Sunday, February 17, 2019

Watching A Little Football After The Big Game...The AAF


I've had as many birthdays as there have been Super Bowl games. I'm not a sports historian, but as long as I've been alive, when it comes to football, the National Football League, or NFL, has been king, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. 

Since I'm no sports historian (though an internet search could get me the info I'm looking for...) I believe two leagues formed before I was born and created the NFL. Because we live in a capitalistic society, people have tried several times over the years to create a product to give fans of football something to watch when the NLF is not in season. The first "other" league I remember was the old United States Football League, or USFL. I remember it being ambitious, and they had a lot of money behind it. I even watched some of the games.


It didn't last.

There was Arena football--not quite the same, but it was football, and the XFL. They even tried a league in Europe. I remember watching a lot of those games. The talent wasn't bad, either. Now, the latest kid in the corral is the Alliance of American Football, or AAF. This time, there's a hometown team to root for, the AAF Salt Lake Stallions.


They've only played for two weeks. I watched the Stallions's first game. There's a lot of local university talent on the Stallions's roster. They did not win. I did not watch their second game. They did not win that one, either. And I'm not knowledgable enough about the game to gage just how good these players are, or are not. I do know, there were a lot of dropped passes...a lot of dropped passes.

I'm going to keep watching. It's fun to root for a local team, especially a professional team. I hope it works out. Based on past programs, they've got an uphill fight, but that's what sports and competition is all about, doing tough things. Good luck Stallions! Good luck AAF!


* All photo/video is used without permission from the NFL Network, The Atlanta Legends, or the San Diego Fleet.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

LTUE 2019...Has Come And Gone


The rooms are cleared, the chairs are stacked, the volunteers have all gone home. The evening brings the closure of another LTUE convention. The organizers invited me to participate this year and I had an amazing time participating on panels, hanging out in the vendor room, getting to know authors and convention goers alike.

I had been blogging a couple of years when I when to my first LTUE event. I'm sure I took more pictures back then than I did this weekend. I took next to none. Anyone who knows me knows that's unusual. I think I was more focused on the panels and making sure I didn't embarrass myself. I don't believe I did. In fact, the panels I attended--the ones I was on--were amazing! We discussed science fiction on the modern stage, the film adaptations of Philip K. Dick, and the incredible world of steampunk. I strengthened existing friendships and met people I hadn't known before. 

It's always bittersweet when these things end. I only attended two out of the three days, but the conventions wear me out. I am getting older.

I did leave today with a renewed desire to write. I've let thing slip as of late, but I really want--and need--to dig into some of my unfinished projects, dust them off, and get to work. Any time you leave a writing conference excited about writing, that's a successful conference.

LTUE 2019 edition was wonderful. Now, we see what lasting effects it brings. Thank you Immortal Works for letting me hang out. Thank you to my brother's family for letting me crash at their place. Everyone at LTUE--drive safe and God bless.

Friday, February 15, 2019

"Mamma Mia"...What A Show!


Wednesday night my daughter and I went to the theatre. Usually, when she and I get in the car to go to a theatre, we're usually in the show, not watching, but she's now in college and I'm involved in other things, so being in a show together might not be something we do very often anymore.

But Wednesday night wasn't about us, it was about seeing friends Missy and Adam (and all the others...) perform in a show that had a dual purpose...entertainment and hope.

A few miles down the road form us is a building that houses The Hopebox Theatre. I believe it was originally built as a nursery. It then was transformed into a church, and now, it's a place for live performances. Interesting...it's always been a place where life is celebrated and encouraged.

The Hopebox Theatre's mission can be found on their website and you can access it by clicking: HERE. Having been involved in numerous community theater productions over the years, what they are doing is nothing short of a miracle. It's hard enough to put on a show and keep a theater open, but to voluntarily give away proceeds from the take, that's beyond selfless.


