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Popcorn Popping has run its course, ideas behind it have not

5.27.08

It has become increasingly evident (and has been so for some time, really) that Popcorn Popping is not going to be revived.

So we’re shuttering the doors on the site. The archives will remain up and will remain in the care of A Motley Vision. The comments forms will be closed. If you really want to get ahold of one of our editors or authors, e-mail popcorn AT motleyvision DOT org.

We’re sad about this and especially apologetic to all those who submitted work that we didn’t get to (all of whom should have already received e-mail notification and apologies). At the same time, we’re very proud of the body of work we did manage to publish — many thanks to all of our submitters, editors, readers and commenters. And we also still think the basic ideas that drove the creation of this site are still sound.

That is: there is a need for more Mormon narrative art to be published — the Mormon magazines/journals just aren’t providing enough opportunities for writers to be published. New writers need a place to be published. Writers who have had some success in the market (a story in Irreantum, a story in Sunstone, a few poems in Dialogues) need a place where they can publish regularly so that they have incentive to increase their output. And it makes sense for all of this to happen online since no one gets paid in the market of Mormon short work anyway. And it makes sense to encompass the entire field of Mormon narrative art — fiction, poetry, film, creative nonfiction, graphic novel, photo essay, illustration, screenplay, stageplay.

Because of that belief, we are still going to think about, discuss and work on some ways to make it happen. Nothing definitive yet. Probably won’t be anything to announce for many months. Probably won’t be quite the same format as Popcorn Popping. But we haven’t given up on that idea, and we hope you haven’t either, and if you are interested in hearing from us when we have something going on (or when somebody we know and trust takes up the torch), please fill out the form below.

And if you are newly arrived to this site, take a look around the archives and if this seems of interest to you, come back to the main page and fill out the form.

William Morris will be collecting your e-mail addresses in a Google docs spreadsheet. He will not share those with anyone, but will e-mail you when either one or more of the Popcorn Popping editors comes up with a new venture or when someone he trusts begins publishing online.

Many thanks to all those who participated in this go round. It was a lot of fun.

Return

12.21.07

by William Morris

Note: I wrote this story several years ago. It was rejected by Irreantum. I tucked it away. I dusted it off last spring, rewrote portions of it (the beginning and the end both got major rewrites) and entered it in the 2007 Irreantum Fiction Contest. It didn’t win or place. What’s interesting is that it that it takes place in the the recent-RM time frame similar to those found in S.P. Bailey’s story Returned and Anneke Majors recently-posted What Are You Waiting For?.

The day after he was supposed to register for BYU’s winter semester, his mother came into his room and yelled, “Tanner Elden Brinkerhof, you stop moping around! Your mission is over! It’s high time you got on with your life!”

The next day was Sunday. Tanner decided to walk to church early and help prepare and pass the sacrament, thinking it was best to give his mother some space. But then the nervous deacon assigned him to the back section of the right row where his mom always sat with a group of cronies now that his dad was always up on the stand.

He kept his movements very crisp and formal, accepting the tray with a firm hand, turning his head to watch his father take a large piece of wheat bread from the deacon’s quorum president, and then walking quickly and precisely to the back pew, tray held with his arm at an exact right angle.

He came to his mother’s row. She was sitting closest to the aisle, an empty space conspicuously between her and the end of the pew, her friends — older single women, widows or sisters with inactive or non-member husbands — corralled to the left. Tanner had to extend his arm a bit to proffer the tray to his mom who was staring, eyes closed, at her scriptures, which were open to 2 Nephi. She took the piece of bread and placed it between her lips and then took hold of the tray, her fingers brushing his as she passed it to the sister sitting next to her. (more) »

Talk

12.20.07

by S.P. Bailey

Carol leaned back, fought the yawn rising in her throat, and inclined her head upward. Her eyes caught on one of the light fixtures suspended from the high chapel ceiling. An opaque white cylinder dotted by circular holes the size of silver dollars. A single word came to her: curler. The fixtures were exact replicas—magnified several times—of the curlers that adorned her head every Saturday night of her childhood.

Her eyes fell and scanned left. The wood clock without numbers or a second hand told her that about ten minutes remained in the meeting. Her best friend in the ward was speaking. Determined to say something kind to her friend about her talk, Carol had already crafted a compliment that would not compromise her integrity. (more) »

What Are You Waiting For?

