Knights Errant Quest

Questing began about a thousand years ago. Knights Errant, or roving/wandering Knights would choose a quest, sometimes in the name of their lady love, and search, against all odds and obstacles, for the object of their quest, however misguided.  Sir Percival searched for the mythical Holy Grail his whole life. Don Quixote conquered unconquerable foes in his effort to rescue the virtuous,  Dulcinea.

My quest, possibly misguided, in the tradition of the greatest, all be it, fictional Knights, is to eat at one McDonalds in every country I visit.

As many of you know, I have a love for Big Macs. It began when I was fourteen, playing baseball for a team sponsored by McDonalds. Every time I got a base hit I got a coupon for something from McDonalds. A base hit got you fries. A double got a hamburger. A triple, a Big Mac. And, a home run was a value meal.

I was pretty good. I got a lot of Big Macs and value meals. I was hooked–for life. Now, I can’t pass International Golden Arches without thinking about those days, and my Quest.

Keep in mind, I have the greatest respect, well, maybe not the greatest respect, but respect nonetheless, for Morgon Spurlock. I’m not trying to be Morgan Spurlock. In fact, I believe Morgan Spurlock was wrong. Nevertheless, I recognize the authenticity of his quest.

McDonalds, Valletta, Malta
at a Valletta, Malta, McDonalds.

My quest, much like Sir Percival, may take the rest of my life. I am hoping, that my quest won’t take my life–I really don’t eat at McDonalds all the time. I intend no disrespect for local cuisine. In fact, some of the best food I have ever eaten, is local, cuisine.

McDonalds
McDonalds in Valletta, Malta, by the airport.

Did you know that every McDonalds in every country not only offers the traditional McDs menu, but also has some local food offering–like, the Generous Gina Burger, here in Malta–see–outstanding local cuisine.

I digress.

Ryan, Davy and RJ at McDonalds in Valletta, Malta.

I have not yet been successful in visiting McDs in every country, because, I have yet visited every country. And, not every country has a McDonalds. It may also be noted that my Squires in training do not share the same commitment to the quest that I do. Sancho Panza still lives and I’m working with him on that.

Questing tally–68 countries, 42 McDonalds.

Best McDonalds–Singapore (although South Las Vegas is right up there).

Worst McDonalds–Caracas, Venezuela (sorry Venezuela, I know you’ve got problems, but, so does your McDonalds).

Mantra–Big Mac Forever.

That Time I Filmed Thomas Monson in his Office

I got the phone call about 7:30 am. I was in my car, on my way to work.

“Hey, we need you to come to President Monson’s office in an hour and film him for the Tab Choir’s new Youtube Channel.”

“Uh…okay.” I knew why they called me. I’d been filming the Apostle’s as they traveled and doing stories for LDS.org.

“What do you want me to bring?”

“I don’t know. Keep it simple. You only have a few minutes with him.”

I called a cameraman friend of mine and a sound man.

The phone rang again.

“You should probably have someone there to do makeup.”

I called a makeup artist.

The phone rang again.

“Are you bringing lights? You should bring lights. But remember, keep it simple.”

I called a lighting guy.

Again, the phone rang. “Oh, and, you’ll need a teleprompter. President Monson likes to read from a teleprompter.”

“Sure. Keep it simple,” I said.

“That’s why we called you.”

“Thanks.” It wasn’t simple.

We met at the entrance to the Church Administration Building dressed in our Sunday best–all six of us and our gear.

The phone at the front desk rang. The security guy nodded. We proceeded through the automatic doors, down a long hallway and up the elevator to President Monson’s office. I went in while the crew waited in the hallway. President Monson’s secretary greeted me with a smile.

“Welcome,” she said. “Come in. President Monson is expecting you.”

“Thank you. It will just take us about 15 minutes to set up.”

“Us?” She wasn’t expecting us.

“The crew” I said. “Lights, camera, sound, you know.”

“No. I don’t know,” she said, not smiling.

“We’ll be fast,” I said.

I opened the outer door and the crew clamored in. She opened President Monson’s door, deep lines creasing her forehead.

