Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writing Wisdom – Dave Wolverton, aka David Farland

There is nothing like being taught by a master, and that’s how I would classify New York Times Best-selling author and writing teacher Dave Wolverton. Winner of the 2009 Whitney Best Novel of the Year and Outstanding Achievement Award, Dave is one of the most genteel and humble men I’ve ever known. He is always there to nurture a struggling beginner and to applaud the success of everyone who has made the journey into publication.

In addition to his own success, Dave, who has published 50 books in the past 26 years, has been entered into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the most people ever attend a book signing while promoting his Runelords series in Germany, has been a teacher to a list of other best-selling authors, including Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Elantris and The Wheel of Time: Towers of Midnight), and Stephenie Meyers (Twilight saga).

Recently I had the opportunity to attend one of Dave’s presentations at the LDS Storymaker’s conference, and I wished his session could have gone on for days. I’ve been writing and studying writing for a long time, but I learned so much in his session, short though it was.

His opening words of wisdom for that session were, “Nobody makes it alone. We all build upon each other.” He them went on to talk about how important it is to network. He encouraged the authors to prepare for a brilliant writing career and ask themselves, “What is your first good step?” He said there is no one set path for making a career as a writer, but like fellow science fiction author Kevin Anderson says, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Dave encouraged the writers to do their homework on the person or pesons they most want to network with, then build your confidence for when you meet them. “You just need that one person to get your career started. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” he adds, warning that you should also be aware of your potential competition.

He says to be entertaining, research the world, and develop genuine interest in people and knowledge that you can spread around. When you meet the agent or editor of your dreams, you want to have things to talk about, something with which you can engage them in conversation where they will remember you in a good way. “Prepare emotionally. Prepare spiritually,” he says. If we teach through our writing, we must be careful what we are teaching.”

Authors use writing as their way of screaming, and therefore you should write what is most important to you. Authors can change the world. They create entire communities. Dave says,” We are having a huge effect on people and we don’t even know it. A lot of people need what we have. Each of us has something to share in the world..”

He suggested we use the things he has said as our blueprint—“How to be more like me.” And that makes perfect sense when you understand that one of Dave’s goals is to help all of us become the next best-selling writers who are ready to speak to the world.

If you’re interested in learning more writing insight from Dave Wolverton, sign up for his free e-newsletter, Daily Kick in the Pants, at his website: http://davidfarland.net/. You can also find out about upcoming workshops there as well.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Been There, Done That – John Schneider

In the 1980s and early 1990s, I found myself free to travel just about anywhere I wanted. Living in Utah, a jaunt down to Vegas, a trip to Los Angeles, a drive north to Idaho, or a short-hop flight to Colorado was as easy as could be, and I never seemed to have difficulty finding a friend or four to   go with me. Even a second trip to the Big Apple—New York—was not impossible to pull off, but long before that my journey begins.

For several years I had been living in Provo, Utah, the place where this all begins. The Children’s Miracle Network annual telethon had made its home since the very beginning at the Osmond Studio complex in nearby Orem. I had almost annually made a trek to see as much of the telethon as I could get a ticket and a seat to attend.

Many, many celebrities came out for these shows and I often had the chance either at the studio or at the Salt Lake City airport to meet them. A few of those I remember include Richard Carpenter, Nia Peeples, Billy Zabka, Frank Stallone, and Andy Gibb. But probably the celebrity I ran into the most often was telethon co-host John Schneider.

John Schneider is one of those kinds of people who truly want to get to know their fans. Every time I saw him in Utah, which are too numerous to count, or even when the telethon moved to Disneyland, John would take the time to stop and talk. He’d pose for pictures and sign autographs, then he would start asking questions toward the group of us as fast as we could thrown questions back at him. He would really listen as we answered those questions, too. I felt like John wanted to get to know me.

That brings me back to New York and the rest of my story. One of my good friends, Mary La Fontaine, had a hankering to fly to New York to see John perform in the Broadway musical Grand Hotel. John would be playing the role of the Baron in the production currently running at the Martin Beck Theater, and she called to ask if I wanted to go.

Of course I wanted to go! I have always loved John as a performer, a singer, and especially as a person. Plans were made, tickets were bought, and a few weeks later, I was flying in late on Friday night after having taught school to meet Mary in New York late that night.

It certainly was late when I got there. My plan arrived at JFK right around midnight, and there I was, a single woman alone on New York, hoping I’d make it to the hotel alive. I’d learned to pack light for weekend trips like this, so I hauled my wheelie-bag from the plane and headed outside to the taxi stand. Now, I’d taken a taxi before when I was in New York, but I’d never done it alone—at night—with all those scary-looking taxi drivers standing around waiting for a final late-night fare.

I stood and stared at a group of them, all hanging out, smoking their cigarettes and staring at me, until I finally got up my nerve, raised my right hand, and said, “Taxi?”

None of them looked especially thrilled, but at last one mam took a final drag, stopped out his cigarette, and motioned me toward his car. I took a deep gulp of air as I slid into the seat. It’s probably a good thing because that cab absolutely reeked of stale tobacco, alcohol, and who knows what other smells.

I gave him the name and street number for the hotel where Mary had us booked and we were on our way. I had no idea where we were going. I only know the car careened one way, then another, sometimes coming to an abrupt halt behind a jam of cars, them tearing away into another side street as we headed somewhere that I assume was across town, although there were times I thought we hadn’t gone more than a street away from where our journey began. The only time I knew for sure we were someplace new was when we crossed the river and I could see bridges on either side of me a little farther up or down the waterway.

At last we arrived at my destination. Somehow I was lucky enough to have the correct amount of cash to pay my fare—some astronomical amount like 50 bucks as I recall, a number that matched the meter so I know he wasn’t being an obvious cheat—and I was a the door to the place, still not knowing exactly where I was headed.

I checked in at the desk then used the house courtesy phone to give Mary a call and let her know I was in the lobby. She came down to meet me, leading me upstairs and chattering all the way about how she had already seen the play this night and talked to John afterwards, telling him I was coming and assuring me that he wanted to see me.

Right! I thought. No matter how many times John had seen me, I knew he had no idea who I was, even if he did say he couldn’t wait to see me.

