Sunday, November 30, 2014

Home For The Holidays?...A Short Story

Weekly Writing Challenge--Thanksgiving Edition!

These writing challenges are posted each Wednesday and there is a one-week time limit for each exercise. So, last Wednesday these pictures appeared to be used in the weekly writing challenge.

Very appropriate, I'd say.

If you'd like to participate in the challenge, just follow these rules:

1) Use the above two photos in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your story.
4) Follow the posting instructions at Debb's, Heather's or Tena's websites. 
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

And so, here's my little story.

Home For The Holidays?

Shelly hated the cold, and when I say hated, I mean hated with power of a thousand suns. She would rather wait in line at the DMV for days than live where even one snowflake fell, or lie in a box full of scorpions than reside anywhere the temperature dropped below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

So when her parents decided to retire where her brother and his family lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and they invited her to join them for Thanksgiving, every cell her body screamed, "NO!" 

"Oh, please, Honey! Shelly's mother pleaded over the phone the weekend before Thanksgiving. "We'll pay for the plane ticket. It's the last time the entire family will be together before you leave for Italy."

"Mom! Why did you ever move to Wyoming, of all places? Do they even have roads to John's house, or do they use sled dogs?" Shelly said trying to justify the decision not to come before she even made it. 

"Oh, Shelly! It is SO beautiful here! And no, it's not cold right now. In fact, it's 65 degrees outside right now."

"How is that possible? You guys, in the mountains with frozen lakes!"

"Yes, but we've been told it's unusually warm right now. Must be that global warming all you kids are talking about."

"Oh, mother..." Shelly cringed at the un-hipness of her parents, something she did quite frequently. "And how long is that unusual weather supposed to last?"

"I've heard all week, including Thanksgiving. I know how much you hate the cold."
"I don't think you do, mom. If you did, you wouldn't have moved to Wyoming. You know I may never set foot in your new home, even if you threaten to cut me out of your will if I don't."

"Silly girl," Shelly's mother said laughing. "You know there won't be anything left to put in a will for you or your brother."

"Very funny, ma!" She knew her parents were incapable of spending the millions they had. "E-mail me with the flight information and I just might see you Thursday."

"That would be wonderful dear! We can't wait to see you!"

The conversation replayed in Sally's mind as she waited for the flight from JFK to Salt Lake City to board. CNN played on the overhead TV, something Shelly usually ignored. But the story of a severe winter storm hitting the Rocky Mountain states--including Idaho and Wyoming--caught her attention. She accessed The Weather Channel on her iPad and checked out the details.

Shelly walked to the airline desk and pulled out her American Express card.

"Excuse me," she said to the pretty reservationist. "I'd like to book the next available flight to Cancun." 

"Certainly." After a moment of furious fingers on the keyboard, she said. "I have one first class ticket on Delta leaving from the next concourse in one hour." 

"Book it!" Shelly said and she handed over the card.

Word Count: 494

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Well Done...You Mighty Men Of Utah!

Today marked the end of the 2014 regular football season for the University of Utah. They ended the season the way they began it--with an ugly win.

Much has already been written about this year's campaign. It has been a wild ride! Utah lost some games they arguably should have won and won several they had no right winning.

But the win/loss total is what it is.

Now, for those of us who don't play the game and whose opinions hardly matter in the grand scheme of things, we will get together at work, church, school and discuss the season that was. As with everything in life, some will be happy with the overall results. Some will complain and be bitter and others will have no opinion either way.

Me? I will reside in the first camp with those other half-fullers who consider this year a great success. The team went 8-4, had their first conference winning record as a member of the Pac-12. They beat Michigan, UCLA, USC, Oregon State, Stanford which is a huge accomplishment considering at no time during any of those games did they dominate. They lost to the two conference leaders, Oregon and Arizona as well as Washington State and Arizona State.

The Utes were ranked for most of the season and finished the regular season a top-25 program. They're going to a bowl game (as of yet, undecided...) and the program shook off two loosing seasons to win twice as many games as they lost.

Sure, I could focus on the one-point loss to Washington State or the overtime loss to Arizona State, either win might have secured a first-place finish in the Pac-12 South. But, no...I'm not thinking about those things. I'd rather remember this year's team a one that fought hard, played hard, and won eight of 12 (so far...). Thank you, you mighty men of Utah football. You did yourselves, your state, and your fans proud! Can't wait for 2015!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Brandon Sanderson's "Mitosis"...A Book Review

Mitosis (Reckoners, #1.5)*

If you're a fan of Brandon Sanderson and a fan of Audible audiobooks, let me tell you about a deal you're going to love. The only downside is Mitosis, A Reckoners Story audiobook is only an hour and three minutes long.

