Friday, September 28, 2012

Your Guide to Horrible Stock Photography

Today it is my duty to help you become aware of a plague that has worsened through the years and stabs the eyes of all who behold it. I'm speaking, of course, about the blight of ill-used or over-used stock photography.

Now, we get it. We know you're company is broke and you need some images for your billboard, direct mailer or website. We know it's time consuming to actually plan and execute a photo shoot that captures your real employees or customers doing things they actually do. It's difficult to take a risk and figure out what landscape, lifestyle, or action images will truly resonate with your audience. We get it. You're broke and busy. (I'm not referring to bloggers, by the way. Although some bloggers use real photography better than most companies.)

We get it but it has to stop. For those unfamiliar with the sins of stock photography or how to identify it, we're here to help. Here is your guide to recognizing and avoiding awful stock images.

First, what is it? According to Wikipedia, "stock photography is the supply of photographs licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer. ... Often, they are produced in studios using a wide variety of models posing as professionals, stereotypes, expressing stereotypical emotions and gesticulations or involving pets."

Here are some of the worst offenders.

1. The Air-arms Freedom Lady

Who uses it: Bankruptcy lawyers, Spa owners, MLMs, travel agents, etc.

What they think it says: "You're free to do what you want!" or "Don't stress."

What it really says: "Ocean breezes are nice!" or "I love photo shoots on the beach."

How to find it: Go to any stock photography site and type "freedom" into the search field.

2. The Handshake

Who uses it: MLMs, investment firms, banks, car dealerships, etc.

What they think it says: "Trust us." or "We're all about people!" Bonus if the hands are interracial.

What it really says: "We're shaking hands!"

How to find it: Go to any stock photography site and type "handshake" into the search field.

3. The Call Center Lady

Who uses it: 98% of all companies.

What they think it says: "We're here to help!" or "I'm listening." Bonus if she has mixed ethnicity.

What it really says: "We think our support staff is too ugly to actually photograph."

How to find it: Go to any stock photography site and type "customer service" into the search field.

4. The Diverse Business Meeting

Who uses it: software companies, law firms, MLMs, and any businesses who want to look multi-cultural.

What they think it says: "Teamwork ... *cough* ... diversity." or "Working together, we can be happy."  Minus points if everyone in the photograph is white even if your whole company actually is white. Double minus points if your whole company actually is all white.

What it really says: "We paid some handsome people to sit in a room for a few hours."

How to find it: Go to any stock photography site and type "meeting" into the search field.

So there you have it. Your guide to recognizing design and marketing travesties. To the offenders I say, "Figure it out. It doesn't have to be this way." And now, as we close, some really great unusable stock photographs.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Its my favorite time of year. I love Halloween. I love candy, and scary movies and spook alleys (I'm taking my son to his first this year!) I'm far from the PTA resident Halloween expert (that would be Topher, who I believe picks out his costume about 8 months in advance) but when I came home from work last night and all the Halloween decorations were out, it made me smile.

The other day I introduced my kids to one of my childhood Halloween traditions, watching the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. That crazy, cooky, old-fashioned cartoon voiced entirely by Bing Crosby.
I probably hadn't watched this movie for about 15 years, and it was as delightful and as charming as I remember it to be. But it was also kind of crazy. I was amazed at how odd it was.

It feels very grown up. It makes no apologies about the lyrics it uses and doesn't dumb it down for the kids at all, even though it is a kids cartoon. It uses words like "debonair" and "elucidate." Can you imagine Twitch from the Fresh Beat Band saying "elucidate?" I don't think so. Remember Katrina, and how she is kind of a jerk? That wouldn't fly on TV today. My friend Kacy said this much better than I am saying it now, but it feels like kids shows are dumbed down for kids now. There was probably a lot of marketing money and child psychology that went into why Dora yells so much, but all I'm saying is we're still watching Bing Crosby sing about the odd schoolmaster 60 years later. Take that, Backpack.

But my kids still loved it. It definitely holds up. They laughed when the short lady danced around like a crazy person, just like I remember laughing when I was younger. They were a little spooked out by the cackle of the Horseman as he chased Ichabod through the hollow. And they were puzzled by the ending (spoiler!) Did Ichabod die? Was the Horseman Brom Bones? I still don't know the answers.

So happy Halloween season. Bring on the candy corn, autumn leaves, pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored everything. Just don't make me watch The Fresh Beat Band Halloween special. I don't think I can handle it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

starry night

I have a show opening at UVU this week. It's called Vincent at Brixton. It's about Vincent Van Gogh when he was twenty years old and living in London. Some people have described the play as "sexy" but you will have to come see for yourself. Do you think bare shoulders are racy? How about May-December romances? This is totally your thing.

I've learned a lot about Vincent Van Gogh from doing this project. I always thought he was a lunatic who severed his own ear and ate paint. But he wasn't always like that. In this play he's very young, very naive, and is just discovering his interest in art. It's really interesting watching him transition from an aimless boy into to someone who is slowly understanding his own mental disabilities. And then interpreting them through drawings and etchings.

This summer when I was in London I visited the house where this play is set. It's really not a fancy place. It's in kind of a rocky neighborhood and the majority of the houses are rundown and nondescript. But there was an interesting feeling to it; maybe it was just the spirit of the play ricocheting around my head, or maybe Vincent was there, sitting by me on the stoop. You know how I am about ghosts.

Here's a picture to prove I was there. Next time I might even open my eyes.

Please come see this show. It's beautifully acted, and the designs are amazing. Nothing blows up and nobody does any high kicks. But I think you'll love it all the same. I'm incredibly proud of it.

Vincent at Brixton plays Sept. 27-29, Oct. 1-6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Noorda Theatre. Tickets are available at the School of the Arts Box Office at the Noorda Theatre, at Campus Connection in the Sorensen Student Center, or by calling 801-863-PLAY (7529).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HU the LU Do You Think You Are?!

So, I've been watching Project Runway on Hulu...and here's the problem with Hulu:  If you are gonna make me watch commercials on the TV that I am purposely NOT watching on my real TV so I won't have to watch commercials, at least let me watch more then just one commercial over and over and over and over.  Honestly, even regular TV mixes it up a bit, but if you watch a show on Hulu they tell you at the beginning this show is brought to you by The Chevy Volt and then you get the same Chevy Volt commercial every commercial break!  It's almost enough to make me not want to buy a Chevy Volt even though if did, I would never have to buy gas again! AND I HATE TO BUY GAS!  It seems like the people who are smart enough to stream all my favorite shows straight to my computer would be savvy enough to figure a way for me to, at the very least, watch a different commercial at each break. Also, don't ask me to participate in the commercials.  Like when they ask me to choose my Ad Experience, just so you know Hulu, I have left the room for every commercial break. I don't watch any of them so don't ask me to pick anything.  It's like I'm at a dinner theater and actors have descended from the stage in their tights and fake accents and are asking me to " 'elp them ough wiv de plot" in someway. Blach. You just do what you gotta do and I'll just watch...and by watch, I mean leave the room...cause I don't watch commercials.  

