Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dave Butler's "City Of The Saints"...A Book Review

City of the Saints*

A week or two ago I was asked on a social media site to post about ten books that have "stayed with me." I even blogged about it. Now that I've finished Dave Butler's City of the Saints, I may need to revise my list.

His book goes to eleven!

If you've gone to any writing conferences in Utah during the past couple of years, you've probably seen this book. With a kind of steampunky look, it's a pretty straightforward cover. With the addition  of A Scientific Romance in Four Parts as a subtitle, you may think you can ascertain what the book is about.

If you don't know anything about the book, you have no idea! This book is like nothing I've ever read before. It's difficult to even explain it now that I'm done reading it. 

But I'll try. The setting is pre-Civil War America. The story begins in Wyoming where several teams of spies are headed to the Kingdom of Deseret, basically Brigham Young's Mormon territory. One set of spies represent the Northern State's interests, the other set, the South. Each has a mission and everyone seems to hate the Pinkertons.

Butler uses real characters, Samuel Clemens, Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Burton, Brigham Young, Porter Rockwell, Eliza R. Snow, John D. Lee, Orson Pratt, Bill Hickman and Ann Eliza Webb. He weaves their lives with those of colorful fictional characters and creates a story that is massive in its imagination. It's part western, part James Bond, part steampunk and yes, there's a romance or two.

City of the Saints is actually a collection of four short novels combined into one volume. It's big book, but the pace of the story makes it a fast read, at least it did for me. I have several favorites in the book, but one scene I especially loved. It was the introduction of Pratt's airship as it hovered over a canyon as seen from below. I thought the description very, very cool.

There's gunfights and sabotage, affairs and mysticism, betrayal and religion (not the same thing...) and more. It is one wild ride!

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/17227710-city-of-the-saints

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nothing Dwarfish About This Bounty...


A few years ago we got a fruit tree as a gift--actually, it was a gift for my daughter. It's a dwarf tree and since I know almost nothing about fruit trees (except for the first 10 years we harvested cherries after moving to Farmington, the fruit had no little white worms inside...), I assumed a dwarf tree would yield not a lot of fruit.

Like I said, I didn't know much about fruit trees.

This year's nectarine crop from our one tree has been amazing! The photo of the box full of nectarines represents about a third of all the fruit this little tree produced, and I believe last year's crop was similar.

After all the food is processed, we'll probably have used about half of the crop--the rest will be given to friends. From now on, I won't underestimate my daughter's little tree.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wanted...New Neighbor


We knew they were moving, out neighbors at the end of the street. It wasn't until today that I saw the "For Sale" sign. I guess it's official.

Forty five years ago my parents bought some land and we began to build a house. After my father past away a few years later, my mom literally "lived off that land." She sold building lots incrementally to keep herself and her three children fed, clothed and sheltered. The first lot we sold was bought by the Seeley family and they built the home now for sale.

The Seeleys lived there for several years. Eventually they moved and sold it to the current owners who have probably lived there for almost thirty years.

So, here's an announcement letting everyone know that if they wish to live on the side of a mountain with incredible sunsets and the occasional sound of tigers roaring from Lagoon, now's your chance!

Believe it or not, my system of picking my neighbors has proved quite successful. I'm personally responsible to choosing three of our immediate neighbors. Thanks to my meddling, the neighbors to the north and south and across the street were told those homes were going up for sale before anyone else knew. The eventual owners had an advantage in the home-buying process. Hopefully they're pleased with their homes and as having us as their neighbors.

And so, you too can join our little slice of heaven on the side of a mountain! If you're interested, the phone number to call (sorry it's hard to see in the photo...) is: 801.451.5290. I have no idea what they're asking or the condition of the home, but I can tell you, their lawn is so well maintained--it's beautiful.

If you want more info, let me know. Come on! Check it out! Buy the house! Be our neighbors! It'll be fun!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New...Boat


Some things change--some do not. As time goes on, it seems everything eventually changes. Volkswagen gave us a new Beetle, Coca-Cola has tampered with it's product for years, and now the need to change has reached the Boy Scouts Raingutter Regatta.

I guess it was inevitable. 


Though, I must say, I do like the new design. Gone is the block of balsa wood with a stick and a sail. Now the youngsters can build their own balsa catamarans. Basically, instead of one block of wood, they now have two blocks of wood.


