When I Was in a Movie (7-4-13)

Here is my experience as “Railroad Worker” Extra in the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer/Gore Verbinski production of The Lone Ranger.

One day, in the spring of 2012, I was hanging out with some friends at Naggy McGee’s Irish Pub in Grand Junction, Colorado. My buddy Lawrence said “Guys, I just found this out from some friends on Facebook: They’re making a new Lone Ranger movie and they’re filming some of it out in Moab. They’re sending out a casting call for extras! We should go do it!” I have always wanted to be at least an extra in a movie so I was like “Yeah! Let’s do it!”

So some friends including Lawrence, Mike, Stevo & I drove to Moab the weekend of the tryouts in April. There were what seemed like a thousand other people there & they took us in 50 at a time. There were some Native American guys there & I thought “they’re in for sure!”. A lot of people dressed in western wear which we hadn’t even thought of. We all had in hand a 4×6 photo and an information sheet. We were laughing so hard at Stevo because the photo he struggled so hard to get a print of the night before was of him in his “Septi Wilbur” costume making a rat face at the camera! Inside Sandy Aleski (The casting director), was calling people up who had “stupid human tricks”. I thought ‘well crap, I got nothin’…I guess I’m not gonna make it.’ Lawrence when up & showed some breakdance moves. Some dudes did Parkour. Some were contortionists, one guy was a professional clown, etc. After everyone showed off, they collected our photos, told the men not to shave until the summer was over and sent us on our way.

Weeks went by & I heard nothing from them & assumed I wasn’t chosen, so I shaved. Then Stevo got a call! We were so excited for him! I couldn’t believe one of my own friends was chosen!!! We thought maybe they really liked that crazy photo he brought!! He started growing his beard out for the first time in his life. Then one day I got an email from Sandy Aleski! They wanted to use me too!! Mike was contacted too but he had to work all the days they were shooting.

In June, while I was helping mom & dad build their log house on my vacation, I had to skip out a couple of days on them. The first time I had to drive all the way to Moab for a costume fitting. It was all of an hour for this dude to pick out an old west get-up for me and then drive all the way back out to mom & dad’s.

The next trip to Moab was for the actual shooting. I drove out & met Stevo & his friend in Moab & we decided to camp out in the canyon where the movie crew’s “base camp” was. We decided to just sleep in the beds of our trucks which turned out to be the worst idea ever. Heat from the day had absorbed into the rock canyon walls & was radiating off all night long. I don’t think any of us got a wink of sleep & we were supposed to be at base camp at 5am!  We started hearing heavy traffic at around 4:30am.

They were serving some breakfast at base camp but we already ate some yogurt & stuff. The first thing they had us do was get in line inside the base camp tents (where we had the costume fitting) for our costumes. There were probably a couple hundred other extras there. After a long wait I was able to put on the costume which they had picked out for me which was a thick button up shirt & thick pants with suspenders & boot/shoes with no padding in the souls plus the cowboy hat. Next was “Hair & Make-up”. At the tryouts in April they had told us not to shave but after weeks of hearing nothing from them I had been shaving. So now they had to give me a wig. It was goofy looking longish hair with a receding hairline. Then in make up they sprayed all this stuff to make us look sweaty & really dirty. Then we were shuffled outside where they threw dirt all over us & then loaded us up on “people movers”.

They drove us up this long rough winding road up by Potash (I couldn’t believe these buses could make it up all that.) On the bus I sat by my friend Jesse Hoisington whom I had gone to Africa with in 2009. This wasn’t the first time Jesse and I had rode in a bus on some really rough roads together! They brought us up to what I guess is now known as “Thelma & Lois Point” where they drove their car off the cliff in that movie. As we came out into the clearing surrounded by cliffs and magnificent views, there we saw it: the full on Hollywood Experience! There was a fake old west rain, crews, equipment, a little old west settlement with tents, carts, timbers, wheel barrows, etc.

When we got of the bus there was a girl with a megaphone telling us what to do. We were told we could have an umbrella, a water bottle and sunglasses but that it all needed to be able to hide behind set items. They spread us out in the little “town” and gave most of us some props: pick axes, shovels, hammers, etc.

Stevo & his friend were able to attend a “boot camp” the previous week where they were taught how to lift rails and stuff to make it look real. So we were split up pretty early on. I figured he’d have a much better shot of being on camera because of that. The girl with the megaphone explained things to us & told us to mingle about in the town & talk to people. I remember talking to one guy and we wondered where the cameras were & then realized they were a quarter of a mile away on another cliff!

Each time they would run through a scene the person with the megaphone would call out “Background!” at which point we were supposed to deliver our “Grammy winning performance”, then “Rolling!” and they’d start the film, then “Action!” and the actors would start their part. Several times I walked across that little “settlement town” and pretended to have a conversation with some Chinese guys. There was a couple of guys who were supposed to be reporters with, if I remember right, the Rocky Mountain news. Though we were not mic’ed and far from any cameras, one of the reporters walked up to me acted like he was asking questions for the paper.

After that scene we were told they wouldn’t need us for a bit and to go enjoy some air-conditioning on the buses. I got in a bus with a couple other guys. A second later a lady opened the door and asked “Who here did not go to the boot camp?” Three of us raised our hands. “I need you guys to come with me”. We jumped on a 15 passenger van and she whisked us away to that other cliff where I had seen the cameras!

When we got down there I was paired up with a guy & given a milk can and he got a grain sack. We were told to walk along the cliff’s edge. There was a huge deflector set up for lighting and all the camera rigging, cameras & stuff all around including one giant (8 foot diameter?) light that seemed as bright as the sun itself! They would call out “Background!…Rolling!…Action!” and then the actor (either Barry Pepper or a stunt double) would ride up on a horse and they’d start up a giant fan to blow dust all around him. He would say “Heard you were having an Indian problem” and we were supposed to look up startled and pretend the Cavalry was behind him. They held up big black signs with green X’s on them that were supposed to represent the other Cavalry. We had to do that probably 20 or more times. Then after a bit we were taken back to the other location. It was a hot, dry dusty day and those unpadded shoes hurt more & more as the day went by.

