Tag: Aaron Blaylock

Jell-o Ono

“There’s good, and then there’s perfect,” Woodruff said.

“That was perfect,” Bob said.

“Better than perfect.”

“Perfect plus.”

“Perfect to the max.”

“Perfectsaurus Rex.”

“Booya!” Woodruff said as he held his hand high in the air.  Bob jumped up and chest bumped Woodruff, knocking him backwards into a tambourine stand.

“How’d that sound in there, Jethro?” Bob asked the man with the long scraggily beard in the glass booth.

Jethro leaned forward into the microphone, wiped his greasy hand on his flannel shirt and pressed a button.

“I’ve, honestly, never heard anybody sound like that,” Jethro’s raspy voice answered through the speaker in the wall.

“There ya go,” Woodruff said.  “We’ve got a unique sound.”

“I knew it,” Bob said.  “I knew we had something special.”

“Can I make one suggestion?” Jethro asked.

“Anything, Maestro,” Bob said.

“You might want to ditch the seagull.”

“What?” Woodruff asked.  “We can’t get rid of Ruth.”

“Yeah,” Bob said.  “Mo’ Mormons Mo’ Harmony needs a seagull and Ruth is the best in the business.”

“Look man, you booked the studio, so it’s your time and your money,” Jethro said.  “I’m just saying that it’s distracting when the bird squeaks in the middle of the chorus.”

“That’s our edge,” Woodruff explained.  “Ruth is like our Sebastian.”

“Sebastian?” Jethro asked.

“The crab from Little Mermaid,” Bob said.

“Look J-dawg, we’re out to revolutionize the music industry,” Woodruff said.  “You said it yourself, you’ve never heard anything like us.”

“Yeah, about that,” Jethro said.  “I don’t think a pan flute really fits with a hip hop song.”

Woodruff gasped and covered his mouth.  Bob put an arm around him and patted him on the back.

“You leave Sylvia out of this,” Bob said.

“Whatever, bro,” Jethro said.  “You’ve got a bird, a pan flute, and two dudes jumping around like Bell Biv Devoe.  It’s wild.”

“I’m starting to think you don’t even get what we’re doing here,” Woodruff said.

“I don’t,” Jethro said.  “I mean, green jell-o and carrots?  What’s that about?”

“That’s gonna be the title track for our debut album,” Bob said.

“Actually, I think we should just call it Green Jell-o,” Woodruff said.  “You know, keep it classy.”

“What are you talking about?” Bob said.  “The song is about green jell-o and carrots.  Anybody can sing about green jell-o.  We’re Mo’ Mormons Mo’ Harmony.”

“I get it, but is the audience going to connect with it?” Woodruff said.

“The audience is going to connect with the music,” Bob said.  “I don’t want to be all mainstream, singing about green jell-o.  We’re not Justin Timberlake, we’re Mo’Mo Mo’Ha.”

“I wrote the song, Bob,” Woodruff said.  “I am the music.”

Woodruff walked over to the pedestal and snatched the sheet music on top.

“Bounced into the cultural hall, we ready to have a ball,” Woodruff began to read aloud.  “What’s that on the table, my heart seems unstable.  Green jell-o and carrots, my mouth couldn’t bear it.  Them ‘freshments have merit, I ain’t gonna share it.  Green jell-o and carrot.”

“See, those lyrics are sick,” Bob said.  “So why not showcase them in the title?”

“Because you gotta let them find it in the music,” Woodruff said.  “You don’t just throw it at them.  It’s a delightful surprise, like the carrots in the jell-o.  Tell him Jethro.”

The bearded sound engineer looked up from his iPhone.  He adjusted his trucker hat and leaned into the microphone.

“Uh, sorry,” Jethro said.  “Wasn’t listening.”

“Which sounds better, green jell-o or green jell-o and carrots?” Bob asked.

“Honestly, I’m more of a pudding guy,” Jethro said.

“Chocolate or banana?” Woodruff asked.

“Chocolate,” Jethro replied.

