Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Audiobook Listening Considered Reader Cheating?

I'm listening to audiobooks now. In the past, I avoided them for two reasons: I didn't have a long enough commute and I thought that if I didn't actually pick up the book and read it, then it didn't count.

Of course, technically, listening isn't reading. But, in theory, the activity of listening vs reading is only different in the method of input. When you read, you see the words and your brain creates images and creates a world for you to live in. When you listen, your brain still does those same things. You still have to imagine it all. Perhaps the biggest difference is that you can't go at your own pace or stop to take notes when you're listening.

So, today I believe that when I listen to books, I've legitimately consumed that book. However, I still think there are certain books that can't simply be heard and must be read. I plan to practice some basic rules to determine if I go book vs audiobook:

  1. Books for improving my job need to be audiobooks because they normally take me months to read. Good info, not very fun.
  2. Humor books read by the author are great audiobooks, e.g., Tina Fey's Bossypants.
  3. I'm torn on "classics" because some you just HAVE to read and others are Moby Dick.
  4. Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror make great audiobooks and can really freak your ___ while you're driving home from work and it's dark.
  5. Any audiobooks read by Kirby Heyborne because he's a friend and doesn't suck at it.
  6. Read books by authors who love and play with language because that is a visual experience and can't be duplicated by listening. Authors such as Hemmingway, Beckett, Chabon, Cather, Poe, Pynchon, Shakespeare, and Faulkner, for example.
  7. Read books that your book club is reading if at all possible just because. I don't belong to a book club but I feel like I would prefer to have read the book myself. Maybe it depends on the book. Thoughts, book-clubbers?

But enough about me, let's hear (ok, read) what some other people have to say about the question.

"Is listening to a book as good as reading it? I contend that it is not ... I choose audiobooks that are heavy on plot, but relatively light on character development and lyrical descriptions." – Mary McCauley of the Baltimore Sun blog

"Audio books are not cheating. In fact, I think that in some cases hearing a story spoken aloud can bring a new depth to the experience. I no longer stumble over the phrase “I’ve read that book” if, in fact, I have listened to it instead of reading the print version. The end result – hearing the tale – is the same whether you’re reading or, in essence, being read to." – @suddenlyjamie of the New Hampshire Writer's Network blog

I listen to audiobooks with the Audible app for the iPhone. Now, on my way to work, I listen to books all the time. I look forward to every moment I have in my car now, even with work-related books. I once again feel like a "reader" because I'm finishing books.

Are audiobooks cheating?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Last night, my friend Kacy posted this video on Facebook.
So I watched it. Then I cried. Then I watched it again. Then I cried again. They I realized. My excitement for the new Les Miserable movie has reached critical mass. Basically I am so overwhelmingly excited that unless Jesus himself appears at the end of the movie and hands out cheesecakes to everyone in the theatre, it won't live up to my expectations. They are simply too high.

You feel the same way? Remember a few months ago when this trailer came out and you were so excited?

You were shocked, right? You didn't know Anne Hathaway could sing. You thought she could only marry gay cowboys and dress like a cat to rob buildings. And everyone loves Hugh Jackman and Russel Crowe. And of course you adore Amanda Seifried, but mostly because she reminds you of Veronica Mars. (Remember how you totally figured out who killed Lilly Kane halfway through the season and it made you feel awesome?)

And they you got your Theatre Geek on and made a new Pandora station called Theatre Geek so that while you were cleaning the house you could put in your headphones and belt Sweeny Todd and Big River and Newsies Into the Woods and your kids would laugh and point at you and you didn't care. (Plenty of people have laughed and pointed at you for singing show tunes in your life, amirite?? Bring it on, kids!)

Then you went to see a movie with friends. (Perks of Being a Wallflower - awesome.) and there was another Les Miserable trailer. Awesome!!! And you saw this:
Well...that was...interesting. That's cool  how they sing live. It was a little...indulgent seeming and it was like 7 min long. But, whatever. This movie is going to RULE!

Then you went to see another movie (Pitch Perfect - also kind fantastic) and you saw the same extended trailer again.

And then you started to wonder if the producers of Les Miserable were trying to annoy you by showing this trailer everywhere. When Hugh Jackman talks about his acting choices like he is curing cancer, it starts to seem a bit self important. (Sweet Jesus, what has he done, indeed?) And when Anne Hatheway says it would be incredibly selfish to "try and go for the pretty version" it seemed like maybe, just maybe, the people making this movie were taking it incredibly seriously. Perhaps too seriously. Perhaps.

But then you saw the next trailer and you got chills and cried and all was forgiven:
Because despite how awesome the actors in this movie want to tell you it is going to be, it probably is going to be pretty awesome. And we all know we are going to go opening weekend. In fact, let's all go together. Who's with me?!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

new neighbors

In the past month I saw two movies and sat next to a horrible person at both of them. This person is not my wife, though she was there as well. No, I was sitting by a random stranger who did their best to make the experience really horrible for me. And in both cases, I don't think they were aware that they were doing it! Isn't life crazy? Crazy, and sometimes really terrible? Because movies are expensive and I didn't pay all that money to sit by your crazy mom.

The first special neighbor I had sat by me at a recent viewing of Skyfall. A movie I loved and saw twice, by the way. Lisa had gone ahead with our friends Kacy and Christian to get seats while I waited in the popcorn line. When I made my way into the theatre and found my seat, I could tell by the looks on Lisa and Kacy's faces that popcorn was not the only treat I'd be enjoying! I'd also be sitting by a really drunk man.

He was bald, like me, and that seemed to create an instant connection. From the moment I sat down he introduced himself and started to chat away. SUPER LOUD. And the booze fumes were toxic. You know when really drunk people bellow into your face and the smell makes you want to die? You don't? You need to get out more. Anyway, it was like that.

The previews came on and he narrated all of them to me. There was a (presumably) drunk lady sitting with him, but he seemed way more into me (if I had a nickel!) Some preview with Hal Holbrook came on, and he could not believe that Hal Holbrook was still alive. And I heard about it for about ten minutes, complete with swear words. That f'n Hal Holbrook is still alive, you guys! Who knew?

He did not enjoy Skyfall. It was too slow for him. During Javier Bardem's amazing opening monologue (which, if there were any justice, would get him an Oscar nomination) he started to growl "Aaaaaaaac-tion!" in my ear. You know - he wanted more action! As if I were controlling the movie. As if I could make action suddenly start. Hang on, man! Let me talk to Javier and encourage another motorcycle chase! What? It's a movie? On a screen? You're super hammered? This is all so sudden!