Somehow we managed to crowd into our postage-stamp of a room and settle in for an almost-night’s sleep. Despite the fact the window was the size of an 8x10 envelope standing on end, the outside noise of car horns, squealing tires, and overhead planes was more than I was used to and they all converged to keep me awake most of the night. Of course, the fact that the twin bed meant for me was more the width of a plank that a mattress didn’t help either. I think even if Mary and I had been able to slide the two beds together the whole thing combined wouldn’t have been wide enough for even a single person to sleep comfortably.

Tired, but not letting it stop me from having a great day, Mary did some Saturday morning sight-seeing before heading to the theater for the matinee. Until my luck with Christopher Reeve, we didn’t see John before the show, but that was okay. We had great seats right down front and both really enjoyed the play, Mary even more than she had the evening before.

After the performance, she said, “Come with me!” and we headed toward the curtain at the front right of the stage. There was an usher there, blocking the way for anyone to get backstage, but that didn’t seem to bother Mary. “Can you tell John that Mary and Lu Ann are here, please?”

The usher gave her a look that seemed to say ‘You’ve-got-to-be-kidding,’ but after a second he shrugged his shoulder and headed backstage. ‘He said he’s really excited to see you,’ Mary said, turning to me.
I smiled, but I didn’t believe we’d even get backstage, let alone have John excited to see me. I guess I was wrong. A few minutes later, the usher returned and Mary and I were suddenly standing on the other side of the curtain where we were walked farther into the dark recesses found backstage. “John will be here in a few minutes,” the usher said, then he was gone.

I can’t remember how long we stood there, but I do remember seeing Mary’s eyes start to sparkle right before I heard the deep voice say, “Hi Mary, and Lu Ann, it’s great to see you!” And there was John, his arms held out toward me, ready to give me one of those great big bear hugs his is notorious for. He started chatting away like we were finishing a conversation that had been started the day before. He asked me how school was going—did I have good students this year?—and how my flight was from Utah, and when did I have to go back, etc. We talked for probably twenty  minutes before he said, “Let’s get some pictures” and called over one of the stagehands who was resetting the stage for the evening performance.

Finally John said, “I’ve got to go. They have dinner waiting back in the dressing room for me, but it was sure great to see you—both of you!” He gave us each another hug and led us to the door that took us back outside. Before we left he gave us the name and address of one of his favorite restaurants in an area of the city known as Hell’s Kitchen and we were on our way—but that’s another story for another day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wisdom Keys: Never Spend More Time on a Critic Than You Would Give to a Friend

Everybody’s a critic, and the word alone means those people rarely have anything nice to say. I had a good friend express her concerns this week about a negative review that was left for her by a reader. Like a sore tooth, the hurtful words took joy away from my friend—at least on an emotional level—all the praise and kudos she’s received from hundreds of others not only for this book, but for her other bodies of work as well. In her mind, she fully understood that it was just one person—a lone voice ranting in the wilderness—but that didn’t change the hurt that came along with it.

I’ve heard it said that it takes us seven experiences with praise to counter-balance a single negative comment delivered to us, even by someone who claims to only be giving constructive criticism. Is there really such a thing? If the offering was unrequested, then perhaps those words are better left unsaid.

Like the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. If you truly want to bring about change, then perhaps you should look at the words that are said, or choose to leave them unsaid if that’s the better way.

But what if you’re the one hearing those vinegar-laced words? My mother always told me to 'consider the source'. Would that critic set out to deliberately hurt you? Or are they just so blind they cannot see? If their actions seem deliberate, why would they do such a thing? Sometimes it might be out of jealousy, others could be because they simply don’t understand. Maybe they think they are doing you the good they believe you need. A critic is anyone who expresses a value judgment, and if their value differs from yours this may lead them to an erroneous conclusion—one they seem compelled to share, for whatever the reason.

In any case, we should never place more value—or spend more time—on the words of a critic than we would ascribe to those of a friend. The value of friendships is immeasurable in our lives. The listening ear, and open mind, a pat on the back, a word of support when the thorns of life seem to come our way.

True friendships carries with it the desire to give what is best to each other, feel both love and empathy for those we befriend; and maintain honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, not to criticize or correct, but to maintain an openness beget of nothing but true love. Friendship means a basis of mutual understanding and compassion for one another, and foundation or trust, and a place to go for emotional support.

As Walter Winchell once said, “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.”

With such as these, we should spend our emotions, ignoring those who would seek to do us harm, both physically and emotionally, with their criticizing tongue. Elder David E. Sorensen once said, “It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they’ve done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else’s wrongdoing control our course. When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives.”

So, forgive our critics, those who trespass against us, and set ourselves free. The time we spend on them is time taken away from us to go about doing good in the world, sharing our talents, and building ourselves into a better you and me.  

And that’s what will make this world a better, kinder, and more loving place to be.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Home Cooking: Hey, Good Lookin’

Whatcha got cooking? How about cooking somethin’ up with me?

My mother used to sing this song while she was working in the kitchen, a place she really seemed to love to be. That must have been a trait she learned from her own mother, and one that got passed on to my sister, Sue. Didn’t happen though with me, and honestly not with my aunt Leona either it seems. Some girls naturally inherit the “I-love-to-cook gene.” Others do not, and that’s where you’ll find me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can cook; I just don’t particularly like to. But just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I can’t cook up a dish or two that rank as some members of my family’s favorite meals. And it’s not all just cake and desserts, either, although they do seem to like that too.

When I started this series some time ago, I had people asking me for some of my favorite recipes, so today I’m going to share one with you. Others will come as the weeks follow. These are tried and true and my boys gobble them up like they haven’t eaten in weeks. Oh, for the days I used to have leftovers for sandwiches or a lunch to take to work!

The main course dish that I’m going to share actually has a story to go with its history.

In one of my early years teaching at Payson Jr. High School, we were having some sort of pot luck meal in which members of the faculty were supposed to bring a favorite dish. I knew I couldn’t make desserts to equal those my sister could make, rolls were out of the question, and the salad I might have made took overnight to prepare and I didn’t have that time luxury, so I decided to make up some breaded tenderloin to share.

This is something I knew how to cook without even thinking. Breaded tenderloin was probably the first thing my mother really taught me to cook, and I know it was the first dish I was asked to prepare all on my own for a family meal. I followed my mother’s exact recipe.

