Monday, November 3, 2014

The Forests my Dad Taught Me to Appreciate.

My job takes me to very interesting and far-away places, mostly among the green lush of a national forest. This aspect of my job is enticing on many levels and appeals to many sides of myself. First off, it meets all the criteria of what i want out of a job/career: working outside, working with my hands, it's different everyday, and I feel like i'm making a difference in the world. Part of these desires to do such work comes from my physique/natural ability to thrive in these environments. That being said, I owe a great deal of my drive to do this interesting and important work to my father. As long as I can remember, he was always a role model for outdoorsy activities. Whether it was hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, hiking, or riding four-wheelers, my dad was into it and wanted his kids to enjoy it just as much. Because I've been involved with the outdoors and the activities it offers since I was born, it seem like being outdoors is somehow ingrained in my DNA. I have my father to thank for the immense love I have for the outdoors and carry his love with me every time I don my work clothes and venture out into the harsh work-environment.

Working the fire to my will. Saving trees by burning them.
Because I have such a deep connection with my dad and the outdoors I work in, he is never far from my thoughts. I had the opportunity to spend a two-week long fire tour in an area adjacent to where my dad lived for 2 years. While on the King Fire in Northern California, we were a mere 50 miles or so from Sacramento. After my parents got divorced, my dad ventured out there looking for work, and was able to keep it for about two years before the distance became too much of a burden for him. My siblings and I would travel out there from time to time to see him, and he was coming home as often as he could to make his time away from us more bearable. But being in that area was a nice walk down memory lane. Especially the day we drove through the town of Tahoe, where my dad had taken my siblings and I more than once while passing through to get to and from Reno where we would fly to. You take that and the fact that on that tour, I worked closely with a man who resembled my late father more than I care to think too much about, it was an interesting couple of weeks.
Even just being up and around Heber, where he grew up and we spent nearly all of our time recreating, reminds me of his outdoorsy spirit and how it still resonates in my life.

Most pictures of my dad are painted in this fashion. Fish in hand, with big smile. Perfect.
I have a lot of good memories of my dad while we're out, camping, hunting or fishing, and they're memories i'll continue to cherish the rest of my life. Like when we would go out to the fishing tournament near the end of June (for 5 years or so) and it would just be him and I in a small boat together, for 12 hours a day. If we weren't busy slaying fish or rocking out to our similar taste in music, we always had something to talk about. Whether it was movies, TV, books, my interests or his, my school, his work, or just reminiscing about that time something funny happens. I love those conversations. It's during talks like that I developed a grand majority of my sense of humor I know and love today. I know I missed out on a lot of those conversations I grow into my adult life, and that's something i'll never get over. But when I'm outside, for hours and days at a time, I can get close to those moments with my Dad.

This proud brother of mine, boasting about his fresh catch.
There's a certain type of clarity and calm that comes with dropping off the map for up to two weeks at a time, not available to be reached by anyone aside from a face-to-face conversation. It allows for deep reflection, perspective, and clarity. It allows me to get a little dose of reality in my everyday life and reaffirm all the things that are REALLY important in my life. Being able to connect with the spirits of nature allow me to be closer to those I've lost, in some way. That's one of the major perks of my job: while others are bustling to and from their cubicles in their compact cars, stuck in traffic, my commute while on fires usually consists of driving on a dirt road. Being in these remote areas of the country, away from the drama and stressors of living in a major(?) city (Provo) allows for a greater appreciation of self and the world around you. My dad taught me a lot about the natural wonder and greatness of the earth, and it's something I'm thankful for everyday.

That deep of a connection is something that I'll carry with me forever.
I'm obviously one the only one my father's passion had an effect on. We continue to carry the torch.

I love you, Dad.
I miss you.
I just wanted to say thanks for sparking up that sense of wonder about the outdoors you love so much.

P.S. In looking for pictures of my dad to go along with this post, I am shocked and distraught at how FEW pictures I have of my dad and myself doing the things we loved most. I will fix this, and scan/copy every picture I can get my hands on, so that I may paint the mosaic of his life.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Indiana Jones would be proud: why Guardians of the Galaxy is so important.

