The Morning After The Greatest Showman

So I’ve finally seen it. After weeks of seeing it lauded as “Amazing” and “My New Favorite” on Facebook, I finally got the family together and we went to see The Greatest Showman.

My reaction?

Well first, can I just say that Hugh Jackman might be the closest thing we ever get to another Dick Van Dyke, only maybe better. He’s almost 50 years old and he is flat out amazing as a dancer. And he can sing. Quite well. But beyond that, name three other actors who can convincingly portray Jean Val Jean, Wolverine and P.T. Barnum without having the viewer constantly referring in their minds to his other roles. Lastly, the man is half way to an EGOT (he is a Tony and Emmy award winner) and he has been nominated for an Oscar. Dude is something!

And, I believe he picked this movie up and carried it on his back through any and all of its weaknesses.

What has been interesting about this movie is that critics, by and large, have been underwhelmed while audiences have almost unanimously loved it. At least that’s what the 90% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest. The irony is of course that the movie is all about a man who creates a spectacle that is roundly dismissed by the elite and critical circles while the common man eats it up.

And just that quickly it is funny how allegorical this movie is both in its telling and in its reception from the public on so many levels that I will not address.

As the credits rolled, my initial reaction was…FANTASTIC!!! It was the same for each of my kids and for my wife. For the purposes of going to a movie, it hit all the right emotional spots. The last song we heard as we watched the credits was Rewrite the Stars and even now, 15 hours later, I am still humming that tune in my head.

However, for those who think this is the best movie ever, I must disagree. It is a great movie for what it is, but only when properly compared to movies of a similar construct. Bottom line, I believe The Greatest Showman is a better budgeted, better acted film in the vein of High School Musical. Now before everybody starts sending me hate messages and pooh emojis on my Facebook feed, understand this. I liked High School Musical. And get this: I liked High School Musical 2 even more. Admittedly, by the time High School Musical 3 came out, my daughter was no longer interested in the franchise and I never ended up seeing it, but the first two movies are really pretty good.

For what they are.

And by that I mean, are the songs in The Greatest Showman on par with the music written for Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera? No. BUT they are catchier. And I like listening to From Now On or This Is Me at loud volumes in my truck a whole lot more than Empty Chairs At Empty Tables.

As far as story goes, The Greatest Showman is not a complex story. And it also happens to be entirely untrue if you are looking at it from a true historical perspective.
But it is very uplifting and provides a positive moral that literally had the audience applauding when the credits began to roll last night. Caught up in the moment, I even applauded myself.

Unfortunately, I had to go and ruin it when I got home. I looked up the actual history of PT Barnum and it kind of dampened the movie for me. Particularly with regard to the character of Jenny Lind.

By all accounts, Jenny Lind was one of the most charitable and good people around. She was paid $350,000 (almost $10 million in today’s currency) for the tour she did with PT Barnum and donated the entire amount to fund Swedish schools. She did not just quit the tour, but actually broke her agreement with Barnum (which was her right per the contract they had both agreed upon) after 60 shows because she was uncomfortable with the way he was promoting her, but went on to perform 33 more shows without his involvement. There is no known history of a romantic connection between the two and to me that is the greatest weakness of this film. It’s a work of fiction that unfortunately disparages a real person, who by all accounts was a truly giving and good individual.

So, with that knowledge, I have decided that The Greatest Showman is a really good FICTIONAL movie that uses real characters while totally downplaying actual history. Which is fine. I’m not being critical. I mean, the Von Trapp children were Do Re Miing and yodeling in The Sound of Music all through the Nazi occupation of Austria, which by all accounts was not a “let’s all break into song” kind of moment in history. But it’s still a good movie. Mostly. Except for Friedrich. Man, I hate every second that kid is on screen. Ugh!

Sorry, I digress.

Bottom line, I’ve downloaded several songs from the soundtrack. We will buy the Blu-ray when it comes out and I can’t wait to see the Rewrite The Stars segment in high definition. I will (already have) change my opinion of both Zac Efron and Zendaya as actors. They were pretty good. And compared to their previous work, they are getting significantly better. I will be excited to see where they go from here.

Mostly though, I will try to internalize the message that was taught. It’s a good one. So good in fact, I will give a shout out to a friend of mine who stated in a Facebook post that while watching it, he couldn’t help thinking that these were the kind of values he wanted his kids exposed to. I agree. Wholeheartedly!

But I won’t be upset when it isn’t nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. It shouldn’t be.

