Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oliver the World.



When I was 11 years old, I was sitting in music class at Orem Elementary, and Mrs. Hudson told us that they were doing auditions for the musical "Oliver" at the high school.  They were looking for boys and short haired girls and I thought, "I'm a boy or short haired girl!" She told us that if we auditioned we would get 10 extra credit points and if we made it to be a "Work House Boy" we would get 50 extra credit points and if we made it to be a "Thieves Den Boy" then we would get 100 extra credit points!  There was an audible gasp from the class.  I raised my hand and asked, "What if we make it to be Oliver?" And she sort of smiled and laughed and said, "I will give you an A."

Without the knowledge of my parents, but with the help of my piano teacher, I prepared to sing that thrilling, turbulent, showstopping number "Doe a Deer a Female Deer." It was a huge success, so much so that I was called back and needed to learn the song "Where Is Love?" Up to this point, I had believed I was auditioning for the Disney show "Oliver in Company"; it turns out there is a stage musical based on the Animated Movie that has nothing to do with Cats or Bette Midler as a poodle. So I got the song and it turns out it is Oliver's big solo, so I went over to my primary pianist's house and she taught me the song.  I then headed back for my call backs.  It was narrowed down to one three Oliver-y looking boys. I read some lines, stood next to some Nancys and Fagins and then was thanked and sent on my way.

That night I told my parents what I had done.  They were surprised, skeptical, and supportive. After all, there was a distinct possibility that I was talking about a production of "Oliver" that Amanda Wixom and I were doing on Sister Pittard's porch...even those had auditions.

The next day while sitting in class, I got a call over the intercom to come to the office. My mind raced with probable felonies, but couldn't pinpoint my exact offense. I walked into the office and the secretary handed me the phone and told me my Mother was on the line.  My mind raced with misdemeanors, but still nothing.

"Spencer called me from the high school," she said.

"Oh? Is he okay?"

"Yes.  He said that they posted the cast list for Oliver outside the Drama Room."  I didn't know what a "Drama Room" was, but it sounded wonderful.

"Oh, they did."  Mind you there is no emotion in either voice. My mom gets this soft throaty quality to her voice when she's playing down excitement; I was too young to recognize it then.

"Yes, they did.  And your name is on the list."

"It IS?!"

Things we quickly clicking into place and it didn't seem like I was getting in trouble.

"Yes, it is. You were cast as Oliver."

"I WAS?!"

Out of the blue the secretary spins in her swivel chair and is shouting at me. "ISN'T THAT GREAT?! YOU DID IT!! I'VE ALREADY TOLD YOUR CLASS!"

What is she saying? Who is she talking to? Why is she spinning and screaming in that chair?

So I got to be Oliver. I was 11 had both top and bottom braces and hair that stopped just short of my lower eye lid.  It was life changing and, for a long time, it was the finest accomplishment of my life...like, really, only supplying grandchildren has eeked past this event.  My dad would leave work just a bit early and come over the high school and sit in the very back row and watch my rehearsals; he never once gave me acting advice or told me to listen to the director, he just watched and then would sneak out when the rehearsal was over.  I never asked him to come and he never asked if he could, but I could see him sitting back there. Most of the time I didn't notice him, I was standing center stage and I couldn't see past the lights. I was never embarrassed, I was never anything, his presence did not evoke any emotion because it was so natural that he would come; he was my dad and I was his world. Of course he would be there.

Only now, as I start to see the world though my two-year-old daughter's eyes, and her life is a stage and every light cranes it's neck to engulf her, I realize I was not my father's world. He had a job and a wife that was once just his girlfriend that was once someone he'd never met. And before even that he was still a guy who loved his car and lived in Salt Lake and went on a mission and ate one pot of spaghetti for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month. And also, he was once so young that he thought his father was only there for one thing and that was to wait outside the front door until it had been almost too long then stumble in making up stories of people at work who never existed because they had nothing to do with him. These Doug's and Fran's who his father prattled on about were all part of his supporting role as "Dad" -- In tonight's performance the role of 'Dad' will be played by: Van Livingston.  Not until we have children to we see the world for what it really is...theirs. And our friends? Our Book Clubs? Our 40th Birthday Parties? All just backdrops for our children to run screaming through, to stay up an extra hour, or have friends who don't live on their street come over. Anyway, it's all for them and we don't even evoke emotions because of it because they expect nothing less.

Though my kids are young, I love being their set piece. They have no idea what goes into that day at the zoo or how hard it is to leave them to go to work...and sometimes, how easy. It's true: It's Daisy's world and we all live in it.  I learned that from my Father.         

Monday, July 30, 2012

Heated Debates


As a result of being crazy from the summer heat, Katie and I have recently had two “animated discussions.” I’m going to tell you about them right now; but please, do not judge Katie too harshly.

The first started in our family van. Our 10-year old, Connor, was sitting on the bench directly behind the driver and passenger seats. I was driving, Katie was co-pilot. I could see Connor getting restless, so decided to engage him in a lively discussion.

“Connor, if you could have just one super power, what would it be?” I asked as I looked back over my shoulder at him.

“Flying,” he responded without much contemplation.

“That’s correct,” I answered, facing forward again.


“I don’t think I would pick ‘flying,’” Katie casually throws out. She had her oversized-lens sunglasses on.

“Of course you would.”

“Why ‘of course’?”

“Because as an entire UNIVERSE we have already agreed that FLYING is the number one super power that EVERYBODY would want. It’s, like, in the Constitution.”

“Not for me,” she states flatly and nestles into her headrest. As if the discussion is over.

“WHAT ARE YOU SAYING TO ME?”

“I’m saying I wouldn’t choose ‘flying.’ I think I would choose to be ‘extra strong.’”

“Extra strong?! That’s the worst super power EVER!”

“What if I got in a fight?”

“THEN YOU COULD FLY AWAY IF FLYING WAS YOUR SUPER POWER! As a Christian, on principle, don’t you think it would be more appropriate to fly away than to hurt somebody?”

“…and think of the handy things I could do around the house if I were stronger!”

“I can do those things for you – and I am naturally ripped!” (This was really the only faulty claim in my entire defense.)

“Then maybe I would want “the power to read minds.”

“Everybody has that power. It’s called ‘reading Facebook.’ It’s not that great.”

“I just don’t think I would choose ‘flying.’”

“It’s like I don’t know you at all… And we have seven children together.”