That being said, here are three commercials that I was forced to watch on Hulu and I love them so much that I thought I would make you watch them even though you have chosen not to watch TV but to read your favorite blog...which now has commercials.  I love them in descending order as shown below.  Enjoy.

The Spit One:

The Hamster One:

The Funniest One:

Funny?!  Well, I thought so but when I went over to steal them from Youtube there was almost 400 "Dislikes" for the last one. Maybe it's controversial? You tell me.  All I'm saying is I can't remember the last time spaghetti sauce has made me laugh.

We'd love to hear you thoughts.  Also we would love you to click anyone of the ad's on this page...well not the ones I posted but the other ones.  That way we can taylor you ad experience here on Part Time Authors. Because that's what we do here. So "Gaow On!  Push de but-tan Guv-nar!"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Children Are an Heritage of the Lord

If you frequent this blog, then first let me say this. "Hi Patrick's Mom!" Also, if you frequent this blog, then you might be familiar with our title "Part Time Authors," and that it started when four of us (Chris, Josh, Patrick and myself) were contributing authors to a book of essays called "Tell Me Who I Am." (We have since added 5th Part Time Author, Brett Merritt, who brings to the table his writing skills, as well as abilities for scouring the Internet, making witty comments, and showcasing a huge-normous music library.)

One of the stories I included in "Tell Me Who I Am" is about my wife, Katie, and a miscarriage. I was recently invited to participate in a month-long focus on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, being held over at the blog Diapers & Divinity. I submitted this story, and it just ran.  I share it now, with you wonderful readers of Part Time Authors.

You can find it here. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to Eat When You're at the Happiest Place on Earth

I'm a bit of a Disney lover. I went to the park a few times as a youngster when my parents would load all 8 (EIGHT!!) children in my family into 1 (ONE!!) van and drive to California for a week. We would hit Disney once while we were there, and true to form, it was magical and fantastical.

When I was in high school my best friend was, well let's call a spade a spade, a Disney nut. Her family went every year and because her dad did some work for the park, they would go for weeks at a time. And because they were a lovely and generous family, they started taking me along. Once, we went for 9 (NINE!!) days in a row to the Land. And this was in the pre-California Adventure days. And we loved it.

Since then I have gone a lot. I was a season pass holder when I lived in southern California, I worked at Disneyworld for a semester in college and we now go annually with my children and in-laws. So let's just say I know my way around the park. And let's just say I know how to eat my way around the park (because really, I could skip every ride and just walk around and eat and I would be happy.) And a lot of friends have asked me lately what to eat when they are in the Land. And if you live in Utah, you are probably planning a trip to Disneyland for UEA which is in a few weeks (spoiler alert: so is half the state, so it is going to be crowded.) and so I thought you might find this post helpful. So here is my list of the top 10 things to eat in the park.

  1. Corn Dog - This is the thing I want the most when I get to Disneyland. You can buy them from a cart on Main Street, or better yet, from the Corn Dog Castle in California Adventure. (The Corn Dog Castle also sells Cheese Dogs and spicy Corn Dogs.) They are big, obscene looking, and delicious. 
  2. Bengal BBQ, Adventure Land, Disneyland. I think this is one of the most overlooked places in the park. It is a little stand that sells beef and chicken kebabs and BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS! It's perfect for when you don't need a full mean but just want something quick and filling.
  3. Just down the way from the Bengal BBQ is the Mint Julep Bar. I don't get this treat as often, because we usually visit the park in the winter when it is a bit cool. But on a hot summer day, nothing refreshes more than a Mint Julep and a cream filled beignet. 
  4. BLT Flatbread Pizza from the Village Haus in Fantasy Land. This is an actual sit down restaurant where you can go and get burgers and other things for a full meal. While your kids are eating hamburgers, eat this "Thin flat bread crust, wood smoked bacon, creamy provolone and mozzarella cheeses, caramelized onions, marinated tomatoes, topped with arugula and shaved fennel. Hold me.
  5. Speaking of actual restaurants to eat at, hands down our family's favorite is Pizza Port in Tomorrow Land. It's your basic pizza and pasta and salad fair, but here are my two tips: the restaurant is set up cafeteria style, so you get all your food and then go pay. The drink stations are before the cashiers. As soon as you walk in, fill up your diet coke. Sip and enjoy while you get your kids and your food. Refill before you pay. You are a happy person. You can also get those good chocolate dipped rice-crispy treats here. 
  6. Diet Coke Float at Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company on Paradise Pier in California Adventure. I think this is the only place in the park that serves soft-serve ice cream. And they'll put it in some diet coke for you. What's not to love: Diet Coke and Soft-Serve.
  7. This one is going to sound weird, but you know those Turkey Leg carts you see all over the park? Don't eat those because they are stringy and disgusting and I would cook and sell them by the ton when I worked at Disneyworld and have PTSD about them. But at those same carts they sell Chimichangas. And they are delicious. And about $5 and really filling. Another great thing to eat on the go when you don't need a full meal but are still hungry. And I have it on good authority that these carts also sell Chili-Lime Corn on the Cob. I haven't tried it, but definitely will on my next trip.
  8. Speaking of Carts and Stands, you can get great Caramel Corn in both parks. Really, you are saying, caramel corn? But it rules. And it just feels right to be walking around a theme park eating caramel corn. So trust me. Do it. Do it.
  9. I have blogged about my love of deep fried sandwiches here before. And that love was born in Disneyland. The first (and best) Monte Cristo I've ever had comes from the Blue Bayou restaurant. It's that one that you sail past inside Pirates of the Caribbean. It's pricey, and you may not want to take your kids (go with your spouse when they are doing something else.) and you usually have to make reservations. But the food is worth it. And they Monte that Cristo like a boss.

And latest discovery of deliciousness on my last trip to the park is seen above. Inside a restaurant (that I don't really care for) called Rancho del' Zoccalo you can buy these little bags of cinnamon crisps. This is the also the only place (that I know of) in the parks where you can get Diet Coke with Lime. And somehow, the combination is heaven. I want some right now. Right now. Really, right now. 

So that's it. My faves. I could go on and on, but I want to hear from you all. Weigh in in the comments. What do you love to eat at Disneyland?