Now best Soundtrack? That may be a different story.

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Apology: No Qualifications Or Justifications Accepted

I’m sorry.

On Friday, in the wake of news reports detailing Donald Trump’s comments regarding Haiti and undetermined African nations, I published a post that was meant to satirically comment on how far our national discourse has fallen. That post was in bad taste and although no one has reached out express displeasure, I want to proactively say that I apologize to anyone that was offended while reading my blog. I am fine with people being made uncomfortable by what I post here at times, but I think in this instance, I crossed a line into commentary I am uncomfortable leaving my name attached to.

Also proactively, I wish to apologize to anyone who may have not recognized my attempts at satire for what they were with regard to communities mentioned in my post. I love where I live, where I grew up and recognize that all communities have much to offer.

If anyone felt as they read my post that I had lost my mind and believes I deserve a good verbal or written smack down for what I said, or believes this apology is not enough, I will be happy to receive your comments with no argument or attempts at justification.

Finally, to those who were supportive of my post, I hope you do not believe I am trying to disparage you in any way. Two things have led to me removing the post and publishing this apology. One, I have been critical of Mr. Trump for years now regarding what I believe to be his devaluing of decency. I don’t apologize for the sentiment of what I posted on Friday, but I fear that the form in which I chose to make my argument actually causes me to be guilty of the very thing I have be so critical of, and in short, makes me a hypocrite. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that as a person who advocates the teachings of a deity who commands us to be perfect, I am a hypocrite in hundreds if not thousands of ways already. I have very likely been a hypocrite on this blog previously. But I also believe that is a moniker I shouldn’t actively seek if I can avoid it and should try to remedy when I can.

Secondly, I had to ask myself if I would be comfortable defending my words to one of my children should they want to take a similar approach in speaking out regarding something they disagreed with. In the end, I felt I wouldn’t. Ultimately, this realization is what led to my removal of the post and this apology.

I don’t know what else to say, so I will finish as I began. From the bottom of my heart, I truly am sorry.

The One Old Grey Lady Thomas S. Monson Wouldn’t Worry About

This may not be a popular sentiment, but here goes.

To all of my dear LDS friends who are highly incensed and worked up over the recent NY Times obituary of President Thomas S. Monson, may I offer a word of advice?

RELAX!

Take a deep breath…exhale…and then, just let it go.

I mean, c’mon. It’s a newspaper article.

For some context, I would refer to one of my absolute favorite conference talks ever given. President Gordon B. Hinckley in his General Conference address from April 1994, quoted from a book entitled History of Illinois, by former Illinois Governor, Thomas Ford. Thomas Ford was governor at the time of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and was largely insensitive to the needs of the Mormons who lived and eventually evacuated his state at the time.

In his talk, President Hinckley noted how Governor Ford held little respect for Joseph in his writings. He even quoted the following line directly from Ford’s account: “Thus fell Joe Smith, the most successful impostor in modern times; a man who, though ignorant and coarse, had some great natural parts which fitted him for temporary success, but which were so obscured and counteracted by the inherent corruption and vices of his nature that he never could succeed in establishing a system of policy which looked to permanent success in the future.”

Huh. Seems the esteemed former governor kind of missed the mark on that one. And that was exactly President Hinckley’s point. Who cares what Thomas Ford thought? So he thought Joseph Smith was an impostor whose legacy wouldn’t last out the year. He was wrong. Big deal! Should we go demand a retraction from Lakeside Press?

Of course not. Because that would be stupid and completely unproductive.

With regard to the NY Times, I believe people have a right to be incensed. It does not, in my view, provide a very accurate description of the man we as members of the LDS church have loved and revered for almost half a century.

But starting a petition demanding a rewrite? Spouting angry diatribes across social media calling the obit lies and fake news? That’s a worldly response. That’s a political, social media, 2017 natural man response. And I seriously doubt it would be the response of the man whose life we’re debating.

Furthermore, how many of us actually read the NY Times on a daily basis? I would be willing to bet that 99.5% of LDS church members who are signing this petition did not learn of this obituary by reading about it either in the paper itself or through casual perusal of the paper’s online site. So what’s the plan here? Demand a retraction and a rewrite or we will all cancel our…oh wait, none of us actually have a subscription to cancel.

Lastly, we need to be looking at two aspects of the bigger picture here. One, we get one week to remember, honor and reflect on the life of one of our greatest heroes. Is this really how we want to spend it? Arguing with people we don’t know who work for a publication we don’t care about on behalf of a man who spent his entire life avoiding these exact types of confrontations so that he could quietly go about serving those in need?

