Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019...The Year That Was

It's weird how we always look back on the previous 364 day only a few times a year, birthdays, anniversaries, and especially on this night, the last night of the calendar year...

New Years Eve.

For the past twelve months, I've done a couple of things every day. Some of those were, I've written an entry in a personal journal, and yes, I made the mistake of writing 2018 and changing it to 2019 a couple of times. I've written and posted daily posts for fifty-two straight weeks. I've also taken at least one picture each day and posted at least one picture each day for the past year.

Many have had a terrible year. I know the powers that be would like us all to be miserable and they're working overtime to get us to feel that way. We see daily reports of how crappy life is, how awful and degenerate we are, both individually and to each other. In some of those cases, it's true. But, I feel for a majority of us, we treat each other civilly, even better than that. We smile at others, we open doors for each other, and we (mostly...) let people merge into our lane when we drive.

I don't know how history will record and remember the year 2019. Since it's easier to remember and highlight the bad, it'll probably note all the bad things. I hope it includes many of the good things, too. I hope we remember how many people fell in love, how many babies were born, and how families grew. I hope somewhere it's recorded that good things happened, that people treated each other with respect, that some are living better lives today than they lived last year.

I snapped the above picture on New Years Eve, 2018. At that time, we had no idea what the next twelve months would bring. Yet, we faced them anyway. Tomorrow the sun will rise on a new year. I'm sure I'll be writing 2019 in my journal a few more times before 2020 becomes a habit. And I hope, if I'm fortunate enough to be able to blog on New Years Eve, 2020, I'll be able to look back and see the good, even through all the bad.

Happy New Years everyone! I hope it's a great one for you.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Played A Great Game Tonight...Chronology

My family likes to play games, even though we don't play them a lot. I don't know why--I guess we get involved in our own things, kids playing video games or working, me trying to decompress after work. It just seems we seldom find ourselves sitting around a table after dinner to play a game together.

Tonight friends asked us over for a game night. Half of us went. Those of us who did go played a game called, Chronology.

It was a fantastic game.

If you're familiar with the game, you can skip the next part. If you're not familiar with it (as we were before tonight...) it goes like this:

You're given a timeline. You pick a card that has an interesting fact on it. With the fact there's a date. You then pick additional cards and you have to guess if the new interesting fact occurred before or after the card you have. For example, your card says, 1492--Columbus discovered the New World in this year. The next card will say, General Custer was killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn in this year. You would answer that the battle occurred after Columbus discovered the New World. You would be right and get the card.

The game gets interesting, and tougher, when when you have multiple cards with multiple dates. And the question then is, did Samuel Morse's discovery of Morse Code happen before 1876 (year of the Battle of Little Bighorn...) or after?

There's multiple categories and a few other rules thrown in. All in all, we had a great time playing that game. It's one our whole family would love, and we can think of a couple of other families that would, too. So, if you're a person/family that loves games, and you see this game out there--snag it! Apparently, it's a tough one to find. We'll be looking out for it because we want to play it again.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

When Your Clothes Are Older Than Your Kids...

After dinner, and when the cat wants in from the cold, my son's beautiful Standard Poodle can get a little jumpy. After a year and a half of having him with us, we're learning how to make these times of the day productive for him. We play with him, throw balls and squeaky toys for him to retrieve. After a while, both he and us get tired and we settle down. Tonight, my arm got in the way of an excited doggie's teeth. The result--a punctured sweatshirt.

It's not big deal--it's a small hole and we'll darn it before it goes in the wash, thus preserving the garment for another day.

I've had this sweatshirt for a long time. Seeing it damaged, albeit very little damage, got me to thinking. Just how long have I had this sweatshirt?

Turns out, I've had it for twenty-five years.

And it might even be twenty-six years old.

I remember where I got it, just not exactly when. So, I did a little research. My friend Bob and I attended a NCAA mens basketball tournament in the building where the Utah Jazz play. We had some time to kill before the games so we did a little shopping at the mall a few blocks east of where the tournament was held. He and I both bought sweatshirts.

I thought it was during a Mountain West tournament, back when the University of Utah Utes played in that conference. A quick search later told me this was not the case. For as long as Utah was in the Mountain West (about a decade...), the tournament was never held in Salt Lake City.

So, I went back further, back to the days of the Western Athletic Conference, or WAC. I pulled up the WAC tournament history and there were two years that it was played at the Delta Center in SLC...1993 and 1994. That means, this sweatshirt that suffered its first bit of damage today is over a quarter century old.