So, not that it’s a competition, but I clearly won that “debate,” right? Right? Rest of the world that knows “flying” is the obvious super power of choice? Thank you.


This second one is a little dicier. And it’s because it’s personal. See, when Katie and I got married, I had, give or take, one krafillion cds and mixed tapes. Katie had one. And it was one I had given her. So, when it comes to music…that’s just my territory. And we have been in agreement on this from the very beginning. Like, on our first date. THAT beginning.

So you can imagine my surprise when Katie, sitting at the computer desk scrolling iTunes, states, “We have too many C+C Music Factory songs.”


“What?” I answer from the couch, looking up from my book.

“We have far, far too many C+C Music Factory songs.”

Now, just like the rest of America, I am aware of precisely two C+C Music Factory songs. “Gonna Make You Sweat” and … you know…the other one. And I am going to plead guilty that I have compilation cds and stuff that I purchased in college and beyond that I’ve randomly loaded into iTunes, so I am not completely aware of all the songs that I have in there. But I am not going to sit idly by and let Katie give me the business regarding our music collection.

“There’s no such thing as too many C+C Music Factory songs,” I confidently shoot back.

“Eight?” she says.

EIGHT?! What the WHAT?! Where in the far reaches of this world did eight C+C Music Factory songs come from, and how did they get on my computer?!

“Those are eight classics,” I defend myself.

“They all sound exactly the same,” she says, succinctly nailing it on the head.

“No they don’t. I like all of them, separately.”

“Name them.”

Oh, BABY. She was laying down the gauntlet. And I was going to lose. THIS is why I should have my cell phone on me at all times. I could have strategically looked this up with the phone behind my book.

I looked back at her, and in complete desperation, tried to give her one of those “Isn’t this a bit childish?” looks. This, of course, blew up in my face because she accurately read it for what it was – a bluff.

She raised her left eyebrow, inviting me to begin.

“Well, there’s Gonna Make You Sweat…”

“Yes….”

“And then there’s Everybody Dance Now…”

“That’s the same song.”

“Mmmm…I don’t think so.”

“Yes, it says it right here, Gonna Make You Sweat, then parentheses, Everybody Dance Now.”

“Oh…well, the Everybody Dance Now that I’m referring to was a b-side that was released only in Europe, so…maybe it’s not one of the songs that we have, but it is most certainly one of their songs, so…”

Stone-faced: “What are the names of the other seven songs?”

“Right. Uhm…I don’t remember the name, but it says something about, “I’m just a squirrel, trying to get a nut –”

“That’s the same song,” Katie rudely interrupts.

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“Hmmmm….OH! Here We Go, Let’s Rock & Roll!” I say, a little too excited about knowing a second C+C song, and making it more obvious I have no idea what I’m talking about.

“OK. What else?”

“…can you give me a hint?” I ask, defeat looming.

“Starts with a Things that Make You…”

“OH! Things That Make You Go Hmmm.”

“That’s only three songs you’ve named.”

“Yes,” I begin, with a new strategy. “But those three sound distinctly different. So I am right about those. But you are right about the other five, because I think those five sound the same as these three, and they are totally unnecessary. You know what? I’m having another thought – since I’m in charge of the music – why don’t we just delete those other five, because, as you said, they sound too similar to the three, very distinct, very original songs that I just listed. So, you were right, and I was right. But let’s not argue anymore about who is right, and who shouldn’t be talking about whether or not our music library has enough or not enough of something. Right?”

Whew. So, we’ll call that one a tie.

But seriously, if this heat doesn’t fade soon, there’s going to be a whole-lotta discussions about some other urgent and topical issues that are severely affecting our marriage. Like when we start discussing my tendency to watch a Seinfeld rerun on TV when Katie points out that we literally own the DVD and could watch it anytime, especially at a decent hour? Oh, you don’t want to a front row seat to that show, folks. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Link Roundup: The Art of Book Covers


Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Friday Link Round Up. I have "scoured" the Internet this "week" for the "best" links from around "the" web. Today we have videos of world-class drummer and comedian Fred Armisen, a lovely site showcasing the art of book covers, and an article about the myths of multi-tasking.

As always, I have tried to find something to help everyone. Yay!

A Video Guide to Fred Armisen's Pre-'SNL' Years
Some of these videos are harmless and some are highly offensive. I don't know your personal taste so I can't tell you more than that except really don't watch the home movie versions of the Self-Defense character.

The Book Cover Archive
Love this.

How to Customize Your Computer's Batter Warnings and Avoid Surprise Laptop Death
It's happened to all of us.

What Multi-tasking Does to Our Brains
Hint: It's not "makes you more productive."

Six Word Stories
Clever site. However, not all of the words are always appropriate.

What did you find on the web this week?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bless Yer Beautiful Hide

Tonight I am heading up Provo Canyon to go see 7 Brides for 7 Brother, directed by PTA's own Topher. I can't wait. Firstly, because Chris is a masterful director and I have never seen one of his shows that I didn't love. And secondly, because when I was a young lad of 17, I played the Adam Pontipee in Provo High Schools production of the same show (perhaps you remember it?)

Adam, if you are not versed in 7 Brides lore, is the oldest brother: the one who initially kidnaps an unwilling bride, thus causing his ill-bred brothers to do the same, bringing about a reign of terror as the women sing about being rescued and the men sing about how "they acted angry and annoyed, but secretly they was over-joyed." It's cute, right? Being in the show was a fantastic experience and full of countless great memories and I am sure tonight's production will remind me of how great it was to be young and confident with a full head of hair, and how much more talented these actors are than I ever was.

One memory in particular stands out from that production. The lead female role in our high school production was double cast. Two very talented girls alternated nights playing Millie. During rehearsals we would simply do each scene or song twice and the Millies would swap out so that they each got the practice time that they needed. As we neared opening nights and were doing full run throughs of the play, one Millie would do one show and the other Millie would do the next night, just like it would be in performances.

There is a moment at the end of the play where Adam decides he does love Millie and he doesn't mind her trying to domesticate him and goes back to profess his undying love. After they sing about how love never goes away, they embrace and kiss. After one run through, the director gave me and the actress playing Millie the note that she wanted the final kiss to be bigger: deeper, full of passion. After all, these are two people who, although their relationship started with kidnapping, have realized that they are soul mates and need to be together. Millie #1 and I took the note and vowed that at our next run through the kiss would be MUCH bigger.