I don’t know, it just strikes me as..off.

But secondly, there is this to consider. I don’t know anything about Robert D. McFadden, the man who wrote the NY Times obituary. I don’t know anything about his family, his friends, his life experiences that have shaped him-nothing. In fact, the only thing I truly know about this man is this: He is a Child of our Heavenly Father. Just like me. And if the tenets of my faith are true, then God cares just as much about Mr. McFadden as he does about me, about you, and about Thomas S. Monson. According to LDS doctrine, God would ultimately like for Mr. McFadden to come home.

And again, if I understand everything correctly, it is incumbent upon those of us who know better to act in a way that displays God’s love for each of his children…including Robert D. McFadden.

So I would ask, is anger and hatred spewing freely over social media from a large contingent supposedly representing God’s church an effective way to portray that love?

When the Jews railed against the Savior with lies and untruths, what was the Savior’s response?

Nothing. He said absolutely nothing. He just took it. I’m fairly confident the President Monson I loved would do the same here. He would be more concerned about showing love to Mr. McFadden and helping him return home to our Heavenly Father than whether or not he was accurately portrayed in a newspaper.

Thomas S. Monson spent his life going about doing good. Quietly serving while expecting no praise in return. I think I will try to honor him this week by looking for opportunities to do, in some small way, the same thing. And not worry one minute more about an article that is of no eternal consequence.

The REAL Dark Knight

Apparently we have developed a rite of passage at my house. It wasn’t intentional, it just kind of…happened. So what is this rite? No, it’s not getting to drive my truck to the recycling bin (necessary because I haven’t been successful in my role as a town councilman in articulating the need for individual bins for each residence), and no it has nothing to do with hunting. I don’t hunt, therefore neither do my children. I know in my neck of the woods that makes me just a little bit less of a man, but…I can live with that and apparently so can my kids.

No, the rite of passage is actually pretty benign. It simply consists of getting to watch The Dark Knight. That’s it. Not much to it.

But somehow it has become a big deal.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s probably my favorite movie of all time. Conversely, my wife absolutely hates it. And I have to admit, with good reason. By that I mean, her reasoning is sound. It’s incredibly DARK. And in the end, there is no sunshine or roses. Everything is mostly resolved, but it’s still so bleak. And it’s violent. But even more than its violence is the unsettling feeling that is left when it’s over. It shines a mirror on aspects of our society that we would rather not acknowledge. It addresses issues that have no positive resolution, if any resolution at all. In short, I get why she doesn’t like it.

But because of our differing views, my children hear about this movie, but are forbidden to watch it until they are “of age.” The problem is, we’ve struggled to adequately define what “of age” means. For my daughter, I think it meant 15. For my oldest son, he weedled his way into seeing at 13, but then didn’t like it. That is, he didn’t like it until he re-watched it again at 15. Now he is intrigued by the moral questions it raises.

Which brings us to this last weekend. My second son, aged 13, has been asking and asking to see it. We finally let him. He liked it. I don’t know what that says about him, me or anything else, but I think this movie is more about the individual than it is about what age they are.

Regardless, all of the above has little to do with what I really want to talk about other than, I sat down this past weekend and watched The Dark Knight for the first time in three years. It was just as good as I remembered. But what is truly caught my attention this time around is a line that Alfred says to Bruce Wayne early in the film. A line that after last night suddenly feels very profound.

Bruce is lamenting the fact that the mob has turned to a mad man who doesn’t play by the rules. In his words, they raised the stakes. To which Alfred reminds him, “Yes, but Master Wayne, you raised the stakes first.”

Well, last night, I believe the political stakes in our country may have just been raised. And Republicans everywhere had better get ready.

Whether she meant to or not (and I believe she probably meant to) last night Oprah Winfrey gave her speech as a political candidate. It may not have been as grandiose an entrance as say…I don’t know, a glide down a gilded escalator, but it was effective. And for the first time, I believe Democrats and liberals throughout the country have been given something they haven’t felt in months. Something beautiful and something dangerous. I speak of HOPE.

