Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jay...


Exactly one week ago today, on Christmas Eve, I shared a Christmas song from my friend Jay. The next day that friend passed away.

Today is Jay's birthday, his 60th birthday.

As 2015 comes to an end so does the life of a kind man. I'll always remember him as an entertainer, and as good a performer as he was (and he was great...), he was a better friend and person.

We take solace in knowing all his pain, his trials and tribulations are over. Happy birthday, Jay. I wish you could have seen the day, but we're glad you're finally free.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Understanding..."The Cloud"


I consider myself somewhat "techie" especially when it comes to Apple products. In fact, one of the positives forwarded by Apple is their user friendliness.

But when I signed up for iCloud service, I felt like I had forgotten everything I ever knew about computers. That's why I signed up for a workshop at our local Apple Store, and boy, did it help!


I suppose I could have done a little research, visited a couple of websites with the answers that I needed, but since we've got an Apple Store a mile or two from my house, I thought I would just sign up for a class and see if my questions could be answered. There were two of us and Eric (or Erick...) was the instructor.

Eric (or Erick...) did a fantastic job. Both of us students had questions and Eric(k) answered them all. The workshop lasted an hour and when I got in my car to drive home I was much more familiar with the iCloud program specifically and about Apple products in general. So, if anyone asks me if I feel the time spent surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment while learning about the latest technology, I'd say...yeah, pretty much.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Bumper Sticker Would Say...I'm A Proud Parent Of A Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Maker


In our department at work we have a cool little tradition when it comes to celebrating co-worker's birthdays. The person who most recently had a birthday is responsible for buying treats for the person celebrating the next birthday. My birthday was at the end of November and the next birthday was last Saturday, so it was my job to find out what my co-worker wanted for her birthday.

I was so glad when she said, "cookies."

Because I know a fantastic cookie maker. He lives in my house and he's seventeen-years old.


My son makes delicious chocolate chip cookies. I'm not just saying that as a proud parent--okay, maybe I am, just a little bit. But when I take a two dozen of his homemade cookies to work and my co-workers gush over how good the cookies are, it tends to validate the assumptions I have that my son makes good cookies.

And to emphasis the point, many of my co-workers are mothers who have themselves made dozens of batches of cookies as mothers and caregivers. I value those judgements. They ask, "How does your son get them to turn out so well?" I say, "He just follows the recipe. To which, they answer, "That's not what happens when I do it."

Yes, they're tasty and I'm biased with a few testimonials to back it up.

Monday, December 28, 2015

200,000 Plus Blog Page Views...



It's only taken five years--well, four years and eleven months for my little blog to reach 200,000 blog page views. That's about 3,390 views each month, or about 111 views a day for the 1802 blog posts I've written.

When I first started this project, I would check the stats religiously, sometimes several times a day. I don't think it was a vanity thing (although, it very well could have been...). I thought the whole idea fascinating! I was amazed that I could post something that had the potential to reach every single person online.

As time passed, I became less and less infatuated with the numbers. I actually thought I was under 200K and I was going to use this blog to ask for people to visit so I could eclipse that lofty number. No need to do that now (but, I'm still glad you decided to stop by...).

For many blogs, a hundred visits a day is nothing. They get thousands. But I decided a long time ago that the purpose of this site was not for the masses; it was for me. It was to keep me writing and if people happened to like it along the way, so much the better.

So, thank you, all you bored people out there! You've given my humble blog some respectability. And check back tomorrow--I'm sure I'll be prattling on about something else.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Faces Of My Youth...


I suppose each town as a building the defines it, that represents more then the collection of homes and business, streets and trails. In our town that building has to be the Rock Church. It's on Main street and has been there for over a century. It's the first church I can recall attending and I'm attending still, forty-five years later.

And found within the building are photos of children, hundreds of children. Their faces, along with their leaders line the upper hallway. There are two sets of pictures, some taken in 1978 and another set taken twenty-five years later. It's the photos taken almost forty years ago that makes me stop and look and remember.

The church building is semi-famous in Mormonism. Back in 1887 the first meeting of its kind took place there, a program for the youth of the church, from twelve-years old and younger. Had I been born a few months later, I would have been included in the picture. Instead, many of my friends's faces are forever preserved and hanging on a wall in an upstairs hallway of a century-old building.

I imagine that to my children the picture might as well be from the 1930s or 1940s. It's black and white and no one dresses like that anymore. But I see my youth--there's no other way for me to see it. I see friends with whom I played, on baseball teams, after school at their homes, in the undeveloped lots in town and on the mountain to the east. We played, we endured school and church together, we grew up in Farmington. 

Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only one who remains. Many have moved from here and are creating traditions with their own families, their own children growing up with their friends, spending times in their friends's homes and playing on baseball and soccer teams with kids that will one day grow up and move away.

Yes, each Sunday I have the chance to see faces of my youth, the ghosts of memories. I wonder how long those pictures will hang in that hall.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dave Butler's Books...Now Available At My Local Library!


The other day I checked out our local's library selection of new books. Little did I know that among the new listings a series written by a local author was found. I'm happy to say Dave Butler's Rock Band Fights Evil series can now be downloaded from the Davis County Library.

I immediately downloaded the first book in the series, Hellhound On My Trail and began reading it the very next day. I've known Dave for about two and a half years and I've heard about this series for almost as long. Imagine if you will a rock band that is damned to hell then given an assignment in order to redeem themselves. Okay, I might have got the gist of the series wrong--Dave tells it much better than I do (of course he does--he wrote it...). 

I've only read a couple of chapters so far, but I have to praise Dave for making the bass player more than just a butt of a series of unfunny (maybe occasionally funny...) jokes about how lame are bass players. I was once a bass player in a garage band and I can tell you that bass players the the "redheaded stepchildren" of the rock and roll world.

I'm glad my library decided to pick up Dave's series. I'm glad it was available to download. I'm glad I met Dave at the first ever Salt Lake Comic Con and that we've been friends since. And I'm glad there's a series out there about hell-bound rock and roll players where the bassist has an interesting and important role in story.

Friday, December 25, 2015

This Christmas, We Were All Surprised...


"So, it's Christmas Eve," I said to my seventeen-year old son as we drove last night to a neighbors to drop off a loaf of bread. "Did you ever find it hard to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, like it's going to be difficult for your little brother?"

His little brother is eleven.

"No," he said mater-of-factly. 

"I mean, " I said trying to clarify. "When you were younger--you know, on Christmas Even...didn't you ever have a tough time falling asleep, thinking about all the stuff you were going to get on Christmas Day?"

"I don't think I ever had a tough time falling asleep, even when I was younger." 

That surprised me. I distinctly remember tossing and turning in my bed knowing that in a matter of a few short hours, I would line up with my siblings (always shortest to tallest...) and enter our living room where all the treasures awaited. Watching our youngest this year reminded me of what it's like to be a child at Christmas. That's why I asked my son if he had ever felt that way, assuming he felt the same way I did decades ago and the same way our youngest did now.

Then my son said something that surprised me again.

"You know," he said as we continued driving. "I don't know if I've ever been as excited for Christmas as I am this year."

You see, my son got a job this summer and he was able to make some good money. So when he approached my wife and I a few weeks ago and said he wanted to get his siblings some excellent Christmas gifts, we were a little taken back. But he wanted to do it and the reaction from the younger kids this morning was priceless.

I think this year we saw a teenager who found out just how wonderful giving--and not just getting--can make you feel. That's what I call a successful Christmas.

video

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jay Alan Henderson's "Christmas Lullaby"...A Christmas Gift From A Dear Friend

Christmas Lullaby cover art*

I first met Jay just over fifteen years ago. We were chosen to take part in the Rodgers Memorial Theatre's production of Scrooge. I think Jay was cast as one of the Bob Cratchits--my memory's a little fuzzy about specific cast members from 2000. If he was Bob, it was a very appropriate part for Jay. Bob Cratchit is universally revered as the embodiment of the every man, the soul of Dicken's Christmas Carol.

Through the years Jay and I performed in many shows together, portrayed leads and characters, comic reliefs and ensembles. I knew when I was fortunate enough to be cast with Jay, there would be at least one person dedicated to doing his absolute best. I remember one production where Jay played one character--a side character--in one cast and the male lead in the other cast. Since this theatre double cast the show, all the rest of us got every other night off once the run began. It amazed me that Jay not only did every show, but had to remember completely different lines depending on which role he played. I shouldn't have been surprised--Jay pulled it off effortlessly. Totally professional, total class act, completely Jay.

One of the advantages (or disadvantages...) with social media is that we can keep up on our friends's lives without even connecting with them. A few years ago Jay informed us all of his health struggles. He presented--at least on social media--a strong front, no excuses, just let us know how it was. He's never sought pity, never asked "why me?" at least publicly. He's fought with class and honor. 

It's been a while since I've seen a Facebook post from Jay. Now I see people posting to his Facebook page wishes of strength for his final test. I can tell from their words that Jay has had the same effect on them as they have on me. They love him and wish him and his family peace and comfort as Jay prepares for what we all will one day face.

