Monday, April 30, 2012

A Spoonful of Kid Praise

Normally, I’m pretty skeptical about any new-age pop-psychology mumbo jumbo slapped onto a magnet and strategically placed front and center on a refrigerator. However I recently came across one such attention-grabbing public notice, and I have to admit, I was intrigued.

It read: 101 Ways to Praise a Child

It was produced by some company that goes by the name of Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. At first I was discouraged, as it appeared that it was something solely created for nannies, which we don’t have because a) we don’t have the money, and b) there is only one Mary Poppins, and I don’t think she’s available. But although it was targeted at nannies, I couldn’t help wonder if it might work for parents too, as they sometimes interact with their own children as well.

I decided to give it a shot.

I've carried it around in my pocket for a week now, and I’ve really noticed a difference in my children’s confidence. Used to be that when they ran up to tell me about some accomplishment, I just didn’t know how to react. But now I do!

I tried it out on my oldest first.

Oldest Daughter:  Dad, I made 8 loaves of bread today.
Me: (Scanning the card for the right thing to say) You’re a pleasure to know!  (Nailed it.)

Middle Child: Dad, I drew this picture for you.
Me: What a great listener!

Youngest Son: Dad, I had an accident when I couldn’t climb up on the toilet fast enough.
Me: You’ve earned my respect!

Baby: Pffffpts.
Me: Thanks for caring!

Oldest Son: Dad, in Scouts we talked about coin collections.
Me: The time you put in really shows!

Middle Daughter: (And I wish I were making this one up…) Dad, listen to the song I memorized from West Side Story! “My daddy beats my mommy; my mommy clobbers me; my grandpa is a commie; my grandma pushes tea; my sister wears a mustache; my brother wears a dress! Goodness! Gracious! That’s why I’m a mess!”
Me: Class act!

So, turns out, as you can plainly see, that sometimes this stuff really works! I can really tell a difference in my children’s attitudes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if this parenting thing doesn’t work out, I could totally be a nanny. Kenny Poppins. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sweet, Lovely Peanut Butter

I've mentioned before how I bring my lunch to work everyday, right? Well, the other day as I was eating said lunch or a peanut butter sandwich (if you read that other post you know that clearly I made this lunch, not my wife.) one of my employees asked what I was eating.

"Peanut Butter and jam," I said.

She chuckled, "Oh, that's funny. I haven't had a peanut butter sandwich since I was like 6 years old!" 

I stopped in my tracks. Mi scusi? I thought, in Italian (I do all of my judgemental thinking in Italian.)

I literally didn't see how that was possible. I eat at least on peanut butter sandwich every day. And that is not hyperbole. It is every day. And as I type that out loud, it seems a little weird. But I really do - usually for breakfast (it is easy to make the night before and put in a baggie on the counter so I can grab it on my way out the door.) It is filling, delicious, goes great with Diet Coke and while not "healthy" per say, has protein, healthy fats, and fiber if you use whole wheat bread, which I do. It is kind of the perfect meal. And if not for breakfast then it is a great late night snack. preferable on toasted bread where the peanut butter gets all warm and melty. A little Vampire Diaries on the TV. What more does a man want in life?

Because of this, I am a bit of a jam snob. No Smuckers is allowed in this house. Mostly we go homemade strawberry freezer jam, but I will also allow good quality apricot preserve, orange marmalade (the best stuff is from Ikea, in that little Swedish grocery store on the way out.) or Trader Joe's Cherry Jam, which is like jarred pie, when we can get friends to bring it in from out of state. 

The peanut butter is typically smooth, though chunky will do. I am a Skippy man, though I have recently converted to the organic Kirkland Peanut Butter they sell at Costco. The bread is usually Great Harvest Whole Wheat. Whenever I eat a PB&J on white bread it is so delicious it feels like sinning, so I try and reserve that for special occasions.

Ruth Reichel, the venerable food writer just wrote an essay on Gilt Food about how to make the ultimate peanut butter sandwich. Go read the article, but basically she suggests this:
1. Use great white bread, like challah.
2. BUTTER the bread first (and then put the peanut butter on top of that.)
3. Salt the peanut butter.
4. Microwave the whole thing for 8 seconds before you eat.

I tried it and Ruth isn't kidding around. I didn't have any white at home, but next time I do...well, I think some food experiences are sullied if they are talked about too much. I think it will be transcendent.

So guffaw if you will, employee of mine. Peanut Butter Sandwiches are not just for 6 year olds. They are delicious, amazing beautiful meals for men. I think I need one right now. 

If you want to know what to make me for my birthday (in 2 months!!) you can do these Peanut Butter and Jam Cupcakes by Carla Hall (photo courtesy of


I was talking to a student today, a student I really like and enjoy talking to, who told me about a recent conversation he'd had among other students in our department. While they liked me as a professor generally, they also felt that I was "too friendly" and "played favorites." Hmmm. May I use my online avenue of expression and respond? Yes, yes I can. I just gave myself permission.

1. Dear students, I am sorry that I am too friendly. In the future I will give you all the stink eye, the way many of you do to me when I say hello in the hallway. I will pretend to be on my cell phone more often to avoid conversations with you. I'm pretty sure I can fix this problem, and in the future you can look forward to me being a really big bastard.

2. About this "playing favorites." I am neither shocked nor appalled. Why? BECAUSE I DO. I PLAY FAVORITES. I have no qualms in admitting this. If Target made t-shirts emblazoned with the words "I play favorites" and surrounded with silk screened pictures of all my favorite students, I would buy one at full price. I would wear it to graduation.

The great news is that I have a capacity for many favorites! There is hope! I can have 150 favorites! So I thought maybe to help this conundrum that some of you find yourselves in, I would offer a little advice. May I? Yes, yes I may.