Two years ago, this would have seemed absurd, but not today. Republicans “raised the stakes” first by flouting the conventional wisdom and electing an outsider to the most powerful position in the land. A man who “told it like it is.” A man who would “drain the swamp.” A man, who despite multiple financial and moral failings, was deemed by his followers as the perfect person to take the reins of a party built upon financial conservatism and moral superiority. No one, including his biggest supporters, knew what he would say day to day, but they knew it would be entertaining and they knew it would likely be a big fat kick in the groin to the evil political establishment.

Never mind he had no experience governing. Never mind that his temperament seemed ill-fitted for interacting with foreign leaders. Never mind his facts seemed…illusive. Never mind any of it. He was change. He was the anti-Clinton, anti-Obama, anti-PC, anti-all that is wrong with Washington candidate.

Those of us who expressed reservations about him were told his immaturity and no-holds-barred-attack-everything-never-apologize-for-anything approach was an act. “Don’t worry,” we were told. “He will become more presidential when we reach the general election…I mean when he actually takes office…I mean, well…you kinda have to ignore all the twitter stuff and just look at all he’s accomplished.”

Uh-huh. A supreme court justice and a tax cut. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I got the exact same thing with George W. Bush during his first year and I didn’t even have to hear him allegorically compare his penis size with a North Korean dictator once.

Which brings me back to Oprah Winfrey.

If she runs for president, there will be endless mocking and ridiculing from conservative news outlets across the board. Fox News pundits will derisively demean her as a lightweight. Matt Drudge will discount her for being a friend of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. Steve Bannon will subtly use words designed to remind his minions that she is 1. Black, and 2. Female. I mean really, what more does he need to say.

And they will forget everything they should have learned in 2016.

Because let me tell you what ought to have scared the living daylights out of Trump supporters everywhere last night. Despite what many on the right seem to believe, not everyone thrives on being angry. Not everyone lives to be reminded how mistreated they are. For certain there is a contingent on the left that fuels itself on anger, just as there is on the right, but most of us don’t want to stay there indefinitely.

Which is why it is so curious that Republicans everywhere have forgotten what it was that got Ronald Reagan elected. It wasn’t his promises of tax cuts or ending welfare. Yes, those issues resonated with some voters, but really it was his eloquent way of describing hope. It was his ability to talk about a shining city on the hill. It was his ability to connect with the ordinary joe and help him see the potential that lay just beyond the horizon despite the bleakness all around. That’s what got him elected. Jimmy Carter was talking about “a malaise” of the American people while Ronald Reagan was talking about the greatness of the American people.

Now, remind me, where else did we hear a successful campaign anchored in hope? Barack Obama won in 2008 for precisely the same reasons that Ronald Reagan won in 1980. He could articulate a better existence than what voters were currently experiencing. In short, he provided hope. Some suggest that he never provided any evidence, he just talked a good game. Which just proves my point. People aren’t interested in how. That’s one reason why Romney lost. He was so interested in trying to show people how, that he forgot to inspire them with the vision of what his “how” would produce.

Donald Trump, conversely, tapped into an anger in America. But hidden inside that angry rhetoric was the promise of hope. He promised hope to individuals who felt they had been forgotten.

However, hope encased in anger only gets so far. And let us not forget that Hillary Clinton was not an inspirational candidate. She made no effort in the general election to inspire hope. She simply scoffed at the idea of people voting for Donald Trump. She ran a smear campaign believing that there weren’t enough “deplorables” out there to elect such a hateful individual. And sadly, she’s spent the last year telling anyone who will listen that even though she was wrong, she really was right. Umm…Not inspirational!

But Oprah is no Hillary. And now that Republicans have let it be known that the White House is open to any billionaire American with enough celebrity to take it, the Queen of Everything might just be the worst case scenario for The Donald.

Think about it. Who were the Democrats going to run? Elizabeth Warren? Kirsten Gillibrand? Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders? (Sorry my Democrat friends for making you cringe just now.)

But Oprah? Oh boy, Oprah is everything they’re not. There would be no more man on the street interviews where ordinary citizens have no idea who their presidential candidates are. She’s beloved. For heaven’s sake, her charitable giving is more than the GDP of several South American countries. As opposed to Mr. Trump who promises to be charitable, but as is well-documented, often stiffs those he promises to help.

It would be the closest thing ever to seeing a presidential election that pitted Ebeneezer Scrooge against Mother Theresa.

But, but…she isn’t married to Steadman Graham. She’s living in sin.

Have you heard the TMZ tape that came out just weeks before the election? Voters don’t seem to care about that kind of stuff much anymore. I mean heck, wasn’t it the moral voters of the Christian right that ended up putting Trump over the top in spite of that tape?

