Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Gift Shop

Can't stand meaningless stuff...
Since I was very young, it always bothered me that no matter where you go, you find Chinese-made shot glasses with cheesy slogans printed on them masquerading as a local symbol, screen-prints of the same on hideous T-shirts from Vietnam, thimbles, spoons, bumper stickers, key chains etc. My point is that a gift shop shouldn't exist if its inventory consists only of manufactured throwaways that businesses just as often give away for free to advertise. As far as I'm concerned, plastic turquoise Indian jewelry or miniature statues of wolves and eagles in cliche poses are nothing more than pornography on the cold shelves of an interstate gas station.
The Lunar Island's shops will never be like that. A theme park is a place to escape the desolation of the urban world and what a shame to invite the dusty gray heartlessness back into a such a retreat. 
So how to?
Since the rides at The Lunar Island will through their characters create a story, the adventures played out will be fleshed out in story books for people who want to expand on their journey. Rather than a day of simply moving fast and listening to people scream, an amusement park is an opportunity to enjoy role playing in way that no other place is. As the themes seasonally change with powerful narrative, so would the action figures, hats and costumes, games and books, videos from the rides, and treats that symbolize their characters by what they are, and not what is painted on their label. 
If a candy is to represent a character from the theme park, it will taste and feel like them, and if the meaning isn't there, then neither will be the candy. A park bakery with pastries that the princess adores rather than imported lollipops with an icon of her face on the wrapper. The sorcerer's magic elixir would be a peculiar wooden bottle with truly unique soda rather than Pepsi with a trademarked character logo on the corner of the label. A unique foam sword modeled after the knight's distinct legendary weapon rather than a marked up version of the thin piece of plastic garbage available with a different tag at the nearest chain retailer. 
The way I see it, people pay an entrance fee to step through the threshold into a different world, and what a disservice to betray that suspension of reality by so squeezing the guests. An amusement park is not a shopping mall or gas station. If it were, then why pay to enter?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In the Blood

More flow and scatter with deeper roots in the soil of Orem. Trafalga Family Fun Center in Orem has changed a lot over the years, new management, new branches... but in its earliest beginnings, the Cleggs were there. Vaughn Clegg, my grandfather, Bill and Morris, his brothers, and Kyle Johnson began in a joint venture to build a fun park in Orem, not far from Clegg's car care and Vaughn's old house on center street. It was a different time and much of the structure was built by hand, my uncles busy with shovels in the summer sun.
They built an indoor miniature golf course and two outdoor and just kept building. The last project my grandpa was involved in was the water slide. A batting cage, and race track were later constructed and portions of ownership were sold until today, the Cleggs have fully withdrawn.
There was and still is some untapped potential in the place, but that was the dream of my fathers. Though it's still inside me to bring smiles to the people of the Utah Valley, I have a different idea about how to go about it, and The Lunar Island will be a far more involving experience than you might find with bumper boats or mini golf. When I hear people criticize the state of Trafalga as is, I close my eyes and nod... just wait a while. Believe and wait.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Power Surge

Because I grew up adjacent to it, because I attend university where the building now stands, and because my own grandfather once raised crops on the land where it was constructed, I have plenty to say about my grade school experience at Vineyard Elementary. I do not want, however, to neglect the important part that another place played in the formation of what I now am.
Lakeridge Junior High.
Middle School creates an interesting time for everyone, but I was more fortunate than most, I think, in finding friends, interests, and good memories at Lakeridge. And it had a very fitting name, both for its location, and for the future of the Lunar Island.
In commemoration of this episode of my youth overlooking the Utah Lake, I uploaded a video to youtube that encapsulates some of the fiction we enjoyed in those unforgettable days.
I present to you, "The Power Surge."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Flow and Scatter 

