Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrating Our Anniversary...At Thyme And Seasons

Last week my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. We wanted to go somewhere new and we weren't sure where to go. Harnessing the power of the internet, my wife took to the web for recommendations. 

It came down to two--a place in Layton (about ten miles north...), or a place in Bountiful (about ten miles in the opposite direction...).

We went south.

I'm so glad we did!

My wife found an amazing place called Thyme And Seasons Market Place and it was good! The owner and executive chef Hai Fitzgerald converted the once convenience store to a market/restaurant that specializes in seafood and steaks. Those are two things we really like. Having never been there, we asked Hai for recommendations.

"We just got in some delicious escolar--best seafood in the place."

We ordered two dishes.

It's hard to see, but the menu is written on the wall and has a variety of options. Hai said you can come in every day and get a different meal. I believe it, too. Also, it's the kind of place that has all sorts of stuff up on the walls, old pictures, even money from different countries, so it's a feast for the eyes, as well.

As we left, I snapped a picture of a Lamborghini that parked next to our minivan. They had heard of the place, too. I'm hoping we find another excuse--and not just an anniversary--for us to return.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ever Conquered A County? My Mom-In-Law Has...

They trained for months and we wondered if they really were going to do it.

Turns out, they did.

My mother-in-law was part of a group of women who conquered our county. They decided to walk from one end of Davis County in Utah to the other, a distance of twenty-seven miles.

I had a rehearsal that morning so my wife, daughter and I met the group as they passed through Centerville. They were in good spirits and excited to see their goal completed.

I have a lot of respect for athletes who run marathons, half marathons and even the shorter 10K and 5K races. And I also have a ton of respect for a group of women that a few weeks ago on a beautiful Saturday walked together to prove they could do it.

Well done, Mom-In-Law!

Well done!

Newspaper photos used without permission from the Davis County Clipper

Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts From A Couple Of Friends...On The Con

I've been involved in a few of these crazy Comic Cons that crop up from time to time. And I have always had an amazing time. In the past, I've written SO much about these events, that even I get kind of tired of seeing so many pictures and links and comments about it.

And I love going to them!

This year I wrote a blog post about two individuals that I met at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con, Ron Simmons and Alan Tudyk, and I shared a few pictures. That's it, so far.

I have read some thoughts published by friends about their experiences and a couple were nice enough to mention me, so I thought I'd let you know what they wrote, because I share many of their thoughts and feelings. Plus, these guys are two awesome writers and both examples of class mixed with intellect.


Salt Lake Comic Con

I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing con reports, because I go to too many cons to really do that.  I mean, I can write detailed con reports or I can write books, you know?

But I want to say a few things about Salt Lake.

First, Blake Casselman and Ryan Call do great work.  I know a few panelists were disappointed with how some things turned out this year.  It’s okay to be disappointed — this is a fallen world, and stuff ain’t perfect.  But Blake and Ryan work really hard, and deserve thanks.

Second, holy WordFire Press, Batman!  Did you SEE those lines?  And the press of readers?  And the precision control around crowd management?  And the awesomeness of those books?  I have to say, I feel like I make a great call in jumping for that wagon.  Props to Kevin, Rebecca, Peter, Alexi, Quincy, and the rest of the team.

Third, Jim Butcher.  That dude is an unassuming, cool cat.

Fourth, Larry Correia.  You might not agree with his politics or his views on the Hugos and you might not enjoy being in a debate with him.  But NOBODY is more accessible to his fans.  Larry is SUPER friendly, available, generous, and as loyal to his fans as they are to him.  Color me impressed.
Fifth, also, Larry ran me over like a freight train Friday night at Choose Your Own Apocalypse as the partying Reavers.  To be clear, Jason King as the revivalist Borg ALSO ran me over, like a slightly smaller freight train.  This is a game I have won before, but man, not this time.  I think I had ten different audience members come up to me on Saturday and say “CYOA is our favorite thing.  We need one of those every night!”  Because yes, I lost, but it was HILARIOUS.

This is an ALLCAPS kind of post.  It was an ALLCAPS kind of con.

