Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I Missed The Moon This Morning...But I Caught It On Sunday

Social media was abuzz last night with news of the unique celestial event taking place early this morning...really early this morning. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of such events, but hey--if I'm up, I'll check it out. Thanks to our indoor/outdoor cat, I was up at that time this morning, around 5am. I left my room, looked up into the nigh sky, and saw...



There's not much you can do about clouds. If I really wanted to see it, I could have traveled to a cloudless area, or tried to drive up the mountains to get above the clouds. We do have tall mountains where I live, but not that tall--these were high clouds.

I guess I missed the event, something that only happens every one-hundred and fifty years. Oh well.

A couple of days ago I hiked up the mountain where we live at dusk. Even though the sunset was spectacular, as I hiked down, I noticed the moon rising above the mountain behind me. I was able to get some nice almost-full-moon pictures. I even got several shots of the moon with one of my favorite rock formations, a grouchy rock, or what I think looks like Harry Potter's Sorting Hat, but without the pointy part.. So, even though I didn't catch the shots I wanted, I got some good pictures after all. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Getting A Review...That Made My Day

Ever since high school, I've been performing in front of people. Actually, I guess I've been performing as long as I could remember. Trying to make people laugh, impress them--I've been putting myself out there for a while. And when you do that, be it on stage, in a class, on paper, you set yourself up for praise or criticism. You're voluntarily allowing yourself to be judged, measured, and not only do they judge your performance/art, they judge your education, your background, pretty much everything.

And it can be brutal.

In college I sang in an incredible forty-voice choir. I thought we were pretty good. In fact, there's not many choirs I've heard that were better. Being in a talented group, you get used to hearing good things about yourself and the art you produce. Then, after a performance, we got a bad review in the paper. The next day in class, our professor/director said something about reviews. He told us we can't just believe the good reviews. He said not to put too much credence in the good, because you'll have to do the same to the bad.

In short, if a good review can make your day, a bad one can ruin it.

A few weeks ago, my book went on sale. And a writer's bread and butter is getting reviews, preferably positive ones. I've gotten a couple of reviews, and the latest made my day. It's because the review came from a twelve-year old, just the age for whom the book was written (you can read the review: HERE...). A middle-grader gives a middle-grade book a great review. That's a win-win-win.

So, how should apply my professor's advice now? Good question. I suppose, as the author, I shouldn't allow the reviews to dictate how I feel. But I've been looking at reviews perhaps in the wrong way. I've been looking at them through my perspective, how the words affect me. When I read these kind words from this twelve-year old, I think about how my words affected her, how it made her feel.

And when I think of things that way, it made my day.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Posing With Plastic...

There's an office in the valley that houses a lot of amazing things. It's the headquarters for the FanX Comic Convention. There's posters on the walls and various statues. I've taken pictures with some in the past--Han Solo encased in carbonite, Gollum, or if you prefer Smeagol. The last time I was there, they had a few new ones I hadn't seen before.

I just had to take some selfies.

I am not a selfie person. As you can tell from these shots, I don't do them well. As a photographer, composition and set-up are important, so are lighting and expression. I can look at each of the four and find faults. We all know people who take and post a lot of selfies. And most of the time, they do a good job with their shots. Maybe practice makes perfect. Then again, maybe they're just better subjects to look at.

The question is, should I take more selfies, or just get by with the ones I do take? Personally, I'd prefer the latter. After all, these pictures give you a sense of what I was trying to do, have a little fun showing off the awesomeness of their office.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Before The Internet...There Were...Mountains

It's interesting living next door to where I grew up, watching my children grow and develop decades after I did...I'm reminded of my childhood almost every day. And what did we do as kids?

We hiked the mountain.

I've written about where we live before. I've written about the mountain on which we live. Tonight, just before dusk, I grabbed my cameras and headed up the hill. Soon, we're going to get some neighbors. I hiked up to one of the lots and looked around.

I remember my childhood, but when I remember it, I don't think I remember it quite the way it happened. For instance, I remember hiking on the hill, alone, with friends, or with my dog. I remember spending a lot of time on that hill, but in reality, I know I spent a lot more time in front of a TV set. I watched a lot of TV as a kid.

