Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ever Heard Of Boney M.? They Weren't What I Thought They Were...

Christmas with Boney M

I ran across a tweet today about pop culture in England in the 1970s. Someone found an old magazine and posted some of the content including a blurb about the music group Boney M.

And the memories came flooding back.

If you're not familiar with Boney M., I'm sure you're not alone. They rose to fame in the Disco era and most of their popularity seems to have been rooted in Europe. I have no idea if they even made a dent in the United States. I learned of then when I lived in Denmark as a LDS missionary. I listened to their Christmas album over and over again.

You may know of the LDS missionaries. You may not know about the rules that go along with being a missionary. There's the rules members follow to be part of the religion including not smoking, drinking, among others. But missionaries have additional rules like no dating, no being alone with anyone other than your assigned companion, wearing the approved missionary attire, going to bed and getting up at the approved time. The rules even dictate as to the type of music we could listen to. Needless to say, it was a short list.

To be completely honest, I can't say with 100% certitude that Boney M.'s Christmas album was on that list. The missionaries--at least the ones who wanted to obey the rules--kept track of what was okay and what wasn't. According to the older and wiser Elders, this particular album was fine.

And I listened to it again and again and again. We had tape cassettes back then and I might have actually worn out the tape. Because I was young and naive, I thought since this musical group made such fine religious music, they must have other albums worthy to find their place on the "Approved for LDS Missionary Consumption" list. On one of our preparation days, I wanted into a music store and looked up other Boney M. collections. There had to be something else to listen to during the non-Christmas seasons.

Yes, the band produced a lot of albums.

And yes, their music was definitely not on any "approved" missionary lists.

The band came of age during Disco. This was a time of loosening things up and judging by their album covers, the band was plenty loose. I should have guessed it would be like this. I don't know whyI thought otherwise.

After seeing the tweet I found the album on iTunes and listened to snippets of each song. It's a bit techno-pop and the harmonies and music weren't as tight as I remember (of course, I only ever heard the music on cassette tapes...), but it reminded me of cold days in Denmark when the sun set early in the afternoon, the streets were decorated in a way Americans can only dream about, and a cup of rich European hot chocolate was heaven-sent.

I had forgotten about that group for probably thirty years. Amazing how a random post by someone I don't know can bring back so many things.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Too Bad Kevin Couldn't Save His Show...

News hit earlier this month about all the TV shows that will not be returning when the new season begins next fall.

And one of the ones we enjoyed watching was included on that list.

We don't follow a lot of shows because, well, to be honest, many aren't worth following to the point of watching each week. I have a theory. If you watch a show that's even marginally entertaining, you'll end up watching it. You get caught up in their stories and you form a bond with the characters and their situations. We avoided getting hooked on a lot of series by simply not watching them.

But once in a while a show comes along that we'll give a chance. We did that Kevin Probably Saves the World. Basically, a man lacking in moral fiber, experiences a change--in this case, a cosmic change. When he awakes he is visited by a guardian angel who assists him on seeing the error of his ways and to make a difference in others's lives.

It was quirky with clever writing. And the biggest reason we liked it was our son was a fan, and he pretty much watches no TV (not that we necessarily want him to watch more TV, but when he found something he really liked, we wanted the series to continue...).

News of the cancelations hit the internet and many showed their displeasure in the corporate decisions. Some shows with bigger fan bases were able to save their previously canceled shows. Unfortunately, Kevin Probably Saves the World was a first-year show so it didn't have an opportunity to build a fan base, nor was it political, nor did it have A-List celebrities helping the decision makers change their minds.

The show will join others that were good and might have been great. Of course, those of us that watch have an emotional investment, not an actual financial one. There's a lot of reasons to discontinue a show, many--I'm sure--are valid and well-reasoned. As a viewer we take a risk getting involved in any show. In this one Kevin did his best to make others's lives better. And for a short time, that included us, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

This Is What Happened To The Contour Composites Building...

A little over a year ago I stayed overnight at my brother's house. I was attending a writer's conference about ten miles from his house. I didn't want to drive the sixty miles back and forth for the two days. He and his wife were nice enough to put me up.