1. Come to class. It's not hard. You signed up for it. So go. I will love you more every time I see your face. If you can't come to class, tell me. Email or call me before the class. Don't come to class the next time and tell me you are sorry you missed, but that your pony died or your grandma had a baby. And don't miss two weeks and then come tell me you were in the hospital. Unless you are having major surgery, I probably won't believe you. Very people go to the hospital with the flu, and if they do they don't stay two weeks. So I ain't buying your little bill of goods. When I see you in class, on time, I think to myself, "Self, I think this student is one of my favorites."

2. Do your work. Whatever it is, do it. Most of the classes I teach are acting classes, so it's a safe bet I'll be expecting you to act. Which means you should have rehearsed. Which means you should know your lines. If you don't, I'll still be very friendly (limited time only) but you will get a bad grade, and you will not be one of my favorites. I tend to cast people in shows who know how to be good students, because I like them the best.

3. Quit whining all the time. Quit telling me how hard your life is. I promise you, it's not that hard. I promise you. I like people who smile a lot and deal with their problems and tell funny jokes. Is that you? Then you're totally in!

4. I like people who are talented. But I especially like people who are talented and work hard. I don't care for people who are talented and lazy. I tend not to reward that. If you are not talented but still work hard, you will probably be one of my favorites regardless. Because I like those people, too. And I know a lot of people who have built reputable careers out of a lot of work and a little talent. It can be done!

5. Wear awesome outfits and bring me treats (this one is optional. Like extra credit.)

Hope these help!

Love, Professor Clark

I mean

With passive disdain, Professor Clark

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Brother Post!

 Alright, so I'm back from my sexy vacation and I've been thinking about something, and that is I've been thinking about twins.

 While we were staying in a super cool hotel in Vegas my younger brother texted me an untrasound of two growing babies, implying that he was having twins.

So we go back and forth about the likelihood of him lying (super likely) and then it hits me...he's having twins!! Now, as you may or may not know, my wife and I are unable to conger up babies of our own, which is just fine with us, the way that 'Normals' do it takes a real long time and in the end the child only has the option of coming out looking like some variation of either you or the other party, although on the plus side, your insurance will gladly jump in and help out with the bill.  The way we do it happens really fast...well, a long long time then really fast, and the baby comes out looking like...well, could be anyone!

 So my bother, he's having twins, (I might take this moment to also congratulate him on the son he had 6 months ago) and he's really excited, his wife is really excited and I am really excited! I mean there is something Divine (capital 'D') about them.  I mean, what the double hockey sticks?! You think your having a baby then Ka-Blam-O another.   

What this all really means is that my Mother is getting 6 new grandchildren in twelve months, half of which are coming from my younger brother...and his wife, of course. She, as expected, is over the moon.


So I did a little research for this post, because I am an Author albeit part time, and I found a few facts for you all about this amazing  wonder of child birth.  First: did you know that twins can celebrate their twinning in Twinsberg, Ohio?! It's true.  If you or your children are twins, you can head to this city in Ohio to celebrate the Twins Days Festival. You'll be amid a sea of look-alikes, with twins, triplets and multiples from all over the nation converging on this town to celebrate being a twin.

27lbs and 12oz is the heaviest combined birth weight of any set of twins: if you think it would be rough to carry around and deliver one 14-pound baby, then imagine doing it with two. That's just what happened in this case, the largest twin birth on record. Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the largest singleton birth weight of 23 pounds.

While most people are only familiar with identical and fraternal twins, there are actually 7 different types of twins. They are: identical, fraternal, half-identical, mirror image twins, mixed chromosome twins, superfecundation, and superfetation. Those other than identical and fraternal can be quite rare.

 So I do have a set of twin cousins on my fathers side, but other then them I didn't really know any twins growing up.  I do have a set of super stylish and beautiful twins that work at my store, well only one works at the store but I know they swap places when I close just to be smarter then I am. Which most twins think they are smarter then you.  And maybe they are?!  My mom's boss, who is from New Zealand told her that they believe that twins are magic.  "Like, good magic or bad magic?" She asked. "Very good magic." He answered.  I'm sure that is true, how could it not be, if ever there was magic brewing in our family it's what's cooking over in my Sister-in-Laws belly right now.

This one goes out to Chris and Steph:  Longtime readers and subscribers to Part Time Authors.

**Come on Big Business!! Don't bother going over to Netflix, it's not there.

Monday, April 23, 2012


In case you weren’t sure where I stood on such key principles, I’m really not one of those dads who feel that his kids watching a DVD on a road trip is ruining “Family Time.” Today’s world offers such amenities, and that’s fine. Of course, this isn’t the same world that I grew up in. If it were, my kids would be unbuckled, lying down in the back of the Family Van, going to wherever, sharing the space with six siblings, listening to Unforgettable Fire on their WalkMan while they “rewound” their Listen Like Thieves cassette tape by sticking a pen in the spokes of the tape and whirling it around in order to rewind it by hand, thus saving the batteries in the WalkMan for strictly playing cassette tapes, rather than rewinding them. (And yes, in the next life, when the pioneers try to tell me how rough they had it, I am planning on bringing up this hardship in my defense.)

So I’m not your middle-aged fuddy-duddy neighbor who poo-poos all technological advances and thinks they are the demise of our children’s’ character. On the whole, I actually embrace such advances. However, I do have my limits.

Recently I had the unanticipated opportunity to put my head in my hands, angry and appalled, and weep at the thought of our future world leaders.  It began innocently enough; I was at a party and summoned to come listen to a friend weave a tale of her daughter’s first date with this “super-cute” boy. (I cannot emphasize those quotation marks enough.)

“So,” she begins, “they were sitting in the movie, and about 10 minutes into the movie he texts her!”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “Were they sitting next to each other?”

“Yes!” she said, not detecting my disdain, “and do you know what he texted? He texted, ‘Can I hold your hand?’”