Buy pork tenderloin, sliced as thin as you can get them. Cut off any fat, place the tenderloin between two sheets of waxed paper and pound on the meat until it is paper-thin.

Dip the meat pieces into a well-beaten egg until it’s covered, then press each side onto a waxed paper where you’ve crushed crackers into nearly powder. (I use Ritz crackers; my mother used saltines.) 

Heat an electric skillet to 350∘. Slowly place the cracker and egg-covered pieces into the skillet and let them begin to cook. When the side nearest the heat has started to turn golden brown, gently turn the meat over, cooking until the other side is the same color. Do NOT salt the meat at this time.

Repeat the process, allowing the meat to cook through and the coating to continue to brown on both sides. The third time you turn them, you may lightly salt each side.

At the end of t his final turn, the meat should be completely cooked, but cut open a tiny part in the center of the thickest piece of meat. If all looks good, then you are done and the breaded tenderloin is ready to serve.

Now, back to my story. I had made the tenderloin and brought them to this party at school. My humble offering was sitting on the table amid all sorts of fabulous looking dishes and I wondered if anyone but me would even want to eat any of this lowly meat. It didn’t take long in the line to find out.

Layne Blatter, our German teacher, was not far ahead of me, when I heard him exclaim, “Wienerschnitzel!”

Now the only time I had ever heard that word was when someone was referring to that hot dog place in Orem that served the best coney dogs I’d had since I stopped going to the Madison County fair. I wondered if someone had brought coney dogs to the party.

“Who brought the wienerschnitzel?” Layne asked, looking around for who might be the person responsible for this dish. All of us shrugged our shoulders, and no one claimed the be the cook. “I love wienerschnitzel,” he added.

We continued to go through the line, and I filled my plate, taking a piece of my own dish of meat. Then I took a seat at a table, only finding out a few minutes later when they came back from getting drinks that Layne and his wife would be sitting with me.

As Layne sat, he looked at my plate and saw my meat. “Did you make the wienerschnitzel?” he asked, pointed at my breaded tenderloin.

“That’s breaded tenderloin,” I said, a little confused.

“Not in Germany it isn’t,” he said before he took his first bite. He savored it like he had never tasted anything so good. “And you made it just right—just like I remember from Germany.”

A few minutes of conversation and I discovered that this dish that my mother used to make—one she had learned from her mother—came to us from our German ancestry, and that in that country what we knew as breaded tenderloin was known as wienerschnitzel.

 “All those hot dog stands are wrong,” Layne told me.”Now, can you give me the recipe?”

I shared the same information I have given to you, and Layne went home a happy man. As a matter of fact, several times throughout the rest of the school year he stopped to tell me, “My wife made me wienerschnitzel last night, and I have you to thank!”

And I hope any of you who decide to try this recipe will feel the same. I know my boys do.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Movies The Final Countdown

The Expendables – You know, I’ll never understand today’s movie rating system. Some people would think I must be a terrible person and an even more terrible Mom because I took one of my boys with me to see this Sylvestor Stallone movie which is rated R. Yes, the movie was violent, but it wasn’t gruesome. Yes, Bruce Willis said the F-word, but he said it so many times in a single minute of screen time that it became comical rather than offensive. What should have been gore was more video-game-like in intensity. So, in comparison to Vampires Suck or Dinner with Schmucks, which I reviewed last time, The Expendables really wasn’t a bad movie at all. At least it didn’t have gratuitous sexual content, vulgar references or language interspersed throughout, and honestly, the story was great! Guy movie or not, I though this was a well-done, interesting, and exciting movie. I liked the way Stallone brought the entire story to a full resolution in a way that was satisfying to the viewer. The subtle humor helped me connect to the characters, and feel like I wanted to see yet another film with these same guys back again. Overall, The Expendables reminded me of The A-Team, another action movie from earlier in the summer which I also loved.

Nanny McPhee Returns – Although sometimes the situational humor tries a little too hard, I’ll admit I laughed pretty hard at most of this movie. I took my ten-year-old with me, despite his protests, but he liked it well enough that when we went back to the theater for another movie, he pooped over into Nanny McPhee to watch a few minutes of it before the new movie started. Emma Thompson is brilliant—as always! Oh, there were the typical kid jokes about poop, but the story has a great message. The lessons the children learn are not overplayed, and the ending is not as sad as one might think it would be. Overall, a very nice film, well worth the price of admission.

Vampires Suck – I admire Stephenie Meyer, and as a writer, of course I am jealous of her financial success, but sometimes that wicked little devil in my loves watching the entire Twlight saga being made fun of, and this film does exactly that. For the most part, the movie was hysterically funny. The girl who played the Bella-like character had Kristen Stewart’s every move down pat. Despite his bad wig, Edward was much better looking than Robert Patterson, and my boys thought the kid who played Jacob was also better looking than Taylor Lautner. I used to think he was totally cute, until I saw him as Sharkboy, but that’s another movie! The problem with Vampires Suck is that despite a great and very funny premise, the director in charge let the film sink into teen stupidity, using explicit sex scenes and graphic, bloody violence to tell the story, instead of sticking with the highbrow, and much more satisfying humor, of the premise. When it comes to this one, watch the trailers and know you’ve seen enough. The rest wasn’t really worth seeing anyway.

That's it for my movie-filled summer, but you can bet I'll be back with more movie reviews in the weeks to come.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All in the Family: Robert Ellsworth Brobst

My father, Robert, who was also called Bob by many friends and relatives, was born in Elwood, Indiana, on May 30, 1914, as the second son to Pearl and Winona Myra Alice Lake Brobst. His older brother, Loren Allen Brobst, had just turned six in January before Robert was born, and his younger brother Ervin Eugene wouldn’t come along yet for another six years.

During his childhood, Robert was a member of a Boy Scout troop, enjoyed riding the pony, and helped with a family egg business, dressing hens. He took piano lessons, played the chimes, and later in his life, enjoyed the chord organ. At one time he also played around with the ukelin, but no one in the family ever really learned to play this unusual instrument. Robert used to swim, until he became disoriented while turning somersaults in the pool and became frightened of the water afterward.

Robert’s best friend was Curty Babcock and the two of them used to drive to school in Robert’s Model-A Ford. Helen Marie Heffner, who later became his wife, says, “He and Curty used to go flying by my sister, Leona and me, as we walked to school, both rain and shine. His mother wouldn’t let Robert drive with anyone else in the car, except Curty.”

