Remembering my Dad today on his birthday

I'm remembering my Dad on his birthday today, and how he was always a strong supporter and cheerleader for me and us kids.  

Just before turning 12, I and few others received our Arrow of Light award, marking our graduation from Cub Scouts.  The presentation of awards was done where each scout had to hold their arms out straight in front and balance an arrow across the first fingers of each hand for as long as physically possible.  Us scouts made a contest of out of it, but we soon began whimpering as our strength starting giving out.  Our scout leaders had each of our parents standing behind us, and with our strength at it's end, held up our arms with theirs.  This was to help illustrate how our strength is multiplied with the support of loving parents in accomplishing meaningful goals.

My parents each continued to show that same support all through my life, even by saying "No" on occasion.  And that has made all the difference for me.

Even with declining health and when my Dad could no longer stand on his own,  the strength of his support never wavered.  His encouraging influence continues to be felt in my life, well after he has passed.

MasterCard in store promo at Sam's Club


If you've been into Sam's Club recently, then no doubt you've heard my voice on the MasterCard promos running on the TVs near the entrance of the store!  I've had the privilege over 2014 to voice many in-store promos for Sam's Club- particularly for MasterCard.  I've worked with a great team on these projects and I'm delighted with each opportunity to work with them.

Thank you to my agent Steve Benz in Tampa, FL for all your work as well! 

Body Transformation

Transformation is possible for nearly anyone who wants to change their physique.  I wanted to share a few photos of my body transformation experience.

I had tried different exercise and nutrition plans that gave me good results, but not great ones.  I finally found what worked for me through seeking the advice of an experienced and caring coach, Becca Leetham.  Her advice on fitness and nutrition was invaluable and gave me the results I wanted. 

 November 2012
December 2013

My results didn't come quickly.  And it came from committing to the plan built for me by Becca and remaining consistent with the nutrition and exercise.  Never missing a workout, never missing a meal.  Our weight-training focused on complex power movements mixed with some plyometric exercises and daily cardio training.  I found that you change your body more by what you put in your mouth than anything else.  My food consisted of high proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and sugars at appropriate times.

Most people agree that anyone can change their physique except when it comes to themselves.  I observe most people feed themselves comfortable phrases like "I could never do that" or "I'm not that kind of person" or the most irritating one- "I don't have gifted genes like you do".  Ha!  NO ONE has any room to talk about genetics.  According to my family's genetic history, I should be over 400lbs and dead before my mid-50s.

I prefer to not follow trends, but instead, set my own.  The greatest reward for me during this program was not the end result, but the satisfaction from living a healthy lifestyle that I have grown to love.  And I owe it all to Becca and the best workout partner I could ask for, my wife Liz.

Pringles Star Wars Commercial

I had the unique opportunity to work with the talented folks at Robogo Productions on their Pringles Star Wars "Force for Fun" commercial contest as Darth Vader:

I had a blast working with the other great folks who worked on the project- Byron Kirkland, Davey Morrison Dillard, and Steve Lesser.  Thanks to my sweetheart, Liz Hales for being such an expert and patient costume wrangler!

Granting Mitchell's Wish

It was our great pleasure to join forces with Make-A-Wish in granting a special wish for a special boy, Mitchell Harline.  I played the role of Darth Vader, and my wife Elizabeth Hales played Princess Leia in granting Mitchell his wish:

We are members of the Alpine Garrison and Rogue Base- chapters of the 501st and Rebel Legions.  These are the costuming groups of choice for Lucasfilm, Ltd.  Our organizations are focused on charities and promotional events, and visiting children in hospitals.

Nintendo Customer Support Interactive Voice Recording (IVR)

Recently, in preparation for the launch of the Wii U, I had the great pleasure of working with the brilliant minds at Nintendo of America on a new Interactive Voice Recording project for their customer support line.  It was one of the most rewarding projects I've done, not only because of the content, but through my interactions with a bright and professional project team.  They care about their customers, and it shows in the careful and thoughtful planning they undertake to provide the best service and support possible.

If your Wii's power light won't come on or stay on, give them a call, and I'll walk you through getting it resolved.

Avengers Blu-Ray Promo

Often I will have the opportunity to work in live appearance projects in costume.  For helping promote the release of The Avengers on Blu-Ray, Marvel hired many of us to work at various high-traffic retail outlets to meet and interact with customers.

I had the pleasure of suiting up as Captain America, in the neatest version of the costume designed for the character- his battle suit from the 1940s.  I met, signed autographs, handed out cards, and took dozens of photos with wide-eyed kids and chuckling parents.

I also had a supportive spouse come along for a photo, too!

Thanks to the talent costume builders at Shafton, Inc. for the use of their costume, and the Marvel Character Appearance Program.

Thank You, Father George!

Adopting Star Wars out to the Walt Disney Company with Kathleen Kennedy as primary caretaker is the very best decision George Lucas could make with his beloved franchise child.  The news couldn't be better for me and millions of fans around the world.  I'm shocked by the realization that Episodes 7, 8, and 9 - which we talked about as kids...are actually going to be real!  I'm also shocked by the number of naysayers out there who will eventually be eating their own words.