Mamma Mia...I don't know a lot of shows like it. I had only seen the movie so I had an understanding of what I was in for. The space inside the theatre was small, or to use a better word, intimate. It's a small-ish cast, but they filled the space and made the room come alive. Since I'm a child of the 1970s, the music was part of my youth, and I had to hold back from just singing along with them, as I'd do if the song came on the radio while I'm driving.

The performances were so honest. They really believe in the mission of the theatre, and it came through in what we saw. If I had to find a weakness, it had nothing to do with the performers or the theatre--it's in the musical itself. I can't imagine a harder thing to do than to write a story around world famous songs. Modern musicals are so good at creating the arc, each song building off each other, the story contributing until acting and dialogue and music come together, the synergy making each more effective. Mamma Mia just doesn't have it sometimes, at least, for me.

The show runs until February 23rd. If you want to have a great time at a reasonable price, check it out. I'll bet you'll be wanting to belt out the songs as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Then Your Friend Goes And Wins A Grammy...


The year was 1985, January. I moved from my home to Provo, Utah, to live for ten weeks at a missionary training center, known affectionately as the MTC. It's when and where I first met Lansing McLoskey. Sixteen months later he and I were paired up as missionaries in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I think I've seen him once since then.

But I've followed his career. In the age of digital stalking, you can follow almost anyone online. The fact that they're incredibly accomplished, makes it so much easier. Since Denmark, my friend's attended the most prestigious schools, become a professor of music, as well as one of the nation's leading experts on Danish classical music.

Oh, and he also designed his own longboard skateboard lines.

Before we met he was a punk rocker and surfer in California.

Now, he's a Grammy winner.

It's amazing how many people you meet when you've lived on the planet for more than half a century. Our connections scatter like leaves blown from a tree, each leaf travels its own path, taking it to destinations unknown. Lansing worked extremely hard to reach this point in his career and even if his work, Zealot Canticles hadn't won a Grammy, it would no less diminish his numerous accomplishments, nor would it stop all the amazing things that he has yet to do.

Well done, good sir! I bought your work and have been listening to its haunting melodies since I first heard the news. May this help inspire your next work and all those that follow. Well done.

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Lansing, summer, 1986, Copenhagen, Denmark

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Getting Ready For "The Big Game," And I'm Not Talking About Football...


Last night I had to pick up a few things for dinner. I hopped in the van, drove a mile or so to the grocery store, parked, then walked in. I was immediately hit with sights and smells letting me know something big was coming, something the store was prepared for, a shopping rush that required the entire entrance to be shuffled about and re-organized.

No, it wasn't in preparation for the big football game--that happened ten days ago. It was all to prepare for Valentine's Day.

You'd think every single person needed to buy something in that store the way it was laid out.

And, considering they know their store and its customers better than I do, they're probably right.

I can't remember if I disliked Valentine's Day more when I was single or after I got married, and since I've been married for more than a quarter century, it's hard to remember. I've softened on the "holiday" since--kind of an anti-"get out of my yard" attitude. I hated Valentine's Day because it was completely made up to sell stuff. It's like a worldwide holiday the same way The Bachelor is a reality TV show (don't get me started on The Bachelor--that's a whole other issue...). I hated the way they wanted people to buy stuff to show their love for others when people should be showing that love all the other days that aren't February 14 as well. Of course, we can't all buy stuff everyday, and that was my point. You shouldn't have to buy stuff to show someone how you feel.


In the past couple of years, I've had a change of heart (in keeping with the day's theme...). We don't buy presents or do too much for the day so it wasn't a matter of having to get something. I guess having a day set aside to let the most important people in your life know how you feel about them isn't bad. 

Still, the way the store was decked-out. You'd think you were in Denmark if the Danes ever played in the World Cup Finals (okay--nothing this country could come up with could top that...). 

Is it a "big game?" For some, perhaps. I picked up my bread and chips and didn't even think about buying any of the flowers, stuff animals, chocolates, or inflated balloons. If it's a game, I choose not to play. Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I mean, if you do that sort of thing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

If Steampunk's Your Thing...Check Out Our LTUE Panel Saturday!