“AAAAAAAAAHHHHOOOOOHHHHHHHH!” cooed all the women in the social circle.

I stood there, stone-faced. I did not coo. I did not cheer. But I had the restraint to not say what I wanted to say, which was, “THAT IS TOTALLY CHEATING!”

I’m sorry, but that is not how the game is played. I understand how the power of texting provides a false sense of bravado and you can say (or ask) things you would never in a ba-jillion years do otherwise. And I can see the allure of going that route. I mean, I’ve wanted to quit jobs, inform somebody their fly was down, and tell-off my waitress all through the power of texting, rather than the more direct and traditional manner of talking face-to-face.

But brother, you are not doing yourself any favors by skipping the entire dance that is hand-holding. You are missing the joy and satisfaction of one of life’s greatest accomplishments. The patience, the reading of body language, the nuances and subtleties of movements, the wishing, the hoping, the fear, the anxiety, the pit in your stomach, the palm-sweats, the glances, the skin brushing. And when those fingers finally lock, it has all been worth it.  You can almost hear angels singing.

As an authority on the art of hand-holding, with mucho know-how and enough experience to write a book brief pamphlet on the subject, allow me to walk you through what the experience would have been, won’t you?

Where were we, 10 minutes into the movie? That’s not when you text to see if you can hold the girl’s hand; that is when you are wondering if she is going to be appalled at the amount of popcorn you can eat in one sitting.

15 Minutes: You observe the boundaries. What are the physical obstacles between you and her? A bucket of popcorn? Sodas? Her purse? A wall of anticipation so thick you have to poke it to measure the density?

30 Minutes: You lean towards her, possibly brushing shoulders. First contact. You realize you are paying very little attention to anything going on in the movie at this point.

45 Minutes: You casually place your arm on the armrest of the chair, and slyly look out of the side of your eye to see if she has done likewise. You leave it there for 20 minutes to give her ample opportunity to A) notice it, B) appreciate the opportunity to eat some of the popcorn that you are no longer inhaling, and C) casually move her own arm in that direction. Hands now in the same proximity.

60 Minutes: What the WHAT?! Your hands were so close, and now she has just as casually put her hands in her lap! You do the same, not wanting to appear desperate.

70 Minutes: Hands are inconspicuously back in proximity of each other. You’ve observed and retained about 15 minutes of the entire movie so far, completely preoccupied now by how dangerously close you are to lightly brushing up against her hand with yours – just to see what kind of reflex you get from her. Then you make the move – hand sweeps past hers, lightly touching. Does her hand move? Does it begin to take the direction of opening, fingers prepared to go inter-digitary with yours? Does it completely sit still? Does it actually recoil, going back into her lap, with her saying, “Oh, sorry,” assuming you accidentally bumped her? You both retreat, hands back to yourselves.

75 Minutes: The side of your pinky is now flat up against hers on the armrests. There’s contact, and nobody is withdrawing. You lift your pinky slightly, and her hand begins to slide into your now-shared space. It’s happening! Your hand slides over the top of her hand, she slides under yours, and your hands both turn and CLASP!


Somewhere, the Hallelujah chorus is being belted out. To the on-looking movie goers, nothing has really changed, but internally, you are a volcano of emotions! You go deaf and can’t hear anything going on in the movie, your heart is visibly pounding in your chest, and your hand immediately begins to sweat, but you don’t dare break away and wipe it on your jeans. It might break the spell!

In fact, you consciously avoid any movement of your entire appendage whatsoever. You don’t want to draw too much attention to your date that you are, in fact, holding hands and probably going to get married some day. You are now a team as you watch this movie. You laugh at the same parts, even making comments to each other (which up to this point had been taboo).

90 Minutes. You remember nothing of the movie – other than it was your favorite movie EVER because you got to hold hands with your date!

Give all that up for the ease of a text message? I think not. Don’t surrender life’s delightful nuances to the crassness of technology. Please, join me in being a responsible tech-user.

(However, that being said; if my fly is down, as an act of goodwill, please consider texting me about it, rather than discussing it. That’s the kind of awkwardness we can all sidestep with the appropriate use of technology.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Deal.

So here's the deal: I've been a father for a bit over two years, and I will tell you I have never loved anything the way I love my daughter...

So here's another deal: my good old friend turned 40 last weekend and his wife sneaked behind his back and got his work covered for four days and, when he came home on Wednesday, she stole him off, dropped the kids at Grandma's and gave him a whole weekend without kids (they have two and are expecting their third) in sunny St. George. Also, Lindsay and I came along...

Once, I had a mildly sexy life. My wife is so much hotter than me it's hardly worth mentioning and I worked in New York City or LA in a overly decorated apartment while she pursued her PhD in some of the best theater programs in the country. We had great friends and wonderful food and hunted for adventure ever day.

Then Daisy.

And we gladly and simply scurried back to Utah so she could be close to Grandparents and cousins, and I literally rush home from work to be with her. And I love this life more then I ever have loved my life before...

But here's the real deal, when I found out that we would be spending a weekend with our super sexy friends but without my darling daughter, I was ecstatic! I COULD NOT WAIT!! And I felt bad. Not that I was farming my baby out to any family member that would have her, but that I was so SO SO SO excited about it! This little weekend to do what? To do nothing, go see a movie in a theater, go out to eat without a single other person on my lap! To meet my wife who, as it turns out, is still much better looking than I am. But what does this all say about me as a father? I love babies...I would never eat a baby, they are filthy, but I do love being a dad. And I miss Daisy Lu...oh, that's right, I am blogging from sunny St. George and I'm pretty sure Daisy is sleeping at my mother-in-law's--or at one of my Brothers, who can say for sure--but I'm here and she is somewhere else. On one hand, I miss her desperately (I will tell you that two couples who used to have mildly sexy lives but now have kids, even when the kids are somewhere else, spend most of their time talking about their kids and how awesome their kids are), but there is that other hand...