This morning I gave my son an assignment. I drew lines on the wood where he needed to remove with a sander (that was conveniently included in the box...). I got back from the play this afternoon and saw that my son had completed his assignment and he did a great job.


Together we finished sanding the wood, then we attached the plastic boat body and we painted it gold. I told my son that our color choices were limited to whatever colors we had in the basement. Since we had gold, gold did just fine.

The big race is Tuesday night. It'll be interesting to see the creative designs the little tykes (or their fathers...) come up with. I say, bring it on!

video

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ten Books That Stayed With Me...A Facebook Activity

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For those of us on Facebook and other social media sites, there are times when friends as you to participate in various "activities." For the most part, I find myself unasked, which isn't too bad a situation to be in.

But a couple of my literary friends asked if I would participate in a activity that asked to name 10 books that have stayed with me. The tagger then listed 10 of his books and asked several others to do the same.

Easy I thought...

Turns out, not so much!

Ever since I went back to school a few years ago, I have not only fallen in love (all over again...) with reading, but it seems to consume my day. I'm fortunate to be able to listen to audiobooks while I'm at work. On a good week I can finish two or three novels--unless, of course, they're a Brandon Sanderson story.

I got the challenge in the morning and put it off until later, but when it came down to choosing just ten books, it's a difficult proposition. Some of my choices were not my "favorite of all time" books, but I found myself thinking about the stories and the effect they had on me.

Here are my ten (in no particular order...) and I can honestly say each one of them changed me.

Peace Like A River
Les Miserable
To Kill A Mockingbird
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
Captain Nemo
The Stand
Creativity, Inc.
Gods And Generals
Seabiscuit
The Devil And White City

* Photo use without permission from: http://willvaus.blogspot.com/2012/01/c-s-lewis-top-ten.html

Thursday, August 28, 2014

College Football Begins Today! Happy Day! Oh...Happy Day!


Can I tell you that I'm having a fantastic day? At work today I realized that today was just one of those days when everything aligned like a harmonic convergence. First of all, once the workday was over, a 4-day weekend begins. Second, I'm going to submit a short story to my publisher this weekend. Third, it's payday, and fourth (and perhaps most important...), 

College Football Begins Today!

All these things made my workday a much more pleasant experience!


I know, I'm a sucker for my team. It's where I graduated with my first degree. I rooted for them when they during the terrible years and I reveled in the wins when they were one of the best teams in the nation--twice they were the best team in the nation, based on theirs---and everyone else's record.


Sure, they've had a couple of losing seasons, and they may break my heart again this year, but considering they're playing some of the country's best competition, I'll take it. After all, I'm still a sucker for the underdog (Go Wildcats!).


It's just after halftime and the Utes are rolling, 42-7 and one day, they'll do this against the best the Pac-12 has to offer. That may take years, but as for me on this beautiful August evening, I'm a happy man and a Utah Man!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Craig Nybo's Gangrene Film Festival...An Event Of Awesomeness!

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 (click to enlarge picture)

The Gangrene Film Festival 

In two days an event takes place, in a town surrounded by towering mountains and a big stinky lake. People will gather, children will stare in wonder, adults will cry tears of joy and all involved will be moved on a basic level--for this weekend marks the return of the Gangrene Film Festival to Layton, Utah.


It's safe to say that without Craig Nybo there would be no Gangrene Film Festival. I heard about the festival years ago and since I've never gone, I knew the people behind it must have a sense of humor I would appreciate. Earlier this year I met Mr. Nybo, someone I should have gotten to know a long time ago. Had I done so, my life would have been much more enriched--enriched with entertainment, creativity, and friendship.

A few months ago I asked Craig about the Gangrene Film Festival and a possible artistic collaboration. The man's eyes lit up and he spoke of it as a proud father would of his child. He got me so excited to join in on the phone, but as it happens so often, obstacles have been placed in my path that prevents me from attending this year's edition.

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So, if you're around and want to have some kick-butt entertainment as well as hearing from many brilliant authors and creative types, please check it out! You can access their website: HERE and click the top picture for details. 

The Gangrene Film Festival--It's Infectious! 

(sorry...)

* Photos used without permission from: http://www.gangreneproductions.com/festivals/