They started to direct us to do similar things as we did that first time but there was some confusion and a lot of waiting around and then (if I remember right) they decided to break for lunch. We all walked a little way back down the road where they had tents set up & table on a really rocky sloped hill. There was a buffet line and we were starving. I got to catch up with Stevo and could tell he was a bit frazzled from not getting any sleep the night before and being out in the hot sun all day. Also his sweat was washing some of the makeup and stuff into his eyes.The food seemed to run out pretty quickly and lunch was only about half an hour.

After lunch we were brought over to the other side of the locomotive (between it and the cliff). Stevo & I had been separated most of the day but I saw him and his friend on the “rail team” next to the train. I was brought over with about 5 other guys near the cliff & looking toward the cameras. The train sat on a piece of fake track that ran to the cliff and what was supposed to be the beginnings of a bridge. In this scene the director would call out “Rolling!” and they would fire up a boiler or something inside the train and the smoke stack would start billowing smoke and steam would blow out from under the train. Then “Background!” and two sets of rail teams would pick up a rail on their shoulders and march it alongside the train. When they called “Action!”, the camera, perched on a boom connected to a rigging on its own track would move toward me and then swing around the front of the train getting a good shot of the guys carrying rails. When Action was called, an animal trainer (dressed in costume) would lead a donkey across the tracks, then me and the guys with me were supposed to hurriedly march across the track in front of the train in sets of two. This was probably the most exciting thing we did all day and felt the most like being in a movie. We did this take what seemed like 20 times.

All day we had been directed around by what I guess were like “sub” directors, including one guy (I forget his name) who seemed to be “higher up” with some kind of Aussie or New Zealand accent. At this cliff scene there was a guy in cowboy hat with a beard (I think he had an accent too) who, I think, was Gore Verbinski.

As the late afternoon bore on, those of us not on the rail team (mainly “townfolk” looking characters) were gathered around a little wooden podium stand decorated with red, white & blue sashes on the cliff’s edge. In this group I found two more of my friends from Grand Junction: Colter Harkins and Caleb Fenske. Though I didn’t recognize him at first because of his huge beard, Tom Wilkinson took the podium.

the-lone-ranger-tom-wilkinson

There was a camera behind him to get the crowd shot and then one behind me to film the speech he gave. Again the sequence of “Rolling!….Background!…Action!” was run through, each time with Tom giving his speech with small improvised differences each time. He seemed kind of annoyed or in a bad mood, but I think it was because he was “in character”. For weeks afterward I could recite the whole speech because they did so many takes. At certain points in the speech we were directed to clap or cheer. Each time he would end the speech with “So put THAT in your papers!” and lean on the podium and point to the reporter guy & his friends I had talked to earlier.

Throughout the day there would be long pauses between takes. Most of the time we had no idea what they were waiting on. Sometimes, though, it was apparent they were waiting on some cloud cover to pass. At one point during Tom’s speech the wind picked up really hard and we had to literally “hang on to our hats” and I thought for sure some of their lighting screens were going to go right over the cliff. The camera rig was like 3 feet from the cliff and chalked up on wood were the cliff sloped off. I thought all that might blow off too. After a bit the wind chilled out some and the sun came back out (at this point it was nearing sunset).

When Tom was done reciting his speech, he came off the stand and came over near where Gore was (like 3 feet from me!) and they discussed some things & looked at a monitor. There was a lot of waiting around and I conversed with people around me, mainly with Caleb.

Then Tom Wilkinson’s double took the stage and it was time for helicopter shots. The double pretended to give a speech but just said some funny things. The helicopter had a camera in a bubble on the nose and flew up and down, in and out of the canyon. No one told us, but we all knew you’re not supposed to look at the camera. It was hard though, because the helicopter was doing so pretty fancy flying and would dip in and out of the canyon, close and far from us. Then at one point, the smoke stack on the train caught fire! Crews hit it hard with fire extinguishers but were having real difficulty controlling it. As a safety measure they cleared everyone off set. I guess by that time they had gotten enough footage and the sun was setting anyway, so they called it a day

Initially they told us they would probably need us two days, so we were expecting to have to come back the next day. As we traveled down the rough road, now under moonlight, I was hungry and tired and in a bit of a bad mood. There was no way I was spending the night in the canyon again. When we got back to base camp it was about 10pm and we were told they had gotten enough footage and wouldn’t need us back the next day. I was relieved and decided instead of spending money on a hotel I would grab some fast food and head back to Grand Junction.

Sometime later Lawrence got the call too & went to base camp for a costume fitting but later they cancelled the shoot he was in. Also later Stevo got called up & went out to be a part of another shoot with Barry Pepper and the Cavalry, but that part was cut out as well. A month or two later I finally got a meager paycheck: minimum wage for one day! Oh the riches of being a movie star! haha.

I think it was the early months of 2013 when the first few previews came out. In one of them, my friend Paul Quintana’s face is pretty clearly seen in the window of a train! Another preview showed one of the helicopter shots & the little group of people I was in was there although entirely too far away to recognize anyone. It was funny to see an extra train bridge in that shot that was digitally added later!

Finally July 3rd, 2013 rolled around & I went with some of my friends to see the movie. Three of the locations from that day made it into the movie and at one point you can definitely see Stevo’s face! I’m pretty sure you could see me walking across the train tracks, but I will need to look at it more closely when the DVD comes out. I could see my buddy Paul Quintana pretty clearly at least three times (He’s been an extra in several other movies & TV shows including The Avengers, Breaking Bad & The Campaign.)