President Monson was seated behind his desk, smiling.

“Come in. Come in.” I went around the desk and shook his hand, while the crew set up.

“President Monson, thank you for letting us come in and film you this morning.”

“Of course. What are we filming today?”

Apparently, no one had told the Prophet what this was about.

“Well…”

I could feel the crew pause and look at me. I kneeled down next to the Prophet’s chair to explain, while they went back to work.

“The Tabernacle Choir is introducing a new youtube channel and they wanted you to introduce it.”

“Wonderful,” President Monson said. “What’s youtube?”

President Monson’s secretary was standing in the doorway. I looked up at her and she glared at me. I looked at President Monson. His eye twinkled and he chuckled, “What do you want me to say?”

I breathed a sigh of relief, “It’s right here on the prompter, President.”

“Okay. Let’s do it.”

We did it. President Monson was perfect. One take.

As we packed up our equipment, President Monson’s secretary hovered in the doorway, occasionally glaring at us. As we finished packing up, President Monson stood up and walked around his desk. He shook each of our hands.

His secretary, now smiling with anticipation of our departure, watched from the doorway. As President Monson shook my hand, he said, “You know, I don’t have any place I need to be right now. Why don’t you sit down and let’s just chat.”

What?

President Monson guided me  over to a plush seat by his desk.

Chat? With the Prophet?

Out of the corner of my eye I could see his secretary shaking her head. NO.  Her forehead creases were growing deeper and her face was getting red.

“Make yourself comfortable,” President Monson said, and the rest of my crew sat down.

“What do you suppose an Apostle has in his desk drawer?” President Monson asked as he sat back down.

“I…”

“Scriptures,” one of my crew said.

“Good guess,” President Monson said. “But, I keep those on top of my desk.”  He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a plastic container. He placed it on the desk and opened it.

“Flies,” he said. “I tied ’em myself.”

For the next little while, President Monson told us stories about fishing on the Provo River when he was a boy. He laughed and we laughed. It was amazing. He was just like our Grandfather. He loved us, he loved having us visit and he loved telling stories.

His secretary COUGHED. Maybe she was choking. Her face had gone from red to purple. She burst into the room with clenched fists.

“President Monson, you do have somewhere you need to be, and these men NEED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.

I looked back to President Monson. He chuckled and winked.  “I didn’t want to go to that meeting anyway.”

I have thought often about that day with President Monson. It was good to know that the Prophet was just like my Grandfather, who, I believe, also knew the Lord.

I look forward to seeing them both, again.

President Thomas S Monson: 1927 – 2018

 

 

 

 

Angelique–God’s Messenger

She came among us.

A group of ex-pats, on assignment in Paris, we met each day at a sidewalk cafe near Montmartre to commiserate, and she came among us.

At first, we didn’t notice.

“I’ll have the foie gras,” my friend said. “I’ll have the croque-monsieur,” my other friend said.

“I’ll have the jambon-beurre,” I said. “I don’t have much time, today,” I said.

“Come on,” they said. “A French meal is a cultural experience.”.

We laughed. They said this every day. Three-hour lunches were not uncommon. I would often sit and watch the afternoon light soften into postcard Paris evenings.

“Alms,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible above the noise of traffic and street musicians.

My friends did not hear, or pretended not to hear. They continued their tales of exploits and conquests, stories not yet written, not yet published.

“Alms, she said again, closer.

I lost the train of conversation as I watched her slowly shuffle over the cobblestone, her cup held out, rattling the few coins she had collected, her cane tapping out of rhythm.

“Votre nourriture, les messieurs.” A waiter placed our food on the table and hurried away.

“Alms.”

“Allez-vous en,” my friend said, “Go away.”

“Je ne parle pas français,” my other friend said, as if not speaking french would relieve us of guilt.

The woman looked up. She looked at me.  She was old and bent, crippled, and dirty.

“Homeless,” my friend said.

“Smelly,” my other friend said.

Our eyes met. Suddenly, I could not tell how old she was.

