Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Breaking Up A Family...

We met Sunday night, just a few of us, in a room. A family...an awfully big family, but a family nonetheless.

That's when we learned they're breaking up the family.

I live in a small-ish community in Utah. Utah is, for lack of a better word, unique, especially when it comes to religion. One particular religion is so prevalent in our little town that almost everyone claims membership (or, at one point did...). When you're talking tens of thousands of people, that creates a logistical situation. Not everyone can attend church at the same time--the building's not that big. 

Because there's so many members, congregations must be split into smaller groups. These groups become family, a spiritual family. You see them on Sundays and because they're your neighbors, you see them during the week. We come to love these people. And, why not? They're family.

Since change is the only real constant, time came where the family must be split. We've outgrown our home and so changes must be made. This weekend, we found out what those changes are. We knew changes were coming, but not what they were. Now we know.

I've lived in this little town for almost fifty years. In that time I've lived through several boundary changes. It's never easy. I was sure we would be split off, added to a new family where friendships would be made, relationships started, bonds formed.

Yes, changes were made, but we stayed with our adopted family (adopted back in the late 1970s...). Others were not spared from the boundary change. They'll be the ones making new friends as their new family forms. 

Families have issues. Families have struggles, but they also have memories and special moments. The family gathered Sunday night to hear of the changes. Some left relieved, but sad. Others left nervous and heartbroken, just like any family...the unknowns are what make life interesting.

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Avengers: Endgame" I Saw It...Well Done!

Rest assured, this post will not divulge any plot points, storylines, or spoilers. No, this is a post of admiration--a chance for me to put into words a few thoughts about a movie me--and millions of others--watched over the weekend.

Avengers: Endgame

Well done, on so many levels.

I'm not the biggest Marvel fan, nor did my love of comic books extend into my teenage years. But I've watched almost all the Marvel films (I haven't seen Captain Marvel yet...), at least the ones from Ironman on. I left the theater Friday night, my head spinning.

If you study marketing, Marvel has put on a clinic of how to do it right. Just like the network that airs the Super Bowl each year uses the big game to market all their shows, news, comedies, dramas, you name it. They also use all their shows, news, comedies, dramas, etc, to market the Super Bowl. It's circular, each promoting each other.

Marvel did the same thing. They used their solo-focused films to promote the Avengers ensemble films. Each builds on the ones before until you get a three-hour masterpiece called Endgame.

Everyone who's seen the film and has loved it, has a different reason for doing so. I'm no exception. It was funny, dark, poignant, tender, cruel, necessary. It made me laugh out loud, and made my eyes water. Any film that can do that is successful.

But, the one thing that impressed me the most about the film is this:

Those who made it respected the fans.

Maybe that's a stupid thing to say. Maybe everyone who writes screenplays, directs and produces films respect their fans, too. But something about this one...I left the theater thinking they not only cared about the characters and the story, but how I, a person who never saw one previous Marvel film in a theater (except Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse...), cared about the characters and the story. They understand us, which shows in the final product.

For many, these shows aren't their thing, and I can respect that. But for those who have enjoyed the ones that came before, Avengers: Endgame proved a fitting end to an eleven-year journey of good vs. evil, funny vs. serious, Avengers vs. Hydra. Well done, Marvel and all those involved.

Well done, indeed.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

I Don't Know Why My Dad Built Our House The Way He Did...I Only Know He Was Amazing

In 1970 my parents bought about ten acres of land on a hillside overlooking Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake. The land included a sandpit and an orchard of apricot and cherry trees. That same year, my father began building a house. 

And when I say he built it, I mean exactly that. He designed it, poured the footings, framed it, he even built and installed the heating and air conditioning ducts. My mother said that when he and his brother put up a wall, if it wasn't 100% square and perfect, they tore down the wall and built it again. 

Too bad he passed away before the house was finished. 

Of course, as a kid, I didn't appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the house. For me, it was our home, a nice and big home to be sure, but a home, nonetheless.

The family who bought my childhood home after my mother passed away have served the memory of my father well in preserving and upgrading the building. This spring they're doing their largest upgrade yet. They're putting in an addition. It's going to be amazing when it's done.

A few weeks ago a neighbor approached me and asked me a question about the house. He's been hired to do concrete work for the addition. He asked, "Do you know why your father put in two foot footings on his house?"