Altogether it was a fun and memorable experience!

me in the Lone Ranger-comanch border-arrow
1:16:48 to :52 “Comanche Border” lower left – I come from left heading to cross the tracks
Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 3.13.40 PM.png
I’m the 3rd guy from the right carrying a milk pail (1:17:39 to :42)
Josh in the Lone Ranger 2012
Right after Barry Pepper says “I understand you have an Indian problem”, me & the other guy are going off screen to the left behind Tom Wilkinson. (1:17:45 to :46)
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The More You Do It, The More You Do It

I’ve been an aspiring cartoonist my whole life but I am always struggling with making the time for my craft, especially to push it to the next step: getting published. Sometimes I push some daily business aside and actually sit down to draw. I’ve noticed though, when I’ve been away from it for a while, that funny ideas are illusive and when I do dig something up, it feels very contrived.

However, I have observed the phenomenon of ideas flowing in times when I have been drenched in the Comics! I notice my brain starting to think in punchlines! Suddenly every situation I’m in through the day is a gag comic!

OK, so maybe its still not hilarious…but at least the ideas make sense!

I’ve started to see this principle work in other areas of life too. When I’m reading the Bible daily, I’m thinking about the Lord more often. When I’m forcing myself to work out it starts to get just a little bit more easy to make it a part of my routine. This isn’t a magic formula and can be pretty subtle but works even better when you recognize it happening. When you start to build a history in a good habit, the history itself helps to perpetuate the habit.

The Dark Side of the Principle

The unfortunate thing is, this principle works for our bad habits too. Several periods of time in my life I have stepped into the snare of pornography. This vice, more than any other I have been faced with in life, is the stickiest. They say about meth “Not even once” and the same should be said of porn. Without a strong desire to get away from it and lots of accountability, a guy can very quickly become addicted (especially in this day of easy access via high-speed internet and smart phones). Once he’s been looking at it a couple of days, the principle of the more you do it, the more you do it, starts to set in. He starts viewing women more and more as objects and equating them with what he sees in porn (of course, the actresses in the videos are not objects either, but that’s another issue). Its starts off by dumping jet-fuel into an already weak area of a guy’s life and then begins shaping his thinking until it is all-consuming.

Let’s Fight!

So, guys struggling with this affliction, here’s one of many ideas to help us out of the snare. Let’s fill our time with positive things and then let those be the things that consume our minds! Remember when grandma used to say “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”? Well, idle minds are too. Here are some practical ideas/innocent things to pour our time into:

  1. Spend time in the Word if you haven’t been. Increase your study of the word and/or your prayer time.
  2. Start, or get back into a hobby. What do you love doing? Shooting? Woodworking? Working on the car? Painting? Reading? Guitar?
  3. Exercise/Physical activity. Start running or riding a bike or swimming or lifting. I hear over and over about the endorphines released by physical activity.  Beside all the physical benefits of exercise, we can begin re-wiring the reward system in our brains.
  4. Serve. Another principle I stumbled on years ago was that whenever I am investing in someone else, I start to forget my own sorrows/depression/worries etc. Maybe this is something small like helping a neighbor or bigger like serving at a homeless shelter or huge like starting a non-profit or becoming a full-time missionary.
  5. Invest in your family. I’m quickly finding out that, to be a good father and husband, it takes almost all of my time. When it doesn’t, there is always more I can do. I can dream up ways to wow and romance my wife or just play with my 10 month old and take him off her hands. If you don’t have a wife & kids, you probably have siblings or parents or nieces or nephews, right?

There are probably scores of other things we can do and maybe I will come back and add to this list. But the point is, involve your brain, your time, your hands in something positive to starve those negative things of your brain, time, hands etc.

 

For more info on the damaging effects of porn check out Fight the New Drug

 

Valentine’s Day Tragedy (Refurbished MySpace Blog from March 31, 2008)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Valentine’s Day Tragedy

Current mood: shocked

Hey friends. Thank you SO much-all of you who called, texted, drove, prayed, etc. I wish I could speak to each of you personally, but since I can’t, please read:

I’m having a hard time remembering who I’ve told what and so heres a blog you can read and get the latest info. I’ve broken it up into headings, so if you’re not interested in the whole story you can skip down.

My First Valentine’s Day

I don’t want want to go into why I’m 29 and this was the first Valentine’s Day of my life when I have had a “significant other”, I just mention that so you will know that the night had a lot of meaning for me. I have been dating Albina Gadeliya for just over a month now and had a plan for Valentine’s Day- I was going to take her to River’s, a fancy restaurant in Glenwood Springs.

I had a very short time after work to rush home and get dressed and pick up the gifts I had for her. Outside the snow trickled down sparsely as Adagio for Strings (In 2004, Barber’s masterpiece was voted the “saddest classical” work ever by listeners of the BBC’s Today programme) played on the classical radio station (this was sort of the eerie soundtrack of the night for me-click play at the bottom of this blog). I got to her condo at about 6:30 and gave her the card I made her with a dozen roses and teddy bear wearing earrings (That would give us 2 hours to get to Rivers where I had an 8:30 reservation) She was rushing to get ready as well and gave me the card she made with a teddy bear and chocolates. She reached into her laundry closet to get something and leaned up against the water heater giving her a pretty bad burn on her right shoulder (2nd degree burn). She grabbed a bag of ice and we rushed out the door.

As we left town in my 95 Honda Passport, I didn’t tell her where we were going. We got on I 70 and she watched the exits for Horizon Drive, Clifton and Palisade pass and her curiosity rose. I noticed the thick clouds hanging among the Bookcliffs creating a surrealistic atmosphere and defining some of the closer spires like some gigantic otherworldy castle.We listened to Yo Yo Ma and then Miles Davis as we winded through DeBeque Canyon.

Something’s Not Right

She mentioned her ice was melting as we neared Rifle. We came upon a slow moving minivan covered in mud I and got into the left lane to pass it. I saw the van start veer into my lane several times and I just wanted to get by it. We passed it & had just passed the first Rifle exit when Albina said she really needed to do something about her ice. She asked if I could just pull over and she could scoop some snow into her bag.