In some ways, it seems like forever ago when I sat on my first panel, yet it was just under six years ago. The convention of my first panelist experience no longer exists--it died a few years ago. It's too bad...it was a good event. Since then I've been fortunate enough to be on many many panels covering a myriad of topics, but it's the first panel at the Salt City Steamfest when a group of us gathered to talk about publishing in the fascinating genre of steampunk that is special.

And so, this Saturday at the latest edition of the Life, Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Writing Symposium, I'll once again sit with fellow authors and discuss steampunk.

The title of this panel is: The Science and Culture of Steampunk. The short write-up of the panel is interesting as well. What if steam-powered technology had remained the principle means of energy, instead of being replaced by electricity and fossil fuels? That's a great panel question.

Through the years as I've sat on steampunk panels, people have asked, "What exactly is steampunk?" There's many definitions, mostly because there's many manifestations of steampunk. It's a literary genre. It's a fashion definition. It's an art form. It's an interior design style. And to a smaller degree, there's steampunk music. 

I like steampunk for several reasons. My first published work was a steampunk short. I also like its plucky enduring attitude. If you attend any fan-driven conference, you'll see Marvel and DC characters. You'll see Star Wars and Star Trek cosplayers. You'll see anime and your favorite cartoon characters en masse. You'll also see people dressed in steampunk. They're not the most prominent, but they're always there, being unique, letting everyone know how much they love steampunk.

If you're in Provo this weekend attending LTUE, come check us out. There's some amazing authors as panelists, and I'll be there, too.

What would life be like today had not electricity and then fossil fuels taken over to power the world?

That's a great panel question.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Resetting A Password...Vicious Circle


I thought it would be an easy thing to do--you know, you forget your password, a couple of clicks later, you're in. I noticed one of my e-mails was down and I needed to reset the password.

Not so fast.

I tried a couple of passwords I've used in the past--no luck. No problem, I thought. I'll just reset the password from the website. I went to the site and followed the instructions.

1: enter your e-mail address

Done

2: enter your password or click the FORGOT PASSWORD

Done


Then I get the following message:

Please check your email.
We sent an email to ____________, which contains a link to reset your password.

One little problem.

I CAN'T GET INTO MY EMAIL!

Seems I've stumbled upon a Catch-22 situation. Thankfully, my friend is going to help me get into my email so I can reset the password. Of course, once I'm in I'll have no need to reset it. Such is life and the complicated world of technology!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sci-Fi On The Modern Stage...A LTUE Panel


I'm excited about this one. Of course, I'm excited about all the panels I'm fortunate enough to be a part of. Next Saturday, at the Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Writing Symposium I'll be part of the festivities. I'm on three panels. This is the first.

Earlier this week I sent an e-mail to a successful writer who is a screenwriter and a playwright. He's got experience writing science fiction and has written several plays. He offered some great suggestions as talking points for the panel.

I'm excited for the subject. It's untapped. The question is, "Why isn't there more science fiction-centered stories for the stage?" Fair question. Is it a technical question, and if so, will advancements in theatrical technology bring more sci-fi to the stage? Or is there just not enough interest? Of course, time will tell. Hopefully, we'll be able to flush out some theories and perhaps, some solutions.


Another reason I'm excited is because of the panelists. I've been on a panel with Aaron Johnston before. He's a bestselling author and screenwriter. I don't know Jonna Hayden or Katie Jarvis, but I've met Mary Kowal before. She's a successful fantasy writer and narrator with a previous career working in the theater.

These events are fun. It's a great way to meet new people, to get to know people better, and to discuss the creative process. If you're interested in this subject or any of the many other topics at this year's LTUE event, stop on by. You can see the entire schedule: HERE. Sci-Fi on the Modern Stage. Should be a fun one!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Proclamation Through Clothing...


Tonight, before the clock stuck 7pm, I changed into my pajamas. This is not normal for me. Usually, I change into my pajamas right before I go to bed, but seeing as it's now just after 9pm, I did not go to bed after I changed. I had dinner with the family, wrote this blog post, and am watching Oceans Eleven (the 2001 version...) all in my sleeping attire. 