I have no idea.

I do know, this house was build unlike any during the time. He put in huge windows overlooking the valley. Homes built in the late 1960s and early 1970s did not have windows like that. My dad also put in electrical outlets throughout the house, so many more than what was normal or expected. I guess he overbuilt the foundation as well.

The other day I checked out the building site. It's just a hole right now. They had to dig up one of the deck supports. My neighbor pointed to it and said that no one put in supports like that, no one. 

Then again, there were few people like my dad. The house he built is a testament to what a great man, and father, and builder, he was.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"Seattle Is Dying"...A Documentary

Lifting the lid on latte-land: KOMO report is Seattle’s ...

I heard about this documentary and looked it up. It's only an hour long, so I thought I would watch (you can access the documentary on YouTube by clicking: HERE). After all, I have family living in Seattle, but I don't know much about the current condition of the city, having only visited twice.

If you're wondering what the documentary is about, the title is a good indicator. A local new station did an expose on the living conditions of some of their residents. They talked about the homeless situation. They talked about the drug problem of those who are homeless. They talked about the crime, the filth, and how this beautiful jewel of a city is, using their word, dying.

Since I don't live in Seattle, I'm not sure who this program is for. Is it for me, an outsider with an interest in the city? Or, it is more for the citizens who live in the area? They'd probably say it's for both. 

But I'm not sure.

If it's for the city residents, they should already know this stuff. It was so heavy-handed I wondered if someone behind the film had a personal vendetta against a political figure. But, if it's as bad as portrayed, the problem is real and dangerous, and deadly.

I want to talk to my nephew about it. He, his wife, and their new baby live in the city. Is it as bad as they say it is? Any large metropolitan area has its problems. And with smart writing and clever editing, you can make a relatively decent place look like a living hell. Did they do that with this documentary? Knowing this can be done and is done to shape public opinion makes me leery.

And because shows like this can and sometimes do tweak facts to make their point when it may not be the complete truth, it's hard to find their conclusions to be 100% accurate, either. What I did understand is this: the city has a problem with homelessness. Many do. The homeless have a drug problem. Many of the homeless do. And the homeless who are addicts turn to crime to fund their habits. The documentary says the police feel powerless to act due to changes in how criminals are treated, or not treated.

Like I said, I can't say for sure the problem's as bad as the show portrays it to be. I'm sure the people interviewed--the cops, the users, the homeless, the store owners--are real. Those people are hurting and need help. Again, no easy answers. It's like a strange sound coming from your car. Ignoring it almost never makes the noise go away--problems don't magically fix themselves. I hope tough decisions can be made and the people involved can be helped. Is Seattle dying? Since we all are--slowly, over time--why not the city in which the people live?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Somehow...I Don't Think Marvel Necessarily NEEDS Wal*Mart's Help With This One

Unless you live under a rock, you're aware of a cinematic event occurring this weekend, so much so, you're either extremely excited for this event, or you're sick of hearing about it. If you're in the former camp, hopefully you'll get to see it soon. If you're in the latter camp, I'm sorry--I don't think the hype is ending soon.

This morning, while picking up groceries, I noticed something. We went to Walmart and I went inside to get some breakfast. I was instantly hit with some of the promotional displays at our local store.

They didn't just hit me, they flogged me as if I were getting smacked upside the head with a wet bag of laundry.

Apparently, Marvel/Disney has teamed up with Walmart to help promote their latest film.

I wonder how much money went into this promotion.

I also wonder if it was even necessary.

I have a lot of friends who are over the moon to see this film (definitely former camp people...). They got their tickets as soon as they were able to do so. They took picture after picture of them standing in front of the theater, of their tickets, of the pre-film popcorn and drinks, and of them goofy smiling while sitting in their chairs waiting for the magic to begin. I've seen picture after picture posted on social media and today's officially the first day of the release. I'm willing to bet these pictures and postings are going to continue all this weekend and beyond. (definitely making mad the latter camp people...).

The point is, these people are not getting paid to promote the film--they're doing it because they love it. And, Marvel has been promoting this film for about eleven years, ever since the first Iron Man release in 2008. Each film promotes the next and the next and the next. You really couldn't ask for a better marketing campaign. 