Sixth, many people are awesome.  Nathan Shumate (The Last Christmas Gift, go buy it now for stocking stuffers), Jason and Sariah, Michaelbrent Collings, Judy Collings, Kendra and Matt Santa Cruz, Jared Garrett, Kevin Nielsen, David Young et familia, Justin McBride, the Terrells, Peter Orullian (because MUSIC!), Julie Frost, M. Todd Gallowglass, Scott Tayler, S.A. Butler, David J. West, Holli Anderson, Nathan Croft, Scott Tarbet, Tyler Jolley, Jacob Gowans, Celeste Hansen, Joy Johnson, Daniel Braithwaite, Jason Mocer, and MANY OTHERS I AM FORGETTING AT THIS MOMENT AND TO WHOM I OWE AN APOLOGY.

Seventh, I LOVE doing cons at the table.  The green room is cool, that’s a place to meet writers, and Bob Defendi has written a lovely meditation on the greatness of the green room.  But at the table I got to chat with Chris the electric ukulelist who build his own instruments and amps, and Terrie the forest ranger who read Hellhound on My Trail up in the Uintas, and other people who bought books before from me and came back for more.  How cool is that?

Eight, congratulations to Josh Vogt.  Even bigger congratulations to Paizo.
Nine, I met Chuck Gannon.  He’s a cool guy, and I’m excited to read his first book.
Ten, I was on some sweet panels.  To my surprise, the sweetest was the end-of-con panel on writing sex and gore.  People had serious questions, and we attempted serious answers, with a great deal of laughter and more than a little colorful metaphor.

And all that BEFORE the supermoon eclipse.

Oh and hey, look… the world hasn’t ended.

I hope your weekends were as good as mine.

From Dave Butler's blog. You can read it: HERE
Salt Lake Comic Con. The 2015 edition.
I think I'm going to do a blog post on this, but there are thoughts that I want to get down while there are still fresh. It's about the Party Table. There might be feelings. I apologize in advance.
I spend a lot of time in the Green Room at one of these cons. There I get a sense of family I rarely experience elsewhere in my life. It's just been me and my mother for a very long time. I never had siblings. Big family dinners are relatively unknown to me. All the close family died many years ago.
I usually find some place to set up at a con, where a group of writers and fans and other professionals can come and go. We don't talk about craft. We get enough of that in the panels. We just spend time in the presence of people who've shared the same experiences. The people who have stayed up late on a book deadline. The people who have known rejection and despair and delight and crushing defeat in the same profession we have. Most of us aren't anywhere near the same point in our careers. It doesn't matter.
In the past, at Comic Con, I've set up on the couches. I realized this con what a mistake that was. Couches can't hold enough people and they are often positioned all wrong. Without the couches set up for People Watching, I set up at a table with a view of the door and the food. I was there more than 10 hours most days. I usually had only three hours away on the floor or at a panel. So the rest of the time I spent at what we called "The Party Table."
I don't want you to think that I take credit for the party table. The only thing I really contributed to the party table was a sense of continuity. I set up there the first thing when I arrived (or when they opened the doors), and I would just hang out and see who wanted to talk. When people came in who I knew, I'd try to catch their eye and wave, because everyone likes to feel like Norm at Cheers.
And one or two people would sit down eventually. Sometimes I'd know them, like Julie Julie Peterson Wright or Scott Taylor or James Dashner. Sometimes they'd stay long. Sometimes they'd leave quickly. Sometimes new people would come. I met Dan Schaefer and Andrew Mayne and Kevin Hearne this con. (When I first sat down at the table, I was actually crashing the conversation of Kevin and Brian McClellan).
Conversations and groups would form. Julie would attract friends, then they would attract friends, and then Julie would leave but the little microcosm relationships would remain. The Hello, Sweetie! Podcast would do a fly by.Kevin J. Anderson would insist that I was a lazy bum that lived in the green room. Larry Correia would eat dinner and sometimes stay, sometimes leave. We'd joke and we'd laugh and we'd tell stories. I met radio personalities MiShell Livio and Cate Allen. At one point Jessica Day Georgesat down, turned to me, and basically did a twenty minute, spot-on improv comedy routine. Then she left. Many others came and went. On Friday, at one point, a giant collection of chairs had bulged out to the side of the table, as if another table was about to spontaneously appear through asexual fission.
I took part of many of these conversations, but at times, all the people would dissolve on my side of the table to the point where I could barely even hear the conversations. At others five conversations would happen at once and I'd realize I was trying to take part in three of them.
People will probably think that I'm going to say the highlight of the weekend was when Scott Taylor drew PJ Haarsma into a conversation on producing Con Man, and then Alan Tudyk did a fly by. I made two jokes. Alan laughed at one and shook my hand when offered.
But that isn't it. The magic happened the first time on Friday, and again twice on Saturday. The magic came when I was suddenly alone, and yet the table was full. When every conversation had shifted away from me and I just sat and watched. Two people laughed to my left. Two more were in serious consultation to my right. Across from me, five awesome women has a conversation that I can only assume involved how to handle the tremendous burden of awesomeness.
There was no pressure. No conversation to track. No need to be funny or to be actively listening or to commiserate over a botched panel. There was just the conversations, organic and living, the relationships shifting and merging and breaking and reforming around me. I was completely apart. And I watched old friends and new. People I liked or loved or barely knew. I watched the interactions live and breathe, and I realized it had happened.
The table had taken on a life of its own. I watched, and I took it in, and I knew a profound contentment and a boundless joy.
Those three moments were the height of comic con.
But when the smoke had cleared and the last person had left. When the soda cans sat empty and forlorn and the last cries on the floor started to echo, we took a deep breath and we smiled upon the day and we rechristened it the Alan Tudyk Commemorative Party Table.
Because: Alan Tudyk.

