Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Best Album of 2009

There were a lot of great albums released in 2009: Røyksopp, a-ha, Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, Imogen Heap, just to name a few. But one album is far superior to them all: Declaration of Dependence by Kings of Convenience. It isn't the most "trendy" music and it will not get a lot of air time on the radio, but as far as talent, both musically and lyrically, there is nothing better. Below are the songs from the new album--take a listen and then go out and buy the album for yourself--you will not regret it!

"What we built is bigger than the sum of two. But some where I lose count of my own. And some how I must find it alone."

Mrs. Cold
"Hey baby, Mrs. Cold. Acting so tough, I didn't know you had it in you to be hurt at all"

Me In You
"Crossroads and given the option to pass and look back at goals we've missed. Rainbows or burning bridges, if you squint a little more they look the same."

Boat Behind
"So we meet again after several years, several years of separation."

Rule My World
"Only someone who is morally superior can possibly and honestly deserve to rule my world."

My Ship Isn't Pretty
"The sky was the blankest sheet. We drew lines upon it so our thoughts could meet."

"Why are you whispering when the bombs are falling? Go easy on me, I can't help what I'm doing."

Power Of Not Knowing
"The bigger blessing girl is being young--the power of not knowing where you belong. I tried so hard to keep it, not to lose that secret, waiting for someone like you to come along."

Peacetime Resistance
"We've got four eyes, so why yearn for one perspective?"

Freedom And Its Owner
"Freedom, freedom never greater than its owner. Freedom is the mastery of the known."

Riot On An Empty Street
"My life, it's a riot, I am climbing barricades in empty streets at night."

Second To Numb
"He won't touch you anymore, staying at his side. Half indifferent, half afraid it will only make you cry."

Scars On Land
"We take what's dead and breath life in"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So, it finally happened this year. . .

Once every school year it happens. It is inevitable. It is only a matter of when. . . and when arrived today. . . at the end of 5th period. . .

Scene: Mr. Hall's 5th period English Language Arts classroom. Students are busily working on the assignment with ten minutes left of class time.

STUDENT A: Mr. Hall, what religion are you?

MR. HALL: Why do you want to know?

STUDENT A: I was talking with some friends about you today and they said some things.

MR. HALL: What did they say?

STUDENT A: They said that they think you are Mormon or something.

MR. HALL: Interesting.

STUDENT A: So, are you Mormon or something?

MR. HALL: Yes, I am Mormon or something.

STUDENT A: So you don't celebrate Christmas?!

MR. HALL: I celebrate Christmas.

STUDENT A: But you are Mormon. . . Mormons aren't allowed to do a lot of things.

MR. HALL: People have a lot of misconceptions about Mormons.

STUDENT B: Mr. Hall, you are Mormon.

MR. HALL: Yes.

STUDENT C: So you celebrate Hanukkah?

MR. HALL: No, I celebrate Christmas.

STUDENT C: O, you celebrate Christmas, Mr. Hall.

MR. HALL: Yes.

[Students begin to chat on that side of the room. Suddenly STUDENT D calls MR. HALL to the other side of the room]

STUDENT D: Mr. Hall!

MR. HALL: Yes.

STUDENT D: You are Mormon?

MR. HALL: Yes.

STUDENT D: Mormons don't have sex before they are married, right?

MR. HALL: Correct, if they are practicing their religion.

STUDENT D: Mr. Hall, are you married?


STUDENT D smiles.


*Other students were not paying attention to STUDENT D's questions and thus missed the connection. In past years students have been slow to make the connection (Mr. Hall is mormon--pause--mormons don't have sex outside of marriage--pause--Mr. Hall isn't married--pause--*LIGHT BULB MOMENT*. . . Mr Hall is a virgin. *Laughter*).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back Yard Update

It has been a while since I have given an update on my yard. A couple of months ago I decided that I did not like the way my lawn in the back yard was growing--patchy and full of weeds (trying to bring it back from being dead--neglected as my home was a foreclosure). So I got this bright idea of tearing it all out, so one Saturday I rented a sod cutter and spent all day cutting out my ratty lawn. It took some time to figure out how to get rid of it all. I spent the next month rolling up and piling the grass in preparation to be discarded. I discovered that I could rent a dumpster and do the work myself, but I was fortunate to find some workers who would do the job for me for the same price, so they hauled the sod away.
I have since dropped a load of cash on edging bricks which I have since put in myself and more cash on various plants and flowers. I have managed to plant one box of hedges, two beds of flowers, and some perimeter flowers (of course the one garden that has the hedges planted is in the shadows--hard to see in the photos). I have additional hedges waiting to be planted. You can see this clearly in the pictures (I have four additional "gardens" planned). It is time consuming--I spent all of last Saturday planting and I try to get home each day to use the one hour of daylight I have after work to get out in the back. Of course, it has been a few days since I have been out there thanks to other commitments (I've recently been called as a Ward Missionary and have received a home teaching assignment, both of which require some work in the evenings; additionally I have been working on several committees at work: WASC Curriculum Coordinator, 10th Grade District Writing Assessment Trainer, 10th grade Pacing Guide Committee, Leadership Training, etc., and of course I cannot neglect my commitment to the gym). Needless to say, I am always busy with something these days.
Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy the pictures of the yard--it is starting to come along but it has a long way to go!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If You Were Me. . .

I am excited for Thanksgiving week to come along. This year I get a whole week off of work with which to celebrate the holiday. Can you believe that? A whole week to do whatever I want in November. . . this is truly one of the luxuries of my job. So this is where you come in. Having never had a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, I can't quite make up my mind as to what to do with my time. Below is a list of ideas that I have and I would like your help in deciding what to do. So please read through my ideas and let me know, if you were me, what you would do (leave a comment with your suggestion)? :)

ROAD TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO: I have a good friend who lives just outside of the city and another friend in the city itself. It would be nice to visit these friends and to explore the city itself. I suppose that this trip would place me in touristy mode while allowing me to further develop my friendships.

ROAD TRIP TO SALT LAKE CITY: I haven't been to Utah since a brief weekend trip at the beginning of Summer to visit my ailing grandmother. I have not been back since she passed away. This would give me the opportunity to visit relatives and friends who live in the area, and if I am lucky they will have some snow and I can attempt to go cross-country skiing.

ROAD TRIP/CAMPING TO DEATH VALLEY: I've never been to Death Valley and it is on my list of places to visit. I suppose I will freeze my butt off this time of year, but it is better than roasting to death in the summertime. It would be interesting to visit the park and I imagine that I could find a place to go camping along the way.

EXPLORING GRAND GULCH: This trip will take me into the wilderness of Southeastern Utah up Grand Gulch Canyon where there are no hiking trails or campgrounds that I am aware of. It will be true back-country camping as I wander bear-grylls-like through canyons where indian ruins are supposed to be. It will be awesome to check out these old sites and to have an adventure wandering in the middle of nowhere for days and just throwing down my camping gear wherever I can find a flat place to sleep for the night. My only real concerns will be freezing my butt off and trying to find my way back to my car. . . but what an ADVENTURE!!!

EXPLORING GERONIMO'S OLD HIDE OUT: I have no idea where this location is (other than somewhere around the New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico border) but I would like to research it and go back-country hiking/camping in search of the famed hide-out where the last free indians evaded both U.S. and Mexican troops in their hopes to live life free and according to their own will.

STAY HOME AND VISIT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS: Going nowhere is always an option, though not as exciting, unless I am using the time to visit friends and family, doing things to have fun or strengthen our relationships. I could always couple this with local adventures: hiking, kayaking, day trips, museums, local camping, etc.

