Monday, August 31, 2015

"Just Let Go"...A Dream Fulfilled

I saw a movie trailer today and watching it actually brought goosebumps to rise on my arm. Movie trailers nowadays are like little doses of addictive drugs. Any clip from a much-anticipated film like Star Wars drives the fans crazy, myself included.

But as I watched the trailer for the new film, Just Let Go it affected me in a different way--I saw dreams fulfilled.

Back in 2006 I was introduced to two wide-eyed and idealistic filmmakers only a few years out of film school. I could tell right off that they LOVED what they did, and after seeing some of their short films, I knew they were good at what they did, two friends who wanted to do something ever since they were little kids.

We came together because I wrote a screenplay and thanks to their talents and excellent suggestions we created an award-winning short film.

Since 2006 I've watched as opportunities have come their way and they've taken full advantage of them. Finally, after years of hard work, long hours, and time away from family and friends, their dream will be shown to audiences, hopefully all over the country and the world. They believe it's a story worth telling.

And so do I.

I watched the trailer and I saw in the shots my friend's work and their love of what they do. Sure, the next Star Wars installment is due in December of this year and it will earn billions of dollars, but I think I'm more excited about a little indie film made by two wide-eyed and idealist filmmakers that opens on September 28, 2015, not just because I know those involved in the film, but because I know--in part--what it took to see their dream fulfilled.

You can see the trailer: HERE. Maybe watching won't bring goosebumps to your arm. Then again, maybe it will.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Eric Wood...A Very Good Man

Gallery Photo

I saw a post on Facebook last night and reading through the post, I noticed I was too late to attend the funeral (his obituary can be found: HERE). A person I've known since I was four years old passed away last week. 

You hear it all the time when someone dies. "I just saw him a few days ago." So it happened with me and Eric. Two weeks ago in church I passed him in the hall and gave him "the nod" and he returned the gesture. I wasn't in too much of a hurry to stop and say, "hello." I could have done that.

When we moved to Farmington we quickly came to know all the families with kids our age. Eric was older than us, but his siblings weren't. When I worked summers at Lagoon Eric was there. Most of us were just punk teenagers and we'd take more than an occasional break if we could get away with it. But not Eric. He was honest in word and deed.

Last year my graduating class had its thirty-year reunion. Before we met, posts on social media were sent and in one, we were reminded of all our classmates who had passed. Among the names was Eric's sister who graduated with us. I missed the news of her death by years. But it hit just as hard.

These people in this family were so much a part of our town, or at least, the memories that have shaped my definition of what my town is, that losing them feels like a long-standing building, or a field where we used to play is forever gone. But no building or piece of property can ever mean as much as the people we love.

Many of my childhood friends have moved away, but I've stayed. There's a price to pay when we remain. The cost is that we must endure change and rely only on memories of how life used to be. That means, of course, watching the people who mean so much to us leave. Eric joins a growing list of friends, family and loved ones who are on the other side and I'm saddened by his passing. If you know Eric, you understand when I say that he was a very good man and he'll be missed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Brad R. Torgersen's "The Chaplain's War"...A Book Review

The Chaplain's War*

I know it's impossible, but imagine, if you will, that there were no politics in the publishing world, no judgements of texts based on the author's idealogical views. If this world existed, a book like Brad R. Torgersen's The Chaplain's War would, I believe, be talked about as one of the freshest and most enjoyable new books in the science fiction genre.

Like I said, I know it's impossible.

And that's a damn shame.

Because Torgersen's book is great, great in the tradition of Heinlein, and Card. In fact, as I read it, the story reminded me of two specific works, Heinlein's Stormship Troopers, and Card's Ender's Game. It deserves to be in the same conversation, if you want my opinion. Those two before-mentioned stories came to mind as I read The Chaplain's War because they both deal with military units fighting an alien enemy in the future. Torgersen's aliens, of the three, comes closest to being a race with similar thoughts and emotions as humans. Torgersen also provides us a reluctant hero, a man thrown into impossible situations who ends up playing a critical role in the war between the species and the survival of mankind.

If you follow science fiction literature, especially novels written in the past few years, you know there's a war being waged. What's at stake is the very existence of the genre. It's too bad many will not read this story because of the name that graces its cover.

Like I said, it's a damn shame.

I hope, if you like reading classic science fiction, you'll read this book. Maybe you have no idea about the politics and the cultural war in which Torgersen is a soldier. And if you don't, consider yourself lucky because you get to read such stories without bias. This story deserves as much.