“What is your name?” I asked, not sure why.

“Angelique,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It means…God’s messenger.” Her voice was light, airy, tinged with a french accent, but with no hint of age.

“Do you have a  message for me?”

“Oui,” she said.

“What is it?” I asked, feeling this moment held deep meaning.

She kept my gaze, then her eyes traveled down over my Columbia shirt and pants and she looked at the cobblestones. It was as if the full moon had set. I could no longer see her eyes.

“Alms,” she said softly. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The moment was gone.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe some great insight from deity, delivered through Angelique, God’s messenger. Perhaps an answer to the perplexing question of what I should really do with my life. I don’t know. I did not receive the grand message I was hoping for.

Gypsy beggar.
Amidst the plenty of Paris, an old woman begs for alms.

The old woman held out her cup, expectantly.

I took a coin from my pocket and dropped it in. It clinked against  the other coins. She looked up again.

“Merci beaucoup,” she said. “Dieu vous protège.” Once again, her eyes were bright, blue. I nodded and she ambled away, clinking and tapping.

“I think Paris should do a better job with the homeless population,” my friend said.

“I agree,” my other friend said.

“Alms,” I heard her softly say. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The Eiffel Tower
A vintage rainy day in Paris.

Addae’s Birthday Gift

Addae opened his eyes. Dim light was filtering through shutters but the sun was not yet up. His little sister, Echo, was sleeping quietly on a mat beside him. He could hear noise outside. Momma and Lale, Addae’s older sister, were preparing the morning meal. Poppa would already be out gleaning grain in the fields, but would return in time to eat before catching a tro tro into the city for work.

Addea jumped up and ran from the hut. He loved to run. He would run everywhere. This morning was no exception. He looked at the sky. It was pink.

He ran faster.

He would wash himself at the village well and race back before the sun touched his hut. Addae’s name meant Morning Sun. Momma said he earned that name by making her wait all night for delivery.

Addae arrived at the well only to find that Raziya and her mother were already there. Raziyah was two months older than Addae. She was fast, for a girl, but Addae would never concede that  she could out run him. He must have slept too long.

“Greetings, Addae.” Raziya’s mother smiled at him.

Addae bowed his head. “Good morning, Auntie. Hope you slept well.”  Addae was still breathing hard, making it difficult to speak the greeting. Raziya smiled. Addae frowned.

Raziya’s mother drew a pitcher of water from the well and poured it in a bucket. “Does the morning sun withhold its smile from our humble village?”  Raziya held the bucket for her mother.

“No, Auntie.” Addae grimaced.

“That is not much better. Come closer, Addae.”

Addae approached Raziya’s mother. Raziya scowled.

“Today is an important day. You must look your best.”

Addae nodded.

“Bow your head.”

Addae obeyed.

Raziya’s mother poured cool water over Addae’s head and torso. He sputtered, scrubbing his head, then his chest with his hands. He wiped the water and sleep from his eyes and smiled for the first time. Raziya and her mother smiled back.

“I thank  you for your kindness.”

Raziya watched Addae as her mother once again dipped the pitcher in the well. Addae looked up as morning rays touched tree tops.” He must hurry, he thought.  “God’s blessings, Auntie.”

“God’s blessings, Addae.”

Addae sprinted from the well, down a dusty path. He wove between huts with great speed. When he rounded a corner and came upon his own hut, he stopped, abruptly. Something  was different.

He looked to the sky. In spite of not being first to the well he had raced the sun and had won. Morning rays had not yet touched his hut.

“Momma?  Poppa?” he called.

No one answered.

The charcoal fire was burning, serpentine smoke snaking in the gentle morning breeze, and there were cakes on the fire. The clay oven was lit and bread was baking, but neither Momma, Lale or Echo were close by.

Addae entered the hut.

Momma? Lale? Echo?

He heard something outside and ran out of the hut.

“SURPRISE.”

Addae jumped. Momma, Poppa, Lale and Echo were all there smiling and laughing as the morning sun washed over them.  Addae laughed too.

