Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday...Big Brother!

So, the week of birthdays in our family comes to an end. Today is my brother's birthday, one week after my son's and three days after mine. We're all a year older than we were just eight days ago.

Many younger brother's look up to their elder brothers. That's what I did. Growing up my brother was one of the cool kids. He had lots of friends and was very popular. Being two years older my brother was well established as a stud when I entered the hallowed halls of Davis High School as a lowly freshman. Everyone  knew him--especially the girls.

Did I mention he was popular?

I found it kind of bizarre that after a few months of being in high school the most popular freshman girls in my grade were coming up to me and asking me if I was Alan Taylor's brother.

"Yes," I said, sometimes amazed that these girls I didn't even dare to talk to before were actually talking to me. Then, they would say, "Wow! You don't look anything like your brother..."

Then, the dagger.

"You don't look anything like him--he's so good looking!"

I'm not kidding when I say I heard this a lot. 

But it's hard to be mad or stay mad at Alan, and those of you lucky enough to know him understand this. And growing up, there were times he wasn't my favorite person, but those times were few and passed quickly. I'll never forget that as a lowly freshman, my brother--one of the cool kids--took me under his wing and invited me to events, to hang out with his friends. Looking back I sometimes can't believe he did that. I mean, his reputation was on the line and he didn't care. Not every big brother did that. I'm glad and grateful mine did. It did wonders to the self-esteem of a shy skinny kid with seriously fine blond hair.

Yesterday my brother and I were only one year apart, one year as far as the numbers go. Today we're two years apart and all has been restored to its proper order. Thanks Alan for always begin my big brother (in the best and non-Orwellian sense...). I hope you've had a wonderful day!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Last Tuesday Night's Sunset...

Almost a week ago in the skies above the Salt Lake Valley, the firmament became a sea of colors. It was stunning. I was checking out some random Instagram photos this weekend and there were a lot of pictures of the same thing I saw. The sunset moved them to the point where they had to capture the moment on their phones and cameras. It also affected them so much, they had to share.

And so do I. For some sunsets, I'll take out my phone. For others, I'll grab the Nikon. And for the best sunsets, I'll not only get the Nikon, but I'll swap lenses. Last Tuesday night I did all three.

The phone pictures didn't really turn out as I hoped. When the entire sky's aflame, I try and get a panoramic shot. It's too bad it didn't work.

And the other phone pictures didn't fare much better. I couldn't capture the colors. I also don't do a lot of editing with the computer. I'm kind of a "take a picture of what I'm seeing, not what the computer can make amazing" kind of photographer, even though the art created by computers with the talents of others is incredible.

But the Nikon came through. The50- 200 mm zoom sees things that are unreal. The sky was so orange and red when I used that lens. 

But this sky needed the regular 55 mm. I set the perspective to catch as much sky as possible. I snapped a few pictures. I am grateful to live in a place that allows me to capture such beauty, and for a way to share.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mikael Short's "Crimson Oppression"...A Book Review


This past week I finished a debut novel that my friend Mikael wrote. It's called Crimson Oppression and it's about vampires. But, I don't believe it's a "typical" vampire story. Then again, I really can't say if it is or not. I've read so few.

The novel is told through two perspectives, Cisandra and Owen. Cisandra is a nineteen-year old from the East Coast who moves to Utah. She's fleeing her past and the awful memories that's driving her to leave the only life she's ever known behind. Owen is an accident-prone high school senior trying to deal with his parent's separation. When the two meet, Cisandra knows instantly something about Owen, something deadly.

There's a lot of things I liked about this book, but I should say, this is not a fast-paced, burn-through-it-in-one-sitting story. Mikael has created a world where the characters have time to develop, to percolate. I'm not saying there's no action in the story--there is, it's just we really get to know the characters as they begin this journey. Casandra is dealing with her disease, what's known as "The Virus." As one infected with the virus, she can detect it in other people. She moves to Utah thinking/hoping no one else has it. She's wrong.

The author has successfully combined the science fiction, horror and high school genres into one story. She successfully explains the disease in a way that's not only understandable but authentic, allowing the reader to learn with the characters. We get to know about the characters and why the do what they do. I've been reading a lot of books lately that rely heavily on quick plot lines, fast resolutions followed by just as fast perilous situations. This story slows down the process--think of it as a book you'll read by a fire with a warm beverage at your side.