The Accident

I pulled over on the shoulder and remember vividly thinking that I should pull over as far as possible since we were on the interstate. She unbuckled, turned around in her seat and put on her jacket and BAM! We were rear-ended by a vehicle moving between 65 and 75 miles per hour.

I think I saw Albina collapse into the floor board facing the seat. She passed out onto the seat amid chunks of broken bloody glass. My blood went cold and she breathed heavily-a kind of snore that meant her airway way in someway constricted. Thoughts ran through my head about what to do and not to in an accident/when people lose consciousness/ etc. I froze-I didn’t know what to do. I reached into my pocket, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why, but I set the phone down on the back seat-I think it was because I was more concerned with her.

I whispered to her, not knowing if I supposed to wake her up or not. After what seemed like eons, she woke up and that’s when I noticed her arm bent in the wrong place. She looked bewildered and looked at me for answers crying. She looked down at her arm as if to wonder why it wouldn’t moved and then back at me. A million thoughts went through my head-should I push her up off that arm? Should I just talk to her? What can I do? I reached over gently stroked her hair and told her everything would be OK.

I saw people start to surround my vehicle and that’s when I realized I had 911 on the line. I picked the phone up and tried to talk to them but firemen started to force open the doors. They were asking her questions, asking me questions and one guy I think was an off duty fireman who was the first to my car and I think that’s when 911 realized their people were there and I said bye. (Sometime about then I pulled my keys out of the ignition…I don’t know why…I think I thought if the engine was running still that might be dangerous)

They had a hard time trying to get my door open so they opened the back door. When I looked back, I think that is when I fully realized the back seat was at a 45 degree angle. They finally got my door open and saw the gash in the back of my head. It was the only pain I felt. One of the firemen put a rag on my head and helped me out of my Honda.

I saw the van that hit us about 40 yards in front of us and facing us. The front just a mess of crushed metal. As they walked me to the ambulance I saw the other guy being laid on a stretcher and heard Albina’s screams from my car. I saw my Honda in the ditch, headlights still on.

A fireman put a bandage around my head and I sat on the bench in the back of the ambulance praying that God would ease her pain. The back doors were wide open letting in the cold air with her screams and allowing me to see the traffic diverted around us. It seemed like I waited there for a week before they finally came in and put a neck brace on me and had me sit in the upright seat. I was hoping for them to put Albina in my ambulance, but instead they wheeled in the guy that hit me.

Quite frankly I was pissed off at the guy and didn’t want him near me. They had to cut his clothes off and he protested them cutting his coat up which pissed off the firemen. They scolded him and they asked him questions. I think I heard one of them say that he was not drinking and was not on any drugs.

Immediate Aftermath

They wheeled the guy out and that was the last I saw of him. They decided to put me on a stretcher and stabilize my neck to get me out. They wheeled Albina and I into adjacent rooms and I heard her still screaming. They cut my pants, shirt and tie off. They checked me out but then it seems like I laid there in that bed in that stiff neck brace staring at the ceiling for hours. I could see a clock and watched the hours go by. I wondered what they were doing to her and if there was anything wrong beside her arm.

It’s hard to remember when all this happened, but they got info from me and called my mom & dad & Canyon Vineyard Church (Where I work). Periodically a Police officer came in and told me some stuff.

At one point they rolled me on my side and I got nauseous and just about threw up-but it passed quickly. I heard them take Albina in for a CAT Scan and when they were done they ran one on me. Right before they took Albina out, they wheeled her next to me and let her say bye.

They wheeled me back into my room and after a while they came in stitched up my wound and put in 10 staples (I didn’t feel it at all). Finally I was done and by that time Nate & Maegan came to pick me up.

12-my-staples

The Drive Home

On the way home my mind kept playing through everything. Periodically I would have flashes of memories that seemed so real but just when I tried to concentrate on them they would vanish & make way for another one. At one point they flashed through my head in such a fast dream-like manner that I got nauseous and almost had to have Nate pull over. The drive seemed to take forever, especially with these weird thoughts rolling through my head. It made everything seem almost dreamlike. I remember we looked up to the clouds rolling off the foothills of Mt. Garfield and they seemed to take on a sinister-otherworldly look.

Finally we arrived at my house where SteveO & Daniel were waiting. I changed my clothes quickly (and found glass in my underwear!) and then then they took me to St. Mary’s.

At St. Mary’s

As we came in, Wes, Rebecca, Jared & Katie were there to greet us. (I think sometime around there was when I felt something in my mouth and realized it was a piece of glass) I was able to go immediately to where Albina was. I held her hand as they put 6 staples in the back right side of her head. After that, Anna Mazon came in and wheeled her to her room.

In her room, Wes, Rebecca, Jared, Katie, Nate, Maegan, Daniel & SteveO showed up and we all joined hands and prayed for her. After that everyone filed out of her room and I knelt down to say good night to her.

Just as I began to speak, the power of the entire city went out. The lights clicked off and all the hallway doors shut themselves. I was slightly scared at what this could do, not only to Albina, but all the patients. Then I remembered they ALWAYS have back up generators at hospitals. About 4 or 5 minutes later the power came back on. I said good night to Albina.

Home

SteveO & Daniel gave me a ride home. There was a strange fog thick around town as we went home at about 2:30am. I was dead tired but could not sleep until around 4 or 5am.

The Next Day

Albina’s arm was badly fractured around her elbow. They began surgery sometime around 2 and she wasn’t out until after 6. I was finally able to see her then. Beside periodic bursts of pain between morphine doses she seemed a thousand times better. Finally her eyes were open and she was talking to all of us. (Her mom drove up from Colorado Springs and her twin sister Agnessa drove from Salt Lake)

13-albinaelbow

Saturday

Saturday Wes drove me to the hospital around 1 and I just spent the rest of the day with Albina in her room. That night after I left (around 2am) her block from surgery wore off. This was the most excruciating pain she had felt yet.