“Correct answer,” Bob declared.

“Listen, I’ve got a mariachi band coming in here in like two minutes,” Jethro said.  “So can you guys, like, take this outside?”

“No problem, J-dawg,” Woodruff said.

“Please don’t call me that,” Jethro asked, before he released the microphone button and turned his attention back to his iPhone.

“Come on, Ruth,” Bob said.  “It’s time to go.”

The seagull pecked twice at the microphone and flew through the open door.  Woodruff and Bob stepped into the hallway, where five men in black bedazzled jackets and matching sombreros waited with their instruments.

“Hola amigos,” Woodruff said with a bow and a sweeping gesture to the recording studio.  “El estudio es toda tuya.”

“You speak Spanish?” Bob asked.

“I’m fractionally fluent,” Woodruff said.

“Fractionally fluent?” Bob asked.

“I can speak at least 3/3000th of over twenty-seven different languages.”

“Impressive.”

“Jugar buena muchachos,” Woodruff said as the mariachi’s filed into the studio.

“Yeah, hugo bueno my nachos,” Bob said.

The door closed and Ruth let out a tiny squeak.

“I know,” Woodruff said.  “Now I want nachos too.”

“The nachos are going to have to wait,” Bob said.  “We’re in the middle of a full blown crisis.”

“The song title?”

“Yes.”

“It’s really not that important to me, name it what you like.”

“Not important to you?” Bob shouted.  “Then what are we doing here?  Not important?  This better get important to you.”

“Fine,” Woodruff said.  “It’s important.  I think it should be Green Jell-o.”

“Unacceptable!” Bob yelled.  He stormed off down the hall and loosened his tie.  “It’s Green Jell-o and Carrots, or nothing!”

Ruth flapped her wings and flutter down the hall in the opposite direction.

“Bob, wait,” Woodruff said, dogging Ruth’s flight.  He jogged down the hall after Bob.  “We can name it Green Jell-o and Carrots.”

Bob stopped in front of the big metal door, beneath the red EXIT sign.  He turned back to Woodruff and put his hand on his hip.

“You’re giving in?”

“Yes, I don’t want to argue about this.”

“Well I could never work with a musician who isn’t as passionate as I am,” Bob said as he pulled off his tie, pushed open the door, and exited the building.

Woodruff followed him outside as Ruth returned and swooped in to perch on his shoulder.

“Musician?” Woodruff questioned.  “You’re my backup dancer and you play the air guitar.”

“Like a boss,” Bob said.  “Without me you’d just be out there by yourself with a step-bounce-spin and no shimmy-shake-twirl-jiggy-jiggy.  You’d look like an idiot.”

“An idiot who can, and I quote, sing like a young Al Yankovic,” Woodruff said.

“Enjoying singing without this action,” Bob said as he shuffled side to side and flapped his arms in a wavy motion.  Then he spun around, removed his black name tag from his pocket and flung it into the street with his tie.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying it’s over.  Mo’Mo Mo’Ha is dead.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

They walked up the street in silence for several blocks.  Ruth squeaked and fluttered her wings as they crossed the road, to get to the other side.  Woodruff looked over and noticed Bob smiling.

“Why are you smiling?”

“Well, you  had Start a Boy-Band on your bucket list,” Bob began.

“Yeah,” Woodruff eyed his friend skeptically.

“And I’ve always wanted to break up a boy band,” Bob said.  “So this was a win-win.”

“You did this on purpose?”

“Yep.”

“Genius!”

“You’re not mad?”

“Nope,” Woodruff said.  “In ten years we can have a reunion tour.  We’ll make millions!”

“Yes!” Bob said.  “Then we can release the never before released lost single, Green Jell-o and Carrots.”

Green Jell-o,” Woodruff corrected.

Bob looked over at Woodruff with a furrowed brow and squinted his eyes.

And Carrots.”

“Here we go again,” Ruth squawked.

You Can’t Get Mad From A Turnip

“It really is a versatile vegetable,” Bob said.

