Friday, December 08, 2006

BRANDON MULL AND FABLEHAVEN

Samuel,

Sorry it has been a while. I have seriously been buried at work since like, June. But since September it has gotten even worse. Thanksgiving was the only break, and other than that one project I was telling you about, I just kind of sat around and did nothing for the whole holiday. It was like a week full of Labor days. Labor day is my new favorite holiday because it is the holiday with no strings attached. You don't have to give anything away, or go somewhere, or dress up. You just hang out. That's what I did over Thanksgiving as much as possible. Anyway, I’m on a plane from Boston to Charlotte, then over to Dallas and I’ve decided that I’m going to pound out as many of these letters as possible to update this blog. I also have some stuff I really want to post about on the Texans for Mitt Romney blog but I haven’t had time to type it up. I’m burned out dude. It’s all the corporate hooey, it can really be a drag sometimes.

The other day I was reading Orson Scott Card’s weekly column in the Rhinoceros Times. I’ve mentioned it to you before, the name of the column is Uncle Orson Reviews Everything. Over the last couple of years that column has been one of my favorite things to read. It’s where I’ve learned about cool books (like Johnathan Strange) new foods to try out, movies to catch, movies to avoid and all sorts of things. This last week he mentioned some books to give as gifts for Christmas. A family friendly book he recommended was Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, which apparently has been selling quite well since it was published.

Immediately I launched an investigation, because it turns out that I know a Brandon Mull. I mean, obviously I don’t know him that well, but he would recognize me if we met, and he knows my name. And I know enough about him and his family to give them an unqualified vote of confidence. I’ve had enough glimpses up close to know that they’re the real deal. You know, good, solid, cool people. How many people can there really be out there named Brandon Mull anyway? As it turns out, the (maybe correct) answer to that question is:


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
15
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?


Anyway it is the Brandon Mull that I know, and I was very happy to hear the news of his successful book, but also a little bit envious. One of my goals to write a book that gets published and sells a ton of copies. But still, good for him, you know. That’s awesome. It was surprising to me what a flood of great memories the news brought back to me, and I figure while I’ve got all these good vibes in my head, I should get them down.

The last time I saw Brandon was outside the Tanner building at BYU. I had just received a root canal earlier that day. We exchanged a few brief words and parted ways. That was like, back in 1999. Not a good year for me. It seems like a long time ago. If I had to guess, I would have said Brandon had gone on to be an engineer or a doctor or something. I suppose I wouldn’t expect any of my acquaintances to produce art that makes it mainstream. (Except Hubbel Palmer – keep an eye on that guy)

I first met the Mull family when I was in a freshman at Westlake High. I was a freshman like you are now, and Brandon was a senior. We only lived in Westlake Village for one year; you don’t remember it because you were just first born. People used to joke that it was cute how we shaved your head, because none of us Bryners grow hair for the first 18 months. It turns out that my current home teacher Dave Simmons graduated from Westlake High the same year as Brandon. I don’t know if they knew each other though. I didn’t know Dave even though we were in the same ward. You know how there is kind of the barrier between freshmen, and seniors. There isn’t that big of an age difference, but when you’re a freshman you think everybody else in school is so much older than you. And cooler too, I thought Brandon was WAY cooler than I was. He used to hang out with this guy – Larry Bagby – who would do these performances in school assemblies. In fact, Westlake High was an awesome school. I remember one of the school assemblies some of the students who had a band performed ‘Enter Sandman’ before Christmas Break. “Do you guys like Metallica? – Well this is ‘Enter Santa’!”

Just in case you don’t recognize the song, here’s a video:


Maybe the biggest reason I knew Brandon is because of Boy Scouts. Brandon’s Uncle Tuck was the scout master. And I think Brandon even went to scout camp that summer when we moved in to that area. It was a 10 day summer camp, and it was very fun. It was the first time I ever played speed, hearts, spades, or BS with face cards. For a few short months there I could play speed like a zombie. On that campout we went exploring, canoeing, and had a great time. There were something like 10 scouts in our troop at the time. We had church on Sunday up on this big plateau with a great view. It was the first time I did church outside, and I really liked it. When I went through the Eagle board of review, in the interview I talked about having church that year up on the plateau.