So, do they need Avengers: End Game posters on the doors as you enter Walmart? Do they need a banner over the bay of self-checkout machines? Do they need numerous ads inside the store? I'm sure someone somewhere sat in a room, crunched the numbers, and felt the cost of all this (must be in the millions...) is worth it. They've concluded doing it and paying the money will result in even more money at the box office. Maybe they're right. I'd like to think they are. I do know, that had my friend not offered me a ticket to see it tonight, I might not see this movie until it reaches RedBox or cable. But that's just me.

Yes, this is one of the big ones. Movies like this don't come along very often. It's likely to break every box office record possible. But, on a quiet Friday morning in a chain store in Centerville Utah, they most likely could have saved the cost of advertising the film. But hey...what do I know?

I hope those who see it have a good time and those who are already sick of it can endure til the end. Happy Avengers: End Game weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Working In The Garden...Some People Love It

Tonight I stepped outside as the sun slowly set over a dead sea, the air full of pollen and the smell of spring. Dogs ran about. Neighbors were testing their irrigations systems, preparing for the days when rain-baring clouds are few and far between.

I so wish I loved spring more.

It's not my favorite season.

Not even close.

This spring brings some changes, the biggest being, I no longer have to commute to work. Well, technically, I do commute, a sixty-second trip to the basement. And, on my commute, it's impossible not to see the yard. 

I do love where we live. I love the four seasons. I love how just when you're getting sick of the cold in winter it starts to get warmer, and just when you start to get sick of the heat in summer, things start to cool down. If only I could afford to pay someone to do all my yard work for me. It would be heaven.

Then there are the people who either love to do yard work, or they don't necessarily like yard work but they love how their yard looks after putting in all that work, or they may not like yard work, or they way it looks, but they're worried about what the neighbors think when it comes to how theirs (and everyone else's...) yard looks.

Just a hunch, but I think I've covered all aspects here.

I always have grand plans to get out in the yard and pull weeds, and mow grass, and trim sidewalks, and pull more weeds. Maybe, because I don't have to spend an hour or more in the car each work day, I might actually do the work I wish was done. Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I Wonder If My Friend Gets These Notices...If So, He's Getting A Lot Of Them!

I probably get on Facebook more than I should. In many ways, some things would be much simpler if social media didn't exist. The elimination of social media would have its downside--I actually enjoy catching up on news, keeping tabs on friends and family, but there's a price you pay for that information.

I suppose to liven things up, Facebook implements these little snippets, digital tchotchkes, as it were. The one that popped up on my Facebook post today was called Connection Matters. I probably would have just ignored it, but for the Connection that Facebook decided mattered. 

The picture of Jason did it.

If you're involved in live theater along the Wasatch Front, you either know Jason, or you've seen him on stage. He's prolific, and the reason he gets cast in shows again and again is due to several reasons. 1--he's extremely talented. 2--he's reliable. 3--he's a better person than he is talented and reliable. If you're fortunate enough to be in a show with Jason, you know you'll have a life-long friend once the show's over and the final curtain falls.

Like all of us, Jason has his quirks--good ones, to be sure. One of them is his propensity to take selfies, but for Jason, they're "selfies + everyone else." Jason takes pictures with cast mates, crew members, and patrons who come to see the shows. He also takes pictures when he meets you at social events. I've never attended church with the man, but I imagine he's taken more than one selfie on a Sunday morning or afternoon.

What caught my attention with the Facebook post was the message:

 "Scott, over the years, you and Jason found time to get together. We thought you'd like to take a moment to share how he's made a difference in your life."

I didn't bite, but I wondered if I've gotten this message with Jason, how many of his friends got the same message? All I thought about was poor Jason, inundated with Connection Matters requests due to all the photos he's taken and shared on Facebook.

Then again, maybe he didn't get those messages so it wouldn't really matter. Anyway, just a thought...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Man I've Known Most Of My Life Passed Away Recently...He'll Be Missed

It's been a busy month. As the month began the neighborhood was saddened with the news of yet another neighbor passing away. I've blogged about how, in the past couple of years, we've lost a dozen people, at least. 

Seems the trend is continuing.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, our neighborhood was relatively young. Families bought undeveloped land and built houses. They set down roots--literally and figuratively--and began new chapters in their lives. The Smiths were just such a family, and Gary was their patriarch. 