“You can say that again,” Woodruff mumbled with a mouth full of salad.

“But I didn’t say that,” Bob replied, as he shoved another fork full into his mouth.

Woodruff eyed his friend and shook his head.

“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it,” Bob continued as a half-eaten turnip rolled around in his pie hole.  “Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried, flayed, cabbaged. There’s turnip-kabobs, turnip gumbo, turnip tacos, pineapple turnips, lemon turnips, coconut turnips, bacon turnips, turnip soup, turnip stew, turnip salad, turnip and potatoes, turnip burger, turnip sandwich, turnip pie…”

Bob swallowed his thoroughly chewed turnip remains and raised an eyebrow as he searched the deepest recesses of his turnip culinary database.

“That’s about it,” he concluded.

“Plus, it’s fun to say,” Woodruff added.

“Totally,” Bob agreed.  “Turnip, Turn up, Turniiiip.”

“Tuuuuuurnip,” Woodruff chimed in.  “TurNIP, turnip-turnip-turnip.”

They laughed hysterically and Bob wiped at a piece of turnip shrapnel that escaped from Woodruff’s mouth and landed on his cheek.  A short stocky bald man, with a scowl on his face, emerged from the kitchen wearing an apron and carrying a tray.  The man tossed two plates of turnip tacos in front of them and began to pick up the tower of plates collecting at the center of the table.

“No, wait,” Bob said.  “We’re stacking those so we can see how many platefuls we’ve eaten.”

The man grunted and set the stack back down on the table.  He turned and stomped back toward the swinging kitchen door.

“Thank you, my good man,” Woodruff called to the back of the man’s head.  “I think we’ll try the bacon wrapped turnips next.”

There was a crash on the other side of the swinging door as the man in the apron kicked it open and marched into the kitchen.

“I think he’s mad,” Bob said.  They paused and admired their tower of empty plates that nearly reached the ceiling.

“Hey, don’t hang up a sign if you don’t mean it,” Woodruff said, and pointed to the All-You-Can-Eat Turnips sign in the front window.

“What’s my credo, Woodruff?”

“Omne omnes vos-potest manducare signum est provocatione te dignum est.”

“That’s right,” Bob said.  “Every all-you-can-eat sign is a challenge to meet it.”

“Credo’s also fun to say.”

“You gotta have a credo.”

“That’s actually my credo.”

“Great credo.”

“Mm,” Woodruff said.  “These turnip tacos are amazing.”

“You said it.”

“No I didn’t.”

Woodruff and Bob furrowed their brows and surveyed one another for a moment.  When Bob consumed the last turnip taco Woodruff turned around and looked back toward the kitchen door.

“How long do you think it takes to wrap a turnip with bacon?”

“Dunno,” Bob said, after he swallowed his last bite.  “Hey Woodruff?”

“Yeah Bob?”

“I’m toying with the idea of going by Robbie.”

“But then we’d have to change our logo.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

The scowling man in the apron returned from the kitchen and laid a pair of bacon wrapped skewers on the table.  The bacon was still sizzling when Bob scooped up the skewer nearest him and popped it in his mouth.

“Oh!” Bob yelped.  “Hot!”

“That’s it,” the man said with a frown.

“What’s it?” Woodruff asked.

“The turnips,” the man said.  “They’re finished.”

“Geez,” Bob moaned.  “I t’ink I burn’d my to’gue.”

“They seem nice and finished,” Woodruff said.  “Might we get some turnip ice cream for my friend’s tongue.”

“We’re out!” shouted the man.  “It’s done, gone, caput, no more turnips!”

“No more turnips?” Woodruff asked.

“What’s the matter with you two?” the man demanded.  “Nobody eats that many turnips.  It’s a gimmick.  It’s supposed to bring people in.  They think, ‘Oh, All-You-Can-Eat’ so they come in and pay seven fifty and then remember after the first plate that they don’t like turnips.  That sign has worked for twenty-eight years, until you two came along!”