Just the other day, after coming back from a fire-tour, I had the pleasure of viewing the movie in question for a second time. I had a lot of time to think over all the things I adored about the movie between viewings, laden with many revolutions of the "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" soundtrack. I've said it to a few people here and there when I have to qualify listening to the cheesy 70's and 80's pop music on repeat while in the car, but I can't get over this movie. It has this type of hold on me like an ex-girlfriend long since past, that moment when you look back at the time you had together and fawn over all the laughs and heart-racing moments. In the same sense, every time I see something that reminds me of the movie or characters (which happens a lot when you follow the director on Twitter and Instagram) I feel this rush of endorphins in remembrance of the wonderful time we spent together. But why? Why does this movie has a special hold on me? Why do I feel physically compelled to return for multiple viewing in the theater?

Guardians of the Galaxy has been at the top of my anticipation list for quite some time now, but my excitement was burning a lot hotter ever since the trailer was released. I, like pretty much everybody else out there, had no previous knowledge of this group of bandits until Marvel made the official announcement that the film was forthcoming. Even after that announcement and initial reaction by the internet, my knowledge was only limited to what was on Wikipedia. I remember the night that the trailer first premiered, my twitter feed was a hornets nest of messages and replies, favorites and retweets among my friends. I was enamored by the tone of the trailer, that it could be informative, hilarious, exciting and a tad cocky all rolled into one. I had to have more, I feverishly began searching for these characters in ANY other media that I could get my hands on, I had to know everything about these them.
Right around this time was when my best friend Gage was just getting me in to Parks and Recreation, my only exposure to Chris Pratt up to that point. Like everyone else in America (seemingly), I have fallen head over heels for this buffoon of a man. I had no idea that I would see poor Andy Dwyer, who broke his arms and legs falling into a large pit, wielding elemental guns, the Star Lord mask and rocket boots with suave and focused aggression. This movie caters to the man's acting skills, letting him be the hero with a smirk; always having a good time.

I could certainly go through and break down all of the special places in my hear that each character has, but I don't want you to donate your entire day reading this post. Besides, I'm sure I'll have a hard time not talking about this movie and these characters in the future.
This movie is much more that another installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released just to set up the next "event movie" (Avengers 2: Age of Ultron). From the very beginning, James Gunn and company lay the land for a spectacular, interplanetary, space adventure. That's what this movie really is after all, an adventure that we're all on. The likes of which I haven't seen or felt this close to since I was a child. How this movie differs from modern films filled with senseless destruction, massive amounts of CGI and fart jokes (I'm looking at you, Micheal Bay) is the gooey sentiment and heart of the movie. You understand the motives of these characters and root for them, even though they may not be doing the most honorable thing. To me this is the work of a truly brilliant writer, to present you with characters who are dastardly, selfish and emotionally closed off and yet you cheer them on throughout every endeavor. Not to mention tugging at your heart strings, I'm not ashamed to admit that I welled up a good 3 or 4 times over the course of the movie. The dialogue and story has a way of relating to me that fills me with good feeling and bad feelings that make me remember my losses. Like Star Lord says "I look around this room, you know what I see? Losers. Meaning we've all lost things, friends, family." But it's the drive to pick yourself up and carry on that makes these characters noble. They all have emotional and physical baggage they're trying to forget or run from, but it helps to motivate and not hinder.

It's one of those stories that stick with us, the ones we can carry throughout our whole lives. For me, I certainly have those stories that influence my imagination and sense of adventure. The types of movies that introduce the concepts of heroics and courage. Like many others that were born in the last 30+ years, a big one for me was Star Wars, I mean, I'm drinking out of a Boba Fett coffee mug right now. This is one of those epic story lines like Star Wars, it's Indiana Jones, Star Trek. To a lesser extent, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (eh). Stories like this inspire us to display inexplicable amounts of courage and vigor in the face of crippling adversity. Stories like this are the reason I would dawn my rough leather coat and play Indiana Jones in the back yard, they give us characters that we not only admire, but we want to BE. Every now and then we have cinematic gems laid at our feet that we can either pick up wear them proudly on our shoulder proudly as long as we live, or become a closet case and silently appreciate the grandeur of the adventure. I really feel that this is a turning point in the lives of those children who see it as a kid and it stays with them. I wouldn't be surprised if 20-30 years down the road, people stop asking so much about the original Star Wars and start asking "How old were you when you saw Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time?"