In high school I became friends with their oldest child, a daughter. We sang in high school choirs together, went to dances, and attended the same congregation on Sundays. And Gary was always at church with a big smile on his face. If you know Gary, you know that smile. Another plus for the man was he was an unapologetic University of Utah man, a fan of their school and their sports teams. Gotta love a Utah Man.

I've lived in the same neighborhood since I was four-years old. I've seem many of my friend's fathers grow old (something I never got to see my own father do...). It's strange--you turn around and the men you remember being just regular dads are now grandfathers and in their eighties. Gary fought the beast known as old age. He put up more of a fight than most. His body kept breaking down, but his spirit kept fighting back. When I heard he was not doing well, I thought we'd see him again greeting us in church like he's done for decades. 

It was not to be...the fight was too much to overcome this time.

Another father has graduated, leaving loved ones behind. I'm going to miss Gary, giving fist bumps, and flashing that amazing smile. He put up a hell of a fight, just like I'd expect a true Utah Man to do. He'll be missed.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bumper Sticker...Or Art?

One of the advantages of cleaning up around the house is you find things. Sometimes you find things you wish stayed hidden, but other times, you come across something that you love finding because  what you find is more than the object itself.

Case in point...

A sticker.

I lived in Europe for a couple of years. I left in spring, thirty-four years ago (I can't believe it's been that long...). We heard a lot about culture shock before we went over. Some things in Denmark were very similar to things back home--the biggest being the way people looked. I'm from Utah. A large majority of Utahns--myself included--are direct descendants of Scandinavians. The Danes look a lot like Utahns.

Many things were different of course. The buildings, the roads, the food (some of it, anyway...), the language, the customs. Even the cars could trigger a bit of culture shock. One of the biggest differences was all the taxis were Mercedes Benz. I rarely saw American cars--sure, they had Fords and a version of GM cars, but they were different, mostly they were smaller. 

And almost every car had a little sticker on the back, and on those stickers were simple letters, country codes, because in a day, a person can literally drive through a half a dozen countries, or more. I mostly saw Scandinavian and northern European country codes, N = Norway, S = Sweden, SF = Finland, D = Germany. Those were the biggies. Every day in Denmark I saw the letters DK on almost every car. I came to love those letters.

I still do, three and a half decades later.

I found a DK sticker while cleaning up my stuff. I didn't buy it in the country, but in Solvang, California--as close as you can some to Denmark in America. Even though, it's not ægte (authentically purchased in the country...), I still loved it and thought it was about time to adhere it to our minivan.

I slapped it on, snapped a picture and told my wife what I had done. I probably should have asked her first--we call the van "her car." She considered it a bumper sticker. For the life of me, I did not. Technically, it is a bumper sticker, but in my mind, a bumper sticker has some corny saying or slogan, or it has the name of a political figure letting everyone following you which way you intend to vote (or voted in elections long past...). I didn't think my DK sicker could be considered one of the bumper variety.

Personally, I love having it on the van. I've got a Danish flag on my car. It's faded to the point where I should replace it with a newer, redder, and whiter flag. I know many think bumper stickers are gaudy, but to me, the DK sticker is a thing of beauty...a work of art.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

8219 Or 1982? Actually, Neither...

It's Easter Sunday, for many the most holy day of the entire year. For us, the day included church, then naps, then clean up the house a bit, then have a birthday party.

Our family has several people with April birthdays. April also has Easter, so in a way, we can knock out several celebrations at once. We did that today. As the rain fell and the thunder shook life outside, we had an amazing dinner, delicious desserts, and presents.

So, when the cake came out, it begged the question...8219 or 1982? Okay, I admit, it's not a great question. It's not really a real question. It did spark conversations around the dinner table. Since 1982 was an actual thing for several of us at the party, we talked about the year 1982. In 1982 I was sixteen-years old. I had my drivers license and a car (kind of...). The 1965 green VW beetle was like a car. I worked summers at Lagoon and I think I work the other seasons at the Heidelberg Restaurant serving the finest in German and American food in all of Farmington, Utah.

In 1982 my older (and only...) brother graduated from high school. I remember him leaving school. He was a big personality (still is...) and I wondered what high school life would be like without him roaming the halls and without all the girls in high school not believing me that we were related.