At the climax of the film he burped. And then, as the final credits rolled, he offered a succinct review: "Skyfall? More like SKYBORING!"

Lisa and I attended The Life of Pi last week and I tried to book seats with no one next to me. Thwarted again! Some middle-aged woman with a puffy jacket found her way in there, and she latched onto me as well. She seemed nice enough, until the movie started. And then, as Lisa smartly observed, it was as if she had never seen a movie before!

Everything was terrifying! She clenched her puffy coat to her face and hid her eyes.

"Oh, I just can't take any more of this show!" she kept announcing. But she did! She took it! And listen - there is maybe one legitimate scare in the entire movie. But this woman was clearly at Paranormal Activity 6. In her mind she was watching Murders Galore! or Everything's Super Scary and You Should Scream. Because she jumped up and down in her seat like a Jack in the Box, and Oooh'd and Aaah'd and Golly'd every 30 seconds.

I'm not being mean, everyone. She was not mentally disabled. I talked to her before. She seemed fine enough. I'm not making fun of her. I'm genuinely concerned for her, because she was honestly scared by flying fish and Gerard Depardieu and a few big waves. One time a giant whale swam under Pi's lifeboat, and she announced "Oh, that's a whale." Later in the movie Pi taunts a tiger with a stick, which the tiger paws at playfully.

"Oh, my cat does that, too!" she confided.

On and on. Two hours of chatting, shrieks, and puffy coat hiding. She wasn't even drunk.

I don't know if I can go to any more movies. And I want to!! I love movies and I like eating popcorn. But what can I do? I would love some advice. And don't tell me to just tell the person to be quiet. It doesn't help, and in some cases it just starts a fistfight. Can you imagine me fistfighting that lady? She'd trap me in her panic coat and I'd never get out. What could be worse?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm not posting today.

I don't have to, I have an excuse.  And don't you think that if a person has an excuse, a really good excuse that only comes along once or (in my case) twice in a life time, they should use that excuse? I do.  I really am the type of person who, if I throw up, I go home from work.  Even if I'm not sick, if I just throw up but feel fine, I'm still leaving...cause I have an excuse.  I mean, I know there are people out there who have excuses and yet, they hang around and do stuff they could not do because they can muscle through and get the job done, but that's not me, I do NOT muscle through.

Like, I knew this girl once, who passed out during her new hire training and she just sat out for a few minutes and then kept on being trained. It's like, GO HOME! You-done-passed-out! You have a reasonable excuse, no one is thinking, that girl is super awesome for passing out and then learned how to handle an online return.  They're thinking, "That chick totally passed out for reals, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she hit the floor, and then that fool stayed." That's what they are thinking.

I bet Ken is the kind of person who muscles through. Like if Ken were walking an old lady across the road and a Suburban just sort of nicked him, just sort of grazed his hip, he would be all, "It's nothing, I'm glad to do it. Let's get you across this wild road, sweetie." Then he'd stuff that crotchety old bag into his man purse and bound softly across the road. I can totally see that.  Whatever Ken, you do what you want,  if a Suburban even comes close to me-- I'm out.  I don't mess around.  That lady'd be lucky if I called out, "Good luck!" as I was ditching her nightgown wearing sack of bones in the middle of the street, what's she doing making me haul her nightgown wearing sack of bones across the street anyway?!  Where does she even have to go?  Put some clothes on, you old bag!

Now Chris, he will take the excuse. He has to! I mean, everyone wants him to do all sorts of dumb stuff and if he did everyone's dumb stuff they wanted him to do, he would never get anything done except the dumb stuff other people wanted him to do. More then once Chris has hit me with the excuse.  I mean, really, he's told me he was in the hospital having babies, like 5 times, I don't get mad though, I mean, every time he has come home with a kid and then began raising that kid and will raise that kid until he can legally get out of it, all so he didn't have to go with me to see "What Lies Beneath".

Josh, he's tough.  Now, he loves a good excuse.  He is not evening going to finish reading this blog post because *Enter Excuse Here*. But then there is a part of him who likes having all his crap done, that's the real problem with the excuse, it really only buys you time, it's not like your problems go away, unless your willing to raise 5 random kids to get a way from your problems then they are still waiting for you, standing at the end of your bed waiting for you to take off your sleep mask and wake up. So Josh will finish the reading this post and he'll quip some witty quip but it will only be to tie up this loose end and he will sleep tonight.

Brett...I'm pretty sure that Brett didn't post last week because he was busy "giving thanks". Well my excuse tops that for sure!  I mean, we all had to sit around some table and rack our brains for something that we are thankful for that doesn't sound like you just copied your brother but inserted your own wife's name instead.  We all had get up at 3:30 in the morning to get to the back of the Best Buy line only to come home with a $700 Mini Blue-Ray player that only plays Mini Blue-Ray's that haven't been invented yet. It's fine.  He had a great excuse and he took it, I would have, but I had to post on Tuesday and there were no national holidays lined up for last Tuesday, so what could I do? I posted.  But not this week.  This week I am taking off.  Because today, Tuesday, maybe even as you are reading this, I am sitting in a courtroom waiting to have a judge tell me and my wife that my 6 month old son is now legally and permanently ours.  It's all I can think about and I don't want to think about anything else. I just want to sit and think about the reason I can't post today.

And it's this guy.  

{ He was the Little Bad Wolf for Halloween...I made the costume.}

Welcome home, Milo.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas Movie

If you’re like me, the first thing you pull out of the Christmas boxes once they are lugged in from the garage are the Christmas movies! (Also if you’re like me, you like to end each December night with a cup of Stephen’s hot chocolate. Also if you’re like me, sometimes you wonder if you have a uterus, because you sound like a girl.)