I don't get a chance to just sit and chill with my brother. We're both so busy, so I enjoy the opportunities staying overnight at his house affords. After dinner, we will usually sit in his basement and watch a show while I write in my journal and get ready for bed. My brother finds the craziest reality TV shows, shows I've never heard of, never knew existed. One of these shows centers around a group of Utah guys who build diesel trucks. It's called Diesel Brothers and it's filmed a few towns over from where I live.

"These guys are from Utah?" I asked my brother.

"Oh yeah, Bountiful, or Woods Cross, I think," he said. The outside shots definitely showed it being filmed in Davis County. 

Back when I was in college, I used to work in Woods Cross. My friend got me a job doing finishing work on fiberglass parts, mostly parts for military aircraft. The business was called Contour Composites. I didn't work there long, maybe a year or two. Needless to say, it wasn't for me. I can't remember what job I took after quitting Contour Composites, but it was something.

So as I watched Diesel Brothers, more and more of the location of the diesel mechanics shop looked familiar. I was sure their show was close to where I used to work.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself driving on Redwood Road in Woods Cross looking for my old place of employment. I found out why the diesel shop looked so familiar--it's the same place.

I have no idea when Contour Composites shut down. Now, instead of making fiberglass parts in the building, local mechanics and businessmen assemble huge toys. I remember liking the show, as far as reality TV shows go. Watching a bunch of friends create amazing vehicles looked like a lot of fun. And the fact that I once worked under the same roof was pretty cool.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dad In Uniform...For Memorial Day 2018

I've shared all these photos before. But since it's Memorial Day, I wanted to honor my father again. I don't have many pictures of my dad--I think these are my favorites.

My father served near the end of WWII in Europe. He was a tail gunner on a B-17, something that garners much respect when I tell servicemen familiar with just how dangerous that particular duty station was.

I think I love these pictures so much because of the unknowns. I never had the opportunity to talk to my father about what happened, never asked him what it was like to be in that flying soup can, never discussed whether or not he was scared, or if he even saw action. The unknowns haunt me and so I imagine what it must have been like.

I know I'm probably imagining only positive things. From what I've been told, many veterans don't like talking about their experiences, and perhaps I'm romanticizing his adventures, making them more than I should. Still, without having the opportunity to hear it from the man himself, and since most likely everyone of his B-17 crew is now gone, I've only got the memories of others as a reference.

I've shared all these photos before. But considering what these men and women did so that I could live the life I've lived, fewer things are more important. Happy Memorial Day Dad, and everyone who served and sacrificed for all of us.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Visiting Mom And Dad...

This is the weekend my siblings and I gather at the local cemetery and place flowers on the headstones of our parents. We also take a couple of pictures, one of the siblings and one of our kids, and now, their kids.

It was especially nice today. The overcast skies made for a pleasant meeting. The cemetery was full of color, tokens of love and memories. We added roses from home and mixed them with the ones already donated by my brother and sister and their families. We caught up, watched my niece's son explore the surroundings of a place he could not possibly understand, all as the stone with my parents's name etched into the stone lay on the ground before us.

The longer I live in this community, the more names I recognize. It seems each time we have our little mini family reunion, we see someone from our past, someone who knew our parents. There's probably more people in the cemetery who knew my dad than are still alive. My mom, however, that's not the case. Today we ran into a past neighbor and star athlete in high school. It was fun catching up.

After we took our pictures and promised to meet at a future date, we loaded up our van and headed home. Of my siblings, I'm the closest to my parents's final resting place. On any given week I drive past the cemetery several times, but I usually only stop and walk the several feet from where I park my car to their graves twice a year--on Memorial Day and on my mom's birthday in October. 

Our Memorial Day tradition began back when my mother was alive and only one name appeared on the stone. Decades earlier, back when plots were still available in our local cemetery, my parents bought five, two for them and one for each of their children. I have no idea what the future brings, but I'd like to think our children continue the tradition and not only visit their grandparents, but also their parents. I hope they stand together and pose for a picture and that their children will do the same.