1982 started a new phase in my life. I was no longer my older brother's little brother. I became myself, in many ways. I returned to school a junior. Things had changed.

Of course, as we sat around the table this evening, no one talked about the year 8219, except to know that none of us would be around to see that year. Then again, you never know.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

If You Haven't Heard The Rust Monster Band Live...You Should

When I got an assignment several months ago to look into booking acts for the April FanX Comics Convention Vendor Floor Stage, I thought about a local band and how they'd be a great addition to the lineup. 

And so I sent out a request.

And they answered the request.

With a "yes."

I'm SO glad they did.

Today I had the pleasure of hearing my friend's band, Rust Monster not once, but twice! And they were just as good both times. This band has several personalities. Today, they were pirates. The did a fantastic job! I took pictures, took a few videos, but mostly enjoyed the show.

And I wasn't the only one! Many people stopped and watched, tapped toes, and show the band on their phones.

One of the thing I wanted on the stage was diversity. With this one act, I got that...

And more.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Spoonful Of Pudding...Helps The Medicine Goes Down

I had a potentially dangerous thing happen to me last week (I've got pictures to prove it...) so after visiting an InstaCare and the E.R. a couple of times, doctor's gave me a piece of paper with words on it. The words told legal drug dispensaries that they had the authority to put several capsules in a plastic tube and give them to me. Included with the drugs and plastic tube (and cap...), were instructions on the proper distribution of said drugs.

Until then, I'd been good to go. I survived the doctor's visits and the tests, but when I asked the pharmacist how big the capsules were, that's when I had to take a step back.

They were huge...


Now, all you with normal throats may not have problems with swallowing these things. But I lack that physical trait--the one that allows me to swallow whole large items...things the size of bullets. I was told I could break open the capsules and mix them with yummy foods. It would help. Since I only have to take four pills a day for ten days, I could do it.

So far, so good. Thank goodness for chocolate pudding and/or orange juice. I'm sure there's other mixtures I could try, but for now, the pudding/O.J. combo has served me well.

Swallowing pills has been a curse for me all my life. I once had a medical technician--while x-raying my throat--asked if I had trouble swallowing anything bigger than a pea. I said I did. Amazing I've made it into my fifty-fourth year with this condition.

And hopefully I can continue many more years. I think I'll make it, as long as there's yummy foods I can mix with the medicine.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Scene So Horrid...The Victims Were Lucky They Couldn't See

For anyone unfortunate enough to witness the carnage, it wasn't pretty. Evidence of the cruelty lay strewn across the entire room with animal innards stretching from the east door to the west door.

Utter devestation.

The culprit, a black poodle, only hours from the celebrating his one-year birthday. He sat content, the sharpened teeth and fangs tired from the exercise of dismemberment. Does he understand the impact his actions caused? Does he realize the pain he inflicts on helpless stuffed animals?

It doesn't appear so.

If there's one consolation, it's that the big black dog--in an ironic act of mercy--goes for the eyes first. He blinds his victims, sparing them the torture of seeing their own maiming. Each animal, be it bear (koala or teddy...), an unlucky rhino, or even a couple of dogs--the poodle offers no mercy to his own species--are sightless, blind to the horrors. If only he could rip off their ears so they couldn't hear their own screams.

But one survived...a solitary beast has escaped with its eyes intact. The elephant becomes the chronicler, the one to witness and bear witness for others who can no longer see. The pachyderm--as of now--has lived to tell the tell. And if the little grey animal somehow overcomes the vicious jaws of the beast, it will long remember the day when all others were first blinded, then ripped apart, slowly, and with malicious intent. 

Lucky little elephant. But perhaps not...for he's the only one that sees.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Three-Thousand Blog Posts...Plus Seven

There was a time when I used to check stats and milestones on my little blog. I remember when I passed one-hundred posts, when I got a couple of thousand views, when I hit my one-year mark.

That was a long time ago.

Since I made it a goal to write a post every day, getting the post written became the important part. Every night for eight + years, as the day draws to a close, I think about what I'm going to write. I think back on if I've taken a picture (or several...) throughout the day and if I haven't, I look for something to photograph.