The next night we were doing the run through with Millie #2. It was one of our final dress rehearsals and we were using, for the first time, body microphones. We had never had these in my whole, illustrious high school career and I really felt like we had hit the big time. Millie #2's parents were there that night to watch and the entire cast and crew was watching from the auditorium when they weren't needed on stage.

The moment arrived for the dramatic reunion for Millie and Adam. We sang our love duet and went in for our passionate kiss. Millie #2 did the typical short smooch that we had been doing up to that point. I panicked. She hadn't been at the previous nights rehearsal and hadn't heard the note about making this kiss BIGGER and more LOADED WITH MEANING! So I pulled her in tighter, locked my lips onto hers and mumbled, so that only she could hear "Kiss me harder!!"...which my microphone easily picked up and broadcast around the auditorium at full volume. Millie #2 was mortified and ran off stage. I was terribly embarrassed and thought her Dad might make his way up on stage to teach me a thing or two about "blessing yer beautiful hide." And the rest of the audience, full of high school kids was whooping and hollering as only high school kids who witness public humiliation can.

Millie #2, it turned out, forgave me. She was only slightly scarred. Her parents, to my knowledge, didn't hold a grudge. And I finally had a story to tell when someone asks you what your "most embarrassing moment" was.

So tonight, as I lounge beneath the stars in lovely Provo Canyon, I'm sure I'll hear some beautiful songs about lonesome polecats and June brides. There will no doubt be some high-stepping choreography with axe jumps and barrel rolls. But what I'll really be waiting for that final kiss between Adam and Millie. It's supposed to be a big one.

pioneer children


Yesterday was Pioneer Day in Utah, which is a local holiday where we shoot off fireworks and think about dysentery and sagebrush. In my neighborhood, the primary children dressed up like pioneers and paraded around on bikes and scooters. As a counselor in the bishopric, I marched alongside my fellow counselor Rob Duncan on some fake styrofoam horses we borrowed from UVU. It was fun and we got otter pops! I realized, somewhere along the "parade route" that this was the first 24th I've celebrated in Utah since 2004. In 2005 I was at a Steppenwolf intensive and every year after that I've been in England or France. So it was good to be back!

Maybe being home on the 24th this year made me a little more introspective, or maybe I've just got a bad case of ancestral voices, but I felt very proud to be the son of pioneers this year. My people came to the States from England, Scotland, and Norway, and they marched their little families across the plains in covered wagons. I don't know how they did it. I get grouchy when my kids ask me to drive them to Seven Peaks. I can't imagine rolling across thousands of miles of dangerous terrain with a few bags of wheat and a rocking chair. As Mormons, we do "pioneer treks" where we try to recreate the experience, but I still don't think we get the full picture of what it was like. Even shooting my freezing, miserable scene in 17 Miracles (I was the bearded Scotsman. My daughter dies, then revives) was probably only an indication of what these people went through. We'll probably never know. But I'm proud of them, and I'm proud of who I am because of them.

When I was six or seven we lived in Northern California and my mom started me on the sacrament meeting circuit singing "A Mormon Boy." This is a little song where a boy, preferably Mormon, sings about what it's like to be him. I had a nice soprano voice and I wasn't afraid to sing in the microphone. It wasn't that I needed attention. I don't remember loving it up there, but I did what I was asked, and I wasn't really nervous about it. I sang it for my ward, and then for a few wards after that. I enjoyed a brief stake celebrity after that; I was the Mormon boy! I can still sing it, though no longer as a soprano.

But I'm still a Mormon boy. I'm still in this church. I have many friends who have left the church. I understand their reasons why and I would never judge them or stop being friends with them over faith. I love them too much. And as long as they respect my decision to stay, we remain close, great friends. I also have many friends who are not, and have never been, members of the church. I would never push my faith on them. It's not my style. Because of this my mission was a challenge for me, though I gave it my best shot. I guess I just believe in this quote from Madeleine L'Engle (a great writer, and not a Mormon)

"We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”

I don't have plans to leave the church. Ever. I've been told that I'm "too smart" for the church, or that I "don't fit" the culture of it. Maybe I don't. I am not the perfect Mormon by any stretch. And I'm not that smart. But I love what this organization teaches me about Christlike love and service, and I appreciate how it teaches my kids that there is a world of need out there that they can fill. My kids are learning to live beyond themselves, and I love that. I have a great life; not flawless, and not immune from problems. But I would be a liar if I didn't confess that so much of this happiness is derived from my membership in the Church of Jesus of Latter Days, from my pioneer heritage, and from being, against all odds, a Mormon boy.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Goat Man Cometh...

Have you heard of this?  It is very real and I am very not making this up.  So, we live in Utah and where we live is beautiful and full of wildlife and wild life...and sometimes they mix.

The following is from foxnews.com (I know, I know but read it anyway):

Utah authorities are working to identify a man spotted dressed in a goat suit among a herd of wild goats in the mountains of northern Utah. 


"He was clumsy, working his way down the cliff trying to catch up with the rest of the herd," photographer Coty Creighton told the station. "With the binoculars, I could clearly see it was a guy dressed up in a homemade goat suit."

Creighton said the man appeared to be wearing heavy gloves so he could crawl on his hands and knees. He also said that at one point, the man lifted his mask and looked up at him for several minutes. 

"He kind of slouched down, like was getting nervous or was feeling really self-conscious," Creighton added. "He actually got off his hands and knees and sat on the hill for several minutes until he thought I was gone."

 Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said 60 permits will be issued for goat hunting season in that area, which begins in September. He worries the goat man might be accidentally shot or could be attacked by a real goat.

"They may get agitated. They're territorial. They are, after all, wild animals," he said. "This person puts on a goat suit, he changes the game. But as long as he accepts responsibility, it's not illegal."

 Douglass said wildlife officials received an anonymous call Thursday from an "agitated man" after the sighting was reported in local media. The caller simply said, "Leave goat man alone. He's done nothing wrong."

 Creighton, 33, was hiking Sunday when he came across a herd of goats. He said he realized something was odd about one goat that was trailing behind the rest.

"I thought maybe it was injured," Creighton said Friday. "It just looked odd."
He said he pulled out binoculars to get a closer look at the herd about 200 yards away and was shocked. The man appeared to be acting like a goat while wearing the crudely made costume, which had fake horns and a cloth mask with cut-out eye holes, Creighton said.

"I thought, `What is this guy doing?' " Creighton said. "He was actually on his hands and knees. He was climbing over rocks and bushes and pretty rough terrain on a steep hillside."