Like many of the boys of his time, before the danger of smoking was known, Robert wanted to smoke a cigarette. He was sitting on an old mattress not far from the kitchen. When Winona saw the smoke, she thought Robert and the mattress had caught on fire. She rushed from the house with the first thing she grabbed—a pot of beans, which she poured on his to put out the fire. Unfortunately for Robert, the beans were hot and left a scar about the size of two spread hands on his shoulder and back, a scar that remained there the rest of his life.

Robert knew Helen Heffner not only because she lived a block away, but also because he had a crush on her cousin, Roberta Shaw, whom he once thought he would marry. Their staring contest was legendary in Helen and Leona’s family story treasury. Helen thought for many years that Robert had only married her because he couldn’t have either Roberta or Leona, but Robert always tried to assure his this simply wasn’t so. It was always the young girl with the dark brown hair and big blue eyes who caught his attention, and that’s why he married her.

Robert worked at Johns-Mansville when he graduated from high school, then during WWII worked at Greer Steel, but he loved business. He and his brother Eugene first opened Brobst Photo Plant in a building they constructed next to the Brobst home on Roe Avenue. Robert and Helen lived in an apartment above the plant until 1953 when they moved to 305 Pennsylvania Avenue. Robert had already opened Brobst Photo Supplies on Canal Street, hoping to make a go of the business on his own in a more convenient location.

He loved music and had a beautiful tenor voice, and often said that when he grew up, he wanted “to be Al Jolson,” the singer he enjoyed seeing at the talking movies. Robert also loved whistling and once recorded himself on a vinyl platter he labeled “Whistlitis.” By the end of the record, he said he thought he was going to die until he had some water to “whet-his-whistle!” He loved movies and TV programs, especially westerns, enjoying the films of John Wayne and anything on TV that was about the Wild West. Each week he would watch Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, and Bonanza, as part of his regular TV-faire.

Robert was a tease and played jokes, like when he answered the phone “Joe’s Pizza Parlor,” fooling Chuckie Lee Pittman into thinking he had a wrong number. He had crazy nicknames for people, including calling me “loose ends,” because he said I had some!

Robert could write both upside down and backwards. He couldn’t go to work in the morning until he had a cup of coffee and finished both the crossword puzzle and the crypto-quote in the newspaper.

Late in his career, Robert designed and built an enlarging camera then ran a printing press, printing Memorial Cards for local funeral homes. He also had wood and metal lathes in the shop to use on various projects. Prior to his death in May 1980, he built a new shop behind his home and ran the family business from his own back yard.

Robert suffered from complications related to emphysema and died of a blood clot which moved from his leg to his heart. The whole town seemed to come out for his funeral. All those years in business had left Robert Brobst a friend to everyone, and everyone was his friend.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writing Wisdom: Dian Thomas

I’ve known who Dian Thomas is for about as long as I can remember watching TV. From her early appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to the eight seasons she did on The Today Show, I always knew she was an author who came from Utah, and she wrote a book called Roughing It Easy. She also did these really funky cooking things like cooking fish on your car manifold or something. I knew she had a fun personality, and that she seemed to be pretty good at getting herself written about in magazines, newspapers, and appearing on TV. Last year, I met Dian and started getting to know her, and I discovered that she had lots of ideas that could help anyone get themselves written about in newspapers, etc.—maybe even me!

Dian has put together a package of seminars and teaching tapes to help the inexperienced break into getting free publicity, and I won’t steal her thunder here, but I want to share few of her points that have been important to me. Maybe her ideas will also give a kick start to you on finding your way to free publicity.

One of the concerns Dian had to overcome when she first started making television appearances was to get over her fear of being on stage and in the spotlight. She learned to ask herself a question—Are you here to be nervous, or are you here to sell books? The answer was obvious, and she disallowed herself to be nervous, instead using the time to tell people about the things that were exciting and interesting in her books. The sales soared as a result.

Her next fear was that there were perhaps others who had more to say—more to teach. Obviously the newspapers had articles each day to fill there spaces, so she worried, “Why would they need me?” Until finally she realized that those other people getting write ups were really no different that she was, someone with a product to sell and the need to let people know about it, so her response to herself became, “Why not me?”

Three tips she gives to those of us who want to gain free publicity:
1. Be really positive
2. Be open to possibilities
3. Connect with people. Let them know where you want to do, and let them help you get there.

If you can solve the problem of the reader, you are on your way to success. And, you never know where the publicity you get will take you. Even press in the local market can help sell your product, introduce you and your talents to new people, and open the door for other opportunities.

Dian suggests you build yourself a press kit. With the rise of computer technology you can do much of this from home for both the print and electronic media. Write you own killer bio, include facts about your product, answer the top ten questions you know readers will have, give the editor several story ideas they can choose from, and include a high resolution photo or jpg of you or your product.

Many times the reason why people don’t get press for their successes is that they simply don’t take action. You can’t afford to sit around and wait for someone to recognize you would make the perfect subject for an article or be a stellar guest for a television show. You’ve got to be willing, and knowledgeable, about how to sell yourself.

Media is like a pyramid. Start at the bottom and work yourself up. Local newspapers are always looking for people they can feature. Even some local news or talk shows are looking for guests that meet the needs of their audience. You don’t have to jump first thing onto a national show like Oprah. Would you really want to anyway without at least some experience at finding yourself in the hot seat?

Learn how to write not only your own press release, but also how to write articles. Choose one that fits what your trying to sell. How to, lists, profiles, information, historical, personal experience, inspirational, travel, investigative, and humor all have their places in newspapers and magazines. Which one works best for you?

Dian’s mantra is, “Advertising is what you pay for, and publicity is what you pray for!” Look for ways you can get publicity to pay for YOU!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Been There, Done That – Christopher Reeve

“Want to fly to New York for the weekend?” my friend, Cindy Burkert asked me.

I was three years out of college, and still not completely financially solvent, but I had a teaching job and a little bit of money, and this sounded like a trip too good to pass up. A group of people Cindy knew had put together a Broadway excursion and one of the members had to drop out right before the event.