Did I mention it's free at Audible?

Mitosis is a story from the world Sanderson created in Steelheart, which I believe is my most favorite Sanderson novel. In this new world superheroes, instead of being honorable and good, are anything but. They've realized that with their unusual powers they can rule cities, spread fear and basically get whatever they want.

The trick is stopping them. Stealheart is a great story about how a group of rebels take on an conquer a being so powerful, the tasks seems monumental. In Mitosis the group is back, this time fighting another superhero bent on domination and the cleaver way success is achieved.

If you don't necessarily like audiobooks, go to Audible (link can be found: HERE), sign up and get the free book, and if you like this story, please check out Stealheart. You won't be disappointed.

* Photo used without permission from:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Day To Be Thankful...

Today millions of people gathered and hopefully enjoyed the company of loved ones. That's what I did. The most important people in my life sat around our dinning room table, ate delicious food and engaged in delightful conversation.

It just happened to be my birthday. Once or twice a decade my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, which I LOVE! I mean, what can be better than having family come, eating great food, watching football and finishing up with cake and ice cream? Actually, we were all too filled up with delicious pies--we'll have cake tomorrow.

Dozens of Facebook friends expressed fond wishes to me for the day for which I am thankful. I also  kept thinking back on a video a friend of mine posted on his Facebook page a few days ago. Maybe you've seen it--it shows a boy who has been given a gift. And unless he has a desire to prepare food, the gift is about as useful to a child as a toothbrush is to a fish.

He gets a cutting board.

And he's so grateful for it.

But then, the moment comes that melted my heart. He's given another gift, a gift he obviously wanted and loved--an electronic tablet. It's such a sweet video and the boys reaction is priceless. It's the kind of video that made me re-think what gratitude means, what humility means and how I should look at what I have from a different perspective.

If you haven't seen it, click: HERE and I dare you not to be changed by this adorable boy.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope we all can understand how truly bless we all are. God bless.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nielsen's Frozen Yogurt...Nectar, Pure Nectar That's Undeniably Delicious!

I have to think that Nielsen's Frozen Yogurt will be found in Heaven.

It just HAS to be.

Last night my wife delivered to me a tasty treat. If you live where I live, you are privileged to be near a Nielsen's Frozen Yogurt location. If you've experienced the utter joy the product delivers, you understand what I'm talking about when I say it's "heavenly." If haven't tried any frozen yogurt and you live by me, then shame on you! You're denying yourself one of life's most delicious treasures.

I first learned of Nielsen's back in the 1980's when my friend Bob Aamodt worked there as an after school and weekend job. I couldn't believe how good it was. Over the years I've frequented the different franchises in the area and it still tastes as good as it did decades earlier.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it...), I don't partake of its goodness as much as I would like. Personal budgets and the desire to live beyond my 50s require that I do not eat this everyday.

So, I have to conclude that there's a Nielsen's Frozen Yogurt in Heaven. Because if there isn't, I might have to re-thing the whole "Heaven" thing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So, I Read "A Game Of Thrones"


I've attended a couple of Comic Cons and other conventions and there's one franchise everyone seems to know, George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. I don't know how many have read the books, but everyone seems to have seen the series.

Everyone, that is, but me.

Until today I had not finished one Martin book. I can no longer say that. I can say that I've never watched an episode of the series. After reading the book, I'm not sure I want to.

I can understand the draw, however. The book is not just a fantasy novel, but it's like a soap opera with magic and killings with swords and other unpleasantries. No wonder the series is successful. And since I listened to the audiobook version and since it's a massive book and since it's fantasy, I naturally got lost several times while listening to the whole thing (I tend to do that every time I read/listen to a large fantasy audiobook--I think the names confuse me...). Thank goodness for Wikipedia to keep me up to speed on what happened.

Will I read any add'l George R.R. Martin books? Right now, I can't say. There are so many other great books out there. I might not have the time...

* Photo used without permission from:

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Angel Tree Reality Gut Check...

It makes sense that what should be the happiest time of the year is also the time when some of the most unhappy thoughts can swim your brain. There’s opposition in all things, after all. In our family, this week begins the official holiday season with Thanksgiving coming up, then Christmas in a few weeks and New Years Day the week after that.

Everywhere we turn there’s ads showing us all the things to buy that will bring us happiness. We’re bombarded by songs telling us, among other things, that it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I’ve often wondered why we suddenly feel the need to be nicer to others, give gifts and show our appreciation during the holidays. If doing all that brings us so much happiness, why don’t we do that everyday—not just during this time of the year?