From Rob's Facebook post.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

College Football In Utah Yesterday...The Agony And The Ecstasy


If you're a fan of college football in the state of Utah, you saw something yesterday that was, in a word, shocking.

Shocking on many different levels.

To my BYU football friends, I must tell you, I know how you feel. And I know this because...

It's the way I felt time and time again when I attended classes at the University of Utah. I can't tell you how many times I watched as my team, the Utes, got their tails beat by a better team. Meanwhile, my BYU friends watched as their team, led by LaVell Edwards, beat up almost everyone they played. Now, I know it wasn't always like this.

It just felt that way.

Time and time again, BYU won their Saturday game; the Utes lost theirs. Because back in the late 1980s--early 1990s, BYU was a better team, better program, better players. That didn't make it easier to stomach, though. But as a Utah fan, I hung in there and over the past almost thirty years, things have changed. BYU's still a quality program, good players, good coaches, great fans.

But I wonder if Utah's is just plain better. 

At least, maybe they are this year, or this past weekend. I recorded both games and watched them after I was done with Comic Con. That BYU game was so brutal to watch. And the fact that they lost to a team that Utah had previously beat only added salt to an already badly bleeding wound. Watching that game reminded me of all those weekends decades ago when things were different and I was the fan wishing my team was better and was winning all those games. The season's not over yet. An injury here, an interception there and the wheels can come off the Ute's program, but at least for today, I'm experiencing the ecstasy because I've known the agony.

* Photo taken without permission from the Instagram account of: @elishamataele 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Welcomed The Picture From Ron Simmons...Didn't Need One From Alan Tudyk

"Hey--is that Alan Tudyk?" I asked as I entered the Green Room for dinner.


"That's pretty cool."

I watched the actor and another person from afar being interviewed. When you see these famous people hanging out in a space where they're taking a break, good convention manners would say that we're basically to leave them alone. They get enough of people fawning all over them during the rest of the con. Eventually Mr. Tudyk did make his way over to our table and shook our hands. It was something he didn't have to do--class act!

But I met another celebrity at the convention, and he was a class act, too. I used to follow professional wrestling back in the 70s and 80s. If I had been paying attention in the 1990s, I would have heard of Ron Simmons, and watched him and learned his famous catchphrase, 


Ron was assigned the table right next to where we were selling books and a better next-door-convention-neighbor I could not imagine. He was so wonderful to his fans, so gracious, so personable, and not just to his fans, but to us as well. When he and his business partner, Rodger packed up, we said our goodbyes and I made sure to get a picture with this man (I got one with Rodger, too...). The one with Ron and me is a little blurry, but that's okay because it will remind me of the awesome weekend we had.