OTHER: If you have any other ideas or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life (In Poetry)

So, I have this crazy idea that I came up with. I have been writing poetry for years and have decided that I would like to read back through some old writings and post select poems with a "Life" theme. These poems were written individually at different times and in different styles (spanning from the mid 1990s to the present day), so they are not meant to connect with one another (that is why if you read it straight through it will seem quite disjointed). Nevertheless, I have decided to arrange the poems beginning with adolescence until old age (childhood gets caught in the section of young family life, if you will). Some poems may make perfect sense on their own, others may need an explanation. If you would like additional information, simply post a comment with your request and I will respond with details (for example, if you are wondering when a poem was written, who or what the poem is about, specific references, images, or meanings of figurative language that it contains, etc.). Keep in mind, some of the poems are more personal, and others are stories or experiences that I have never had but that I have created. So please, do not necessarily assume that a poem written in first person is about me (although it may very well be). Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy it. . . there are a lot poems, so you may wish to scroll through and pick out the one's whose titles sound more interesting to you.
--Brett Hall


Past midnight on the coastal sounds,
The haunting foam appears, resigns--
Mutating in the darkness, reappears,
Groaning toward the shore with jesting sneers.
I watch as nature rages where I stand--
A scene surreal, yet of its own divine.
The winds that ravish, fill my soul with dread;
The intermittent silence in my head,
Brings horror,
Submits peace again.
The storm may rage and I in awe of it
Its throes, inward admit.

Upon these shores the fiercing elements
Move not my students, standing unaware,
Oblivious to storms, why should they care
For piercing cries,
For specters in the foam?
They dally forth--obscurely how they roam
Despite the wind, the rain, the violent storm.
The crashing waves.
The churning of the sea,
Whispers not within their revelry.

They do not care to view Antonious Block,
Nor dear Johannes with his severed mind,
Which offers sight to all around him blind--
A discourse true about our failing faith.
And what of Pelle in his distant world
So foreign.
So foreign.
We cannot understand the Northern Sea
Uttering discourses on our vain humanity.
Instead we're born, grow old, and die,
Lacking the knowledge as to why.

The storm abates--
Indifferent, they walk away.
The silence settles on the timid air
And waters rest beneath the moon.
What of the storm beneath the surface of the sea
That rages while the earth appears content?
And I?


Alone I stand within the silent breeze,
Resting from the weariness of life.
The peace is short-lived--
Irreverent clouds huddle on the horizon,
Soon to reach the blissful shore.

The greatest gain of truth
Comes in the silence between the storm.


I want to love and ravenously so
With feelings real, not some pretense of lust,
But with my heart and mind--a living trust
That moves my heart to her--this I must know.
I want to love and be loved in return,
To feel the warm embrace of one I hold
And kiss her as true lovers kiss so bold,
And know her dreams that they in me may burn.
I want to love and feel excited too
Because I've found the woman of my heart
With whom I could not bear to be apart
Due to the happiness of my love true.
I want to love with all my energy;
With all my strength her love I want to be!


I choose my sadness on warm summer nights
When all the world is free
And all the air is love
And I walk all alone
In mourning hours beneath the moon.


How many times?
How long shall the glass be pressed upon her lips,
This woman at the luncheon of the boating party?
Her thoughts, are they distant from the scene
Or of the scene?
Is she frail with bones as are the glass-man's,
Or stalwart as a gnome cemented to a shrine?
Has shown me what it means to be a man
Standing at your door--
The imagination and the dream
That settles like a mist on women's hearts.
It is a wondrous dream
That moves a heart to stir,
A mind to dance in revelry.
Love's palpitations are the lifeblood of the soul.
But there's no magic in me.
There's no mystic force that leads me,
Despite my will,
To silent scenes of serendipity,
Where I appear as fresh as morning dew
Within your heart. . .
At your door.
So it is I stand,
Naked to the truth of who I am. . .
What I am not.
The reality that is my being,
Aware that all I am and all I do
Is but the blackness hidden in the shadow of your dream.
And so I go
Unnoticed. . .
Standing. . .
At your door.


She sits anxiously at the table,
Hands folded before her,
Peering out of the window with a hope
And with a sigh.
The wind howls through the bending trees
Then dies again--
A quiet peace
Wherein she hears the screaming of her heart.
Another gust
And distant chimes ring
While window panes creak with the commotion.
It howls and dies and howls and dies again.
Se sits alone.
She wanders in the mind to a reflection,
Staring poignantly upon her soul.
She bows her head and sobs a tear or two
For memories
By now he has forgotten.
The wind howls.
She lifts her head and looks beyond the glass
To dancing bushes and skipping leaves.
She hears in them a laughter.
It dies again.
And silence.
The sun's rays dim and darkness rises
With the howling gust returned--
Returning to a fade.
A soft light burns upon the table
Casting shadows upon her face.
She gazes deeply at the passing scene
The wind howls and the trees bend.
It dies and trees return again.
She waits anxiously--
Her heart beats out seconds to the hour.
She sits alone
And the window gazes inward on her,
Peering deep into her soul.
It howls and dies again.
She bows her head within her hands
And a distant rage.
The wind howls
And a distant voice fades into a memory.
Another tear.
Another hopeless glance into the dark.
He does not understand.
The wind dies,
And the glass shatters deep within her soul--
A million tears pumped through a bleeding heart.
Pain and suffering--
The thought of an enduring love.
The wind howls
And dies again.
She sits in darkness
Gazing sullenly upon the world
From out a window
Surrounded by a pane creaking in the midnight hour.
He never said that he would come.


Do not place on my heart your warm affection,
I've omitted it times past, nor seek it now.
Each tender word you speak will face rejection;
To love, to understand, I know not how.
My heart is cold, indeed I'd say its frozen
And cannot grasp effectual delights
That are displayed within the acts you've chosen,
As do the dancing of the Northern Lights.
Though beauteous, in awe one may behold
The splendor of that colored by-frost bridge
That beckoned to the norseman sagas told
Leading the faithful to Valhalla's ridge;
It of itself could not unfreeze the land,
Nor was its tundra toasted by Thor's bolt,
Nor is my heart warmed by your soothing hands
As every tender touch meets with revolt.
And every softened word that hereto falls
Upon my ears, causes such sorrow, such pain
That from my hardened heart beckoning calls
Me to ignore its pleasant wind, and to refrain
From such a myth that you impart upon
My anguished soul. How may it be that I
Could love, when all I've known is lust? I've gone
To the extreme where truth becomes a lie
And I believe, I believe that naked,
Stark reality that binds my heart in
Its hypocrisy where love is faked
In lust's designs that fills my soul within.
I pray, Do not caress me with affection,
It only leaves me bleeding in my mind.
I cannot bare to face you with rejection
And walk with your false hope trailing behind.


A philosopher once said: "Where neither love nor hatred is in the game, a woman's game is mediocre." I had not the strength to elicit love within your treasured soul, nor had I the heart to stir hatred within your mind, and having neither evoked love nor hate, a silent sadness ensued wherein you gently faded in the passing days and weeks and months, till time with her soft rain drops washed away the memory of one I thought to love.


No Mayakovsky with "caustic contempt"
Bleeds through a putrid heart.
No pen--
The poet's dagger--
Carves superfluous sinews
Of an unrequitting soul.
The blast of bombast will not bruise my brain,
And love in lithe attire
No more will haunt me.
For I am no Mayakovsky.
Your supple sultriness insinuates
Suffering in the man who longs to view
The softness of your form.
And though at times I've longed,
I will not beg,
Crying from the streets to let me in!
For I am no Mayakovsky.
I'd call you Lily to my love,
For you are just as fleeting.
I'll be not "calm
Like the pulse of a corpse,"
But as peaceful as the midnight sun
Touching the horizon as it turns
From a wayward course.
I will approach,
Then flee into the darkness of a
Wintry sea
Forgetting forever,
For I am no Mayakovsky.


What can I say or write to ease your mind
So troubled by the fleeting news of day?
I'm pained to see the storm in which you sway
As in its eye, its madness makes you blind
To the reality, the truth of who
You are. You say you do not know. I think
That you deceive yourself--you happ'ly drink
Your bitter cup and wallow in your blue,
But no, that is not you, 'tis not the man
That I behold. For strength I see; a son
Of God whom to his Father's outstretched hands
Is ever reaching, active in his plan.
Your faith and your desire make you one
Whom in the midst of God at last will stand.