He stormed off to the kitchen and briefly got his apron caught in the swinging door.  Bob gulped down the glass of chocolate goat milk next to his plate.

“What’s his deal?” Woodruff asked.

“Dunno,” Bob said.  “So, was that a no on the turnip ice cream?”

“I think so.”

“Well then, this goat’s milk is a life saver.”

“It’s a good thing we brought old Delilah.”

“And Mr. Scowling Face threw such a fit when we milked her,” Bob said and patted the black and white goat on the head.

“I bet he feels foolish now.”

“He should,” Bob said.  “No turnip ice cream when you’re serving scolding hot bacon.  That’s irresponsible.

“So, why Robbie?” Woodruff asked.

“It makes me sound younger,” Bob replied.

“But you are young.”

“Yeah, but if I sounded younger I could get into the movies at the kid’s rate.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“Sure it does,” Bob said.  “Hello, sir, welcome to the cinema.  Then I say, ‘The name’s Robbie.’ and then he says, ‘Oh, pardon me, I thought you were older.  That’ll be a dollar twenty-five.’  Boom, kid’s rate.”

“I don’t know, Bob,” Woodruff said as he shook his head.  “What movie are you going to see?”

“The youth are all about period piece docudramas,” Bob said.  “Maybe something with Steve Buscemi or Elizabeth McGovern.  You know, on fleece.”

“Fleek,” Woodruff corrected.

“Like spitting?” Bob asked.  He stood up and pushed his chair back under the table.

“No, that’s gleek.”

“I thought that was a Glee fan.”

“Oh right,” Woodruff said.  He pushed his chair in and took hold of Delilah’s leash.  “What were we talking about?”

“No idea.”

“We should leave a nice tip.”

“Good idea,” Bob said.  He took a marker from his pocket and wrote on a napkin.  “Keep bananas fresher by wrapping the stems in plastic wrap.”

“That’s a good tip,” Woodruff said.

The man in the apron stepped out from behind the swinging door with a Polaroid camera.  He walked up to Woodruff and Bob, who were standing next to the leaning tower of plates while Delilah chewed on the tablecloth.  The man growled as he raised the camera and a blindly light flashed in their eyes.  A card printed out the bottom and the man angrily shook it as he moved behind the counter.  With a thumbtack, he pinned the picture next to a red sign above the cash register that said ‘We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone’.

“Sweet!” Woodruff and Bob cheered in unison.

“We got our picture on the wall,” Bob said.

“We’re gonna be famous,” Woodruff replied.

Bob pulled open the front door and they stepped out onto the sidewalk with Delilah trailing behind them.

“You wanna see a movie or something?” Woodruff said.

“Can I be Robbie?”

“Robbie doesn’t make you sound younger, it makes you sound unemployable.”

“Jeff Weiner once called me unemployable at a charity auction for A Cappella without Borders.”

“What movie should we see?”

“Sun Valley 10 is playing She’s Having a Baby for Totally 80’s Thursdays,” Bob said.

“Done and done.”

“Meh eheheh eh,” Delilah bleated.

A Wob by the Tail

“If you sat on a voodoo doll of yourself, would you be able to stand back up?” Woodruff asked.

“Dude, you’re blowing my mind right now,” Bob said.

“Think about it,” Woodruff said.  “You’d be stuck there forever.”

“I’d totally come and push you off of it.”

“That’s if you’re not stuck on top of your own voodoo doll.”

“Stop, Woodruff, you’re scaring me,” Bob said.

They stepped onto a broad wooden bridge that stretched across a large moat.  On the far side of the bridge were several ticketing booths, with a gated entrance beyond.  Bob ran his hand along the metal railing and looked over the edge, down at the giant coy fish swimming in the moat and the ducks congregated on top of the green water.  Woodruff stayed near the center of the bridge and shuffled alongside of Bob, as he counted the bolts that bound the planks to the frame.

“There they are,” Bob said, as he pointed down to the banks of the moat.  “You ready for this?”