I know you've been there, fellas. Your buddy calls you, texts you, emails you - he wants to go to lunch. When ladies go to lunch with each other it's generally because they want to eat something and then talk for a long time. When guys go to lunch with each other it's because one or the other is hangry (hungry+angry) or somebody got a gift card to some restaurant for their birthday. I know I'm perpetuating gender stereotypes, but that's one of the things I do best.

The thing about mandates is that it's always a little awkward to know where to go. Fast food seems too cheap, you know? I don't want my friend to think I'm cheap. I want my friends to think I make a lot of money and that I eat out every day! I won't suggest Wendy's (although you can.) And what if I choose a place that is kind of girly? Then it feels like a date. Choosing a venue is really a crucial part of a mandate. Here are some places you should avoid.

1. Mimi's Cafe. First of all, your mom decorated this place. The service is generally slow, and they literally bus in geriatrics from the local Heaven's Gate Retirement Center. You and your friend have to sit in some "jazzy" booth and pretend you are in the Big Easy? Sippin' a spritzer from a straw? No thanks.

2. Golden Corral. I don't know if they have these outside of Utah. But don't go there. There is poop all over everything. I can't confirm this, but it's a giant buffet and nobody washes their hands. They ring a bell when hot rolls are up and there's a giant stampede and it's all hands, hands, hands. I'm not kidding. If you go here with your friend your friend will think you are gross, or that you have a deathwish.

3. Sushi is great as long as the establishment is seedy and dark. If the establishment is well lit and fancy, you look like a tool. You look like you are showing off to your friend. You look like you wear yoga pants. This would be a nice place to take a lady. Take your friend to the most underground sushi place in town. There's probably poop all over everything there, too, but at least you seem adventurous and not just trashy.

4. Don't go to a romantic place, even if you like the food. Don't put your friend through that. Do you like your friend "more than a friend?" Hmmmmm, ok. But even then you shouldn't go to a romantic place. If someone is playing old standards on a grand piano DO NOT GO INSIDE. Your friend will be frightened. Plus, the food will be so expensive! You don't love your friend that much. And I promise you'll run out of things to talk about (while a waiter lights a candle at your table. Ugh)

Here are some ideas:

1. Go to a sandwich place. Everyone loves a sandwich! I like to go to Sensuous Sandwich even though the title is awkward and my favorite sandwich is the Stimulator (so I have to go ask for an 8 inch Stimulator.) I like it because they slap the food together in front of you and the sandwiches are fat. There's a lot of noise in there as well as competitions to see who can eat the most. People write on the walls and ceilings. I like how I don't have to entertain anyone at Sensuous. There's a lot already going on. If my friend is telling me a boring story I can pretend to listen but also watch some fights break out at other tables.

2. If you have to do fast food, do In-and-Out Burger. It's still kind of classy and they fool you into thinking that the food is fresh and healthy. I buy into these kinds of things easily. You see all types of folks at In-and-Out, and management puts scriptures on the bottom of the drinking cups to remind you that you are on holy ground. DO NOT get the shakes at In-and-Out Burger. They have one flavor: SHAKE.

3. Chili's and/or Appleby's and/or Olive Garden. Because there's a lot of food on your plate and it tastes moderately ok. And it's the same everywhere. These are the places you go to when you can't think of any other places. And they are not romantic at all. Unless you think dime store Indians are romantic (maybe!)

4. Noodles & Company. It's delicious!

Those are my suggestions. Go get 'em, gents!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Say Tomato, I Say Bruschetta

So right about now you are looking out your kitchen window and thinking, "Good Heavens! What. Have. I. Done!"  Those adorable, three dollar heirloom tomato plants you picked up from Home Depo have now fully swallowed those cute cages (you splurged and got the colored ones: red, yellow and blue) and are now aggressively and successfully taking over your lawn.  You have already done your visiting teaching this month (you really only do it July through September because you have to unload these grenades somewhere and you stupidly went with your sisters to buy the plants so they are as inundated as you are and you're thinking to yourself, "One of us should have planted Cucumbers") and the neighbors who just moved in have not even picked up the bag you left on their steps...for the second time.  Well, good thing you are a fervent reader of Part Time Authors because have I got a solution for you!  EAT THEM!  And to help you do that, here are three tried and true killer recipes Lindsay and I have been doing a lot lately, that are tomato based that will have people cheering for you rather than running from you in parking lots.

 *You should note that there is a lot of basil/olive oil going on in all three recipes, but if it ain't broke...

Number 1: Bruschetta

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes...or really all three of your Heirloom Tomatoes diced into bite sized, you know, diced.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf sesame semolina bread, or a good hard baguette cut on the bias. (that's right.) 
  • 2 cloves garlic halved...or 3 cloves...or 4.  We like it garlicky at our house. 
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped...Lindsay will do diced red onions instead so should you
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced, good thing you planted that basil plant in your window!


Dice the Tomatoes into bite sized squares. Cut 2 large "planks" of bread each 1-inch thick by slicing the bread lengthwise horizontally. Reserve the rest of the loaf for another use.
Char bread on both sides (broiler or grill) then rub hot bread with cut garlic.
In a bowl, lightly mash the roasted tomatoes and combine with onions and basil. Top the large planks with tomato mixture then cut each giant crostini into 4 pieces, 8 pieces total.

Number 2:  Caprese Pasta

  • 4 C. Cherry or similar tomatoes...or diced any kind of backyard tomatoes
  • 8 to 10 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • ½ C. Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 1 ½ C. Fresh mozzarella, small cubes
  • Fresh basil and parmesan cheese to garnish


Preheat oven to 350. In a large baking dish, add the tomatoes, sliced garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Bake for about 30 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft and beginning to break open. Remove from the oven.

About 15 minutes before the tomatoes are done, cook your spaghetti according to the package and your preference of doneness.

In large bowl, add the drained pasta, top with the diced mozzarella and roasted tomato mixture and toss. Finish by garnishing with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Adding a  few grinds of fresh ground pepper completes the dish.

Number 3: Pappa al Pomodoro


  • 5 or 6 or 7 good sized tomatoes from your backyard...any color or combination of colors (I did Red and Yellow!)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 4 to 6 leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 4 to 6 leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ pounds country-style bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


1. Dice Tomatoes.
2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, or until softened but not browned. Add the basil and sage and cook for 1 minute, or until softened and aromatic.
3. Add the reserved tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomato mixture is cooked down a little.
4. Add the bread, cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let the soup sit for a few more minutes to allow the bread to soften and melt into the soup.
5. To serve, ladle into shallow soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and garnish each with a basil and sage leaf. Serve immediately.
Advance Preparation:
May be prepared up to 4 hours ahead through Step 4 before serving. The longer it sits, the thicker it will become. Cover and leave at room temperature. Reheat gently.
The clever cook would:
1. Drizzle ½ teaspoon Balsamic Syrup over each serving. (And you should be clever!)
2. Prepare this when you have stale leftover bread.
3. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese...or even better Boursin,  to the soup bowl and then ladle the soup over for a slightly creamy result.