As the book reached its end, I found myself nervous because I thought I knew what was coming. The final showdown involved a near-death experience and I found myself wondering if I really had to read it. But, of course, I did have to and I did read it.

If you like vampire stories, I suggest you give this one a shot, even though it's not as heavy on the things that are found in classic vampire lore. It's a wonderful example of what everyone of us can do with a never-say-quit attitude. Great job, Mikael!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I Turned 50 Today, And To Celebrate, Everybody Shopped...

It's not everyday you turn fifty-years old. But that's what happens when you keep eating and sleeping and have adequate shelter. Still, it's kind of a weird feeling, hitting fifty. 

I've written a couple of times this year about turning fifty-years old. I first blogged about it back in March of this year. I figured out exactly how old my father was when he passed away and I blogged on the day that I reached that mark. Surpassing the time my father lived was kind of a weird experience, too.

But today I turned a half a century. It's one of those plateaus that when you're young, it sounds SO old. I don't feel old--actually, that's not entirely true. I am very sore today because I ran/walked a few miles yesterday--something I haven't done in a long time. But normally, I don't feel the way I thought I'd feel when I got this age. Maybe it's just everyone else that's getting older.

There is one other aspect about hitting fifty and it's kind of a fun one for me. From the comments of others, I don't necessarily look as old as I am. I know some people look older than they actually are. I'm just the opposite. I have this theory that even though I've looked younger throughout the years, one day I'll wake up and look twenty years older. I'll have aged seemingly overnight. That may not happen, but I keep thinking it would be some sort of poetic justice.

So many friends have reached out to me today through social media and I'm so thankful for them and for my loving family and friends. They've not only made today special, but have affected my entire life. I am truly blessed. Thank you all.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trotting With Turkeys...

I should say from the beginning that I did not trot this morning with turkeys, just great neighbors. Each Thanksgiving some in our neighborhood put on a little run. It's not "official;" it's just for fun. The starting time: 8am. I bundled up and drove to my neighbor's house. I thought there'd be more people to do a morning Thanksgiving Day run.

When I drove by, there were two.

I don't know how many years the neighbors have organized this little trot. I remember seeing Facebook posts last Thanksgiving from fellow neighbors celebrating the event and I thought how fun it would have been to participate. When I saw the invitation this year, I decided to join in.

I'm thinking conditions last year were more conducive to running. This year--cold. It was 29˚ with a brisk wind. Basically, it was freezing out there.

I parked the car and waited to see who else would join in the fun. The original two turned into seven, six adults and one child and we began our little run. I was a little apprehensive about doing any running seeing as how I haven't run since 2012. Before I showed up and when I thought there would be more people, I wasn't too worried about running. I figured there would be other non-runners with whom I could hang after the super runners left us in the dust.

With only seven of us, I realized that might not be the case.

We reached the bottom of our hill and the one child had had enough. One chose to take her back home and that left us with five, three women and two guys. Oh, did I mention that the women all run on a regular basis and participate in several races? I probably didn't mention that.

So, as we continued running, us guys started chatting (as guys are known to do...). Turns out he doesn't run either. We talked about where we grew up and how we both ended up in Farmington. As we talked and walked (and sometimes ran...), the women kept running and soon they were blocks ahead. Us guys decided to take a short cut (or a couple of short cuts...) as we continued our morning adventure.

As we returned home, two runners turned off as we passed their house. The other two women finished their jog by hiking to the top of the hill. I returned to my car where I checked the temperature--29˚--and drove home.

Like I said earlier, it's been years since I last ran or jogged or even walked more than a couple of miles. The good news is I made it. Of course, I didn't set any speed records, but I also didn't quit. I've been hoping to start exercising again and I thought I could begin after the play ends. Going on a short little trot with some of my neighbors is a good way to begin.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Oh, The Wisdom Espoused On Public Transportation...

"Yeah, There's the storm--it's finally here. It's about an hour late," the lady who boarded two stops after me said to the follow public transportation riders (myself included...) who rode the 470 bus bound for Ogden at 2:15pm on Thanksgiving  Eve, 2015.

I take public transportation to work every day. I do not, however, take the 470. It's not that the 470 is a bad bus. It's just I take the 473, which is an express bus. The express bus drives on the interstate and has internet service. The other bus drives through town and stops at almost every stop. There's other reasons why I take the 473, but those are the most important.

One other major difference between the two is on the express bus, usually no one talks. It's a silent ride. The same cannot be said for a trip on the 470. Maybe during rush hour, no one talks on the 470 either, but during the day...oh boy!