Creighton moved down the mountain and hid behind a tree, then began snapping photographs.
"We were the only ones around for miles," Creighton said. "It was real creepy."


Okay, so what does he look like?  Well, a quick google search gives you a couple options, let's see if you can pick the Goat Man in question...it'll be like a game!








 So whadda think? Not a real great option for you if you have to run into a goat man in the woods of Utah.

Well if you guessed the third or middle picture, you got it!  Some guy somewhere in my state has fashioned himself a homemade goat suit for Goat knows what reason to do Goat knows what to those poor unsuspecting but wild hillside goats. What is the world coming to...and what's more, what is this blog coming to for covering such an event?! Ahh well, you know the old saying...(get ready for it)

'A man's goat to do what a man's goat to do.'





BLAMO!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Bling It On

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not the brawny, knuckle-dragging, machismo type of guy I appear to be at first meeting. I don’t belch or scratch in public, I don’t throw my hand up in anticipation of a high-five when I have said or done something completely awesome, and I will not, under any circumstances, do the thingee where the guy puts his hand out in a fist with his knuckles facing you so you can make the same fist and hit his knuckles head-on. (What’s up with THAT?) I don’t know what channel ESPN is, I don’t know the rules to Ultimate Fighting, and I’ve never owned a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar.

So my point is, if I’m making fun of your masculinity, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.

My friend Dale, who has made a number of irresponsible purchases throughout his life, (not the least of which is his unusually large collection of rap albums from the 80s and his habit of buying his deodorant from the $.99 Store), recently purchased a … well, a bracelet. Dale isn’t rich, his burgeoning collection of Run DMC albums aside, and I was surprised to see jewelry hanging from his wrist. Surprised for a number of reasons, quite frankly. This particular wristlet was shiny gold, and quite flashy.


We play racquetball together several times a week, and I noticed the bracelet a few weeks ago. I didn’t say anything at the time. Dale is a lawyer, quite adept at defending his actions and not uncomfortable with confrontation. I have to carefully choose my battles with Dale, even the casual, throwaway ones.

I noticed more recently that the bracelet was missing, and then Dale actually brought it up the other morning, after we were finished playing.

Dale: “You know, I bought a gold bracelet for myself.”
Me: (Slightly caught off guard that he’s mentioning it) “Yessss…I saw that.”
Dale: (Sensing my incredulous response) “Well, you know… I’ve always wanted one.”
Me: “Have you also always wanted a uterus?”
Dale: (Confused, but still defending his purchase) “I think it looks nice on me.”
Me: “Are you wearing it on the cover of your new rap album?”
Dale: “Anyway, the other morning I left it in my jacket, and then I left my jacket here. I came back to check the Lost & Found, and my jacket was here, but the bracelet was gone!”
Me: “…And you think the guy working the Lost & Found took it?”
Dale: “EXACTLY!”
Me: “Why?”
Dale: “Because it’s an expensive bracelet!”
Me: “Oh, I get it – he wanted to give it to his girlfriend, as a gift.”
Dale: “It’s a man’s bracelet.”
Me: “Did he steal your man-lipstick that was in the pocket too?”

Dale seemed pretty upset; I offered to give him a hug. When he pushed me away I just commented that it must be somebody's time of the month. Ha! Whassup!? Somebody gimme a high-five!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The 4 Best TV Shows You Aren't Watching This Summer

It's summer. To most people it may seem like a barren wasteland for television when there's nothing on but competition reality shows and baseball. Now, don't get me wrong, SYTYCD is a great show but, if you're like me, you want a little drama, comedy, or even dramedy in your life too.


What are your options? I have some doosies (do-sies? dewsies?) for you*:




1. Suits
This show is not you're regular legal drama procedural. Mike Ross has dropped out of Harvard Law, his dream derailed after he's caught selling an exam to the Dean's daughter. Because of his natural intelligence and photographic memory, Mike makes a living taking tests for other people, particularly LSATs.


Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is one of New York City's top attorneys and is forced by company policy to hire an associate now that he is a Senior Partner. After an accidental interview with Mike, Harvey is impressed by Mike and hires him. Because the firm exclusively hires Harvard alumni, they go about fixing things so Mike appears to be a Harvard grad.


The comedy and the drama in the show comes from Mike and Harvey's conflicts over one's ethical the other's uncaring demeanor. There's also romance, impressive legal cases, former partners, internal politics, and the threat of knowing Mike could be discovered as a fraud at any time.


You will recognize: Gina Torres from Alias, Firefly, and Angel. Rick Hoffman from The Practice, Chuck, and other weasely parts.
Watch if you like: Legal shows, witty banter, office politics, and sexy, attractive people such as The Practice or Boston Legal.


2. Alphas
From Wikipedia (with some edits): The series follows five people, known as "Alphas," or people with some kind of special power. They are led by noted neurologist and psychologist Dr. Lee Rosen as they investigate criminal cases involving other suspected Alphas. 


Rosen and his team of Alphas operate under the auspices of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. While investigating these crimes, it does not take the team too long to discover that a group known as "Red Flag", which was thought defeated and eliminated long ago, is using other Alphas to commit crimes. It takes place in a shared universe with Eureka and Warehouse 13. 


It's action packed, often funny, and has great contained and arching story lines.

You will recognize: David Strathairn from the Bourne movies and Good Night and Good Luck.
Watch if you like: Action or Sci-fi such as Heroes, Misfits, Alias, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Dollhouse, and Torchwood


3. Falling Skies
From Wikipedia with my edits: Falling Skies tells the story of the aftermath of a global invasion by extraterrestrials. Within a few days the invaders neutralize the world's power grid and technology, destroy the militaries of all the world's countries, and apparently kill over 90% of the human population.

The story picks up six months after the invasion and follows a group of survivors who band together to fight back. The group, known as the Second Massachusetts (an allusion to a historical regiment from the Continental Army), is led by retired Captain Weaver and Boston University history professor Tom Mason who, while in search of his son Ben, must put his extensive knowledge of military history into practice as one of the leaders of the resistance movement.


It has its melodramatic moments but overall it's a very compelling story of human survival, relationships, and what we'd do to keep our families safe.


You will recognize: Noah Wyle from ER and Will Patton from a billion movies, Numb3rs, and 24.
Watch if you like: Post-Apocalyptic Action Dramas like Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, and Jericho or movies such as District 9 and 28 Days Later.