I've bought a couple of U of U t-shirts over the years, but never a new sweatshirt. Why would I? The one I have is perfectly fine. And after a quick needle and thread application, it will be even better. It's just hard to justify getting a new one. 

Of course, if I did, I wonder if it will hold up as well as this one has. If so, I could be wearing it when I'm almost eighty.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"Kenny's Looking Good"...Amber Said

I love seeing people succeed after a lot of hard work and perseverance. It reminds me that someone can actually see their dreams realized, see their wishes come true.

Years ago I met author Ramon Terrell at Salt Lake's FanX comics convention. Not only is he an accomplished writer, he's also an actor, working hard to write, act, and do his day job. I follow Ramon on social media. Leading up to this season's Christmas movies, Ramon announced he had a part in Hallmark's upcoming movie, A Family Christmas Gift. Of course, I was excited for him and the opportunity. 

Then I watched the film.

And boy, Ramon didn't have just a ten-second scene with a couple of lines. He had a much bigger part. How big? There's the two leads--the romantic couple that will end up together, there's the big star Patti LaBelle, then there's Ramon and all the other co-stars. 

As for the movie, it was good, predictable (as most Hallmark Christmas movies are...), but good. What I enjoyed most is watching a person I know find success in something he absolutely loves to do, and is good doing. Yes, he's finding success as an author and I love seeing people succeed in that, too. But, reading his posts, knowing all the hard work he's put in, it's satisfying to see all that work pay off.

Early in the film, the main character, Amber, played by Holly Robinson Peete, said after Kenny--Ramon's character--takes her luggage into the house, "Kenny's looking good."

She couldn't have been more right.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Erased...From Existence

Back in August, 2017 (August 14th, 2017, to be exact...) I wrote a blog post about how excited I was that a mini-series was finally posted to YouTube twenty-two years after it originally aired. The show, Syndey Sheldon's Nothing Lasts Forever. I was excited because I was in it and you can actually see my skinny and young mug a couple of times.

It was my claim to fame.

A few weeks ago, our team at work got a new supervisor. Because he's new, he wanted to get to know his team so he asked for a bit of trivia about ourselves that others might not know. I thought it would be fun to send him the link to the YouTube video of the show and tell him the exact moment to watch so he could see me.

Easy, I thought. After all, I had blogged about the show in 2017 and even included the link to the YouTube video on that blog post. When I tried finding the video to send to him, I found out the video had been taken down. If you do an internet search for the show, you'll find a poor substitute that only includes about half the screen (I guess it's the only way the makers of the film will allow it on YouTube...). And, unfortunately, any scene I was in has been cropped out.


I can definitely understand why it was taken down. After all, I'm sure whoever posted it did not have the rights to the show allowing them to do it. It wasn't the best show of all time--I would think whoever made the film would like people to have access to it. Most people can't even remember it--having it available would let anyone check it out.

So, I have some screenshots and memories. If you click: HERE you can access the blog post from 2017 and see small grainy videos of me in the show. Hope they don't take those down, too. I guess I'll just have to find some more extra work next time a mini-series comes to town to film... ;)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Announcing A Shoe Blitz...For The BEST Reason Possible!

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Got any extra shoes you don't need and would like to get rid of?

Want to help change the life of a family, literally?

You can do both this Saturday. Just donate those old shoes.

You may be thinking how can donating gently used shoes change lives? Simple--when a family is adopting a child with special needs from overseas and they can use your support. You can access their Facebook event page by clicking: HERE. In addition to doing something AWESOME, by donating, you can win FanX passes and other giveaways.

On a personal note, I've gotten to know this family over the past year. The easy choice would be to not go through something like this. But they know it is something they need to do. I marvel at those who are willing to sacrifice for others. And, as an adoptee myself, I know first-hand what it's like to grow up in a home with shelter, security, love--all because others chose to give of themselves when they didn't have to.

There's not a lot of times when I wish I had more. I try to live a life where I'm pleased with what I have--because I have been given so much, but there are times--this being one of them--when I wish I could do more, donate what they need. But I guess life isn't always like that.

If you can, I know this family would love the help. Click on the link and get the details. You'll be given up something, small things like shoes, but the rewards will be great.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

I Told You It Was A Fantastic White Elephant Gift...