At work today, there were only a few of us in the building and I thought about Christmas and all that comes with it--the preparations, making sure we're ready for the big day. I then checked out Bandcamp.com, a website where musicians can create a profile and share their talents. Jay has a page. He's also posted a Christmas song. I played it and all the great memories of my friend came back. You can check out the song: HERE

I don't know how long we'll all be together on this earth, but today my friend game me a Christmas gift. I got to hear him sing his song. Merry Christmas, Jay, my friend. May God be with you, always.

* Photo used without permission from: http://jayalanhenderson.bandcamp.com/track/christmas-lullaby

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Don't Think You're Getting Away With Something, Faux Sleeper...


We all see you, those of you who are taking up two seats on the bus. You're slumped in your chair, eyes closed, with your backpack and coat and other stuff gathered around you like a mother hen to her chicks.

Yeah, we know you're there.

We know what you're doing.

You're faux sleeping.

Don't get me wrong--we all know why you're doing it. The seats on the bus are not the built for many of the more "husky" passengers. And if you add to that all the other stuff we bring on board, having the space of two seats all to yourself is preferable, even appealing. But, it's a selfish move, bro--no two ways about it.

The more experienced faux sleepers don't sit in the window seat. No, no--they choose the aisle seat so it's extra uncomfortable for the passenger who just climbed aboard to not only "wake you up," but then ask if the seat next to you is taken.

But in all seriousness, I doubt the dude who sat next to me on tonight's bus ride home tonight was faux sleeping. The bus I take begins at the University of Utah campus and hospital. Falling asleep after a long day as a student or employee or student/employee is completely understandable. And, since it's almost Christmas Eve, there were far fewer riders on today's bus.

Having said that, I know there's been fakers out there and I've seen them as I've searched for an empty seat. Then there's the dudes who are not sleeping, but sit in the aisle seat anyway almost daring a fellow passenger to interrupt their solitude by asking them if the chair next to them is being used.

I'd rather they pretend to be asleep.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Review Of Reviews...And Avoiding Huge Ships

*

My friend at work reads the comments of internet articles.

I do not.

I've read them in the past, of course, but life is really too short to spend time reading comments posted on stories. If you read these comments, you know what I'm talking about. It's just not worth it.

Or so I thought...

Today my wife found a link posted by my niece, and it's fantastic! But it's not the book that's the best part, it's the book reviews. If you doubt me, check it out yourself: HERE.

Still not convinced? Here's an example:

6,465 of 6,822 people found the following review helpful
By Fitz on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer's other excellent 
titles: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books 
are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational 
as it is informational. After reading them I haven't been hit by anything bigger than 
a diesel bus. Thanks captain!

 This second version of the book, How to Avoid Huge Ships was published in 1993. This book has over 1,300 reviews and numerous comments for those reviews. I haven't read them all, but those I've read I found hilarious. It's a prime example of man's search for comedy in an insane world.

I noticed something as I was writing this blog. The book costs new $513.52. That means that if all those people who wrote reviews actually bought the book new, this would have generated $667,576 in sales. That's enough to buy, perhaps, a huge ship.

I still don't think this one site has changed my mind about reading the comments or reviews. I mean, I've lived for fifty years successfully avoiding huge ships and I never knew this book even existed until today. Then again, maybe I've just been extremely lucky.

* Photo used without permission from: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0870334336?ref_=cm_lmf_tit_14

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Never Met David Larsen...I Wish I Had


When you're involved in a project, you get to meet many people. When you're involved in a theatrical production, you connect with people on a personal level, something that's hard to match. If you've kept up with this blog over the past twenty or so months, you know I've done a few shows and each time I come away with new experiences and new friendships.

But there's one person I never had the chance to meet, even though he worked on several shows I was in. Earlier this year the theatre celebrated the life of David Larsen by dedicating a Ghost Light in his name. My daughter and I are used to arriving a little bit early for the shows we're in and sometimes when we'd enter the theatre the only thing on stage was David's light.


David passed away Sunday, October 18 of this year. Because many of David's friends are also my friends, I saw an outpouring of love for him and read many heartfelt wishes for his family. I've heard it said that you can judge someone by their friends. Even though I didn't know David, I can tell that a wonderful person left us back in October, a person who touched many lives and will be missed.

So, when you go to a show at the Centerpoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville, Utah, once you and everyone else leaves the theatre, there is placed a lone light atop a plaque sitting on the empty stage. And that light remains watching over the chairs and speakers and spotlights making sure all is well.