So there you go.  Pull yourself together and get back there and tame that beast!  You are the human after all and you're not the type of gal whose plants get the best of her.  You are a powerful, independent, pruning sheer wielding woman!  And there's nothing wrong with grinding your bites ever so slightly when you are eating the fruits of those newly humbled plants of your backyard.  Happy Conquering!    

Monday, September 17, 2012

Carpe What, Now?

I don’t like to get on my pedestal and publicly shame people, but I feel a moral obligation to say something here. (Also, I actually do kind of like getting on my pedestal and publicly shaming people. But only if they sit silently and let me do it. I don’t like confrontation.)

As a society, we are constantly bombarded with the diatribe of “living each day as if it were your last.” Columnists, pop singers, new-age psychologists, tattoo artists…they all think they’re some kind of “made-you-think” poets with this line. But I find this philosophy to be – how do I put this delicately? – a compost pile.

Let me paint a picture for you of what would actually happen if I lived each day as if it were my last.

  1. I would be fired. Because guess what – if it’s my last day alive, I’m ditching work that day. And sometime around, oh, day 2 of me still being alive but not showing up to work, my boss would probably call. “Uhm – are you coming in today?” “Sorry, Boss. I’m living each day as if it were my last. I won’t be in.” “Uh-huh. Well, ya hippy freak, to me, today IS your last day.”

  1. I would weigh precisely 500 pounds. If I know it’s my last day on earth, I am eating Crunch Berries and Chocodiles for breakfast, two rib-eye sandwiches for lunch, and a Tommy’s Burger for dinner. Five pints of Haagen-Dazs for dessert. Now, that’s a dangerous way to conduct your diet for one day; but if it just so happens to not be my last day on the planet? Well, things are going to quickly get uncomfortable and, digestionally-speaking, unpleasant for me and everyone around me.

  1. My family would hate me. Imagine your child or parent calling you daily and saying, “I’m sorry to tell you this – but I’m dying. These are my final hours, and I just wanted to call and tell you how much I love you. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me. I will miss you.” Emotional havoc ensues. Everybody is a big, weepy mess…until the next day. And the next. And the next. Then your phone call eventually receives a response like this: “There are no powers on heaven or earth that will stop me from coming over there this instant and removing any doubt that you will be taking your last breath today.”

  1. Any material comforts would soon be gone – why pay my mortgage or gas bill? “Hi, Mr. Craig? This is Nevada Energy. I’m afraid we’re going to have to shut off your electricity if you don’t pay your bill today.” “Oh, do your worst. The joke’s on you! I’ll be dead tomorrow!”

  1. I’d be making some powerful enemies, telling certain people exactly what I think of them. Starting with Nevada Energy, but moving on to people who set the gas prices, customer service at Vivint Alarm, and Bill Maher.

My final point to this nonsensical advice of living as if you were dying is this: H.H. Morant famously said, “Live each day like it’s your last and someday, you’ll be right.” Really H.H.? You do recognize that all those days leading up to that tragic day are days you’ll be wrong, don’t you? What kind of faulty reasoning is THAT? If you are so desperate to be right about something, why not choose an event that you would be excited about? “Live each day in your pajamas, because someday, you won’t have to go outside.” Now you’re on to something. Have Dr. Phil tattoo that on your lower back, Tim McGraw!

Friday, September 14, 2012

iPhone 5 Release: What did you think?

I had a really great post idea for this week and then I didn't do it. ("What else is new, Brett?" you ask.) So for this week I found a leaked video predicting the iPhone 5 features. Now that it's become a reality, what do you think? Does the video hit the mark? Do you wish their predictions had made it into the phone?

Happy Friday.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Biggest Weakness is that I am Super Awesome and it Intimidates People

Last week, Chris told you all how to audition for a play. I realized that my sparkly tube top and metallic pants were not doing me any favors when I sang "I Dreamed a Dream" (the Susan Boyle version) and just might be why I didn't get cast.  The post garnered lots of comments and questions. Obviously A LOT of us are auditioning for plays and failing.

So, in that same spirit, I thought I would point out something else a lot of you are failing it (and if you are not failing, your 17 year old is): Job Interviews. You see, I work in retail. And I interview a lot of 16 and 17 year olds looking for a job. And I see a lot of bad interviews. And I want to help. Also, I don't want to sit through your crappy interview, so if you are coming to work for me, read up!

  1. Don't seem bored during the interview. This might seem obvious. But CLEARLY it isn't. I'm busy. I have a lot of things to do in my store. Interviewing you is not my favorite part of my day. So do me the pleasure of at least acting like you want to be there. When I ask you why you want to work for my company, don't say because you need a job. Or because you need money. Be excited about (and know something about) my company. Go to the company web page and read about us.
  2. Outside of the interview, don't be too enthusiastic. I know you read some other interview article that said you should call and follow up after the interview, or call a few days after you turned your application in. Or that you should send a thank you card when the interview is done. Don't. Do. Any. Of. These. If you turned your application in and I didn't call you, its because I looked at your application and I don't want to hire you. No amount of moxie and gumption is going to get you the job. If I interviewed you and then never called you, it is because I didn't like you. And PS, your thank you card didn't change my mind. Especially if you are applying for a minimum wage or entry level job. If you don't hear from me, I'm just not that into you. 
  3. Don't wear sweat pants. Do I need to elaborate?
  4. If I ask you what your weakness is, really tell me what your weakness is. This is sort of trick advice. I NEVER ask this question and I think it is super lame. If you are in an interview and they ask you this first, think about if you really want to work for this d-bag. But second, if you still want to work there, actually state a weakness! Saying you are a perfectionist or that you are chronically on-time is not a weakness and just makes you look arrogant and emotionally unintelligent. Don't tell me that your weakness is murdering children, either. Come up with an honest, true weakness and then talk about how you are working on it and how you can fix it.
  5. Don't show up late and then insist that I am wrong. This has happened to me. More than once.
  6. I know that you can't work on Sunday because you are Mormon and your mom won't let you.  You don't have to beat around the bush or say that it is because of "religious convictions". Just say you are not available on Sunday. If I've got enough people to cover Sundays and that works for me, great! You might get hired. If I specifically need people with Sunday availability, then you probably won't get the job. It's not personal. It's not because I hate God or want to force you to stand up for your beliefs, like some inspirational Mormon Message. It's just business. You can't go to the ice cream stand and tell them you can't work in the summertime and expect to get hired. 
And here is the major one. Don't not have a personality. The biggest secret of job interviews is that I usually know if I am going to hire you within the first 30 seconds. All your fancy amazing answers about how your biggest weakness is motivating people too much don't really matter. I can teach you to do what I need you to do. What I can't teach you is to be exciting and interesting and have a personality. And if I am bored, then my customers will be bored and then you'll be bad at your job and get fired. Don't be a goofball or a cheerleader - just be authentic, outgoing, friendly and charming. If you can do that, show up on time and wear actual pants, you will probably get the job. Remember, don't call and ask if we have made our decision yet. If you have to call me, we have, and it's not you. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


