I can't gargle. Nope. I can't. Every single time in my life that I've tried I came close to drowning myself. I get the concept of gargling, I really do. Water in the mouth, tilt the head back, bounce the water at the edge of the throat, start gagging uncontrollably, spit water out and hock up a lung for the next half hour. I always end up there. Sputtering, coughing, gasping in convulsions. People around me try to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. It would be funny if I wasn't drowning over here.
Take one look at me and you can pretty much see that I am not athletic. I am in no shape to exercise. But there are a few things I can do fairly well in that world. In High School I was on the basketball team. I was a decent player, but never a star. I only had one shot, but it was a beauty. Deep down in the corner, in three point territory at the side of the basket, I had a sweet jump shot that went in more than not. I can dive pretty well. As a kid I was a fearless swimmer, and soon took to diving. jackknife, swan, high dive. I can even flip off a diving board. My form and technique are pretty good.
I can serve overhand in volleyball accurately. I learned that way, I've never done it underhand. I'm not a bad player either.
I'm not ticklish, never have been. Back of the arms, knees, feet...nothing. I don't get it. I mean, I'm a pretty happy guy, I like to laugh. Maybe I don't need to be ticklish because I laugh too much as it is. Who knows?
Along those same lines, until I met Evelyn, I had never experienced Goosebumps, Goose Pimples, Goose flesh, or any other waterfowl type sensation. About a month into our courtship, during an emotional, deeply felt embrace, my skin erupted with an amazing rush of sensitivity. Problem is they didn't look anything like geese.
I was struck by lightning. I was eighteen or nineteen, driving my 1980 Mustang hatchback. That baby was light blue metallic, four cylinders, and could go from zero to sixty in just under four days. A nasty storm was pounding down, visibility was murky and flashes sporadically turned night into day. After white-knuckling my way home for over an hour, I was finally a half block from my house. I was just starting to relax when lightning struck the hood of my car and the intensity of all that electricity engulfed my car in a fireball of blinding light. Thankfully I wasn't touching metal and as quickly as it came, the lightning was gone. I pulled into my driveway, ran in and breathlessly told my mom who didn't believe me. Parents. Sheesh.
I saw a UFO once. My sister and I were flying without our parents back home from vacation. I must have been nine or ten. I was scared to death of flying when I was a kid. I would get pale and talk non-stop to mask my nervousness. But my big sis was with me and she promised to keep me busy the whole way. Twenty minutes into our late-night flight she was sound asleep. Head back, mouth open kinda sleeping. I did my best not to lose it. I read the on-board magazine...twice. I looked around our cabin a lot. I stared out the little window into the inky darkness. Suddenly a light appeared, some distance away but very bright. It stayed alongside for a bit, then shot forward out of sight ahead of us. After several seconds, it returned for about a minute before slowly drifting straight up and out of my view from the window. I shook my sister awake and explained what I saw. She turned away from me, pulled the window shade down, and went back to sleep.
Friday, October 16, 2015
I am a writer, most of you know that, and while I write many different things, I always return to the old west. I grew up watching westerns with my father. It was something we did. He was also a fan of western novels, Louis Lamour being his favorite and I read them all because of him. The old west is a comfortable place to me.
When my father's health began to fail, I rushed to finish SARAGOSA so that he could read a western written for him. I am happy to say he enjoyed it and was proud of his oldest boy. If that had been the end of it, I would have been happy.
But that was not where the SARAGOSA journey ended. A small production company optioned my even smaller book with plans to turn it into a feature film. Finding financial backers for a western has proven to be difficult and so the movie process creeps forward at a pace even a snail could beat. If that had been the end of it, I would have been happy.
In 2012, I spoke with my old high school about doing a staged reading of the script. To my delight, they were interested. I asked the producer from the production company who'd optioned my book if he could become involved to help work with the students, giving them practical guidance and direction.
In February 2013, I was honored to be a part of SARAGOSA: The Stage Production. Seventeen students took on the daunting task of putting a performance together in only three and a half weeks. Stop and think about that for a minute. A normal play takes months of preparation and rehearsals to pull off. The students at Northview High School did it in three and a half weeks! They had a total of eight rehearsals. They'd been told that they could carry their scripts with them on stage during the performance, but on opening night, not a single one of them used the scripts, they had memorized a 62 page script!
Six months ago, I didn't know any of these fine, young actors, nor did they know me. SARAGOSA wasn't on their radar. But now I feel like they are all a part of my extended family. These days I have nearly twenty new friends, like neices and nephews I never knew I had.
We all bonded during those crazy weeks leading up to the performance. There is a term, Brotherhood by Fire. It describes a group of people who bond over an intense shared experience. That is what we had. There were long hours and curve balls thrown at us the entire time, but in the end, these amazing kids, my new extended family shined like the superstars they are. I am honored to have gotten to know them.
No matter where the SARAGOSA journey goes from here, no matter who may play those characters in the film version, these young actors did it first, and theirs are the faces I will see when I think of the characters from SARAGOSA. If this is the end of it, I will be happy.
The movie production is a go! The production company is working full steam to bring my traditional western to life...stay tuned to this blog as I chronicle that journey!
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Hello all and welcome! As a member of the Coffee House Writer's Group, you have the opportunity to be a part of our next collective anthology project! The purpose of this anthology is to showcase the talents of our writers while raising awareness for the Coffee House Writers Group to the public. My name is Bill Wilbur and I am a member of the group. Christine asked if I would act as editor for this anthology. I currently have four published books, two of which are short story collections. Here is the information you need to submit your work to this collection:
Theme: It is present day. Your character(s) find themselves in a deserted town in the Arizona desert called Beggars Crossing where red cliffs loom up all around, keeping the town hidden. They encounter a mysterious old man who sports a long white beard and walks slightly hunched over using a cane. The town shows signs of habitation, but the old man is the only person your character(s) see. It is up to you why they are there, but before they leave, your character(s) must experience magic, either good or evil, and they must accidentally leave something behind when they go. Do not try to explain who the old man is, he should remain a mystery. Character, plot, and conflict are all up to you.
Stories should be no longer than 3000 words.
Deadline for submission is November 15th 2015
Stories must follow the writing prompt.
Bill Wilbur will choose the final stories to be included in the anthology.
Author agrees to donate their work to the anthology.
Submissions should be in the form of an email attachment as a .doc file.
No late submissions will be accepted.
Editor will not significantly change your work, with the exception of punctuation.
Submit only your best work. Correct grammar and spelling is appreciated. All genres considered.
100% of the proceeds will benefit CHWG Organization.
Late submissions will not be accepted.
Questions should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org