"Whatever you do," said another passenger. "Don't tell Donald Trump that they're immigrants. I think Donald Trump is an immigrant. What we ought to do is sent Donald Trump back to Ireland!"

"Hey--they tore down the K-Mart," another passenger say, though, to be honest, it could be the same one who believes Donald Trump should be forcibly removed and deposited to a land to where he is not a legal citizen, thus making the previous "immigrant" analogy meritless. "Yeah, they're going to move the Smiths (a local grocery store...) there. They'll have to close the one on the other side of the street, but where the K-Mart was is a better location."

From national politics and the closing and opting of stores, the conversation turned to a local issue. "Did you hear they denied Starbucks a liquor license?" Another passenger: "Yeah, they'll never get that passed. I mean, they don't make food at Starbucks--only sell pre-made food." As I considered that reasoning, another chimed in, "Yeah, can you imagine getting booze at a drive thru? The cops could just sit there and wait to bust you!" The term open carry was introduced and met with spirited laughter.

Three was a "Hey, there's NO eating on the bus!" warning, then a "the bus had to be stopped and the driver got out of his seat to address the food-eating violator" incident. It was another interesting exchange.

As we traveled farther away from downtown Salt Lake, the nuggets of wisdom came less frequently until as I drew close to home, only the sounds of the engine and tires on pavement could be heard. I pulled the cord and stepped from the bus that brought me home, leaving my fellow travelers to their own thoughts. Maybe once I left they began new and exciting conversations about such exotic topics as space/time continuums or the Kardashians. 

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Great DWS Administration North Elevator Malfunction of 2015 ...

For the important things, sometimes you hear about them before you read about them. And so it went last week when all four elevators in our building at work decided to quit working at the same time. "The elevators shut down," we'd hear over cubicle walls. "All of them, or just a couple?"

"All of them."

Thankfully, no one was stuck inside when they broke down.

And so continued the "first-world problems" faced by a bunch of workers in a downtown Salt Lake City office building. Of course, it's easy for me to call this a "first-world problem." Others in my building might not agree. To them it was much more serious.

If you know SLC, you know we're not flush with tall buildings. I think the tallest structure (where the public can go...) is around thirty floors. The building I work in has six, and I work on three. Rarely do I use the elevators so the fact that they weren't working didn't cause me a lot of stress. Some of my co-workers, however, they felt the pain of each of the steps they needed to climb until they could get to work. And I know there are some with disabilities to the point where climbing up and down stairs is not an option. If they can't take an elevator, they can't get to work. I felt bad for them.

Through the day we received several e-mails updating us on the progress (or lack thereof...) technicians were having as they tried fixing the problem. We were notified when one was working (we have four total...), then another one was fixed. Then they all went out again. I'm no elevator maintenance technician so I have no idea what would knock out all the elevators at once. In my mind, I would think it would be like having a fleet of four delivery trucks that all decide on the same day to stop working. Those who know how these miracles of nineteenth century technology work probably know how all four could shut down at once. I apologize for my ignorance.

The Great DWS Administration North Elevator Malfunction of 2015 happened last week. Today, there are still reminders of the calamity. We're down to only three working. I hope one day we can remove the caution tape and be fully liberated at last.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Birthday Week...First Up, My Son

In the next seven days our family celebrates three birthdays, my son's, my brother's and mine. But it all begins with my son's. He turned seventeen today.

What a great son! I'm so honored to be his dad. This last year I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him. He and I worked at Lagoon together on a show during the regular summer season and then again during Frightmares. I've had the opportunity to spend time with my other kids, mostly because we've done community theater shows together, but this son's not so into the community theater.

And that's okay. If he doesn't want to do it, I'm not going to force him. No one should be forced to do community theater. I didn't think I'd get a chance to work with him on a show like that, but this summer we were able to and I'm so glad we could.

So, one birthday down, two more to go. I'm glad we get to begin our week of birthdays with my son's. He's got his whole life ahead of him--my brother and I...not so much.

Happy birthday, son! I sure do love you!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The 2nd Annual Sunday Before Thanksgiving Knight Family Pie Fest...

When I say I'm the luckiest person I know to have been sent to my family, it's not hyperbole. Most people don't get to choose their family, but I was chosen to become a member of the Taylor and Knight family.

And it's something I've never regretted, something I've never wished could be different. Because my father passed away when I and my siblings were so young, my mother relied on help from her two brothers and their families. We spent a lot of time growing up playing with our cousins, and I cherish our relationships to this day.