When Mom was dropping me off for camp that year, Tuck showed up late. We had just moved in, so we didn’t know anybody. Mom commented to one of the men standing there that the scoutmaster seemed pretty flaky if he couldn’t even show up on time to take everyone to camp. The man replied that actually Tuck was an incredible person, and began to tell Mom about all sorts of cool things about him. Tuck was an attorney, he won this award and that award, and he volunteered to do such and such, so on and so forth, yada yada… The man kept going on and on about the cool things about Tuck when finally Mom asked how he knew so much and it turned out that Mom had been talking to Cy – Tuck’s father. I mean seriously Mom. If you’re going to criticize a person behind his back, at least have the sense to make sure you’re not talking to the guy’s father. But that’s how Brandon’s whole family is. They are kind and warm people who back each other up. At least ninety five percent about everyone you meet is good. My experience with Brandon’s family is that they pretty much choose to focus on the 95% good, and let the rest go. I’m sure everyone in their family has lumps and bumps, but I don’t know about any of that. By the way, I remember Tuck the way Cy described him. Maybe Tuck was late a lot, or kind of flaky, or something…but I definitely don’t remember anything like that. That guy was always good to me.

When I was a freshman at BYU, the cool comedy club was called ‘The Garrens’. The Garrens was an improv comedy troupe named after Deseret Towers’ (the dorms) Q Hall (where I lived) resident supervisor – Sister Garren. For the record, if you decide to go to BYU, don’t live in Deseret Towers unless they’ve been rebuilt. Now that I have more of a facilities background those buildings would not be safe to be in if there were ever an earthquake or something. Anyway the Garrens were really quite good, and I liked going to their shows. A lot of talented people were in the Garrens like Lincoln Hoppe, Katie Fillmore, and Eric Snider. Sometime between my freshman year in 1995, and when I got back from my mission in 1998 the Garrens had been eclipsed (in my opinion) by a group called Divine Comedy. My friend Anne had tried out for divine comedy and was in it. The Garrens did improv sketches, but Divine Comedy put together very funny skits, and they had great songs. Brandon Mull was in Divine Comedy, and almost every time I went to one of their shows, someone, or several people from their family were there to see the show! I saw Tuck, Kim (aunt), I think I saw Cy there once. Summer (sister) was pretty much always there.

I looked Brandon Mull up on myspace.com and there is a link to his siblings Summer and Bryson. I was in scouts with Bryson. He’s about a year younger than me. His myspace account says he is currently a police officer in Sandy Utah. I don’t know how Utah does it, but they do an awesome job of attracting talent to their police force compared to other states. I have never encountered a police officer in Utah that didn’t act in a professional manner, even when dealing with difficult people. They all behave in a way that you would expect public servants to behave. There is a huge contrast between police in Utah, and police in states like…oh… Kansas City, or St. Louis.

Don’t know what’s up with Summer. She and I are the same age, her birthday is either the same as mine, or one day away, and out of all the Mull kids, I probably know Summer the best. I had a huge crush on her back in the day. In 9th grade I always wanted to go talk to her, but hardly ever did because she was ‘so cool’. It was a big mistake for me to assume that she wasn’t approachable back then, because she is an approachable person. And she really is that cool. She’s one of those people who not only is cool as an individual person, but she also increases the coolness of those around her. If she were a dungeons and dragons character she would increase the charisma, hit points, and magic in her whole group. My friend Kenny and I went over to her apartment one time and she had this study group going for her world religions class. Her whole crew was having a great time quizzing each other with flash cards, and joking about the professor’s Asian accent. He had told the whole class: “You are very blessed.” (but with an Asian accent) and they were all laughing about it. I think the last time I saw Summer, I was about to go work at Anasazi, and she was about to go on a mission. I think…

Things I gained from knowing the Mull siblings:

Make a sincere effort to focus on the positive in others – you’ll find it

Give people around you permission to be themselves

Don’t underestimate those around you – they’re better than you know

Well, I’m sure you would love for me to ramble on some more about people you don’t know. But I can’t; its time for me to turn off all electronic devices and put my seatback in an upright position.

Word to your Mother

Jay


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