The following is a random list of things that have played a role in who I am today. I’m listing them, without explanation, in no particular order. Some are good influences. Some are not. (You’ll have to guess which is which.)

My grandmother’s vintage Scrabble board game

Actively attending church from as far back as I can remember

Going camping as a family, with other families, from the time I was 6

Taco Villa bean burritos

Living in Amarillo

Being skinny as a kid

Atari / IBM PC, Jr. / Nintendo

The “Bring Out Your Best” Budweiser jingle from the 1980s, which I always hummed to myself as an intensity-builder during basketball games

My 7th-grade basketball coach at Austin Jr. High

Bible Drill competition (I achieved “State Winner Perfect” from 4th to 6th grade)

The music of Rich Mullins

The lyrical mastery of late 1980s Kool Moe Dee

Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

My 1977 Caprice Classic (brown and tan), handed down from my grandparents

Trips in the RV with Memaw and PawPaw

Having braces

Not having much money during junior high and high school

Not being as popular in high school as I wanted to be

All the artists and musicians in my family

Being around the deaf kids my mom taught

The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Narnia series, by C. S. Lewis

The Sports section of the Amarillo Globe-News

That Bigfoot book I read about two dozen times

The Hardy Boys

The Duke boys

My utter fascination with dinosaurs from the age of 4 until 2nd or 3rd grade (the first books I remember reading by myself were dinosaur books)

The stories about Amarillo serial killer Jay Kelly Pinkerton

The writing of Brennan Manning

“Diff’rent Strokes”

“Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids”

My first crush, Megan, who lived across the street

Mrs. Anderson, my 2nd grade teacher

U2’s documentary film, Rattle and Hum

Reading The Shining way before I should have

The public library

When my dog Scuppers died

Chicago Cubs games on WGN

My career running the 110-meter hurdles in 7th grade, during which I finished last in all races but one.

The one time we went camping and I was sad because I hadn’t caught a fish all week, so my dad took me out one last time before we left, just the two of us, and I caught one (I still remember the place, and fished there with him just a couple of years ago)

The Storseth family (now my in-laws)


Good or bad, what are your influences?

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