My mind wandered as I did. Thinking of the time I spent watching TV made me think about what kids do nowadays. Kids (and myself as well...) are on the internet. When my kids were younger they went up the hill from time to time, but not anymore. Do I wish they spent more time outdoors. Sure, but also they're preparing for the world in which they'll live. 

But what of the mountains? It occurred to me on my descent that the mountains were there for me, even when I didn't need them. They existed long before I--or anyone else--ever got here, and they'll be here long after we're all gone. And even though the lighting wasn't ideal for panoramic shots, tonight it was beautiful up there. I walked where I used to run, saw sights I used to--and still do--take fore granted. To me, the rocks, the sagebrush, the views meant something different, something deeper. 

Maybe I'm growing up after all.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Life's But A Walking Shadow...

If you're a fan and use the social network platform Twitter, you should be following Utah's Lieutenant Governor, Spencer J. Cox. And not only should you follow him, but follow those who follow and interact with him. Why should you? There's no better example of what I'm talking about than the incident that occurred in our state yesterday.

It was a doozy!

Our governor (and my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss...) Gary Herbert underwent minor surgery yesterday. Apparently, for an hour or so, the current governor was scheduled to be under anesthesia, and therefore, unfit to lead.

What so ever will the citizens of this fair state do?

Call up the reserve, of course. 

And boy, did those who follow him have a good time. Followers posted photoshopped pictures (oh, how I pray they're photoshopped...), words of advice, and even included apocalyptic pictures showing the state of the state after his reign that lasted an hour ended. You've got to check them out if you're on Twitter.

But it shows more than friendly fun. It shows it is possible for people to interact with a politician in a civil and entertaining manner (gasp...), something much needed in politics at all levels and in all places. It shows also a politician can have fun with his own image.

Of course, other thoughts came to my mind--two imparticular. One's from the musical, Camelot, and I substituted the words just a bit.

The snow may never slush upon Capitol Hillside.
By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Spence-e-lot!

Perhaps, a quote--unedited--from William Shakespeare better describes the Lieutenant Governor's temporary time as Utah's leader.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour
Upon the stage, and then is heard no more; 
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

You decide.

Friday, January 26, 2018

So...Today Was A Good Day

I knew the package was coming--I just didn't know when. Looks like today was the day. The package was small, just large enough to hold five copies of Immortal Work's latest publication, Scott William Taylor's Chaser.'s real.

The book launched on the 16th of this month, but it was digital. I'm not complaining, mind you. The fact that something I wrote can be downloaded to literally billions of phones, computers, and tablets blows my mind. But to many of you--myself included--nothing compares to the feeling of actually holding a book in your hands, feeling the coarseness of each page, smelling the paper as the pages turn. 

It's visceral, tangible, wonderful.

A few years ago I put together a collection of short stories called Speckled that I wrote and had published. Getting a box full of unread, unopened books was a surreal experience. It's one of those things authors brag about, and they do so because it's amazing. Today it happened again. The brown cardboard package hides its contents, but once it's opened, the books come out and there's smiles all around.

I've spent time with a lot of authors over the past couple of years. Some publish books several times a year, some, like me...well, let's just say, it's not something that happens to me a lot. Yes, today was a good day. Hopefully in the future, it'll be less than three years between times the boxes show up at our door. 

And if you want a box of your own and experience that special feeling of getting a real "flesh-and-blood" book, check: HERE and it'll happen to you!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Walk A Mile In Dead Man's Shoes"...A Short Story

Dan Jessop kicked the front driver's-side tire on his '97 Subaru and cursed. His usually-reliable car now sat immobile on the side of a two-lane road that linked the small town of Alta Wyoming to the rest of the world.

"You picked a fine time to die, little car." Dan said, his breath shown in the full moonlight then immediately vanished in a gust of cold winter wind. He zipped the zipper on his heavy down coat as high as it would go until the fabric covered his mouth and nose as another gust of wind hit him. He turned so the back of his head took the brunt of the bone-chilling cold.