The search for the Utah Lake's personal meaning for me has basically become a genealogical study over the last few weeks. Thinking so much about how I came to be connected to this place has led me to a few conclusions. One is that land is very important. Our maker communicates to us through the land, whether one has a deed in the tradition of the Western world, or whether one simply lives there. Unfortunately He stopped making the stuff a long time ago and we haven't found the next frontier yet. We fabricate new worlds in our minds, through electronic networks and fiction, but until our hands touch the dirt that produces the food which sustains our life, there will always be a longing.
I believe that we will find it. It doesn't feel right to stifle human nature in the interest of economy, but the reality is that we are consuming our Earth's bounty faster than it can produce. We cannot degrade our humanity enough to erase the need for exploration and I have always intended to donate a significant percentage of The Lunar Island's resources to furthering research toward finding our new frontier.
That's also one reason why building the island is so important to me. In addition to just being a lovely place, it is a symbol of creation, of building something that hasn't yet been seen. Our history is about taking. It is about traveling to a new land when the old ceases to become enough for us, cultivating it with the help of our children, and then when we die, splitting the remains with those left behind to split their portion again and again until it's no longer enough, and we leave again.
A luscious plot of land in Southeast England is taken by the Normans, and we move to Lancashire, but our beliefs are unfit for the rigid dogma of the past and we are driven to Ireland. But resources are limited and disease abounds, so we travel to the new world. There we flow and scatter further and further until, a homestead beside the Utah lake is our last border, and there is no more land to discover. Beyond every fence lies only a neighbor. A farm, becomes shares of land. Shares of land become suburban lots. The suburban lots are needed for urban projects, and at last there is only synthetic land, or finance, to share with those remaining.
So now, it's time to turn around. It's time to use all our resourcefulness and create a future that didn't exist. It's human nature to avoid a problem as long as possible, but it is human nature to survive. Now, there's no other choice but to turn the fiction back into reality. To make new land, to find new worlds, to use our minds to create substance from nothing and save ourselves.
We have all grown up understanding that our world as it is cannot be sustained. Perhaps our parents as well, but all of us without a doubt know, and so "Clegg," and all our names will mean in one hundred years only what we make them from this, the dawn of the synthetic age onward. We may wander, addled in pleasure while we wait to disappear, or we may shine to create the place that our descendants will live without despising us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A brief history of my Utah Lake

From ~400-1400 AD, the Fremont Native Americans inhabited the environs of the Utah Lake.
Around a thousand people lived by fishing, hunting, and planting corn and squash. I wonder what their produce was like... the stuff in our grocery store is so much different from what it was even 50 years ago. Strawberries are so common today but didn't even exist a couple hundred years ago. Or Clementine mandarins. Utahn peers, think back to your schooldays. Do you remember anyone at the lunch table with Clementines? I sure don't. Now they're everywhere.
It isn't known where the Fremont came from. The may have descended from Anasazis from the south in spots like Hovenweep and traveled north...and why wouldn't they?! Once you step foot outside the Utah Valley to the South, you find but desolation! Spanish Fork is named for Spanish friars who descended the Spanish Fork Canyon to find a new path from Santa Fe to missions in California and for me, that's what Spanish Fork is, a fork in the road, one path leading to oblivion and sage brush in the south, and the other to a lush, fertile green valley.
But alas, this fertility was abrubtly curtailed for the Fremont with a savage draught in about 1400 and the lovely lake was abandoned. Over the next 400 years, it would come to be occupied by Paiutes on the west side, Utes who would visit seasonally, and the Shoshone who came from the north, which I suppose doesn't sound quite the same: The Utah "Shoshones" doesn't sound as likely to defeat BYU in a football game. It would be a more appropriate name though, because Provo is actually where more Utes lived, and Etienne Provost, the French-Canadian trapper whose name the city of Provo comes from, upon leading a party to the Salt Lake Valley in 1824 was attacked by Shoshone. Most in his party were killed and he narrowly escaped. Mormons settled in 1849, and Orem was to Provo sort of what Vineyard is to Orem.
Orem became its own city, selling bonds to build a waterway upon its incorporation in 1919 to provide for its farmers, and the name of the city was called after Walter Orem, whose railroad connected Provo to Salt Lake.
What will be said of this fine city in a hundred years? I'll do what I can to put some sway on that...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Merope of the Pleiades