In silent hours, when moved to pondering,
I cannot help but feel such gratitude
For such a friend with a great attitude
Whose heart the hymns of Zion always sings.
I have been blessed to call you counselor,
To have experience where spirit unfolds
A tiny glimpse that the wide Heavens hold
For us to view and ponder evermore.
The work you've done, the way which you inspire
Your fellow men to engage in the work
That otherwise, less faithful, they would shirk,
Is one of many things that I admire.
And now our tenure meets a fitful end--
No more a president, but a true friend.


What pains are yours I do not claim to know--
The trial manifested in this way
That leaves you laid-up for unnumbered days,
Seeking some relief that arrives slow.
I can't pretend to even understand
The smallest portion of your private pain
That has returned and will return again
With its fierce fortunes, frightening demands.
But this I say in utmost honesty
That I admire the strength and fortitude
That you possess, along with gratitude,
Despite the illness you bear painfully.
I know no other woman who could live
With such a trial and be as positive.


There comes a time
When suddenly the pleasures of our youth
Seem nothing more than pleading
For a truth to make one whole.
The void appears in shadows
Between vainglorious applause,
And one cheers louder for the self
In hopes to beat back this recognition.
I've filled my life
With many a fun and frantic thing--
Hobbies, education, career,
Spontaneous pleasures of the day,
But quiet hours come
And in the silence of such moments
The shadows reappear
And nothingness settles on the soul.
There is something more to life
Than merely me.
Suddenly. . .
It is strange just how intense
Can be desires. . .
Desires for responsibility,
Not for the fame or business of the world
But for a quiet moment
With a baby in one's arms.
To be a father--
To be a part of something greater
Than oneself.
To hold the only future
That in the end supersedes
All of the accolades of life. . .
There comes a time,
And now I recognize that happiness
Is not found in the self
But in the selfless.


If I could reach and take you by the hand
I'd lead you down a street of cobblestone,
Past architecture past ages had known--
Perhaps on local shores or foreign lands.
If reaching proved your hand was held in mine
I'd cherish the soft touch and warm embrace--
Though I'd be dizzy as my heart would race--
Such joy to me would be an act divine,
For I would hold the hand of hallowed grace,
Reflecting on the miracle that I
Experience as I gaze into your eyes
And find in each a dream I'd like to trace.
Such dreams are woven, carefully entwined,
As would your fingers be if held in mine.


It was a pleasant afternoon
With gentle light amid the shade
That danced resplendent through the air--
The air so fresh and sweet--
That she and I strolled hand in hand
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

She wandered free and full of life
Through thicket and a royal crown
Which Nature wore with elegance--
Her soul held to our view--
And here I felt the innocence
Of the orchard at Kristiansand.

She moved about from tree to bush
Into the open fields where lay
The inspirations of her dreams--
Her blessed imagination--
She seemed to float, no present cares,
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

I smiled at the freedoms found
So deep within her playful heart
And felt a joy bursting within--
Happy in her happiness--
Which moved my heart to live again
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

She looked t'ward me and I at her.
We moved together then embraced,
And held onto each other's dreams--
She held my heart, my all--
And then we kissed and kissed again
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

My heart was singing deep within
The silent chambers of my soul,
And a soft tear swelled in my eye--
A tear of happiness--
I holding all I cared to hold
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

We tightly cleaved--a long embrace--
In the light of a fading sun.
Our shadows long upon the grass--
We two as one, alone--
And then our arms to our sides fell
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

We moved about the apple trees
And plucked the fruit for our delight.
The blossoms held a mystery--
Beautiful and whispering--
They spoke within the fertile breeze
Of the orchard at Kristiansand.

She pressed the fruit upon her lips
The juices running down her chin
Sparkling in the twilight sun--
My heart was full again.
I wiped the juices with my thumbs
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

She took my hands within her own,
Removed them from off of her face
And held them sweetly for a time,
Our eyes locked in a gaze.
I whispered gently in her ear
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

She left her hold and walked away
Amid the shadows of the trees,
To feel the moment, to live life--
She's one with earth's beauty--
She stopped to sudden pondering
In the orchard at Kristiansand.

She was alive and I in her
felt of all the earth's rejoicing,
Amid a soft, romantic scene--
Magical and so serene--
Where my heart for her is yet growing. . .
In the orchard at Kristiansand.


My heart leaps up with joy at the good news
Of your engagement, of a union sweet,
Where two hearts and two minds forever meet
Within the mount of God--celestial views.
To think, my friend, that you have found the one
Who does inspire the greatest height of thought,
And stirs within the deepest love which ought
To move you through the course marked by the Son.
I cannot help but feel an intense joy
Within the happiness which life unfolds
In your behalf, where two as one will hold
The greatest gift which God to man employs.
For in true love one learns the life of God
For which the hosts of heav'n and I applaud.


The steady palpatations of two hearts.
The fusion in the silence of two minds.
This is the moment mortals are divine--
The only true creation we impart.


From the window comes caressings
Of the morning hour air,
Cool upon the silent mother's skin.
Drapes flutter,
Dancing with the twinkle of the stars.
The darkness shudders softly
From the touching of the moon,
Soft in misty mellowness.
She stands against the wall,
head lifted lightly to the breeze
That tickles gently her sweet neck,
Tracing the dear contours of her throat.
She peers upon a silent street
Sleeping in the arms of a lamp's light,
Bending in the shadows from the hedge.
The sound of stillness in a cricket's voice.
Her fingertips rest gently on her chin--
Move slightly to the velvet of her lips.
Moves slowly to her chin, her neck, her breasts,
Downward through her slightly parted gown.
Her palm rests on the silk that is her skin
Pulled taught around the roundness of her form.
Her organs stir--
The movement of the world within.
She presses sweetly on her stomach, bare.
He is the first--
His motions a discomfort revelled in.
His movement,
What comforts compass the dear child's world!
Both hands stir readily
Around the form.
Both eyes pierce deep into the night.
And inward, thoughts of love abound.
Her child.
Her first.
Her husband lost within the comforts of their bed.
Yet not alone--
She ponders on the future of her son
And whispers, as the crickets chorus swells,
A lullaby to serenade her dreams.


And all is stripped away
But her dear innocence--
The beauty of her being.
She is as nat'ral as the light
That dances on her skin--
Reflective of the light she holds within.
Her hair in wisps untainted,
Wild and free--
Unkempt to some, most beautiful to me.
Her hand upon her face
Evokes a morning grace
Where impressions part for that which ought to be.
A blissful morning memory--
Soft light, soft smile,
Soft and so lovely--
I cannot think a time more beautiful
Then in this moment when rising I espy
Sanna in red,
Recently risen from her bed,
So nat'ral with the dawning of her day.

And how I long to hold her in my arms--
To feel the warmth of her soft skin--
Embrace the light she holds within
And dream in innocence.
To place my hand upon her face.
To run my fingers through her hair.
To hear her voice melodious sing.
To hear her heart speak wild and free.
There is a depth which is revealed
When parting realms of sleep,
And hers is one that I'd explore
And ever hope to keep.

And nothing is more beautiful
Than when she first arises.
She is the sun whom imparts life
Within my sleeping soul.


Candles burn--soft light illuminates the night
And shadows shiver with the welcomed warmth.
A room in all simplicity
Transformed to bright felicity
Stands still and frozen with the eve's delight.
Two silhouettes are dancing on the wall
In motion, motionless though they may be,
A trick from flames that flicker fervently
Within the breath of Autumn's revelry--
Two souls, they sit across a table bare,
Soft words have settled and softly they stare
Down upon their folded hands
Held tight together, somberly.

Moments pass, and gently on the air
The soothing notes of Grieg are gently played.
The melted wax begins to run
And tears of joy are lightly sprung
And race upon the cheeks of this young pair.
A smile breaks upon the couple's face--
A breath of laughter following a sigh
When young love meets within their dreaming eyes
As future hopes within their hearts take flight.
And in the silence of a dying flame
They whisper softly once again the name
Of their newborn who softly sleeps
Within the room beside.