4. L.A. Complex
The Canadian series depicts Abby Vargas, an aspiring actress who moves to Los Angeles with nothing but her Maple Leafs hockey bag and dreams of being a famous actress.


"The L.A. Complex follows the lives of twenty year olds living in the same apartment complex in L.A. trying to make it as actors, dancers, producers and comedians. Relationships begin and end, the need to succeed is tested and all characters are pushed to their breaking points."


We just started this one and it's better than I thought it would be. It's fun, silly, gut-wrenching, dramatic, soapy, and addicting. Everything you want from summer TV.

You will recognize: Jewel Staite from Firefly and Jonathan Patrick Moore from Neighbours.
Watch if you like: The darker, less glitzy side of Melrose Place, The Hills, 90210, or Degrassi: The Next Generation.


So, there you have it. Something to watch this summer instead of Howard Stern's witchy, old woman face judging mediocre singers. Did I miss anything? What are you watching this summer?

*The series descriptions were borrowed from Wikipedia and then edited and commentary added.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Not to Wear: Caillou Edition

As parents, you are subjected to a lot of crappy entertainment for your kids' sake. When someone gets it right, it is like a breath of fresh air (I'm looking at you Phineas and Ferb.) And when it is bad, its like adding insult to injury. You already gave up everything that made you cool when you had kids, and now you have to sit through inane, painful TV shows as well? (I'm looking at you, Twist.)

The number one offender of the "Shows That Make Parent's Want to Scrape Their Eyeballs Out With Spoons and Stuff Them in Their Ears" category is Caillou. If you are not familiar with this little French Canadian jerk, then consider yourself lucky. Basically it is a show about a super entitled 4-year old who gets whatever he wants and teaches his parents valuable lessons - you know, just like real life. Part Time Author friend, Kacy already did an amazing job describing how Caillou makes us feel sorry for ourselves as parents. She was spot on. So I want to focus on what is most offensive to me about this show: what we are teaching our kids about fashion. Let's break it down character by character, shall we?

First of all, what season is it? Caillou is dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and everyone else is ready to run the iditarod. When you look at these are cartoons, you might be thinking - no biggie. Primary colors, blah, blah, blah. But dig a little deeper. Imagine these clothes on real people. It's unbearable. Do people in Canada really dress this way?
Caillou's mom (Doris) is wearing high waisted baggy jeans (?,) an ill-fitting red sweater/sweatshirt over top a yellow, lacy long sleeved blouse with lace cuffs. Or maybe it is a yellow dickie? I wouldn't put it past her. And to really make it pop she has paired it with some teal and green ballet flats with bows on the front. And somehow, none of that is the worst part. The worst part is the blue headband that smooshes her bangs down to her forehead. Who does that?

Don't you want to punch him?
Caillou's dad (Boris) is sporting jeans. OK so far. Then he layered a green sweater over a red mock-turtleneck. And since that burst of red at the neck line wasn't enough, he has cuffed the sleeves to really show it off. Daring. And what says douche bag more than finishing your outfit off with red penny loafers with big gold buckles? I'll tell you what: the fact that Boris wore a top-hat to his wedding. What a tool.

Rosie is Caillou's little sister (In Canada her name is Mousseline, which, correct me if I am wrong, is a kind of meat patè?) I don't want to be too hard on Rosie, because she is only 2 and I don't want her to have self esteem issues as an adult and start a blog about how she was never good enough. Suffice it to say she is dressed like Laura Ingalls waiting to go out into the ice and snow and make maple syrup candy. Seriously, is it winter? Summer? PICK A SEASON!

Which leaves us with Grandma (Floris? I don't know.) Oh, Grandma. I think when wearing a red mumu, it is always best to have a blue mandarin collar blouse underneath to give some definition and shorten your neck. You can see where Doris got her great hair styling tips from. Nothing frames your face like a big green headband pushing your hair onto your forehead. Sigh. For the record, I kind a dig the over-sized green purse for a nice color pop. Good job!

Which leaves you, little bald Caillou. Why do you have no hair when the rest of your family has in such abundance. When I googled "Why doesn't Caillou have any hair" the internet rumor that came back was that he has cancer. Or lice. Which, according to PBS, is not true. He's just bald. I don't judge him for that. I have no hair and it isn't my fault. I do judge his parents for his baggy yellow henley with red trim. And I judge him for being so whiny and entitled and siging that song about how "growing up is not so tough, cept when I've had enough." Too true...too true.

summertime lies


I like summer a lot and I'm learning to love it more. I used to hate summer because I hate the heat. I really hate, hate heat. I hate the heat so badly that when I was eighteen I prayed to go somewhere cold on  my mission and the Lord sent me to Finland where I spent a six month winter above the arctic circle and I loved it! One time it was -35 and we rode our bikes down a hill and I started crying and my tears immediately streamed across my cheek and froze there (and some reindeer chased us.) But in the past few years I have learned to accept heat, and actually look forward to summer! I still think getting into a hot, leathery car is the worst thing ever, but I don't mind a little sun on my neck anymore.

That being said, I always make these big plans for the summer that I never achieve. I always picture myself taking a summer to listlessly lounge at a pool or enjoy exciting hikes to waterfalls! But I never do. Because my time off is fairly sparse and when I do have it I always think it's too freaking hot to go hiking up some waterfall. And I would rather just spray my kids with a hose than pack up the car and find a pool. So these images I have in my head of summertime are actually fraudulent. I never fulfill them. It's nobody's fault! I have to work. Plus, I have so much TV to catch up on!

I never get snowcones. Never. We have the world's greatest snowshack merely two blocks from my home, and I have never been there. My children go there basically every day. My son Hugh eats only bread, air, and snowcones and he cannot understand how I have never been there. And, to add insult to injury, a new snowshack, claiming to be better than the other one, just opened one block away from my house! And I haven't been there, either. The world's two best showshacks within two city blocks? And I haven't been? What's wrong with me? I have old person disease. Anyway, I wouldn't know what to order. Do they still have Tiger's Blood? Tutti Frutti?

I never spend summer evenings sitting out on the front porch and talking with neighbors. I always think I will, but I don't. My first problem is that I don't have a porch. But I have created a nice little seating area on my front lawn under a shady junk tree. We have those funky colored plastic chairs everyone seems to have now, and they are fairly comfortable even if they impress giant lines all down your back and the seat pads are still a little damp from last night's sprinklers. I sit on them from time to time, but my neighbors don't really stop by. So I just watch joggers and kids on scooters or play with instagram on my phone. It never lasts long because I get bored and I want to go inside and eat unhealthy things.