With the change I proclaimed to the world that I was done with running errands for the day.

This wasn't the grandest of proclamations, but it felt good just the same.

It was a long day, a day filled with errands. Before 8am I was running one of my children to an appointment. I picked them up later in the morning. Between 8am and 6pm, me, or me and my wife were in a car, driving to and fro. It was the final trip, the trip to pick up some last-minute supplies for dinner, that caused me to make such a drastic change in clothing.

I was tired of running around.

It's funny. Since I telecommute, people think (I know because they tell me...) that I work in my pajamas. I suppose I could, but nope. It's just not me. At work I do dress in jeans and t-shirts. Because it's winter I also wear a couple of other layers, but when things warm up, I'll be ditching the layers as well. 

For some, pajamas equal freedom. It means they're not required to interact with society, at least, not in a socially acceptable way. It means a lack of responsibility as well. For me, this evening, it meant I was done with running around and I used pajamas as my proclamation.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Realizing...No One In My Family's Had It Better


Years ago we bought a flat screen TV and stuck it on the wall in our bedroom. It wasn't the biggest TV and it wasn't the best one available. It was your basic JVC--I don't even know how big it is.

And, as things go, since we bought that TV my wife and I have found ourselves in stores where they sell TVs. Of course, there's the newest and greatest models--some at amazingly low prices. I wonder what it would be like to see a big game, or the latest movie on those things with the sharp picture and heavenly sound systems. If I rationalize hard enough, I can even justify the purchase.

But then I think...

Why?

The TV on my wall is better than any TV anyone in my family ever owned, not including my present family. I'm talking about all of my family that went before me. The first TV I remember our family having was one my father actually built. That's still an amazing thought to me. He ordered the kit from a company and built it. My dad would flip if he lived to see the day when a TV with a screen more than twice the size of the one he built could be lifted by one person and hung on a wall like a painting. That was science fiction stuff for him.


So, when I pass by those big boxes containing bigger and better TVs, there's absolutely no reason to buy them. The one we have still works great and it's better than any TV anyone ever had.

Today, as I looked across the street at my neighbor's car--a car he's thinking of getting rid of this spring--I wondered what it would be like to be able to afford a newer car. Then it hit me, the cars we have, the house I live in, the almost unbelievable live me and my family live is better than any cars, homes, living conditions of any of my family that lived before me. 

We live in a society where we're supposed to want more, and not only to want it, but to feel like crap if we can't get it. What a lie! We're more than what we own. We're more than where we work, or we should be. Realizing how amazing my life is is something I should do more often. I'd sure be a lot happier person if I could. I know past generations sure would be.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Picture Of The Words "The End" In An Audio File...Are Beautiful


It may not look like much, squiggly lines rising above and below a straight line. It's the visual representation of sound and sometimes that visual representation can be beautiful. Case in point, the words, "the end" look like many other words, visually speaking, but like a fingerprint, each word is unique, individual, based solely on the speaker, the way he/she enunciates the words, the pronunciation, the accent, even the way the air moves from the speaker's lungs through the air to the microphone--all contribute to make each word different...like a snowflake.

Tonight I finished working on a project for my publisher, Immortal Works. In December I was asked by the president of the company if I could edit an audiobook. 

I said yes.

Man, that's hard work.

And luckily, the book wasn't that long.

Years ago I worked as a computer audio engineer for a software company. It was a great job. I knew I could edit an entire novel, but I'd never done that before. I thought I could work on it at night and on weekends. And I did, but it took a long time.

Editing the audiobook was also a very educational experience. If a fly were on the wall of that recording studio, then I heard everything that fly heard, every word--intended and unintended, every sound, every page turn, every swallow...everything.

I don't know the process from here. I'm not sure how long it will take until the rest of the world can hear what I've heard. But, when it's available, Kevin L. Nielsen wrote and Zach Bjorge narrated a great little sci-fi book, Colonial Prime: Humanity. Well done Kevin! Well done, Jason! Well done Zach!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Next Gangrene Comedy Film Festival...Lawrence Welk Edition...Is Coming To Town This Fall!