So if you haven't seen this piece of history or are on the fence about it, don't be. Not seeing it would be like not seeing the first Star Wars in theaters because you're not sure about it. So go forth, see it, get the soundtrack and relive the glory as you drive around in your car that you'll be tempted to call the Milano from here on out.

That's it for now! More ramblings to come!
Thanks for reading

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day meets the 2 year mark.

In case you've been off of the internet all day or have no soul in not giving your mother the time of day on this day, today is Mother's Day.

But what you may have not known, is that this is also 2 years to the day that my mother tragically slipped away from us.

It goes without saying, today has been difficult, which is the understatement of the year. This blog post could be very dark, gloomy, and emo post on this day of days; but I'm keeping my head high. This as you can imagine is not an easy task in the face of everything that I've been through, but the passage of time can be kind. Facing the headstone of the woman who raised me, loved me and taught me everything I needed to know about love and life, is an earth shaker no matter how fresh the wound is. Today I thought more about how far I've come in the last two years, how I built my life back up from nothing and am able to walk tall. The crushing weight of the burden I was dealt was almost too much to handle and I thought I'd never recover. May 11th will always be a day of retrospective thought aside from the obvious reasons. I will look back at the person I was on May 10th and see a stranger. My life as changed 100 fold from anything that I had thought I would become.
Forever a Mama's boy.
I am so blessed to have my three wonderful siblings around me as much as I can. They give me strength when all I see is darkness. Watching them accomplish, work hard and fail gives me lots of ups and downs now-a-days but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love the fact that they can turn to me for any problem that may arise and we have such a good relationship, because we're all that we have left. Today marks Mother's Day and the biggest shock I've ever experienced. But I'm able to look around and see all of the wonderful things I have in my life, and the future doesn't seem so dark or bleak.

Everyday, I live out the lessons that my Mom taught me in the 19 years we got together. 
I commend her treating me as and adult enough to teach me the concept of unconditional love at such a young age.
I remember her laugh, her smile and everything that made her great. 
I still dream about her. 
I long for her loving embrace. 
I see her everyday when I look in the mirror and in the compassion of my siblings.
I wear my tattoo proudly, as a badge of courage and loving remembrance.
I display pictures of my childhood all over my house to have little windows into the past. 
I think about her everyday.
She means the world to me and today is her day, as my mother.
I love you mom, and I hope you understand how important you are to me.
Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Companion Podcast Episode 8: Wishing for More Genies!

After a week on hiatus due to unforeseen circumstances, The Companions are Back!!!

Join us this week, previously recorded where we shell out life lessons, talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer, Salt Lake comic con: Fan X, The look of the Green Goblin, and all other manner of nerdy goodness!

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This week, we reflect on the art of the world.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Companion Podcast Episode 7: Family Movie Theatre!

It's been a crazy busy week, but my family members were in town and we've seen a thing or to while at the cinema! So join us for a short and sweet episode as we discuss the merits of Muppets Most Wanted and Mr. Peabody and Sherman! Take a look into the dynamic of our family unit as we discuss silly, humor-laden kids movies that were enjoyed by kids of all ages!!

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My Companions this week!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Episode for The Companion Podcast: "Verily, A Table-Read."

Join us one and all as we pay tribute to a master of his craft that shapes the way we speak and insult to this very day all while dwelling within our comfort zone of topics; Star Wars! This week, our heroes and companions, whilst sitting about the dining table, swap stories of old; embarrassing and grotesque. Once that has ceased, our companions disappear and are replaced by the players of the William Shakespeare's Star Wars cast of characters, where comedy and drama ensue.