I see him through the glass
Seated with son upon his knee--
A small child in a large world.
His back is to me,
But his happy child's face bobs into view--
Bouncing in a silent distance.
"Ride ride ranke. . ."
It is a joyous moment for the two,
Fleeting as it may be.
"Hesten heter Blanke. . ."
We mount our horse when young
And quickly gallup to the west--
Our lives' own setting sun.
"Hvor skal vi ride. . ."
And so this moment,
As the years of life,
Quickly pass into memory.
"Til en liten pike. . ."
It is a beautiful sight to see--
A moment brief--
Father to son.
The boy's sister will be next.
"Hva skal hun heter?"
But now--
This moment--
From a distance viewing--
I reflect upon my memories.
"Anna Margarette. . ."
A silver dollar and a smile--
We grandchildren stand in line to count to ten. . .
To, tre,
Fire, fem, seks,
Sju, atte, ni, ti.
A silver dollar and a smile.
"Når vi kom dit. . ."
Twice a year we would travel.
Morfar (Amerikaner med engelsk forfedre)
With his violin,
Playing in the evening twilight.
"Var ingen hjeme. . ."
Mormor (Amerikaner med engelsk forfedre)
In her garden
With grandchildren at her feet.
"Uten for hunden. . ."
Farfar (Svensk med svensk forfedre)
Upon his knee we count to ten.
A silver dollar and a smile.
"Som lå under benken. . ."
Farmor (Norsk med norsk og sveitser forfedre)
In her kitchen preparing a family meal.
"Og røstet på lenken. . ."
I loved those summer days and winter evenings,
Nestled in Sandy and Salt Lake.
"Den vesla sa, 'Vuff, vuff, vuff, vuff. . . '"
To travel to a continent,
The lands of my ancestors,
With marevelous vistas peering in upon the train
I peering out upon her view.
Yet inward,
In a distant seat, a stranger sits
With a boy-child on his knee,
And all else fades within this moment--
Father to son--
This is pure humanity.
I smile at the scene.
"Men store han sa, "VUFF, VUFF, VUFF, VUFF!'"



he he he
fuss fuss fuss
or the scary monster'll find us!
NO. . . NO!
he he he
fuss fuss fuss
ya better be quiet
or he'll find us!
NO. . . NO!
he he he
fuss fuss fuss
poor little monster
he'll never find us!
be quiet or we'll be dead!
do it again, they say at last.


"Uncle B, Uncle B,
We want to ride on the hor-sie!"
Quick is the swarm with swift grabbing hands
The horse is subdued--no longer he stands.
Down on all fours, they climb on his back--
Without enough room, they're on the attack.
"We'll all take turns, so please don't cry,"
Says uncle B to their shimmering eyes.
Three on at once--the third quickly falls,
The swarm resumes and the hor-sie is mauled.
"One at a time and we'll all get a turn,"
Says uncle B with a voice less stern.
Klip klop klip klop klip klop,
Klip klop klip klop klip klop.
Round and round,
Then "Buster-Bronco" takes them to town.
The one falls off,
The whole group laughs.
The swarm resumes and the uncle laughs.


"Uncle B, uncle B,
We want to hear a troll stor-ie!"
Up on the bed the children sit,
"We want your trolls to tell us it!"
Off of the shelf the trolls he takes--
Deep in his throat a new voice makes.
Though the troll is scary with eyes all wild,
He receives a kiss from every child.
He asks each girl about her day
And asks each boy in the same way,
And then he asks which tale to tell.
The girls say, "Princess," the boys as well.
"And we want berries and berry pie,
And make the trolls nice so no-one dies."
The children listen to the tale,
With hearts that pound and eyes that swell.
They each add to it their own thoughts,
Twisting and turning the old plots.
The tale is finished, the troll is friend,
The children like a happy end.
Back on the shelf the trolls return.
"We want another!" the children spurn.
"Uncle B, uncle B,
We want another troll stor-ie!"
"The trolls are tired, its time for bed--
The story's done, they sleep instead."
So with a kiss he says goodnight,
Gives each a hug and turns out the light.


Quick to the kitchen, the kids gather round
All tiny helpers with sharp squealing sounds.
One finds a stool and up quickly climbs
As do the others, metered in time.
One grabs a chair, another a pail,
Reaching the counter, they all feel swell.
One grabs the sugar, another the yeast--
All are excited to help make the feast.
One counts the flour, another the eggs--
Oops! One just fell down between sister's legs.
Crack! O so gooey, it covers the floor--
The boy thinks its funny and throws down some more.
Crack! Crack! Crack!
giggle giggle giggle
squirm squirm squirm--
wiggle wiggle wiggle.
The aunt returns from washing her hands:
"What's going on?!" The aunt so demands.
giggle giggle giggle
squirm squirm squirm
"Help clean it up all you wiggly worms."
wipe wipe wipe
wiggle wiggle wiggle
smear smear smear
giggle giggle giggle.
All tiny helpers cleaning the mess
Just makes it worse the aunt must confess.
She gets out the mop and tidies the floor
One mess is cleaned up, get ready for more.
Quick to their stations the children abound--
All tiny helpers with sharp, squealing sounds.
One spills the oil, another the salt,
Each blames the other--its nobody's fault.
measure measure measure
pour pour pour
whisk whisk whisk
measure some more.
It's all mixed together in one big pile
The kids, though they're anxious, must wait awhile.
sit sit sit
wait wait wait
One little voice rises--
"We sure did great!"
They quickly lose interest
In waiting around--
Off now and quickly with their squealing sounds.
The aunt in the kitchen surveys the mess.
She both loves and hates it she must confess.
The kitchen is clean and the children come back,
Hungry and eager to eat a small snack.
sniff sniff sniff
yummy yummy yummy
Kids can't wait to fill up their tummies.
smack smack smack
gobble gobble gobble
Kids are full--see how they wobble.


How many times he's longed to look away,
Lost deep in thought, to some uncertain dawn
Whose rays of light dance lightly on his brow
And smile and laugh until his cares are gone.
How many moments silently betray
The happy memories of yesterday
And steal from youth the vigor and the braun
To leave the man in pensive mood below
With nothing but his dreams to think upon--
These dreams that ever seem to slip away.
And what in silence does a mother say
With her dear hand upon his shoulder now.
What thoughts or memory could she endow
On her lone son, stone cold and ever gray.


Animated with a child's heart
She moves upon the wint'ry crag
Experiencing the world renewed--
Experiencing a life that often fades
From hearts and minds
Whose cares become the world.
Not hers.
She lives and loves the freedoms of the earth.
She seeks the thrill the senses give.
She stretches out connecting with a life
That breaths beneath a liquid sky.
A liquid sky--
A perfect mirror--
It holds a depth which harbors life;
It holds an image from above--
Reflections of eternity.
She feels eternity reflected in herself,
Her simple soul.
She reaches through the mirror to grasp her heart.
She reaches deep, reflecting on her soul.
Still. . .
Clear. . .
A pureness undisturbed by her rejoicing touch.
A simple moment words cannot describe--
Connecting life and living to her heart.
This is beauty in a bending touch
Where all the earth may offer enters freely
Through her coursing veins--
Freely through her longing heart--
Offering a mellow fruitfulness
Of peace--
Verbal profundities abandoned,
She touches, feels, connects and understands
The value of a life that simply is.
That which is most profound comes not by words.


O that I were this child again
But dancing in the wind
Upon some shore with tempest waves
That dance bold next to me!
O that the storm could pass me by
And I in awe of it
May look into its dreadful eye
With wonder and repose.
O that the winds my hair could curl
And lash about my face,
And I, and I, a child again
May laugh and live in grace.


O barren tree, stretch forth thy arms into
Cold winter's night, and think not of the birds
Once perched who since have taken flight. I've heard
Their songs and seen them dance a day or two
Within your lofty branches wide and in
Your colored hue. But summer's gone; nowhere
Is found a fowl so gracious and sincere
As to accompany your soul within
Your outward fallen hour. Yet I alone
Do mourn for you with silent chirps unmarked,
Unnoticed once when I, too, came to sing,
To dance. O how quickly fades past days gone,
And how I wish, like then, and now, thy bark
To nestle in and bring about your spring.