No, I never met David, but I wish I had.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Glenn Beck's "The Immortal Nicholas"...A Book Review

The Immortal Nicholas*

It's been a few weeks since I finished Glenn Beck's The Immortal Nicholas. Usually, after I finish a book I blog about it right away. I do this because right after I'm done, the story's fresh in my mind, I can remember many of the details as well as some of the feelings I had while I read it.

But many times, I blog about books I've read because when you write a blog post every day, you've got to find something to fill the digital pages. The reason I didn't blog about this book earlier is because I wanted it to germinate in my mind. Plus, as I read it, terrible things were happening.

Beck's story explains how the legend of Santa Clause and the birth of Jesus can be connected, how a man who lived during the birth and death of Christ became the symbol of Christmas. Beck has done his homework explaining how life could have existed for a father and his son living in Judea at that time. The author not only answers what is frankincense, but why it was considered a treasure fit for a king. We learn of Agios, the man who will become St. Nicholas. We feel his heartaches, his joys, and the loss he experiences. The way the author transforms Agios and then places him in the northern countries was as entertaining as it was creative.

I had an experience while reading (or listening...) this book that I don't believe I've ever had before. As I read the narration of Christ's crucifixion, I was following a breaking news story of a mass shooting as it was taking place in California. As I listened, I checked updates on the tragedy and how the lives of 14 people were extinguished. One side of my brain was hearing how the Son of Man was being executed while my eyes read about the horror of true evil being manifest in our world of today. It brought home the fact that some things have not changed in two thousand years and made the message of the book that much more important and impactful.

I'd like to be one of those people who read a new Christmas story each year, but I've never done it. Maybe this will be the start of a new tradition. I guess it'll take a year to find out. And if it becomes a tradition, this book was a wonderful way to start.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/26586933-the-immortal-nicholas

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Can A Bowl Game Be Played...And No One Wins?


I didn't watch the game live, but on tape. In fact, I'm watching it right now as I write this. What a crappy day to be a BYU Cougar fan. 


And being a Utah fan, there's not much to crow about, other than the final score. It's the game where the winning team can't feel that good about how they played and the losing team realizes that it was a game in which had they made just one less mistake--just one, it could have changed everything.


Five BYU turnovers in the first fifteen minutes resulted in a 35-0 score. Utah would not score after that, but in the end, it turned out to be enough.


If I were a BYU fan, I would have HATED this game! I would have turned off the game after the third turnover so I wouldn't have to see the other two.


But then things changed and the Cougars battled back. Just before halftime, BYU scored. They scored again in the third quarter, and twice more in the fourth. They just ran out of time. Again, just one less turnover, one less interception, then they wouldn't need another few minutes to get that final score.


When I went to the U, the Y killed us in football, year after year. And when Utah slowly caught up then surpassed our southern neighbors, it felt good--I admit it. But after laughing to myself about the first quarter score, I had to endure thoughts of a nightmare scenario of losing to BYU in the worst way possible--running up the score and letting it slip away. Credit a never-say-die Cougar team. They played their guts out today.



But, that nightmare scenario never materialized. The final Utah possession resulted in a couple of first downs and the clocked ticked to zero. Players, cheerleaders and reporters took to the field to celebrate the end of another season. Whittingham spoke on TV and Mendenhall walked away, his  one-hundredth win as a head coach will have to wait until next year.


Ute fans can say they won the game, but they can't be too proud of how it happened. Cougar fans gain no solace in believing they had the win--should have won, but the final score mocks their pain. Fans from each team think their team isn't as good as they had hoped, or thought they were. A game where neither team wins--that kind of happened today in Las Vegas.


All photos used without permission from the American Broadcasting Company

Friday, December 18, 2015

Curtain Call...


I was fortunate enough to participate in another production and that show ended last night. Because of a change in the schedule, I did the final show for both casts--a first for me. I took along my camera and snapped some pictures of the cast. Unfortunately, I was unable to get everyone's picture.




Here are pictures of those who dedicated our time and pledged our talents to make the show the best it could be. Tonight we didn't arrive at call. We didn't check out our mics or do mic checks. We didn't gather for fight call and run it at either 1/2 speed or 3/4 speed. We didn't meet in the green room and warm up our voices, and especially if it was our cast, the kids didn't swarm their adult friends, those friendships meaning everything to those beautiful children.



So, for all of us who made the journey together, this is for you. 

Toyland, toyland, little girl and boy land
When you dwell within it...
You are ever happy there