* Photo used without permission from:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Harry Connick Jr.'s "Heavenly"...A Great Little Song

Tonight's moon was epic! I wish I had a better camera to capture what we all saw, but that's the way of it sometimes. If you didn't see it, you'll just have to take my word for it.

The moon has fascinated humans as long as there have been humans. I did a web search of quotes about the moon. I thought it would be cool to post some of my pictures an include some notable quotes. There were so many, even a couple of excellent quotes by Jack Handy.

None of the quotes, however, seemed appropriate. They just didn't feel right. Then I remembered back when I was a member of the University of Utah's A'cappella Choir, a few friends and I sang Harry Connick Jr.'s wonderful song, Heavenly, and I found the poetry I wanted to include. So, if you haven't heard this little a'cappella number, you ought to check it out. I love it.

Here's the lyrics:

*He's always happy
He never looks mean
Even if the sun should
Come in between

The man in the moon is smiling
'Cause he's in love
The man in the moon is smiling
'Cause he's in love with the girl in the world

She's there in the evening
She never comes late
All day she spins around
But never makes him wait

The girl in the world is smiling
'Cause she's in love
The girl in the world is smiling
'Cause she's in love with the man in the moon

When two heavenly bodies glow
All the stars agree
A planet might be born
Maybe even a galaxy

And in the morning
They don't say goodbye
But with a kiss
They blend into the sky

Oh, they're smiling
'Cause they're in love
The man in the moon is smiling
'Cause he's in love with the girl in the world

The man in the moon is smiling
'Cause he's in love with the girl in the world

* Lyrics taken from:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Is Food Truck Day...

I was going to pick up a burrito from the corner cart when I remembered it was Thursday. And on Thursdays the food trucks roll into the neighborhood and park about a block from my building.

I ran into my good friend Chantryce (who works even closer to the gathering spot than I do...) and since I hadn't visited the great Food Truck rodeo, I asked which one she recommended. They all looked SO good and I was very hungry. She suggested the Mongolian BBQ truck. I ran into another friend, BJ (he offered no suggestions...then again, I don't think I asked him, either).

I decided on the BBQ for a couple of reasons. First, because I trust my friend, and second, they had a huge line. The people had spoken! I ordered the pork bowl with Mongolian sauce, took it back to work and wolfed it down.

Now, I have to give two Mongolian sauce-covered thumbs up for the food. It was delicious! The only negative for me was the price. It looked like every truck's basic meal began at $8.00. This isn't necessarily bad, but that's too pricey for me for lunch. I live more in the $2-$4 per meal neighborhood.

So, if you find yourself near the tallest building in Utah around noon, look for the trucks, and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bad Apple...Good Place!

"I just got back from getting my phone fixed," my co-worker said to me. "I had a problem with the headphone jack. They fixed it in a few minutes and I couldn't beat the price."

I was intrigued. 

"Tell me more," I said.

"Yeah, it's just around the corner and they're great."

"I need a new phone battery," I said. "I'll give them a call."

Thus began my experience with Bad Apple, a local business that specializes in phone/tablet repair and accessories. Earlier this month we were fortunate enough to get a new/old phone from some very nice family members. They warned us, though. The battery's on its last legs. They told us it would only take about $50 to get it replaced.

I called Bad Apple and they didn't charge $50. They didn't charge $35. No, the quote I got--20 bucks, parts and labor!


I went in the next day, paid my $20 and seven minutes later I walked out with a new/old fully functioning phone.

If you're near downtown SLC and you're in need of phone/tablet repairs and/or accessories, please hit them up! You may be as happy about your decision as me, unlikely, but you must might.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ransom Riggs's "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children"...A Book Review

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)*

A friend suggested I read out Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. So I did. It is a pretty good book, and for the right age group, it is a fantastic book.

I had no idea what to expect from this one. I usually don't do a lot of research on new books, even ones I know nothing about. But I did trust my friend who offered the suggestion. She is well-read and knows the type of books I like.

If you're not familiar with this book (like me...), the best way I can describe it would be Brigadoon meets The X-Men. Jacob, the book's main character, travels to England where he finds out about all those crazy stories his grandfather used to tell him. Jacob finds a school, or the remains of a school complete with photos of all the students. After some more searching, he finds so much more.

The book is about teenagers which doesn't necessarily mean it's a young adult book, even though most young adult books deal primarily with teenage issues. There's magic, time travel, and paranormal baddies. The book was never boring and it flowed well.

I think those who like the Harry Potter books will enjoy this as well. Of course, it's an introduction into this new world so it's not as heavy a read. Riggs has created the opportunity for a series of books to be written with these characters. If he does, I'm sure they'll be great, too.