It's amazing how time works. In the decades and perhaps, centuries that are to come, the headstones will slowly erode and eventually disappear. But on a spring day with clouds protected us from the heat and glare, a few people who owe their lives to the ones no longer with us, met and chatted and renewed the bond of family.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sorry Sun Worshipers...This Spring's Been Wonderful!

I live in one of the best locations for weather in the world. Of course, I haven't lived in many places in the world, but where we now live has a lot of pluses.

We've got four seasons, all about equal in length (which isn't always the case...). It doesn't get too hot, nor does it get too cold. The springs and autumns are almost perfect.

But one person's perfect weather is another person's climatological hell. Due to the modern miracle that is social media, everyone can express their opinion whenever they want, sometimes several times an hour--especially the sun worshipers.

We expect the first posts from the sun worshipers (depending on how you count time...) when the temperatures begin t climb and the snow eases up. We usually get a thaw each February. The sun comes out and so do the posts. "Can't wait for this crappy snow to melt and for summer to get here," is basically the gist of the messages.

The posts only increase as the year progresses. And when a late snow storm or a cloudy day interrupts their direct connection to sunlight, we all hear about it. But this year has been a little different. This spring has been, in a word, fantastic! We've had so many cloudy days which equates to lower temperatures. Plus, as a photographer, it makes for amazing skies. 

When I read posts about those for whom the surface of the sun isn't warn enough, I've often wondered why they don't move several hundred miles south and live in Arizona. Then again, you could read this post and reasonably ask why I don't pack up my family and move several hundred miles north and west and relocate to the Pacific Northwest. It's a fair question. I guess the trick is to just enjoy where you're at--make the most of what you've been given. 

In a few days it will be June, the month when summer begins. It'll start getting too hot for us and even better for others. So to all the sun worshipers out there, enjoy the heat. I know I've enjoyed the spring.

Friday, May 25, 2018

I Give You The Yamaha SBG500 Electric Guitar...

Maybe ten years ago, give or take a year or two, my nephew Josh and I entered into a trade. For the life of me I can't remember what I contributed to the exchange, but I do know I left with a Yamaha SBG500 electric guitar. If I had to guess, I think I traded him an old laptop computer, but don't hold me to it. I doubt even Josh remembers what he got.

But whatever it was, I know I got the better of the deal.

By a long way 

(especially if it was a ten-year old laptop...)

On Wednesday I brought home little amp (the one I had has a short in it and doesn't work well...). I took out the red guitar and played a bit. I am in no way proficient on the instrument, but guitars--like almost all musical instruments--are beautiful. I had my computer close so I did a google search on the guitar since I know little about Yamahas. In all these years owning the guitar, I never researched the Yamaha.

Turns out, my little red guitar is quite a find. 

It was built in Japan in the 1980s. Yamaha released a SBG500 B series in the 1990s, I believe, but it's always better to have an original. There weren't many of this particular model for sale on the internet, but the ones that were had a value more than I expected. In fact, I was shocked. I believe my nephew bought this guitar at a yard sale, the same yard sale we had visited. In fact, I think I saw this very guitar when it was for sale. He picked it up and I ended up with it. Since it was at the yard sale, with a price (if I remember correctly...) of around $100, I thought my guitar wasn't worth much. I was wrong.

I've blogged about my bass guitar a few times. It's a Gibson from the 1970s, a big old heavy beautiful guitar. I don't have the opportunity to play it very often. It's a shame. It should be played, yet it's hard for me to imagine selling it. Then again, if I sold both of my guitars, I could get a nice used car.

Sometimes, when I pick up any guitar, it reminds me of the Rush album 2112, and specifically the song, Discovery where a boy finds a guitar, learns to play it, and ultimately loses his life over it because possessing a guitar is against the law. Holding the guitar in my hands, strumming the wires, hearing the vibrations...I can understand why a musician would write a song like that. A guitar is a beautiful beautiful thing.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

David Howard...Writer Of "Galaxy Quest" And "Trek" Is Coming To Fyrecon!

The news hit today--a local author who made it big by writing one of the most beloved geek films of all time, Galaxy Quest, is coming to Fyrecon 2 in June.

This is big news!