“Greetings, my son, and birthday wishes,” Poppa said.

“Greetings, Poppa, and thank you,” Addae replied.

“We have a gift for you.”

“A gift?” He could see no gift.

“For your birthday,” Echo said, as Poppa drew a bundle wrapped in brown paper from behind his back. Addae’s eyes grew big and Poppa laughed. The paper crinkled as Addae took the package from Poppa.

“What is it?” Addae asked.

“You must open it, brother,” Lale said.

“Your sister speaks truth,” Momma laughed. “Open it.”

Addae beamed then tore into the package. When the paper fell away, he held up a brilliant blue, long sleeved polo shirt with three stripes on it and the word, Adidas.

“Put it on,” Momma said.

“It is Adidas,” Poppa said. “It will make you fast.”

“Addaedas,” Echo said. “like you.”

Addae put the shirt on over his naked chest and they all laughed. It was much too big.

“He will grow into it,” Lale said.

“He will grow out of it,” Momma said.

Poppa smiled. “Run, Addae. Run, before the morning sun climbs too high.”

Behind the scenes

The boy in the photograph was very proud of his  Adidas shirt. He told us it made him fast. He received it for his birthday. His parents bought it at a store in Accra which sold used clothing donated from the United States. In Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I saw one child with a Los Angeles Lakers jersey . I live near Lone Peak High School in Cedar Hills, Utah and was surprised to see a boy in Sierra Leone wearing a Lone Peak High School jersey.

I have been to Africa many times. It is a continent of contrasts not free from turmoil or strife. Yet, in my travels throughout the continent, I have been blessed by many people of kindness, faith and love. The story above is based on a visit to the village of Yamoransah, Ghana. There I met a family I grew to admire in a very short period of time. Their lives are much different from my own. Yet, we share a common desire, to see our children grow up in the light of the morning sun.

African Adidas
While his little sister shyly watches, this African boy stands proud in his Adidas.

 

The Bonneville Salt Flats are Dying

 

Tire tracks on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Tire tracks mar the salt near the Bonneville Speedway. Drive at your own risk.

It seemed like I’d been walking for hours. I couldn’t tell. I lost track of time, long ago. There were signs that others had been here before me, tracks in the salt, but I was alone.

I thought I heard something and stopped to listen. Were my ears playing tricks on me, inventing sounds in the stillness that weren’t there? I couldn’t tell.

My pounding heart was the only sound. All else was stillness. Oppressive, silence.

I was alone.

I began again, and the muffled shuffle of my shoes in the salt beat eighth notes to the sixteenth notes of my heart.

I was thirsty. I needed water.

The Sun glistens on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The setting sun glistens on the water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I had run out . Yet, I could see it on the surface of the salt, shimmering, teasing, taunting. The closer I got the farther it seemed to be.

If I could  just make it to the mountains.

Bonneville Salt Flats reflections.
Water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats forms a near perfect mirror.

Splashes, suddenly. The sound was refreshing. My steps disturbed a sea of glass. The mirage had not retreated. It was real. The surface stretched for miles. My footsteps sent expanding ripples across the glassy mirror, distorting the sky below me.

Bonneville Salt Flats under water.
A thin sheet of water covers the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

I took two more steps and stumbled. The salt gave way to mud beneath it and my shoes remained behind. I fell to my knees and my pants sucked up water, wet coolness, rising slowly up my thighs. I watched the khaki darken with curiosity, as if my clothes were trying to suck waning life back into my body.

Water covering miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats is only a few inches deep.
Shallow water covers miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

Somewhere inside my head I sensed, maybe even knew, I should not drink this water. It renewed these salt plains. But it was so blue, so clear, and the need was so great. My lips were cracked and my tongue was dry.

I could not resist.

Salt Flats mountain reflections.
A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I cupped my hands and scooped up the water.  It felt cool on my skin, wet. I opened my mouth and slurped it in. Again, in my head, I knew. I should not have done this.

I was consumed by greed and the reaction was violent. I sputtered and spit. My throat burned. When the brine reached my stomach I retched.

