Friday, June 30, 2017

Check Out Immortal Works Flash Fiction...What Really Happens In The Bermuda Triangle


I am spreading the word--another episode of Immortal Works Flash Fiction Friday is upon us and this week's story comes from Samuel King who wrote and narrated his story, 

What Really Happens in the Bermuda Triangle

I just listened to it--it's a quick read/listen. You can access the link: HERE.

Immortal Works is in the process of making everything they publish available in audiobook format. I'm SO glad! I love audiobooks, and if I didn't listen to so many podcasts, I'd be able to listen to more books. Each Friday Immortal Works posts a short story. This particular episode centers around the eerie world of the Bermuda Triangle. There's mystery, there's intrigue, there's a fun little ride that only takes three minutes and twenty-one seconds to experience for yourself.

Come on! Give it a shot! Once again, you can access the fun little story: HERE.

Let's show Samuel some love!



Thursday, June 29, 2017

Losing Loved Ones...


Back in my early twenties I worked for a software development company. We were all pretty young, between twenty and thirty years old. There was a short period where a couple of employees lost their grandparents. I remember Tyler, one of the operations managers said to me that when you're in your twenties, that's about the time your grandparents pass away.

Of course, he was speaking in generalities.

Tyler also said that in your forties--roughly--is when you start to lose your parents.

This past week I had two friends lose their fathers. 

Tough week for fathers.

Back when Tyler and I talked, I had already lost all four of my grandparents and my father. And I wasn't even twenty-five. Maybe it's because I lost my father when I was really young, but I've taken note how people react when they lose their parents as adults--especially fathers. On the one hand, they knew their fathers much better than I knew my father when he passed away. They had opportunities I never had. I envy them that.

But on the other hand, because they knew them better, the pain is worse. To every action there's an opposite and equal reaction. So, the grief is a direct result of how much they were loved, how much they'll be missed. The greater the grief, the greater the love.

Growing up after having lost a parent, you feel like you're different from the other kids. And you are. But, even though more and more of my friends and others my age are now experiencing a loss like I've had for decades, it's still not the same. I'm still different. Even though I mourn for my friends, I hope they cherish the moments they had getting to know those great men. It's a gift, an honor, a blessing, and something I wish I could have done.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Warm Fuzzy...


I was shown the room where I would stay for the night. The room opened and I saw all the things familiar in a bed room, namely a bed, a closet, closed shutters on a window linking the house to a darkened world.

But the moment I the door opened and the light went on, my eyes went directly to the bottom half of the bed, for on that bed was a red blanket--an item I recognized immediately. It was my brother's Warm Fuzzy.

I suppose each family has traditions, acknowledged and otherwise. Things we remember from those years so long ago. For us, one of those traditions were our Warm Fuzzies. My mom made one for each of her three children. My brother's was red, mine was blue, and I believe my sister's was pink. Just seeing it brought back so many memories, but not so much specific memories--more like an overall feeling that I was ten-years old watching TV and trying to keep warm wrapped in my blanket while sitting in the unfinished basement of the house my father almost completed before he died, and not staying at your brother's house overnight in 2017.

My brother displayed his on a bed in his guest room. Mine is in the basement in storage. I suppose had I a guest room and there was a bed in that room, I could unpack the blue Warm Fuzzy and let everyone know that there was a time when I was younger when I took a blanket made by love and it kept a cold boy warm. Seeing one again yesterday made me feel warm again.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My First Uncle Orson's Writing Class...Day One


I quickly scanned the list of attendees. I saw my name, and the names of a few others I knew. I wondered how many people I would know at Orson Scott Card's writing class. Turns out it was three. And even though I thought I knew what I was in for, I wasn't even close.

Today was Day One of Mr. Card's two-day writing event. He asked, as the class began, what we expected to learn from the class. An interesting question, and to be honest, I wasn't sure exactly what I expected. I hoped I would learn more about the craft of writing. I had heard Mr. Card speak at a LTUE writing symposium years before. Maybe I thought the class would be more of what I experienced back then. Mr. Card's question made me think...just what was I expecting?