Nope, Republicans made a choice in 2016 to turn our political system into a reality show. Now the stakes have been raised and it would seem that their decision might ultimately translate into facing the Queen of Television in the General Election of 2020. A woman who has, in her own way, provided hope to millions for more than three decades. That’s not what I would call an enviable position.

And I didn’t even bring up the wild idea of her naming Michelle Obama as her running mate. Oh my goodness, the entertainment possibilities are endless.

So buckle up, America. Have the stakes really been raised and is it truly #TIMESUP for the The Donald? Tune in to any cable news channel near you between now and November 2020 to find out.

It’s a Mom’s World

I know I am going to take it on the chin for this one…but so be it.

I serve as 2nd counselor in the bishopric of my ward in Thatcher, AZ. Our bishopric has been in now for just over four years and so we just experienced our fifth Mother’s Day. I love my wife and I love my mother and I have no problem taking a day to appreciate all that mothers do for their families. But as with all good things in this world, even the greatest traditions need a review now and then to make sure they are operating in the most effective way. I think we have arrived at this place with regard to Mother’s Day. My reasoning? Well…

1. Every ward I know of gives away something to every adult female in their congregation. I have no problem with this. But over the last few years, I have heard some grumblings. (Not all of these are necessarily from my ward. In fact, most are not.) Some folks are upset if they don’t get chocolate. Some are upset if they do get chocolate because what are we suggesting? That all women should eat sweets and get fat? Or if we give out potted flowers that can be planted. Why did they do that? We live in Arizona. They are just going to die anyway? Why did they give me a single carnation? Now I have to carry this around all day while trying to get to get my kids to class…

REALLY?

How about we give the mothers in our ward the exact same thing we give our fathers on Father’s Day. BIG FAT NOTHING!!! It’s a free gift of appreciation for heaven’s sake, not an annual bonus.

Now again, I want to emphasize that the grumbling I have heard comes from a small minority. But isn’t that the way this always works? The small minority makes all the noise. Nevertheless, the grumbling is out there.

2. There is a notion that exists that no woman should have to speak in church on Mother’s Day. There is also the feeling among some that Mother’s Day is the worst Sunday of the year for women because every woman in the ward has to sit there and listen to somebody talk about their perfect mother. In comparison, they always feel like they come up short. It can be depressing. Well, can we think through this for a moment.

Little boys love their mothers. When those little boys grow up, they still love their mothers and are very protective of them. Aren’t some of the biggest struggles in many marriages born out of the comparison a man makes between his wife and his mother? So with that in mind, doesn’t it seem silly to say that only men should speak on Mother’s Day? Because what are they going to talk about? Ummm… their perfect mother! I’m just saying, ladies. You might want to rethink the adult female speaking ban.

3. Let’s review the history of Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was established in 1917. It would be another fifty years before Father’s Day would be officially recognized. Many of the traditions surrounding Mother’s Day were formed in a time when Father’s provided and Mother’s nurtured. In other words, men didn’t do jack at home. It would make sense then, that under those circumstances, it would be a good thing for a man to take on all the responsibilities that were expected of a mother so that every man could be reminded of all the things he was lucky he didn’t have to do on a daily basis. Meanwhile, to give fathers a day to recline in their chair and take a nap, watch sports or just laze around in general was…probably not that different from most other Sundays.

But times have changed. The responsibilities have blurred. If I were to tell my wife that I was the man of the house and therefore I don’t do diapers, don’t fold laundry and most especially never clean the kitchen, I would quickly become the man outside of the house. On the flip side, many mothers now find themselves in the work place and sharing the responsibility of providing for the family. Yet, the traditional ways of celebrating both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remain fixed.

Maybe for women everywhere, this is fine. Maybe they are happy with the way we approach Mother’s Day. I certainly don’t have a problem with it. I’m happy to continue with things as they are. But can we please stop with the sanctimonious pap about how much women do and men don’t do. (This sanctimonious pap as I call it has never come from my wife. I want that firmly established in the record.) It’s getting old. Most couples I know are attacking the day to day of life and surviving any way they can. When one needs help, they look to the other and are able to expect their partner to be there picking up the slack regardless of whether it is a “man’s responsibility” or “women’s work.”

Now, I’m sure that many will see my rant as anti-female or mysogynistic in some way. I don’t mean it to be. But at the same time, I do have a couple of issues.