Then, before I go to sleep, I pull out my laptop and start clicking the keys. I come up with a couple of--hopefully, somewhat entertaining--paragraphs, add a picture (or several...) to the post, proof it (I don't catch all the errors...), then hit the "Publish" link in the top right corner of the page.

Another day, another blog post.

And I do it all over again the next day...a pattern I've continued since January 24, 2011.

If you're keeping score at home, that's three-thousand and seven days ago--eight, if you count today.

I may have glanced at the post count a month or two ago. Truth be told, I never look at how many posts I've written. Three-thousand is a nice number, thought, and had I paid more attention, I may have blogged about reaching the number when it actually happened. I didn't notice until I had surpassed the 3k mark by a day or two.

Yes, 3000 + 7. It's just eight short years. I wonder if I'll pay attention if I'm fortunate enough to reach 4k, 6k, 7k, or more. I guess the only way to find out, is to keep writing and see what happens.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Find Me At FanX...And I'll Sign Your Book (Even If I Didn't Write It...)

One cool thing about anthologies (among many cool things...) is you get to have your stories along side so many other amazing authors's stories. The last story I submitted was fortunate enough to be included in a collection contained not in just one book, but four.

That's a lot of authors and a lot of stories.

Three of the books, All Made of Hinges, Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel, and Press Forward, Saints are now available (my short's in the yellow one...). The fourth book in the series is being compiled right now. In fact, here's the information on A Mighty Fortress:

Immortal Works (editor Holli Anderson) hereby calls for submissions for an anthology of MORMON STEAMPUNK to be called A MIGHTY FORTRESS.
Here is the deal:
1. The writer’s religious affiliation is completely irrelevant. We don’t care; we don’t even want to know.
2. The story does not have to be set in any particular world. The story must be in some sense “Mormon” and in some sense “Steampunk.” We’ll try to interpret those categories both broadly.
3. If your story is faith-promoting (Mormonism is “true” in the story), we’ll stop reading it. If it is mean-spirited (Mormons are all idiots), we’ll also stop reading it.
4. Stories should be at least 2,000 words long and generally no more than 8,000 words.
5. The deadline for submissions is April 23, 2019 or until filled.
6. Authors will not receive up-front payments. Authors will share in the revenues from sales of the book over time and will receive one (1) complimentary author copy.
7. Send submissions to hollia (at) immortal-works.com. Include the words “A MIGHTY FORTRESS SUBMISSION” in the subject line.

So, if you've got an idea for a great story and you're a quick writer, follow the instructions and submit!

I know what you're thinking..."Hey, I've got one of the three (or all of the three...) Mormon Steampunk anthologies. If only there were a way for me to get authors to sign them for me."

Well, your prayers have been answered!

Kind of.

If you're attending the FanX Comics Convention in Salt Lake this weekend, you will have the opportunity of running into (perhaps literally...) several authors with stories in these volumes. In fact, at 11:45am on Friday, there will be a mass signing at Booth 1546. I'm going to try and be there, but I know many of the authors will be there with pen in hand to autograph your book(s).

Don't have a copy/copies? No problem! We'll have them available, too!

If you're going, swing by Booth 1546, or several authors will also be at Bart's Tower on the vendor floor. Come on by, strike up a conversation. And I promise I'll sign any book you have, whether or not I've written it.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, either.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Attending A Graduation...Well, Kind Of

Last week my son graduated with, what he's thinking, is the first of possibly several college degrees. And because life is not something you can always count on, I was unable to attend. I would have much preferred sitting on the hard benches on Temple Square watching the festivities unfold, than what I was really doing...in the E.R. getting an I.V. That's a story for another time.

Since I couldn't go, we tried using all that fancy technology to do the next best thing...my wife FaceTimed the ceremony while I was at home. Since we've never done this before, we weren't sure if it would even work.

Turns out it didn't work very well at all.

We thought maybe I could see my son on the big monitors, but there was no way for me to see anything. I did hear them call out his name. 

After, my son had me pose for a picture, then he took a picture holding up his phone with a picture of me in it so I could be included in family photos. That was nice of him. He's thoughtful like that.

I didn't attend the graduation, and plans to include me only worked marginally at best, but I felt I was a part of it and I was proud of what my son had done and his excitement over graduating was infectious. He's planning on continuing his higher education at another school. I don't know all his plans--I don't know if even he does. It's an exciting time to be alive, to be young with options. And on a spring Friday morning, I was a part of that excitement, too.