But that’s a different topic for another day.

I’d like to say at this point that I’m not depressed, nor do I like to dwell on the negative, but as I think of the holidays coming up, I’d like to be able to get things for family and friends—things they want. Heck, I’d love to get things I’d like to get. But as with everything, we usually get the things we need and that should be enough.

I took a walk in the afternoon with a co-worker. He had to withdraw some money at his credit union. In the lobby there was an Angel Tree and I thought it might be an interesting picture to post.

It was then I began taking pictures of the non-traditional ornaments. After reading a few of the messages attached to the tree, it made me realize just how blessed my family and I really are. Imagine wanting socks, a coat or slippers for Christmas not because they’re “wanted,” but because they are sorely needed. It’s sobering and eye-opening and it’s something I needed to see today.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Son!

Yesterday we had a party to celebrate an event that occurred sixteen years ago. We welcomed our second child into our family and, as it was with the first, our lives have never been the same since. 

In our family, we have big birthdays. We do this because with four kids, we really can't afford to throw big parties for each birthday every year. The big birthdays come when the kids turn eight, twelve, and sixteen. Since it was my son's sixteenth birthday we had a party and he invited many many friends.

My son loves games, all types of games. Like most teenage boys, if he could, he'd play video games pretty much all day. So when he can't play electronic games, he turns to board and card games. Yesterday the living/dining room area in our house because Game Central.

We had snacks and drinks (well, water...), and lots of lively conversation. My son and his friends are amazing. We had kids ranging from eighteen to ten, all having a good time. I don't know if I would have allowed my ten-year old little brother crashing my sweet sixteen birthday party. But that's how my son is.

Today we went to church, relaxed a bit in the afternoon, then went to my cousins house for an extended family pie night. We each brought a pie and just enjoyed each other's company. And we even sang "Happy Birthday" so him before everyone left their separate ways.

Happy birthday, son. You are a great kid and we love you!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Platte F. Clarke's "Bad Unicorn"...An Introduction

Last September I bought a book from a local author. The book, Bad Unicorn. The Author, Platte F. Clarke. Last week I began reading said book. I have yet to finish it.

But so far, it rocks!

The book came recommended by a member of Platte's writing group. "It's a different kind of book," my friend Dave said.

"How so?" I asked.

"You have to read it to find out."

When you pick up a book called Bad Unicorn, and on the cover is a picture of a unicorn chewing the bones of some creature and another poor unfortunate animal impaled on on its horn, you know the book is not your average middle grade fare. Princess, the unicorn, is anything but. She's not a nice animal, nor is she a nice person when in human form (which I think is a brilliant way to expand the character's abilities...). 

I usually wait until I've finished a book before I write about it, but this time I thought I'd introduce the book and write a review later.

If you've got a middle grade reader who feel like they've "read it all," take a look at Bad Unicorn. Most likely, your reader hasn't read anything like this.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Utah State Aggies...Go Big Blue!

Many years ago I attended college at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Back then their football program kind of sucked.

I'm sorry to put it that way, but that's the way it was.

Sure, they'd beat their in-state rivals once in a while, but they usually got their tails beat both in conference games and non-conference games. It was sad, but I think even during those tough years, they played hard. They just didn't have the talent to compete much of the time.

I'm happy to say, I think those days appear to be over! After tonight's show many of us in the cast went out to eat and on one of the TV screens at the restaurant was the latest Utah State romp. I saw a stat roll across the ticker that said this year's Aggie senior class has won 35 games.


I'm so happy to be excited about the USU Aggies at the beginning of each football season. They are no longer a guaranteed in-state win--just as the Cougars and Utes.

I only stayed at USU for one quarter, but it's the school where my father went, my brother, sister, uncle and many many friends, and I feel no shame in rooting for Big Blue.

Oh, and since they won again tonight, the senior class is now at 36 wins with hopefully more to come. Go Aggies!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Break Many Legs, My Friends...


When you're in a production and it's double cast, there comes a point where you'll say "goodbye," not once, but twice. We gather, as strangers, as acquaintances and as fast friends every weeknight and Saturday mornings for two months.

I find it fascinating that I can develop a deeper friendship with someone in a couple of months than I can working side-by-side with a co-worker in a couple of years. I think it's because when you do a show, you're vulnerable, you're exposed, you erase your comfort zone and you put complete trust in each other. I think that's one reason why so many who feel out-of-place in the "normal" world find refuge on the stage where they're accepted, welcomed, and loved.