To make matters worse, Dan left his cell phone at his sister's house. He thought he wouldn't need it. After all, he was just driving the five miles into Driggs Idaho to pick up more ice cream for their mini family reunion. Why his sister decided to move from Malibu California to one of the coldest places on Earth, he'd never know. And why he chose to leave his relatively warm apartment in St. George Utah to visit his sister in the middle of January, he'd also never know.

The twenty-seven year old stood by his car. He thought of trying to get it started one more time, but he somehow knew his latest attempt would yield the same result as the past twenty--no good. He looked at the frozen vista before him and contemplated his choices--stay with the car and hope someone at his sister's house would go searching for him, go back to the road and try and flag down a ride, or walk the mile and a half up to his sister's house.

He chose the latter. Leaving the newly-bought ice cream behind, he started out. 

After all, it wasn't as if he'd never been cold. He'd grown up in Salt Lake and it got cold there. But there was something about this cold, like a physical manifestation of death reaching out to claim its latest victim, it bore into him. The thought made him walk a little quicker.

A few feet into his hike, Dan saw something at the side of the road. At first he thought it was a dead animal. Strange, though,  a dead animal would be a top a foot of hardened snow. Curiosity caused him to deviate a few feet until he stood directly over the thing that caught his eye.

"Strange," Dan said to the lonely night. "I wonder how these got here." Dan looked down at a pair of dress shoes, brown Oxfords. He bent down, picked up the right one, and held it up to the moonlight to get a better look. The shoe was scuffed, the leather on one side scraped as if dragged along the pavement. He turned it over to check the tread life. After all, it's not everyday you find a nice pair of shoes, Dan thought. Written on the bottom of the shoe in black ink, Dan read, "Property of Allen Edmond, Alta WY."

"Hmmmm," a sound came from Dan's throat. "Well Al, hope you find your shoes," Dan said as he dropped the shoe next to its mate. The wind convinced him he ought to pick up his pace before he died of exposure on the state line between Idaho and Wyoming.

Dan tried whistling to break up the boredom, but any sound he produced died in the goose feathers of his coat. The howl of the wind and his own boots crunching on the frozen road kept him company. The unfamiliarity of the area made Dan wonder on more than one occasion if he was truly alone. He turned and looked on more than one occasion to see if he was being followed, or if some animal were tracking him. Each time he look, he saw nothing but darkness and lights from distant homes.

The walk continued. Dan calculated he'd walked about a mile--he used to run cross country in high school. He even spotted his sister's house in the distance and a strange thought crept into his head. Was the ice cream sitting on the passenger seat in the Subaru colder in the car than it would be with him?. Either way, it'd be okay. They'd go get it when he reached the house. Or someone would--all he wanted to do was sit by the roaring fire in the fireplace.

The moonlight cast a shadow on the road before him, only this time it wasn't a telephone pole, power pole, or fence. The shadow formed a cross. Dan looked and saw a marker to his right at the side of the road. Poking up a foot above the snow was a wooden cross. Dan knew instantly what it was. As he traveled north--not just on this trip, but on several occasions--Dan noticed white crosses sometimes adorned with flowers or candles. He knew this very spot was a place someone died. 

The practice of honoring the dead this way wasn't as popular in his home state of Utah, but in the smaller towns in the adjoining states, he noticed these memorials more and more. Knowing how close he was to reaching his goal, Dan walked over to the monument. Though hard to see, he bent down to read the words etched into the wood.

"R.I.P Allen Edmonds who was hit by a car and died at this very spot. Your loving family."

"What...?" Dan said. He read the name twice, then again to make sure. "Well, ain't that a kick in the teeth. I know it's not going to do you any good, Al, but your shoes are about a mile down this road. They're next to a piece of crap Subaru, if you need help finding them."

Dan chuckled, then turned to go. He took three steps forward then stop dead. Ten feet in front of him, in the frozen moonlight Dan saw two shoes, brown Oxfords. If it were possible for shoes to have eyes, they'd be staring directly at him.

"What the..." Dan let his words escape into the night. He slowly walked toward the shoes, unearthly light seemed to shine down on them, making the objects brighter than anything else. He drew nearer, almost expecting the shoes to suddenly attack him.