You know how every once in a while you get those emails from people but it's just a link? And there's no subject heading? I get them all the time. I guess I sent one out a few days ago. I was the victim of a hacking. I have to admit I always assumed, when I got those links from people, that they were caused by that person looking at porn. This was very judgemental of me, but secretly fun. I would get these "porn hacked" links from all kinds of people. People you would never suspect! But I want to state unequivocally that I do not look at porn, so that has really changed the way I look at hack jobs.

I didn't know that I had been hacked until 2500 people texted me and told me. Apparently they got the link, panicked, and let me know. I felt guilty about that. When I get those link-type emails from other people I basically deem the person a porn addict and then delete the mail. I never thought of letting them know that they had been hacked. It's actually a thoughtful thing to do, even though there's nothing you can do about it once the link goes out. You just have to pray that no one opens it, even though some people (my sister Lucy) did open it. Hailey Smith wrote and said:

"The sad thing is that people probably get excited to get an email from you and click the link."

In the midst of my bewilderment, that was a really nice thing to say. Hailey made me feel like a someone people like hearing from, and not just a dodgy old smutterist. How nice that people (Lucy again) would be so excited to hear from me that they would jeopardize their computer. I feel like I should send out a link that people could safely enjoy. How about this one? Click here.

And then, I started hearing from lots of people. It was fantastic! A lot of people just said "looks like you've been hacked" without any punctuation or anything, but they took the time to do it. And that meant a lot to me. It would be like getting a hundred emails on Father's Day just saying "you are a father." It's cursory, yes, but someone took the time. So then I took the time to email my whole contact list, letting them know about the hacking and apologizing. And guess what? I started to hear back!

I heard from my English friend Richard, who just had twin girls. I had no idea about those twins! Thanks, Hacker!

Cally, an associate from BYU whom I haven't seen in over two years, wrote and said "you are making a great impact through your UVU service." That was nice to hear. Well done, Hacker! I feel better about myself.

My old PhD cohort pal Betsy wrote and said that it was great to be in touch again. It only took a hacking!

My friend Ed wrote and made a joke about me being a "Korean pornographer." Oh, Ed! Thanks for the laugh! And thank YOU, Hacker!

My friend Brett wrote and would you guess? We have a movie date planned! Just what I need. Hacker, take me away!

So in the end, this turned out great. I really hope I get hacked more often. Not a lot, because I have to keep changing my password and boy, that gets old. But just enough so that life can reacquaint me with some of my favorite people who come replete with awesome compliments and a couple of good jokes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thank You For Being A Friend

So here's the thing, they are killing me at work.  We are moving the store (that's right, it's over at the Gateway and you missed the big sale and if one more person tells me how much they loved to shop on Sundays and now we are gonna miss their business...I'm gonna puke) and I just finished a 12-hour day starting at 5:45 (that's a 4:45 wake up if I was gonna care what I looked 5:00 am wake up) and now I find myself only writing with parenthesis which someone once told me was trite.  (Like she would know.)

But I have a scheme.  And you know I love a good scheme.

Did you guys know that there are 4 other Part Time Authors? It's true and, no, my mother isn't one of them (though she could be).  So today, in an effort to use my friends' really hard work to my own advantage, I am going to post my favorite posts written by my fellow PTAs.  Think of this as that weak Golden Girls episode where the ladies sit around the table and "Remember the time..." and then just run clips from old shows that you have already seen.  Yeah, this is gonna be sorta like sorta like this:

 Only with the five of us.  
No Mom, this is not us. 

Here's how things work around here:

Monday is Ken:  Ken and I met pretty recently and then became writing partners when this blog was born.  He is my newest friend and he is by far the funniest author on this blog.  See what I mean here, it's classic Ken:

Ken and Vinal

Tuesday is Me: I have known myself all my life and I am hands down the funniest author on this blog.  See what I mean here:

Patrick and Girls' Hair

Wednesday is Chris:  They call him 'Topher' in the contributors, that's why you can never find him. Chris was my boss when I worked at Barnes & Noble before my 14 years ago.  He since then has received his PhD and is a wildly successful and highly paid director and professor.  I have done the exact same thing only went the much easier route and just married my Phd/Professor/Director.  Chris absolutely the funniest author on this blog.  See what I mean here, it's SO Chris:

Chris is a Mormon

Thursday is Josh:  Josh got the whole gang together.  Without him none of us would be here.  He knows and loves each of us individually and also as a whole on this blog...he's a lot like Jesus in that way.  He is without a doubt the funniest author on this blog.  See what I mean here, typical Josh:

Josh's Wife Makes Lunch

Friday is Brett:  Brett and I met over a decade ago and we acted and improv-ed and made merriment together.  He introduced me to my wife (that's all I'm saying 'bout that) and I introduced him Holly Cole...on this blog. Brett is LITERALLY the funniest author on this blog.  See what I mean here, this is what we call 'pulling a Brett':

Brett Tells You What to Watch

So that's us! I thought maybe if you come here to just read my posts you would take a look at some of my friends, they are funny and thoughtful and witty and worth is my mom. See what I mean by her comments here, Total Connie:

Not Even My Post

Have a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another eHarmoney Success Story

I was recently the recipient of a most intriguing text. It was 10:18 in the P.M. when my cell phone vibrated in my right, front pants’ pocket. Instinctively, I demanded everyone stop talking or moving around or carrying on with any frivolity and shenanigans, so I could give the proper respect and attention to my incoming text. But I was suddenly perplexed by what I read:

Hi Ally. Just wanted to say hi. I hope it’s not too late. Justin.

Now, for those of you keeping score at home, my name is not Ally. Never has been. Not even to my most intimate friends. And the only Justin I know who would text me is my brother. And he rarely calls me ‘Ally.’ And he knows I keep late hours, so unless he was texting to ask me if it was too late to apologize for breaking into my locked trunk while I was out of the country for two years on my mission and subsequently losing not one but TWO mix tapes I had made before leaving, then I couldn't see why he would be asking me if it was “too late.” (And no, Justin, it’s not late to apologize for that. I forgive you. Whew – I’ve been waiting for that one! Thank goodness that’s over. Water under the bridge, brother. Water. Under. The Bridge.)