Earlier this month I posted a picture of a wrapped present. The caption went something like this--it's for a company Christmas white elephant gift, and it's a great one.

Or something like that. 

The message I waned to convey is that I thought this was a fantastic white elephant gift. 

Last week we went sibling shopping. It's where we take the kids to a large store--usually Walmart--and they separate. They search for an inexpensive gift for each of their siblings. Four kids, three gifts. My son thought it would be fun to go to the cheap DVD bin and find some classic shows as presents. When he looked for a gift for his only sister, he found some Hallmark Christmas videos.


He had her gift.

As he and I walked from the electronics department, we passed the clothing section. I glanced over and saw some flannel shirts on sale. 

Then, it hit--I found my white elephant gift.

I ran back, picked up a cheap Christmas movie DVD and found a flannel shirt. I brought them home and wrapped them up. 

For those who are fans of this particular film genre, there are some "detail choices" familiar in many of the stories. Usually, there's a single, thirty-something girl who leaves her high-power job in a big city to go on vacation and return home to her small town where she finds some sort of crisis only she can take on. In addition, it's in this small town she meets "Mr. Right." He's either an old boyfriend or a new love interest. One thing's for certain--he's a much better match, romantically, than her current boyfriend/fiancee, who always seems to show up in the small town, thus ensuring a conflict of emotion for the main character.

Will she stay with Mr. Good, but not Right, or Mr. Right?

Mr. Good, but not Right wears a suit.

Mr. Right wears flannel.


These are not hard and fast rules, but more often than not, this is what happens.

My team at work is comprised mostly of women. Since I work from home, I don't know these ladies very well, so I'm not sure if they understood the flannel reference. The co-worker who did end up with the gift, loved her new shirt, so it was a success.

Even though they may not have gotten the meaning, I thought it was great.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Christmas...And To All A Good Night

We've got an hour until it's Christmas--officially--at least, in our time zone. There's still time to wish everyone out there a very Happy Christmas.

From all of us at the Scott Watty Doodle All The Day blog (which is basically, me...), I hope you have a wonderful evening tonight and an even better day tomorrow. May we be the best selves. May we be more concerned for others. May we find joy in the miracle that is life, and remember why we we honor this day.

Take care and God bless.

Monday, December 23, 2019

It's Beginning To...Smell A Lot Like Christmas

There are many obvious advantages to telecommuting. Then, there's some that are not so obvious, some you will only know about when it happens, like, never having to buy shoes again--especially work shoes. The shoes I used to wear for work will never wear out, only being worn on Sundays.

I'm discovering another advantage to working from home this week--the way the house smells at Christmastime.

The house also smells good at other times of the year, especially if dinner is simmering in a crock pot all day and I leave my office and am hit with the smells of a delicious meal. Today, however, it wasn't dinner I smelled as I emerged from my office--it was dessert. 

My wife and the kids are baking, getting ready for Christmas. Today they made chocolate peanut butter squares, egg nog, and sugar cookies. Yesterday, it was chocolate coconut thumbprint cookies. And as the holiday draws near, we'll move into other aromas, scrambled egg breakfasts, ham dinners...it IS a wonderful time of the year.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. And that's all right by me.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Today's Christmas Music...Was Nourishment For My Soul

It was our ward Christmas program today. This was a song performed by a world-class organist, and when I say, "world-class," I mean exactly that.

It was nourishment for my soul.

In our church each congregation plans and performs their own Christmas program. Over the years, we've had some great ones. It's amazing the amount of musical talent found within the approximately one square mile in our neighborhood. Due to changes implemented this year, our program was shorter this year which means, fewer songs, shorter narrations.

That's okay--it all worked out.

The Christmas program is one of my favorites. Out of the fifty Sunday services during the year, it's in the top two. I apologize for the quality of the recording--I used my cell phone, but as I sat and listened to the incredible music, I could imagine sitting in a European cathedral, or the Tabernacle located fifteen miles to the south. Still, the equipment in our little chapel did just fine--after all, it's not necessarily the instrument, but the player.

This year's program is over. We now have to wait fifty-one weeks and we can do it all again.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Riding The Train...From Provo

Earlier this week, I took the train to Provo. After our team Christmas party, I took the train home. It was the ride home where things got interesting.

I love taking trains. It reminds me of when I lived in Europe decades ago. I know trains are not the answer to our transportation needs--in fact, trains were that answer two-hundred years ago. Still, there's something about riding in trains that I love. Our Christmas party was in Provo--I could have driven, but I took the train.