Sunday

When I woke up I picked the last piece of glass out of my hair.

She felt much better today but due to the drugs and her anemia she has been drowsy almost to the point of falling asleep all day.

Monday

Wes drove me to Rifle where I we finally saw the wreckage and I got all of my stuff out of it.

________

What’s Left of My Honda

 02-my-honda-at-pks-403-my-honda-at-pks-504-my-honda-at-pks-605-my-honda-at-pks-706-my-honda-at-pks-807-my-honda-at-pks-908-my-honda-at-pks-1009-my-honda-at-pks-1110-my-honda-at-pks-1411-my-honda-at-pks

Tuesday & Wednesday

Albina is very drowsy, nauseous and gets dizzy very easily from all the meds and her anemia.

Thursday

Finally! She’s out of the hospital! She is still feeling drowsy and has intermitent pain but she’s actually got a little appetite. She had her staples removed earlier and at lunch today she took my staples out!

I got a fax of the accident report today and apparently the guy that hit us had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Thank You

I have had a flood of calls, texts and emails from friends and family. Maegan & Lucee offered to make me dinners. Pastor Wade has hooked me up with a car I can borrow until I get a new one. Wes & Rebecca have been there at every moment. Jared & Katie were there at the hospital despite barely even knowing Albina. I really feel bad that haven’t been able to get back to everyone who dropped by or left a message. Also, my initial text message failed to get to half of my phone book-so please don’t feel less important to me if you didn’t get the text. Albina has really enjoyed all the flowers-she has 12 bouquets last I counted.

Most of all, of course, I want to thank the Lord. We were parked and hit by a vehicle going Interstate speed and we are alive to tell the story. Thank you God.

Currently listening :

Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11/Orchestral Music; Leonard Slatkin

By Samuel Barber

Release date: 25 October, 1990

How I Broke My Neck (refurbished blog from MySpace 10-27-08)

Monday, October 27, 2008

How I Broke My Neck

Josh the Mountain Goat Monkey

If you have hung out with me at all in the outdoors, you know I can’t help but to climb anything that is climbable. I look at trees & rocks as playground equipment built by God. Every time I glance at granite cliffs, a building with interesting architecture, or a grove of old growth trees, my mind automatically projects a rout to the top and some sort instinct inside tells me weather it is possible. The instinct is probably right like 90% of the time and is probably based on a lifetime as a Colorado kid, or maybe from “monkeying around” on the jungle gym dad built in the  backyard, or maybe being the son of an avid mountain climber (he climbed all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 peaks in the span of 10 years)

Anyway, I had often looked at the giant cottonwood tree on Old Man Gallop’s property, close enough to the fence between us to share a little pouring of its leaves and most of its shade with us. Old Man Gallup has several acres of property south of mine & my roommate’s house and as far as I can tell the whole place is fenced in by a 6ft. high barbed wire fence. Occasionally he takes his horse for a trot out there before retreating back to the more wooded half of his property that is cluttered with old cars. His house probably several hundred yards from the edge of where our suburban neighborhood meets his property.

I always wished that tree was ours a we have no trees in our yard. We would do so much with it: put a tree swing on it, build a tree house in it, jump out of it on to or trampoline, or just climb it.

Climbing Old Man Gallup’s Tree

So, Sunday (the 19th) I came home from lunch at Dos Hombres to an empty house. StevO called me up to go shooting, and now I wish more than anything I had went ahead to the store to buy ammo. Instead a quiet afternoon reading a book seemed more inviting. I dragged a lawn chair into the backyard grass, sat down and opened “A Wind in the Door”. The October afternoon was so perfect I had to look up and observe after every paragraph. Once again I looked at Old Man Gallup’s tree, my eyes mapping out the many branches as I thought ‘Why haven’t I ever climbed that tree before?’

I had my plan, I would get my camera, take a few pictures from up high and come down and get back to my book. When I got to the fence I remembered what had stopped me before. To get in the tree, I would need to be on Old Man Gallup’s property and the worst part…there are no limbs lower than about 15 feet.

I climbed on top of the fence post and studied the only reachable branch. It curved from the tree drooping behind me almost to the ground. The only way I was going to climb this tree was to get myself on top of that branch. I thought about what I’d need to do .I’ve done it many times in other trees before. I jumped up and grabbed the branch. I swung my legs up around it. The a limb sticking up almost vertical about 4 inches thick. Next I would need to use that limb to wrench myself around to the top of the branch. I grabbed ahold with my right hand and tugged, it felt secure. With my left hand I reached up to 3 inch branch that split off from it. I think a small thought in my head said if this one breaks, my right will hold me.

I grabbed the smaller branch with my left hand which transferred most of my body weight to the 4 inch branch. With a suddenness that seemed to preceed even grasping the branch there was a loud snap! I had the split second feeling of having the world yanked out from under me like a table cloth.

The Scariest Moment of My Life

From what the doctor says I landed on my head first which snapped back fracturing a joint in my lower neck. I lay in a pile of dead branches. I tried to move but it felt like a 200lb. person was sitting on my chest. I tried to move my hands but they wouldn’t budge. I felt pain everywhere and I panicked. “Help!” I cried. I rolled myself around in the sticks yelling “Help! Somebody help!” but I knew I was too far away for anyone to hear. I had to get up. Breathing as if that 200lb person was still on my chest, I struggled against the pulsating pain to my tingling feet. I looked myself over trying to figure out what was wrong. I saw blood but didn’t know where it was from. My right arm looked weird, was it broken? I realized I was hunched over and bent to the right. “Oh $%&), HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!” I whined.

The closest people I knew of were one house passed an empty lot to the west of our house. I yelled in that direction to no avail. I realized I had my cell phone in my left pocket. I reached down and pawed the phone with my limp fingers. There was no way I was getting it out. To find help would I would have to get outside of this barbed wire fence! In the back of my head I knew there where no gates near and looking around confirmed it. Then a terrible thought came to me, I was going to have to hurl my limp body, already blasting with pain, onto the barbed wire and flip over the fence! No way I thought, there’s got to be a way out.