Now, I could have pressed Mr. Tudyk for a picture when we shook hands in the Green Room, and he probably would have been accommodating, but it wouldn't have meant the same thing. Sure, I could provide actual proof that we'd met, but that's just to brag (I've done enough of that, already...). The picture with Ron, now that's something special.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Just Hanging Out...After The Con Has Closed For The Night

It's about a quarter to 11pm on Friday night and I'm typing this post at the corner of South Temple and 2nd West. My computer is resting atop two guitar cases and I'm sitting on the grass. The Salt Palace Convention Center is closed and I'm waiting to load this equipment into the back of a truck and be driven home. The truck is on its way.

It's been quite a day!

I could, of course, just wait and write this post when I get home, but I have their weird thing about my blog posts. Since I write daily, I want to make sure I write a post every day. If I don't get this done until after midnight (mountain time...), then technically, I'll be writing two posts on Saturday, the 26th and none on Friday, the 25th.

And we can't have that.

I've been standing almost all day. Seeing people and talking to people since I first arrived just before 10am this morning. There were probably over 100,000 people at the convention and right now, I'm ready to call it a day.

Good thing we get to do it all over again tomorrow.

So, until then, have a wonderful night!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I know clicking on certain links is gimmicky, but I just HAD to. I, along with what seems like half the country, created a cartoon of themselves through the Peanuts Movie website. And I know it's all an effort to do the their marketing for them, but I just couldn't resist.

The Peanuts cartoon-izer was pretty cool. There were lots of different options, hair, eyes, smile, clothes. I liked the finished product and I think it looks like me. Then again, a smooth bald-headed character already looks a lot like me. Many Halloweens I've donned my striped shirt and gone as Charlie Brown. It's a simple costume, simple and effective.

A few years ago, to help promote another animated movie, the Simpsons did the same thing. I LOVED the finished product I got from that website. Once again, a smooth shiny head goes a long way to making the cartooned picture resemble me.

I don't know if other animated films will use the same method of mass promotion in the future, but if they do, there's a pretty good chance I'll do it again. I'm a sucker for this type of gimmicky thing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con '15...Panel #4: Saucy Or Gory?

Saturday night a few of us writers will gather in a room and talk about the world's oldest profession...


At the last Salt Lake Comic Con I struck up a conversation with a good friend, Craig Nybo. We discussed writing and other things. I had finished his book, Allied Zombies For Peace. It's a book I highly recommend.

But I warn you, it's a little gory.

The talk I had with Craig got me thinking. I have a lot of friends who write, shall we say, books with lots of blood and guts. I've tried it--in fact, I'm trying my hand in this genre right now. But what I don't have is a lot of friends who write romance, or stories that go into the more "R" rated category. 

I had an idea for a panel for the next Comic Con. I submitted my idea and it was chosen. Now, me and several other authors will talk about sex and gore. The official title of the panel is:

Writing The Sins: Sex vs. Gore

And I'm the moderator. Comic Con has given this panel an +18 rating, but if I can help it, it won't come to that. I'm more interested in why they write what they do and why they make the choices they make.

On the panel will be the following awesome authors:

Dave Butler
S.A. Buter
Rhiannon Paille
David J. West
Lynette White

The Daves and S.A (Sara) I know. Rhiannon and Lynette I don't.

It's one of the last panels of the entire event, so if you too would like to find out why authors do what they do when it comes to these two genres, please join us, September 26, 2015, 8pm in Room 255F. The panel might not turn out to be what you think it will be, but I'm going to try to make it a great experience for everyone.

This is the last of my panel blog posts. It all begins tomorrow and I can't wait! See you there!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Wendover Airfield Fly-In...This Weekend!

If you're in the Utah/Idaho/Nevada area (or anywhere else, for that matter...) there is something going on that doesn't involve dressing up as a superhero or getting your picture taken with your favorite celebrity.

It's really a lot more meaningful than that. This year they're commemorating the end of WWII.