A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
It can be difficult to determine where the earth ends and the sky begins in the perfect reflections of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Falling forward, my body pushed a large wave across the glass and I broke the surface. The water was not deep. Just enough to cover my face. Salt surrounded me and I looked upon my body, reflecting through the glassy side of a mirror.

When these waters withdraw, others will find evidence that I have been, preserved by salt.

The Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats used to be thirteen miles long. Now it is only seven. It is not known if the cause of the shrinking salt is due to the depletion of the aquifer as a result of nearby mining, or, from seasonal heavy rains. Nevertheless, the land speed records which have been set in years past must now be accomplished in  shorter distances, as time may be running out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Sometimes I Can Fly

It started slowly, the falling. At first I was flying, rising on gentle currents. The higher I went, the better the view. It was amazing. I could see everything.

There is something liberating about seeing the world below from great heights above. No sense of fear whatsoever. Drifting with the breeze.

Clouds

I thought I was drifting. But I wasn’t just drifting. Was I?

I was falling. A knot in the pit of my stomach grew tighter. l fell faster. My insides were screaming. Slow down. Slow up.

I was flying so high that it shouldn’t matter. I couldn’t fall so far. Could I?

Sometimes in dreams I can fly.

In one recurring dream I am running, on a mesa cliff. It looks like the Grand Canyon, but isn’t. For some reason, not fully known to me, I run off the edge and the earth beneath my feet disappears.

I can’t breathe.

The sensation of falling takes my breath away. The rocky cliffs dive to a snaking river below.  Terminal velocity forces air from my lungs. I can’t breathe. I CAN’T BREATHE.

Autumn in American Fork Canyon, Utah.

Sometimes, in this dream, I fly. Air returns to my lungs like a drink of cool water on a hot day. I can feel it all the way down. These are good dreams.

Other times, I fall. This time, I’m falling.

Is it a dream? I’m not entirely sure. To be self aware and asleep is a conundrum I can not quite resolve.

Fall leaves color the forest.

I have heard it said that if you actually crash, or hit the ground in your dreams, you die. The reality of this moment is that the sensation of falling feels like death. Death would be a relief from the falling. To fall forever, fear tying each muscle into knotted searing cramps would be a torment worthy of Dante’s examination.

Fall Leaves.

Yet the ground grows no closer. I open my eyes and see colors exploding in brilliance all around me. Then, one leaf falls, and another, and another and…

…they are gone. The sunset season has ended. Winter’s chill is close. I can feel it coming.

In this dream, I will open my eyes before the last leaf touches earth.

 

My Novel Book Trailer, Death Comes At Night

For all my friends out in the blogosphere, here is the release of my novel book trailer, Death Comes At Night. Check it out.

I’d love to get your feedback.

Death Comes At Night is a suspense/thriller novel guaranteed to get your heart racing and keep you up at night reading. Death Comes At Night, the novel, is available for purchase on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com or directly from the publisher, Black Rose Writing. For more information email, DeathcomesatnightNovel@gmail.com.

Death Comes at Night Cemetery Reading
James Dalrymple takes a moment to read Death Comes at Night, in the Cemetery.

Credits:
Nate Cummings as Daniel Monson.
McKenna Cullimore as the Woman
James Dalrymple as the Author

Richard Porter, Camera, Sound, Osmo
Anders Piiparinen, Osmo and Grip
Sterling Elliott, Production Assistant
Meagan Piiparinen, Hair and Makeup
James Dalrymple, Writer, Director, Editor, Composer
Special thanks to Don Wadley for use of his farm.

We shot this video on one of the coldest nights of the year. I had intended to use rain in the video; however, the temperature was near 32ºƒ and McKenna was freezing. And, because this was a volunteer effort, I lost the rain.  The cold temperatures did work in our favor as you can see their breath.

Everyone on the crew did a great job. Hopefully, this trailer tweaks your interest enough to buy the book. If it does, let me what you think.