I wobbled on my numb tingly legs east to he fence by our front yard. Thank God, there some kids riding bikes in dead end of our street.

“Hey kid! Can you call an ambulance? I fell out of that tree over there and hurt myself pretty bad,” I said through painful gasps. Soon the kid had informed our next door neighbors Kenny and Vicki. I was able to explain to Kenny what happened through labored breathes and sweating profusely. My entire body screamed in pain and I tried to change my position to ease the pain. Kenny was able to reach through the fence get my cell phone out of my pocket. I leaned my head on my forearm on the fence which slightly relieved pain. Then I tried laying in the weeds, that helped a little bit.

I heard Vicky say “Oh Josh,” and start praying for me. I grunted every breath and it seemed like half an hour before the ambulance got there. Finally I heard the sirens and out of my peripheral could see a fire truck pull up. Firemen  cut a hole in the fence and strapped me to a board as an ambulance backed up to the fence. The cut my shirt off and told me not move as they strapped a neck brace on. Ivs  were jammed in to my arm, questions were asked, the ride seemed to take an hour before I saw through the ambulance sunroof a crane overhead indicating we had arrived at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s, Prognosis and Rehab

They ran me through claustrophobia tube…I mean MRI and found I have a fracture in my C5 vertebrae. The fracture itself is not displaced and will heal fine. However, the pain in my back, arms and hands is coming from swelling in the spine inside an already irregularly  narrow spinal canal (apparently some people are born with this).  They also found some degenerated/bulging discs that were from something previous, hmmm what could that be from? Flipping over the handlebars of  a motorcycle? Tumbling down the ditch at 30mph in the Ridges after falling of my longboard? T-boning an SUV at 45mph on Broadway? Catching an edge snowboarding and tumbling down the hard packed snow? Or perhaps getting rear-ended by a guy doing 65mph when I was at a standstill? Anyway, Dr. Clifford thought I may need surgery to relieve the swelling and so I wasn’t aloud to eat until the next day. I got a catheter, oxygen, IV, a Sterroid and foot circulators hooked up to me  and went to sleep staring at the ceiling. Wes stayed with me that first night.

The next day Dr. Clifford explained to me that surgery was optional. They could do a procedure to widen my spinal canal or they could remove the degenerated discs and fuse those three vertebrae together. Really surgery would be a preventative measure in case I got in an accident like this again. I chose not to have surgery.

Those first few days my hands were by far the most painful part of my body. They constantly felt like they were burning. That has gone down a lot and though I still can’t extend my fingers, the only constant pain is my right thumb (tingly and numbish), my left ring finger (sharp pain) and dull pain in neck/back. The worst thing I’m experiencing though is that sometimes when I move just right I think its pinching a nerve. This is by far the most painful thing I have ever felt. When it happens I can never really figure out what position caused it and so I spend a terrifying minute trying to move out of the position. It feels like I’m having a heart attack or being electrocuted starting at my spine and running through my shoulder straight to my thumb. It’s like some one taking plyers and crushing the raw nerve or pouring liquid metal down my arm.

So after spending several nights being woken up for vitals and fed Percoset or Vicaden and Flexerol and Lyrica every few hours, it was on to rehab floor where I am now. This floor is mainly for recovering senior citizens and so for the last few days I’ve felt like I’m trapped in an old folk’s home.

I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, techs, PTs, Ots, ect. That have worked on me…I think there’s been at least 50! Most have been above average nice! Most of all I want to thank mom & dad for making several trips here from Craig despite their own problems (Granddad has the flu) and taking shifts sleeping on the couch in my room, Wes and Recbecca for spending almost every evening with me and Wes also sleeping on that crappy recliner. Also, I have been blown away by the response of my friends! I have had at least 1 vistor every day and like 12 one day! You have all cared SO much! Thank you for the sweets, the cards, drawings, and even flowers! I can’t describe how seeing you guys has helped me get through this! I was going to list all of you but then I feel like crap if I missed someone! Also, was pretty out of it on pain med a couple of times and some of you didn’t realize you had to stand directly over me for me to see you with this collar on! Oh and last but certainly not least….in fact, first, Thank You Lord, you were with me the whole time reminding me “…that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Currently listening :

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

By Fatboy Slim

Release date: 1998-10-20

Links to Friends’ Creations

I’m constantly blown away by the talents of everyone I know and none of them are getting the attention they deserve! I hope I can help just a tiny bit! (Working on links over time)

Shelly [Steenwyk] Anderson: blogger- Laughing Under Waterfalls

Josh Anderson (me!): blogger: JoshStories, graphic designer, artist: Josh Anderson Art Blog, somewhat musician

Wes Anderson: graphic designer

Stephen Wallace: woodworkerartist: Anchor Worksauthor: Nickel’s Fortune

Andrea Cronin: “Repurposed Vintage and Adventures” blog and store: The Lovely Adventure

Nathan Carson: artist: NART, graphic designer NARTwriter & poet: Dear Poetry, musician: Koima

Troy DeRose: artist, graphic designer: Fixer Creative, musician: The Invisibles, The Yes We Cans

Aaron Sheley: writer, poet: , film critic, film director, actor, producer, musician: The Dead Telluriders

Daniel Dawson: photographer, videographer

Jon James: musician, producer, videographer: Shedd Studios

Butch McCain: actor, musician: The McCain Brothers & Cuzin Jed, voice artist

Charity Meinhart: graphic designer, photographer, musician: Jake Wilkinson’s Unicycle

Dave Hansow: entrepreneur, founder of non-profits Light Gives Heat (Suubi, Epoh), Chrome Buffalo, The Find, graphic designer

Dale (Pagenkopf) Brown: graphic designer

Chase Martinez: musician: Chamberlynn, Starship Romance, ChaseMance, The Redlands, Valeta

Eve Roberts: blogger: Dabblism & FruitNVeggie

Jeff Kirtland: musician: Free While Supplies Last, Jake Wilkinson’s Unicycle

Justin Nordine: artist, tattoo artist: The Raw Canvas

Benson Broyles: musician: The Pineapple Crackers (R.I.P.)