Anyway, I immediately surmised that this fellow had the wrong number. So as a common courtesy, I simply typed:

Of course it’s not too late. Come on over. 
And giggled to myself at the thought of Justin showing up to Ally’s residence, unannounced and late in the evening. But then I thought, “This Justin character (if that is his real name) has my cell phone number. He could really make things annoying for me. Best I just leave him alone.” So I deleted my original message and went with the safer:

Justin who?

From eHarmony,
 he clarified.

Wrong number. 
I answered back. I’m not Ally.

, he texted a final time. She gave me a wrong number. Don’t I feel like an [Bible swear word].

Oh, this poor soul. He actually trusted that this woman had given him her real number. Now, I’ve never been on eHarmony; however, I have to assume that of all the millions of phone numbers exchanged over that site, 98% to 112% of them are fakes.

I thought of sparing his feelings and helping him to feel like maybe he was dodging a bullet with Ally. Something like: Just kidding, Justin. This is Ally. I’m sorry, but it IS too late. I’ve gone back to my boyfriend. He has been there for me every time I’ve gotten out of rehab. Also, we love the same Nicholas Sparks movies! And even when I pistol-whipped him one time for making that comment about The View, he forgave me so quickly. So, sorry Justin, but maybe in a different life.

But again, he had my cell phone number. Plus that would have taken too much time to text. Plus I am exceptionally busy as of late, trying to recreate two awesomely assembled mix tapes, circa 1990, that my brother may or may not have lost and/or stolen. (For which I totally forgive him.)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Writer's List of the Top 10 Movies About Writers

Today on Part Time Authors we'll show how the love/hate relationship many of us have with writing is wonderfully represented in movies. Let's get right to it ...

10. Stranger Than Fiction
Sometimes the characters we write already have a life of their own. We have to find that life and figure out the best way for them to continue to live (or die?) inside our story.

9. Barton Fink
You think you suffere from severe writer's block? You don't know what that really is until you've seen this movie.

8. Capote
Philip Seymour Hoffman is so perfect in this. I think what you can take away, other than sometimes we have to write about hard and difficult things, is that research and process are as much a part of a successful piece than anything else.

7. The Hours 
This one made me cry a lot. I've never read the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" but after seeing what happens to these ladies while reading (writing) it, do I want to? Did I mention it's sad?

6. Almost Famous
The performances are top notch. The story is great. The dialogue is brilliant. And, it accurately portrays the excitement, joy, stress, sadness, and disillusionment of writing. Oh, and that scene where he plays Stairway to Heaven for his mom ... amazing.

5. Adaptation
Not everything we create needs to make sense to other people if it makes sense to us.

4. The Shining
Best horror film ever? It's a least the best horror film with a writer as a [SPOILER] murderer.

3. Wonderboys
Haven't read the book. Ha! But I loved this movie. At the time I saw this there was this conflict inside of me that I really wanted to be Grady Tripp and at the same time never wanted to be Grady Tripp. Do you know what I mean?

2. Finding Neverland
One of my favorite movies. There are a lot of movies on this list that portray writers as sad, depressed, and neurotic. However, this movie inspires me to be not only a better writer but a better person every time I watch it.

1. Sunset Boulevard
It's not only the best movie with a writer as the main character, it's one of the best movies ever made. Period. It's groundbreaking, witty, scary, and devilishly well-written.

So, what do you think of the list? What did I miss?

[Author's note: I didn't really enjoy Sideways.]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What to buy me for Christmas: A new Kindle

Note: This is the original Kindle, not the shiny new ones. 
Amazon announced their new Kindle's today and they are gorgeous. I have loved the Kindle since the first one launched in 2007 when they were weird and big and boxy and cost like $500. I got my first Kindle a year or so later when they were slightly more affordable (but still WAY overpriced) because my wife is generous and lovely and kind. Later, I upgraded to a newer model (because of course I did) and she took my old one. She didn't think that she would use it much. She was a book lover. But she took to that Kindle like Walter White took to meth cooking. I think she reads about 1 book per day on her kindle and uses it a lot more that I ever do.

I wrote this post awhile back for Modern Mormon Men, where I used to be a contributor. I think it still applies. It is called (e)Book?

It's a Book
It's a Book by Lane Smith
It makes me happy when children's books are smart and funny. It makes me even happier when they are topical and well written. (If I have to read another one of those Hot Wheels books again when on every page the cars are on a different continent, I am going to tear my remaining hair out.) It's a Book by Lane Smith is fantastic in that regard. Gorilla (or whatever he is) is reading a book, and his friend Jackass (which is kind of a funny name to have in a children's book) can't seem to get his head around it. He keeps asking questions like "How does it scroll down? Does it need a password? Does it tweet?" to which Gorilla simply replies "No. It's a book."

I read it to the kids last night and laughed (especially when the book ended with the pithy "It's a book, Jackass.") but it made me think about the books and their place in our world.

I am a great lover of books. My wife and I were both English majors, so we own plenty of books. Just last week we were measuring the home office to see if we could fit another bookshelf in there. We have bookshelves in our living room, in the kid's bedroom, in the upstairs hallway. The china hutch in the dining room holds our collection of cookbooks and food literature. The floor next to my nightstand is stacked with an ever growing and expanding collection of books I want to read. I meticulously catalogue it all on Goodreads. Our house is overflowing with books.

But I am also a great lover of technology. I got a Kindle a couple of years ago (not this new one, mind you. I covet this new one.) and have loved it. A lot of my book-loving friends pooh-poohed it when I got it and said things like "Oh, I would never want to read a book on a screen." or "I just love new books! I love the smell and the feel and everything." Some even asked me "Are you just not going to read actual books anymore?" I do still read a lot of actual books. Last year I read about seven books on the Kindle and about 26 actual paper books.

Right now, I can't see myself ever giving up paper books. But there are some things that I love about reading books on the Kindle. In fact, I prefer to read certain books on it. The first book I bought on my Kindle was Drood by Dan Simmons. It's a fantastic book but it is also about 975 pages long. I got it first from the library and it weighed about 14 lbs. I couldn't imagine carrying it around on business trips. It would need its own ticket. I also love the convenience of a Kindle book. Because I have a free Kindle app on my smart phone, I have a book with me wherever I go. If I am on a lunch break at work, or waiting for an appointment, I can pick up in my current novel of choice and read a few pages. When I get back home, my Kindle is already synced to the same page. It's magic.