One of the most unique annual events along the Wasatch Front is the Gangrene Comedy Film Festival and 2019 is no exception. The theme for this year is as follows:

Lawrence Welk: A Wunnerful Celebration of Music, Movies, and a-one, an-a-two.

How great is that?!

There are amazing things associated with the Gangrene Comedy Film Festival, incredible music, things you won't see anywhere else. And, word has it, they're looking for unusual acts. Earlier today a friend associated with the event let us know.

Here's part of a notice issued earlier today for acts:

Just putting this out there. We are doing Lawrence Welk for The Gangrene Comedy Film Festival this fall. We are looking for weird and exciting acts. If you know how to juggle squids, catch a cannonball with your gut, sing a duet with your pet lobster, play the recorder with the third arm growing out of your back ... well, you get the idea. 

That's right--if you've got a mind-blowing act, leave a comment below. Of course, as with all things in life, there's no guarantee, but maybe, just maybe all your performing dreams could come true!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Inevitably...The Curtain Must Fall


It's been vacant for years, minutes and hours, days and weeks have passed with no one entering, no one leaving--a playground for ghosts and memories. I've passed the structure a couple of times a month since it closed and each time, a feeling of melancholy washes over me, as if a great unfairness has occurred, for how can a place that held such wonder, such creativity, such beauty, fun, heartache, and passion sit idle for so long?

It can because it does.

Yesterday a dear friend posted several pictures of the place we knew simply as RMC, or Rodger's, or our second home. As with all things--since all things are temporary--the building is being razed to make way for places to live. My friends were there to record the moment, to share the space's fleeting moments. I borrowed one of their pictures for this post. They went because they felt compelled to be there as if the building called out to them wishing them to be there as it will soon vanish.

They answered the call because they had to.

Accompanying the pictures my friend explained just how special the theatre was for her and her husband. She included a couple of memories as to why it's so important to them, but she could have listed hundreds more. I wish I could have been there with them to see the space myself, but their captured moments will have to do.

It is in the places of creation where the memories have the strongest hold on our lives. Theaters, homes, (sometimes work...), schools, and studios, beside lakes and atop mountains--it's where inspiration finds us and intertwines with our souls. And when those theaters, homes, schools, studios, and other places where we've been touched by creativity go away, a part of us dies.

Rodger's Memorial Theatre's success also sealed its doom. It could no longer hold back the wave of anticipation for a bigger space, newer facilities, multiple bathroom the paying public demanded and so it was abandoned when the new shiny theater opened a few miles away.

There's a saying in theatre everyone knows. "The show must go on." This means, of course, that the show must inevitably end. A theatre is built and therefore, it must be destroyed--everything's temporary. A theatre may last millennia, or for one night, but like all things, it's time must come.

And the curtain has fallen on our friend.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Join Us In 2019 At LTUE...We're Talking About The 1980s Version Of 2019


Many times, the spectacle of something overwhelms the details and those who should get more credit don't. One of the biggest examples of this, for me, is TV producer and writer Glen A. Larson. He was responsible for so many shows that helped form my childhood and impressionable years and changed popular culture for decades.

In literary terms, another name that sometimes gets lost in his creations is Philip K. Dick. Since I sometimes run with literary types, many of my friends know, and are familiar with his works, but for most, they only know the names of the movies that were born from his words. Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, and more recent The Man in the High Castle, and Electric Dreams--all these and more came from Philip K. Dick.

The New York Post wrote an article about how Blade Runner and The Running Man predicted live in America in 2019. Dick did not write The Running Man (that was Stephen King), but both envisioned a society in the year we've now reached. You can read the article by clicking: HERE. It's interesting. In my opinion it reaches to prove some of its points, but still an interesting article.