Tonight my youngest cousin from my mother's side of the family held an event. It was the Second Annual Sunday Before Thanksgiving Knight Family Pie Fest. And we had a very good time. Last year we kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday week by getting together and doing the same thing. To participate, we just needed to bring our families and a pie. Oh, those pies were so good! The same requirements were held for this year, and once again, deliciousness ensued!

We don't get together like we used's the way of things. We grow up, begin our new families and spend time with them. We hold family reunions not nearly enough and when we do spend time together, we always say we should visit each other more often.

Yes, nearly fifty years ago (to the day...) my parents drove to the hospital and added me to their family. And I've been blessed ever since. Thanks Alicia for the planning and providing the location and the "Monster Game." May you and all of us have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Take care.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Adopting Trouble"...The Result Of A Lot Of Hard Work

I was invited to a screening of a new film. It's called Adopting Trouble. It's a locally produced film, written and starring many people I know personally. I'm glad I was invited and even more glad I went. As I sat and watched the story unfold, it occurred to me just how much work goes into a film. Each scene, each measure of music had to come from somewhere until it all mixed together and became a finished product. It's really a miracle.

I've known the films writers for several years. Seeing their hard work pay off, seeing their vision come to life was inspiring. It made me realize that something that begins as an idea in someone's mind can--with a TON of hard work--become something amazing.

When it comes to the film, there's a lot of details that I don't know. I don't know how much it cost to make. I know it wasn't much, and I'm not saying that because of the production quality. I just know many involved in making the movie and I know they're not rolling in cash. I don't know exactly how long it took to make, but I know it was years.

Watching the show made me want to go home and write, to take all those excuses and crush them under my foot. I've met several authors who have seen their stories get published. I even know a couple of musicians who have released albums. They all have one thing in common--they put in the work and fought through all the doubts and fears and insecurities that come with creating art.

I have no idea how the film will do. I hope it does very well. I know the creators have high hopes that it reaches a lot of people, but even if it doesn't, they have done something many only dream of. They began with an idea, did what it took to get it funded and made. Like I said, it's really a miracle.

Friday, November 20, 2015

"The Message"...A Pretty Cool Podcast

Those who know me know I love podcasts. I only discovered the coolness of podcasts a few years ago and I've been hooked ever since. Over the years on this blog I've recommended several podcasts, some I still listen to--others I've stopped. So when I find a new podcast that I like, I feel its important to let people know about it.

I'm going to date myself, but how many of you remember listening to CBS Radio Mystery Theater back in the day? I didn't camp by the radio for it, but whenever we found ourselves riding in a car at night, somehow whoever was driving turned on the show. 

I LOVED those shows! They hired quality actors and the stories were first-rate. It's maybe why I love the format of this new podcast. It's a throwback to those old radio programs, except this one is drawn out over several episodes.

It's a story of researchers who are tracking down a message that's come from outer space. But it's more than just trying to figure out who sent the message and who is supposed to hear it. There's a consequence for those who have heard the message.

If there's one drawback to  The Message, it's the length of the episodes. They are, in a word, short. The average time of each episode is about thirteen minutes long. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to create one quality episode, so I can't be too critical. Still, I would love to listen to seven hours of this story instead of just over an hour.

If you're interested in this podcast, go to their website: HERE. And, if you're a fan of the old Mystery Theater, I found a website where you can download all 1,399 episodes. You can go to this site: HERE.

If you like story told to you in podcast form, give it a shot. I hope you like The Message as much as I have.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Stand-Up Bass...That's Really Old

The other day we went to my neighbor's house to rehearse. We've got a Christmas program coming up the Sunday before we celebrate Christ's birth and we need the practice.

I love going to this home. There's many reasons for this, mostly because within its walls music abounds. My neighbor has done something I wanted to do, something I did in the very first apartment my wife and I rented when we were first married. In the main room of my neighbor's house they have on display several musical instruments. In our little apartment we had a trumpet and a trombone, a french horn and a metal clarinet. We got them at the local thrift store and they weren't displayed very well. I thought one day we'd had a house where I could properly show them off.

Turns out, we now have a house, but we've never really found a place to hang all those instruments. And that's okay--it still might happen one day.

But my neighbor, he's got the right room and some amazing instruments, none cooler than his stand-up bass. Since high school I always wanted a stand-up bass. When I was in a rock band, I thought it would be cool to play one, even though I never took lessons or knew how to work the bow. I just think they're beautiful pieces of art. My neighbor's is no exception--it's so cool!