So will books ever go away? Slate's Julia Turner posed this question in the great Culture Gabfest. Paraphrasing her, she pondered whether the day would come where all physical representations of cultural media would go away. Think about it - when is the last time you bought a DVD instead of getting it from Netflix or downloading it from iTunes? Or when was the last time you bought a CD? Do they still even sell CDs in stores? Are books the next icon to fall?

I can hear your arguments now. And I agree with you. Remember, I love books! But remember when mp3 players first started hitting the scene and audiophiles complained that the sound quality was poor and that a digital copy of a song could never have the same depth and soul as an actual recording? I am no audiophile, so I can't argue with that point. But I do think that the convenience and ease of carrying 1 million songs in my pocket outweighs any loss I might have in sound quality. So will the ability to carry every book I've ever read and ever want to read in my pocket at all times outweigh the need for that great smell or great feel of a new book? I'm not convinced yet. But I can feel the tide shifting.

Author's Note: Even though it sounds like it was, this post was in no way sponsored by the Kindle or by Amazon. However, if Amazon feels so inclined to send me a free new Kindle, I would gladly take it. I am a blogger, so I have no journalistic integrity and love handouts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

so you think you can act

I teach acting, or at least I used to. I became the department chair in July, so now my job is listening to everybody's problems. But before this I taught acting, and one of my classes was called "Auditions." There is no mystery in that title. I honestly taught students how to audition for shows, or anyway how not to. So I know a little bit about it.

It occurred to me recently that many people audition for community plays and theatre with no knowledge or training on how to audition. I'm sure in some places, rural folksy places, a badly chosen monologue is cute and a warbly song is endearing, but not in Utah. Utah, for whatever reason (MORMONS) seems to have a real knack for the arts. And we are a little competitive. And you can't just walk into an audition looking like some yahoo or Mammy Yokum with yer cutesy story and 16 bars of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." No sir. We're out for blood. And in the world of Utah community theatre, there will be blood.

So maybe I can help. Hoping to nail that dream role? Looking to make some new friends? Ready to spend six weeks in the world of lip buzzes and back rubs? Here's a few things to consider before you walk into that audition room:

1. Don't wear crazy crap. I mean it. Seriously - not even stripes. Solid colors, always. Don't have crazy hair. Ever. Ladies, don't hobble in on high heels all spangled up like you came from trollop church. Gentlemen, crazy ripped top-stitched jeans or an ironic t-shirt do not help you. All we remember is your dumb outfit. You are fighting a losing battle. Be conservative. Dress like you were recently birthed from the loins of JC Penney. Ask yourself "is there any way my outfit can be more boring?" If the answer is yes, hit that. I wish I was exaggerating. If I can't remember your face but I remember your sparkly booty shorts (GUYS) then you lost.

2. If you are auditioning for a musical, it's a safe bet we'll need you to sing. So maybe you're not a great singer? I'm not - it's ok! Why not hold out for a straight play? And if you're determined to sing for us anyway, maybe it would be a good idea to get a little coaching first? LIFE COACHING? Also, if you are a marginal singer you better be an amazing dancer. You better be on the hot tamale train. Because most musical theatre people are great singers but not great dancers, or they're vice versa. So which are you? Neither? Hmmmm. Save yourself some pain and try out for that new Agatha Christie thriller they're doing down at the five and dime. You'll still make friends and memories and you won't deal with shin splints or judgy gay dudes.

3. If you are auditioning for, say, Oklahoma, don't pick a song to sing from Oklahoma. Pick a song from that genre. Here are some terrible songs to pick anytime:

I Dreamed a Dream from Les Mis
Castle in the Cloud from Les Mis
Anything from Les Mis
Send in the Clowns (boring!)
I Could Have Danced All Night (too high for you)

Anything from Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
Anything from The Book of Mormon (we act like we're cool with it, but we really aren't)
Songs your Grandpa used to sing you when you were a kid (probably racist)
Cultural songs from your mission
Anything that indicates you should be dancing at that moment


5. You need to slate. You need to tell us who you are. Do you have a headshot? Great! Did your mom or roommate take it? Not great. You gotta spend money to make money in this biz. Save up, get some snappy headshots, zip yourself out a little CV and you are ready to rock! Do not list high school plays on your CV. I would rather see six inches of blank page than your high school reel.

6. Don't talk too much before your audition. Don't walk in and try to engage us in conversation. Think of yourself as a very, very special robot. If we ask you how you are, or apologize for the wait, or compliment your slacks, you may respond. But don't come in all chatty and casual and expect us to match that. We're probably grouchy because we've seen a million people wearing crazy crap and singing Les Mis. We'll say hello, you say hello, and then we all launch right into your audition. It's not personal. Actually, it is personal, but that's a topic for another time.

7. You are being timed, most likely. If you go over time, someone will say STOP. You should stop. Maybe you should time your pieces before you come?

um, that's all I can think of right now. Do you have any more questions for me? Go ahead and list them in the comments and I'll respond. I'm sure there are a ton of things I can answer. Also: there is no casting couch in Utah, so DON'T ASK. Also: don't chew gum. Sorry, I wish I had more do's than don'ts - it makes me sound so negative. Basically DO not do all those things. Contact me below. I want to help.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Parenting and the Mountians, Part II

So you all remember last week when I took my wife and kids inside and mountain to die.  Well, I thought I had made it pretty clear that we were no longer going to parent outside but then, for some reason, America celebrates Labor. I don't know why and I asked my wife, who is the smartest person I know, and she told me that it was because "We now have weekends".  I smiled because I knew this response was one of two things: One, she was serious and I didn't want to look like a fool...(er) or Two, she was joking, however she would only be joking because she thought I was joking by asking such a stupid question in which case I had to play it off like I was joking.  So I still don't know why we have Labor Day, (cause if it's for the weekends why do we celebrate it on Monday?) I could google it, but so could you and that's not why we're here anyway.

We went to a cabin.  Yup.  One week after the Cave of Death we went to the Cabin of Death.  No, not really, it was more the cabin of leaf changing tranquility and a moose. I found myself with the weekend off and Lindsay found herself in the same predicament, which almost never happens, so we tried to whip up some fun plans but it turns out everyone made plans for Labor Day before Friday afternoon.  Literally, my brother, who was camping, told us there was no room for us cause his friends were coming up that night, he may have meant in his trailer but it sounded more like, in the whole Utah Wild.  Well, just about to give up we called Lindsay's cousin and our good friends, (they are the same people not two sets of people one being a cousin and one being a good I guess I should have wrote Lindsay's cousin who is our good friend but that would complicate things, not like this parenthesized paragraph which only simplifies.) and they were more then happy to go to their grandfathers cabin with us.  So we went...however, we did leave the backpack of death behind which is strange as it would have been perfect for such a trip.  So we cabined, and took naps (that's four adults and five kids under 5 all sleeping at the same time... karma for that hellish cave fiasco) and ate good trashy food and watched Brother Bear (really Phil Collins, that's the best you can do? Perhaps it was, in which case, get a job.) and read the book club book and took a drive over unpaved mountain roads with all the kids free of seat-belts.  I know, it could have been awful but it was wonderful. 