“There are two types of people in this world,” Woodruff said.  “Those who cut the tags off blue jeans before they even try them on, and those who use changing rooms.  Half the pants I own don’t even fit, so yeah, I’m ready.”

“This is really your biggest fear?” Bob said.

“Bob, these are the most fearsome creatures to ever walk the earth,” Woodruff said.  “They’ve outlasted the dinosaur.  They can live anywhere from the depth of the ocean to the harsh Saharan desert.  They have vice-like beaks with legs like an elephant and talons like a hawk.  They can retract their skull into their rock hard exterior.  If they had wings, no place on this planet would be safe.”

“Wings?” Bob questioned.

“They’d be the top of the food chain,” Woodruff said, pantomiming a flapping motion.

“Don’t they eat, like, grass and lettuce?”

“That’s what they want you to think,” Woodruff said.  “Just look into their black calculating eyes.”

“So what’re you gonna do, wrestle it?” Bob asked.

“I’m going to stare straight into the flat face of death,” Woodruff said.  “I’m going to stand directly in harm’s way and show that monster what I’m made of.  I’m going to stretch forth my unwavering hand and place it at the peak of peril and laugh at the reaper.”

“You’re gonna touch its shell and run?”

“Yeah, that.”

Woodruff drew in a deep breath and hopped over the railing.  He made his way tenuously down the steep slope toward the muddy bank of the moat.  Bob watched from above as Woodruff approached what looked like a tire sized rock.

“Turn and face me,” Woodruff said to the dark mound that hugged the shoreline.  “Your reign of terror ends today.”

The large dome moved and Woodruff fell backwards into the reeds and mud.

“Sweet Oogway!” Woodruff shouted.  “It’s charging!”

The giant turtle slowly rotated around in Woodruff’s direction.

“Quick, touch it,” Bob yelled down from the bridge.

“It’s too late,” Woodruff said.  “I’m done for.”

“You can do it, Woodruff.”

“Bob, I want you to have my pan flute when I’m gone.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Bob said.  “You’re gonna make it.”

Bob jumped over the rail and tumbled down the slope toward Woodruff and the turtle.  By the time he reached the murky waters of the moat, the terrifying tortoise had almost finished turning itself toward Woodruff.

“Tell Thelma she was right,” Woodruff cried.  “Those cream cheese and chive Hot Pockets were a mistake.”

“Just hang on, Woodruff,” Bob said.  “I’m almost there.”

Bob trudged through the ankle deep mud as the turtle took its first step toward the fallen Woodruff.

“Merciful Morla!” Woodruff yelped.  “This is the end.”

“Get up,” Bob said, as he reached down and pulled Woodruff to his feet.  “Now, do what you came here to do.”

The turtle extended its long neck from its shell and looked up at Woodruff.  He closed his eyes tight and reached out his long arm.  When his hand was directly over the turtle’s back, Bob pushed down on his arm and Woodruff’s fingers touched the cold hard dome.

“I did it!” Woodruff declared.  “I touched it!”

“You faced your fear,” Bob smiled.

“Now let’s get out of here before its web-footed minions come for us,” Woodruff said.

“Are you talking about the ducks?”

“And the frogs too.”

They raced along the muddy banks away from the lethargic leviathan.  Just around the bend they came to a thick chain link fence that stretched out over the moat.  Woodruff squeezed through a small gap between the fence and the trunk of a massive mesquite tree.  After several minutes of struggling and failing to get around or over the fence, Bob fell into the murky moat and swam under it.

“That water looks nasty,” Woodruff said as Bob crawled out of the moat to join him on the other side of the fence.

“It’s not bad,” Bob said.  “Kind of a limey coconut flavor.”

They followed the water down a deep canal, banked on both sides but a concrete wall.

“Give me a boost,” Woodruff said.  Bob lifted him over the concrete wall into a meticulously landscaped island.  They were hemmed in by the canal on one side and a 20-foot high fence on the other.  Woodruff reached back down and helped Bob up onto the grassy lawn in the corner of the island.