I love Christmas movies. I am a complete and total sucker for all Christmas movies. My impenitent opinion is that there is never enough time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to watch all the Christmas movies. And that is because my broad definition of “a Christmas movie” is “any movie taking place during Christmastime.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas? Obviously a Christmas movie. How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Clearly. Miracle on 34th Street? It’s a Wonderful Life? Duh. Scrooged? Christmas Vacation? Home Alone? Yes, yes, and yes. Serendipity? About a Boy? Better Off Dead? Die Hard? (Did I just blow your mind?) Well, my narrow-minded-Christmas-movie-defining friend…you tell me…

I am a big fan of the Rankin/Bass productions, largely for nostalgic reasons. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, etc., etc. Millions and millions of years ago – in the 1970s – you would have to actually wait until December to enjoy these holiday gems, rather than popping in the DVD any ol’ time you fancied. My mom, securing her place in heaven, would get out the TV guide and map out which nights they would be appearing on our average size television. And my gosh, the anticipation. All of us kids would crowd around the TV, and the moment you could see the animation or claymation come on the screen, Christmas magic exploded all over the room. My adrenaline would be running so hard, I couldn't hear! It was like someone had intravenously given us kids Hyperness Syrup! It was usually about 45 seconds into the show before we could actually hear anything. And then, it was as if all of our senses were heightened. We’d never felt so alive! We had never heard wittier dialogue, seen more sophisticated animation, or heard more stunning music. Pure joy. Due to the Christmas bliss these shows brought me in my youth, I am able, as an adult, to overlook the plot holes, forced exposition, and lack of clarifications that drive these shows. But I refuse to allow all of that to dim the Christmas pandemonium that fills my home when these movies make their debut each December.

In addition to Rankin/Bass, our family takes great Christmas glee in all the standards, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Disney’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol. There are also multiple showings of Elf, Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and The Santa Clause.

And we also have a few favorites that I consider quite underrated. Bloom County’s A Wish for Wings that Work (starring Opus and Bill the Cat), where Opus saves Santa from drowning, and Disney’s Small One, where a young Judean boy is told by his father to take their donkey into town and sell him because he is a runt and uses up their resources without providing any real work. After some close calls with some swindlers and a tanner, this young boy sells his donkey to…(surprise!) Joseph and Mary. Yes, I’m sure you immediately saw that one coming when you saw that the story featured a donkey. But let me tell you this. When you are watching this movie with your three-year old daughter, and she starts bawling because she is so moved by the kindness of a young boy and a man named Joseph, it’s pretty hard not to love it. 

As far as full-length motion pictures go, anything that takes place in New York or London or a big city where there are Christmas trees and lights all over town, choirs and bands randomly performing, and people wearing fashionable outerwear, I am immediately captivated. With Christmas as a backdrop, I feel like the season is as much a character in the movie as any of the actors. It’s a time of forgiveness. A time of rekindling. A time when people are a little kinder. Except John McClane. Because if you are trying to take over the Nakatomi Plaza, and you are messing with his family... Christmas eve or not, you are going down, my friend.

What are your Christmas movie must-sees? What should I make sure is on my list? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Pie-Day!!

Thanksgiving at my Mom's house last year. 18 pies.
I believe Thanksgiving needs three things to be successful: Turkey, Gratitude and Pie (not in that order.)  Sure I love many of the other elements of the meal, but for me, it is the pie that is king. I have long held that there should be one pie per adult in attendance at dinner. That's not to say that you need to eat a whole pie, (though if you need to, go ahead.) But you want the variety, the choice. What makes you feel more thankful than having to decide which of the 18 pies presented before you you are going to eat.

This year I am bringing 4 pies to my MILs. That way if someone else shirks their pie duty and only brings one, or -- the horror -- NONE AT ALL, I can offset it a little bit with my 4.

This years entrants:
Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie - the best you'll ever eat.
Pioneer Woman's Cranberry Pie - I have a crush on the Pioneer Woman.
Ken's wife's apple pie - thanks for marrying someone awesome, Ken!
And a last minute entrant because I had some leftover dough - Lemon Meringue Pie. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen big red book but this pie always reminds me of my Grandma Pendleton, who always had it at thanksgiving for me because she knew it was my favorite.

So have a wonderful day! May you be safe, happy and loved and full to bursting with pie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Bowl 2012

The 2012 Clark family Turkey Bowl was, as usual, the typical perennial affair: there were some heartbreaks and some sweat pants, and sometimes both. The weather was perfect, with a slight crisp in the air, as the Cobras (my brothers and me) squared off against the Vipers (everyone else, but primarily nephews.) What always begins as a friendly innocuous match-off devolved into something a little more competitive: with some broken noses, tears, and accusations of cheating. In the spirit of Tim Tebow and Christianity in general I had Lisa scrawl John 3:16 on my face, but unfortunately the Vipers paid it no heed.

There were some really great players this year, with many young players really coming into their own. Young Matthew Clark displayed a really precocious knack for receiving, though he is also starting to acquire the alarming arrogance sometimes displayed on the field by his older brother Maloy. Maloy, sporting David Beckham's fauxhawk from ten years ago, was a controversial figure in the game this year, alternating between some really great passes and some questionable game plays that some (many) felt were dishonest and/or shady. Jameson Clark made some great catches in the end zone, proving that he is a growing more and more like a reliable fart: silent but deadly. Young Jesse and Max Clark gave great effort and often inspiring performances up and down the field, though they struggled against the demands of their underdeveloped legs. We anticipate great things from them in the future, as well as from Luke, who managed to hike a few. Uncle Bud, who is a college student and not a blood relative, was curiously ignored by Maloy, despite being nine feet tall and readily available to catch something. Stella and Phoebe made great strides on and off the field, with Phoebe taking occasional time-outs to train cheerleaders and Stella taking a poorly aimed pass to the back of the head. Miles Clark was energetic, loping up and down the field with an ironic Bacon themed t-shirt. But it may be said that Owen Clark displayed the real blood, sweat, and tears of the game, sacrificing his developing profile for the sake of a win:

The Cobras played with their usual commitment  and energy, though this energy seems to taper every year with age and disability. Steve Clark Jr brought a lot of drive to the game and made some great catches, though his lasting contribution this year may be the moment when, in the middle of a fumble recovery, his sweatpants accidentally hiked down, revealing the whitest bum of all time. Matt Clark assumed the leadership role for the Cobras; he also assumed it was OK to wear camouflage hunting socks. He kept the Vipers on edge through his usual tauntings and displayed a real prowess for intimidation, a skill that seems to be emerging in his own children, for better or worse. Christopher Clark caught a few TD passes and ran around a lot, but had two disastrous turns at quarterback, where he threw an interception, bungled a hand off, and was generally accused of "throwing like a girl." Andrew Clark was mouthier than usual and busted out some threatening sunglasses in the third quarter. He complained repetitively that he was always open but that no one ever passed to him, and felt the need to remind us every other down that he could catch any pass that came his way. This was not untrue, though sadly few passes came his way. These were mainly reserved for Jesse Clark Sr, who seemed to catch the majority of his passes and bounded up and down the field like a gazelle, or a man in his early thirties.