Theater tickets had already been purchased for the two main events—Peter Pan with Sandy Duncan at the Lunt-Fontaine and something about a Sunday morning that I think starred a woman named Maureen. Hotel arrangements had been made, and airline tickets were reserved for the entire group.

“Sure,” I said. The travel package wasn’t too bad price-wise and the trip itself sounded too good to pass up, so the next Friday we were on our way.

I’d not been to New York before, and it was incredible to see. Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Broadway were all so much more, so much bigger than I had ever imagined. Even though it was a weekend, the hustle and bustle of people on the street was more intense than I’d ever seen in my entire life living in Indiana.

After some sight-seeing and a little shopping, we were off to the matinee of the Sunday play. It was a good play, but our seats were clear in the back balcony. It was hard to stay focused on what was happening so far away on the stage. Maybe that’s why the name and who starred in it have escaped from my memory.

An early dinner, and we were off for Peter Pan. This one was much better because out seats were smack dab in the middle of the theater. Of course I was familiar with the play, having seen the television version starring Mary Martin a couple of times in my youth. Being in the theater when Peter (Sandy Duncan) flies was truly magical, and I thought that performance alone was worth my coming all the way to New York to see it.

After the show, we decided to go to the top of the Empire State Building. You know how romantic that seems in the movie Sleepless in Seattle? Let me tell you, it’s not so romantic on a cold fall night when the rain is lightly tapping on the city streets. At the top of the building, the frozen stuff that hits you with gale winds isn’t rain at all, but more like sleet! And it was COLD!

We stayed just long enough to walk around to all sides of the building and glance at the lights below then headed back to the elevators and down toward the street. It took us several minutes to find a taxi back to the hotel, but at last we made it, frozen though we might be.

The next day we were on our own, away from the tour group. Our only requirement was to be at the airport in time for our evening flight back home.

“What should we do?” I asked.

“Let’s just talk a walk and see if anything looks interesting,” Cindy suggested.

I was game, so off we went. It wasn’t long before we discovered one of those kiosks where people can buy discount tickets for the shows that have not already sold out that day.

“How about another show?” I suggested, after all, we were on Broadway!

Cindy and I looked over the options and decided on a play we’d never heard of, starring a man we’d seen a few times before on TV, in an old soap opera called “Love of Life,” where he’d played a character named Ben Harper. Oh, and there was that other thing—a little film called Superman: The Movie.

The play was called The Fifth of July and it was running at the Circle Theater, which was considered Off-Broadway.

We got to the theater early and, with nothing better to do, we just sort of hung around outside. After awhile, we saw a tall man heading directly toward us. The walk looked familiar, even if the scruffy beard and shaggy hair didn’t. It was Christopher Reeve!

As he got closer, and seemingly from out of nowhere, a small group of girls appears, rushing toward us, cameras in hand. Flashes started going off and Christopher stopped to talk with all of us. Somehow in our blind luck, we had stopped in front of the stage door where he needed to enter to get ready for his performance.

He chatted for just a moment, signed a couple of autographs, then he said, “I have to go get ready for the show, but I promise, if you meet me right here afterwards I’ll pose for pictures and sign more autographs.” 

Somehow I hadn’t even thought to take a picture!

We chatted for a couple of seconds with the girls who were there, but then like they had appeared, they were off, seemingly disappeared into the recesses of the city streets.

Cindy and I went around to the front and entered the theater lobby. I hadn’t really thought much about the location of our seats until we got there. Second row! And for a play starring Christopher Reeve, the man we had just met and discovered in person that he was gorgeous!

I was so excited for the play to begin and enthralled by the whole thing as it progressed, until. . .this incredibly good looking man who I had just had the chance to talk to and drool over did something few people had ever seen in a play, movie, or on TV in 1978. He reached over and kissed another man full on the mouth! Suddenly it hit me, his character was gay, a word that didn’t even have the same meaning at that point in time. And it was certainly the first time I’d ever thought about, let alone seen anything like that.
I remember being sort of stunned throughout the rest of the play, but that didn’t quell my desire to meet with Christopher again after the matinee.

The only problem, by the time the performance was over, Cindy and I had to rush—and I do mean rush—to make our plane! Our luggage had already gone over as part of the tour group, so we got dropped off and literally ran through the terminal, boarding just seconds before they closed the door and taxied toward the runway.

Not only did we not get to see him again, but we also hadn’t gotten to take any pictures, sort of our proof of what had happened that day.

Fortunately for me, I was talking about this experience one day to some Osmond fans I knew and fate brought luck my way. Two of the girls who appeared out of nowhere at the stage door turned out to be fans that I’d heard of, and even written to, but had never met. Sue and Nancy Carlson had come up to the theater that particular day from Westwood, New Jersey, hoping to meet Christopher Reeve. They did, and they took pictures, which, once we connected, they were happy to send copies of to me. (see above)

The first thing I did when I got back to Indiana? I went to the video store to rent a copy of Superman and thought about how Clark Kent had actually spoken to me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wisdom Keys: Change Your Focus

Have you ever taken a photograph that turned out to be blurry? Maybe your hand shook as you snapped the shot. Perhaps there was a smudge on the camera lens. If could be that the film speed wasn’t set right and that became the culprit. In any case, no matter what you do in the post-editing, you simply cannot change the focus of that photo once it’s already been taken.

Like that blurry photo, sometimes our lives become too far out of focus. We forget the goals we once had in the process of living from day-to-day. The dream career, perfect home, wonderful children, and life filled with traveling all become a boring job, a house that needs a good cleaning and lots of small repairs, kids who sometimes appear a little more dirty that we might like, and the last thing even close to taking a vacation was the drive from home down to the grocery without a screaming kid parked in the back seat of the mini-van.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that scenario, other than the fact it wasn’t quite what we thought we wanted. If we let ourselves sit around a think, “I hate my life,” then guess what—it will never get better.

You probably all know someone who never seems to have a good thing to say about anything. Complain, complain, complain. If you let yourself listen to the things they say wither one of two things will happen—you will start to feel so uncomfortable listening to them that you will leave, or you’ll just right in, sharing woes of your own.

And what happens if you take the second course? Pretty soon you become the person everyone knows who does nothing but complain about life.

Is that the way you really want to be? Somehow I don’t think so. We have higher aspirations in life. We set goals to make ourselves better. We look far into the future to help us keep out end results in mind. The simple truth is, losers focus on what they are going through, they are the whiners of the world. While champions focus on what they are going to do, then get themselves busy and do it.