“Sir, sir,” a woman called from behind the higher concrete wall on the opposite side of the canal.  “Suriya appears to be in distress.”

“She called you sir,” Bob chuckled.

“Please, come quick,” the woman said.  Woodruff and Bob jogged in parallel with the woman, from the other side of the wall, to the far end of the island.

“Is that a…,” Bob gasped.

“Yep,” Woodruff confirmed.  “That’s a tiger.”

A large orange and black striped cat lay on a bed of straw, with one leg high in the air.  The tiger turned to look at Woodruff with her golden eyes.

“I know what this is,” Woodruff said.  “She’s in labor.”

“How do you know?” Bob asked.

“Spent a summer in Sumatra building miniature jabu villages for underprivileged ants,” Woodruff said.  “You see things.”

The woman from the other side of the wall joined a gathering of boys and girls, huddled together behind a thick pane of glass in a large observation area.  Bob waved at the children and gave them an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

“What’re we gonna do?” he asked Woodruff out of the side of his mouth, while smiling at the woman and children.  “Miss Bliss and her merry band of kindergartens, over there, are watching.”

“Nature’s gonna do her thing,” Woodruff said.  “We just gotta sit back and catch a kitten.”

“Disgusting,” Bob said.

There was a loud tap on the glass that startled Suriya, Woodruff and Bob.  A scrawny man in a khaki jumpsuit held onto a broom with one hand and shook a dustpan at them with the other.

“What are you doing in there?” he asked.

“I need 12 pickles,” Woodruff spoke loudly toward the scrawny zookeeper behind the glass.

“Pickles?” the zookeeper asked.

“This tiger is about to give birth,” Woodruff said.  “I need 12 pickles and I need them now!”

The zookeeper dropped the broom and dustpan, and hurried off with a worried look on his face.

“What do you need 12 pickles for?” Bob asked.

“I’m hungry,” Woodruff replied.  “Look, here it comes.”

A small balloon-like bubble with a tiger cub inside slid onto the straw and Suriya began to lick her baby clean.

“Aw, look at that,” Bob said.  “It’s super gross and yet beautiful at the same time.  Like a librarian who wears her hair up in a bun.”

“Totally,” Woodruff agreed.  “What are we going to name him?”

“We get to name him?” Bob asked.

“It’s zoo law,” Woodruff said.  “He who delivers it dubs it.”

“Let’s name it Wob,” Bob said.  “Like a mix of Woodruff and Bob.”

“That’s stupid,” Woodruff said.  “We should pick proper tiger name like Tony or Shere Khan.”

“What’s the tiger’s name from Kung Fu Panda?”

“Tigress, but this is a boy cub.”

“How can you tell?”

“Go ask your mom or dad.”

“Fine.”

“What about Sparky?”

“Sparky?”

“Yeah, after Sparky Anderson,” Woodruff said.  “Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame Manager.”

“I like it,” Bob said.  “Uh, Woodruff?”

“Yeah Bob.”

“Another bubble baby is in the hay,” Bob pointed to a second little tiger cub, as Suriya went to work cleaning the new arrival with her long pink tongue.

“Twins,” Woodruff said.  “This one’s all yours.  Zoo law.”

“Wob,” Bob declared.

“Bob, you can’t name her after us,” Woodruff said.  “This cub is a girl.”

“How can you tell?” Bob demanded.

“Ask your parents,” Woodruff said.

Bob pulled out his cell and tapped the screen several times.  He put it to his ear and waited.

“Mom, it’s me, Sugar Bear,” Bob said.  “How can you tell a girl tiger cub from a boy tiger cub?”

Woodruff knelt down next to Suriya and gently scratch her behind the ear.

“No, this isn’t a joke,” Bob continued talking to his phone.  “I’m really asking.”

“Good girl,” Woodruff whispered to the momma tiger.  “Don’t worry, those pickles are on the way.”

“Oh,” Bob said.  He lowered the phone from his ear and looked at the class in the observation room.  “Tigger should really be wearing pants.”

Ready, Set, Romance

Listen as I venture bravely into romance and help Janette Rallison with her novella anthology.