The game proceeded in a (mostly) sportsmanlike manner until the final moments, when the score was tied at 10-10 in a "next score wins" scenario. The ball possession passed back and forth, and both teams fought hard. Unfortunately one team (Vipers) felt it was OK to cheat, calling "holding" on the Cobras when nothing was held, repetitively using onside kicks, and trapping the ball instead of catching it. Maloy Clark, who had invoked "Priesthood honor" earlier in the game to swear he had been inbounds after a punt return which skirted the boundaries, refused to accept "Priesthood honor" from Cobras who claimed they'd called "one alligator two alligator three alligator four alligator five alligator" properly when he accused them of a blitz. Sadly this generation, many just out of Primary themselves, are not choosing the right. Though they removed their shirts in victory and danced a Haka, there was sadly a cloud of desperation and dishonesty hanging over the win; I hope the victory was worth it. In only a few years these cheaters will be running our country. I weep for our future. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just me Givin' Thanks Ya'll

Alright, so here we are, all of us that read Part Time Authors and we are sitting at the dinner table and it's that time of year when we all go around the table and tell what we are thankful for.  Ken told us 100 things that were on top of the really big things like Family, Health and Faith...100 ON TOP of those!  Well, as there are literally thousands of us sitting at this table (and by 'Literally' I mean 'Figuratively' and by 'Thousands' I mean 8.) I will keep my list short.

I am thankful for everything.

That's it, nothing more, nothing less.  Really, I am saturated in blessings and to break them down would be wasteful of precious internet space. My family?! My family is incredible, my wife (who got her PhD this year so she can emotionally, physically, and financially support me) still loves me and still inspires me to be the man she sees when she looks at me.  My kids are amazing and amaze me and everyone who meets them daily.  I come from a loving family who still want to get together and try to one up the others. I have a lovely home that is warm and dry and stuffed with stuff that is more than I need but makes the place my own.  I am lucky to have a job and to work somewhere that I am appreciated and liked and where I make a difference....even if it's just to women needing a skirt.  I have more friends then I can maintain and yet they still hang around, untended but always there when I finally get my act together.  I have a car that can get me and my family where we have to go. I can take my kids to the doctor, me to the dentist, and my dog to the vet. There is food in my refrigerator so when my daughter yells, "Milk!" there is some to give her. I can go to church, any church I want, and believe any whack a-doodle thing I want and no one will kill me for it. I have a book club that makes me think I'm smarter and more smart than I am.  I get to write.  Each week I get to come here and spill whatever is rattling around in my brain and dump it out of my fingers and watch and see what it does.

I am grateful for all of it.

This world is ugly and terrifying and hard and disappointing a lot of time...but lots of times it's thoughtful and caring and brave and kind and gracious and friendly and beautiful.  And this year, I am thankful for that world.

This world:


So I guess I did make a list.  I love that list.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reader's Indigestion

So I recently canceled my longtime subscription to Reader’s Digest. Originally we subscribed to this national treasure for two reasons. Katie grew up with it, so it was a bit of nostalgia for her, and I needed something to peruse whilst lounging in the bathroom.

I’m kidding of course. I haven’t lounged in a bathroom in ages. Not since I've had children old enough to recognize that when Dad is in the restroom, he is trapped. They have a captive audience, and it’s an opportunity to tell me the details of their day, get my opinion on their outfit, or – and I wish I were making this up – cram a drawing they made for me under the door so I can compliment their artistic abilities.

Kid 1: (Paper appearing as if printing off a dot matrix. being wedged between the door and the floor) Daddy, I made this for you while you were at work!

Me: If you’ll wait just a second, we can look at it together. Daddy just needs to finish reading about life-saving dental breakthroughs, and I’ll be right out.

Kid 2: Dad, look, I’m waving at you! (Little fingers sticking out from under the door.)

Me: Yes, mm-hm, I’m waving back! Why don’t you go see what your brother is doing?

Kid 3: (Faint knocking) Hi, Dad. I’m going to read you my book report on Mr. Popper’s Penguins. 

Me: Oh, why don’t you go practice first, and then when I’m done, you’ll be all ready.

Kid 4: Dad, can we play catch before dinner? I’ll leave your glove here by the door.

Me: Katieeeeeeeee!

Katie: Kids, leave Daddy alone and come help me with dinner.

At any rate, the love affair with Reader’s Digest has come to an end. It just sort of fizzled out. It seemed we had less and less in common. For example, “Life in These United States.” A Reader’s Digest feature where people write in little personal experiences, recounting amusing anecdotes or misunderstandings or sound bytes, so we can all chortle and say, “Oh, that is just like our little family/community/city/whatever. It sure is amusing, living in these United States.”

My submission would be like this true story that just happened on our last road trip.

Abbie: Dad, can you think of another word for ‘barf?’
Dad: Barf?
Abbie: Yeah, we have 9 already, and we need 10. We have vomit, upchuck, puke…
Connor: (Cutting Abbie off) Can we stop talking about barf….?
Katie: (Cutting Connor off) That sounds like a great idea.
Connor: (finishing)…and start talking about poop…?

My other observation is the celebrity interviews they do. Sweet, fancy Moses, these people suck up to every celebrity they interview. No matter how controversial, offensive, or worse – boring – these celebrities are, Reader’s Digest wants you to feel you can bring them home and introduce them to Mom.

If Charles Manson was on the cover, here are the questions you could expect to find Reader’s Digest asking. “Of all the celebrities you've had the chance to meet and kill, which one impressed you the most?” “In between murders, aggravated assault, and larceny, you must have had a lot of down time. What kind of skills did you develop that have made you stronger today?” “You have claimed The Beatles were talking directly to you in their song Helter Skelter. What other musicians have influenced you since then?”

But what finally pushed me over the edge was when I called to cancel my subscription. They told me I couldn't. “Oh, no. We've already sent you issues you haven’t paid for yet. You can’t cancel now.” That seemed a little dishonest to me. A little shady. A little “That’s Outrageous!”