Bear witness to this patchwork collaboration of my dear friends and I as we go through the dense and tongue-twister language of old. But don't forget to enjoy the stories swapped at the top of the show, showcasing our fears, and embarrassing moments.

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Dalton Loveless-Chorus Narrator @D_Love17
Justin Thorn- Luke Skywalker @justinbthorn
Jessica Myer- Princess Leia @jessjmyer
Gage Cottle- Han Solo @URBAN_Cosmonaut
Matt Moon- C-3PO, R2D2 @matthewgarryfox

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Have a Fanzz-tastic week all!

Our Companions this week with the very book from which we got our content.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Episode!!! Dark Knight of Shield!

Loyal listeners and fellow companions! We here at the Companion Podcast present our new episode for the week! It's chock full of geeky goodness: Don't miss, as this week the Companions discuss the merits of Micheal Bay's Turtles, mull over the Captain America premiere, we open a dialogue over whether Batman could destroy Captain America, Spidey pisses his pants in the presence of the Dark Knight, the panel harasses Dalton and his hatred of the Star Wars Prequels, we lay out how you SHOULD watch Star Wars and egg the audience on to "Mean Tweet" us. 

Don't miss this weeks geeky goodness!


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You can also weigh in on the debate! Let us know who you think would win!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Rush Fan is Born in the Fire.

I know it has been a little while since my last blog post that had nothing to do with a podcast, for my inspiration to write such diatribes come only every now and again. But last nite and today, I came across something that opened my horizons in a way that hasn't happened since I was in Junior High or High School:
I discovered a new band.
Now, they are far from being a new band, just on the scene with a fresh take on their musical style that causes me to connect with them on a personal level. They are just a band that I'm only running into their work after 21 1/2 years on this planet. The band I speak of, that i have come to not only respect their body of work, but on a personal level is Rush.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, "How could he have not listened to Rush before?" or "Has he been living under a rock for the past 50 years that they've been around?" I assure you, it's nothing so dramatic. To be honest, they were just never really on my radar before, the music was never really around when I was growing up. My dad, being my musical figurehead through a grand portion of my adolescence, was never really into the band in any capacity that I noticed. But as I learned, from the documentary that turned me onto them called "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage." I highly recommend it, even if you're not into their music (like I wasn't), you can still come out of the hour and 40+ minutes with a little bit of childlike wonder and appreciation for this Canadian, 3 piece, rock group that changed the way we think about popular music. It's on Netflix right now, which has become one of the most accessible things in our society, so check it out.
Excuse me, I digress.
Of course I've heard the majesty of a song that is Tom Sawyer, and perhaps one or two other Rush songs in my time dabbling in the musical culture, but they were never at the top of any of my lists. Which I now see as a gross oversight on my part. The lyrical mastery put together by these guys along with the fast, steady, and impressive drum rhythms of Neil Peart on drums are a symphony to behold. But I'm not here to review their performance over the years or gush in my new found fandom. One of the things that I took away the most from this documentary was that when it comes to your art, the things that we create to express ourselves, the most important thing is to stay true to ourselves. The thing we do (painting, song writing, podcasting, singing) can change over the years and be influenced by different sources as we make our way through life, but much like Rush, we have to stay true to the kids we were when we first dreamed up this idea.
This becomes pertinent to me because I have begun to put my art out there, for all to enjoy. And although it has only been a short while, I have begun to think about the long term and how much I enjoy making fun times with my friends around me. I just really respected the members of Rush's decision to do what it is that they wanted to do over all of the years and not faltering to what the other bands were doing that made them "more popular" than Rush.
Another thing that really spoke to me were the trials that Neil Peart went through after the deaths of his daughter and wife. He basically dropped everything he was doing with the band and drumming, got on his motorcycle and just rode. In the documentary, he talks about that time of just traveling and how it was so soothing to his soul. The motion of the bike as he traversed all of North America on the back of his motorcycle is so inspiring to me. It really spoke to me because of all of the time I have spent outdoor since the deaths of my parents. I had never really been able to put my finger on why being out in remote areas, away from civilization had been so therapeutic for me until I heard Neil Peart explain it to me in this documentary.
"I traveled out of the darkest place a human being can come from and it was landscapes, highways and wildlife that revitalized me. It was the timeless landscapes. It gives your tiny existence a new perspective when you're among things that are millions of years old."
Being with the Forest Service this past year took me to very remote and beautiful locations.