My thoughts have reeled both far and wide
In search of your sure countenance.
I'm stunned by my thought's maintenance
Wherein your beauty still abides.
That simple look I stole from far away.
That gentle glance that passsed from your own eye
That first night I beheld you--what a sigh
My heart beat out that wond'rous day.
O how we met, though we had met before,
No ineffable romance on that distant shore.
So foreign, foreign was our love,
We saw it as we view our God above:
In faith we moved toward devotion,
Lost within that graced emotion
That brought us to be one in time,
As in time's warm effulgent breast
We gently moved and forward pressed
Until we reached this state sublime.
And when I think upon your mind
That opened up a brave new world
For my own life, in yours refined,
I praise my God for blessings thus bestowed!
Great is the giver of the life
As is the life his masterpiece.
The Master Sculptor, sculpt my wife
In mind and spirit, beauty leased for all the world to see,
And I to hold.
What of the world,
Who cares for recognition?
You have stole my heart and I petition
Day and night to seal you mine, and I yours,
Throughout that timeless tale--
To think upon those walks that we first took
Beside a simple road or bumbling brook.
It all was heaven! Heaven I could see!
Each step I took when you were next to me,
Though on cold concrete,
T'was like Arcady!
Those times we talked upon the thinking stump,
The view outstretched that lies before us still.
To speak of life and life's grand winding rill,
And plunge into the depths of our minds' sea.
To think of feelings deep within us stirred,
When flesh was mixed of flesh
And brought forth fruit--
The offspring of a queen and of a fool
That proved as like the former most astute.
(And might I add, our babes were rather cute).
And when we kneeled, each time as had before,
Upon the mountain top
We saw the shore--
The endless sands of Abraham.
And when I think of you and I and this,
We kiss the kiss of happiness of bliss,
And dance about in grand celestial ways
That carries on beyond our mortal days.
Each flirting touch, each passioned smile, each glance
Of wild eyes in ecstasy; romance
That lives in one another's arms.
To have a knowledge of the truth:
In Christ we find eternal youth
And in His home we find a binding love
That will transcend us through His courts above
Wherein we prove the passions of our age
Clothed within a pureness all arrayed
In love, devotion, admiration sweet,
A romance fit for gods, we're now complete.
For as I look upon you in the grave
I cannot help but give my God such praise
Knowing you'll be His but for a time,
Then eternally you will be mine--
And we theirs.


The evening hours blossom as a rose
Before it wilts within the dark of night
And shadows lengthen with somber repose
Upon the wooded hillside in twilight.
Amid the silhouettes of nature's fleece
There kneels a woman long since past her prime
Who inward searches for a lasting peace
To make such sorrows settled seem sublime.
Her hands both frail and old caress the stone
With loving words etched carefully in place.
She kneels before the grave as if a throne
Upon which sits a king who's full of grace.
A tear drop shimmers from her wrinkled eye
And weary rests upon her moistened cheek.
Her love, though twenty years passed since he died,
has grown more fond each day and passing week.
And in her heart her feelings brightly burn,
And in her mind her memories reflect
Upon the days when younger hearts had yearned,
Matured through years into common respect,
And in old age achieved a love that's pure.
She wipes away her tears with praying hands--
Her frail, old hands, from constant work grown sore,
A soreness that devotion thus demands.
For on the lonely hillside but few sleep
And none are paid to keep a constant care,
And fewer still frequent this place to weep,
For 'tis an ancient cemet'ry laid bare.
And so her hands the noxious weeds repel,
And with her hands the wind-swept dirt's removed,
And with her hands she plants the flow'rs as well
And prunes them, thus her constant love to prove.
And as she kneels within the hast'ning hours
With hands held in an attitude of pray'r,
Her gentle lips supplicate heaven's pow'rs
And her moist eyes produce a throng of tears.
The night wind blows across the woman's chest
As rouged kissed sky vanishes in the dark,
And gratitude sinks deep within her breast
As she envisions hands that bear the mark
Of He whose death lasted not e'en three days
Before His body rose out of the tomb.
And so it is, her lips offer such praise
For the Begotten Son of Mary's womb.
For through the resurrection of the Christ
The woman's hope and faith is made assured,
For with His death the law has been sufficed
And with His life, her love will be restored.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coming to Terms?

It has dawned on me recently that I am ready for a real change in my life--not the superficial changes that occur so frequently in life, but a life altering change. I think that I am done with bachelorhood--it has had a good run. . . I've really enjoyed it, but I am thinking that it is time for me to take dating more seriously and to ditch my inhibitions. I have mastered my current responsibilities and frankly have become bored with the lack of challenge that single life offers. It is really a selfish stage in life and I feel that I have reached a plateau in my progression. I've accomplished everything that I have wanted to accomplish during my single years: full-time mission (check), attend the temple (check), Bachelor's degree (check), Master's degree (check), Career as an educator (check), Backpack Europe (check), Road-trip through National Parks in the Western United States (check), Purchase a home (check), stay out of debt--with exception of home and car (check), actively serve in the church (check), enjoy the bachelor life (check), and etc., etc., etc. Everything that I have wanted to accomplish I have achieved. And honestly, the things that have been so exciting about being single in the past are simply mundane. As much as I enjoy social events catered toward singles, the events are old-hat, worn out, routine. Honestly, I could care less about attending parties or other social functions designed to mingle with the masses. I would much rather spend time with a smaller crowd of people that I actually care about than rub shoulders with people who are so concerned with the upkeep of image and the endless attempt to impress the myriad crowds or blindly seek out some unknown soul at some event or other. . . blah, blah, blah. . . it is all so cliche to me at this point. I'm not saying that I don't like to go out and have fun, to enjoy life, and all--I do, but honestly, there is more to life than this--I've been there and done that, over and over again--it is time to move on.
Please, do not misunderstand me--this is no sign of desperation and I do not intend to play the part of a fool and rush into a pathetic relationship simply for a relationship's sake. I shall be ever vigilant in discovering and dating a woman whom will be worthy of my time and energy, and with whom I will be worthy of her time and energy in return. What I mean is that it is time for me to give up my silly excuses of the past and simply be serious and honest about the concept of dating and relationships. It is more a revelation of maturity more so than anything else of which I can think. The following is a partial list of recent experiences that have helped me to arrive at my current conclusion:

A few weeks ago I was supposed to go kayaking with a female friend of mine (a beautiful and respectable woman with a lot of great qualities--but don't get too excited, she is in a serious relationship) which fell through because of a commitment to babysit her nieces. As an alternative, we decided to meet up and take the kids up to Baldy Village to explore some replica's of Native American structures and then go for a little hike up Ice House Canyon. I had a blast carrying the one year old on my back (using one of those baby-backpacks) and exploring with the other niece around the creek, perceiving the world through the eyes of a child again, enjoying life--the crisp autumn air, the swarms of ladybugs, the changing leaves, the flowing water of the creek, and of course, good company and conversation. It was almost as if it were a small taste of family life and I enjoyed it immensely! It is not the first time that I have been around children--after all, I do have 18 nieces and nephews that I love dearly and have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with--both having fun and taking care of (you know, those times when kids are not so fun). As such, I have always done well with children, but this was a form of validation if you will--it does not have to be blood relations for me to get along with kids. This has caused me to reevaluate my perspective on dating women with children (it is still not preferred but is it really fair for me to rule them out all together?).

The other night I met up with some of the friends that I grew up with in the same neighborhood, two of which are now married. We ended up going to a Tae kwan do class for his young son. It was awesome to see how proud my friend was of his son and how involved he is in taking an interest in and supporting his son's life. He is a great father who is building his son up, offering him every opportunity to experience a good and healthy life with which to give him the tools to navigate through life confidently and competently. There is a time and place for everything--time for one's self, time for one's spouse, and time for one's kids. He is there for his kids at the moments that his kids are looking for his approval and interest. It is a selfless challenge, offering up of one's time and attention. My life has nothing like that--no immediate responsibility outside of myself. Needless to say, I have discovered that living solely for myself is a pathetic existence.