* Photo used without permission from:

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Couple Of Robert Rodriguez Interviews...Well Worth Your Time

Robert Rodriguez Picture*

Last Friday at work I listened to a podcast. The featured guest was Robert Rodriguez. Today at work I listened to another podcast. This time the featured guest was Robert Rodriguez.

You may be saying to yourself, "That's a lot of Robert Rodriguez."

You may even be asking yourself, "Is that too much Robert Rodriguez?"

The responses to both is, "Yes" and "Of course not."

I had heard of Robert Rodriguez, the producer/director/writer/editor/cinematographer/composer before. The story of how he made his first film El mariach is legend! The interview I heard last Friday was from the Nerdist Podcast. Today's interview was on the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast. I found both interviews fascinating. Mr. Rodriguez has a refreshing view of filmmaking, creativity and life in general. And he keeps an extensive journal--gotta love someone who journals!

I've seen some of the projects in which Mr. Rodriguez is involved, but not all. However, those shows I've seen I've enjoyed, and after listening to some of his philosophies, his shows make more sense. I believe he could stop making movies today and work full-time as a motivational speaker. He'd be great!

If you're interested in hearing these two podcasts, I think they're well worth your time. There is a little saucy language in both (more so in the Nerdist Podcast than the other...), and the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast is over two hours long. If you want to hear an amazing story of how a man has succeeded when conventional wisdom says he can't, learn more about Robert Rodriguez. I know you'll be impressed, too.

* Photo used without permission from:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sara Butler's "Sonya Fletcher: The Hunt Begins"...A Book Review


I met Sara Butler a few years ago at a Salt Lake Comic Con, but it wasn't until last week that I was able to read her first novel, Sonya Fletcher: The Hunt Begins. It's one crazy ride!

I think I should say that I read Sara's book on my Kindle. Had I the hard copy I would have realized that this is not that long of a story. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this book because it's short--I'm just saying that I flew threw this book in--I think--three days.

Butler grabbed me from the beginning. A young heroine leaves town after discovery of a package, a package that generates more questions about her tragic past than answers. Off Sonya goes to Minnesota in search of those answers. What lies in store for the young feisty (and tall...) girl is mystery, danger and a realization that there's more monsters in the world than she could possibly imagine.

Butler handles the transitions of action, intrigue and mystery masterfully. The story never lags. She's created a believable world where the possibilities of expansion are endless. My only wish (and that's why I gave it a four-star rating and not five-star in Goodreads...) is that it was short. The story's second installment is done, The Witch and the Leech: Sonya Fletcher #2 is now available. I really need to get that one, too. Great job, Sara! I loved the story!

* Photo used with permission from:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

So Long Rainmaker...It's Been Fun!

It was over twenty-one years ago that I worked at the amusement park, a park located about a mile from my house. Growing up I spend more time at Lagoon Amusement Park in the summers than I did at home. Okay, maybe not more hours, but many. 

When I turned sixteen I first worked there and during high school and while earning my first college degree, my summers were spent working at Lagoon. This summer I returned and tonight I did my final performance of the season as The Rainmaker. I'll miss the people and I'll miss that car. 

The show was a blast, at least, it was for me. It's a strange feeling having every set of eyes look at you as you travel through a sea of people. It got to the point where, when I was walking around while not in my costume, I felt like everyone should be looking at me. I also learned that when you wave at people--no matter how far away they are--if they're looking at you and you wave, they'll wave back.

We had some technical issues on my final day. I wondered if we'd do any shows, but as I pulled the car into its parking spot for the last time, we ended up doing most of our scheduled shows. I really had a good time having fun with the patrons and telling corny jokes. I got some people to hopefully come out of their shell a little bit and I saw a lot of smiles. 

And for a summer job, that's hard to beat.

Friday, August 21, 2015

One Sweet Volvo...

"What is that?" my friend and I both said to each other as we spotted the antique car parked nonchalantly across the street.

"I think that's a Volvo," I said.

"But, what is that--a Ferrari badge?"

"Looks like it. We definitely need to go check that out!"

I'm glad we did.

It was, indeed, a Volvo with the coolest badge I've seen in a long time. When I lived in Scandinavia I saw a lot of Volvos, for good reason. Even though I wasn't in Sweden, the car's birthplace, I was in the country just below. It was in the 80s so a car like this one wasn't that old back then.

It sure looked great today. And they owner had the perfect license plate.

I have no idea how the thing drives or if it's a reliable form of transportation, but as it sat their among the new Camrys, Jettas, and the occasional Prius, it sure looked sweet!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Battle Creek BBQ And Gourmet Chuckwagon...Great Eats!