My parents were the first generation of parents to give Star Wars to their kids. Their first date was to see the original Star Wars in 1977.   I remember Yoda pajamas and The Empire Strikes Back on VideoDisc, the predecessor to VHS one Christmas.  And then another year saw a flood of action figures from Return of the Jedi.  As I grew up, Star Wars was always at the center of my universe, happy place, and creativity.  I found many ways to bring Star Wars with me into adulthood...and lucky enough to have a wife who doesn't mind joining in, too!

Many other die-hard fans have brought Star Wars into adulthood and are now passing their love of Star Wars on to their children. I'm thrilled by the prospects of seeing new Star Wars movies with my future family in theaters, and that the franchise will grow and continue in new and exciting ways. 

Who better to direct a new Star Wars film than Steven Spielberg?  Does anyone remember that he was originally picked to direct Return of the Jedi, but couldn't because of his obligations to the Director's Guild of America?  Mr. Speilberg:  Now is your chance to make your contribution to Star Wars!  Now is your chance to send the future of Star Wars on the best possible course.

Father George didn't need to pass Star Wars onto anyone- his existing contributions to the film industry and impact on the lives of millions of fans and their families are sufficiently admirable.  What a better parting gift to bestow than a gift that will keep on giving?

My Dad

On June 2, 2012, I had the great honor of being at my father's side as he passed away.  While it was one of my life's most difficult moments, I was glad to be with him to the very end, and that he had the gift of passing peacefully.
  He valiantly battled many complications for thirteen years stemming from chronic myelogenous leukemia.  Even though life slowly took away his health, he never once complained, and never gave up his fight.   

That courage was demonstrated in Dad's love for his country when he enlisted in the Army National Guard at 17.   He earned a commission as an officer and later transferred to the Army Reserves where he received an honorable discharge.  During his service, he saw combat as a member of the 19th Special Forces Group in peacekeeping operations in Central America.  While Dad was always discreet about that part of his life, he shared once with me how in the face of many dangers, he committed to himself and God that he would be the best Dad he could be and support his children in everything if He would see him safely home.  I am confident that he fulfilled that promise. 

Dad started his own business in his thirties after working in his dad's company as a master electrician.  He encouraged me to never become an electrician like he and my grandpa, but to pursue work that I enjoy, and I've always gleaned his entrepreneurial spirit.

Dad had many passions- his family, music, Coca-Cola, American History (especially World War II), collecting plastic models and model trains.  His greatest wish was that all of his immediate and extended family could live next door to each other, where we could all party together regularly.  Time with family was so important to him.  He got his jollies performing as a drummer, rocking out to Chicago, or big band jazz.  If he couldn't be with family, friends, or perform, he'd rather be out flying.  After his first unscheduled joyride in a borrowed US Army helicopter, his flight career saw an untimely end.

His larger than life personality left me and my family grieving upon his unexpected death at his young age of 52, but because of his love and the many great memories he gave me, I feel his influence in my life daily.  I know I will see him again one day.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I was able to say goodbye and not lose him.

A Miracle

My family and I are all witnesses to the love and power of God this week.  We know that He is mindful of us, who are His children.  We know that He a plan for each of us and a purpose for every event in our lives.

My sweet baby sister, Heather who has been struggling for years with great emotional turmoil and pain, acted in great desperation and attempting to end her life on Wednesday.  She jumped from her 3rd story balcony, falling head-first onto concrete pavement 30 feet below.  Despite the shock of witnessing the horrific event, our parents were fortunate enough to be there to contact emergency services immediately.

Heather was taken to a local hospital where she was flown to the IHC Intermountain Medical Center, in Murray, UT.  She went into emergency surgery and was operated on for several hours.  By the faith and prayers of many many caring people- she is alive.

We came to understand the extent of her injuries as the night progressed.  Her condition quickly stabilized when her ruptured spleen was removed in surgery.  A compound fracture of her right wrist, cracked C7 vertebrae in her neck, and collapsed lung were all treated quickly.  Several fractures in a few areas of her face will be repaired when her swelling reduces in the next several days.  She has acute bleeding in her brain that has been absorbing normally, but no significant swelling in her cranium has been observed.  Although she has been intubated, Heather has been able to breathe on her own since the trauma occurred.

Now the fourth day in the ICU has passed, Heather has been able to stand up, sit in a chair, and walk with the aid of her physical therapists.  She is saying very funny things, telling stories, but recognizes her family.  While she has a long road of recovery, she has received nothing short of the best health care available in the world, and the many professionals who have worked with her all remain positive about her progress.

We know that God is mindful of Heather and has been revealing His plan in giving her a second chance at life.  She is extremely lucky to have survived and to have relatively few injuries.  We are hopeful that she will accept the help she has needed for such a long time.  The pain we have all felt with her these past few days is a small price to pay if it means her physical and emotional recovery.  It is a sad fact that anxiety and depression are so prevalent.  We have some in our extended family who have attempted and completed suicide.  We are glad that there has been more awareness and resources made available to care for those all around us who silently bear heavy emotional burdens.

My family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, neighbors and an amazing LDS ward family.  You have all been ministering angels to us, and I am profoundly grateful for each of you.