I don't take big exciting road trips, like Route 66 or wherever. I see pictures of people doing this, but these people don't have jobs. Or children. I think it would be so exciting to pack a car up with Lisa and hit the high road for a few days, and I think my kids would actually be fine for a while without us. But then the pretzels would run out and someone would forget to empty the garbage and it would basically become The Road. And then Child Protective Services would take my children away (although that would free up time for me to go on more road trips! It's a vicious cycle.) You can have children and you can have road trips but you can't have both. When I was in college I fancied myself a bit of a Jack Kerouac, taking off without telling anyone, squatting in a tent along the California coast and working with Mexican migrants in the grape fields. But now I squat at Smashburger, the most air-conditioned burger joint in operation, or seek high adventure by taking my kids to a matinee movie at the University Mall. And I have never been happier!

It's safe to say that summer is fraught with high expectations that can never be conceivably met, in the same way that you think you are going to rake leaves in autumn and frolic in them, but you never do because they get wet and smell like dung. My visions of summer, glorious and lazy, wet 'n wild, are hazy anticipations of something that ultimately never happens. And I'm kind of cool with it. Because I love air conditioning, and my kids love cartoons, and my wife is sexy, and I'm healthy, and we're all just having a great old July.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of Five



I have four brothers.  Two older two younger.  And we all are named John.  Well, three of us have John as our first name and two have John as their middle name.  I am John Patrick.  Something about growing up with just boys makes you part of a tribe...the other four might think of us as a team but I was more of a tribe kind of brother.  There are things that we are all exactly alike in, we are all pretty funny, we all look a lot a like...well not Christopher John, he looks like my mom, and we all married girls that are far prettier then we are.  (This trick is my finest parenting advice that I will bestow on my son, Funny Guy = Hot Wife.  It's true, watch ANY sitcom.)

We are all very different too, John Casey, the youngest, always had a safe with a key that he would keep his treasures in, no one else had that (once, when he was 8 years old, my mom paid him $10.00 to look inside his safe, I didn't have $10.00 so I never got see what was in there.).

There were lots of labels that characterized us boys when we were young, Michael John was the bully, John Spencer was the one who could protect you from Mike, I was the Drama geek, Christopher John was the football star, and John Casey was the youngest...with that safe.

We also came in sets.  Mike and Spence were the 'Big Boys' and the rest of us were the 'Little Boys'. In the summers the Big Boys would go up to Rupert Idaho and spend a week with my Grandparents farm and then the next week the Little Boys would swap them out.

I always loved growing up in this family and as we've gotten older I have loved it even more.  We are a family who loves to laugh.  My Mom and Dad are both very funny people on their own and are a funny comedy duo when they are together. Sunday dinners at my house are like a 1940's writers room, with out the smoke and gin. One brother will make some joke and it will be pretty funny, but then another brother will jump in with a slightly altered version of the other brothers joke and that will be even funnier and then two other brothers (usually Chris and Casey) will start batting the joke back and forth upping the stakes with every pass until they've polished the joke into a perfect sphere of hilarity that will have the whole family rolling...which makes some other brother to make a new joke.  It's perfect...not for everyone, but for me it's perfect.

When we were young the Little Brothers would fall asleep to this tape my Gramma gave us. We later (much later) found it and all five (over 20 years old) brothers would act out the poems for each others enjoyment.

Well some of the poems would cause you to pull the covers up to your chin and wait this one out. The video above is of the scariest one and for some reason it would get me real nervous at night alone in my bed. I think because there was a possibility that I could go away, chasing a dream and then never come back. And no one would ever know what happened to me.

And that terrified me.  But then I would think of my tribe back at home suiting up to come rescue me, and I knew, no kid with 4 Brothers could ever get too lost.  And, after 28 years of there being 5 of us...no one ever has.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not From the Pulpit

The reviews are in and the critics all agree - THIS is a YouTube video!

My friend and bishopy-colleague, Bishop Mike, and I took a break from out weekly interview appointments and thought we'd make this video to demonstrate for the youth of the Church the dangers of YouTube.

If only ONE young man is terrified enough to stop squandering time flagrantly surfing YouTube and instead delves into his Duty to God booklet...I consider it a success.

Enjoy. And please YouTube responsibly.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

landscaping for awesome friends


You might be surprised to learn that I have a green thumb. Now I know what most of my friends think; that I sit in my office all day and watch movies or go lallygag around rehearsals while my poor, saddled wife cries at home while making lasagna for eight kids. Well, you're only partially right! I have five kids. But I am also quite helpful around the house if you mean, literally, around the house. Outside of it. Because I am happy to clean kitchens and bathrooms and parlors (who has a parlor? I just liked the sound of it) but I am even more happy to work outside in the yard like a man! A man who loves to plant perennials and make seasonal color choices.

I have learned a lot of things as a lawn owner, and I would love to share them with you. First of all, don't give up on your lawn, and never forsake your landscaping! You may actually find that you enjoy working outside. It's really a great time to process your life and give yourself a little intervention. I can't tell you how many major life choices I've made while clipping back bushes. People complain about landscaping, but it's therapeutic! Unless it's really hot outside. Then, hoo-boy! Have fun.

Here are a few things to remember:

1. If you live in Utah, you live in the desert. Nothing from the beach will grow here. Nothing from the South. Nothing from Europe. Find plants that are native to Utah. I suggest the following: lavender, bishop's weed, day lilies, jupiter's beard, yarrow, and Russian sage. Give them some sun and water and let 'em rip!

2. Roses are overrated. You get two weeks of really nice blooms, and then 11 months of sticks with sharp pointy bits that attack your children. Say no to roses.

3. Say no, also, to Petunias. I get that they add immediate color and will live through an apocalypse, but they are the ultimate in old lady flowers. My sister Lucy put a bunch of them in her yard one year and I told her that the real name for Petunias is "I give ups." It hurt Lucy's feelings, but I think she really learned a lesson that day. Go ahead and plant Petunias if you want, and I'll see you at Sizzler and Bingo tonight!

4. You have to fertilize your lawn. You can't just do it once. You need to do it 3-4 times per season. If you are rich (like me) you can have someone just come over and spray it. But if you are poor you can just go to Lowe's and buy a big bag of fertilizer and DIY (as we say in the landscaping biz.)