What can you do it you find yourself a whiner and headed toward being a loser as a result? Look at the people you regularly associate with and make a change. Thomas S. Monson suggests, “Associate with those who, like you, are planning not for temporary convenience, shallow goals, or narrow ambition, but rather for those things that matter most—even eternal objectives. Choose your friends with caution; plan your future with purpose; and frame your life with faith.”

Like preparing for the better snapshot, you need to get your life in focus.

Champions find their inner determination, make themselves work with discipline, and use that burning desire to get them moving. They are not satisfied to sit around a wish that someday their dreams will come true.

Champions enjoy hard work and love the game. They plan for success. They are competent and optimistic. They visualize success, for themselves and are willing to help others. Champions are consistent, creative, and focused. Champions never quit.

Losers can’t hold it together for any of these things long than for a short period, usually less than a season of their lives.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t change. If you want to become a champion, you’ve got to change your focus. Find new friends. Change you job if its taking you nowhere. See yourself as the best in your field, then work hard to be there.

When it comes to being a winner, it’s up to you to make, then take the better picture.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home Cooking: The Most Successful Un-Diet Ever

Clear back at the beginning of the year, I started what I hoped would be a regular Saturday feature here on my blog. Although the stories I told were about food, I hadn’t quite focused on where I wanted these entries to go. I’d been inspired by the movie Julie & Julia, and I knew I wanted to tell about my own family food traditions, but after three entries, I wasn’t sure exactly where I needed to go.

The past few days I’ve been considering what I should do with several aspects of my blog. Trying to clean up the horrendously long list of labels among them, I decided to revisit the regular features I wanted to share. (If you read this blog on Thursday, you’ve already figured out that I came up with an entirely new series directed toward my family and genealogy.) When I looked at the feedback from my earlier postings for Saturday, I discovered that people really were interested in my stories about home cooking, so that’s where the new name for this blog feature has come from, and that’s where the focus will be.

Sometimes I’ll share stories. Others I may offer favorite recipes. I hope that somewhere along the way I’ll offer something that will whet your appetite. btu with that said, I think I need to say that I understand anyone who has a need to be careful about what they eat.

Back in April, I offered a post for another blog where I occasionally write (Pushing Past the Pounds) about the most successful un-diet I’ve ver been on. I thought maybe I should share that here with you, my regular readers, as well, so here goes.

ve known for a long time that I needed to be losing weight. My clothing size had grown. I could hardly walk from my car into my classroom each morning. When I looked into the mirror, I found a truly round face to match my round belly. I felt like Santa Claus, without his jolly.

The problem was that I was too tired to do much of anything about it. Ever since I had the radial head replacement surgery two years ago, I was having trouble making myself move. My arms hurt; my knees and legs still hurt from the fall; and my back was a constant source of ache and pain when I stood for longer than a few minutes.

My doctor told me to lose weight—but she didn’t have any advice how I could do it when I couldn’t walk, exercise, or breathe without thinking I was in the middle of a serious heart attack.

Then I found the answer. I’ve long been a fan of Dr. Wayne Dyer so when I saw him on QVC, offering an incredible price on his new book, DVD and CD series The Shift, I placed my order immediately.

Three weeks ago I was driving our sons to Big Water, Utah, to visit my husband on the set of a film he’s working on. Forget the advice we are given to spend time in the car talking to our kids. Mine don’t even consider it, and within seconds of starting the drive, DVD players and iPods were turned on, headphones in, and kids either watching, listening or sleeping, so I took advantage of the time and starting listening on my own to Dr. Dyer.

Much of what he talks about has to do with finding joy, creating spiritual wealth, and releasing our need for owning things, but one of his stories struck me as especially important. Dr. Dyer has recently been diagnosed with leukemia, and he felt it was important that he lose some weight to help with his treatment. He had spoken with a friend about a way to change hiss eating patterns and in less than 30 days, Dr. Dyer has lost 25 pounds.

Lost 25 pounds? That sounded like a great way for me to drop at least part of what I knew I needed to lose, so once home from the trip, I started the most simple and successful un-diet I’ve ever been on. Are you ready? Here it is:

Keep your sugar intake to less than 25 grams per day.

All I do is write down how many grams of sugar the food labels say are in a serving of a product, make sure I really am only eating one serving, and when I’ve gotten to 25 that day, I stop eating anything with additional sugar.

That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily done eating. I can still eat fresh veggies, fresh fruit, meat, cheese, eggs, and lots of things. I just don’t eat anything else with grams of sugar.

The result? By the end of the first week, I was walking into school without feeling exhausted. I could stand longer without my back killing me. My slacks weren’t quite to tight anymore. There was suddenly definition in my cheeks and neck, and my wedding ring could actually come off my finger without me having to pry it.

In the second week, my tummy was flatter and the upper portion of my arms weren’t as large and didn’t feel so tight. I could feel the bones in my cheeks and my thighs looked smaller.

You have to know, this had started to happen without any exercise. The only thing I had changed was counting the grams of sugar, and that in and of itself had been a surprise. The first day I had picked up my usually cup of healthy yogurt for lunch, only to discover is had 33 grams of sugar! WHAT?! Bread? 3 grams per slice. I looked at the skim milk I drink—6 grams per cup. I won’t even tell you what a glass of chocolate milk contains.

Just how much sugar had I been taking into my body that I hadn’t been aware of? I’d seen Dr. Oz haul out a wagonload of sugar on the Oprah show and say, “This is how much sugar we now eat in a year,” but I didn’t really believe him. I was trying to imagine adding that much sugar to my cereal in a morning and the thought made me sick. But once I started looking at the grams I was secretly taking, I was amazed.

And that alone was enough to convince me to stick with this program. But the bonus came when I visited the doctor.

I had been experiencing some symptoms that pointed to Type II Diabetes. My father had it; my mother had it; and both my older brother and sister had been insulin dependent. I was at a huge risk. Four weeks ago I had gone to the lab for a series of fasting blood tests. The results were not good and the diagnosis was in—I had also become a diabetic.