Yesterday my co-worker Troy and I went for an afternoon walk around the building where we work. As we came to a big parking lot that's just south of our building we saw a foot truck (more like a food trailer...) parked there so we thought we'd get a closer look.

And it smelled delicious!

We started chatting with the proprietors of Battle Creek BBQ & Gourmet Chuckwagon. Nice guys. We asked them when we might see their food truck in SLC. Every Thursday the food trucks gather about a block from where we work. I haven't yet participated in the food truck party (I hear it's kind of pricy...), but I'd like to.

The guys were in SLC trying to get their business permits so they could do business up north. It's funny because as they talked about all the hoops they needed to jump through with city and county governments, I wondered if they knew my friend and I were government workers. If so, they didn't let on. In fact, they had some food left over from their lunch service so they gave it to us.

Oh, MAN! It was SO good!

I'm here to say that if you ever get a chance to get some BBQ ribs from Battle Creek BBQ & Gourmet Chuckwagon, do not turn it down! I sure hope they can get their permits. It may just force me to participate in the food truck party.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jason King's "The Lure Of Fools"...A Book Review

There's something about reading a book when you personally know the author, and it's a little strange. Yesterday I finished Jason King's The Lure of Fools: The Age of the Infinite, Book I, and some of that strangeness returned.

I'm so glad I finally got to finish one of Jason's books. I've had one of his ebooks on my Kindle for several months. I still plan on reading it, but this was a real life, paper and ink copy (which I like so much better...).

The Lure of Fools starts us on a journey into a land of magic, alien species and waring factions. Jak (short for Jakaran...), a teenager is given charge over a magic sword. In this world--unless I totally misunderstood--many common items can contain magic. Magic weapons, however, are the most prized and most dangerous. In the beginning we don't know the extent of the sword's magical properties, but as it gets used, we find out quickly just how powerful it is. Jak finds himself in dangerous situations where not only his life, but the lives of others are on the line, and somehow the boy escapes. It's a testament to the author's imagination and storytelling that the perils are overcome in such a convincing way.

Equally impressive is King's introduction of several alien species. From a beast of burden to a reptilian race that humans despise, mostly because they're not understood, and ultimately to a people who lived before humans arrived, who humans hunted and almost destroyed completely, the complexity and uniqueness of each entity shines forth. 

I loved the magic system in this book. The magical items, and the people with magical abilities, were not all-powerful. They hold charges and when called upon some of that magical energy is expelled. The weapons, items, and people need to be re-charged in order to keep going and to function. With this in mind, the situations the characters find themselves become even more dire.

So, why was it weird reading a book written by someone I know? We get to know people a certain way. I know Jason from conventions. I know Convention Jason. He's a great guy, a talented guy. As I read his words, sometimes Writer Jason and Convention Jason are slightly different. 

Book II of the Age of the Infinite is out. I'd better get my hands on a copy. The first one just wasn't enough! Well done, Jason (both Writer and Convention...)!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Scout Is...Courteous

I have an assignment in my church. I'm the cub master. As assignments go, it's pretty great. However, this will be the last time my son will be attending as a cub scout. He's had a birthday and so he's graduating. I've really enjoyed spending time with him.

As a cub scout master, part of my responsibilities include running the pack meeting. At each pack meeting there's a different theme and it's usually one of the scout law categories. 

This month: Courtesy. 

It's an interesting topic, when you think about it. Do we really even teach courtesy nowadays? I was thinking of some things I could use as examples of courtesy and some of the things I thought up seemed a bit dated. Do we open doors for our spouses (I'm talking to mostly the men here...)? I know I do occasionally, very occasionally. My wife usually just hops in the car--it's faster. I've asked my wife if she would like me to open the door for her every time and she's okay doing it herself so I think I'm okay. 

There's other examples of courtesy and I'm going to try and let the scouts know that it's important, even though many in our society either don't believe so, or don't know what being courteous means. The kids in today's world face a much different reality than I did. Heck, can you imagine if all people were more courteous on the internet how much of a better world world we would have?

We'll see how the meeting goes. I hope when it's done we'll all be more courteous to each other. And teaching people that is an important thing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Making The Changes...Acknowledging The New Leaf

A few months ago I thought of an idea for a very cool story, an idea that could lead to more than just a singular novel, but a world in which multiple stories exist. When these moments of creative inspiration come to me I get really excited and depending on the level of excitement, I then take action. Sometimes, when I'm especially stoked about a story, I actually begin writing it.