Maybe those of you who have been parents for more than two years can send over a little words of comfort or, I suppose, condemnation. But for now I have to go to the pool... and swim in the deep end... with my wife. Then later I will call one of my brothers and find my girl just so I can hear her voice before she goes to bed...and we go to the movie.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Dumpster Day!

I use instagram to take photos of dumpsters! Follow me at jooshanoosh.
My favorite holiday happens in the spring. No, it is not Easter, despite the amazing candy. It's not Arbor Day, with its....trees. And it is certainly not Groundhog day, because I find groundhogs incredibly creepy.

Its Salt Lake Counties Dumpster Delivery Day. See, once a year, the good folks at Salt Lake County Special Service station dumpsters throughout the neighborhoods of the city. The leave the dumpster for the day and then take it away. You have the whole day to fill it up with as much crap as you possibly can.

Like any good holiday, there is a bit of mystery around it. You don't know for sure which day they will be coming until a few day's before when you get this baby in the mail:
It's like a little pink postcard of joy. Then there is the mystery of where they will put the dumpster. Will it be conveniently located in front of my yard? Will it be super inconvenient and across the street and down a few doors? (That's a bad Dumpster Day when that happens.) I've actually seen people camp out in their yards so that when the trucks arrive they can flag them down and direct them to a prime location. It is kind of like camping out for a parade, except instead of throwing candy, they drop of large dumpsters.

I don't know why throwing things away brings me so much joy, but it does. I could never be a hoarder. I just don't have that "well this might be useful someday" gene. Just like the Dixie Chicks said, I like wide open spaces.

And because of that, Dumpster Day is a day of celebration. I literally clapped when I pulled onto my street after work yesterday and saw it lined with dumpsters. My brother-in-law, who feels the same way about Dumpster Day as I do, takes the day off work so he has a full 24 hours to throw junk out. There is a sense of community as all the neighbors are outside cleaning up their yards and sneaking boxes of their kids' old toys out to throw away. Yes, occasionally a fight breaks out when someone has filled the dumpster too quickly before the neighbors they share it with have had a chance to throw their stuff away. And sure, there are the creepy scavengers that drive around looking for stuff to scavenge and hollering at you "You throwin' away any car batteries?" But all of that adds to the celebration and charm of the holiday.

As I write this, the dumpster fairies (note: sanitation workers do not approve of being called "fairies") are loading this years dumpster onto the back of their magical dump truck, to whisk it off to an enchanted landfill somewhere. And I sit in a house that has a few less boxes of Happy Meal toys and a yard with nicely pruned trees and watch. Until next year, Dumpster Day. Until next year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

oh baby

This morning I heard someone use the phrase "eat your heart out" and it struck me as a really gross thing to say. I never thought about it literally, but imagine eating your own heart! Right out of your chest! It's just something I could never do. But I guess that makes me a huge hypocrite since I'm always going around telling people I could "eat" their babies. Would I literally? Literally eat their babies? The answer is YES!

I'm certainly not the first person claiming that they love babies so much they could eat them. Many of us feel this way, though few admit it. My theory is that we want to eat babies because they look like pastries. They have fat little dimpled thighs and porky little feet and they look delicious! Like a loaf of bread or a Bavarian creme. But you have to be so careful. Looking at babies as if they are food is a slippery slope. Don't go down it!

I know a lot of adult men are uncomfortable around babies, but when I was growing up I had eight brothers and sisters, so I've never been a stranger to babies and toddlers. Babies were like streetcars; there was always another one on the way. I grew up holding and diapering babies, as well squishing their fat, fleshy belly rolls and cuddling their sweet scented, wispy haired noggins. And then suddenly I was all grown up and I had five babies of my own! I loved those babies so much. I miss those babies. I could go on having baby after baby if it didn't mean that my wife had to be forever pregnant (re: Duggars) or if they didn't grow up, resulting in an interminable cycle of soccer games and pinewood derbies.

Mormons are always talking about "freebies." It's a fantasy game we have where, for one predetermined amount of time, we are allowed to smoke cannabis or drink coffee or watch sexy vampire TV shows or anything else we don't normally get to do. Or admit to doing. My freebie would be a day where I just feast on super cute, super fat babies. I don't care about race or creed: all babies are welcome. Are you getting what I'm saying? I love babies so much. Here are some things I love about them:

1. I like the smell of baby poop (until you introduce solids.) It's yellow and smells like delicious buttery popcorn!

2. I like when babies drool. Nobody cares! If I did that everybody would get all grossed out.

3. I like when babies turn over or put their arms in the "fencing" position. These are just some of the exciting things babies can do.

4. I like when babies fall asleep while I'm holding them. But then I'm tempted to bite them. Look out!!!!

5. I like when babies make cute noises like cats.

Here are some things I do not like about babies:

1. I do not like their poop after you introduce solids. It's brown and smells like poop.

2. I don't like when I hold a baby and they pull my glasses off. My glasses are really expensive.

3. I don't like when babies start crawling and they pick up horrible things off the ground and put them in their mouth. And then you have to dig them out. It's really hard to do sometimes. They clamp down! Or they resist you and arch their backs. They really want to eat that thumbtack!

But that's about it! As you can see, the list of things I love about babies is much shorter than the things I hate about them. All the same, I will not be having any more babies of my own. You probably thought that's what I was leading up to. It's not. I just wanted to tell you that I love them, and that I want to eat them. I won't eat one, but it's obviously crossed my mind. I'll just go on stealing all the babies at church until they are big enough to think I'm creepy (it's a short window.) And in the meantime, I've noticed that the UVU health plan now covers "elective sterilization." That snip is expensive, so you better believe I'm going to get myself neutered if the state is going to cover it! In the meantime, feel free to come drop your baby off at my house. I'm feeling hungry!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Sighting. A Sniff. A Story.