Sean & Megan Henry: artists & photographers: Revelare Photography

Peter Rosenthal: musician: Dirtylectric

Dustin Wise: musician: Mike’s Chair & Plaid Owl, audio production: Plaid Owl Productions

Jim Blevins: musician, web designer: 100 Watt Design

Jen DuBois: artist: Jennifer Kay Art, blogger: Beauty from the Ordinary

Elise Soniat: photographer: Source of Light Imagery

Corey Wright: muscian: The Steadfast Project-Corey Wright Music

Danny Odem: musician: Mode

Arlo DiCristina: artist, tattoo artist at The Raw Canvas

Amos Biocic: artist, fabricator: Myrick Designs

Wade Yamaguchi: photographer, videographer: Yamo Films

Shea Bramer: artist, songwriter, musician, producer, entertainer: Shea Bramer Music, Autumn’s Chase

Melora Coyle: tattoo artist at The Raw Canvas

Rob Labig: musician: The New Fall of Man

Josh Roberts: musician: Loaded .45, Loaded .45 at bandcamp.com and Bad Karma Kings

Scott Aneloski: artist, graphic designer: Scott Ford Aneloski

Colter Harkins: actor

Bre Skaggs: graphic designer, artist

Josh Christensen: photographer, blogger: Josh the Wanderer

Haven Herrera: artist, rapper: SolidSavage, Illfluent, Rated Ill

Ian Barefoot: artist: Xanthier, Ion-Design

Casey Dry: musician: Junk Drawer, Tight Thump

Ray & Candace Ward: Thailand missionaries & entrepreneurs: The Outpour Movement, Famous Rays Burgers, Famous Rays Bicycle Shop, the Refuge Children’s Home

Seth Schaeffer: musician, videographer, web designer, producer: Hoptocopter Films

Brose Deply (Rob): film maker, director: In Bloom Pictures

Jeremy Plantinga engineer, entrepreneur, inventor: Crux Offroad

Troy Behrens: musician: Five Face Down, photographer: Time Flies Photography

 

 

Fernie Garcia: musician

Emily Knapp: graphic designer, musician

Travis Roberts: musician, producer

Dustin Haily: graphic designer

Tim Nutting: musician, founding pastor: Life Community Church

Paul Watson: founding pastor: The Downtown Vineyard Church

Curt Lincoln: founding pastor

Andrew Mabrey: musician: Autumn’s Chase

Melissa Pruitt: photographer: LaTeeDa Photography

Vanessa Jergensen: photographer: Ginger Moose

Rob Wallace: musician

Steve McGarry: musician

Dan Cox: author

Will Arbaugh: author

Danielle Cox: artist

Lawrence Aguirre: artist, dancer

Melissa Ludeman: blogger

Daniel Bachert: photographer: Copper Photography

Cheryl Talbott: artist

Tim Herrera: artist, break dancer

Tyler Gonerka: graphic designer, musician: Autumn’s Chase

Brooke Jeschke: graphic designer

Danny Tavori: musician

Jen Rossman: artist, graphic designer

Kevin Decker: musician, photographer

Joel Watson: graphic designer, web developer

Leah Allard: artist

 

MxPx at the X96 Big Ass Show in Salt Lake City. Fall 2005

It’s 1-26-15. I’m just now writing this hilarious incident down because I never want to forget it and for some reason never wrote it down when it happened almost 10 years ago.

MxPx at the X96 Big Ass Show in Salt Lake City
Saturday 24, September 2005

Trying to Leave Town

Back in our skateboarding, punk rock days, my buddy & roommate Stevo and I were really into MxPx. We’d been fans since the 90’s but had never made it to a show. When we heard they were playing in Salt Lake, a mere 5 hours away, we planned to go. It was more  of a festival show put on by an SLC radio station called X96 and featured an array of bands including The Used, The All American Rejects and The Bravery.
The Friday night before the show I was excited and knew we’d need to get up early to get to Salt Lake by noon, when the show opened. However, with Stevo, I knew plans were never ‘set in stone’.
Saturday morning I woke up and went to his door and knocked. Nothing. I knocked again this time, cracking the door and whispering “Hey, are we gonna go to Salt Lake?”. I can’t remember if he mumbled something or ignored me, but whatever he did gave me the impression he didn’t feel like going. My heart sunk. I was excited about the show; going alone wouldn’t be any fun at all. I went back to my room kind of sulking and thinking about how much I had anticipated this little road trip and decided to try one more time. I cracked the door and said, “Come on! We gotta get on the road if we’re going to the show!”
Surprising me, Stevo literally rolled out of bed into a ‘rocker’ position and jammed an air guitar! I laughed hard and said “Yeah! We’re goin’!”
Time was ticking away and we really needed to get out of Grand Junction and on I70 to get to Salt Lake by noon. It seemed like pulling teeth to get him ready and out of the house, but soon we were packed up (by which I mean, we had our skateboards) in my Honda Passport and and headed out of my neighborhood.
“Does it cost to get into this show?” he asked.
Baffled I said, “Are you kidding me? Of course it costs.”
“Well, can we go by my ATM to get some cash?”
Already annoyed by how long it took us to leave, this set me toward becoming angry, especially because his ATM was 3 miles in the wrong direction. Rolling my eyes I said, “Fine”.

We pulled up to the ATM kiosk, he jumped out and pushed some buttons. After a minute he jumped back into my Honda and informed me, “I’ve never used my card before and it won’t let me do anything without some further verification.”

“Seriously?!”

“Yeah, can we go to my bank?”