As with any kind of type of recognition, I worry we have reached the stage where we have crossed from gratitude to expectation. When a gift is met with, “Why didn’t…” or a request is met with, “I’m a woman and I shouldn’t have to…” I believe something is wrong. I’m not trying to pick on anybody, because this is not an individual thing. This is the expectation I hear the world over.

Also, I’m sorry, but not every man is a worthless lump who is barely hanging on thanks to the herculean efforts of a woman. My wife will do some very nice things to recognize me in five weeks, but society at large? We just went through a massive advertising campaign of, “Shower her with gifts. Get her expensive jewelry. Let her know how much you truly care.” On Father’s Day, pay attention. It will be, “Let dad know he isn’t too bad of a schlub after all. Get him some socks and a card.” End of story. (The obvious exception will be the advertisers for all camping, hunting, fishing and other mancentric retailers, but they will be drowned out by the majority.)

There is a good chance I will regret this post, but, oh well. After five years of trying to please people besides my wife on Mother’s Day, I’m not sure I care anymore.

*****

There is no way to tie this to THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, and I’m not sure I would want to anyway. But to anyone coming upon this website for the first time, look for my debut novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER to arrive in bookstores on August 13. It is available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking here. Please rest assured that my views on Mother’s Day and gender roles in general are not topics in the book.

Changes for the Home Stretch

One of the pieces of advice I received when I started shopping THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER to different publishers was to make sure I had a blog. At the time, another blog of mine already existed, but it was much more personal and family-oriented in nature. So, I started this blog with the idea that it would serve as my “author” blog.

Once I had the blog up and running, the next piece of advice I received was that I needed to make sure that I blogged on a regular basis. If I went too long between entries, the blog would cease to be effective. Another article I read also suggested that not only should I be active, but I should be predictably active. The idea is that a blog will attract regular readers much more readily if they can know on a regular basis when they should expect new entries.

For about eight months now, I have tried to do this. To be honest, I’m not sure if anybody noticed but me. But I did it because it is an industry norm. Or so I’m told.

Well, the truth is, I have noticed its effectiveness.  When I started this blog, I was lucky if 15 to 20 people read an entry. Now, on average, a typical entry will get around 50 to 60 views on day one and anywhere from 20 to 30 in the next two days following. Numbers that are certainly not setting the world on fire, but pretty decent considering where I started.

Now, one thing I have noticed is that I have been pretty consistent about publishing a blog post on Monday. I haven’t been quite as consistent with blogging on Thursday (sometimes it slips to Friday and sometimes I have missed altogether), but I have noticed that my Monday posts are routinely more widely read than my Thursday or Friday posts. I don’t know why, but they are.

So, taking into account the numbers and the fact that I am running out of things to say, moving forward, I am going to blog each Monday and that will probably be it. (I fully understand that most people’s response will be, “What is he talking about? Does he honestly think we care when he posts stuff? What kind of ego driven maniac are dealing with here?”)

The reason I am putting this out there (to be completely frank about the marketing strategy I am trying to employ) is to hopefully maximize my efforts with those who have become somewhat regular readers. If they know when to expect something, they will be less likely to miss it. Not every post between now and August will be book related, but the reason this is important is that when they are book related, I am then dependent on those regular readers to help me disseminate some of the more “Major Announcement” kind of things that will be coming in the next few weeks as the release for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER is now a mere three months away.

What kind of announcements? Well, the cover art should be done very shortly. A new look to the website that will more effectively promote the book will be up soon. Short previews of the novel itself will appear in some posts and hopefully announcements of positive reviews (that’s a big assumption, I know) will post here as well.

But here is my huge request. If you are a friend, family member or complete stranger who is marginally excited for the release of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, I really need your help in the coming months. I realize these requests are unfair as they are favors I will likely never be able to repay. But I ask because as anybody who is trying to make their dream a reality in this new world of social media knows: one extra share or one extra like can be the difference of something going viral or something going stagnant. So here are my requests.

1. Share and like posts that deal with “major” announcements regarding THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.

2. Invite people to “like” my author page, preferably more than once. (Invite more than once, not like)

3. Hopefully some author signings will be announced. If you are one of those people who doesn’t like to pre-order things or distrusts putting your credit card on the internet and happens to live in one of those areas where a signing is announced, please (yes, I have fully reached begging mode here) take the opportunity to visit that store where the signing is scheduled and request a copy be ordered for you ahead of the book’s release. Currently, only one is scheduled for sure and that is the book’s release party at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ.