Well...kind of.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

"The In The Telling" Podcast...Understanding The Art Of Creativity

I found out a few months ago a new podcast was in the works, a podcast about how we communicate stories. Of course, it's more than that. The creator of the podcast is Liz Christensen. If you know her, you know why she would want to create such a thing. She's fascinated the art of storytelling. It's easy to imagine her wanting to, not only learn new things herself, but create a way for as many people as possible to learn them, too.

On her website, Liz explains why the In The Telling podcast exists:

Why I started a podcast
I am ravenous for stories. I love books, films, TV shows, opera, ballet, theatre, poetry, campfires and asking personal questions. I’ve also made my career in the performing arts and witnessed the power storytelling has to unite, transform, heal, teach and entertain. I am surrounded by talented storytellers across many industries all hustling to get their narratives heard.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt said, “storytelling in general is a communal act. Throughout human history, people would gather around, whether by the fire or at a tavern, and tell stories. One person would chime in, then another, maybe someone would repeat a story they heard already but with a different spin. It’s a collective process.” With “In the Telling,” I collect the storytellers of our community, hoping to share and to amplify their voices. We will geek out over the art and craft of their expertise and experience. This podcast isn’t about critiques, or reviews. It’s about process, technique, philosophy, approach, conceptualization, and the mechanics and diligence of hard work. It’s about How and Why and Who.
I hope you’ll listen to these interviews. I hope you’ll participate in an interview. I hope you’ll engage with the stories in film, theatre, and literature in deeper and more meaningful ways. And most of all, I hope that when you seek a story, you’ll look local first. You’ll recognize and appreciate the talent within your neighborhood, city, county and region. Sharing our stories, and the process by which they became works of art, brings people together. So, join in. Come be part of your storytelling community.
“In the Telling” podcast explores the art and craft of storytelling along the Wasatch front with filmmakers, theatre artists, writers and more. It is produced and hosted by me, Liz Christensen The first three episodes will launch together in April 2019.

It only launched officially last week, but there's over twenty episodes, some longer than others. It's amazing how much work Liz has already put into the project. Once again, if you know Liz, this isn't surprising. She jumps into projects with both feet--all the way or not at all.

I've listened to most of the episodes already and I plan to listen to more when I have the time next week. If you want to know more about novel writing, live theater (including opera), singing, doing stand-up, film festivals, stage management, how to make a feature film, and much more, please check out In The Telling. You can access Liz's website: HERE, or her Patreon site: HERE. I can't wait to find out what other amazing things Liz has in store for us all. Please check out In The Telling podcast. If you like all things creative, you'll love it.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Who Offers Scholarships To Learn From Some Of The Best? Fryecon...That's Who

For me, part of what made the first Salt Lake Comic Con special was bringing celebrities to the event. Sure, there's a plethora (yes...a plethora...) of celebrities roaming the streets of Park City at the Sundance Film Festival each winter, but for the average Utahn (like me...), unless I have connections, there's no way I can actually shake their hands and get a picture with them. I should admit that I've never attended the Salt Lake Film Festival so maybe the average Utahn can shake hands and get a photo with actual celebrities. If that's possible, I apologize. It just seems an impossible things to do.

Salt Lake Comic Con comes to town and wish some cash (and a little bit of luck...), I can meet actors, artists, comedians, musicians. That first comic con changed things--I believe--forever in our state.

And if they can do it, why not others?

Writing cons are a little different. They've been able to draw world-famous authors and artists to Utah for decades. That traditions continues. Three years ago a group of like-minded individuals started Fyrecon, a Science Fiction and Fantasy conference on Art, Writing, and Game Development. Their goal and mission statement is all wrapped up in the title.

They set out to create a first-rate event and invite heavy hitters in the fields of writing, art and other creative mediums. 

And they have.

And they do!