Then this morning, my little family, all on our own, drove up to Mirror Lake and went to the Provo River Upper Falls or somewhere and it was down right lovely.  The kids loved it, the dog loved it, we loved it, everyone happy and together.

As we drove away, my wife and I had a great young parenting talk and I thought I'd pass on our barely tested wisdom.  Several weeks ago we had a hard talk...not a fight, a hard talk, and it seemed that there was this score keeping going on between her and I. When one of us would come home we would relay all the horrible and hard things two kids and a dog had done, the point being to prove to the other one how hard my day home with the kids was.  It was strange but it was palpable.  So after a while we got in to a fight...not a hard talk, a fight and it was as if we had been storing bullets of hard work we had been doing while the other did nothing.  There was a big feeling of 'I have it the hardest and I can prove it!' Well, I don't know how it is in your house but in my house after every fight there is the fight summery where we pin point where we went wrong.  And it's good, cause we've made up and we can cop up to our blame. And at some point one of us figured out this Score Keeping and we both knew that was the center.  There is no equality in marriage.  You never come out fair and square so don't strive for it.  There is, however, the good stuff and the bad stuff. And for weeks we had been laying the bad stuff at the others feet, hoping they'd trip on it and get all covered in it and know how much Bad Stuff I had to deal with because it had just ruined her favorite sweater.  So we gave it up.  The new rule was just give me the good stuff.  When we tell each other about our days, we just pass off the good stuff.  Lindsay has done much better than I have, in my defense I have been at work picking up the clothes I thought I asked you to hang up yourselves and return to me with a smile, but she told me that this new point of view has changed the way she parents.  We have a two year old, so most days are pretty much 50/50, half good, half bad and so it's just as easy to focus on one as it is the other, and she found that her days were just better when she thought about the good stuff.

So I know it's not ground breaking, and I'm sure there is a Covey step that tells me all of that in a much better way, but for us, in our own little experiment, it's worked...or is working.  It turns out we really like taking care of our kids and we like having a partner who likes taking care of our kids, too.  I guess what I'm saying is, take the drive to the Upper Falls, it's worth the view.

Also, we saw a moose.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Let Me Call You Sweetheart?

"Oh, Shmoopy..."
Do you and your spouse have “pet names” for each other? Was it a conscious decision to have or not have  said pet names? Did it sort of organically happen? Did it evolve from something else like an inside joke? Or do you have pet names for each other that you really don’t care for, and you aren't sure where they came from, but now you just can’t stop?

Well, pull up a chair, Foofie Poops, and I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on the subject.

I always heard my dad call my mom “sweetheart” growing up. I only heard him call her “Dawn” when he was out of the house, talking about her in social situations and referring to her in the third person. You could have lived in my house all your life and not known my mom’s given name.

My only other memorable exposure to a “pet name,” from my adolescence, was when my brother and I had to pay a visit to the home of some high ranking official in the Boy Scouts organization, who lived in our area. His wife was Korean, and he looked like an anorexic version of Grizzly Adams. She answered the door when we knocked, and as she went around the corner to tell her husband the door was for him, we heard him answer, “Thank you, lover.” My brother and I completely fell apart. This was, hands down, the funniest thing we’d ever heard. We couldn’t decide if we should flee the scene or pretend we were laughing about something else…but one thing was for certain: We both decided we would never call a significant other “lover.” That just seemed wrong to me on a myriad of levels.

In the 1987 John Hughes movie She’s Having a Baby, the couple in the movie called each other “babe.” I kind of liked the way it sounded. I thought for sure that that would be my go-to pet name; but it never took.

Here are some names that I just think should be outlawed:
Boo-Boo. (Sounds like you think of your spouse as an accident.)
Pookie. (Sounds like you had an accident.)
Sergeant Sexy. (Sounds like you want everyone in the room to feel awkward.)
Hot Pants. (Sounds like you want everyone in the room to look at your spouse’s bum.)
Muffin. (Just…no.)
Mama/Papa or Mother/Father. (You are neither of these to each other. So stop it. Just stop it right now.)
Pumpkin. (I’m about to fly my OCD freak flag, but I am opposed to this pet name because…(are you ready?)…it’s seasonal. You read that right. Pumpkins are seasonal. They are autumn. So it is completely offensive to refer to your spouse as Pumpkin in, like, March. I don’t know why my brain works that way, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this out loud to the Interwebs; but there, I said it. And those are my feelings.)

Katie and I don’t especially use “pet names,” but we do use what I guess you could call nicknames.  When I was on my LDS Mission in Portugal, I had a companion who became a great friend who became a fantastic roommate who became one of the reasons I met Katie. (Did you follow that?) Anyway, whilst on our missions, he was being hilarious one afternoon and referred to me as “Craigles (Craig-ells),” instead of my traditional missionary title, “Elder Craig.” (Or “Elder Hot Pants,” in some circles.) Anyway, this stuck for many people who knew me after that, including Katie. (She even had it engraved on the inside of my wedding ring.) Yes, she has called me Craigles since we met, and I, in turn, have called her Katles. I suppose rather than nicknames you could call these “exclusive pet names.”

We also sometimes call each other “dude,” though this came about as an inside joke that stuck. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult habit to break.

What happened was this: When Katie and I were first married I went to play racquetball with a friend. He was a super-athlete type of guy (read: competitive jock). I picked him up at his place, and as we were heading for the door I looked back at his sweet, young bride. She was pregnant with their first, and seemed so maternal. If memory serves, she may have literally been sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. I was waiting for some adorable scene of him walking over to kiss her cheek, then her bulging baby-filled stomach. Maybe get her a drink on his way out the door. Instead, he turned from the front door, held up his hand towards her like he was sending an “air-high-five,” and said, “See ya, dude.” I thought this was hilarious. I told Katles about it, and we laughed and laughed. For about a week, we kept calling each other that, thinking we were so stinkin’ funny. And now, 17 years later, the joke is dead…but the name lives on, dude.

So if you are feeling jipped that you do not have pet names for each other, or maybe you have grown tired of the pet names that you do have, then are you in luck! I am hanging up my shingle, and I am open for business. What can I do to get YOU into a new pet name today, Sweet-stuff?

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