My son Sam, in his old age, is becoming a master storyteller, hosting a storytelling show on BYU Radio and performing at festivals hither and, inevitably, yon. One of his stories includes Becky Williams Brian, who was his childhood flame but grew up to marry a bull rider instead.

Becky’s mom, Carol Williams, has accompanied me in the conducting of a jillion ward and community choir performances. She wanted to give Becky a CD of Sam’s story as a Christmas present, and called Sam to ask how to get one. He said, “Well, people who are mentioned in the stories get one free.” (He made that up right on the spot!) “You just use this link and download it.”

Sensitive as she was to Sam’s generosity, Carol nonetheless and nonethemore couldn’t quite conceive of a link being a proper gift. I mean, do you gift-wrap it, or what? So when we had a Thanksgiving gathering at Sam’s place, he gave me a CD to bring back to Carol and I gave it to her at our very next rehearsal. She was thrilled. I was hugged. Don’t tell Becky. File this information for imminent retrieval.

Here’s the thing-last month’s Backstage Graffiti (“With Pictures!”) met with such astounding success (I mean, look for the comments at the end! You must confess that it left you virtually speechless! Literally!) that this month I’m pushing the envelope even further. Moving pictures!

(I have this sudden cartoon playing in my head of last month’s pictures of Annie’s Romance having sprouted little legs and they’re pushing a big envelope around.)

First, the moving picture that precipitated last month’s literary glitterariness:

The next one is brought to you through the vision and courtesy of April Moriarty. One thing that made last month’s column such a monster hit was the visual inclusion of three lovely women. (I wish I had discovered this principle 145 columns ago.) Having now learned, I’m including in this column footage of the visionary and courteous Sister Moriarty. Visually rewarding, as well.

Every year in my town, she and the many-fingered Todd McCabe throw a concert at Christmas time. Todd plays piano and April plays violin. It all started at Todd’s house for a few close friends and grew over the years to fill the middle school’s massive auditorium with a few thousand more close friends. And every year they have musical guests. Perhaps because I could never afford a ticket and so had never attended one of these events, April finally asked me to come as one of these musical guests. I cranked out a Christmas CD for the occasion (everybody else there had Christmas CDs) and we had fun. Adding to the fun was that Cherie Call dressed like a Gypsy. There are, happily, no dress standards. Anyway, April did me the honor of playing along. Here’s us:

Not as much “moving” as in the Imagine Dragons performance, but hey, they had to have lots of interesting stuff to make up for not having April. (Also they didn’t have a complete doctrinal discourse to present before the music started-pretty long-winded, I’ll admit, and those guys would have delivered it in fewer words. Of course, I’m a good deal older than they are, and so just naturally know a lot more words than they do. For example, every word they used in “On Top Of the World” I had already used in many songs.

Well, that’s all the moving pictures for this column. Consider the envelope pushed. There are many others I could share, but most of them are owned by the LDS Church, which is using them right now to reach even more people (and other sentient beings) than are reached by the galactic sweep of Meridian Magazine, seeing as how the mission of the Church includes work for the dead.

But maybe they (the Church, not the dead) wouldn’t mind if I included a still picture from one of them that has proven useful for many as an innovative Internet filter. (My friend Steven Kapp Perry tells me that since he started using this filter, he is never assaulted by pornography or exposed to music rowdier than Imagine Dragons. My bishop endorses this filter fervently.)

Tis the season, and while we’re thrashing about in this media frenzy I have a couple of Christmas gifts for you. Again, they’re sort of courtesy of April Moriarty. She asked me to write a song for that concert we watched a few paragraphs ago, and I wrote two. Here ya go:

That’s her on the violin. Both of them. And the third of my gifts exists only because April asked me for an album about hope. So I made one. It needed an “amen” song for the audience at the end. My former wife felt that a last song should function a “a kiss goodbye.” My current and infinitely ongoing wife Laurie asked for and inspired this last song for that purpose (my son Joshua on second guitar ((the one in your right ear)), my son Dave on string bass, my friend Marci Johnson Gerratt singing angelic harmonies):

Well, thanks for the visit. I’ll quit pushing envelopes around now–you’ve spent more time here than if I’d just written my usual pile of words. I appreciate you. And if anybody asks “Hey, what did that one columnist/guitar-picker give you for Christmas?” you can say


Rhymes with “winks.” 😉