They didn't move.

Dan crept closer until he stood almost directly over the pair. He recognized the scuff marks on the right shoe. He looked up and saw his sister's house. The urge to leave the shoes behind and run overcame him, but he beat it down.

He had to know.

Dan bent down. He extended his right hand, not knowing if the shaking was due to fear or the freezing wind. His skin touched the leather of the shoe. He picked it up and slowly tuned it over.

""Property of Allen Edmond, Alta WY." The words seemed to blaze in the moonlight.

Dan dropped the shoe. It bounced once then came to rest directly next to the other, landing in the exact position it was before Dan picked it up.

The urge to run returned. This time Dan answered it. He ran to his sister's house faster than he had run since high school.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Checking Out Moochie's...Good Food!

We finished our staff meeting at noon (I thought it might go longer...) and members of my team found ourselves standing in the parking lot wondering where we'd go for lunch.

"How 'bout we eat at Moochie's?" someone said.

I'd never heard of Moochie's, but I've found that when someone recommends something or someplace, it's usually a good thing. And when other people chimed in and agreed they'd like to go there, too, I was in.

We arrived just after noon. Usually, that's the worst time to go someplace to eat because of the crowds. Turns out at this particular location of Moochie's, crowds slowed things down not a bit.

"I've never been here," I told the youngish worker. She smiled and said, "Well, our Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich is a big hit."

"Then I'll take it!" Of course, I did not yell that, but I did say it enthusiastically. I got fries and a drink to make it a meal, and before my cup almost ranneth over, they called me name--my sandwich was ready. I give them an A+ for punctual service. 

I noticed when I picked up my food they had several bottles of condiments. I chose the "Jumpin' Jalapeno Sauce" and their special brand of fry sauce. How was the sandwich? Pretty good. I'm no expert in Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, so I can't say if it is better/worse than most. What I can say is I enjoyed it very much. My sandwich came with all the fixins and it was good. It's a meal I could and would order again, if given the chance.

There are four Moochie's restaurant in Utah, three in the Greater Salt Lake area, and one in Utah County. None are close to where I work, where I spend most of my time while in Salt Lake City. That's probably a good thing--best not to eat at a place like this too much. However, if I find myself with a group of people (or even by myself...) and the question of "where should we/I eat?" comes up, there's a good chance I'll suggest, "Moochie's."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Børge Østervang's Twitter Account...Definitely Worth A Visit!

If you're unfamiliar with Twitter, it can be a pretty despicable place. Anyone can create an account and post almost anything. And if you add a false sense of anonymity, things can get ugly. So when you come across an account where the owner chooses to post something beautiful, over and over again, it's like a breath of fresh air hits you square in the face.

Because my Twitter account name contains a Danish word, people from the small Scandinavian country have found me and followed my account. Børge Østervang did just that, and when I checked out the things he posted, it was wonderful. Mr. Østervang posts paintings, beautiful paintings from around the world. He highlights many Scandinavian artists, most I haven't heard of. Then again, I haven't studied many artist or their art.

Too bad.

It's something I should do.

Because of the time difference, I usually see Børge's posts when I check out Twitter in the morning. I suppose he puts up most of the artwork when it's evening for him. It's a nice way to greet a day, like looking out a window and seeing a view that takes your breath away.

If you're on "The Twitter" and you'd like to check out Børge's site, search for @bostervang (you don't need the "ø"...). And if you're like me, you love it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"Zelda: A Link To The Past"...One Of The Best Video Games Ever!

Last week my youngest decided he wanted to go into the basement, dust off the old Super NES and play a few video games. It took some work to hook it up because no modern TV uses coaxial cable (we had to use our old VCR coaxial outputs--another ancient example of technology...). Eventually we shoved the cassette into the player--after blowing the dust from the cassette connectors--clicked "on" and the sweet sounds of Zelda: A Link to the Past came to life.

What an amazingly lovely sound.

Tonight I played the game for the first time in probably a decade. Score!

I remember getting a Super NES for Christmas  back in the late 1990s. It came with Zelda. My kids were young back then so the people who played the game the most were my wife and me. We worked through the levels, overcoming the baddies, and completing the game. This was before you could go online and find out cheat codes. It was good ol' fashioned trial and error. 