As I heard this for the first time, I let out an audible "yes" as I sat on my couch, backing in the knowledge of such a talented, well-read man. Because it explained to my and put into words the feeling I get while I'm outside; camping, hunting, fishing,  and fighting wildfire. Being among the things that are timeless really puts my life into perspective for me and shows me that even though life can deal us really shitty hands sometimes, we can persevere and overcome our trials of the mind, body and soul. So this is almost just a public thank you letter to the man that put these words in my head and at my fingertips, because it helps me to convey the feelings I've experienced while learning to cope with the unexpected turns that my life has taken. So to Mr. Peart, and all other that have helped me through my difficult times, a genuine thank you is in order for allowing my introspective outdoorsmanship happen over this nearly 2 years of restructuring.

It also helps that I got to discover a new side to a band I had only ever passively listened to.

Until next time:
The look of a truly happy outdoors-man loving the majesty of nature.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

New Episode "Keep Calm & Trust Nolan" is available for your ear holes!!

I hope you all have been looking forward to the new episode, because it's come and it's chock full of everything that makes this podcast amazing!! We talk about the Oscars and how it effects the world, Ellen and her pizza joke, Gage may be turning on us because he watched "Frozen" and as we all know, it was made to indoctrinate us with the "gay agenda..." NOT. There are also gems lodged in the chatter between friends about the new "Godzilla" trailer, the forthcoming and exciting "Man of Steel" sequel , and of course, no edition of this nerd-cast would be complete without a trip down to "Star Wars" town. Thanks for clicking and listening!!!

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We all know how important hydrating is, so grab a big glass of water and curl up with the Companions!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Episode Fights with Fluff-Chucks!

New Episode fights with Fluff-Chucks!! Join us on an audio journey through the prism of 3 friends sitting around, doing shots of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice and eating onion ring chips! We give riveting reviews of "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "The Amazing Spider-man" and gush over the female leads of the movies! This and Gage doing a rendition of the classic Star Trek moment of "KHAAAN!!!" This episode is affectionately dedicated to Alice Eve, Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence. Also, stick around for a review of "John Carter of Mars" and our predictions/expectations for Star Wars Episode VII.

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The Companions staring majestically off into the sunset, thinking about Alice Eve.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New episode is "Beautifully Terrifying"

Hey all!I hope that you were able to get on and enjoy the inaugural episode of The Companion Podcast, which I have started with the aforementioned Gage Cottle, and one of our dear friends Matt Moon. Just to keep you all in the loop, we've now published our second episode. I do not hesitate to say that it is leaps and bounds above our first, so stick with us, and hopefully you will find it to your enjoyment. Click, download and enjoy!! And remember, Rocket rules!

The headliners of our panel. We' have difficulty following directions...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My First Podcast

This Podcast is a culmination of all that I've been absorbing in popular culture over the past few years, stick with us if you can and we'll find our stride and take you on a magical journey of geekdom and friendship! Come be our companions!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Broncos Fans Now, and Forever

The Superbowl this past weekend was a bittersweet time in my life and not just because of the outcome of the game. Go Broncos. It was good because it’s one of the only times in my memory that the broncos had been doing well and the first Superbowl where I was interested. But the only thing that was missing from this last game were the shouts of happiness and the groans of frustration from my Dad, Bruce.

My dad is and has been the biggest Bronco fan that I know, as is apparent by the picture of me (1 month old) dressed in the most shiny and quickly grown out of one-sy with a big horse head and “Denver Broncos.” I know that I don’t really talk about my Dad as much as I should, but my interest and feelings are the most prevalent after the big game on Sunday. My Dad is the one who got me into football and interested in the game (playing and watching). He was also one of the only people I knew that would watch every NFL football game that he could, just for the sake of watching it. The thing that was most prevalent from watching Broncos and Utes football games was how vocal and involved he was in the games. He was constantly jumping up from the couch or hanging his head from the previous success/failure.