 

Death Comes At Night Book Trailer — James Dalrymple

I am an author and filmmaker and have written a thriller novel called, Death Comes At Night, published by BlackRose Writing. I am putting together a book trailer for the book. The book trailer script is: dcan-trailer_v-2 The storyboard for the trailer is: dcan-storyboard For more information about the book or the author, contact: DeathComesAtNightNovel@gmail.com. […]

Click on this link via Death Comes At Night Book Trailer — James Dalrymple

to access the script and storyboard links on my other site. Thanks.

Flying My Drone Over Water

I purchased a DJI Phantom 4 drone about two months ago. I’ve been having a great time flying and shooting aerials. I have a lot to learn. The drone has some great features and I’ve only scratched the surface on how to use them.

Here are some shots from a recent trip to Crescent Cove, California.

When we went to Crescent Cove, I was nervous to fly over water. My drone took off and zipped out over the ocean and there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that nearly compelled me to bring it home before it dropped into the depths and was lost forever. Fortunately, I didn’t bring it right back.

In order to legally fly a drone in the United States, you must register your drone with the FAA and take the FAA part 107 sUAS certification test. The test will not be available until August 29, 2016, but a link to a study guide is available:

https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/test_questions/media/uag_sample_exam.pdf

There is also a great study guide for those who already have their pilot’s license but want to certify to fly small unmanned aircraft. The link is:

https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_content.aspx?cID=451&sID=726&crID=1436761

When I purchased my drone, I registered it with the FAA, online, for a cost of $5. It was easy.  I plan to take the FAA Part 107 certification test as soon as it is available.

Even though I’m following all the required regulations, I still get nervous when I fly. I’m not worried about the regs, I’m worried about crashing. I don’t want to loose my drone. I’m hoping that the more I fly the less worried I will be about crashing, but, I know some good pilots who have crashed drones.

The more I fly the more confidence I develop and the better I get. It definitely takes practice and time in the air to gain that confidence. The phantom 4 represents a real investment and I don’t want to loose it, and, I will keep flying in an effort to gain more confidence and skill.

In the meantime, I’m having a great time and capturing some cool images and video. Let me know what you think.

Seal Rock
Waves crash against the rocks as the birds and seals watch the setting sun from Seal Rock, Crescent Cove, California.

 

The Colors of Brazil

I enjoy watching the Olympics. I’m especially pleased to see the Olympics in Brazil. I was able to visit Brazil just prior to World Cup. It was a crazy, cultural and colorful experience. I witnessed strikes, mobs, gunfire and incredibly beautiful and colorful scenery. The food was amazing. I ate things I had never heard of.  I met friendly  people and heard styles of music that were filled with life and celebration. My experience in Brazil was amazing.

A Brazilian family out for a stroll.
A Brazilian family out for a stroll.

My friends in Brazil would not take me to the Favelas. They said it was too dangerous. They didn’t want me to get hurt, or robbed.  They didn’t want me to see the poverty, overcrowding, pollution and social problems associated with the Favelas.

Two men in Olinda, Brazil.
Waiting, just waiting on the street in Olinda, Brazil.

Nevertheless, the problems were there. I could feel it in the city. I could feel it in the tension among people. It was present in the bus strikes, the police strikes, the metro strikes. It was seeping out of the Favelas.

São Paulo Police
São Paulo Police strike prior to the World Cup.

We were eating lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. Suddenly the lights in the restaurant went out. The restaurant owner told us we had to leave. They were closing. The mobs were coming. The police were on strike and the mobs were looting and robbing.

We had to go.

Now, the Olympics are in Rio and the world celebrates the games. However, many Brazilians, proud of their country and culture, are excluded from the celebration. They can’t afford it.

Hopefully, these games will be a celebration of the the Olympic spirit which inspires all of us, regardless of country and culture. And, hopefully, that same spirit will help to elevate the quality of life in Brazil and shed light on problems which afflict us all, not just those in Brazil.  Perhaps these games will move an immensely complicated people to search for answers to the growing social ills that color the lives of a very colorful country.

I hear them, the voices in my head. They tell me stories. I can see them with my heart.

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