Those were good times.

Tonight I completed only the one maze, the one where Zelda is held captive. I needed to stop because if I didn't, I wouldn't have time to write this post, or get enough sleep for work tomorrow. I know this is not the first Zelda game. I never did play games on a regular NES, so I can't say if the original game was good. I also have not played any of the versions that came after this one, but for me, it doesn't matter. This is a classic game, a game I can see myself playing in another decade. It's just that good.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Calling...No More

Today I got a phone call letting me know I was being released from my church calling. It's an assignment I've had for over three and a half years.

In my church we're given assignments, or callings. Unless you're an employee of the church, all the day-to-day functions are completed with unpaid labor. Some callings have more responsibility, such as a Relief Society President (leader of the women in the congregation...), Bishop (congregation leader...), or Stake President (leader of several congregations...). And with great responsibility comes great time commitment. 

My calling was that of Cub Master--an important calling, but one of the ones that didn't require a lot of time. In fact, I'd say of all the callings I've had in my forty years of callings, this one's been great. It helps that I had wonderful people working with me to make life for the boys in our neighborhood just a little better.

Some callings last longer than a couple of years--most, in fact. Three years is about average for many of them, so my release wasn't that surprising. The timing threw me a little bit. Next month is the Annual Blue & Gold Banquet, a time when the scouts have a sit down meal with the whole family. There's a program, games, and good fun. For the first time in four years, I won't be a part of it. But change is good. It's time for another to take up the binder of Cub Scout information and use The Scoutmaster Minute book. He'll now get a chance to help the boys in the neighborhood, and if his experience is anything like mine, he'll get a lot out of it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Living In A Winter Wonderland...


We live in the Rocky Mountains. Getting snow in the late autumn and winter is as expected as the sun rising each morning. This year, though, it's been a bit dry. We've had a few storms, but nothing that's lasted more than a day or two. 

Until this weekend.

Last night we got a few inches of snow--not a lot--but enough to blanket everything in white. And it was completely beautiful! I just had to get a few pictures. 

Living in a place where you get snow, not all people like the white stuff, even though the white stuff is the reason they can literally live here. I admit, it can be a pain to drive in, or walk in so I understand their reasoning. This year, however, even people who generally dislike snow are glad it's here.

I wish these pictures could express just how amazing it looked this morning. They're a poor excuse, but here they are. It's been a long time coming, but I'm glad it's here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Happy Anniversary Paradise Theatre...The Album, Not The Actual Theatre

This morning I came across a tweet from one of my favorite rock bands, Styx. Their tweet said:

On this day in 1981, we released an album called Paradise Theater. It was the first time we reached #1 and it was our 4th multiplatinum album in a row.
Were you one of those who bought this album when it hit the record store shelves?

I can't say that I went out and bought this album on this day thirty-seven years ago. I'm sure I was aware a new album was coming. It's possible I got a ride with my brother (I was a year away from getting my driver's license...) and we drove down to Grand Central or JCPenneys or ZCMI, or another place that sold vinyl records or cassette tapes, or 8-tracks, but I don't know for sure. I was four years away from keeping a daily journal so I can't check there.

What I DO know is that I did attend the Styx Paradise Theatre tour when it came to the Salt Palace. I have proof--a sticker that I somehow saved. I took a picture of my sticker and responded to Styx's tweet and included the picture. I saw Styx several times in the Salt Palace, and another time about ten years ago in a different venue. Styx had a great sound. I listened to their albums again and again, over and over. It's good stuff.

When you think about it, thirty-seven years is not that long. Of course, it's relative. It's long for a rock band (who are still touring...), but it's not long for, say, a rock. But something struck me as I wrote this blog post--how many things have disappeared from our society--the places we used to buy music, the music formats themselves, and the venue where I heard the bands--pretty much all gone. How fitting, considering the theme of Styx's album, remembering a more innocent time when a theatre became the heart of a society.

And now, the album itself represents a past time, a different time, just like the Paradise Theatre.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Big Huge Ball Game...Of Frustration!