4. If you live in a state other than Arizona or Utah, I’m probably not gonna be signing anywhere near you. If you have plans to purchase the book, please consider purchasing the book now as a pre-0rder from Amazon.com. You can do so by clicking here.  Pre-order numbers affect the efforts in marketing the book by the publisher as well as bookstores that will consider stocking a book.

If you are a person who hates to be “that guy” or “that girl” who pushes things on their friends and family, I understand. If you would prefer to not “like” every post or not suggest people follow my page, I get it. I won’t let my kids sell their latest PTO stuff door to door because I don’t want my neighbors to feel pressured. I totally understand. But if you think you might be buying this book, this last request is the request that matters most. If you do pre-order it, whether it be through a bookstore or on-line, I thank you more than I can express. It means a great deal to me.  Really, Thank You.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. I hope when the final product lands in your hands you aren’t extremely let down. If you have followed this blog regularly, then you probably have a good idea of what to expect from the writing. Except now there will be a story included. I can’t believe it is coming so quickly. Thanks again everybody, for all the support you’ve provided and for anything you may do going forward. You’re great.

For anyone hoping for a less pushy post, all I can offer is my latest post from last Thursday in case you missed it. (It wasn’t a Monday post, so it is likely that you did.)

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives August 13, 2013. Ryan Rapier the author’s facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor. As noted above, it can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon.com. Just think parents, it will be here just in time for you to enjoy as you send your kids back to school.

 

This Mail Bag (Blog Post) is a Complete Ripoff

Do you enjoy being frightened? If so, I encourage you to google the phrases, “book blog” or “book reviews”. Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait.

Okay, assuming that your head didn’t just explode from an overload of information you couldn’t possibly process, and you were able to make it back to this post, you are now likely sitting there stunned at the number of people who blog about writing books, reading books, reviewing books they’ve read or some combination of the three. In fact, what you may not have seen, but trust me when I tell you it does exist, are blogs who sell a service known as book blasting where they will coordinate with a number of other blogs on an author’s behalf, so that your book will be featured on a large number of blogs at the same time. To a first time author, it’s overwhelming, believe me.

Now one of the things that is common on a lot of these blogs are “interviews” with different authors.  What this consists of is the blogger providing a list of questions to an author, who then fills out answers to said questions before e-mailing them back to the blogger. These interviews tend to be pretty generic (as one might expect) and often consist of questions like, “Favorite ice cream flavor” or “Dogs or cats”. At least that is what I have seen on the LDS book blogs. Maybe on other blogs, they move into the more provocative questions like, “Boxers or briefs”, but the truth is, I don’t know. I didn’t look.

But a common thing I hear a lot is that you have to get yourself out there, and these interviews are a way to do that. Well, that got me thinking. You know what would be way more fun than answering generic interview questions? Answering questions from all of my faithful readers and followers. It’s a concept that was designed by one of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons. But then I realized, in order for this concept to work, you actually have to have faithful readers and followers.

Or do you?

So, in a continued effort to “get myself out there”, I will be answering questions that cover a wide range of topics that interest me that have been submitted by my faithful fans…all of whom I have made up…along with their questions. We’ll see how this goes.

Do you believe it was an affront to Jesus and Christians everywhere when Denver traded Tim Tebow in order to have a chance at signing Peyton Manning?  B. Graham – Charlotte, NC

No, I do not. I believe the Denver Broncos are now the front runners to win the 2014 Super Bowl. If they had kept Tim Tebow, this would not be the case.

Follow up question: Does your lack of faith in Tim Tebow imply that you hate Jesus?

I sincerely hope not. But I will admit to hating all thing associated with the Florida Gators.

Are you a regular user of DoTerra oils?  M. Kay – Dallas, TX

No, I am not. I have heard great things about their products, but my only experience with them was when I accepted a small sample of an oil that claimed to be an aphrodisiac. However, after applying the oil, my wife reported absolutely no difference in my behavior. I apparently was as pushy and obnoxious as usual. In hindsight, maybe this experiment was a bad one to base any kind of judgment on.

Twitter or Facebook?  M. Zuckerberg – Palo Alto, CA

I recognize the possible irony of my answer as this post will go out via Twitter, but I will definitely have to go with Facebook. Maybe I am showing my age, but the whole point of Twitter is kind of lost on me. With Facebook, I feel a little like it is a huge family and school and mission reunion all rolled into one. I can have back and forth conversations with a lot of different people I have known over the years or just choose to peruse/stalk people’s lives that I have an interest in.