I saw and chatted with those I knew, and I met a few other people I didn't know. In the class we discussed point of view, themes, and story structure. We heard from our teacher and a few classmates as they shared their writing assignment. I've never been to a multi-day writing class. I'm assuming this is what these classes are like. What I loved were the insights, the little things authors think about, the things we think about as we drift off to sleep.

We're halfway done. We've got another day left. I've been to enough conferences and symposiums to know that when you love sitting and listening to someone talk about writing, but when the urge to leave that instruction so you can run from the room and get to your writing place and get writing, that's a successful class. So far, so good!

Monday, June 26, 2017

I Do Like A Good Coen Brothers Movie...


I see few movies. In the grand scheme of things, it's not something that's proven important as I've grown older. Don't get me wrong--I do enjoy movies, but there are so many out there and I really don't have the money or time to watch them all. I'd like to say all that time and money saved by not watching a lot of movies was spent building a sailboat in the garage, or learning how to speak a foreign language.

But I can't. I know I've done other stuff with my time, but the results are less tangible.

But last night I came across Hail, Caesar, a movie written by Joel and Ethan Coen, also known as The Coen Brothers. I remember when I first saw the show. I thought the premise looked promising when it was advertised in the theaters. I said to myself I'd give it a shot when it was available for the cheapest price possible.


When I finally watched it I enjoyed it a lot. Then I remembered who wrote it and I realized why. The Coens have produced some of the most critically acclaimed movies over the past thirty years. I haven't seen them all, but the ones I have seen, I've loved. Perhaps my introduction to their genius was the 1984 classic, Raising Arizona, still one of my all-time favorite movies, comedy or otherwise. Another favorite, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? was a gem, and even though Oscar-winning and nominated actors are stacked in their films, it's the dialogue that draws me in.


Case in point, it's a small scene in Hail, Caesar, but when I saw it again last night, I just sat their and enjoyed every word. The scene is set in a Hollywood board room in the 1950s. The story's main character, Eddie Mannix (played by Josh Brolin...) converses with representatives of various American faiths. He needs to convince them that their latest picture will not be found offensive to the different congregations represented. Mannix's reaction to each leader's objections/recommendations/blessing is so good. The Coens don't hit you over the head with their words. They allow them to tell you a story, to take you on a ride.

A screenplay I absolutely loved was from the 2010 remake of True Grit. I enjoyed the original--it's a classic and I worried the remake might not measure up. Maybe to some it didn't, but I felt each line of that script sounded to me like poetry, pure poetry. Maybe it's my experience on a stage, or as a writer. Whatever they do and how ever they do it, there's something about those words that carry me away.

I see few movies. Maybe that's why the ones I've seen written by Joel and Ethan Coen have such an effect. Or maybe, it's because they're just so good at what they do.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Not A Lot Of Oxen At Wal-Mart Today...


I used to tell a joke every now and again (and still do, whenever the situation arises...). It goes like this:

How do you tell the active Mormons from the inactive Mormons?

The active Mormons wear their Sunday clothes when they go shopping on Sunday at Smiths.

For those of you not familiar with culture in Utah, Smiths is a local grocery store chain that's open 24-hours a day, and Mormons are the predominant religion. One of the many things that make Mormons different is a recommendation not to do any shopping on Sundays. We're supposed to have all those things done on other days.

But there's always the parable of the "Ox in the Mire" to consider.

The exception comes from a story in Luke, chapter 14, verses 1-6. Basically, Jesus heals the sick on the sabbath. He's called on it, and here's what happened:

"And [He] answered them saying, which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

"And they could not answer him again to these things."