My friend puts together the Wendover Air Shows each year, and for the past three years, the event has happened to fall on the same weekend as Salt Lake Comic Con. It wasn't planned that way--it's just how it worked out. Admittedly, there's not a lot of crossover fan conflicts when it comes to target audiences, but still. If you're looking for something to do, you might choose Comic Con than driving 90 miles or so due west of Salt Lake City to attend an event.

I've been fortunate enough to go to the air shows twice, once was back in 2012 when my wife and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary (which is today, by the way...), the air show was in town and we went. I really love being out there. Then again, my dad was part of a bombing crew in WWII so what that place represents means something extra for me.

If you're interested, the information is in these pictures, or you can go to the website: HERE

2015 Banner

Monday, September 21, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con '15...Panel #3: Write Like A Master Composer

In three days we'll gather from across town and across the world. Yes, we're mere hours away from the grand event that is Salt Lake Comic Con. And continuing my tradition, I'm blogging about the panels I'm on.

This one is going to be great!

Of course, they're all great, or have the potential to be. But I was on a similar panel last year and I loved it. 

The title of this panel is: 

Write Stories Like a Master Composer: 
Using Musical Concepts to Make Your Writing Sing

Isn't that a cool title? The correct answer is YES!

And accompanying me on this magic carpet ride are the following panelists:

Dave Butler
M. Todd Gallowglas
Michael Jensen
Craig Nybo
Peter Orullian
Jenniffer Wardell

Of the group, I've not met (or if I have, I've forgotten--surpassing middle age can have that effect on a person...) Peter Orullian or Jenniffer Wardell. The rest I've met and many I consider great friends.

So, if you're at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 7pm, just head on over to Room 255E and see how you can make your words sing. Who knows...maybe we'll do a little singing ourselves. I know many of us can.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jeff Lynne...A Voice I Seemed To Have Always Known


Last month I was talking to a friend and the name Jeff Lynne came up. As we discussed the man and his music, I realized I had not heard his songs in quite a long time, too long. A few weeks ago a cable channel broadcast his live show at Hyde Park.

I was blown away.

At the music and at the memories that came flooding back. 

The memories I didn't expect.

I grew up in the days of vinyl records, 45s and LPs, cassette tapes and AM/FM radio. In our living room we had a turntable and a couple of really nice speakers that my dad built (speakers I still have, even though they're not hooked up...) and a radio/cassette tape deck. We didn't have a lot of records, but I remember listening to RUSH and STYX so many times I probably diminished the sound quality from the records.

And we had Electric Light Orchestra albums as well. ELO is one of those bands that changed the musical world, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Eagles and a number of other acts. Except you don't hear a lot about ELO's impact. At least, I don't. Maybe people talk about and write about them and their importance, but I don't do a lot of music research.

I can tell you that the music was absolutely wonderful! And time has been kind to the Jeff Lynne's voice. He sounded great in the broadcast. Of course, I Googled Mr. Lynne while I listened to the music that I once loved (and loved again watching the show...). He is such an accomplished musician, producer and creative artist. He's quite amazing.

I know, being born in the mid-1960s there was a lot of music that I heard before ELO came along, but as I sat and watched and listened to the songs, it seemed I've always known those songs and that voice. Maybe I ought to download some of those albums on iTunes.

I wonder if by playing them over and over again I can diminish the sound quality...I think it's worth a shot to find out.

* Photo used without permission from:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Holli Anderson's "Out Of The Dark"...A Book Review

Out of the Dark (Five #1)*

I am so happy I can finally say I have read this book! And I'm happy for several reasons.

Over the past few years I have gotten to know several local authors. A few months back I blogged about each of them. I called them: POLAIK, Profiles Of Local Authors/Artists That I Know. Getting to know authors and artists is amazingly fun. Most are wonderful, creative people. The downside is that you want to read everything they've written or purchase everything they've created.

And I just don't have that kind of cash.

So when I go to conventions and see all those beautiful works of art, I sigh and hope to one day read their stuff. I'm happy to say after all this time I was able to read Holli Anderson's Out of the Dark

Holli told me a little about the story. Five teenagers find themselves able to do magical things. They can conjure blue light from their fingertips. This is the first sign they are unusual. Eventually the five teenagers meet and begin living as street kids in the subterranean world beneath the city of Seattle. I've heard how cool it is to see the city below the city. Holli's kids live there.