11.26.07

by Anneke Majors

Like I had on so many other nights, I sat on top of my bedspread with a book propped on my knees and pillows stacked behind my head. The bedspread was rather humorous and juvenile; beige with a large soft cat smiling up at me. The book wasn’t humorous, but I was enjoying it. It had been a long time since I had let myself read science fiction short stories, and though it didn’t provide quite the adolescent thrill it once had, this particular author was pleasant and rather adept. I sighed a little inside, however. Even the most cunning turns of plot seem to fail to catch my breath these days. I mentally crossed “reading sci fi” off of the list of things that just might be as exciting and fulfilling as they once were. It joined salsa dancing, shopping and baking.

(more) »

Popcorn Popping revived

3.29.07

Yes, we’re back — see S.P. Bailey’s new short story below. We’re sorry we were away. We’re trying to get back on track and have been in contact with all of our contributors and submitters.

There are two major changes:

1. Popcorn Popping has a new home on the A Motley Vision domain. You will need to update your RSS feeds (see the footer). Over time, Popcorn Popping and AMV will become more co-branded; however, they remain separate entities with separate editorial teams [albeit with quite a bit of crossover -- or is it cross contamination?]. All of our about pages have been updated to reflect the changes. If you have submissions, comments, questions, e-mail them to popcorn@motleyvision.org.

2. The magazine model didn’t work for us. So Popcorn Popping will now operate more like a blog. All of the editors are now free agents. They will grab submissions that they are interested in and work with the submitters to prep the works for posting. Work will be posted as editors have time and stuff to worthy to post. It’s up to the individual editors, but we will most likely be less willing to accept work that needs a lot of rewriting/working.

Many thanks to all our readers, contributors and submitters. We have some great work in our archives, and we will continue to bring you exciting and interesting Mormon narrative work.

Every Member

3.29.07

by S.P. Bailey

Martin inhales the odor of mold and fuel. He glances at the “reserved” sign bolted to the concrete wall behind his car. He pulls at his tie and undoes his top button. He starts his car. He drives up the garage ramp and into the light. Making his way down K Street through traffic, he finishes a call with a friend from college who handles a Colorado representative’s health-care portfolio. Martin’s clients—pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, physicians’ associations—pay him to maintain and cultivate such friends.

His commute home takes approximately one hour and twenty minutes at this time of day. He lives in Gaithersburg, so he usually takes the George Washington Parkway to the Beltway to I-270. The radio announces an accident on American Legion Bridge. The Beltway is out. Rather than cross to the Virginia side of the Potomac, he drives back into the city. Now his car crawls up Connecticut past DuPont Circle, the National Zoo, and the rest of affluent northwest DC.

He calls his wife to tell her that he will be late. His phone puts a sound in his ear in addition to his wife’s voice: children fighting. The people on this stretch of Connecticut (junior partner bohemians, late twenties and thirties, all apparently single and childless) provide a contrast to the world that fighting sound invokes. Approaching the Maryland border, he takes a left and then a right onto Wisconsin, which becomes the Rockville Pike. A Senator (C-SPAN Radio, tape delay) moves for unanimous consent.

Just outside the Beltway—having passed under it—he remembers Dana Jenkins, a lobbyist who worked at his firm before she got pregnant. Her decision to leave the firm—not just for the birth—angered several partners. Martin admired how in her last days at work she politely shrugged off both insinuations that she was throwing her life away and unsolicited day-care-center recommendations. Martin and his wife and a few other couples from the firm attended a small party last year at Dana’s home: a small colonial, immaculately restored, a few blocks off the pike.

Martin wants to go to Dana’s home. Impractical, inappropriate, socially awkward, he silently ticks off reasons for not pursuing that thought. Go to Dana’s house. The thought returns, now in command form. Again he resists. He laughs to himself. Turn now, something inside him demands. Go to Dana’s house. Now. No, Martin thinks. It makes no sense. I have no reason to go there. “I am not going to Dana’s house,” he says in full voice. He finds the sound of his own voice jarring.

The book in his brief case. Suddenly that is all he can think about. In his mind, the book opens to the beginning of the fourth chapter, where he was reading when he fell asleep last night. The bookmark he has been using pulls itself out from the fold. It rises from the book and turns to face him. He sees a tiny copy of a painting of Jesus Christ encircled by children. The painting is a glossy print on a card; the side opposite of the card bears the church’s 1-800 number and web site address.