I immediately packed a suitcase and hatched a plan to fly directly out to Chappaqua, New York, publishing headquarters for the Reader’s Digest. My plan was to march straight into to the president office, knock on the door of his private bathroom, and cram a drawing under the door of what I was going to do to him if he didn't cancel my subscription. Now that’s a ditty I’d like to see featured in “All In a Days Work.”

But instead I just called back, paid what I owed for the additional issues I had received, and canceled my subscription. Dear Reader’s Digest, notify me when you have an article on that 10th barf synonym. Maybe I’ll renew my subscription. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A retailer's guide to Black Friday

Patrick and I both work in retail. And that means that today is the day where my shoulders start getting tight and I drink lots on antacids as I prepare for Black Friday. In some ways, its kind of fun - its what you prep and plan for as a retailer. But in other ways, it can be really stressful because people get crazy! Here is my advice, as a retailer, to you, the shopper.

  1. Know that it is going to be crazy out there. Every year there are some people who seem so ANNOYED that there are long lines. And they are mad at us that we can't make the lines shorter. Guess what? We wish we could make the lines shorter too, but we have every cashier doing everything they can to get people through the line. So be prepared to wait (bring snack and make sure your phone is charged and loaded with games!)
  2. Don't get upset when something runs out. Stores have a limited number of door buster items and they sell out QUICKLY (one time a customer ripped a bag of one of our door buster items (about 50 of them) out of one of my associates hands and bought them all.) Usually within 10 or 15 minutes. So if you don't get what you want, move on. Don't get angry at the employees (again, who have no control over how many of that item that they got.) There are plenty of good deals to go around.
  3. If the crowds scare you remember: most stores offer their Black Friday Deals all weekend, or the day or two before. So don't feel like you have to be there at midnight. Sure, some of the door busters will be gone (see #3 above.) but likely a lot of the items you want will still be there. Go to bed at home, wake up at 3am and hit the stores then. Usually by 4 or 5 lines are MUCH shorter and you can walk in, get what you need and get out in a reasonable amount of time. Or go shopping Friday afternoon, or Saturday or Wednesday. Check your favorite stores websites to see what they are offering. Sometimes you can get the same prices early or online, or if you sign up for their mailing list, have a store credit card, etc. 
  4. Keep perspective: It's just shopping. Sure you might save $50 on a TV. Sure you can get all your holiday needs fulfilled in 1 frantic evening. But it's not worth pushing other people, yelling or loosing your humanity. Is that $19 food processor the cost of your humanity? I didn't think so. 
  5. DO NOT bring your kids. Every year I see people with toddlers and small kids in tow. Black Friday shopping is rated T for Teen. No one under the age of 15 should be with you. Smaller kids should be in bed sleeping, not waiting in a packed line and screaming at the top of their lungs.
  6. Finally: Be nice to the employees. Remember, that cashier ringing you up makes around minimum wage and probably left dinner with his family early to be at the store at 11:30pm so you could shop. So smile, tell them how great they are doing, thank them. Kindness goes along way. But wait, you say, it's not my fault! I am only being rude to the cashier because I am tired and cold and crowds give me hives! If this is your rationale: stay home. If you can't be cheery and nice while you shop, don't go out.
If you love the sport of it all, but all means have a great time and get a great deal. But if the idea of the whole thing panics you, just stay home and shop online. I've seen people have breakdowns because things get too nutty. But have fun. And be nice. And stay safe. And unofficially, if you come to my store (I'm there 11pm to 11am) bring me a cookie and a giant Diet Coke. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

no thanks

Well, the rumors are true. I have a canker sore! I'm not interested in trying to deny it. The canker sore is located on the inside of my lip, right where my incisors are. I don't get external canker sores (thank goodness) only internal. But in some ways that complicates everything, because then people don't know that I have a canker sore unless I actually tell them. I try not to make a big deal about disabilities, but I think people should know about them. I think I'm as handi-capable as the next guy, but I'm not beyond accepting help from others in my times of need. I really do not enjoy having canker sores!

I have been trying to figure out where the canker sore came from. Here are some ideas:

1. Too much popcorn.
2. Using bad language.
3. Gingivitis (?)

Does everyone get them? Sometimes I think I'm predisposed to getting them. (As payment for not getting acne or external canker sores - suckas!) But it doesn't really matter. I have one, and it's going nowhere fast!

It's really hard to be thankful for anything this time of year when you are suffering from a canker sore. It really does occupy your thoughts a lot. And the more you think about it, the more pain you notice, and the slower the healing process. It's a vicious cycle. I want to help people, and I want to go give food at the shelter and be one of those really Christian Thanksgivers, but I'm busy thinking about ways to get rid of my canker sore. Any suggestions? (And don't suggest menthols or salves. Tried them!)

I feel bad for Mitt Romney more than ever. Because he really wanted to be the President and it just didn't happen. He worked super hard, and now he has to spend his entire life being the guy who was almost the President. It's his cross to bear, and I identify with anyone with a cross to bear and probably will until this canker dries up. I guess my consolation is that at least I know that my canker sore will go away, while Mitt will never be the President.

Anyway, happy thanksgiving! Enjoy your mashed potatoes and yams and cranberry pie. I'm sure I would, too, if only it didn't hurt so much to eat. Pass the water jug!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Wasted "Cute Meet"

So this week at work--you should know that I work in women's clothing...hold up...I should say, I work in a women's clothing store; however, I do not work in the women's clothing that I sell; my clothes are from Target. Anyway, I am at work and we are working on this really amazing new display which involves huge sheets of white paper cut out in shapes of trees and rabbits and such for the holidays.  So me and this girl (or this girl and I) are busily working at cutting out trees, and to do so we taped the huge sheets of white paper to the wall and are both using scalpels to intricately cut out the design.  So we have been cutting and chatting--you should know that I work with pretty cute girls who sell women's clothing; it's nothing for me to work along side a pretty cute girl; I have a very cute wife who is way out of my league and way out of the league of the pretty cute girls I work with, but it should be stated that I was working side by side with a pretty cute girl.  So we are chatting and cutting and I realize that there is an iPod that we can listen to; it's not my iPod and it's not the girl's iPod but it is there and we can listen to it, so I flip through the artist list and come to...wait for it...Chicago.