My daughter works P/T in a game store. It's a charming store with games, puzzles, t-shirts, books, and even music. But the thing I find the most fun is a huge ball located in the middle of the floor, a giant marble game.

And it's frustrating me to no end.

I've been picking up my daughter at the end of her shifts--something I'm glad to do. There's a lot of fun games in the store, even a couple on the counter you can try out yourself. They're fun, but I have more fun trying to get the that little steel ball though the various traps.

There's three choices to begin the journey. I've mastered the first track. The second track is currently giving me fits. I can get about halfway through and then it falls apart. I know if I had more time--like if I had the thing in my house, or if I worked at the store and had some down time when no one was there--I could complete the puzzle. I usually only have a few minutes of practice time before the store closes.

I thought about how much games and puzzles have changed in such a short period of time. When I was my daughter's age, almost no one had a personal computer so video games were a luxury of arcades. We had board games and puzzles--much like the ones in the store. Now, when I think of games, my mind goes to the electronic versions. I'll bet somewhere there's an electronic version of the big ball of frustration puzzle available to download.

Still, it's not like the real thing. I'm hoping I'll be able to complete the puzzle one of these days. Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rustmonster "Clockman: A Steampunk Rock Opera"...Awesome!

Last week I picked up a new CD. Not a lot of steampunk-themed albums out there.

Too bad.

Rustmonster's Clockman: A Steampunk Rock Opera does the musical genre proud.

A few years ago I attended the Gangrene Music Festival. That year's theme: Steampunk. Rustmonster recorded the songs and released the songs from that festival on CD.

If you're not familiar with Steampunk, it's a literary genre, a fashion movement, an art style, and there's even music. There's some discussion about what can be and what shouldn't be classified as "steampunk," but I can say with certainty, that if you want to know what Steampunk music sounds like, listen to this CD.

The first song, March of the Fools, reminded me of Pat Metheny Group's Forward March, the first song on their amazing First Circle album. But Rustmonster plays their song better. All the songs on the CD are raw, industrial, real. They're like a steak meal that's delicious, but a little tough. The meal, however, stays with you. Gives you courage and strength all day long.

In addition to some gritty songs, there's a bonus audiobook in three parts, a story called, Coke, Steel, and Oil. It's worth the price of admission right there.

I liked these songs. I'm partial to all things Steampunk so that helps. I also love the fact that the musicians are local, and they're talented. Do a "Rustmonster" search on iTunes or Google Play. It's there. I admit, this music may not be for everyone. You may not like it, but I guarantee, if you do like it, you'll really like it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Six Years Ago I Took A Picture Of A Wish...Today that Wish Came True

Today was exciting for the Taylor household. My book Chaser went on sale on Amazon--the digital copy. I spent much of the day doing a little self-promotion, but hopefully, not too much. I received well-wishes from friends and family and even got a review posted on the Chaser Amazon page (you can access that page: HERE for yourself...).

But it wasn't until I did a little Facebook reminiscing that I found something that totally blew me away. You see, six years ago to the day I was in a Barnes & Noble bookstore imaging a book written by me in their store. I took a picture of the exact place a novel written by Scott William Taylor would be shelved. I used it as my Pic Of The Day. I know I was in Barnes & Noble on January 16th because one of my Pic Of The Day rules is I can only post a picture that I took the same day.

To an aspiring author, Barnes & Noble is like a pinnacle, a place that proves you are a real author. Since 2012 I've learned a lot about publishing. The publishing world is multi-faceted and complicated. Back then, I thought all you did was write a fantastic book and the world rushes to your door with cash and accolades. 

Sorry--didn't happen then; doesn't happen now.

I'm excited about my book, but I'm not unrealistic. And it may never actually be wedged between Patrick Taylor's An Irish Country Village, and Terence Taylor's Bite Marks--especially since mine is a middle-grade novel and the two Taylor novels appear to be written for readers not necessarily in jr. high school. But something made me search a bookstore exactly six years ago today, make a little gap between two books, take a picture, then post that picture on social media with the caption, "Mmmm...I think something's missing." It's taken six years, but today, on a digital shelf somewhere, it finally happened.