Episode 27

Janette Needs Help

Episode 28

Titles

Episode 29

Fan Questions

Episode 30

More Plotting for Janette

 

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Fyrecon

I’m thrilled to be a part of Fyrecon June 8-10 at Weber State University – Davis Campus in Layton, Utah.  I’ll be teaching two classes and sitting on four panels.

https://www.fyrecon.com/schedule/

To kick off the event Thursday I’ll be teaching a class at 1:30pm Bringing Your Story to Life where I’ll help writer take their stories from beginning to the end.

Friday fun day is loaded with another class and two panels.  The first panel starts at 11:30am where we talk about books that have influenced us.  Then at 2:30pm I’ll be teaching a class on flipping your story upside down to find clarity where I relate my experience as a freelance sports reporter and what I learned that helped my write novels.  Right after that I’ll sit on the panel talking about the dos and don’ts of manipulating your audience.

Saturday evening I’ll be moderating the panel on reboots and remakes for television and film which I’m really excited about.  Then I’ll be sitting on a panel with my good friend Alyson Peterson on writing humor.

I can’t wait!

A Dream Among The Stars

I had a thought that grew into a dream.  That dream went with me everywhere.  It was with me at work.  With me while I ate.  I laughed with my dream and it smile back.  My dream greeted me each morning and bid me goodnight as I lay down to sleep.  My dream was even with me while I showered.

More and more of my energy went toward my dream as it grew and grew.  One day, quite miraculously, my dream turned into a star.  It lived in my head, as real as real could be, until I could no longer contain it.  I was not ready for the world to see my little star so I kept it in my pocket.  Day after day it took shape and grew bigger and brighter.

One day I felt it was time to share my little star with others.  I gave a peek to those closest to me and they looked on my little star with awe and wonder.  Some hailed it and proclaimed that it belonged in the heavens while others questioned if it were big or bright enough.  Truth be told, I wondered the same thing myself.

We were faced with two choices, my dream and I.  Either my little star would remain tucked safely away in my pocket, where only I would know of its beauty and brightness, or we would endeavor to follow brave men and women into the celestial sky to place it among the stars.  My fondest desire was to share my little star with all who might enjoy it, so the choice was easy.  The journey, however, was not.

With a deep breath and a prayer in my heart, I set off for the top of the mountain.  I climbed the nearest peak and when I reached the summit I took my little star from my pocket and held it high, toward the heavens.  We waited, my dream and I, for what seemed like an eternity.  I gave serious thought to constructing a vessel of my own for the trip when at last a tiny sail boat floated through the sky as if in answer to my silent prayer.

Grateful for the passage I gave no thought to its size or worthiness but leapt in before it could depart without us.  We sailed up into the great unknown toward a future of glorious possibilities.  The journey was long but my little star and I reveled in the fact that we had been accepted into the vast galaxy above.  With wide-eyed wonder we took in the passing cosmos on our way to our long sought destination.

At last we arrived and I took my little star, gave it one last adoring look, and placed it with the other beautiful spheres of light.  The joy I felt nearly caused my heart to burst.  I returned to earth, full of excitement, to call for all of my friends and family so they might see the heights we had reached, my dream and I.  They rejoiced with me and we celebrated together for a time.  I spread the word far and wide that my dream had become a star and my star was in the sky for all to behold.

Many came and looked upon my star.  There were those who delighted in its splendor and whimsy.  And others who did not find it as grand or brilliant as other stars they had seen.  When I stepped back and took in the breathtaking tapestry of the universe, my little star seemed so insignificant and the prospect of anyone finding it on their own seemed so remote that my joy began to slip away.

It was then I remembered where we began our journey and just how far my dream had come to take its place among the stars.  It did not matter to me that it was dwarfed in size and brilliance by its glorious companions or that it might be lost to some among the infinite expanse of space.  To me the only thing that mattered was how far we had come and what my dream had become.  I do not know how long or how bright my little star will burn or how many will enjoy its light.  But I now know what a dream can be and before I am through I plan on placing a few more stars in the sky.