You're the meaning in my life
You're the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You're the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin'
No one needs you more that I need you
 So the pretty cute girl is also kind of young, so I don't think she will like Chicago the same way I do, (my older brother used to blast the greatest hits album out of his basement bedroom the summer he discovered music and the rest of us discovered, if not music, then at least our ability to memorize every lyric to every one of Chicago's greatest hits).

So if it's gotta be this way,
Don't worry, baby, I can TAKE THE NEWS OKAY!

But if you see me walking by,
And the tears are in my eyes,
Look away, baby, look away.
If we meet on the streets someday,
And I don't know what to say,
Look away, baby, look away.
Don't look at me;
I don't want you to see me this way. 

But as it turns out the pretty cute girl has pretty cute taste in music and within moments we are both cutting and softly singing to ourselves along with the greatest American "Rock and Roll Band with Horns"! 

Everything was going great; after all, I was not working on the sales floor (something all of us who work retail hate to do) and I get to listen to my favorite music while dissecting paper in the name of art.  Both me and the pretty cute girl were having a good time, not really thinking about the other until...

Everybody needs a little time away
I heard her say, from each other
Even lovers need a holiday
Far away from each other

Hold me now

It's hard for me
To say I'm sorry
I just want you to stay

After all that

We've been through
I will make it up to you
I promise to

And after all that's

Been said and done
You're just the part of me
I can't let go 

Somewhere just after Hold me now, it's hard for me to say I'm sorry the tape that we had used to secure the top of our paper gave up.  At this point the pretty cute girl and I were both sitting on the floor at either sides of the same piece of paper cutting and sort of singing.  The paper fell gracefully and slowly behind our backs. Then, in one instant, where one moment I had just been at work and focusing on not cutting my hand or face, the next moment I was in a white lit tent with my teenage anthem softly playing in the back round with a pretty cute girl who, at this point had been freshly dusted with glitter that was on the table next to us, but the swoop of air from the falling paper had literally floated sparkles all around us and they settled on our eyelashes and shoulders just at the moment we looked at each other, and it was magic...only just with the wrong person. And both of us felt it (or at least in my telling of the story) and we both stood right up and re-taped and un-glittered and laughed and went back to cutting but with this edge blurred moment still in our heads, how everything had happened just so to create, honestly, the most lovely and romantic moments in my life (as far as set goes) but it was wasted on being with the girl I work with whose name I sometimes forget.

My wife and I don't have a 'Cute Meet'.  She was sort of dating my friend and we sort of snuck around hiding our dating until we accidentally fell in love and then we sort of moved off to LA together.  It was much more complicated and drawn out then even that synopsis was, and in the end we aren't left with an adorably adorable story to tell our grand kids but we do have each other and I would take that over some paper-wrapped, glitter girl any day. And now I have.           

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

As the holidays approach and many of you prepare to load up the family car and make the migration back to…well, wherever it is you don’t currently live, I would like to take this opportunity to present a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by the makers of Craig Children, and other fine products.

Throughout the course of my life, ladies and gentlemen, I have made more road trips than the Rolling Stones (but without the liquor and with only a fraction of the heroine). And inevitably, during every trip, I have reached that late-night breaking point where my eyes are just not going to stay open any longer. And I know I am not alone in this.

To combat this phenomenon, I have tried the following measures, to no avail:

1. Loud music. I have found this method ineffective, no matter how loud the music. Somehow, even the raucous melodies of Def Leppard become a soft lullaby. Mr. Sandman may start out pouring sugar on me, but soon enough, he is simply pouring sleepy dust in my eyes.

2. Food. Many are the late-night journeys where I have combined my fuel stops with a quick dash into the convenience store to grab an armful of sugary, life-saving goodness. Sodas, M&Ms, Hostess, what have you. I gobble it in record time and enjoy about 10 minutes of alertness. About enough time to get back on the highway. Then I’m not only fighting off sleepiness, but a sugar coma.

3. Face out the window. This is where you roll down the window and stick your face out into the frozen night air – while simultaneously waking up everyone in the car with an oppressive blast of arctic wind. This wakes you up all right, and then the window closes, you shutter once or twice, the heater picks back up, and 1.5 seconds later, you’re right back where you started.

It was during one of my many road trips during college that I discovered what worked for me, personally. I remember getting drowsy and thinking to myself, “What might keep me awake and alert?” And it dawned on me that being focused on something would help. And while I was too tired to focus on anything profound or life-altering, I knew if I could find something simple that required my attention…some small task…it would keep me alert.

So I undressed.

In a slow and calculated manner, I removed article by article until I was completely naked. There I was driving 80 mph down the freeway completely in the buff. And then I got dressed again – slowly and calculated, item by item.

Small, simple tasks.

Genius? Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes these things just come to me. But maybe it is. Maybe it’s inspiration. And I’ll tell you this – nude driving will keep you awake, if for no other reason, because you now have incorporated the fear of being pulled over by a highway patrol officer or worse yet, crashing and being found naked and unconscious – and cold! – for all the world to see.

I remember the first road trip Katie and I took after we were married. We were driving from Utah to Los Angeles, to interview for an internship with NBC. We got a bit of a late start, and somewhere between Cedar City and St. George it was 1 a.m., and I was getting awfully sleepy. Katie was in the passenger seat, well into a nap, so I had nobody to talk to. Well, no worries. At this point I was well versed in Plan N.A.K.E.D. (Nude Alert Ken Effectively Driving), so I began the undressing process. I thought nothing of it until my newlywed wife woke up to find a fully nude husband driving 80 mph down I-15, humming Pour Some Sugar On Me. It occurred to me in that moment that prior to our getting married, I had never had the Plan N.A.K.E.D. talk with Katie.