Since I have purchased a home I felt that it is my responsibility to do my part in perpetuating the Halloween holiday by giving out candy. Halloween is first and foremost a children's holiday. I figured that I could pass out candy for the first few hours of darkness then go out and join whatever party or dance suited my fancy. As the trick-or-treaters began to decline in numbers (and there were a lot of them in my neighborhood) I received a text from a friend of mine stating that she really didn't feel like going out that evening and asking what I was up to. I invited her over and we opted on staying in and having a great conversation that lasted several hours. A few other friends eventually stopped by and it resulted in a pleasant evening. Once more, the idea of spending quality time with people that I actually care about, making connections, was far more fulfilling to me than mingling with a lot of acquaintances and strangers. Once again, each has its time and place (sometimes it is necessary to get out and meet new people in order to receive new perspectives and form new friendships), but this night was great for actually strengthening conncetions with friends.

I have a friend for whom I have great esteem. She happens to be the most well-rounded and insightful woman that I have ever come to know and exhibits a variety of qualities that I truly admire in a woman. Having come to know her has been both a blessing and a curse: a blessing as she has influenced my life for the better in countless ways that has allowed me to grow and mature, and a curse in that having come to know her I have fallen in the trap of taking other women on dates and then measuring them against this friend. Perhaps I have passed up a number of great women because I wanted someone more like this friend. A couple of months ago this friend and I had limited contact with one another for a couple of months. It made me realize how much I missed that contact and connection. It was at this point that I admitted to myself that I truly felt that this friend is the "best" woman that I have ever known and I was reminded of a few lines in a poem I had written years ago on relationships: "The deepest things within us can't be pressed / By one who wants the other to confess / Of all that deep within them may reside, / For this is given freely or denied. / That which we truly love is rarely seen, / For eyes know not just where the heart has been, / And one who seems a friend more than the rest / Is where love is and where it's hidden best." I had decided then and there that if I truly felt that she was the best woman I have ever come across, then I had ought to pursue her as far as she will allow me (this would be no easy feat as I had attempted to date her once before, a couple of years ago, and I could not elicit any feeling within her). I felt a great sense of confidence in my decision to make a pursuit and discover, without expectation, where it may lead.
So I asked her if I could take her out and she consented. I settled upon taking her to a concert by a particular performer that shares her same cultural heritage. As such, I did a little research via the internet regarding the dating customs of this particular culture in order to create a theme for the evening. According to what I had read, it is customary for a man to bring a single rose, even on a first date (taboo in American culture--roses are not generally used until after a romantic connection has been made) and to walk arm in arm with the lady. So I gave her a rose with a little note translated into her native language (it was a variation on a little joke she had told me when we had first met--I figured it would take the edge off if offering a rose was too forward). The evening was great--I could not ask for a better woman to be with. As always, she was stunningly beautiful (that is actually one of the things that gets to me--over the past two years we have been but friends and yet every time the two of us get together to do something, she dresses up in such a manner that I am left awestruck of her beauty and must do all within my power to suppress desire--it is a cruel joke on her part. . . she plays the Goddess and I Tantalus suffering with something so inviting before me yet forbidden to grasp). I enjoyed our conversation, and the concert itself was nothing short of amazing! As we walked from the theater to the car I offered her my arm and created an awkward moment as she refused. I cannot fault her for simply acting on the way that she feels but that does not lessen the pain of knowing that the very person I most respect and admire is repulsed by my very being. That any form of physical touch should be so abhorred speaks volumes. Having been put in my place, we were able to move on and enjoy the remainder of the evening together. We had a wonderful conversation for several hours after this point without any awkwardness at all, but I dared not speak of what feelings I did have and my intentions to pursue her as far as she would allow, considering that her actions already proved how far that would be--I had already reached my limit (she has certainly sent many additional clues that say as much--I'm glad I did not express anything that I was desiring to at the beginning of the evening as that would have made things really awkward and may have damaged the friendship). Needless to say, this has caused me to reevaluate my stance on dating friends--I will certainly have to make a move before a relationship enters the "friend" zone.

A good friend of mine recently broke up with his girlfriend of two years. Their relationship arrived at the point where only two options remained: get married or break up. Despite the fact that they both deeply love one another, the break up won out. I do not fault either party in the relationship--one must respect how another feels, no matter how much that hurts. I truly respect both individuals--they are both great people and I am sad that it didn't work out for them (I think they would be good for one another). It has become clear to me that things don't always work out the way that we want them or perhaps even how we perceive that they should. Maturity and responsibilty is to be found in how we handle situations which are beyond our control but have a direct correlation to our lives. Learning to accept things the way that they are, when they are beyond our control, is a difficult challenge. It is always seemingly easier when we have the power to act--to make or break something based upon what we do or say for ourselves, but human interaction requires the thoughts, feelings, words, and actions of both people. Any form of manipulation is immature and unacceptable. I am happy to say that both individuals mentioned above are mature enough to avoid attempts at manipulation. This is more a cautionary tale for myself. While I may tire of the bachelor lifestyle, sometimes it is not a choice and I will have to deal with its reality in a mature manner.

Wow, this is really becoming a long post. There are so many more thoughts and insights on the matter, but I will save that for discussions with friends who wish to address the topic. Needless to say, I feel that I am ready for a change, but that doesn't guarantee that a change will occur. It is time to reevaluate my thinking concerning these matters and determine what is of value and what needs to be adapted, discarded, or implemented. We shall see what happens as I reshape my ideology and approach to dating and relationships within the next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Angels Baseball--Going for it all!!!

I know that I have a lot of friends who are Dodgers fans and that is fine. I like the Dodgers, I really do. But I love the Angels. My greatest hope is that the Angels and Dodgers will meet in the World Series this year with the Angels winning it all. I don't want a sweep--that would be boring (although sweeping Boston was not at all boring--I was extremely happy about getting that monkey off of our back). Rather, I would like it to go 7 games with the Dodgers up by two runs in the ninth with the Angels bouncing back like the Twins-Tigers one game playoff, sending the game into extra innings with the Angels winning it all with a walk off grand slam. That would be awesome! by the way, anyone who is interested--my home is open to any baseball playoff game that you would like to attend--I'm not a huge fan during the regular season, but there is something about playoff baseball that gets me hooked, no matter who is playing. . . and especially when the Angels are playing. So lets grab some grub and catch a game--spontaneous playoff parties shall abound at my house--drop on by!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Geico Caveman Is No More. . .

I received a haircut today and ended up shaving my beard, and I must say, I am looking GOOD! :) Needless to say, my Geico Caveman looking days are over and I suddenly look a lot younger. I'm thinking come Monday I may show up to work in jeans and a soccer jersey, take a seat among my students, and see how long it takes for them to recognize me. . . :) Post your estimates in the comment section if you like. My prediction: 2 minutes, 43 seconds.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ladder Canyon