He turns right. A side-street that will take him to Dana’s house. Rather than deter him, his sick feeling is a source of comfort. He felt that way most days of his mission, where he never got over the fear and revulsion that going door to door, street contacting, and talking to people on the bus aroused. The fact that he does not want to give Dana the card also spurs him forward. His desire not to do something, he knows, often signals that something is precisely what he ought to do.

Where It Comes From, Where It Goes

11.14.06

by Todd Robert Petersen

Previously unpublished, this story appears in Petersen’s collection “Long After Dark” available from Zarahemla Books.

Six months ago I called John Medeski and told him I’d come across some pretty amazing players in Denver, and I was going to stay here with them until we hit big or busted. The guitarist was this crazy Mormon kid from Salt Lake, the bass player some unknown East Indian guy from Vancouver named Shumish. They needed a drummer. It was that simple.

Before I left Manhattan, Medeski told me that quitting New York would cripple my career. I told him I was getting pulled apart, music dragging me one way, the city another. I told him one side was going to lose, music most likely if I didn’t do something pretty quick. So I blew town and drove west, smoking cigars in cheap motels, trying to “grow up with the country,” et cetera.

I caught these guys playing in this little club to a crowd of eight. Their drummer had just gone to L.A. They played the gig without drums, and man, could they swing. I was spellbound. In a week I was renting an apartment, and by the end of the month we were gigging together, and the crowd had jumped to thirteen. I suppose settling down in Denver will keep me from being first rate, but first rate means nothing if all you want to do is eat the barrel of a shotgun.

The Mormon kid really freaks me out. He goes by Ammon—just Ammon, no last name. He’s tall and skinny, wears black pants and a white shirt buttoned to the neck. No tie. There’s nothing in his apartment but a few pillows, a tube amp, a pristine ES-295, and a refrigerator full of San Pellegrino and bean sprouts. There’s maybe a half-dozen books in the place; he doesn’t have a phone, doesn’t talk to anyone, really. The band calls him Harpo, which infuriates him, but he plays best when he’s a little bit angry.

The kid listens to horn players mostly—Sonny Rollins, Coltrane, Adderly. He’s going so many directions it’s hard to keep pace with him, but it keeps us honest. When the kid takes a solo, it’s like the notes have been stitched into his guts and then ripped back out. He’s so good I’ve seen guys in the audience hang their heads like they’re going to sulk home, set their axes on fire, and take up needle point. I’ve asked the kid about it, and he swears he doesn’t know where it comes from.

You know, I’ve met a few Mormons here and there, and I’ll tell you what—I don’t know either. Whatever it is he’s doing, he didn’t pick it up in Sunday school. Medeski said the kid sounds like he’s the kind of nuts that can teach you something.

The other day the kid and I were grabbing some lunch downtown. He was saying grace over avocado and sprouts on wheat. I’ve never seen a musician say grace in public—come to think of it, I’ve never seen anybody say grace in front of people like that. When he was done, I asked the kid if he had some kind of girlfriend—you know, just making small talk. He stared down at his sandwich and shook his head. He looked like he was about to say something, but he didn’t, not right away. I started to get really uncomfortable, and I apologized, but he waved me off. After another couple seconds, he swallowed and then looked up and said, “Mormon girls don’t like jazz. They’re not supposed to like things that aren’t uplifting.”

“Having ten kids is supposed to be uplifitng?” I said. I thought he would laugh at that, but he smiled, barely, and took another bite, poking the sprouts back into the bread.

“No,” he said, finally. “But if they don’t understand jazz, they won’t, you know . . .” He gestured the end of the sentence, which I immediately understood to mean that these girls from his church were never going to understand him. He looked around the joint, sighed, and then slumped a little in his seat and scratched his head. “It’s hard to get that point across, you know.”

Sunday School

11.14.06

by Todd Robert Petersen

Previously unpublished, this story appears in Petersen’s collection “Long After Dark” available from Zarahemla Books.

The woman who miscarried two weeks ago reminds these people that “no one ever promised them a rose garden.” And the man with prostate cancer says, “Amen,” then feels strange about it. To him it feels like he’s attending the revival meetings from what seems like a past life. (more) »