Today I had to go to the store and pick up medical supplies. Not sleeping the night before can create a medical need and getting relief is as big an issue as rescuing an animal in distress. Today I ventured out, bought what was needed, and returned home. Personally, I would have loved to have not shopped today--so would everyone else in the house.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Feeling Like Frankenstein...


I think I picked up my love of tinkering from my dad. Of course, I don't know if he liked to take things apart, but I know he liked to build things and we was great at building things. I remember as a kid I took apart a telephone to see how it worked. I believe it was a rotary phone. I don't think I put it back together, though. In fact, I'm pretty sure it never took another call.

My youngest son had a problem with his Nintendo 2DS. The bottom screen wasn't working. I don't know much about those things, except they're a lot more complicated than an old rotary telephone. We looked online to see how to fix them. We checked out prices for replacement parts. We did some research.


I then turned to KSL Classifieds for help. And I found what we were looking for.

Will up in Ogden had a 2DS with broken screens for twenty bucks. I texted him to see if he thought the bottom screen worked. My son's bottom screen no longer registered taps with the stylus. Will said he thought his might work. I asked my son if he wanted to pony up the $20 knowing we were taking a chance. He said yes. This morning my son and I drove to Ogden. We met Will and my son passed over the cash.

Phase One--done.

Next came the tough part.


I spent three hours following some good YouTube instructions on how to disassemble a Nintendo 2DS (thank you ConsoleZombie.com...). Once I found the right tools (my old little screwdrivers didn't work and I was saved by my oldest who had some that did...) and got the units apart, I was able to create my masterpiece, my conglomeration, my monster. I put in the battery, screwed down the last piece of plastic, crossed my fingers, and turned it on.


It's ALIVE!!

Actually, it was a lot of fun. My son's money wasn't wasted. He's got a repaired player, and the best thing of all was, my son may think of me as a tinker. This time, hoever, I had much more success than I did with that old rotary phone.

Friday, June 23, 2017

JazzyUte's YouTube Channel--Something Wonderful...Or Not?


A few years ago I was on a panel at Salt Lake Comic Con where we discussed the future of cable television. After a while I forget about some of the things we talk about on those panels, but I remember on that specific panel Rob Defendi said something I've thought about many times. He said that kids these days don't watch TV. They don't watch network TV or even cable. The only thing they do watch, he said, was YouTube.

It sounded strange to me, even at the time. I'm sure they watch at least some cable shows, don't they? Then I thought about what my own kids watch. Yes, they watch some shows, but if we turned off cable today and just had internet, I think they'd be fine with just watching YouTube. I know at least two of my kids would be, anyway.

And maybe, after what I found today, I might be okay with it, too.


You see, today I found, and subscribed to, a YouTube channel, a channel that plays full-length University of Utah football games. It's JazzyUte's YouTube channel. It's a blessing...or is it a curse?


June, July--they're not good months for me. There's no football. I've resorted to watching Canadian football, which isn't that bad a product. Then again, perhaps the lack of competition makes it look better than it actually is. I mean, that wide field, the huge end zones, and only three downs?

Thanks to JazzyUte (and the miracle of modern technology...) I can now watch the last eighteen seconds of last year's U of U/BYU rivalry game (remember that...?). The problem I have now is, when exactly am I going to be able to watch all these games? I'm already too busy as it is. If you want to check out his channel and perhaps subscribe yourself, click: HERE.


So, my question for JazzyUte. Is your channel a blessing...

...or a curse?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Sky Of Fire...And Dragonflies


Owl City sings about ten million fireflies and ten thousand lightning bugs, but last night I saw a whole bunch of dragonflies. I don't think anyone's written a song about them. I'm probably wrong.


I've posted many pictures of sunsets. If we can fight back the quaking aspens growing to the west, we'll be able to see more, and hopefully post more photos. But last night as I headed to the back porch, the sunset--though amazing--wasn't what caught my attention. It was all those dragonflies.

video

I brought out my good camera to see if I could capture the experience. Even though I was please with the pictures and the videos, it didn't quite compare. All I could see were all those bugs flying around and eating mosquitoes. The fact that the sky behind them was awash is brilliant oranges, reds, and blues was an added bonus.