And so, as each show starts, we sit and watch our counterparts say their lines, sing their parts, follow their blocking and our hearts cheer for their success and pray they don't screw up.

And's over.

We're left to ourselves, half a family to finish the show's run. Don't get me wrong--I love my cast, but I'm going to miss my friends. Tonight's their opening night and right about now, the Ghost of Christmas Future is making his haunting entrance, hopefully filling the audience with the impending dread that visits us all at one time or another.

Break many legs, my other family! I know you'll do us proud! 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And In Comes The Gray Hair...

Some of you know this--the ones who shave their heads know this--that if you shave your head long enough, you end up forgetting what your natural hair is like. And since I've been shaving my head for over twenty years, each time I let it grow out, I'm in for a shock.

The last time I grew out my hair (other than now...), was a few years ago when I did a show. I always seem to grow out my hair when I'm doing a show. Back when I had hear, I was a toe head, a blondie, especially in the summer when my hair turned basically white.

But a few years ago when it came in, it was kind of a brown color--no longer blond. There was a touch of gray in it, though. Personally I'm not opposed to gray. I think it's cool, because gray hair turns to white hair and in my opinion, there's no cooler color of hair than pure white.

When I grew it out for my latest play, it came in pretty much all gray. And, to make things even more interesting, there's some crazy hairs that are not straight. If you know me at all, you know I have straight hair. My hair cannot be any other kind than straight. 

So, after this show, I'll probably go back to shaving my head. It's so much easier. But if and/or when the time comes when I choose to grow out my hair again, who knows what surprises may come?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So, When Is A Guitar...Like A Camera?

That's a good question...when IS a guitar like a camera?

I thought about this today when I was downloading pictures off my Nikon. We were at rehearsal and I had my camera with me. A fellow photog took interest in my little DSLR, so much so she asked to see it. I did not revert to my elementary school days and say, "Look! You can see it from there." Instead, I handed the camera to her and she began taking pictures.

I could tell she loves to take pictures and she was very familiar with it. She began adjusting the settings (with my permission, of course...) then taking shots. Because of where I was sitting in the theater seats, I couldn't really see the results, but I knew that I'd get a chance later. All of these shots she took.

She then gave me a short tutorial on some of the non-automatic functions of my camera that I've been too lazy to learn on my own. And I'm glad she did--I can't wait to try out the new stuff I've learned!

But none of this answers the question of how a guitar is like a camera.

I have a friend, Dave Butler (I've written about him several times...). He and I have attended many Comic Cons and other conventions of late, and one of Dave's signature "looks" is to bring with him his guitar. And at these conventions, there's some down time when we're just hanging out. Many times people will come up to Dave and ask, "Hey, Dave...can I play your guitar?" Sometimes I think they ask if they can "see" his guitar, but I digress. 

I don't recall a time he's turned down the request. So the person gets the guitar and begins to strum and create music that they've practiced in the past. When I watched my friend take pictures, it reminded me of that. Every guitarists plays the instrument differently. And it's the same with a photographer's eye. We all see things differently and the art that comes from each of us is unique.

So, when is a guitar like a camera? When it's used to make something beautiful.

Oh, and with my new knowledge, I took this last picture.

Monday, November 17, 2014

If You Could Choose...What Comic Con Panel Topic Would You Suggest?

Because I've participated in the past, I received an e-mail the other day from those involved in the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con FanX asking for suggestions. They are soliciting suggestions for their upcoming events, specifically, what panels would we like to see in their next event.

On the surface, that seems like an easy question to answer. We want cool panels with engaging and sometimes bald panelists. We want them to be fun, educational, entertaining and interesting. And seeing how this will be the fourth installment of the Salt Lake Comic Con franchise, there's been a lot of fantastic panels already. 

How do they top that?

Since I initially thought it would be an easy exercise to do, I clicked "Reply" and began filling out my dream panel. Now, I'm not talking about the mega-panels that fill the joint with headline names like Stan Lee, or Nathan Fillian, or Adam Baldwin or almost the entire Star Trek TNG cast. I'm talking about those other panels, the ones on writing or cosplay or making movies on a budget of $2,184.00.

Yeah, those panels--the ones many at the Comic Cons don't even know exist. However, to me they're one of the most important parts of the entire thing (they're the reason I've been able to attend each of the three Cons...).

After some time, I was able to think of an interesting panel including some great local authors who would be considered experts on the subject. I'm interested to know, if you could, what panels would YOU recommend to the Comic Con panel planning committee? I'd love to hear your suggestions.