Lindsay and I lived in California for the first year of our marriage. It was lovely and when I think back on that time the whole year is golden and hazy like pony boy thinking about life after the Karate Kid died. One of the best parts of that year was living so close to two of my best friends Adam and Katie. If you have ever lived away from family you find that you get to pick the people you spend your Sundays and holidays with. Not that I would ever change my family, they are the very best...better than yours even, but when they were far away we scooped up a few of the finest folks on earth, and Adam and Katie were, and are, those.

So back to living in LA. The lot of us (me, Lindsay, Katie and Adam) were at the Grove, an outdoor shopping complex which is the great grandfather of The Riverwoods, and we saw Sean Hayes walking to get an ice cream with his buddy. You know Sean, from Will and Grace, he was neither Will or Grace but the boy one of the other two. Well, Adam and Katie are very cool around stars and I am very Not. I broke into a full sprint as Lindsay and Adam cheered me on calling, "No! No! No! Patrick Don't!" As I got closer to Mr. Hayes I realized I didn't really have a plan, so this is what I did. I got in line for ice cream right behind him, and I mean right behind him. Then I started, very slowly, to inch as close to him as I could--surely if I got close enough we would become fast friends and we would laugh about the time Sean found me curled up like a Mongoose on his back. I do have to say that I got VERY close, but then I still didn't have a real game plan so I did the only thing one could do from such an insanely close position... I smelled. I took a good, quick whiff and walked away. And that was it...for a time.

Lindsay and I lived in New York City for the 2.5th-8th year of our marriage. And we scooped up more fr-amily. Lots more actually and I have good Liz and Jared stories and Matt and Buffy stories but this one is a Nathan and Suzie story.

So Nathan was a dancer on like he was in the shows and stuff not just out dancing on the street. Anyway, he was in the show Damn Yankees and wouldn't you know it was starring Sean Hayes! And wouldn't you know it but he invited us as is plus 2 to join him opening night for a small (400 people) gathering after the show?!

So there we were standing in line to meet Sean Hayes and my all but forgotten memory of the neck sniffing came rushing back to me.

"Do you think I should tell him that I smelled him?" I asked Lindsay, Nathan, and Suzie.

"No!" Said Lindsay.

"Do Not." Said Nathan.

"Wait...You smelled him?" said Suzie.

I knew that I had the thought that I wanted to think about wondering if I was going to tell him, but it was Nathan's show and I had once gone on a date with the girl from Major Dad and had prepped by reading her Bio on-line and then told her facts about herself throughout the night. She never took my call again. So I would hate for Nathan to have to see Sean in the showers of the locker room and have to apologize for his psycho stalker friend. (I don't know if there are locker rooms in the back of a theater, but I couldn't risk it.) So I absolutely made up my mind not to say anything...until.

Sean: I like your suit.

Me: Yeah? Target. I got it from Target.

Sean: Really? Are you kidding?

Me: NOPE (kinda shouting) Target! 80 bucks! Who knew.

This was all fine as I did get the suit from Target and it was 80 dollars. But then he looked at me sideways and said, "Do I know you from somewhere? You seem kinda familiar. "

I closed my mouth as tight as I could but the words were falling all over each other scrambling up and out of my throat.

"I may have snuck up behind you at the Grove in LA and smelled the back of your neck."

Sean: What?

Me: Yeah...smells the same.

At this point I was thinking, 'This is real cool. It's kinda funny and he doesn't seem to be armed.' but then I look at my wife and friends who's faces all were blank and round with dismay dripping off their chins and staining their carefully picked outfits.

Sean: So you just walked up behind me and went...(he wafted his hand toward his face as a chef who's just finished baking a cake.)

Me: Well, I was real close. I doubt I used my hands.

I think in the end he thought I was kidding him. He was so nice to us and (really) every person that wanted to talk to him. He would never think to run up and smell someone's neck and so we must be kidding him. He went on tell me I should be a writer and Nathan told him I was. (Part Time anyway) But then he was swept up by other neck sniffing fans and I was brushed aside.

And that was it...for a time.

Remember Katie and Adam from LA, well Katie moved to our couch in New York and while she was there we wrote a play and that play got sorta big for a while and we did it in LA then New York then LA again then New York again. It was real fun and people sorta liked it and once it was reviewed by the New York Times and you will never guess what they said! (Luckily you won't have to.)

"Patrick Livingston gives a nice Sean Hayes-accented comic performance..."
Anita Gates, New York Times. Published: October 12, 2009

Well, there it was! In the blooming New York Times! What was I suppose to do when Nathan came home and told us that he had got us tickets to the opening night of his new show, Promises Promises starring the lovely and talented Kristin Chenoweth and her dear friend...well it wouldn't be a story if it wasn't...Sean Hayes!

Here is a picture of me handing Sean a printed out copy of the Review...I had highlighted the pertinent information, make things easier for him.

3 things you should know about this picture:

#1: That white haired man toward the bottom is Burt Bacharach.
#2: That girl in the grey dress over my shoulder is Merill Streep's daughter, Mamie.
#3: Just off screen to my left (your right) Lindsay and Suzie are weeping with embarrassed laughter. Holding on to each other for emotional and physical support. It was priceless.

So there you have it:
A sighting.
A sniff.
A story.

Every word true. And the moral? Easy.

'Smell life by the neck, cause you never know what the New York Times might say about you.'

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Folks, if you’re like me, you’ve already been dedicating countless hours of each day to planning and designing the perfect Mother's Day Gift. Also if you’re like me, you’ve recently lied about how much time you’ve spent planning the perfect Mother's Day gift this year.

But if you’re wondering how to make this Mother's Day sparkle and shine, here is a very good place to begin. 

That’s right, the four of us at Part Time Authors want to make you aware of a Very Special Mother's Day gift package that will include (wait for it)…OUR BOOK! 