Like anywhere, there's decorum and rules when you're on a train. Usually, you don't talk to one another. When I rode the train into Salt Lake on the way to Provo, no one spoke to each other. We all had our headphones in, listening and watching whatever it took to make the trip more interesting. When I climbed aboard the northbound train after the party, the "usually don't talk to each other" rule sort of went away.

Not that I talked to anyone, mind you. No, I kept to myself and just listened.

It seems people leaving Provo on the train at this time of year are from all over the planet. Two people behind me were a good example. One lived in California, the other from Washington State. Both were on their way home for Christmas. A few seats down, another couple struck up a conversation. One was from the east coast, another from the midwest. They chatted, swapped "what it's like to be a BYU student" stories, how they felt going home, how Utah is too cold for the warmer-climate people. You know, basic stuff.

I heard nothing like that on the way down.

Maybe people are just friendlier who ride the train leaving Provo.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Remembering 2014...Christmas Video Card

Most of the time, when I see the Facebook's "Memories Of The Day" post, rarely do I click on them, partially, because when I see the picture, I remember posting it and why. But this morning, the memory link popped up and I decided to check it out.

It was a video I put together five years ago, a video of pictures and video of our family from 2014. Amazing the changes that can take place in half a decade.

The video is bittersweet, the biggest reason is my dear father-in-law is no longer with us, nor is our beautiful cat, Gracie. We also saw the moment our oldest left on his two-year church mission and the hug he gave his youngest brother.

Yes, it's bittersweet, but I'm glad we have the memories.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Ah...The Sounds Of Building

Earlier this week I took a break from work and went outside. That's when I heard it...the sounds of building. I'm not talking about the sound of hammers and air compressors. I'm talking about the sound of...

Rock music.

And boy, did it take me back!

Across our back yard there's a new home rising. It's going to be beautiful and it's going up fast. They should be all moved in this spring. There are other buildings going up all around us, too. There's an excitement that hasn't been in our neighborhood for some time.

In 2002 we started building our house. It was right across the street from where we lived. That meant every night after work and on the weekends, we'd head over and begin working on the house. We didn't build the whole thing, but we did a lot of sweat equity. And while we worked, we had the tunes cranked. Most of the time we had to endure Top 40, because it came from a boom box. This was in the pre-internet steaming services era. It was good old-fashioned picked-up-from-the-airwaves radio.

When I walked outside earlier this week, what did I hear? Renegade, by Styx.

It's been over sixteen years since we moved in, sixteen years of not working every night to the sounds of music. I know why the builders were rocking out the other day. It's the same thing we did.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

It Is A Joy...Watching This Man Play

I didn't see most of the game. I had some work to do, but after that was done, I turned it on.

Things were looking grim for the home team. Orlando had scored fifteen straight points, led by five, with only a few minutes remaining in the game.

Then Donovan Mitchell brought the crowd to its feet with a monster, "highlight film" slam dunk.

From that point on, the Utah Jazz dominated.

It is a joy to watch that man play.

Back in the early 1990s, I actually worked with the Utah Jazz organization. For two years I watched two of the best players to ever play the game, John Stockton and Karl Malone. I don't think I appreciated just how good they were--funny, how you don't realize what you have until it's gone.

The Jazz had some lean years, good players, but they just couldn't get over the hump. The last couple of years, however, the team has won more than it's lost and they're now a playoff-caliber team year after year. In fact, they are no longer considered a push over and can beat any team in the league. One of the reasons for their success is Mr. Mitchell.

There are certain players you can't take your eyes off of. They demand your attention because of what you've seen, because of what you think they're able to do. Donovan is one of those players. I'm not the greatest student of the game, but when he gets the ball, there's energy that flows from him, energy you can feel even though you're no where near the building. It's hypnotic, and oh, so entertaining.

I hope I enjoy watching Mr. Mitchell play for years to come, preferably wearing the purple, yellow, and/or green colors of the Utah Jazz. I know I'm appreciating what I'm seeing now.

*Photos used without permission from the National Basketball Association, the Orlando Magic, or the Utah Jazz

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

See Those Two Little Dots? They're People Either Very Dedicated...Or Insane...Or Both

I know it's hard to see, two small dots completely engulfed in black. Thus is the limitations of my iPhone camera. But, truth be known, I don't know of any camera that could have done much better. There wasn't a lot of light out at 6:20am, a week ago this morning. 

