it was a special post--I didn't realize until after I posted it that it touched others as well.

Back in ancient times (before digital photography...), when you took a picture you had to wait to until the photos were developed to see exactly what transferred on film. One upside to using film is that once the pictures are developed, you have something you can hold in your hand. 

When I wrote my post about Deron I had to go the basement and look through the box full of old pictures until I found the one I needed. In that box there were a lot of other pictures, some from my mission, before my mission, from different places I worked and from university choir tours. They brought back so many memories, memories I want to share.

Several months ago I started the POLAIK blog posts. POLAIK stands fro Profiles Of Local Authors/Artists I Know. And, since I write every day, writing about such talented authors and artists helped fill the daily requirement and a way to let others know about how amazing those people are.

Today I'm going to start a new blog thread called SOPIK, which stands for Some Old Photos I've Kept. And I'm starting with one of the best jobs I've ever had: A Stuntman in the Wild West Shootout at Lagoon.

I don't have a lot of pictures of the years I  did that job with great friends. These were all from the same season, though I don't remember which one. And they could have all been taken on the same day. We rotated half a dozen different shows--not high drama you understand, but the patrons didn't expect impeccable acting or ultra-realistic fights. They came to have a good time and watch guys falls off rooftops and towers.

And that's what they got. And I got memories I hope to keep with me forever. I was part of the last stuntman team to perform at Pioneer Village. It's been more than twenty years since anyone's strapped on 22s, cowboy hats and colored scarves. Maybe one day new generations of amusement park guests can watch men pretend to fight, tell corny jokes and fall from dizzying heights. I sure hope so.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The "Happy Birthday" Paint Party...

Yesterday two of my most favorite people celebrated birthdays and they just happened to be grandmother and granddaughter. I know my mother-in-law was tickled pink when my daughter was born on her birthday. Now if only my daughter was left-handed...

To celebrate my mother-in-law suggested we go to Hands On Art Art and Ceramic Studio. 

What a blast!

We each chose an item to paint. We then went into a little room and painted it. Once it's finished, we leave it there where the store will fire it. We'll have our finished product. I cannot wait to see how ours turned out. I'm sure I'll be blogging about them once they're done.

But the reason we gathered was not to paint ceramic cups and cute animals, it was to spend time with family and to wish these two amazing women happy birthday.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers"...A Book Review

Cover of Starship Troopers

I've known about this book for literally decades, but it took me until this week for me to actually read it. What a great book!

Back in the 1970s when Dungeons & Dragons hit some other games hit the market in hopes of repeating their success. One game company made games based on books. I actually purchased the board game of Starship Troopers and I think I even played it once. I tried looking for it once in my mom's basement, but it got tossed years ago. Too bad--it's probably a collector's item now.

The next time I heard of the story was when the film came out. Yes, I watched it--it was gory, campy and gratuitous--definitely over the top. So when the book came available at the library, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the story was about.

I was wrong.

I'm glad I was wrong.

Yes, the book had some elements that were in the movie, but the book was so much better! What I liked most about the book was the way it focused mostly on the soldier and what someone fighting aliens in the future would go through. Yes, there were the battles with the bugs, but that mostly came about near the end of the book. I appreciated the way Heinlein crafted his world first, then put us in the battles. It added perspective so when the troops went to war, the reader was educated to the environment. 

Heinlein's one of the pioneers in science fiction writing. And since there's such a dust up concerning the Hugo Awards this year (and a little last year, too...), I was excited to read this book. Much has been written about Robert Heinlein and hypothetical questions have been asked such as, "If Robert A. Heinlein were alive to day, would he have won a Hugo Award, or the other awards he won?"

To me, it really doesn't matter, especially after reading Starship Troopers. An award is given after a great work is produced. Some argue Heinlein would not have won awards if he lived and wrote today. Be that as it may, he hit a home run with this one.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mr. DeMille...I'm Not Quite Ready For My Close-Up

I saw the call and almost didn't pick it up. I needed to finish my lunch so I could go downstairs to where they were going to be filming in just over thirty minutes.

I decided to pick up the call.

I'm glad I did.

It was my boss asking me where I was. You see, the filming that was going to begin in thirty-two minutes was going to actually begin in two.

Amazing how the details on those e-mails (and flyers...) can be missed sometimes.

So after shoving the remainder of my lunch in my face, I rushed downstairs. When I reached the room they had just begun and there was a chair waiting for me.