I pulled out the iPhone and tried out the slo-mo video option.

That's when I captured magic.

The problem is, the video resolution is not good enough to see the detail.

So, I put the whole thing on YouTube. If you want to see it, just click: HERE.

Even though you can't see what I saw, I wanted to give you a little taste. I hope you click on it and enjoy it. I know I did.

video

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The New House On The Hill...



We're getting new neighbors. Just down the hill a home rises from a field previously used as the neighborhood sledding run.

We'll need to find a new place to sled.

That's the thing with change. Sometimes you've got to make adjustments.


This is one house. To the north a subdivision is going in that will increase our community by several dozen homes. And when I say "subdivision," that's exactly what the development did to our community--divided us. Some fought the plan with signs and petitions and impassioned pleas on social media. Others, though they may have not wanted the development to go in, felt private property should be just that--something the owner of the property can do with what they want, within the bounds of the law and community standards, of course.


Our family moved into our little town back in the late 1960s. Except for a few years here and there, I call Farmington my home since that time. Our town is the kind of place where many have family members living here since its founding. It's a place people like and their children like to live.

That's what happened to me.

It's funny how many of us don't want to make adjustments to change once we're all settled. Because there was a time when no home existed, not on the hill or on the flat land. People came, people adapted. The community grew. I found it sad that so many people wanted to deny others the opportunity to enjoy the same things that they enjoy--to stop others from living in a place they love to call home. Would I rather the mountain stay the way it is and not get torn up? Probably, but what if someone looked at our lot fourteen years ago and said, "I think there's too many homes on the hill--even one more is too many," or if, when my parents bought an orchard of fruit trees in 1969, people protested the sale of that land?


I know my life and the lives of my children would have changed forever. So, we're getting new neighbors. The home will most likely be finished by the end of the year at the pace they're going. As I took pictures of the house under construction and imagined what the house would look like, I thought that I could be upset because more people means more traffic and the need for our kids to find a new sledding hill. Or, I could be excited that another family will move in and their lives will be forever changed because they bought the property, built a house, and turned it into a home.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Call This Machine...The Rack


A few weeks ago I tweaked my back. I didn't have it looked at because I was involved in the Fyrecon Symposium. I've tweaked my back before and most of the time, it heals up nicely. This time something new happened--a dull pain began to creep down my right arm.

So, I decided to go to my chiropractor. He's a good man and I trust him, or else, I wouldn't go.

I know some of you swear by chiropractors, and some of your swear at them. I feel they can be helpful, maybe not with everything, but for what they do, I've been pleased with the results in the past. Since I've never had a pinched nerve before, I didn't know what to expect.

I didn't expect The Rack.

Okay, so it's not a "rack," as in a medieval torture devise. But it did pull my spine. The contraption sat on an examination table. It had these two black cushions pocking up that reminded me of an automatic shiatsu massage machine. The doctor gave me instructions. "Lay down. Put your neck between these two posts."

I did.

He strapped (literally...) me in.

With my head secured and my neck in place, he turned on the machine. I had no idea what was going to happen. In my doctor's defense, I could have asked him what the machine was and what it was going to do, but I didn't. I just lay there and listened to him speak.

"The machine now has six pounds of pressure. It will increase to thirty-five."

Thirty-five? What does that mean? Again, I just nodded--with difficulty--my bound head.

"The pressure will go down to about twenty-four." To be honest, I'm not really sure if he said twenty-four or some other number. My mind was trying to figure out what type of pressure he was talking about. I was also hooked up to an electronic muscle stimulator. I wondered if he that thing went to thirty-five pounds.

Nope, he was talking about the amount of force the machine was going to be pulling on my head and neck.