The tradition continues this June in Layton, Utah. One of the cornerstones that makes Fyrecon unique is the ability to take Master Classes with professionals in various disciplines. For a price--prices and other information about the classes can be found: HERE--you can have an amazing experience. The following is from the website:

When you are learning, sometimes a more intense class is what you need to go to the next level. Fyrecon works each year to bring in expert authors and artists to teach master classes to help you reach your goals.  With 4 or more hours of instruction from a master,  that includes access to the general tracks over 200 hours of classes, you can’t go wrong

These Master Classes have been been amazing! And, Fyrecon offers one scholarship to each Master Class. If you're interested (and you should be...), please click: HERE now! There's instructions and the registration information on the site. But hurry--applications are due by Saturday, April 20, 2019.

When I think about these incredible opportunities, it reminds me of that first Salt Lake Comic Con where we were able to meet and interact with celebrities in a manner never before seen in Utah. At Fyrecon, these Master Classes you can meet, interact, and learn in a way rarely seen in this state. If you want to go, check out the scholarship site--you may get to go for free!

Friday, April 12, 2019

I Spotted The Deer, Then...Well...Not Much

While taking out the small dog (she needs help getting out of the house...) this evening, noise from the hill caught my attention. I spotted a man, a boy, and a dog on the trail leading up the mountain. That wasn't unusual--men/women, kids, and dogs go up and down that trail all the time.

It wasn't until I looked a second time at the mountain that I saw the deer.

Seeing deer on the hill isn't that unusual. They're always there--it's just we don't see them, or we're watching something else. I noticed they were close enough to perhaps get a good shot or video of the beautiful creatures. I knocked on the window, asked my wife to fetch my Nikon (I thought if I got the camera myself, the deer might be gone when I got back...), and once she gave the camera to me, I quickly focused it and started filming.

And I filmed...

And I waited for something interesting to happen.

And I waited...

And filmed...

And that was pretty much it.

I stood there on the street in front of my house filming and waiting and not much happened. The deer just kept grazing around the same spot. I thought maybe the man, boy, and dog might make them move, but that didn't happen. I wasn't close enough to capture really impressive pictures or videos--hey, it's not every day you can get those kinds of shots.

The deer moved slowly enjoying their dinner and eventually I stopped filming and went inside. I'm still glad I got to watch the deer tonight. It's one of the advantages of living on the side of a mountain. I'll bet if I looked up more often, I'd be treated to more views like this...even more exciting ones, too.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

FanX 2019...Now With A Vendor Floor Stage!!

FanX, the oftentimes semi-annual cultural event happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, rolls into town next week and I am SO excited because, for the first time ever, there's a stage on the vendor floor.

Why is that such a big deal?

Because, for the last couple of months, I have been helping out with this little project. I've been helping out with the craziness that is convention planning. Since this is the first time this has been tried at this particular convention, there's a lot of unknowns when it comes to just how this thing will work. How will the sound be in the hall? Will people enjoy the diverse acts? Will the panels be able to both entertain and inform?

Lots of unknowns.

But we're jumping in with both feet! Part of my responsibilities including wrangling up some acts for the show. I thought immediately of musicians Dave Butler and Craig Nybo. It was suggested we look for diverse acts--I thought of dance acts. We've got two. Then we thought guests would like to watch some demonstrations on cosplay and combat fighting and all sort of things.

We went for it!

Now, the schedule includes author interviews, musical guests, ballroom dancing acts, art instructions, and lots and lots of panels. If you're going to FanX next week, PLEASE stop by! It's right in the middle of the con. I should be there most of the show. I'd love to chat and you and I can enjoy the massive talent we've compiled just for you! I usually can't wait for FanX to start--this time, more than ever!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Writing Retreat...Day Three...The Ending

My writing retreat came to an end today, sort of an abrupt end as I departed from the House on the Hill and traveled home.

Actually, I went to an InstaCare before I went home. Turns out I've got a little infection on my face, so I had that looked into.

So, because I left early and have been resting most of the day, my writing count went from several thousand words a day to none. I'm okay with that. Had I not attended the writing retreat, my writing word count may have been hundreds or none. 

So, another year has come and gone. I'm excited about the project I'm working on, and interest usually translates to me continuing to work on it. There's so many projects I've stopped working on because the interest just wasn't there. Hopefully, this particular story will be in the can (and maybe a publishing contract...) so if I'm invited to another writing retreat, I'll have something else to write.

Love the writing retreats! Thanks to Dave and Emily for their incredible hospitality. Glad I could attend.