The two dots are from two flashlights--most likely headlamps from the way they moved. I left my house to go to work and those two dots caught my attention. The people with the dots were a couple of hundred feet up the side of the mountain on which we live. From time to time, we can see lights from people on the mountain at night--especially, since it gets dark earlier and earlier now. But, seeing lights so early in the morning, that's what we call, rare.

I guess there's some advantages to hiking several hundred feet up the hill in December. I doubt they'll run into many rattlesnakes this time of year. There have been, however, a number of reported cougar sightings in these mountains. I guess it's never truly safe on the mountain, or anywhere, for that matter.

The people with the flashlights must be go-getters. They must find some rush in getting up hours before the general population to risk death by hiking up the side of a mountain in December. And, to some degree, I applaud them for that. It's not something I'll be doing anytime soon, but they have my respect.

I noticed the lights because they're never there. I wonder if I'll see them again.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Nice Timing Dollar Loan Center...Nice Timing

It seems, thanks to technology, almost all the "real" mail we get is junk mail. I can't tell you how many letters from Chase Bank (and all the other banks...) we've received, then just as quickly, ripped up and tossed in the trash. Tonight, I got another letter, this time from Dollar Loan Center, or dontbebroke.com.


Too bad, responding to their offer usually results in the opposite of "don't be broke." 

It's interesting they sent us their offer this week, a week and a couple of days before Christmas. It possible, it's just coincidence that it hit this week. Then again, it could be a well-orchestrated marketing campaign to maximize their message--offer cash to people as they're planning to spend the most money on others that they do all year long.


Even though Dollar Loan Center, out of Las Vegas, Nevada, was kind enough to send a personal letter (it was addressed to me, after all...), I did not take them up on their offer. In fact, I didn't even open the letter. I guess I'm going to "be broke" after all.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

When A Backpack Makes You Homesick...

It's been over twenty-seven years since I last walked on Danish soil, and almost thirty-three years since I last lived in Denmark. Yet, spotting a backpack in a bookstore brought it all back, the people, the weather, the food, the world that is Denmark.

And I only lived there a total of seventeen months and two weeks.

The backpack, made by Fjällräven, is actually a Swedish product, but people living in Scandinavia are proud to showcase things made by their cousins. I saw so many Fjällräven Kånken backpacks while I was there. Just seeing that fox logo yesterday reminded me of walking those streets, knocking on those doors, falling in love with the people and their culture.

This isn't the only thing that sends me back. Every time I see anyone wearing clogs takes me back, watching my wife enjoy her breakfast (granola topped with yogurt...) will do it, and don't get me started on going to IKEA. That place transports me. Those in-store examples of how a person can live in a four-hundred square feet of space is netop (100%...) Scandinavian. 

When we lived in Denmark I didn't buy this brand of backpack, so I don't know if they were expensive, or not. I can tell you that the one I spotted at Barnes & Noble in Farmington, Utah, yesterday definitely was expensive. 

I'm seeing more and more of these backpacks. I suppose they're the new trendy thing. Good for them. I like seeing Scandinavian produces succeed. You can do a lot worse than surrounding yourself with things from Northern Europe. 

I'm glad I have those memories come back to me from time to time. Those months I lived there changed my life, definitely for the better. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Behold...The Hair Snowman!

My daughter just finished up her latest semester last week. To celebrate, she donned a unique hairstyle.

A snowman.

She made some forms over which she put her hair and added eyes, a scarf, and a top hat. Not everyone can pull that off.

My daughter has long, long hair. She's had long hair for a long, long time. Personally, I'm glad to see it. It's nice that my kids have good hair, because I wasn't completely sure if they would.

I began losing my hair back in the 1980s. By the time I was twenty-one, what little I had on top was all there was. Though it wasn't officially on my list (I never had a list...), finding a wife who had really strong hair was a plus. Thankfully, I did just that. She has great, strong, thick hair, and hopefully, those genes have been passed to our kids.

One of the reasons I wasn't sure about my kids's hair was because of my adoption. I've never met any of my birth family so I didn't know if I was a one-off, or if looking the way I do runs in the family. Most likely it does, but you never know.

So, because my daughter can make and wear a snowman out of her hair, she did. And I'm glad for both.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...When Did You Get So Expensive?