With Twitter, it’s different. To me, it feels like I walk into a room where every single person I am “following” is shouting at each other without taking the time to listen to what anyone else is saying. Having said that, anyone who found this post through Twitter, I obviously was not referring to you. So please be sweet and retweet. (As an aside, the best part of Twitter is also its worst feature: the easy retweet. It’s great when I want to share something without much hassle, but there are some people out there who sit and retweet everything anyone they are following has ever said. It’s ridiculous. I once saw someone brag-tweet that they had been cut off for exceeding their maximum tweets for one day. You have to be well into the triple digits to have that happen to you. And to be proud of that? Searching for a life might possibly be in order.)

What is your favorite movie?  S. Spielberg – Hollywood, CA

(Upfront, I admit that this question is barely a step up from “Favorite Ice Cream” but I don’t care, I wanted to answer it.)

When it comes to favorite movie, I think everyone should be allowed to take a Golden Globes approach as opposed to an Oscar approach, in that everyone should be allowed to have their favorite movie and then their favorite comedy or musical. If a comedy is your favorite movie, there is a possibility you may need more depth as a person. Or at least learn how to lie so it sounds like you have more depth.

Anyway, my favorite comedy or musical would have to be Maverick. I’m still despondent that a sequel was never made. As far as my overall favorite movie, for years and years it was The Hunt for Red October. But since 2008, that honor has belonged to The Dark Knight. (Any and all comments regarding my depth will respectfully be kept to yourself.)

Do you believe that the re-election of Barack Obama as president is a sign that western civilization as we knew it is over?  R. Limbaugh – Palm Beach, FL

No. I believe we reached that point when more than 5 people on earth found Kathy Griffin to be humorous in any way.

What was your favorite part about writing a book?  J. Grisham – Oxford, MS

The bitter arguments that nearly ripped apart my marriage when my wife would be forced to tell me that something I  had written wasn’t very good. She was always right, which only made hearing it that much worse.

What is your deepest, darkest secret that embarrasses  you still today?  O. Winfrey – Chicago, IL

That the character of Edward Cullen is actually based on me during my college days.

Follow up: Are you serious?

Of course not. What kind of moron shares their deepest, darkest secret with the world on a blog. Now if it was Cosmopolitan, People or OK magazine, that would be different.

What historical event, that happened during your lifetime, has most influenced your life?  R. Rapier – Thatcher, AZ

Dead serious here, folks. The 1978 decision by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to extend the priesthood to all worthy males, which basically meant black men of African descent. Learning about the history that surrounded this event forced me to evaluate all I ever thought I understood about my faith, my religion and my belief system. Some might suggest that thinking too much about this issue could only lead to a negative outcome, but for me it was just the opposite. I believe my faith is stronger today than ever. However, I now do tend to think about some things a little bit differently. Maybe we’ll revisit this in a future blog post. Maybe not. (Picture me shrugging my shoulders to indicate I’m not really sure.)

If you could change one decision you have made in your life, what would it be? 

I would have started to write my book sooner. I love writing. That’s why I keep a blog. (That and it is highly suggested by my publisher and several other writing friends.) I regret that I never took the time to make this dream a reality sooner. But the truth is, the book that I wrote would not be the same had it been written any sooner than when it was. So now that I’ve said that, maybe that’s a decision I wouldn’t change.

*****

Well, that’s it. My first Bill Simmons Mailbag rip-off. I hope he doesn’t have the idea of bolding the questions and leaving the answers unbolded copywrited. Now if anybody out there reading this has additional questions they want to leave in the comments section or through a message on facebook (you can try Twitter, but I offer no guarantees), I would be happy to produce a follow up post to this one. But again, that’s assuming anybody out there is actually reading this. And for anyone discovering ryansrapierwit.com for the first time, now comes the shameless promotional message that accompanies each post.

Ryan Rapier’s debut novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, hits shelves and Amazon warehouses on August 13. You can pre-order this book at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ or on Amazon.com by clicking here. Or, you can request a copy be ordered for you in advance of the release date at any store where LDS books are sold.

If you, or anyone you know, enjoys liking pages on facebook for no other reason than clicking that little thumbs up gives you a rush, feel free to visit, www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor and give our thumbs up a click. We promise twice the adreneline rush of any other page out there or your money back. If you want, you can also follow my twitter handle @RyanRapier, but…whatever.