I wonder if I had known that before, if I would have just hopped up on the table and placed my neck between the posts like I did. Before the doctor left he said the machine would reach thirty-five pounds then go back down, then go back up to thirty-five. It would do this several times.

He left.

The adventure began.

I wondered when I would feel the thirty-five pounds of pressure. It didn't take long. It wasn't too uncomfortable, nor was it painful. The most disconcerting thought I had was, what if the machine went haywire and yanked my head up really fast. The visual of King Humperdinck throwing his torture devise to 100 and Count Rugen yelling, "Not 100!" came to mind.

As I stated before, I really do trust my doctor. But sometimes you have to trust that machines will work as designed, like rollercoasters, or airplanes, or laptop computers, or slot machines (okay, maybe we wish those would occasionally break...).

Fifteen minutes came and went--it seemed like a long fifteen minutes. I don't know how useful the procedure will be. The proof will come in the coming hours and days. But from now on, every time I go to his office, I'll remember that in the farthest room to the south, the rack awaits it's next victim...ah, I mean patient.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Key To A Successful IHOP-Con...Flexibility!


When I first read the event description on Facebook, I thought, brilliant.

Basically, a group of friends--who happened to all be writers--would gather at a restaurant and have breakfast. Why I thought this was brilliant is because when we do gather, at conventions, symposiums, book signings, etc., we usually talk shop and enjoy each other's company. Why not get together and break bread--or in this case--pancakes while we talk and have a good time? 

The event was created, a location secured, and plans made.

Funny how plans change.

I arrived at exactly 10am, driving two counties away. I noticed a lot of activity at the Orem IHOP. Not that I know exactly how much activity is normal for a Saturday morning at the Orem IHOP, but it seemed like a lot. And due to Dave Butler's height (the organizer and whose brain child the event was...), I spotted him right away standing and surrounded by several other authors. Before I could officially enter the IHOP parking lot, I was motioned over by a teenager girl--one of several motioning cars over to the curb. 


I lowered my window and heard this:

"Our restaurant is closed for renovation. We're sorry, but here's some coupons for your next visit."

That's when I began to laugh. How classic is that? We plan an activity and the location is shut down. I don't know how often restaurants go through renovations, but it can't be often. So, it was our bad luck we chose the one Saturday morning in probably five or ten years (or 260-520 Saturdays...) in which the place was not open.

I got out after parking the car to chat with the other authors awaiting further instructions. An interesting thing about authors--especially hungry ones. They don't always follow instructions, but when food, good friends, and great conversations are on the line, they will.


Big Dave took responsibility, apologized, then adjust the Breakfast-Con schedule. That's how the first-ever IHOP-Con became the first-ever Dennys-Con.

And a good time was had by all.

Thanks Dave for setting it all up and rolling with the punches!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Photo Of My Dad's Family...


Yesterday, as I sat in a booth at a Denny's in Orem Utah, my cousin Mark--from literally half a world away--posted a picture of my father's family.

I look at a lot of pictures. I take a lot of pictures. I appreciate the art of photography. I like, when I see an incredible photograph, to enjoy the experience that view provides. The photo my cousin posted wasn't high art, no effects were used, no filters. But, even without all that, I found it one of the most amazing photographs I've seen in a long time.

It was a photo of my father's family, the only child missing was the one not yet born.

And, incidentally, that child not in the picture is the only member of the family still alive.

My father's in the picture, Harry, fourth from the left on the front row.

I didn't know a lot about my father's family. Growing up, we visited my uncles and aunts on my father's side. My father's parents passed away decades before, so long, in fact, my mother never knew her in-laws. They were gone before she met my father. And since my father passed away forty-three years ago this February, we spent even less time visiting his side of the family. I doubt it was intentional, just the way it was. 

My cousin Mark, who currently lives in Russia and is on a LDS mission with his wife, has been posting interesting family stories for the past couple of days (his father, Jack, is the baby of the photo--second from the left on the front row...). I remember spending time with his family growing up. We had good times with Jack and Lova, even though my cousins were several years older than us.