Now I was angry. I knew his bank was in Palisade, about 7 miles in the WRONG direction. Sure it was only about 10 minutes the wrong way, but its the principle of the matter!

“Fine,” I said stiffed lipped and gripping the steering wheel. All these thoughts were going through my head: ‘Why is he never prepared?’, ‘Why am I the only one concerned with getting there when the show opens?’, etc.

We head to Palisade, and as we pull into the parking lot, we remember: the bank doesn’t open until 9.

“Aw shoot,” he says, “Um, can we go to my parent’s house? I can get some cash there.”

Now I’m fuming, this is another 5 minutes to the far East side of Palisade, STILL in the wrong direction! (In all, we’re nearing HALF an hour the WRONG way!)

I quietly head out to his parent’s house and he rushes inside. I know he was inside for maybe 2 minutes, but in my urgency it felt like another half an hour. I wait, and wait. Finally I’m thinking ‘What is taking so long?!’

That’s when I look over and see him over on the side of the house, prostrate on the ground aiming a .22 rifle at something toward the orchard behind their house. ‘What. In. The. World?!” I think. I hear a “POP!, POP!”. Then he puts the rifle away and runs back to my Honda. As he climbs in, the ridiculousness of the situation has allowed for just enough of my steam to vent so that I can laugh and ask, “What the crap are you doing?!”

He answers, “Oh, I had to shoot a cat!”

Finally we head for I70 and to Salt Lake City.

The Show

Finally we arrived at the X96 Big Ass show, and as we neared the venue, we should have known (especially running late) that there was no parking left. We drove around the surrounding neighborhoods and couldn’t find parking until about 5 blocks north. Luckily, we had our skateboards and cruised on them back to the venue. The problem then was, the venue would not allow skateboards inside. A police officer nearby heard us being turned away and said “I’ll be here all day, you guys can store them in my cruiser”. Though I was thinking ‘What? What cop offers that?’, we said ‘Thanks!” and stowed them.

I don’t have much to write about the actual show because now, 10 years later, most of it has faded (ironic, isn’t it?). I remember being very unimpressed with the All American Rejects, especially because they were so foul-mouthed and seemed to do this only to be cool.

MxPx was a blast and it was hard to believe we were finally seeing them after being huge fans for a decade. It was in this mosh pit where Stevo “brushed” up against one of the many “punk chicks” in the crowd and felt some sort of a connection. He was so moved he later wrote a punk song called “Sweet Punk Chick”.

After this we pursued the other bands and decided we needed to leave about halfway through The Used’s set. We got our boards back from the cop and cruised back to my Honda. We hit up a Del Taco before leaving town.

The Journey Home

On our way home through the desert in the night it started to become apparent to me that my head lights were dimming. At some point my CD player started to malfunction. If I remember correctly there were other malfunctions with the vehicle as well. When we got home there seemed to be a significant difference in how long the trip took coming home versus heading there.

Half jokingly we surmised that we must have had an alien abduction experience. However, I later discovered the alternator had gone bad in the Honda. (Glad we made it home!) The Jake Wilkinson’s Unicycle song “машина автоматический (car automatic)” is loosely based on this drive home.

All in all the day was quite an adventure, and I’d like to say I will never forget it. But if I do, it’s written here for future entertainment.

Josh News Update 4-1-2010

Dear friends & family,
I just wanted to catch you up with the news in my life. In January I had an endoscopy performed to diagnose a swallowing problem I have had since childhood. I think a lot of you already knew that and that they found that my esophagus is extremely small (less than 10mm and the normal is like 17mm) I told you this was mainly caused by allergies (Eosinophillic Esophagitis) which is party true. However, it is not caused by a food allergy. What I didn’t tell anyone at the time is what Dr. Prosser found during the endoscopy. He found a strange metal implant in my neck near my esophagus. He said it looks like some sort of surgical implant that looks to be partly embedded in my cervical spine. This may be what has caused my swallowing problems. This thing has been in my neck for who knows how long and what’s creepier is how did it get there? I have always laughed at conspiracy theorists and people who study paranormal activity (UFO’s and aliens and all that) but what happens when something like this shows up in your life?
Dr. Prosser put me on Flovent to swallow to reduce the white blood cell reactions and will see me in a about a week to decide what needs to be done about this. He is every bit as curious as I am and it looks like I may the subject of some intense scientific study. Email or message me if you you want to know more. I will keep you all posted as to what happens.
Attached is the X-Ray showing the implant in my neck.

Josh

A Narrow and Indefinite Path

Like a soda shaken, something in my blood cries for release. It is the passing of time that shakes that something up charging into potential energy. Sometimes I feel like all I need is to be able to talk to someone to let that pressure out, but really what I need is change.
I’m walking down a narrow – oh so narrow – pathway in slow motion (or regular motion…it’s all relative to point of view) Either way you look at it, though, everyone around me is moving at light speed. About eight years ago I started experiencing among my brothers, my sandbox playmates, that metamorphosis that all humans being pass through. It’s all at once a loss of innocence, a maturing, a rite of passage and a moving on. With our brows raised in surprise and maybe a little jealousy we watched one of our own shed his childhood skin and commit himself for a lifetime to a girl, a female, that mysterious “other” human being that we had spent so many conversations trying to figure out. Suddenly something that seemed impossible for us “kids” or maybe just too distant in the future, or something for “grown ups” was happening to one of us. But even more surprising was how quickly it came for the next guy…and then the next. Gradually I was now in the minority and as my polar ice caps of commonality quickly melted I was forced to jump to others. Oh how fast they disappear. Soon I found myself among a younger and younger crowd only to watch the same scenario happen again and again.
I have learned so much from observing them all and through all of my failed attempts. Supremely I have learned (and continue to learn) who I am and in so, the single person’s most sought after attribute(as long as he or she must remain single): contentment. But the road to true andlasting contentment is long and winding and loneliness is a beast who is constantly biting at your heels….