My good friend, Jake Olmstead, will soon be taking a five week course to prepare for the LSAT exam. He has proclaimed that we will not see him during this stretch as he focuses upon his studies. As such, I thought it would be nice to get one more camping trip in before he disappears. So I asked Jake where he would like to go. . . he chose Ladder Canyon. I was trying to convince him of some mountain location where it would be cooler but Jake was adamant on Ladder Canyon, so I set it up. I invited only a handful of people for this event (the criteria for the invitation was two-fold: people I thought would enjoy such a trip and people that I thought were in good enough condition to make such a trip. If you received an invitation, you should feel honored that you made the short list; if you did not receive an invitation, do not be offended--honest reflection will reveal that one of the two criteria does not match). Keep in mind, this location has no campsites, no bathrooms, no amenities. It is backpacking through a canyon and finding some random place that looks suitable to throw down one's sleeping bags and call it a night.
The trip began later than anticipated and consisted of four guys--Jake Olmstead, Tony Aguilar, Ryan Morgan, and myself. We were hoping to leave by 3:30 but did not depart until 5:30. After taking the long route to get to the trailhead (sorry guys--I forgot that there are two separate exits to hwy 111 from the 10 fwy) we arrived and began backpacking sometime around 9 p.m.
It was nice hiking through the slot canyon in the dark--it made it more mysterious and adventuresome for those who had not been before. It was still hot and we had to consume a lot of water to stay hydrated. Tony had a sudden epiphany when we came upon the first ladder used to ascend a precipice. It was humorous to see his reaction as he finally put two and two together--the name of the canyon and the reality of ladders being used throughout the canyon. We met a nice little bat who was clinging to the canyon wall upon our ascent--he was chillin' and didn't seem too bothered by our presence, allowing me to take a few pictures before we continued on our way.
Once we were atop the plateau we hiked until we discovered a relatively flat location with as few rocks as possible to make camp. We ended up playing cards and talking for several hours before discussing the constellations. Ryan actually knows a bit about the stars and pointed out several celestial sights. Once he was done imparting his knowledge I picked up with my own "constellations" (nothing real, just what particular groupings of stars look like to me) and the others joined in as we created some fantastical images in the heavens.
We finally attempted to sleep, having no tent and spread out where ever we chose to throw our sleeping bags down. It was sometime around 3 a.m. when we made the attempt: Jake and Tony continued their discussion for another hour or so. One might imagine my surprise when the two finally fell silent--at last, I might actually get some sleep! But no, fifteen minutes after it fell silent I heard Tony exclaim: "What size football should I get?" Are you kidding me, Tony! At last I thought I would be able to sleep and I am denied with talk of what size football you want! This started off a whole new round of discussion between the two. Needless to say, I would chime in with some whimsical comment or other when they left the door open for such during the conversation. When the talking did cease I was interrupted by someone's brief snoring. Fortunately, that did not last long and I was able to get about an hour of rest in before the sun rose and made sleeping impossible with its hellish combination of light and heat. We decided it best to get out of there as soon as possible as we did not want to be hiking in the desert in the midday sun.
Once we had arrived back at the car we drove to the North Shore of the Salton Sea. We were disappointed with the fact that they have demolished the old abandoned motel and seem to be renovating the old club building on the shore. Beforehand it seemed as if this location was a vision of a nuclear holocaust--erie in its decrepit and lonesome state, but now that effect was gone with the vanishing of the abandoned buildings (that we would explore in the past) and the fact that people were actually at this location doing some fishing (I don't know what the world one would expect to catch in the Salton Sea, but whatever it may be, there is no way that I would eat it--that lake has the smell of death and decay and is downright nasty). The playground that is half buried in the sand is still there and the abandoned marina still exists but even that has had parts removed. It just is not like the empty, erie feeling that it conveyed the first time I had been there years ago when James Morris and I went down to explore and do some photography.
At last we arrived home and before they departed, Tony and Jake wanted to play some video games. Jake was checking his facebook account before playing and remained logged in when he was distracted by the game, giving me perfect opportunity to get some paybacks. About a month ago, Jake and I were at the gym when I received a text. I was lifting some weights at the time so jake grabbed the phone and responded to it. Without the person on the receiving end knowing that it was Jake replying, he sent some texts that made it sound like I had a man-crush on Jake. Fortunately, the girl on the receiving end understood when I later had to make some clarifications as to what had happened and that it was not me sending these homo-erotic messages. Needless to say, payback was sweet! I left a nice little message on Jake's homepage about how he had returned from camping with an epiphany that Tony is a sexy man. . . that he realized this when the two were looking at the stars and gazing into one another's eyes, and that sharing a sleeping bag together produced a conflict between his body and mind. . . "My mind was telling me no, but my body. . . MY BODY. . ." Needless to say, it took a few hours with friends commenting on his post before he discovered the prank. Jake has since removed the content from his facebook page and has vowed to get vengeance! Bring it on, Jake. Bring it on!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Honor of Keats

So, I was reading through various friends' blogs when I came upon the trailer for "Bright Star" (thanks for posting this Liz). I'm not often drawn to films of romance (though some are good and worth watching) but this film is about one of my favorite poets of all time: John Keats (in truth, he is second only to Wordsworth and had Keats lived longer to write more verse he very well may have eclipsed Wordsworth). Hence, I must see it!

Needless to say, I should like to post a few poems written by John Keats in his honor (keep in mind he only lived to the age of 24--amazing work for such a young man).


To one who has been long in city pent,
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven--to breath a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel--an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.


Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!-then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.


You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun's, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid's nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love--but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea--
They never pout for kisses--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue's dead--
While mine to passion burneth--
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should--O kiss
And in my heart inurn me!
O love me truly!


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. . .

And there are so many more poems that are just breathtakingly awesome! Keats' Odes are amazing (you really must read them--they are just to long for me to type them all up, especially at this late hour when I should be dreaming. Let me know which of Keats' poems is among your favorite, and do yourself a favor and go see this movie (I hope it is good--I will be sorely disappointed if they screw Keats up).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

My hair is officially the longest that it has ever been and I have been getting mixed commentary about it. Some people absolutely love it while others utterly detest it. I figured that I would grow out the beard as well, just to make myself look completely different. Honestly, I feel like I am ready cut my hair and go clean shaven, but a part of me wants to keep growing it out just to see how bad it can get. What do you think? (and don't worry, I am not easily offended so feel free to be candid).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Woman Of My Dreams

The woman of my dreams. . . hmmmm. . . I can only imagine what you are thinking in this particular moment as you read this title. Perhaps there are a number of questions floating through your mind: What is the woman of his dreams (what characteristics and attributes does she exhibit)? Who is the woman of his dreams (is it someone famous used as a model for such a woman or a real, everyday individual that he actually knows)? Has he found the woman of his dreams (Has he become acquainted with this woman, is he friends with this woman, is he dating this woman)? How has the woman of his dreams responded to him (is she indifferent to him, has she rejected him, is she flirtatious with him, has she fallen for him)? Is he going to write about the woman of his dreams (is it simply an ideal that he is going to write about--not an actual person, but the attributes and characteristics of what he would like most in a woman)? Does the woman of his dreams exist? and etc. Well, pick whichever one intrigues you the most and brace yourself. . .
The woman of my dreams of which I write is none of these, but is literally the woman of my dream (my apologies to all of you with inquiring minds that really wanted to know. . .). I awoke a couple of days ago from an interesting dream. The truth of the matter is that the dream itself was nothing unrealistic or out of the ordinary--probably a dream that most people would promptly forget by mid-morning. But it was precisely the dream's simplicity that struck me; that, and the fact that this particular woman mentioned that she was from a town which I had never heard of before but upon awaking knew that it must exist, so I looked up Sjöviken, Sweden and sure enough it is a small community on the eastern shore of Sweden, not too far from Sundsvall. So, "who cares?", one may ask. I will make the connection for you later.
I enjoy creative writing, whether it be poetry, short stories, tales, or what have you. Finding time, inspiration, and the right language and structure to write can be daunting. I saw in this dream an opportunity to write.

Kvinnan Från Sjövik *

In the phantasmagoric realm of sleep
I saw myself descending down a steep
And winding street with houses bright
In Skandinavisk style,
Which led to such an awe-inspired sight
That words, too weak, would defile
The sacredness of such a view.

Happiness enveloped my whole being,
Rejuvenated by this moment, freeing
All the discord one may hold inside.
I walked, face to the sky,
Exulting in a moment oft denied
By worldly cares that oft belie
The sacred nature of our souls.

My friends walked onward, leaving me behind,
A simple soul left lonely to unwind
Within the thriving summer air.
I looked out t’ward the sea—
A tranquil bay reflecting the sun’s glare
Made my heart dance inside of me
Some strange diverting jig.

And in this moment who should then appear
But some fair maiden with her hiking gear,
Petite and healthy, on a stroll,
Backpacking as travelers do
Through foreign streets, picturesque and beautiful,
Experiencing something new.
We caught each other’s glance.

Walking onward, side by side, we spoke
Of treasures the world hides beneath its cloak
And all we’ve hidden deep within
Our hearts and in our minds.
It seemed to me with her all life begins
To unfold mysteries we find
Too simple to ignore.