I started this story and it wasn't flowing. I can usually crank out several thousand words in a couple of days, that is, when my brain knows what I want to write. This story didn't come to me, but I wasn't too worried because of all the potential it held.

But after several weeks I think I've come to the conclusion that I need make some changes, to turn over a new leaf, as it were. I've many times discussed my story with a friend of mine at work. Almost from the start he suggested I should make it a comedy in the vein of Terry Pratchett. Oh, if I only could, I thought. Pratchett's works are legend--the man's a genius. I don't think I could write anything like him. I mean, I sometimes barely understood Pratchett as I was reading his stories.

This morning as I drove to work the idea that I need to start over came to me. And I think I'm going to take my friend's advice. I don't know if I can do it, but I know if I can, it's going to be so much better than I originally thought. When I first started the story I had hoped I could include many humorous elements. Now, it's going to be a major theme and not just an occasional garnish.

That is, of course, if I can pull it off. This one might not work either, but I feel I've got to try. So, here's to taking a chance!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Orson Scott Card's "Lost Songs--The Short Fiction Of Orson Scott Card"...A Book Review

Lost Songs: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card, Vol. 5*

If you're like me, you download audiobooks from the local library and listen to them at work. Okay, maybe you're not like me and can't listen to audiobooks at work, but if you can, you're blessed.

Except for the fact that when it comes to checking out audiobooks at the library, you must either wait for the more popular books--put them on hold--or download those available to you at the time. When it comes to books written by Orson Scott Card, most of the time they must be put on hold. When I do a search of Card's books on the library website and hit the "Available" option, many times you will see one or more of Card's short story collections. Last week I decided to give one a shot and I'm glad I did.

I spent the past year reading all the novels in the Enderverse. What a fantastic world Card created and the first story from Lost Songs--the Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card tells us again of Ender Wiggins and it reminded me of why I loved Ender's Game (and all the others...) when I first read it. Included also in the compilation is a full-length poem centered around Alvin Marker. The poem reminded me of something in the vein of Walt Whitman.

Many of the later stories in the book deal with Mormonism in a way. Cards gives us slices of life of what it's like (at times...) to live within the Mormon culture. I can relate, having grown up in--and still practicing--the same religion.

For me, the best part of this book was Card's words that ended the anthology. As long as I've been an adult, Orson Scott Card was a famous writer. His words at the end of this book give us a lot of background information concerning the stories. I found what he said fascinating because it gave me an insight of what it takes to be a writer and what he had to go through to become the author he is today.

I liked this book very much and so when I do a search of "Orson Scott Card" on the local library website and I see other short story collections by Mr. Card, I'll be sure to check them out.

* Photo used without permission from:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

At Lagoon...With Friends

One of the reasons I have kept a daily blog for over four years is because when events happen in my life, I want to remember them. The same goes for members of my family. So when we get together with our friends and we all go to Lagoon Amusement Park for a fun summer outing, I blog about it. 

I realize that for many of you a lot of these post can be rather boring, and I'm sorry for that. I try to include interesting things from time to time so those who are kind enough to check in on my humble little blog can find something interesting or something entertaining, but there's going to be some days that I'm writing for me. That's just the way it is. Then again, if you've followed my blog for any period of time, you know I do this and if you've stuck with me, thank you.

That's what I'm doing today. Last week some friends got together with our family and we went to Lagoon. I hauled my camera around and took some shots. We had a great time and afterward we were all thoroughly exhausted.

Here's what our day looked like.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Not All Panos Are Created Equal...

I am in the process of switching phones. I've had my iPhone 4 for several years and one of the things I've liked most about having a smartphone is not the games or the internet, but the camera. That little camera is a photographer's dream! When I think of how advanced my DSLR is over my SLR, it blows my mind, but when I think about how much the cameras on smartphones can do, it's even more impressive.

Before I got my iPhone I carried around with me a 10 mp Kodak. It was a great camera and I liked it a lot, but the smartphone cameras can do more and are smaller than my point-and-shoot. There was one feature on the Kodak, however, that was great--the Panoramic feature. Unfortunately, the iPhone 4 does not have a panoramic setting. You have to download apps and the apps are, in a word, lacking.

Here's an example of a pano shot with the iPhone 4 + app...

And a pano shot from the iPhone 4s from the same vantage point.

It's not even close.

I had fun taking pano pictures with the iPhone 4s while at my summer gig (the first pano picture I took was at work--it's my cubicle...). I got pictures of beautiful elk, nice scenery, my show's stage manager, and our dressing room. What a great way to expand my perspective!