Of course, I didn’t know that yet until my actual appointment last week when my doctor had the blood tests rerun while I was in her office. And guess what, two weeks into my new way of eating, and all my levels had dropped enough to take me back into the pre-diabetic stages, and I’d lost at least 10 pounds since my last appointment in November.

With the addition of an hour a day exercise (okay, so I’m working up to that, but I’m already doing much more than I’ve done for the past two years!), and the continued change in my diet, my doctor thinks I’ll have this situation under control.

And I’m sure it certainly won’t hurt my figure!

It remains to see if I’ll make Dr. Dyer’s 25 pounds in 30 days, but so far I feel like that’s a reasonable goal, and after that—who knows!

That was my posting in April.  Now, here’s the good news. The un-diet worked! At my latest visit to the doctor, we discover that I had not only lost and kept off over 40 pounds, but my sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure had all returned to the levels that were normal!

And I’ve done all of this while still eating plenty of food. So, I know we can do it, if good healthy eating habits is what we actually choose to do. More thoughts on that in the weeks to come.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Week in Review: Summer Movies Part Deux

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that my summer started off great with the time to see ten movies within the first few weeks of being on break. I had high hopes to have as many films ready to review for this time, but unexpected circumstances and family trips put the brakes on my efforts. In any case, I did manage to see five movies since the last time I wrote reviews, so I’d like to share my thoughts now on those with you. Like before, I’ll be careful not to include spoilers, but I’m also warning you—I WILL be honest.

 Inception. I guess I’ll start off with the biggest movie, not only in the terms of box office receipts, but also to our family because my husband—the set medic—worked on the L.A. construction crew a few days. Inception is somewhat of a guy’s movie, although as a writer, I did enjoy the premise. To understand the movie, you really have to think, every single moment! Do not let your attention stray or you will be more lost than you thought you were. Despite the fact I paid very close attention, I still sat in the theater at the end of the movie asking, “What happened?” The movie is worth seeing for the concept alone, but in asking people who’ve seen it the greater number of positive responses seems to be from the man, rather than the women. My sons have seen the movie three times and loved it every time. Of course, Chan and Kent also loved the photos we took of them from the visits we made to a few of the actual film locations. All part of why these boys are destined to make movies.

 Knight and Day. Another one of my favorite movies from this summer, and looking at that cute, cute smile of Tom Cruise didn’t hurt this one for me in the ratings. It’s been a long time since I thought Tom was really just plain cute in a movie, but this one put that to rest. Of course, my husband enjoyed seeing Cameron Diaz and comparing how she looks now to back when he worked with her on A Life Less Ordinary. His judgement: she’s still looking pretty good. Knight and Day completed what Killers only tried to do. I totally believed this story and thought the end was the perfect solution to the couple’s life. Oh, and if you decide to see this one—be prepared to laugh. It really is a comedic-romance and not the action/adventure flick it might appear to be.

 Dinner for Schmucks. Although the premise of the movie didn’t quite match what we had expected from the trailer, and despite the fact the story itself took a little longer to develop that I might have liked, once the humor got started it was absolutely non-stop. Warning: there are several scenes that are not appropriate for kids, despite the PG-13 rating. Like Knight and Day, this one tied everything up with a perfect ending and left me completely satisfied. If you’re uncomfortable laughing right out loud in a small crowd, you might want to go on a night when the theater looks packed, because you WILL laugh out loud. It can’t be helped.

Despicable Me. Another vehicle for the wickedly funny Steve Carell, although I had a hard time remembering it was him because his voice was so different from what is expected. Super bad, or superdad? This movie left me feeling good. Move over Boo, there’s a new, darling little girl who wants to share the animated stage with you. Take a tissue with you just in case, and know you’l laugh in this one too.

The Last Airbender. Okay, this one was a real sleeper. Literally! I fell asleep about ten times during the film. And it wasn’t that I was so incredibly tired; I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief to attach to the characters. The kid who played the airbender was horrifically awful. Honestly, I’ve seen better performances on Saturday morning kid shows or at the junior high theater productions. It’s really sad when I couldn’t even stay awake for the climax and when the movie was over, I had no idea what had happened, other than the fact the director left the thing open for a sequel. Say it isn’t so!

So, I go back to work this week, but don’t mistakenly believe my summer moving going is over. I still have quite the list of want-to-see movies on my plate—The Expendables, Eat Pray Love, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Charlie St. Cloud, and Nanny McPhee Returns among them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

All in the Family

The loss of both a brother and a sister, and the fact that our remaining family members are so spread out across the country, has reminded me how important it is to share our family stories with each other, and with the next generations. I have those coming generations now as my nieces and nephews are old enough to have children, and some of those are nearing the ages to soon have children of their own.

With the advent of the internet and social networking, I now have contact with the family members of my parent’s generation, my own generation, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews—many of which I hardly knew or hadn’t seen since they were babies. I’m even in regular contact with cousins, both first and second, who I haven’t seen in years and years.

Many of these people are begging to hear more about the family members who have passed before them. A few years ago, I started a project to collect a one page history for as many of the members of my pedigree chart as I was able to do. I shared those pages with several of my family members via email at that time, but just keeping track was sometimes unwieldy to do.

So I’ve decided to start a new series here on my blog, with it’s automatic feed to Facebook, et al. I now that this series will not be important to all of you who read me regularly. You don’t know these people—well, there will be some you do! Just know I won’t be offended if you don’t read the Thursday posts.

But if there is one hope I would have for all of you who are not my family, it would be this: Know your family. Find out where you came from (you might be surprised, as I know my mother would have been if she only knew.)

For the rest of you, especially the ones who are related to me, I hope you learn something about the wonderful people who came before us and the legacies they gave us. Our pedigree is deep and varied, with one line dating all the way back to just after the life of Christ. Of course, I don’t know stories for all of these people as that would be impossible to do, but I hope to bring you as much insight as I can to those who I do know or were able to discover something about. 

I hope my family will send me additional stories, and feel free to print or save what I have written to pass on to their own future generations. As a great prophet once said, "The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead."

Next week, we’ll get started, so pass along the word.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Writing Wisdom: Richard Paul Evans

I’ve worked with New York Times Best-selling author Richard Paul Evans now for around three years, and because of that I’ve had the opportunity to hear him given many, many presentations. Although some of the content is familiar, I still leave each and every presentation having learned something new. And Rick is someone worth listening to. After all, every one of his books has hit the Times list, and what newbie author could have a better mentor than listening to someone who has already been there multiple times.