In 2001, I was driving around a Pontiac Grand Prix. They had some electrical problems, but overall a good craft... mine had one quality I learned to love in high school~ a red fabric interior. I know, red is abrasive and agitating, and the color of this or that unpleasant thing, but all that is only during the day. At night, the red interior of an old GP brings an ineffable comfort that other colors fail to. I kept a pillow in the back seat, and I swear to you I did this for no other reason than to amplify the deep mood of driving in a maroon GP at night.
One warm evening in late summer, Andrew and Dax joined me for a journey in the rich embrace of Pontiac maroon. Tonight, I had decided that we would venture west. From Orem, we skirted roads as close to the perimeter of Utah Lake as was possible at the time, and made our way to the west shore. There's been a lot of development since then. Houses line the shore and Saratoga Springs in a bustling community, but not so much in 2001. We continued south and west until the light pollution had weakened enough to see the stars well. I keep a utility box of sorts in my trunk and had a pair of binoculars.
Gazing for a while, we soon found the Pleiades, the seven sisters, and being the young men of overactive hormones that we were, decided we would each choose one of the seven daughters of Atlas to admire. We didn't know the names at the time, but I chose the faint Merope, who is the lowermost of the four stars making a diamond in the center of the cluster. Her luster had a longing to it, almost sorrowful, and spoke to me. Merope married the mortal Sisyphus though, and alas, my admiration was in vain. Sisyphus was crafty and evil. He chained Thanatos, god of death, so that the dead could not be taken to the underworld and as punishment, he has to roll a block of stone up a hill only to have it tumble down again and again just before it reaches the top.
I wish at times that I could comfort Merope. But alas, Zeus made her a star and placed her in the sky, in a foreign void where I know now I will never belong. I am powerless to do anything but build my island on the Utah Lake under her light, and look back with fondness when I can afford brief moments. That much, I will do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Lunar Barge

There are many features to my dream of The Lunar Island. That's the pleasure of this blogging business I suppose, that it comes in little bursts of passion, one little piece of the collage at the time. Well tonight's puzzle piece is something I have dreamed about for eight years now. You've all seen or been on one of these, yes?
Ferries will be an important part of the logistics of the Lunar Island. I've mentioned them before. I want parking lots far enough away from our island that the asphalt environment of the American modern world can be forgotten for a little while. The bridge that leads to it will be a foot path with grass lining its length and midnight blue flags, streamers with the white orb of the moon at their center, soothing the eye on even the brightest summer day, and bidding welcome with a cooling atmosphere. One will leave the harsh desolation of cement, metal, and rubber to walk across the lovely bridge, or enjoy a leisurely ferry cruise to literally and emotionally bridge the passage in a truer immersion into a brief respite from reality.
But even that is not the part of the dream I wish to address right now. This one is a bit more indulgent. The 8 year dream of which I speak is of my future home... the Lunar Barge! Since the first time I rode in a vehicle ferry, I have wanted to make my own use of the very broad flat surface area. My plan is to line the base of one of these craft with a bed of grass. I want chickens and a goat. My house will be adapted to the cabin above, but the base of my barge will be a yard proper, with a walled vegetable garden, a flowerbed, and a swinging porch chair. And of course, it will float upon the lovely Utah Lake. Unfortunately, these metal mammoths are very expensive; I will invite you, my friends to enjoy sweet pig and painafel, bards' tales and poetry, comfort and companionship with me on the barge, but you'll have to wait 25 years or so before I'll be ready for you to collect. Stay young and hold on to your sense of wonder at least until then.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Island of the Moon

I am happy to report that the editing process for book 2 of The Lunar Post Office: The Island of the Moon is progressing smoothly, and it will be available for purchase on by the end of the month. Until then, whet your appetite with Simon Randalhov's tale of adventure and self-discovery in book 1 of The Lunar Post Office.