The kids decide they need use their powers for good so they find a local high school that is in need of help. Posing as students all but one of the group begin taking classes. It's evident from the very beginning that not all is as it seems at the school. As complicated as teen life is, the addition of one of them being bit and becoming a werewolf only adds to their crazy existence. They battle evil teachers who have created a hallucinatory drug they give to the students.

This is the first book of the series and it ends with the group--now with a mentor--traveling across the country as they're hunted by the forces of evil. I don't want to say more because I don't want to spoil the experience. But I should add that if you like romantic elements in your supernatural, demon and teenage story, you'll find it in Out of the Dark. Holli blends well tension, drama, romance, and the creepiness of pure evil, it's all there.

I'm glad I'm done with this one. Now, all I've got to do is read everything else she's written. I'm sure I will.

* Photo used without permission from:

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fine Dining With The Cub Scouts...

This last week a bunch of neighbors gathered at the local church for a cookout. We held a Cub Scout Pack Meeting, the one we hold each month. But this time we did things a little differently. I brought along my camera to see if I found anything interesting.

We went to the city and asked if we could have an open flame at the local park. Nope--we were still under a "no open flame" advisement. Of course, when we asked about having a cookout, few suspected the temperatures on that day
would be in the 50s after having rained all morning.

Oh well--we had a good time at the bowery next to the church. We had a choice of cooking methods. We could choose Caveman or Civilized. Most of the cubs chose Caveman. The adults picked the other. Once dinner was done and awards were handed out, we had s'mores.

I came home smelling of campfire. I'm glad I took my camera. Turns out, there was a lot to see.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

For Our Sons...


I think I heard about Daren before I met him. "He's a surfer from California," is what I was told. Turns out Daren and I ended up being LDS mission companions--not for too long, only a couple of months. But it was long enough that since then, almost every time I see a photo or video of a surfer or watch a movie about surfing, I think of Daren. That was over thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago this month he and I rode our ancient bikes across the cobblestoned streets of Odense, birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. We saw many things and met many people and I was always in awe of Daren's confidence. And I learned a lot about surfing. Now, I've never surfed, but when I see a true master of wave and board, it's a thing of beauty. 

And I always think of Daren.

Yesterday Daren posted information on Facebook about the Quicksilver 2015 King of the Groms Surfing Competition in which his son, Jordy, is competing. You see, son has followed his father's kick out in the soup. Daren wants as many people as possible to vote for his son. I've never met his son, Jordy, but whenever I see his picture, I see Daren.

You can support Jordy by following these simple rules.

Scroll down and click the orange button: VIEW ENTRIES

Then scroll down and click on Jordy Collins's name. Find the Facebook LIKE icon, click it and you've voted for Jordy. And if you've got a second or two, check out the video. It's really beautiful to watch.

Interestingly enough, my own son is currently living in California. He's not surfing or entering competitions of any kind. He's doing what I did thirty years ago, making life-long friends of his own. And maybe, just maybe thirty years from now, my son'll be talking about his friend's son. That would be cool.
Vote Jordy!

* Awesome photo taken by Nathan Petty and used without permission

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lenny Robinson...A Real Superhero

You may have never heard of Lenny Robinson before. I didn't know his name, but I had heard of what he used to do (you can learn more about him from his website: HERE).

Simply put, he was a hero, a real hero.

And, unfortunately, his story doesn't end with him beating the bad guy and getting the girl. I guess that's one difference between fiction and real life.

Lenny lived in Baltimore and since 2001 he dressed up as Batman and visited sick kids. He was a successful businessman and spent, according to a story from 2012, about $25,000 a year of his own money for others.

On Sunday, August 16 of this year Lenny was driving his Batmobile (a black Lamborghini) when it broke down. As he stood next to his car he was stuck and killed by another driver. He was 51-years old.

Next week tens of thousands of people will gather in Salt Lake City for the 3rd Annual Salt Lake Comic Con, and thousands of others will attend similar cons all over the world. Many of those people will dress up. They dress up for different reasons, for attention, to express themselves, and mostly--hopefully--to have fun. 