5. If you are just starting to landscape, you need to know that PERENNIALS are plants that grow year after year and ANNUALS are plants that only grow once per season. Many a sad tale has been told of homeowners buying annuals and then sadly waiting and hoping for them to return. They won't! They are dead. But if you see a rainbow in the sky, that's your annuals saying hello from heaven.

6. When buying plants, bear in mind that they bloom at different times. So if it's May, and there are poppies everywhere, don't go buy a bunch of poppies, because they are done by June. By a few. Then in June, check what's in bloom and buy a few more plants. Then July. Then August. Just kidding! Nothing grows in August because it's a horrible month. Anyway, this strategy will help you keep color in your garden all summer round.

7. You know what grows really well without a lot of fuss? Grass. So try ornamental grasses. They are cheap and they grow like monkeys! Literally like monkeys. They can grow in the shade and will fill in unsightly corners and awkward nooks. Come on, we all have a few awkward nooks!

8. Quit being afraid of spiders! They won't hurt you. You don't have to pick them up, but you don't have to scream at them or kill them. Unless they have a red hourglass shape on their tummies, in which case you should RUN RUN RUN RUN and move to a new house.

9. Xeriscaping is all the rage in Utah; and it should be. It looks great! Though I don't like when people xeriscape their whole lawn instead of doing any grass. Usually it just looks junky. The idea of xeriscaping is that you are using plants with low water tolerance. Perfect for our climate. But BEWARE: even xeriscape plants need to be heavily watered the first year. You can't just plop them in and feel all awesome about yourself and the environment. They need love.

10. Just have fun! Isn't that how lists like this always end? Just have fun!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Missed Her Mom



So I have been off work for 8 weeks for the birth of my son. (That's not my son above, that's my daughter...I'll get to her in a minute.) I am so lucky to work for a company that lets me take that time to bond with a newborn.  This is the second time I have taken paternity leave and the first time was a dream. Sure, you are sleep deprived; sure, you have both poop and vomit on you every day for 8 weeks, but in the end you get to hang out with someone who likes to eat and sleep.  Granted, they like to eat every three hours and sometimes you wish they'd, you know, stop screaming, but mostly you hold someone whose warm and only wants to snuggle into your armpit.

However, the second time you take paternity leave it turns out that that first kid is still there...only more mobile...more crafty...and much faster.

Here are some things I've learned as a stay-at-home dad that I wanted to share with all you dads who go to work everyday:

#1~ If you think your wife is cool with you heading off to work for 9 hours a day while she stays home with the kids...yeah, she's not. She hates the moment you drive off and abandon her to these wolves you had the idea of having. 

#2~ If you have ever pulled the, "I've been at work all day and I need you to handle the kids for a while," well...you shouldn't have! It's like going to work and then saying to one of your co-workers, "Hey, I know you've been working all day but so have I, so could you just work some more while I decompress? This job is real hard...but you should keep doing it so I can have a rest."  This is the number one lesson I've learned (even though it's number two in the list): having kids is not a 9-5 job, it's all day and all night, so if you've been at work from 9-5, you have been doing it for the kids and you are needed and a hero, but while you've been talking to grown-ups, the person home raising your kids (if you have more then one kid) does not get a lunch break, she does not have a water cooler and her witty insights about the nuances of Downton Abby are lost on your two year old.  So, when you finally get home from horrible traffic and dumb customers, it's your turn.

#3~ Staying at home with a two year old is exactly like working in an office.  The only difference is your boss is a three-foot psycho who loves what you're doing one minute then despises your very soul the next. You work every second to please this boss, but nothing you do is sustaining.  You never get a pass because of all the past hard work you put in. Here's a perfect example:  I made Daisy her favorite breakfast this morning (cubed eggs, tomatoes, and milk...for reals) I put a lot of time and thought into what she would like and how she would like it (a CUBED egg for crying out loud, do you even know what that is?!) and all that love and effort didn't stop her from hucking the remote at my head at 6:00 pm this evening. It's like she didn't even care about my thoughtful breakfast...I oughtta cube her face!

#4~ We have set the bar so low! (Society, that is.) One day, in order to not kill myself, I decided to get out of the house, and I took the two kids to the zoo.  Daisy loves it and Milo can be strapped to me in this sort of backpack that is made for kids. Well, no fewer than three different women at three different times came up to me and told me I was "Super Dad."  And what's more, I felt like super dad! I mean I took my own two children out into the world without my wife to take care of the three of us! Also the women complementing me usually had their own brood of kids whirling around them without incident.  It should be said that I lost Daisy for 20 minutes and Zoo security had to be contacted and check points were set up at the entrances. Don't worry, they found her in the Giraffe House.  Super Dad, Super.

I love my kids and I super love my two year old; nothing in my life has ever had such a polarizing power to both give me the greatest joy and stab me with such fury as that one little lady.  But we are best friends, we forgive quickly and need each other instantly if one of us gets hurt.  We live to make each other laugh and we both laugh easily if the other puts forth the effort.  We talk and we remember what the other one likes and what we don't like.  I have loved this time that I've had to be home all day every day; no one knows her like I do and no one knows me like she does.

Just keep my little family in mind when you come home from work; some guys come home to not a lot and you get to come home to these little people who are part you and part your wife and part their own selves.  And the world that they are growing up in is magic and it's made magic by the person who recreates their world every day.  Take advantage of every moment 'cause tomorrow...you gotta go back to work.







By the way, the title of this post is so clever it can't go without saying...but only in tiny print.  Missed Her Mom = Mr. Mom...go ahead say it out loud.  I hope this is what you've come to expect here at Part Time Authors.  See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zuma Beach. It Has a Nice Ring to It.



I need your help. About 72 hours ago, I lost my wedding ring.

We Craigs took to Southern California this last week. We visited family and friends and celebrated the fact that we weren’t melting on the surface of the sun (otherwise known as our home town of Las Vegas). And a particular highlight for me was our visit to Zuma Beach.

Zuma Beach, just north of Malibu, was the Mecca of my youth. From my earliest childhood memories to the social gatherings of my adolescence, from family “beach days” to dates and church activities, a single day at Zuma felt like an entire summer itself. We’d arrive at the beach, lay out the beach blankets and towels, and then get out the food as if we were going to have lunch first; only to be overcome by the exhilaration of that huge ocean, and go running headfirst into a wave. Then, an hour later, waterlogged and with clear sinuses from the salt water, we’d drag ourselves onto the sand and eat like it was the first meal we’d been given since floating to shore from a deserted island. We’d bury ourselves in the sand, throw a Frisbee around, dig for sand crabs, build sandcastles, and wish we never had to go home.