It was a bit of an awkward moment, and I was really starting to wish I hadn’t picked up that hitchhiker in Paragonah. (Zoing! Thank you I’ll be here all week!) Katie had an inquisitive look on her face that I had never seen before, nor since. But she just sat up, wiped her eyes and said, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

Nowadays, with seven kids traveling with us, I’ll admit that my once flawless plan seems inappropriate. I couldn’t find an effective, alternate method of staying awake, so we generally travel during the day now. But I miss the quietness of having everyone asleep as we barrel down the highway, with me and my iPod rocking out to A Very Merry Def Leppard Christmas

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Saturday! In case you haven't seen yet, or if you are reading this on Google Reader, please click on over the the site and check out our new design. When Part Time Authors Started almost a year ago, I did the web design myself - which means I took a picture on my phone and then used a bunch of free filters and effects on iPhoto to tweak it. And the old banner served us well, but we felt like it was time to upgrade to something a little more professional. So this time we used a real professional graphic designer and we are really happy with the results.
The new site feels a little sleeker and cleaner. There will be a few more tweaks and changes over the next few weeks so stay tuned. Let us know what you think!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not Yet a 007 Fan? Here's the 9 Best Bond Films to Prepare You for Skyfall

''[Bond] wasn't infallible, but he always knew the answer, always knew exactly what to do in any situation. And he always knew how to wear a suit.'' - Daniel Craig

And with that, here's your homework before you venture to see Skyfall in theaters:

1. Casino Royale (2006)
The first Daniel Craig film is gritty, edgy, and yet still very 007. Easily my favorite and, for those unfamiliar with the series, the best place to start. I will go out on a limb and say the first 15 minutes might be the best of any action movie.

2. From Russia With Love (1963)
The second Connery film has always been at the top of my list with plenty of thrills, gorgeous camera work and crazy villains. The fist fights make you feel like you're there in the room. Yikes.

3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Model George Lazenby faked his way into the Bond role and gets criticized for not being an "actor" but the story is super strong and gives him a chance to be flawed and fantastically three dimensional. And there's Kojak as the bad guy.

4. Goldfinger (1964)
Probably the most iconic Bond movie was Connery's third. Loads of gadgets, guns, goons, and girls. I think the woman they spray painted gold almost died or something. Look it up. Plus, Oddjob!

5. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Roger Moore was my childhood bond. That feels weird typing that. Anyway, this movie made me a lifelong fan and I wanted to be James Bond to all the ladies (without all the misogyny, of course). It introduces the villain Jaws (the non-shark) and has one of the best opening scenes of them all.

6. Goldeneye (1995)
This is the Brosnan Bond I remember most fondly. Of all the 007s, he was the most smooth but his films got progressively cartoonish so, unless you like that sort of thing, don't waste your time on any other ones he did.

7. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Moore's most serious turn as Bond has quite a lot of awesomeness in cars and on cliffs but I remember this one mostly for the theme song.

8. Quantum Of Solace (2008)
Craig's second entry was forgettable to many but is still a solid entry in my book and, being the most recent, probably gives you a good lead up to the events in Skyfall.

9. The Living Daylights (1987)
There was a time I considered Timothy Dalton the best James Bond. I don't know. It's probably because he was the grittiest since Connery. I like Moore and Brosnon but, in my head, Bond was always supposed to be rough and tumble and then be able to clean up nice not prissy and never breaking a sweat. That's why the best of the two Dalton entries gets the last spot.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did I just become someone's inside joke?

This lady would have been someone inside joke except it happened on video so now 13 million people can laugh about it.

Today I went for a run. It is probably the last warm day of the year, I had some free time this morning and I have been exceptionally fat and lazy for the last few weeks so it felt like the thing to do. I headed out and was feeling good. About a block from my house I guess I didn't lift my foot high enough and I tripped on a bit of sidewalk. As I tried to regain control my strides got wider and more crazy, my arms windmilled like I was trying to take flight and I eventually belly flopped on someones lawn and slid to a halt. It was epic. I couldn't breathe for a minute, my neck was sore and I was covered with mud and grass stains.

I don't think anyone saw me - there were no cars around and no one visible on the streets - but whenever something incredibly embarrassing like that happens I always wonder. "Did I just become someones inside joke?" You know the kind: you and your friends witness something funny or embarrassing or crazy and you tell the story about it for years, even if though the person that the story happened to probably doesn't even remember it happening. Did someone see me fall and even as you read this is reenacting the event with their friends at brunch and laughing hysterically?

I'll give you two examples: many, many years ago I was working and was on a break. I work in retail so I worked in a mall and went to meet a friend to have a Cinnabon for dinner (ah, to be young and have a rockin' high metabolism!) It was the Christmas season so the mall was crowded and a friend and I found couple chairs in the corner of the the cinnabon and enjoyed my Carmel Pecanbon and Diet Coke. There was a mom there, with a bunch of small kids who was clearly frazzled. They had taken a break from shopping and were having a small snack. As they got up to leave, on of the kids somehow spilled her hot chocolate all over her pants. The mom, incredibly flustered, yelled "Now look what you did! Now you are going to be hot-sticky-cocoa pants all day!!" I nearly laughed out loud and still giggle when I think of it. I'm sure that mom has 0% recollection of that day. But my friends and I still laugh about it.

More recently, some friends and I were on a long road trip. We had stopped at a gas stations in Nowheresville, Idaho for refreshments. As we wandered the gas station we walked past a girl and her friend who were admiring a display of incredibly tacky, gaudy purses that you can only find in a gas station in Nowheresville, Idaho. We overheard one girl, who was holding up a particularly classy purse, say to the other, "Well I am going to get it. And my husband can just kiss my a$$. I never treat myself!"  We laughed about her and her ugly purse for probably the next 20 miles, and we still chuckle when we think of it. Again, I doubt she even remembers the conversation, unless her husband left her for her extravagant spending on the $15 gas station purse. But we will probably say that to each other for the next 20 years.

Please tell me you and your friends do this to? If I am the only one then clearly I am kind of a mean person. Did any of you see me fall today and are laughing about it right now? If you did, that's OK. I mean, what do I care if a bunch of strangers are having a laugh at my expense. Just don't bring it up to my face. That might be too embarrassing.

job shadow

My son Owen is doing a job shadow with me today. It's been super exciting! For me. I can't answer for him. I think my job is awesome, but Owen is suspiciously quiet. I keep asking him "well whaddya think" kind of questions and he is sadly non-responsive. He'll say "good" or "weird," and he's totally right. My job is generally good and frequently weird.

So far today we have answered a bunch of emails and ate a lot of candy. Then we watched a play called Androcles and the Lion, where we learned that if you are angry you should ROAR and if you are rich and stingy and a woman, you will have a big ugly nose. We watched this play with about one hundred kids UVU bussed in, and these kids felt free to yell random (usually not helpful) things out.

After the play Owen and I were hungry. So we went to lunch. Here Owen learned that if you have to eat fast food you should get your hamburger from Wendy's, your fries from McD's, and your drinks from Maverik. Because that's what we did!