When I began my writing career several years ago, my first success came as a screenwriter. My story, Wrinkles was turned into a short film. The more I learned about screenwriting, the more I heard just how difficult it was to make it as a screenwriter, much more difficult than to make it as a novelist or short story writer. So, for one to have created such a well known world with amazing characters and a great storyline, they have my respect.

Galaxy Quest is nerd scripture. It speaks to those who attend conventions, cosplay as their favorite aliens and/or captains, and who wish what they saw on the screen or read in the books was real. It's a perfect movie for its intended audience. And his latest project, Trek, the Movie, released earlier this year.

We reached out to Mr. Howard several weeks ago and asked if he would be interested in attending. He responded that he's coming. The convention is June 21 - 23 in Layton, Utah. You can find out more concerning pricing and other questions you may have by clicking the link: HERE. As far as David Howard's specific schedule at the convention, additional details will be forthcoming. But if you want to hear from a man who has made all our lives for the better, join us at Fyrecon in June! It's going to be great!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

More Than Just Toys And Action Figures...

"You should come over to my house and see my Star Wars collection," my friend Carson said to me a few months ago. His family, along with my daughter and I, were part of a community theater production of A Christmas Carol last winter. I've done shows with Carson before. He is definitely worth the price of admission.

My daughter had a dance performance in my friend's neighborhood and we had a little time to kill. I brought a book I wanted to drop off at his house so my wife and I swung by.

Now, I had seen the Star Wars collection last month. I was, in a word, impressive. Both Carson and I grew up when the original Star Wars ships, figurines, and cards. I had most of the cards, but that's about it. Things were expensive back then. Of course, if you had those originals today, you'd be sitting on a gold mine now.

It's been decades since he and I played with the toys and showed our friends the cards. And thanks to a new generation (or even generations...) of fans, the toys and everything else are back. Carson has amassed quite the collection. He showed my wife and I the goods and there were so much more we didn't see--it would have taken too much time.

I know the things in the display case or in the storage boxes are more than just plastic and metal. They represent the feelings we all experienced watching the films, living the story through the characters, the sights, the sounds of the film. I could tell my friend loved collecting them, and having us over to see them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kaysville Theatre...A Glimpse Of What Once Was

For the past half year my daughter's been working a couple of times a week. The game shop where she works is located a few doors down from the Kaysville Theatre, a staple of downtown Kaysville for longer than I've been around, at least, I think it's been around as long as I have.

Every time I see the place, it takes me back, back to how we all used to see movies.

As a kid, I spent more time watching movies in Bountiful. I don't know why. When my dad was still alive I remember him taking the family to see Disney's Million Dollar Duck, staring Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan at a drive-in theater across the street from the current location of Nielsen's Frozen Custard in Bountiful. That was the first theater I attended in Bountiful and it's been gone for at least four decades. 

Bountiful had the Queen Theater on 5th South--gone. We also saw a lot of shows at the Sandcastle Theater on 5th West--gone. Then there was the Trolley North theater across from the old K Mart--both gone. The Sandcastle and Trolley North were both multi-screen theaters, a big advancement in movie entertainment, even though "multi" back then meant two or three screens.

All those theaters, even the ones in Salt Lake are gone. Kaysville remains as a testament to how things used to be. Yes, they transformed one screen into several, but so much of what makes the theater amazing still remains. 

We don't see many movies in theaters nowadays. My children will have different memories of how they experienced entertainment. But for me, as long as the Kaysville Theatre exists, it will be a reminder of how things used to be.

Monday, May 21, 2018

My "Pic Of The Day" Photos Have Become More...Localized

Earlier this month I changed offices. I moved from a call center to a basement, from cubicle walls to unfinished walls, from sharing multi-stalled bathroom to using my own bathroom. With every change, you realize how some things will affect you, but--as it seems to happen--there are things you don't know will change.

One of those things I didn't think too much about were the daily pictures I'd be posting.

I began this blog back in 2011. A few weeks after I started blogging, I decided to post at least one picture a day. I label these photos the "Pic Of The Day"(I know, original, right...?) and I've had a blast doing it. It's amazing how many interesting thing are out there, how many amazing things, just how much beauty there is in this world. I've tried to capture that beauty and some of those interesting things. I sort of wanted others to know in some small way what I saw that day.