In a few weeks, the 2019 version of Life, the Universe, and Everything, or LTUE will take place in Provo, Utah. On Saturday, February 16 from 12 noon to 12:45pm a group of panelists will discuss the writer and those films. Here's the panel write-up from the LTUE website:


If you want to go the website directly, click: HERE. You'll find this panel on Saturday's schedule.

I'm looking forward to this one. I've been on panels before with Mr. Wells and Mr. Parkin (Scott Parkin and I were on a previous Philip K. Dick LTUE panel a few years ago...). If you're in the area and want to learn more, or you'd like to contribute, stop in and say, "hello."

Sunday, February 3, 2019

One Of Those Anniversaries That Brings A Different Reaction...


Forty-five years ago today was also on a Sunday.

I think that's something I'll never forget.

It's been forty-five years since my father passed away, forty-five years to the day. It's the kind of anniversary you don't necessarily celebrate, even though it's important to acknowledge. Because of the amazing time in which we live, I did a quick internet search to find out what other interesting things happened on February 3rd, 1974. Apparently, not much.

A lot can happen in forty-five years. Back in 1974 the population of the world was 4, 016,608, 813. We've almost doubled since then. The most popular baby name for girls that year was Jennifer, and for boys, Michael. It's incredible what a simple internet search can reveal.

It's been almost half a century since he passed. And what I know of him, he would love the world of today, the ability to access all the known knowledge instantly. He was a remarkable man.

Today it's estimated that around 360,000 babies are born everyday around the world, about twice the number of people who pass away. In five, ten, twenty-five, even forty-five years from today, people will look back on this day in history, February 3rd, 2019 and it will be an anniversary for them, some a day to celebrate and some a day for reflection and imagine a world that might have been.

Miss you, dad.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Yesterday...I Wore Red


Yesterday, I wore red. Personally, I think red is in the top two of the best colors. To me, red is the color of life. I've got a couple of red shirts--yesterday, I chose my TriUtah shirt, even though I'm no longer associated with that particular organization.

I chose the shirt and wore that shirt yesterday because I wanted to show some support for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Day, a day set aside to bring awareness to women's heart issues by having as many people as possible to wear red-colored clothing.

As with most awareness days, wearing red is the very least a person can do to support the cause (well, not the very least--a person could wear no red, or even worse, wear blue...). I could have donated time or money for the cause. I could have done more, even told others why I was wearing red. But no, all I did was wear a shirt of red.

On social media many people posted pictures of themselves wearing red and wearing smiles. See--wearing red makes people happy. More people should wear red. I think the whole world would be a better place if more people just wore red. And not just on Go Red for Women Day, either. Ah, red...it's in the top two of the best colors, and a fantastic color choice to show support of a great cause.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Why Would Anyone Text And Drive? You'd Think The Answer Is Obvious...


I guess we've always had cell phones. Okay, not always, but ever since Motorola came out with that flip phone--the one after "the Brick," we've had one. Now, we haven't had the fanciest of phone, or the best phones, but we've been able to use them basically for emergencies.

Because of this, we were never big texters. We had those Nokia phones--good phones, reliable, but  impossible for texting. Okay, not impossible to text anything, but it might as well have been. Younger generations will never know the pure hell it was texting on those old cellphones. It took years until we got smartphones.


It was because of my experience with those old cellphones that I could never understand why people felt the need to text while they drove. It never made sense to me, especially knowing how dangerous it is to text while driving.

But then, once we got smart phones, it made sense. Texting on a smartphone has become as natural as talking. On more than one occasion I've gotten a text while driving--good thing it doesn't happen very often--and I've picked up the phone and my natural instinct is to just click a quick message.

It happened again today while I was driving home.


Smartphones can do many things--so many more than the Nokias or the Motorolas--and one of those functions is Siri, at least on iPhones. When I got the text today, my first instinct was to text back, but instead I activated Siri and asked her to text a response to my wife. It was pretty slick.

There are places where even doing what I did is against the law, and I can understand this. Any distraction is exactly that, a distraction. But, for me today, Siri made my commute--and the commute for everyone around me--a little better, a little safer...and that's a good thing.