Simple, I thought. I had the day off and we figured it would be a great day to load up the family and get ourselves a real Christmas tree. Except for a few years, we've driven a few towns north and picked out a nice tree from a seller out of Montana. We've gotten shorter trees from them, extremely tall trees from them, full trees and not-so-full trees. We skipped last year getting our tree from them, so we weren't even sure they were still there. We were happy to realize as we turned off the main road and rounded a corner that indeed, the tree lot was open.

That excitement lasted long enough for us to park the van, climb out, and set foot on the lot. And after we spotted the price on the first tree we saw...poof, excitement gone.

When did real Christmas trees get so gosh darn expensive?

One of the reasons we liked getting trees from this particular lot was the price. They were cheaper than many of the places, and we could usually get a taller tree at a good price. Something happened in the past twenty-three months. Trees got expensive, and by expensive, I'm talking double the price.

We had a budget and we considered just a couple of trees that were a few dollars over that budget. Of course, we could have picked up a beautiful 3' tree, perfectly shaped. It would have looked great on top of a table. We decided to look somewhere else. We tried two other places and neither had what we were looking for.

A few years back, we found a nice tree at our local grocery store. Sure, it's not a tree from a tree lot, but it came at a good price. It turned out to be a pretty good tree. On the way home from tree shopping this afternoon we stopped by the grocery store, found a really nice tree, bought it, threw it on top of the van and headed home.

I don't know what we're going to do for a tree next year. If prices go up in the next couple of years as they have in the past two, we may break down and buy, "a great big, shiny, aluminum Christmas tree."

But, for this year, we got us a real one.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Leaving Notes On Cars...

My wife and I pulled to the grocery store last week and parked the ol' minivan (yes, we're still rocking the minivan, and we love it...). I got out and spotted a note on windshield of the car directly in front of us. I didn't think much of it until we were done shopping. The car was still there, so was the note.

After loading up the car, I decided to see what the note said. To be honest, I really didn't read what it said--I wanted to snap the picture quick before someone (most likely, the car's owner...) thought I was being "weird" by taking a picture of a random car. That thought went through my mind because I'd probably think I was being weird if I saw someone do what I was doing.

Because I didn't read what it said at the time, I had to wait until I got home to check out the picture. The windshield wiper blocked out the last word, but I think it says, "You're soooooo smart!" Of course, the last word could be small, smack, smarm, smalt, smash, and/or smaze.

Pretty sure it's smart.

That got me thinking...was this supposed to be a kind note, or a sarcastic one? If the latter, I don't remember the car being parked in a way so as someone would go to the trouble of informing the owner via a note that they were "smart" because they parked dumb. Maybe the driver did something dumb as they drove in, someone saw the dumb thing they did, and wanted to relay their thoughts via a note to the driver.

The possibilities are (almost...) endless.

But, it could be a nice note. Maybe the writer knows the car's driver and wanted to compliment them. Sure, let's go with that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tis The Season...For Ghost Stories

Scrooge Sees Marley's Face in the Door Knocker Visual Arts Victorian Age Famous People Fiction

The call came out today. Immortal Work Press is collecting ghost stories. An anthology containing scary tales is not new--there's a whole holiday dedicated to fright. Then we have Thanksgiving (in USA, anyway...), and after that--and many times before--our attention turns to Christmas. You'd think that Christmas would be the antithesis of Halloween--a central point in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas--but for many, the season of giving includes giving chills, shrieks, and grizzly tales.

The press release is mere hours old, but here it is:

Call for submissions!
“Bring back the tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas!”
“You know what this Christmas party needs? Ghost stories.”
“Why does Nightmare Before Christmas have to be a Halloween or Christmas movie? Why can’t it be both?”
Immortal Works has heard your pleas and we are excited to announce our latest anthology, A Haunted Yuletide, slated for publication December 2020. And we need your submissions!
We’re looking for stories that send shivers up and down your spine and make you want to check under your bed for monsters. We want stories that will make you afraid to to go sleep on Christmas Eve, because who is this Santa person, really? Tell us about the family home in New England where Aunt Enid is buried under the floor. We want to know about the ghost of that little kid who keeps hanging around the bakery downtown.
In addition, please note the following:
Contributions should be short stories (between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length) that include ghosts and Christmas, although other winter solstice holidays will be welcome also (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc).
Stories should adhere to Immortal Works’ submission guidelines, i.e. they should be free from graphic sexuality, gory violence, and use of the f-word.
Send your work to jbarnson+subs@gmail.com as an attachment in .docx format, and put Haunted Yuletide in the subject line.
Use the standard Shunn short story format (found here: https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html)
The submission deadline is midnight MST on 29 February, 2020.
The editors of A Haunted Yuletide will be Jay and Julie Barnson. Jay Barnson is the author of the Blood Creek novel series. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Julie Barnson is a professional storyteller of the oral tradition who has spent years terrifying audiences with her ghost stories. She knows about the things that go bump in the night.
As compensation, authors will receive a percentage of royalties and an ebook copy of the anthology.