Rick spoke at the Bookwise conference this weekend in Salt Lake City. This is an organization he began with the intent of helping people who wanted to become authors find their book inside them and have the chance to actually see that book on paper, ready to sell. Although Rick no longer owns the company, he is always there to present at its conferences gratis. Wow! Do other authors of Rick’s status continually support new authors, completely free? Somehow I doubt it.

Rick’s topic this time: The Power of A Book.

What makes a book something that someone wants to read? His philosophy is that the book must somehow connect with the common man. Books start revolutions, they bring about change. Its our turn to be a part of that. He considers it a privilege to be an author, and he is touched by the feedback he gets from his fans.

One means of obtaining that feedback that Rick really loves is through Facebook. “Facebook has brought me closer to my fans and given me a way to respond directly to them. I love it,” he says. It you want to be an author and you’re not one of Rick’s FB friends, I suggest you go over and sign up. You will learn not only about Rick’s writing, but also the craft of marketing. When it comes to marketing, Rick is the master.

He suggests three things that will make you a best-selling author. Without these three elements, you will be sure to fail.

1. Write about what matters to you. Stop chasing things you don’t care about. It doesn’t matter that everyone this year is publishing vampire books, or dystopian, or whatever the latest trend might be. Write what means something to YOU. Those books that are on the shelf today were likely bought by the publisher as much as two years ago anyway, and those publishers and editors are already onto something new, seeking the authors who have the vision to see into the future.

2. Remember: your book is a PRODUCT. Your purpose is to SELL. Know your market; understand your customer. If people aren’t willing to put money down to buy what you’ve written, the neither will a publisher.

3. Take chances! Rick likes to tell the story of how he once ‘crashed’ an autograph table at a big booksellers conference. The security person almost threw him out, but relented at that last minute when she saw the hope in Rick’s eyes. The next year, Rick was the #2 seller at the same show. He was an invited guest, and The Christmas Box had hit the New York Times. He believed in himself enough to get there. “Pay the price to make it,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to fail or you will.” He says to be grateful for the No, because that might simply be part of the process. He would never have gotten to where he is today if Deseret Book hadn’t told him No on that first book.

In his concluding remarks he says, “You need to write the book. It will change your life.”

Speaking of which, I’m signing off right now because I’m hard on work my own new book, and I’m setting the goal to make this one a best-seller.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Been There, Done That: Elvis

In the summer of 1977, I was a hard-working post-graduate student living in Bloomington, Indiana, where I had attended Indiana University. Because I did not get a teaching job right away after graduation, I took the next best offer---becoming an administrative assistant at McDonald’s.

Now, I won’t go too far off topic here, but let me just say, a job like that isn’t nearly as nasty as some of you might think it could be. Most of the time my job kept me away from both the counter and the grill, spending my time instead, counting the money! I got to leave the store every day for an hour while taking the money to the bank to be deposited. If only the contents of that bag could have found its way into my account each day. . . Alas. I digress.

Another perk for this still-starving ex-college student---during the hours I worked, I got to eat for free. Those free meals sure saved my budget, especially the days I worked both the breakfast and lunch hours. Even with all those free meals, I never grew tired of the fare, and believe it or not, even today, McDonald’s is my favorite place to eat food.

I guess I need to say it may have also been a favorite for someone else---someone who was famous---because one night, we served up Mickey D’s to the King himself. That’s right, Elvis stopped by my McDonald’s in Bloomington, Indiana, the store on North Walnut.

The Day: June 26, 1977. The time nearly midnight. For some reason I was in the store, maybe covering a weekend shift for another employees. I don’t remember the exact specifics of that night’s reason. I do know that a few weeks earlier a friend and I had discussed going to Market Square Arena to catch the Elvis Presley concert, but as I said, I was post-college poor and decided to skip the opportunity.

I hadn’t really been all that into Elvis anyway, and thought it wouldn’t upset me to miss the show, although I did have a tiny twinge of regret when the night of the show actually came. Of course, there was no way to know this would actually be the last opportunity I would have ever had to see the King of Rock & Roll perform in person.

Right before midnight, the evening crowd of hungry college students had slowed, and I was at the front counter, taking a minute to actually get it wiped down. We didn’t have many sandwiches made, the earlier bin count completely wiped by the last mad rush.

A car light flashed across the store window, and I realized a white limousine had pulled into the parking lot. This was something new. I couldn’t remember ever seeing a limo in the McDonald’s lot. Packed school buses yes, but a limo? Never.

A minute or so later, the driver of the limo came into the store, walking toward me at the counter.

“May I take your order?” I said, like a good little McDonald’s employee.

The Memphis drawl was unmistakable. “Yes, ma’am. I need two Big Macs a couple of large fries and two of the largest Coca Colas ya got there. And Elvis, he wants two Quarter Pounders with cheese, a large french fry, and a chocolate milk shake.”

Elvis! I had trouble making my hand work to write down the order. “El–Elvis? As in THE Elvis?” I stammered.

“Yes, Ma’am. He’s in the car and says he’s hungry,” the limo driver said.

“Oh, we’ll get that order ready right away,” I said, as I called back the order to the grill cook, who was standing behind the order window, with his mouth hanging wide open. I sort of snapped my fingers and he got busy. “Any pies with that order?” I added, knowing the script of the up-sell quite well.”

“Sure. Toss in a couple. How much we owe you, ma’am?” the driver asked and somehow I managed to punch in the correct items before giving him a total. He handed over the cash---maybe I should have traded it out with someone and put their money in the till. After all this money was only one step away from Elvis himself---and I gave him his change.

Someone else made the shake and drew the sodas from the fountain. By then the food was ready. I placed it in the paper bag and handed it over---food fit for a King.

The driver tipped his hat---yes, he wore one of those limo driver’s hats like you see in the movies—picked up the food order and exited toward the limo, leaving a store filled with employees who couldn’t believe what had just happened. A few minutes later, the driver---and Elvis---drove away.

I guess you could say the rest was history. The Indianapolis concert was the last Elvis ever gave. And on August 16, 1977, the King was dead. Yet here, these thirty-three years later, I still remember the night I almost met the legend, the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley.

Long live the KING!