I hadn't been in years, and I was thrilled to take my family there again, building up in my mind the hope of something that could never be accomplished – creating for them, in a single afternoon, the same love and warmth and fondness for this coastline that I held in my own heart.

My children did not disappoint as they seemed to inhale the atmosphere of this hallowed shore; building forts in the sand, boogie boarding, asking if we could live on the beach forever.


I eventually headed into some deep water by myself and was enjoying the nostalgia. Then, to my delight, Katie actually came out into the water to join me. It was probably the first time we had frolicked like that since our honeymoon in Hawaii. I was showing her how to finesse her way around the waves – jumping over them or diving under them, depending on where they were breaking. She asked me to show her how to boogie board. And then…as if heaven were shining down on us…three dolphins swam by, just on the other side of the waves. I’m not kidding. And it was pretty awesome. It was just about as perfect as it could have been – out in the water with the love of my life, playing in the waves of the beach that held so much history for me…

…and then I looked down at my hand.

And I just stared at it.

I was in complete denial. What had happened was clear, but my brain was just not letting it pass the visual of looking at my naked hand. It was as if my brain was telling itself, “Stare harder, and that will bring the ring back.” Or as if somehow, if I looked at my hand long enough, it would provide a clue as to where the ring might be.

I looked up at Katie. “I lost my wedding ring.”

She looked back at me, same expression I had. Kind of a lost, surreal look.

And then I actually started looking at the water around me, trying to see all the way to the sand. I started turning around and looking. Then the more I looked around me, the more I realized how large this body of water was – even just the water around me – and that there was no way I was going to locate it.

I had no idea when it had fallen off. How far the current had already carried it away. If it had gone out to sea or was buried in the sand.

It was gone.

Abbie, not knowing what had just happened, snapped this photo from shore. 

And I was horribly sad. But I was…something else, too. I’m not sure exactly what I was feeling.

On the one hand, it’s a piece of jewelry. On the other hand, it was almost an appendage. I looked at that ring everyday and remembered the day, almost 17 years ago, when Katie gave it to me. I’ve been conscious of it every day for 17 years, and thought about the feelings it brought me when Katie put it on my finger in the Salt Lake Temple.

Nothing has changed. No covenants, no love, no health, nothing has altered all the good stuff. Life is no different. But my wedding ring is gone.

Notice the beautiful, shiny ring on my hand. 

Can anybody more accurately articulate for me this bizarre feeling? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourths

There is something kind of fantastic about a big rainy day on the 5th of July, especially if you live in Utah which has been slowly burning down over the last few weeks. If you did accidentally set any wildfires last night with your illegal fireworks, you should be good because the rain has washed it all away.

I love holidays like the 4th where there is so little expected of me. No gift buying, or prepping or  decorating baking of special treats. No programs to prepare for or costumes to make. Like Lindsay said, it is kind of the perfect summer holiday. If all that is required of me is to grill a little food and show up at a parade or firework show, sign me up.

My childhood Fourths were memorable. My Aunt had a store right on University Avenue in Provo where the July 4th Parade is done every year. Getting a prime spot for the parade is a Provo tradition and my cousins would sleep in the store (luckily it was a furniture store so I imagine there were beds) so they could claim a prime spot along the store front. We would run extension cords through the store and cook waffles to eat while we watched the parade. We were young and snarky and it became a competition amongst my cousins to see who could say the funniest thing mocking those who were in the parade. I am sure we would have been ruthless to Chris's axe twirling mountain men. (Sorry Chris - as an adult I would whoop and holler at your boys.) At night we would sit on our front lawn and watch the firework show from the Stadium of Fire which you could see perfectly from our front yard. Our neighbor was an elderly lady and every year she would come out on the lawn and stand and wait for the fireworks to start. She would eventually get impatient and head back inside. As soon as her front door closed, the sky would explode with blue and red star bursts. A few minutes later she would come back out and the fireworks would abruptly stop. She'd stand and wait for a few minutes, staring at the blank sky. Then boredom would set in and she'd head back in. On cue, the fireworks would resume. It would happen like clock work, year after year, and we loved it.

When I was a teenager, my best friend Charlotte's dad was the scenic art director for The Stadium of Fire (or Fiyah! as the theme song would lead you to believe.) and I was lucky enough to be invited along for several years in a row. We would begrudgingly sit through the witty banter by the KSL newscaster who had been roped in to Emcee that year and then roll our eyes at the old people music of The Beach Boys or Gladys Knight and the Pips, occasionally dancing a bit on the grass of the stadium floor. Finally, after what seemed like ages, the sun would set and we could finally see the fireworks spectacular. And if you have never been, it truly is spectacular, and accompanied by an insane, overly dramatic theme song that urges you to "turn and watch the fire burn...higher and hiyeahaha!!!" It rules. With Charlotte's family, there was a certain reverence for the Fourth. Charlotte's mom was incredibly patriotic (we called her The Great Bird) and would inevitably tear up during the fireworks show. 

For narrative purposes, I thought this essay would be better with four memories of the Fourth (See what I did there?) But I have zero recollection of celebrating Independence day in college. I went and flipped through a few old photo's and could only find me and a friend (Chanel) making a really ugly cake and then some photos of some other friends playing with sparklers. And that's all I got. College friends -weigh in. Why are these years so blank? I did realize one thing. Pre-digital camera times sucked! If you took a picture and it was lame, you still had to pay to print in and then you were stuck with it. 

And now, the Fourth is all about my kids, as most things in my life are. My Father in Law does a big firework blow out in his front yard. My middle son, who is terrified of loud noises and unexpected things runs around the yard and giggles with joy and glee and every whistle and explosion. Its incongruous. This year was no exception. The big finale was a firework called Ghost Patrol that my oldest, Jonah picked out. As we were leaving and everyone was saying thanks to Grandpa who had bought and supplied all of the fireworks, Jonah was quick to remind everyone that they should be thanking HIM because he picked out the best firework. We've raised him well. 

I hope your Independence day was full of joy and fun and low expectations and being ignored by parade watchers. And if you accidentally set hundreds of acres of forest on fire, you may be off the hook today!

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