So, if you've got a story that's itchin' to be told next Christmas, click their Facebook page: HERE for more information. On a personal note, I get a kick seeing my friend, Bill Shunn's name in the release. Bill and I rose through the ranks of public education in Utah during the 1970s and 1980s, each conquering the foes of boredom and peer pressure. And, he's an amazing writer.

Christmas ghost stories--just think of the possibilities!

Then write them down and send them in.

Photo Credit

Image entitled “Marley’s Face,” scanned from Dickens, Charles.  A Christmas Carol — A Ghost Story of Christmas. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1868.  The illustration, based on a wood engraving by Solomon Eytinge, Jr. (1833-1905), appears at page 22 of the referenced work.

The image was placed online, courtesy Victorian Web and Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Canada; Associate Professor, Lakehead University.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I Finally Broke Down And Bought A Pair Of These...For Twenty Bucks...At The Gas Station

I remember when I first saw the design. I think like most, I wondered if they would even work. And if they did, how easy would they be to lose. Of course, the price tag for the originals were, in a word, steep. Because of events that took place a few years back (mostly, due to deaths...), I had the means to purchase authentic Apple products, phone, laptop. But I draw the line at paying list price for genuine Apple Air Buds. It's not that I wouldn't want them--I'd take them in a second. But, that price...I just can't justify it.

I saw the knock-offs that hit the market a few years ago. And because I already had cheap headphone substitutes, I never really saw the need to pick up a pair. That is, until this morning when I walked into our local Chevron gas station and saw them--pairs of faux air buds for $20. Finally, a price point that agrees with me.

I bought them. I charged them up, and turned them on.

I like them.

Now, I can't say what the models that costs hundreds of dollars are like. I've never tried out a pair. I'm sure they're light years above my "cheapest thing I could find" models. The thing is, I don't need all the literal bells and whistles. I need something that works when I want it to, and allows my headphones to be physically disconnected from the device and not have a wire to connect the two headphones. That's pretty much it for me, and twenty bucks got me that.

There is one big drawback that comes with the purchase, however. I will now look like one of those guys...you know who I'm talking about...the guys who where those headphones. I hope it's worth it. And considering the price I paid, it probably is.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Looking Up At The Sky...And Thinking

Normally, on Monday mornings, I'm down in the basement hard at work for the great citizens of the State of Utah. This morning, I was also hard at work, but instead of being stuck at my desk, I was taking public transportation to attend training. Like any job, keeping up with constant change is important.

After the training, I was subjected to non-rush hour commuting. Basically, I had to wait for the next train that comes once an hour. Thankfully, I was prepared for the weather and it wasn't that cold. It was while I was waiting that I heard a low rumble and thought it might be the train. If so, it was about ten minutes early. That just doesn't happen. Since the train station is near several busy roads, I thought the sound was coming from a large truck passing by. I dismissed that, too, because the sound kept getting louder.

I looked up and saw six military helicopters flying overhead.

It got me thinking.

There's so much I don't know about military life and military operations. I wondered if these copters were returning from a mission, training or otherwise. I wondered if they were flying in the correct flight pattern (I have no idea if they have preference to fly anywhere they want...).

It's a little weird seeing military vehicles and planes, especially among us civilians. You see them driving in a caravan on the freeways. Where are they going? It's like they're a secret society and we're living in their world and not the other way around.

I took out my phone and videoed the aircraft as they flew by. I'm assuming they were flying to Hill Air Force Base, but they could have been going anywhere. There's so much I don't know about the military. I think it would fascinating to learn more.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Taking Several Walks Down Memory Lane...Or Stage

Normally, I don't participate in many social media challenges. You know the kind...where you're tagged to do something, then you're supposed to tag others to do the same thing (mostly I don't participate because people don't "tag" me...). But, a few weeks back, one came around that looked fun.