I don't have a lot of memories of my father, and unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer people around who knew him or remember him. Now that my mother has also passed, my main source of knowledge of the man left with her.

Growing up without the advantage of having a father in my life was not ideal, especially when I would like to have had his wisdom and council as I try to navigate life with all its challenges. I am grateful to the man who, with is parents and siblings, posed for a photo in a field in Idaho around 1930, and who grew up to be someone I still admire, who I look up to, and who I look forward to one day getting to know a lot better.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Auditions Announced For "Wait Until Dark" At The Heritage Community Theatre...

The play, Wait Until Dark, is coming to the Heritage Community Theatre in Perry, Utah.

And before the show can begin, auditions must be held.

My friend, and fellow thespian Diane Robbins, will be directing. The run is from October 6th to October 28th. 

Auditions take place:

Wednesday, July 12th at 7pm
Thursday, July 13th at 7pm
Callbacks by invitation July 15th.

Diane asked me to help spread the word. 

I've never seen the play, though (like I imagine most of us...) I've seen the film. Love the film. It's got that down-home creepiness that makes for a good time, if you like those kinds of films. It's a movie that doesn't rely on amazing computer graphics (it was before that even existed...). It's a classic with great dialogue and brilliant acting.

I'll bet, with the right group of people, the play will be amazing too.

If you're interested, here are the roles:

Characters:  (Ages listed are suggestions.)  All roles are open.
                                   
Susy Hendrix – (Female, 25-40) Recently blinded in an accident, she’s doing her best to adjust. Endearing, but never helpless; good sense of humor but isn’t silly; an independent spirit whose cleverness is her best weapon. Highly intuitive, sensitive person. This can be a physically demanding role.

Mike Talman – (Male, 30 – 50ish)  Con Artist and gambler recently out of jail. He’s a good liar. Likeable and charismatic, but also has a darker side. Unlike his associates, he may empathize at times with his targets. (Need to be able to fall down a small flight of stairs.)

Sgt. Carlino – (Male, 30 – 50’s)  Con Artist and small time grafter, recently out of jail. Coarse and uneducated. Not as likeable as Mike. He is a follower, not a leader.

Harry Roat – (Male, 30 – 50’s)  The mastermind of the plan. Very creepy, sociopathic con man capable of murder. Takes on other characters/ages during the play as part of the con. Doesn’t care who he hurts or kills to succeed. Physically demanding role.

Sam Hendrix – (Male, late 20’s – 40)  Ex-marine and is now a photographer. At times almost fatherly to Susy and helps her be independent. He interacts well with Gloria. Unwilling to entertain thoughts of self-pity, either for himself or Susy.

Gloria – (Female, 11-14)  Lives upstairs from Susy and Sam, and helps with shopping and chores. Struggles between being a child and a teen. Has had a tough home life. Acts out when upset. Headstrong and puts on a tough exterior but proves she cares a lot more than she lets on.

2 Police Officers – (Male or Female, any adult age)  These officers are self-assured & trustworthy. Come in at the end of the play. (Actors cast for this role may also help as part of our stage crew.)

Diane included some additional instructions:

Auditions will include cold readings from the script.
** Those auditioning for the role of Susy should come prepared with a 60-90 second dramatic monologue, memorized preferred. Be prepared to “act” blind.
Auditioners are encouraged to submit a resume and headshot. Bring a list of all conflicts for August 1 – October 28.

Rehearsals will begin approximately August 1st. Rehearsals will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm, with Saturday mornings as needed and definitely on Sept. 23 & 30.

Contact Diane at dianemrobbins@aol.com with any questions. If you are unable to attend one of the scheduled audition dates, contact Diane.

Roles are non-paid. No participation fee.

So, if you're interested, contact Diane with any questions. I know that if make the show, working with Diane is a joy.