Next Owen watched another play with me. This was called Zapatos Magicos de Pedro, and it's another show for kids about a young Mexican who finds some magic shoes and tricks people into giving him money. There was a girl who would stand on her hands and then her legs would turn into a cactus. Owen enjoyed this play, and was particularly delighted whenever the pan flute would play and the Baby Jesus puppet would hover over the stage. Again, this is my job.

I can tell that some of my colleagues want to come into my office and raise a little Cain today, but they are nervous because Owen is with me. They don't want to scare him or belittle me in front of him. I appreciate their restraint, and I appreciate a little time off.  I would like to bring him with me to work every day. All he has to do is sit on my couch and play games on his iPad and I'm spared all kinds of conflict.

After Pedro Owen watched some students film something for a class - I missed this because I had to go to another meeting which I thought he would hate. And I was right! It was a bunch of adults fighting and being belligerent. So I dropped him off. I asked him what the students were filming and he responded "some crazy stuff." Who knows what he learned from that. Or what the crazy stuff was. Yikes!

Finally, he came with me to my bi-monthly visit with the Dean. Owen quietly played games in the corner and thus missed hearing enough confidential information and sensitive subjects to make the paint peel. People would die to know what was said in that room. Except for my 12 year old son, who could care less. And I can't blame him. Because at that age I didn't want to know anything about hiring, firing, uprises, or salaries. I wanted to job shadow my Dad just to take a day off school, hang out, and learn about fast food.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

City Profile: Nashville!

This weekend my wife and I took Milo and went to Nashville...Tennessee. And here's the thing, it's real cute. No, like the city is all Art Deco with buildings like this one:    

It's the AT&T building and it is amazing and looks like this at night:

And looks like this in the Land of Mordor:

We saw lots of awesome stuff but I wanted to give you a highlight of two spots, in case you find yourself in Nashville this week.

First off, Monells:

Dinner on Thursday night is at Monells, this quaint little place surrounded by a tight garden and a small Koi pond.  The place is comfort food from top to bottom.  Here's the deal, you sit at a table with a bunch of strangers and then they just bring you the food they cooked today.  When we are led to our table there is only a single man sitting at the head of the table.  He smiles and complements our baby. (We took Milo and left Daisy at home to have a wonder filled weekend with her Grandma's. Turns out, nobody slept.)  We sit to his left and, eventually, across from us sits an older couple from Cincinnati.  At the other end of the table, a group of four (two couples) join us; however, they engage only each other and are not much to remember. The gentleman at the head of the table is kind and has four kids (three girls and (finally) a boy), he is married and is in Nashville for a training and has snuck off to Monells (his favorite) to get dinner before he drives back home to Memphis.  He becomes the table's captain as he has been here many times and he knows all the tricks (don’t fill up on the cheap stuff, save room for the main dishes).  Then, our table is overloaded with food: Corn Bread and Fresh Peach preserves, Tomato and Onion Salad (P’s favorite), Pasta Salad, Turnip Greens, Stewed Cabbage, Mashed Squash (L’s favorite), Smashed Potatoes, Fried Chicken, Roast Beast in Gravy, Meatloaf, and to drink: Sweet Tea, not Sweet Tea, Water, Lemon Aid and for dessert, Peach Cobbler.  We are starving, but our captain tells us to pace ourselves and we do a pretty good job.  We get great bites and bites of great food, but you do get the feeling you could seriously binge your way into a comma if you didn’t have a good ‘Table Captain.’ Everyone dies over Milo and Milo dies over everyone.  They all say how happy and aware he is.  The waitress is a sweet, round woman who puts her hands on my shoulders as she addresses the table.  The Cincinnati couple is in town visiting a friend who is attending a Lindsay’s same conference.  Lindsay knows the friend but I don’t remember the name. Eventually our Table Captain has to leave and the rest of us file out, but as he goes he says to us, “When people tell you you have a happy baby, it is a reflection of good parents.”  He smiles and thanks us all for a great evening.  It was a dinner I will remember always and I hope this week you go to Nashville.  If you can't I'm sure you can swing something similar at the Village Inn, just sit down at a strangers' table and pass their plates to the left, start eating, and enjoy the ensuing conversation. 


 Also we went to a lovely and old plantation called Belle Meade, a beautiful, proud 50,000 acre plantation built on the back of thoroughbred horses and slaves, that now lets middle class tourists not take pictures of its redecorated rooms. And today is the first day it is set up for Christmas.  The tour is nice, the tour guide is both bothered by and dependent on us, his 1:00 group.  Stragglers keep interrupting his memorized speeches; at one point he simply lifts his voice over the sound of latecomers pounding on the front door of this 200 year old house and then strides over, unlocks the door, and greets them with the exact same engaging cadence he used when greeting the rest of us who made it on time.  I’m left both hating him and reveling in him.  The rooms are high ceilings and patterned carpets in bright colors. My favorite room is a "Tiffany Blue" with "Harvest Gold" curtains that lay flat but the center is cut out and scalloped with a fringe.  I like the idea of  just cutting out the shape of the curtain opening. I want to use it in the future; also, the bright but French color combo of the pale blue with the true gold. I would post pictures, but the tour guides forbid the taking of them.
They don’t do a tour of the Servant Quarters because “That’s where tour guides go when they aren’t giving a tour,” I am told without irony. But we do take in the Slave Cabin which has been curated by a group of youth curators who put up chalk boards asking me to “Draw what I think it was like for Slaves.”  Someone has drawn a lynch mob with torches and pitch forks. I did not draw anything. I did find myself skeptical of the stories that were being presented to me: “After Emancipation the Slaves had to decide what they wanted to do now; one man, who had been over all the horses now got a job to be the man over all the horses and was the highest paid hand on the plantation!”  Is it impossible to portray the history of a place and allow for both the beautiful and ugly to stand side by side and not give in to the need to sweeten what’s being presented? Probably not. But it was a lovely house with one family owning several other families.  But that was all before the gift shop was added.  

Nashville is a beautiful place, one I will remember always. When I was young I couldn't wait to travel the whole wide world, but as I get older I am amazed at the wonders that are in AmericaI could spend the rest of my life just seeing what is hidden between Canada and Mexico. That being said, get out there and vote! Unless you are going to vote wrong, then I would just prefer you stay home. 

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