And it's old. It's older than my neighbor, my neighbor's parents and their parents. Just looking at it made me want to know who made it and what tools did they use. I wanted to know how many musicians had strummed its strings, what songs it played and who was entertained by the soulful tones emanating from its cavernous space. 

It's not in the best condition. It's been loved, played and appreciated and I wonder how many more generations will enjoy it. But for now it sits in a space surrounded by musical instruments and beautiful music. It's a fitting home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Tale Of The Tickets...

"You what?"

Steve from work said after I told him I couldn't find the two preview tickets I promised him for last night's show. The theater has a Preview Performance for friends and family of the casts. It's technically our last dress rehearsal, but it's a nice thing for them to do. It give us cast members an opportunity to perform in front of a live audience and we can also work out any last-minute quirks that are always present in a new show.

I had two tickets for my co-worker. I put them in my backpack while at the theater on Monday night. I came home, slept then got up and left for work. It wasn't until I got to work that I noticed the tickets were gone. 

I was sick.

He had everything arranged to make it to the show after work complete with transportation from work to the theater. Now, he'd have to make new arrangements. I sent off an e-mail to the theater explaining the situation, but I didn't hear back from them. So, I told him I was sorry and that I'd make it up to him in some way. I thought the tickets must have fallen out of my bag either at the theater, at home, on the bus or on the street leading to my building. I called home to have my wife check to see if they were there. Nope.

And would Steve allow me to forget my blunder? Oh, no. During the entire work day he kept reminding me that me doing too much and my lack of sleep was causing me to forget things, and more to the point, losing things like show tickets.


Fast forward a few hours and I found myself pulling into the driveway. I opened the car door and there on the driveway were the tickets. I snapped a picture of them and sent an I/M to Steve. "Still want to go?" I asked.

Luckily, I caught him with enough time to keep the arrangements he originally made. "Sure," he texted back.

And to add insult to injury, he quipped, "Don't lose the tickets between home and the theater."

I told him I was giving them to someone else.

In the end, Steve made the show and had a good time. All this for free tickets...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Few Thoughts About "Michael Vey" And His Creator...

Usually when I finish a book, I write a blog post with some of my thoughts. Last week I finished Richard Paul Evans's Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen and immediately began the third book in the series, Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere which I'll finish tomorrow.

Rise of the Elgen (Michael Vey, #2)*

These are great books! I know they're targeted for young adult readers and I know that many adults also enjoy the books. And because the audiobooks are only between four and five hours (listening to audiobooks at 2X speed...) I can get through a book in a couple of days. 

Battle of the Ampere (Michael Vey, #3)*

There's another reason I wanted to read these books and it has to do with the Comic Cons I've attended in the past couple of years. Because I've been fortunate enough to be a panelist at these events many times I've found myself in the greenroom with bestselling authors. Last year I ran into Richard Paul Evans and had him hold a picture of my son (who is serving a LDS mission...) so I could snap a picture. He was nice enough to do it. And now if I happen to run into him again (and if I'm fortunate enough to be invited back...) I'll see if I can talk to him about his Michael Vey books.

Hunt for Jade Dragon (Michael Vey, #4)*

The next book is already available for me to download so I'll begin that tomorrow and hopefully have it finished by the weekend. I'd love to see if the author will chat about the series with me. Hopefully, we'll find out in a few months.

* Photos used without permission from:

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Babes In Toyland"...Begins This Week!

When you do a show at Christmas, a time period that already flies by goes even faster. I can't believe we open Babes in Toyland this week and before you know it, the year will be over.

This show has brought a lot of new experiences for me and the rest of the babes. It's a completely new show, new music, new characters. And because it's not "set in stone" to the point that everyone who comes to see it knows every part of the show by heart, things can be adjusted as we rehearsed and learned the show. There's been plenty of "adjustments" made along the way. But they're good ones, each change makes the show better.

This morning on a local morning news broadcast, they interviewed some of the principles in the show and showed some some video from our last rehearsal. Somehow I got a lot of face time. You can watch the entire segment: HERE.

If you come see the show, remember, I'm the dumb one. Actually, playing the fool has been a blast and (not surprising to many...), it's been a relatively easy part for me to do. If you're interested in seeing the show, check out the theater's website: HERE. And if so, let me know--I might be able to help a little on the ticket price.