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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Treat or Treat

What's wrong with kids these days?

It's 9pm on Halloween night and trick or treating is over.  In fact, it's been over for a while now.  I had my last costumed kid come to the door over an hour ago.  I can't believe it.

Back when I was a kid, I stayed out until at least 9pm and tried to hit every house in the city.  Time was precious, and I stretched it out to the max.  My family would drive me from neighborhood to neighborhood hording candy.  I wouldn't stop until every last light was out.  Only then, would I begrudgingly  return home.

This year, I saw several kids turn back from homes they deemed were "too far" to walk to.  My own niece and nephew said they were tired and wanted to go home by 7pm.  I was in shock.

Trick or treating was an annual event I loved--one I looked forward to all year.  I savored every minute of it, and now kids actually ask to go home early.  I think it's a sign of the apocalypse.

This new trend of heading home early is the scariest part of this year's Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scrooge Hits Halloween

If you thought people only said ba-hum bug at Christmas, think again. According to, some cities in America are writing age-limit laws against trick or treating.

The story can be read here:

Some people don't want to give candy to children over 12 and apparently they want their opinion written into the law.  Talk about strict.

Trick-or-Treating is one of the most harmless activities anyone can participate in. I did it until I was 16.  That year I thought I was far too old and mature until a friend in the neighborhood, who was about two years younger than I was, talked me into going with her one last time. 

Secretly, I was dying to go, but I had to put up a brave front calling it "kid stuff" long enough to convince her that I wasn't dying for some free Baby Ruths too.

And you know what? We had fun.  We had fun, and no one was hurt.  Not even a tooth ache.  I think it's pretty Grinchy for people to deny older kids candy.  What are they going to do with the extra sugar anyway? 

As long as a kid is in costume and says the magic words "trick or treat," I don't mind handing out a bite-sized Snicker Bar.

If age is being considered, why not ban the wee ones too? I've seen many young parents cart their babies out for candy as well.  And who do you really think the candy is going to when the tot doesn't have teeth?

I say, lighten up or be ready for a trick!  That's the Halloween way!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goodbye Mr. Cunningham

I've heard people say time goes by faster the older you get.

But I think it goes by faster after you start a blog.

It feels like I posted a video yesterday, but time has already swallowed most of the week, and I need to write something clever again. (Not that I was ever clever to begin with!)

We lost two TV icons recently with both Tom Bosley from "Happy Days" and Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It to Beaver." For decades, they represented the old-fashioned ideals of the American family: the homemaker mom who could do it all, and the understanding but firm father.

The death of these terrific actors gave me pause and made me ponder how the ideals they represented are dying too. Fathers are largely absent from the family, and most women no longer stay home to raise their children.

Somewhere along the line, we gave up the idea of an old-fashioned family, but I'm still not certain how Americans have replaced it.  Is it always necessary for both parents to work?  How did two incomes become the new standard?  And why do I have the sneaking suspicion that fathers are viewed as a bonus rather than an essential.

I thought of this today while watching a few minutes of Dr. Phil where two parents fought over custody of their children. All I saw on stage was anger, remorse, and regret.

It made me thankful to have the parents I have. They weren't perfect, but they knew how to value commitment. It's something more people should value too.  Maybe that's the glue that held the old-fashioned family together.  Maybe that's exactly what we've lost.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Praise for Pinkston

I took part in Tristi Pinkston's "Making Friends Monday" series this week, and I want to thank Tristi for helping to expose my strange, little corner of the blog-o-sphere to others.

Both Tristi and Mormon Times columnist Becky Thomas were gracious enough to provide blurbs for the back of my book, and I appreciate that immensely.

Here's some more info about Tristi.

Tristi Pinkston has been blogging since 2006. On her main blog, ( she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments. She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has. You can find the links for them on her sidebar.

Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels. Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre. She works as a freelance editor and a virtual book tour coordinator. She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies. She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunday Song Casting Crowns "Praise You in this Storm"

Every Sunday, I plan to post one of my favorite Christian songs. I love this performance from Casting Crowns.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Tip from Tess Gerritsen

I went to a presentation that New York Times Bestselling Author Tess Gerritsen gave today.  I interviewed her a few months ago for the paper; her books are the basis for a new drama on TNT called "Rizzoli and Isles."

She's a very intelligent woman, and the audience couldn't get enough of her.  Tess explained that when she's writing a story, she always asks herself, "What would surprise me most about this scene?"

The answers help construct the plot. It's an interesting technique that might help people avoid cliches.

Tess gave an example from one of her books about a scene that involved someone waking up in the morgue right before their own autopsy.  Tess asked herself, "What would surprise me most about this scene?"


As a result, she wrote that the person who came out of the body bag immediately grabbed a nearby gun and held the people in the morgue hostage.  The audience gasped at her suggestion.  Surprises like that keep readers interested.

She allowed plenty of time for questions, and it was then that I sensed a few kindred spirits among the crowd.

Would-be authors dreaming about their first books, desperate for the golden secret of how to score a  publishing contract.

At the beginning of the year, that was me.  Now my book is set to be published in early November, and I can't wait.

I'm a little nervous too.

With fiction, you can hide behind a screen of imagination. After all, the story is about some other character, in some other situation, dealing with some other issue.  "That's not me," you can always say, "That's just my imagination at play."

But I wrote a memoir, so that rule doesn't apply.  If people think the protagonist is a dope, they'll be talking about me.  Parts of my life will be on display for the world to see.

That fact didn't really hit me until just this month.  I should have realized it a long time ago, but I was so busy trying to make the story work that it didn't occur to me. I'm a little slow, huh?

But we're at the point of no return, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well.

I spoke to Tess after the event, and she remembered me from our interview, which was nice.  And as I left, I realized one thing.  Never again would I be that guy in the room, hoping for a chance to break into publishing, hoping for my first book deal.  Those things have already come to pass, and according to Tess, the next hurdle is to make sure my book stands out among the crowd.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunday Song Matthew West "My Own Little World."

This is one of those rare songs that I liked the first time I heard it.  I hope it's the same with you.