Additionally, this special gift package will include a pretty bookmark, and chocolate truffles! I can’t speak for the other Part Time Authors (but I’m going to) when I say that the four of us will certainly be gifting this incredible deal to one of the Mothers in our lives. (For example: My own mother. Or Katie, the mother of my children. Or Mama Cass, who I believe is dead, and therefore I get the chocolate truffles all to myself.)

We will provide some further details (such as cost, etc.) as this promotion takes off. For now, I just wanted to make you aware of this special opportunity, before you ventured out shopping together, took your mom or wife to a showing of The Hunger Games, or went for the go-to gift of vinyl lettering.

PLUS, if you order this special Mother's Day gift, then all four Part Time Authors will deliver the gift personally and sing a barbershop quartet version of “I Often Go Walking In Meadows of Clovers.” And there I go, lying again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Find us on Facebook!

Our little blog is a couple of months old now and we have decided to branch out a bit into the world of social media. We now have our very own Facebook page! I know, right?! It's like it is 2004! 

So if you are reading this and you like us, feel free to like us on Facebook too. It will keep you up to speed on what is going on on the blog and give you a place to comment on and discuss posts. And please, tell your friends. We love to find new readers.

We've also added a handy-dandy "like" button at the bottom of each post. Remember when Patrick spelled out an entire conversation he had with his brother about votives and the mean things they were going to say to the drive through girl? And remember when Chris made fun of crying pre-teens in The Hunger Games? And remember when Ken brought us all together in our hatred of vinyl lettering? And remember how you laughed and loved all those posts, but you didn't feel like leaving a comment because you hate those word verification things? Well now, you can just click on the like button and let your burning love for those posts be seen by the world. Remember: don't hide that love under a bushel. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Black Silk Pajamas

One evening, many years ago, I got a phone call from Ken. An older, distinguished gentleman he knew had gifted him an unworn pair of black silk pajamas. (I assume because he already had sufficient black silk pajamas to meet his silky needs.) Ken graciously accepted the gift, only to discover that the pajamas were too big for him. He was wondering if I would like them. Of course I accepted. I mean, who doesn’t want free black silk pajamas?
Now, I realize that it is not common for 30-something male friends give each other silk sleepwear. A few weeks after receiving the gift, I posted the picture above of me online wearing the pajamas, sitting in an easy chair in front of a fire reading a book. My sister commented, asking where I had gotten such fancy pajamas. I replied, “From my friend Ken, who is an LDS bishop and married and heterosexual and who thinks nothing weird of sharing the gift of comfort and class with a close friend.”
Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of male friends. I wasn’t an athlete. I was bad at sports and had no desire to play them. As an adolescent boy, not playing sports immediately makes you an outcast. Young men’s activities typically consisted of basketball games, so I stopped going. I had great leaders who tried desperately to plan activities that I would come to, and I am grateful to them for that. But I hated feeling like the Quorums’ “project.” When I was a Teacher, I had a conversation with my leader and told him he didn’t need to try so hard to make me feel included. I had a testimony. I was active in the church. And I had a lot of friends. They just all happened to Mia Maids.
As an adolescent, I always found it easier to be friends with women. They were not so flummoxed by my disinterest in sports. There were a lot of guys my age who simply don’t know how to react to that information. I did theater in high school, and there were a lot more girls in that program than guys. And I just felt more comfortable around girls. I didn’t feel like I was competing or not measuring up.
I did have one or two close friends in high school who were guys. And as I moved into college, I suddenly found my people. There were guys who thought and acted like me and had the same interests as mine. Not liking sports stopped being such a big deal. I moved out of the house and had room mates who didn’t care about sports at all!   In fact, my roommates and I began to host a weekly “Buffy Night” where we would watch that week’s episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Kids, this was in the days before DVRs when you actually had to watch a show when it was on live.Yes. We were pioneers.) These people were like me! they cared more about whether Buffy was going to find out that Riley was a secret government agent than if Sporty McSportsdude caught the winning ball or some sort in some-sport-or-another sporting event against the team that we HATE for inexplicable reasons.  
As I have gotten older all my friendships (but particularly those with other men) have taken on heightened importance in my life. I look to their examples as parents and leaders in the church. I ask their advice about career choices. We commiserate about the struggle of being a loving and a patient father. But mostly we laugh and tell funny stories about our kids and reminisce about when we were more awesome and had more hair.  I have wonderful friends who have known me for years. Most of our friendships started in college or before, so we really understand each other, we support one another, and when our busy schedules allow us to do so, we have a great time together, with no pressure and no expectation. It feels like no time has passed, even though sometimes it has been months or even years between visits.
I am lucky to have the friends that I have. I don’t quite know where or how I could make new male friends. The transition from someone you chat with between church meetings to someone you call a close friend is a tough one. I know men at church who inspire me and that teach me great truths about the gospel. I know men who make me laugh and who teach me things about being a father. But I have only ever met one who is comfortable gifting me a set of black silk pajamas. That kind of friendship is rare.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1/3 of my life

One of the major sources of conflict in my marriage, and I'm not pretending we don't have a few, is my snoring. I'm not a particularly overweight man, and I'm not a drunk; my snoring is purely genetic. I inherited it from a long line of Norwegian immigrants, and before that, Norwegian fishmongers, and before that, trolls. But for reals, you guys, I snore like a battleship. I rumble the walls. Sawing logs is an understatement; I saw redwoods. Sometimes I actually wake myself up with my snoring. I'll be trying to sleep and I'll hear this monotonous, repetitive snarling and I'll be so irritated. Then I'll realize that it's me. And I'll wake up, furious with myself for keeping myself awake. Imagine how my wife feels.