It just seems that as time goes, I find out all of the situations in which my Dad was always there or I need in that moment. Hunting and fishing were always our things together, and they’re not done one a consistent basis. Because I only engage in these activities once or twice a year, they’re not constantly on my mind for me to miss my Dad in. But I’m finding that the more that I do it, the more I feel isolated or lonely because he’s not there. It’s just because before now, he’s always been there whenever we…. Go out camping, have a Christmas at my grandma’s, reel in some big rainbow trout, look through the scope of my hunting rifle and size up the animal. He was there whenever I learned anything about the outdoors and as my jobs take me out into the back country, it’s strange to not have him within shouting range.

On the morning of the Superbowl I begin to feel this overwhelming sensation to drive up to Heber and visit my father’s grave. I just knew that if there were any chance in the world that I could see him on this momentous occasion for the Broncos and my father this would get me the closest. I could just imagine his house draped in orange and blue. I imagine streamers heading to and fro all along his ceiling. He would get that flag pole he always talked about getting just so that he could fly his Broncos flag high in the sky. Every Broncos shirt he owned would be tacked to the wall of the entry way. He would prepare a near king’s feast for the weary travelers in attendance. But he would also be the most serious throughout the entire game with interruption being punishable by death. It didn't hurt that I was covered in a new, Superbowl edition of a Peyton Manning jersey; a player my Dad respected and feared in equal proportions. That entire weekend, he wasn't far from my innermost thoughts. I dare say that I may have never seen as much as excitement in his face as I can imagine he would have at the news of the Broncos in the Super Bowl. As my cousin Sam texted me, "New theory... if Bruce can't watch it in person... they can't win!!" I think, in some cathartic way, that message has a strange resonance in my heart It would be difficult to really enjoy the Bronco's ultimate success without him screaming, cheering and bragging alongside me. 
I hope the decorations got him in the mood for the game

My High School Graduation: He was so proud.

Despite the devastating loss that my father’s team endured, I know that he would still be proud that the Broncos were in the Superbowl or that we knocked out the Patriots to get there. The optimism that you rarely say would be harping about how much ass the broncos were going to kick in the next season and all of the things they need to work on between now and them. I was just thinking of my dad this past week and thought I would run that by you guys. It was the first time, far too long for me to admit to, that I’d found my way to the Heber cemetery and paid a little respect to the man that shaped my perceptions and interests in nearly all aspects of my life. So the next time you guys see your dad, give them an extra hug, hand shake or head nod for me. Coming from a guy, who, at this point in his life would sacrifice all of his possessions to wrap my arms about my big, Bronco loving father. 

What I did in response to my grief. I decorated myself a little bit. 

I just hope that you seize every opportunity to appreciate the people in your life and let them know how much you mean to them. You never think about it until it’s too late. 

Thanks for clicking.

Bronco Fans Now, and Forever

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Old Pictures and New Adventures

Today was…. A humbling experience for me. After 730 Days without seeing or talking to my best friend in person, I had the honor of accompanying his anxious family members to the airport and bringing him home. It’s been a long and arduous journey without this man, and I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 years. Gage Cottle, who I accredit turning me into the person you all know today. He was the first one that treated comic books as a serious art form and was the first one that I felt like I could talk on a serious note about silly, fictional characters. I remember back in 2008, when “Watchmen” was yet to come out into theaters and he was talking about how excited he was for it. I had no idea that seeing that movie on Gage’s recommendation would change the course of my pop culture consumption forever. Gage was the one who put the first comic book into my hand, from that point on I've been entirely changed.

I had a few moments to myself today, thinking about what all it meant that Gage is home. I can lean on him in person and not just over email. I may need it still. It’s been about 1 year and 8 months since my life crumbled down into a million, unusable pieces. From that point on, Gage had always been my wall that I could bounce ideas off of or just vamp a bit about how things are hard or difficult. I knew that I could do this because his emails always came back with words of confirmation or affirmation of what I was doing; they always ended in words of love and encouragement. I knew that if I had reached my wit’s end and had nowhere else to turn to, I always had an audience with this great man. He never judged me or told me that I should change my course of action. In many dark times it was a bright star to receive an email from this kind soul on Monday mornings.