I know it was just an interdepartmental video, but it's still a little strange to be on camera. I've always said I've got a face for radio and a voice for newspapers, so seeing myself on the couple of times the camera swung over to our table is weird. Good thing it's not my main gig.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Veronica Roth's "Allegiant"...A Book Review

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)*

Last week I finished Veronica's trilogy by reading the last book in the series, Allegiant. I'm glad I read the books. Many times I wish there were more books to read in a world created by the author. With this one, I'm not so sure--I'm kind of glad it's over.

The final installment differs from the previous two books by having two narrators, Tris and Tobias take turns continuing the story, which was effective, but I wondered why that decision was made. The reason for the two points of view becomes obvious as the story unfolds.

If there's one thread that made reading these books tough for me is that there were so many different factions in the story, I kind of lost track. Perhaps if I had read the hard copy instead of listening to the books as audiobooks. I think this happens a lot to me and audiobooks. Because I don't actually see the words, I get lost at times. This isn't necessarily the author's fault. Of course, since I can't go back and read the hard copy when I experience the characters and the story for the first time, I'll never know if I read the books instead of listening to them would make my experience different.

Before I read this book I watched the movie based on the first installment, Divergent. I believe it helped put me in the world and did help me understand the gravity behind the story. Once again, there's that visual sensation helping me enjoy Roth's story.

A lot of people are tired of dystopian storylines. I'm not at that point, yet. Dystopia reminds me how no matter how we live, humans act in certain ways--always have, always will. One could argue that we live in a dystopian society now, even with all the luxuries and technological advancements we enjoy. For me, dystopia is a mindset, it's how we treat each other. I think most of us are basically good to each other. We help others in need when we can. Others see our world is full of evil where selfish people are out for no one but themselves. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Once again, I'm glad I read these books. They're definitely engaging and suspenseful. Roth did a fantastic job creating a believable world in which the physical distinctions of all its citizens are assigned, definite and socially acceptable. And because they are, we find out what horrors can exist in a world like that.

* Photo used without permission from:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Your Anniversary's In June...What's Wrong With That? Ah...Playoffs

The other day a co-worker and I were having a conversation. He's one of my sport's friends. That isn't to say he and I participate in sports, but it seems whenever we talk (which is a couple of times a month...), we inevitably discuss sports.

I used to be into sports--my wife would say I still am--but I don't think so, at least not the was I once was. Sports used to affected me and not always in a positive way. I made the conscience decision to reduce my sports intake. I know I'm much more at peace than I used to be.

So, my friend and I were talking. Somehow we got on the topic of marriages and weddings. I remembered a mutual friend of ours that was going to get married soon, so I asked him how he was doing and when was he going to get married. He said our friend was doing fine and the wedding was in June. 

Then my friend said something that I wasn't quite sure I heard correctly. 

He said, "Yeah, that's when I got married, but I kind of wish I had gotten married a little later in the month." I asked, why, and he said, "Because, had I waited a little bit, my anniversary wouldn't interfere with the NBA playoffs."

I was a little taken back. Our local pro team, the Utah Jazz hadn't made the playoffs in several years and the last time they did, they were swept in the first round. I asked what that meant since no local team was playing this year and he said that it kind of interfered with his anniversary, not in a major way, but the games sometimes did.

I guess removing myself from the world of sports has made me think about things differently. I would imagine the two could exist harmoniously together. Of course, my anniversary is in September, arguably the best time for sports. With college and NFL games in full swing, baseball pennant races going on, preseason NBA games and major league soccer matches--it's a sports junky nirvana. So, when we decided to get married in September, what was I thinking?

All photos used without permission from the NBA

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Few Flowers At My Mother-In-Law's House...

Photography, for me, is a hobby. There was a time when I wanted it to be a profession, but things didn't turn out that way. Thankfully, in our day and age a person can do a lot in the field of photography for not a lot of money.

Since early 2011 I've been taking pictures every day. I know this because I've posted a daily picture on my blog (and on Facebook and Google +...) every day since then.

It's been a lot of fun, but it's also a challenge to find something at least mildly interesting every day. I take my Nikon with me to work and other places. I would like to say I go for little photowalks daily while at work for my Pic Of The Day.

Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. 

So, many times I'm rushed to get a daily picture as the day ends and I run outside and try to find something interesting. Yesterday my wife and I went over to my in-law's and I took my camera because I knew she'd have beautiful things to photograph.

I've blogged about her yard before. It's simply stunning. We got there at dusk and so I didn't have a lot of time to get many pictures, but I got my Pic Of The Day and one other. If I'm ever in need of a beautiful subject to shoot, I know where to go.