She has been patient over the years, or more accurately, "patient." She hasn't divorced me, is what I mean. Even though she has grounds for it. She hasn't slept in seventeen years. She has figured out special commands to get me to stop snoring, most of which moderately work:

1. "Stop. Snoring."
2. "Turn over."
3. "Open your mouth."
4. "I hate you."

Any one of these does the trick, and particularly number five. But it's a brief respite; she gets about 5 minutes before I'm off again like a farty pig. I feel bad for her. I'm not making fun. But there is honestly nothing I can do about it. I've tried everything, including turning over, opening my mouth, and "stop. snoring." But nothing works. Until recently.

Like many of you, I have seen commercials for those Breathe Right strips on TV and felt a blend of hope and skepticism. How can a little piece of modified tape cure my snoring? I mean, I was happy to try it. But would it really work? And would it irreparably widen my nose? The people in the commercial seemed so attractive and well rested. Could that be me? I thought I would give it a shot, so I drove out to Walgreens and picked up a box.

That night, I carefully blew into a kleenex and scrubbed the bridge of my nose down, per the instructions on the box. Then I methodically peeled back the protective backing of the Breathe Right strip and affixed it to my nose, just like the picture showed me to. Immediately, I felt a new sense of air flow and a cool rush of breeze. Interesting! Is this what I had been missing all my life? Breathing? Is this what other people feel? Could I finally paint with all the colors of the wind? I'm happy to report that I slept soundly that night, and in the morning Lisa texted me and said she had "slept like a baby!" I was thrilled. Problem solved! Kind of.

I have used these strips now for three weeks, and turns out I'm still snoring. It's not as much, but with my nasal cavities, where there's a will there's a way. Last night I got the classic "open your mouth!" and a few nights ago I got "CHRISTOPHER." So I know it's still going on. Lisa has been kind not to mention it. But I know. Do you think it's possible that I have a deviated septum? Celebrities seem to get those all the time. I feel like I should go see a doctor, but I hate going to the doctor because I'm always positive he's going to tell me I have the bird flu or some other disease du jour that has nothing to do with my snoring. I could get tested for sleep apnea, which is a thing, but then they make you wear a mask that reminds me of this:

I guess maybe that's what it comes down to, though, that horrible mask. I don't know. I'll try it. I'll try anything. My wife is a remarkably attractive woman and I hate to think that my snoring is getting in the way of her beauty rest. So, if you guys have any tips, please pass them along! And DON'T recommend those Breathe Right strips, because, as I've been saying, I tried them. With moderate success AT BEST.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jesus is my Friend...No, Like, Really.

So about eight years ago I was doing Comedy Sportz over in Provo. I loved it and I also made some of my very best friends as a result...and my wife come to think of it. One of my friends is this guy who, he and his wife, own Comedy Sportz. They are both great people and I loved them and they, I'm sure, loved me. But this guy, let's call him Curt Doussett, cause that is his name, he was sort of in charge and he and I used to perform together a lot and we got to be really good friends. I don't know if you've ever done any sort of preforming but you get really close with the people you do shows with, and this was like a 4 year show. Also, it was late on weekend nights and it was mostly a bunch of guys all trying to be funnier than the other guy, so we were...less than reverent back stage before, during and after the show. Which is fine and funny and we were all hopped up on sugar free Red Bull anyway so it was bound to get "Blue Collar." Now, just to be clear, it's not like we were killing puppies or anything like that back stage, but there were a lot of flatulent jokes and low brow humor, the stuff of collage boys. (I'm keeping my language very clean because Jesus is going to be coming up toward the back half of this post. )

So this is a picture of Curt:

Surprisingly easy to get BTW Curt, nice.

Right? So he's a good looking fellow, done some movies, some TV, for the most part kept his shirt on, an all round good guy. Okay, so you get the picture: bunch of guys, comedy, sweats pants and jerseys, grossness, good friends. Got it.

So one day Curt tells us that some guy wants to paint him. We make the obligatory Titanic jokes, which at that time were current, and we all pretty much move on. I do have a vague memory of him telling us that he was going to be posing it is, Jesus.

Next paragraph.

Eight years later in October Conference we were told that every home should have a picture of the Savior. Or at least that's what Lindsay's Grandmother told us as she handed us our Christmas gift. Now, before we get in to it, let me just say, so sweet right?! She gave all (or most, she's good and choosy) of her grandchildren a large painting of Jesus. How could she know eight years ago I was doing limericks in the back room of a comedy club in Provo with this guy:

So this is the picture she gave us. Turns out that the "Guy" painting Curt was Simon Dewey and now you can pick up Curt in robes at Costco.

What, I ask you, do we do?!

First off, (now let's get in to it) I am already super picky about the art that goes in my home. I love art and feel that each piece represents the moment you came to it, where you were, what part of life you were in, who you were with, it's a whole thing. And while it could be enough that we hung a painting that Grandma gave us, (as a matter of fact we have a painting that this Grandma painted herself hanging in our home and I love it!) it's really the fact that, to me, and I'm sorry to Mr. Dewey who is an incredible artist, but this is just not's Curt. Whose a great guy and maybe if Curt wasn't glowing and dressed as the Son of Man but was in his referee uniform from Comedy Sportz I might be super into hanging it in the house. But for now I am at a loss. I love the sentiment behind the gift but how do you tell your sweet Grandmother, "Oh, you know, we just aren't that in to this guy, I mean, we totally know him and he's cool but not really our cup of tea, for the wall I mean, I'm sure you understand." Believe me, I know this woman and she would slap my face, wait for the sting to subside and slap me again.

So for now it sits. Which is why I come to you, gentle reader, is there a way out? And please don't tell me to be honest and up front, of course I could be forthright! But let's just say I wasn't, what would I do then? Remember I want schemes not virtues.

**The pictures above were used without out permission from anyone. So please don't blow them up and hang them in your house. You can contact Simon Dewey or Curt's agent for larger images. Thanks.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

Did the Easter Bunny come to your house yesterday? He skipped mine. Oh, all the Easter CANDY made it, yes. But the Easter Bunny hasn't been in years. 