The past few days I've looked back at pictures of Gage before he left, or when we were still in high school. I was a bit remiss to do so, not to say that I didn't enjoy seeing the bright and shining faces of my temporarily departed friends. My biggest difficulty in seeing these pictures was that I didn't even recognize the Dalton in those pictures. Obviously I could tell it was me, but I've torn down every piece of myself since those were taken. I am an entirely different person then I was in those pictures, and I haven’t been that person in nearly 2 years. I know that these changes have been for the better mostly. I just want to go into these pictures and hug the version of myself I was, I just want to hug, comfort and tell him that everything will be ok soon. I would tell him that the immediate future will be the most difficult and trying times in his life, but that there are so many good people around him to help guide him through. Sometimes I wish I could just go back and live, perpetually, in the times of those pictures. All of my friends are together and my life was going well. Because right now, I tell people that “I feel like I have control over a lot of the aspects of my life that I haven’t for quite a while.” But the truth is that I’m still rebuilding my life, trying to find my place and look for my place.
2 Years Ago, Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed.

I realize I’m far off track from where I started, but it ties back into Gage’s triumphant return because this is a step forward. I've taken very few steps forward since May of 2012, and I know that this is one. My best friend is back in my day-to-day life and I could not be happier about that. I wanted this day to come for so long, especially in the wake of my entire life crashing down on and around me. I give a large sigh of relief now. It’s just another piece of the mosaic of my life that I can put up.
But I must move onward, we recorded the inaugural episode of my soon to be published podcast. There is a 5 foot tall stack of movies, TV box sets and comic books that Gage has to catch up on, and we intend to review or just talk out of our asses about them. So that could prove to have some good times that follow. 

More details to come…

Thanks for reading the incessant ramblings that come directly from my brain to the keyboard.

Love Always,

It's difficult to tell which one just came back from a 2 year stint in South America.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meeting Your Heros

Today I finally ventured into the rich tapestry that is the Sundance Film Festival. I've lived in Utah my whole life, but had never gotten around to seeing a film, panel or Q&A at this life changing festival. About 6 months ago, I was hoping that I would be seeing the new Kevin Smith movie at Sundance 2014, but due to scheduling conflicts he wasn't able to submit Clerks 3 or even make it in time for Sundance. How do I seem to have such intimate knowledge of the working life of such a profound director? Starting in July of 2012, I began listening to the plethora of Podcast that Mr. Smith does on his self-titled website “Smodcast.” Some have even gone as far as to say that it’s become a “Podcast Empire” but nonetheless, I became hooked.

Now for a bit of history.

My first introduction to the work of Kevin Smith was when my step-brother Nick showed me a copy of Clerks 2. At the time I remember him telling me, “This movie is really funny, but you won’t be lost if you haven’t seen the first. It’s in black and white and not that great.” In my feeble 14-15 year old mind I simply glazed over this and took it at face value, assuming that my older and more experienced step brother must know what he’s talking about. We watched the movie and had (many) good laughs over the irreverent humor and sex jokes, but I didn't look into it any deeper. Fast forward a few years to me having a conversation with my dear father after watching one of the “An Evening with Kevin Smith” Q&A specials. My father seemed enamored by the eloquence and storytelling ability of the man in question. He gave me a brief overview of what he knew about Kevin, that he was a film maker and quite the humorous story-teller. I remember my dad saying something to the effect of ‘he’s really smart, speaks very smooth and calmly, all while enveloping you in a humorous story.’ This caused me to look a little bit deeper into the work and career of Mr. Kevin Smith. I remember watching the “An Evening with Kevin Smith” Q&A special and being captured in the same sense of wonderment that I saw in my father. The next few years, I carried on with that basic knowledge of the writer, director and always kept an eye out for anything that he worked on. This is all without seeing a grand majority of his feature film projects; they just weren't on my radar.
Again we fast forward to my second year of college, I’m living at my first apartment away from my parent’s house and The Walking Dead had become quite the social phenomenon. This meant that we, as an apartment, watched the program live on its first airing every Sunday. That season, after The Walking Dead had ended every week a new show called Comic Book Men started its first season. I wasn't much interested in the show, despite nearly being tailor-made for my interests and demographic. The show petered on and I was none the wiser.