Because I was eventually tagged, I took part. If chosen by someone, we were supposed to post a picture for ten days that was to help bring awareness of the arts. I did it--ten pictures in ten days. I have no idea if it helped the arts or not, but I do know, it brought back a flood of amazing memories.

In the challenge, the "post-ee" was not supposed to include any explanations--just the picture. There were times I wanted to explain the photos and some of my memories, but I didn't. I haven't done a lot of plays, but doing averaging a couple a year since 2000, it adds up. I couldn't include every show I did, so I looked for some interesting shots.

It was fun.

It was memorable.

It made me miss a lot of people and the times we shared.

Of course, we can never go back--even if a person could somehow assemble everyone who was in a show to do the exact same show, no matter how long between those shows, things would be different. It can never be the same.

People do shows for a number of different reasons. We're supposed to do it mostly for the audience, and I suppose that's why I did them, too. But, when you're involved in live theater, other benefits can't help but come along with the ride. 

I'm slowing down as far as shows go. I'm averaging one a year the past couple of years, not counting my paid gig at Lagoon in the fall. It suite me right now. 

When I see the pictures I posted, they make smile. When I see others, I understand why they posted theirs--they mean so much to them. Who knows...I may just participate in more of these challenges after all.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people dancing and outdoor

Saturday, December 7, 2019

How Can Yesterday Be So Much Different...From Today?

I was up at 4am this morning--the cat wanted in, or wanted out...I can't really remember because you don't remember details at 4am.  You're supposed to be sleeping. And because I was up, I began thinking about the University of Utah game that ended several hours earlier. 

Tough loss.

I didn't watch the game. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I recorded the game and would have watched it if Utah had won. They didn't, so I didn't. I know I'm not the best of fans for doing this, but it allows me to remain sane under the circumstances.

So, at 4am this morning, a thought ran through my mind. Why did this morning feel so much different than yesterday morning? It really shouldn't. Nothing about my life--as far as where I live, how much money we have in the bank, pretty much everything--had not changed at all. Sure, I was one day older, but after living over 55 years on this planet, the past twenty-four hours didn't affect me much.

But, it had, and to thousands of other University of Utah fans, today was definitely different. 

Yesterday, man, did things look good! Of course there was the game to play, but think of the opportunities that lie ahead. The chance to play for the national championship playoffs, or at least, to get to play in the Rose Bowl! Just thinking about it made us all giddy.

And I think that was the problem--we forgot about the team on the opposite side of the field. For the past two weeks everyone who followed college football heard Utah-this, and Utah-that. After Oregon lost in Arizona, they fell out of the discussion. I have no idea if the players got caught up in the hype--hopefully not, but I'm pretty sure many fans--including myself--did.

And we paid the price.

So, we woke up to a different world, a foreign world, a world we didn't think existed, didn't think could exist. It's a world that's now reality. When I saw that the team I follow was not dominating, but being dominated, I tried to put a good spin on it. This was one of the funnest years to watch the Utah Utes play in a long time. And even though a lot of dreams and "what ifs" died on the field in California last night, I didn't want one game to ruin an incredible season.

So, there's one more game left--not the blue ribbon, or even the red, but looks like it's white. And when that game is over, I hope I get to watch it. Great job, Utah! You make this fan proud.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Instead Of My Dinner With Andre...I Had My Lunch With Todd

It' hard to believe that ten years ago (or maybe a little longer...), I had never met Todd Wente before. Then, in a matter of months, not only had I met him, he and I were in a performance group together. It was called A'cabbella, a Christmas handbell and singing troupe. Soon after that, he and I were in our first show together.

We've been doing shows together ever since.

But, it's been a while since I last hung out with Todd. We decided today would be the day to change that. The location: Crown Burger on 33rd and State. The Menu: fast food. The topic of conversation: lots of things.

If you haven't met Todd, he's a force of nature. I can honestly say there's no one quite like Todd. I guess you can say that about anyone, but some people make you realize just how unique they are. Todd is one of those people. Today, we broke bread, we had some laughs, we talked about shows, school, FanX, and second careers. And after a while, with the food long gone, it was time to go.

Working at home, and not doing as many shows as before, there are many friends I don't see near enough. I suppose that's part of getting older. Other things take precedence, priorities change, the importance of time changes. 

I guess, with time separating events like today, they mean even more. And if any of you (that know Mr. Wente...) are thinking of having lunch with him, I highly recommend it.