But there are some out there who dress up for a better reason, some who take what they've been given and make life a little better for those around them. I'll be at the Salt Lake's Comic Con and I'm sure I'll see many Batmen.

I wish Lenny was one of them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con '15...Panel #2: Cutting The Cord

The Con happens next week, and for those interested, I'm going through and highlighting about four panels. There's going to be some great panelists on these panels. Oh, and I'm going to be there, too.

This is the second panel with which I am involved. The official title of the panel is:

Cord Cutting: Is It Right For You?

At first I had no idea what "Cord Cutting" meant, so I read the panel description:

With options like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Sling and Playstation Vue, it's becoming increasingly easy to cancel your cable or satellite, but is cord cutting right for you?

I like it for several reasons. First, it's timely, it's a new panel topic (at least, I haven't heard of this topic being covered before at SLCC...) and it's something in which I have a little experience.

Back in the mid-nineties I worked for the country's largest cable company, TCI Cablevision. Remember them? And I worked in customer service. Doing customer service work is tough to begin with. Throw in helping out frustrated cable subscribers and you have a new kind of torture. Actually, many/most people were very nice, but there were always a few...

I am looking forward to this panel, for the topic and for the amazing panelist, many of whom I've known for years. I don't believe I've met Bill Frost yet. I look forward to getting to know him.

Here's the panel list:

Robert J. Defendi: Moderator
Bill Frost
Daniel Swenson
Dan Willis
James Wymore

If you're at Comic Con on Friday, September 25, 2015, at 3pm, head over to Room 150G. I think this is going to be a good one!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mr. Diggs...You Surprised Me

The other day I got an e-mail, a notice that alerts me to when someone has followed my on Twitter. If you're on Twitter you've gotten them as well. Unless, you've turned off the notifications. 

I am not a big social media guy, at least, I don't think I am. It's all a matter of perspective. Compared to some of my extended family, I'm a BIG social media guy. I do post a daily picture on my blog, on Facebook and on Google +. I also link my daily blog post to both Facebook and Twitter. I admit that I use Facebook the most, but not as much as I once did.

So, when I get e-mails about new Twitter followers, I'm a little surprised. I'm not one to solicit a lot of followers, and I doubt I'll ever pay for followers as some services promise to do.

The e-mail alerted me that I had a new follower, one Mr. Taye Diggs. There's about a half a million of us Taye Diggs followees out there, and when you put that up against seven billion, I'm part of a semi-rare group. There are some celebrities I follow (not many...) and they usually follow almost no one in return. Mr. Diggs, however, follows about half a million people. This tells me he's a little different than most celebrities. 

I don't know much about him, but what I do know I like. He was not ashamed or afraid to show real emotion after the passing of his friend and co-star Paul Walker, another celebrity about which I've heard good things. Mr. Diggs hasn't gotten into the kind of trouble about which a casual fan like myself would have heard. He seems like a stand-up guy. He's also wickedly talented, if you're familiar with his work.

I don't know how he found me, or if he has someone to manage his various accounts that found me. It would be interesting to one day find out. Needless to say, I was surprised. I got into my Twitter account and quickly followed him back. 

I wonder if he was surprised.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Robison Wells's "Dead Zone"...A Book Review

Dead Zone  (Blackout, #2)*

Last week I read Robison Wells's Dead Zone. I don't think I've ever finished a book series so quickly. Of course, it helps that the series consists of two books, and that I listened to them as audiobooks at 2X speed. 

And that they are well-written and excellent--that always helps me get through a book.

Dead Zone is the sequel to Blackout. The books center around teenagers with special powers. It's a common theme, so i order to make a story interesting and engaging, they have to be good. 

And they are.

Thanks to Wells's effective cliffhanger in Blackout, I couldn't wait to read Dead Zone. The first book introduces us to the main characters and what powers they possess. We meet Aubry and Jack, two teenagers who find themselves caught up in domestic terrorism. The army steps in to test the teenagers to see if they possess these powers. If they do, they're called "Lambdas" and they're given new assignments.

In Dead Zone the teenagers are now soldiers and sent on missions to help fight a war. In this book, it's no longer disgruntled millennials the government has to deal with, but world powers that are invading the Pacific Northwest.