Since 2011 I've posted some incredible photos, some funny pictures, some thought-provoking shots, and some duds. I try to say away from the duds, but not every picture can be a great one. All-in-all, I've been more satisfied than not, pleased than not. Sometimes I've found my Pic Of The Day at work, or if I'm somewhere new. And if I can't find a picture to use during the day, I've found more than enough subjects either in or around my house.

So when my home became my office, the locations for my Pic Of The Day have dwindled. This month most of my daily pictures have been around the house. I live in a beautiful part of the planet. We have all four seasons and right now it's spring, which is many people's favorite time of year (I'd love it more if spring didn't cause so much havoc on my allergies...). Spring, Autumn, and winter are especially photogenic and I do my best to let everyone see that.

I don't know what tomorrow's picture is going to be. Not knowing adds to the fun. But I do know that if I don't take a picture of something away from my house, it's going to be another shot from where I live. And that's not bad at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hanging Out...With My Immortal Works Family

Last night I, along with a couple dozen other people, gathered at a home in Provo, Utah and we discussed the world of publishing. At least, our little corner of it. The Publisher: Immortal Works. The fact that I'm involved, albeit in a small roll, is an honor.

The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate Aften Brook Szymanski's book, Cheat Code. I haven't read it yet--one of the ones I have on my list. Seeing the book and listening to the author are testaments to the hard work and determination of several people at Immortal Works, most notably Jason King, James Wymore, Holli Anderson, and many others who are working hard to do all they can to make this new publishing concern a success.

I have experience with small press publishers. I had several short stories chosen by Xchyler Publishing. It's hard for me to express just how grateful I am to Penny Freeman and everyone at Xchyler who took chances--not just with my stories--but with taking on the world of publishing in general. They're the reason I almost jumped out of my skin when I found out the first short story I ever submitted was chosen for publication. That's a moment I hope to never forget.

Immortal Works is almost two years old. They've already published almost a dozen books with several in the pipeline. Listening to Aften talk, I heard in her voice and her words that excitement and amazement you get when someone believes in something you've created, so much so, they put in time and resources to create a way for others to experience the art, too.

A few of us spoke about Immortal Work's future. No one knows what is to come. Everyone in that room hopes the company has a long and healthy life, but if it doesn't, Immortal Works has given me and several other authors a feeling of pure joy knowing that our words, our stories, our worlds and characters will live on, from our minds and become part of our readers. Last night I got to hang out with those people. It was an honor.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Thank You Local Grocery Stores...You're Saving Me--And Giving Me--Time!

First, there was one store. We were a little apprehensive about trying out their new service. Imagine, you go online and choose what you want to buy--what you'd spend time hunting down and putting in your cart yourself if you did it.

But you don't have to.

Because they do it for you.

The first store in our area to do this was Walmart. We've been taking advantage of this Grocery Pick Up service for several months and it's been fantastic! The times we've gotten our complete order greatly surpasses the times when one or two or four items have not been available.

Because of our family's diet, we shop at two stores, the before-mentioned Walmart and our local Harmons Grocery Store. If you're local, you most likely have heard about Harmons. It's a wonderful store. Since about December, I've been doing most of the shopping. Before December, I would go shopping occasionally. I mean, I knew where the ice cream was, the dairy, the potato chips, the already-made sandwiches. But when it came to canned clams, or pineapple chunks, or baby bok choy, almost every trip I had to text my wife and ask (many times with an accompanying picture...), "Is this the right one?" I got faster, but it still ended me taking over an hour to find everything.

Then that glorious day appeared when Harmons decided to implement a pick up service of their own. And there was much rejoicing.

We've been using their service for the last month and we love it. With both of the grocery stores we use having this service, I finished my grocery store shopping in less than thirty minutes, literally saving me several hours. That's two-three hours each week that's been given back, time I now have again.

I know there's things I'd not like someone else to fetch for me, but as far as our groceries, just like the BYU football team a few years ago, we're fully invested.