Amazon Giveaway: The Land of Look Behind

Start the New Year off right with literacy and games of chance.  Enter for your chance to win a free ebook of the exciting debut mystery novel The Land of Look Behind. Your friends will be so jealous. Plus you get to follow an author on Amazon. #winning

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: The Land of Look Behind (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/d7316ffac42594b2 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Feb 3, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

Review: Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

I’m not a movie critic I’m a storyteller and I love a good story well told.  Yesterday I gained a new appreciation for a storyteller I have long admired.  J.K Rowling returned to the world she created and brought us back into the secret society of witches and wizards with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

A couple of things struck me about this story.  First, it was immediately familiar and welcomed you right in like we’d never been gone.  And second, this story was set so far apart from the Harry Potter story where someone with no context to her original series could enjoy this world for all its wonder and not feel completely lost.

Rowling set her latest story seventy years and an ocean apart from 4 Privet Drive and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and yet from the opening scene you knew you were right back in the magical world of wands and sorcery.  In the medium of film, a writer is not alone in the task of telling their story and in many ways relies on the director to bring the story to life.  David Yates is well acquainted with the Harry Potter universe having directed the final four films and he did not miss a beat bringing us to 1920’s New York where magical society facing its own set of challenges with the No-Maj population.

Newt

This was just one small way in which Rowling beautifully distinguished both the time period and cultures from one another.  Wizards and witches in the United States in the 20th century called non-magical folks No-Maj as opposed to Muggles.  This was introduced and explained early on in the story as Newt Scamander stepped off the boat from England and signaled to the audience that things weren’t going to be what they were used to.  Certainly we were treated to familiar spells and names, like Albus Dumbledore, but much of the setting and tone was different from what we experienced in our first introduction to the magical world through the eyes of the boy who lived.

Although New Scamander was an established Wizard he was more than a little out of place in the society and culture of New York.  This was a perfect way for Rowling to expand her universe as we could travel with Scamander and leave a world we knew for a different place and time, both we and Scamander could share a frame of reference and experience the new world together.

For those who had never before visited Rowling’s magical universe, presumably due to them either being too cool for what they deemed to be a children’s story or having been in a coma for the past twenty years, they also had a character who journeyed with them in the No-Maj aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski.  This is where Rowling gave us something we never had before, an uninitiated character with no magical connection.  Jacob’s reaction to this stunning revelation of the existence of magic was highly entertaining and although he took most of them in stride we were able to get a different perspective that was refreshing and new.

Speaking of different perspectives, this story was centered around adult characters with adult problems and concerns, which set an entirely different tone from Harry Potter.  Not only did we have Scamander and Kowalski trying to navigate a foreign environment but we were introduced to the recently demoted Auror Tina Goldstein who had her own set of problems seeking to redeem herself with the Magical Congress.  This was a far cry from children playing Quidditch, sneaking to Hogsmeade, and preparing for exams.

Finally, there was no prophetic child or You Know Who but we did have reference to a dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, who we learned about in the Deathly Hallows and a nice Easter Egg to that story along the way, yet another example of the something familiar yet new in this fantastic story [pun intended].

In closing I would like to give one last tip of my hat to Rowling and Yates not only as collective storytellers but for their individual accomplishments within the film.  First, Rowling introduced a mystery right from the beginning of a powerful unseen force and those that pursued it.  This mystery was slowly unfolded throughout the story in a masterful way and the ramifications were far more complicated and tragic than the physical destruction it wreaked.  Second, Yates got top notch performances out of a tremendous cast led by the Academy Award winning Eddie Redmayne.  I felt like the character portrayals and interactions were pitch perfect which was highlighted by the final interaction between Scamander and Goldstein.  This punctuated the story beautifully and sent my anticipation for what is to come through the theater roof.

Whether you are a fan of the Harry Potter series or just waking up from your decade’s long coma, you should treat yourself to this new adventure and a story well told.