But as is oft the case with sudden dreams
The light of sleep unraveled at its seems—
To morning silence I awoke.
To bring her back, ah please!
What torture my unconsciousness evokes
To dream up one who lives beside the seas
On Sweden’s central shores.
The last words that I heard her speak:
“Jag bor I sjövik”**

--Brett Hall
August 24, 2009

*Kvinnan från Sjövik (Swedish: The woman from Sjövik)
** Jag bor i Sjövik (Swedish: I live in Sjövik)

Alright, so you are probably wondering why the sudden jump to the poem and why the poem ends abruptly. . . well, it is just like a dream--it materializes suddenly and just as quickly ends. So, why write of this and why the fascination? Let me explain a little.
Several years ago I had many young nieces and nephews who would often visit my parents' home. Those of you who know me well are familiar with some trolls that I have purchased from norway. As a form of entertainment I used to gather around my nieces and nephews who were interested at the moment and take my trolls and offer troll stories. The kids would line up on the edge of a bed and I would take a chair facing them and with trolls in hand would begin some fantastical tale or another as if the trolls were speaking themselves (I'd use specific voices for each troll and pounce the troll around as if he were real and speaking to the kids--I know, I know, many of you are terrified of the trolls and have a hard time believing that I would subject my nieces and nephews to such scary creatures, but that is a learned response, and the kids were actually endeared to the trolls and would beg me for troll stories when they saw me). I made up several troll stories on the spot and the kids would often give suggestions as to what the story should be about (my nieces particularly enjoyed stories that involved princesses and berries). I even purchased trolls for each of my nieces and nephews one Christmas and wrote them their own stories to go with the troll. But I digress. The point is, during this time period I also wrote a number of "folktales" which I didn't share with my nieces and nephews as they did not fit their age range at the time. My dream having come across a woman from Sjöviken, Sweden reminded me of one such tale that I placed in a nearby location: Sundsvall. Needless to say, here is the tale:

The Maiden at Sundsvall

Once long ago, in the coastal town of Sundsvall, there lived a young woman who would look upon the sea and dream up stories and songs within her head. She would arise early each morning and stumble through the darkness from her cottage to her favorite spot upon the coast—a large boulder which she would climb atop and view the rising of the sun as the morning waves would gently summon it from sleep with their rhythmic lapping upon the rocks below. She would attend to her duties by day, but always she set aside time enough to return to the boulder before sunset and view the evening hues as the sun descended beneath the forested hills that lay inland.
The young woman’s beauty was no secret, yet her character was greater still which caused all the young men throughout the region to swoon at the mention of her name. She was modest and showed her love for friends and family both in word and deed. She was unaware of the effect that she had upon men as most were too shy to approach her or to express how they truly felt. Thus, she continued on her daily course of life dreaming and reflecting upon the joys which surrounded her—the simple pleasures of nature and family.
One morning, as she ascended the boulder in the morning twilight, she was surprised at the sight of a figure sitting in the darkness. Startled, she froze upon the ledge staring at the man who sat motionless looking out upon the vast ocean to the emerald horizon. After a moment’s hesitation she resumed her course and sat next to the man. Neither spoke as they peered out upon the blissful scene. The sky began to illuminate and the shadows of the distant clouds were outlined with rose-colored hues and silver reflections. Alas, the first rays of the morning sun shot across the water, skipping back and forth upon the waves in route to the couple’s vision. The waves beneath the precipice rumbled to and fro with a delightful ditty and the morning birds took flight from the bosom of the sea.
“It is a glorious scene and a harmonious sound that awakens the earth to a new day,” said the man.
“Indeed, it refreshes the soul and makes life worth living,” she responded.
They sat for some time beneath the morning clouds chatting upon the scene and upon life whereupon it was revealed that he was an aspiring composer. He looked upon the beauty of the morning dawn and the beauty of the woman’s nature as the world around them sung in exultation.
“I should like to capture your beauty and this scene within the notes of a grand symphony, whereupon this moment may be immortalized in my composition, if you will allow me to do so,” he softly said. She consented and they met each morning thereafter to enjoy the dawning of the day, to discuss life, and for the young man to drink of the inspiration which would move him to compose his masterpiece. He was very skilled in various instruments and would play one for her each morning upon the boulder, shewing forth his progress, and indeed it was lovely.
On the very evening which the young woman met this man she returned to the boulder to ponder upon her labor for the day and upon life as she would enjoy the inspiring scenes of nature at the day’s end. The long afternoon shadows stretched far across the earth and all the world seemed to glitter and shine with the spectacular evening hues. She began to ascend the boulder wherein she would take in the scene as a whole and with the parting of the sun call the day complete. As she reached the top she noticed a man, different from the first, sitting atop her prized location. What a strange surprise she beheld! Bewilderedly, she finished her ascent and sat next to the man, both staring out upon the forested hills, which extended endlessly inland. The evening birds took flight from their nests and the leaves sparkled as they fluttered in the wind quickly eclipsing the evening sunlight. The treetops swayed in a tireless dance and the sky was aflame from the burning clouds. The sun wrapped itself in the bosom of the earth and the light faded into the perpetual darkness.
“It is a wondrous spectacle to behold when in the earth’s bosom the sun doth fold,” said the man.
“Indeed, it rejuvenates the mind and make life complete,” she responded.
They sat for some time beneath the evening stars chatting upon the scene and upon life whereupon it was revealed that he was an aspiring poet. He looked upon the beauty of the evening mist and the beauty of the woman’s nature as the world around them gracefully embraced the shadows.
“I should like to capture your beauty and this scene within the words of an epic poem, whereupon this moment may be canonized in my composition, if you will allow me to do so,” he softly said. She consented and they met each evening thereafter to enjoy the closing of the day, to discuss life, and for the young man to drink of the inspiration which would move him to write his masterpiece. He was very skilled with words and would recite for her each evening upon the boulder, shewing forth his progress, and indeed it was lovely.
So it was that each man continued to meet with the maiden upon the boulder at their respective hours. The first man composed such soothing music which brought peace and tranquility to her soul, and the second man wrote such beautiful poetry which brought excitement and joy to her heart. After some time, the two men desired to marry the young maiden, and each increased his efforts to woo her.
They both would present to her the depths of their minds in the respective mediums that they used. Each would state that they would produce the most elegant and beautiful works for her and indeed they showered her with the greatest pieces of music and poetry that she had ever experienced. She thought that both men were great and wonderfully talented which left her all the more confused as to who she should marry. As a result, she asked the two men not to join her for the next few weeks upon the boulder in the morning or in the evening so that she could be alone in those tranquil scenes and ponder upon their propositions. The two men agreed and alone sat the maiden each morning for the rising of the sun and each evening for its setting.
Early one morning during this time a third man appeared upon the boulder. He said nothing as she climbed the boulder’s height and neither spoke as they watched the sunrise and enjoyed the whispers of nature. The sky was ablaze when the young lady arose to return to her daily chores. She returned in the evening to view the sunset and to her surprise the man was still stalwartly sitting upon the precipice. Once more they sat in silence viewing the setting sun and enjoying the silent sounds of nature’s voice. The stars appeared one by one until thousands of them littered the sky. The young woman arose to return home for the night and the man, still sitting, asked, “What is it you have been thinking about?” The maiden sat back down and explained how the composer and the poet produced such great things from their minds which they gave to her and how beautiful their works were and how she could not decide who she would marry.
“Do you perhaps compose music or write poetry?” The man asked.
“O no,” the maiden responded. “I would love to learn how to produce such beautiful things but the men have only produced them for me.”
“I see,” said the man. “Then I shall teach you to both compose and write the things of your mind and heart so that you too may produce such beautiful works.”
The third man and the maiden met each morning and each evening upon the boulder to greet and bid farewell to the sun, to enjoy the soft voice of nature, to discuss life and to learn how to compose and write the things of the maiden’s heart and mind. Before long she too produced the most peaceful compositions and the most beautiful poems. Once more the fair woman sat upon the boulder as Sundsvall singing her songs and making up her stories as she listened to the morning waves summon the sun from sleep and as she felt the evening wind blow the day beneath the forested hills. The vibrant hues and the soft tones of the world about her were peaceful and inspiring. The wind brought with it a chill that was warmed by her husband’s embrace and hers was a feeling of happiness.

--Brett Hall
December 26, 2000

Needless to say, I wrote several tales based upon the Scandinavian style of folklore between the years 1999 and 2002. I think that I need to take up this form of creative writing once again. What do you think?