I figure that of all the traditional mythological characters, most of my energy goes towards substantiating Santa Claus. Well, first, of course, is Prince, but after that, Santa Claus.

And then, of course, somewhere caught in the crossfire, is The Tooth Fairy.

I will freely admit I do not have a great track record with The Tooth Fairy. Many are the nights Katie and I are going to bed and one of us will remember, “One of our 18 children lost a tooth! We need some loose change to exchange for this tooth!” And it is surprisingly difficult to come up with change on some nights. I’ve had to look for change in the couch. I’ve had to go out to the car and check my little loose-change compartment. I’ve even had to – and I wish I were making this up – take money out of my child’s little Piggy Bank and put their own money under their pillow! I know it’s not listed in the Bible, but I’m pretty sure this is going to come up on my final exam for entrance into Heaven.

I know I’m not the only parent to have completely spaced the Tooth Fairy business and to have been woken up the following morning with a child waving a tooth clenched between their thumb and forefinger, yelling into your face, “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come!” Right? RIGHT? (Validate me, please!)

Your brain freezes and you find yourself saying the most inane things to cover yourself. Things like, “She must have been really, really busy,” or “Maybe she couldn’t find it,” or “Maybe she was with Prince and they were partying like it’s 1999.” Once I actually heard myself say, “Well, it was the Sabbath. So, you know…we aren’t…supposed…to work…on…you know…the Sabbath.”

There was one time when my son Connor was seven years old and he lost a tooth and we didn’t get the job done the first night. So we gave some lame excuse, and told him to put it under his pillow again that night. 

That evening, as I slipped my hand under his pillow to find the tooth, I came across something else. A note.

“Dear Tooth Fairy,
Where is my money? I’m not trying to be mean, but seriously, where is it?

Yes, to my son, this magical sprite was no longer a wonder and a marvel. She was no longer delightful and mystical. She was a lady that was holding out on him. And she must be dealt with justly.

I almost left the tooth, just to see what the next note might say. I can only imagine.

“Dear Tooth Fairy, Look, I thought we had an arrangement. I think you know how this works. Don’t make me report you. I will have you fired so quickly it’ll knock your own teeth out. You’ll be ‘The Fairy Formerly Known as Tooth.’ You’ll suffer a time period of mediocrity, before you take your name back and rise again to a respectable level of fame. Just make it easy on yourself and leave the money.” 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Raising my Ebeneezer

Warning: Many religious videos ahead. But c'mon, it's Easter Weekend!

As Topher mentioned, this weekend was the LDS General Conference. And if you weren't distracted by the amazing commercials (it's kinda like the Mormon Superbowl) there were some pretty great talks and spiritual momments. On Sunday afternoon, as the morning session was ending, we were scrambling around the house to get the kids ready for the traditional Waffle, Ice Cream and Strawberry brunch at my Mother-in-Laws. Despite the rush, I was stopped in my tracks by the closing song. The MoTabs singing Come Thou Fount.
Unless your soul has been replaced by shredded wheat, you probably have your heart in your throat about now. The MoTabs rocked it out (in a spiritual, testimony bearing kind of way.) The lyrics of this song are moving and gorgeous. And while I don't know what it means to "raise my Ebeneezer" I love the recognition that the human heart is "prone to wander" and pleading with the Lord to "take and seal it."It makes me weepy every time. 

But what I find most fun about this song is its weird cult status in the Church. It's like the quintisential Hipster Hymn - everyone wants to believe they have some personal claim in it or that they discovered it first. It even used to be in the hymnal, but was taken out in the last revision. Which makes it all the more mysterious and awesome!! Ask any musical Mormon about it and they will tell you how they heard from their uncle who had a friend on the Mormon Music Committee (the official name, I believe) the reason: It was accidentally dropped on the floor before the final printing, it was a secret revelation, it was just too darn high. And my personal favorite: They heard from the same MMC that it will be in the NEXT hymn book. 

I love the Hipster Hymns. Songs that you don't hear all that often but are amazing none the less. I mean, everyone loves Praise to the Man (Ming-ling's with God!) and Spirit of God but don't you love that confused look at panic around the congregation when one of the Hipster Hymns starts up on the organ (when's the last time you sang The Day Dawn is Breaking? (strangely, this hymn is hugely popular in Italy where I served my LDS mission. Maybe it is because you say "Limpido dí!" instead of "Beautiful Bright Millennial Day!"))

The most popular Hipster Hymn is Lead Kindly Light. You hear it a little more than some of the others, but it gets its Hipster status because it sounds like it should be sung while wearing Birkenstocks in a commune accompanied by someone named Sage playing a guitar. It's sounds a little out of place with an organ (although the flutes in this version help.)

My personal favorite Hipster Hymn is Be Still My Soul. I had never heard this song before going on my LDS Mission. I don't think I knew what it was called in English until I came home. In Italian, it is called Anima Mia (which means "my soul") and it is haunting and earnest and beautiful. (I guess it is all of those things in English, too. But most things sound better in Italian.)  I, alas, couldn't find an Italian version on You Tube.  I could find 1 million versions sung by David Arculetta at firesides recorded on cell phone cams by, I presume, 13 year old girls. But here are the MoTabs with their boring old English version.

So are you more of a A Voice Hath Spoken From the Dust kind of person? Or do you get excited when you hear Know This, That Every Soul is Free? Do you choose The Happy Day at Last Has Come when you get to choose the song in opening exercises. "Oh, what? You've never heard this hymn? Well, it is very obscure." If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you are a fan of the Hipster Hymn. Don't be shy. Raise your Ebeneezer proudly and bind some hearts like a fetter. Remember, people are in awe of your taste in esoteric religious music.  
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