There's one aspect to a story like this that I enjoy very much--it's the vast possibilities available to the writer. The virus the kids contracted gives them these powers and, just like each of us, the powers are unique. Because Wells created such a complete world, there's no end to what could be done. As I read/listened, I wondered where it would go because it really could go anywhere.

In my critique of Blackout, I wrote that if you like dystopian YA stories, you will enjoy Blackout. The same holds true for Dead Zone. It's quick, safe (if you've got a child who enjoys reading this genre...) and just plain good.

This time, my recommendation is to get both books. You'll be glad you did.

* Photo used without permission from:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Three Cheers For Davis Are...D-H-S!

A simple text message began it all. 

You want to go to Davis's Homecoming game Friday night?

Sounds like fun.

And so, at 6pm last night I met Bob at the baseball facility to get ready for a party. This week is Homecoming and it's also the week of the Davis High Class of 1985's thirty-year reunion. The party at the game was in connection with their reunion, but basically all Davis High alumni were invited.

We had snacks and drinks, people came and went and came back again. I took a few pictures. The Davis Darts played the Vikings of Viewmont. Thirty years ago I lived in the boundaries of Davis High. Today that same house is now in Viewmont's boundaries so my neighbors were rooting for the other team.

I met some new people and connected with friends long past. And the gave came down to the final play with the Darts prevailing in a thriller. Sitting in that box, it brought back a lot of memories, back when the Friday night football gave was SO important, and not necessarily because of what happened on the field. Last night was kind of like that, too.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Heading Home...

I watch as my son reaches the level road and is freed from the hill where gravity releases its jealous grip on person, place, and/or thing, beckoning them all to the valley floor. He's no longer climbing; he can safely continue on a horizontal plane toward home.

The street we're now on is officially called 325 East. If you're familiar with Utah's boring, but painfully effective street-naming system, you know how (and why...) a street can be called after a plot on a grid. But, that's what it's called so that's what we call it. On many maps, the dead end road is called Warnock Avenue, named after a long-time resident, who--and I have no evidence other than hearsay to back this up--might have absconded our kitten around 1972 and raised it as her own. Again, not verified.

If my family had its way, the road would be called Lois Lane, but we never pursued it and that's another story, altogether.

But the road exists and at the end of the road lies our home. When I was half my youngest son's age, the road existed in unpaved form only, and where our house is, a field existed. I spent hours and hours in that field, at least, I think I did. When I think of my childhood, scenes of me playing and exploring the mountain come to mind when the reality was more like me spending hours and hours in front of the TV watching The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan's Island reruns.

The street is now paved and has been for almost forty-five years. The field, like so many, is gone and replaced by structures that offer security, privacy and the internet which allows the occupants to watch both episodes of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island twenty-four/seven.

My son runs (as I once did...) and I walk a little quicker than normal. He lives in a world where the houses have always been on 325 East and the road's always been black. And yet, I wonder where he'll be in his fiftieth year. Will be be at the intersection of State Street and 325 East remembering how things once were decades in the past? Will he be watching a child of his own as it learns and grows? And will they be heading home?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con '15...Panel #1: Orphan Black

This week those in charge of putting together one of the nation's best comic conventions released the panel schedules. It's a moment many of us invited to participate have been anxious to see. And so, because I'm excited to share (and I need daily blog post topics...), here's information about the first panel I'm on, what it's about and who's going to be there!

The panel is called:

Why Orphan Black Is The Best Show On TV

Fans of the show are most likely saying to themselves: "Duh!" Orphan Black is an intense show! It's the kind of show that grabs you--sucks you in and doesn't let go.

Others on the panel are:

Mishell Livio
Lisa Mangum
Brian Wiser

I met Lisa at a convention earlier this year so I know at least one other person in the group. Part of the fun about being a panelist at these events is getting to know the other panelists and making new friendships.

So, if you're at Salt Lake Comic Con on Thursday, September 24, 2015, at 8pm, head on over to Room 150G and get your fix of the best show on TV, Orphan Black!

You can see the schedule of each and every panel for the three days: HERE. If you're attending, stop by! I'd love to see you and catch up!