We make one last jump to May of 2012 when both of my parents pass away in very quick manners. My life is in shambles. I begin to build my life back from scratch in the months following. I quite my main breadwinner of a job for a full-time, screen printing job. Aside from being one of the first 40 hour/week jobs I've ever worked, there is another drastic difference from the other jobs I've worked in the past; I’m allowed to listen to music. This was perfect because I've always been a major flag-waver for the music I enjoy and am ecstatic that I can now enjoy all of my favorite tunes while I get paid. This heightened sense of excitement is short-lived, for after a few weeks I start to hate the music that I've been listening to on 8 hour loops. I realize that I need a way to shake loose the endless droning on and on of music albums. Sidenote: at this point in my life, I've been listening to The Geekshow Podcast (Utah local) for about 3 years now, but one 1-hour episode a week wasn’t enough to keep me busy for a 40 hour work week. I begin to broaden my horizons and had heard mumbles and rumor of the (now) legendary Smodcast that Kevin Smith does with one of his good friends. I start on current episodes and begin to go through the archives of banked episodes. Pretty soon I’m downloading 5 different podcasts from the Smodcast Podcast Network on the weekly.
Once I’m thoroughly enveloped in this “Podcast Empire” Kevin Smith’s book “Tough Shit” comes out as well as the audiobook format, which is perfect for my listening needs. Within this book are some of the most inspirational words that my ears have ever heard, about following your dreams, honoring those who have gone and just living in the moment and enjoying everything. These words are life-changing to me. I jump with both feet into the realm of the podcast, more interested in it than I ever had been before. Out of this (some would call it) obsession with the Smodcast Family of Podcasts, I hear so much about the movies that Kevin has made over his now 20 years in show business. I slowly begin to become familiar and interested in these movies that I had no previous exposure to, and with it came a profound respect for Mr. Smith.
This all becomes relevant now because in the past several episodes of his Q&A road shows he’s really been promoting the mentality of “anyone can do this” and giving people homework assignments to record a podcast sometime in the next calendar year. At this point in time I’m not quite there but I’m quickly going down that avenue and will report back with more later. The point is that this notable celebrity has become a preacher of sorts for me in my life of trying to build myself back up from the rubble I was left in on May 15, 2012.

Needless to say, seeing my new-found hero speak at Sundance today was more than an emotional experience. I tie it back into the fact that it was my dad who peaked my interest in the writer/director  and his multitude of work. The thing that I've found the most refreshing and easiest to cling to in the wake of becoming so enveloped in the his podcasts and movies are the level of candor that Kevin has with his listenership. This gives the listener a quasi committed relationship to someone who shares so much of their past with someone that they've never met. Even more refreshing than the existence of the candor is the realization that he’s just as nice, kind-hearted and excited in real life. It was just for a brief moment, but in that moment when my iPhone was pointed at the two of us, I felt at home and comfortable like I've known this man for years.

The purpose of this post is not to gloat in any way or name drop that I met and took a picture with Kevin Smith. This comes from a place of utter respect for using his power of spoken word to pull me out of the hardest time of my entire life. I was the lowest I've ever been, the hours and days went by without event and I thought that things were never going to be OK again. But because of this man telling me through my headphones the story of his own father passing, I felt some sort of connection with someone I had never met or seen in person. He was the light that shined on my in my darkest time, through his anecdotal humor and words of “anyone can do this” it not only lifted my spirits, but got me interested in creating art again. Very soon my best friend will come back from his mission and when that happens, I’ll be podcasting away and stepping behind the video camera again for the first time since high school. All in all, it was a very humbling experience today to meet the man I feel like has become one of my good friends.

Take care friends,