Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why Are Our Expectations of Dads So Low?

Last weekend my wife was out of town. She had taken a much needed vacation with some friends to spend a weekend in San Francisco. While she was gone, I was on Dad Duty. On Friday, while the older kids were in school, I took my youngest out for waffles. Mostly because it was a good excuse to try the new Belgian waffle and french fry place that opened by our house (mini review: my two waffles were topped with cookie butter, sliced strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream. Hold me. Hold me and never let me go.)

While we were there I Instagramed the above photo, as a modern, hip, iOS loving Dad is want to do. When I posted the photo several of the comments were to the effect of "You are a great dad!" And to be clear, it was super nice of people to say that. And, for the record, I do think I am a great Dad. But why was going to breakfast with my daughter (something that my wife does frequently on any give day of the week I am sure) suddenly shoot me into the stratosphere of awesome dad-ness?

Another example: One summer when my boys were little we lived a couple of blocks away from a 7-11. I have a Diet Coke obsession and one day, I wanted a frosty beverage, as a modern, hip, thirsty Dad is want to do. So I loaded the boys into the double stroller and took the short walk to the 7-11 to get them Slurpees and to get me a drink. As we walked home from the store, beverages in hand, not one, not two but three people driving past leaned out of their car windows and yelled to me things to the effect of "You are a great Dad!!"

Basically, if you are a Dad and you don't beat your kids in public or feed them to lions, you are winning in the world's eyes. If a dad is on an outing with his kids, and all the kids seem to be living and not bleeding, we cheer them like they have exceeded our wildest dreams. Why do we have such low expectations of Dads? I have had Dad friends get free drinks at a restaurant, or free balloons, or compliments just because they were out with the kids without a wife present.

I guess maybe the question isn't why we are so easy on Dads, but why we are so hard on Moms. If a Dad is struggling to keep his kids under control at the grocery store, he's likely to get sympathetic comments, or offers to help. Because clearly he is totally helpless. But if a Mom is with her kids and they are acting up, she is much more likely to get the stink-eye from her fellow shoppers. What's wrong with that Mom? Why can't she keep her kids under control?

So maybe when we see a dad out eating waffles with melted chocolate on top of them we should think "That's a great Dad! Is that a melted chocolate bar on top of that waffle?! Where can I get one of those?" And when we see a Mom at the grocery store with her kids, unruly or not, we should think "What a great Mom. Grocery shopping sucks and she is trying to get it done with her kids in tow. And kids can be jerks sometimes." We're all in this together. Let's just cheer each other on, OK? Moms included.
But seriously, I took the kids to get haircuts and to go swimming while my wife was gone. I mean, I AM AWESOME!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Gotta See This 2...or Too!

If you are following us on FB (that's what the cool kids call Friend Book) then you know I have sort of already pitched the following pitch, but this is my day to blog and I can shove any propaganda down any throat I want to, whether it be Democratic Bangs or my son's pink bib, so today is my day and your throat is reading this, so I choose to scream at you, "See this play!!"

Here's the deal, and it's a real deal and worth reading about and even more worth seeing.  So there is this theater group out in Brooklyn...that's NYC, kids, not your neighbor's 6-year-old (anyway that would be Brookelhynne, one of the O's is silent, but the other still makes the long O sound) and they do, what they call, "Investigative Theatre." What this means is that they pick a subject and then head out to NYC and they interview total strangers on that subject, they then scurry back to what I can only imagine is their red brick warehouse loft where they spend hours upon hours lounging about draped over chaise loungers eating cheeses and spouting off scenes, songs and monologs with their eyes rolled to the back of their heads playing bongos to the Katie Thompson version of "Eternal Flame."  (Believe me, I've written a play in New York, that's how you do it...never mind, you could never understand.)  So they take the interviews and create a play based on the stories they collected, sometimes a song, sometimes a monologue, however the thing comes to life.  Once, they went out and asked people to tell them about something they had lost.  They got lots of answers; a watch, a water bottle, keys, a mother, a friendship, hope, faith, pants.  And they created a play called "Gone Missing" using real people's real stories.

Out here on the other coast, (Provo, Utah) my wife, who knew of their work, was inspired to pitch an idea (last year) to bring out the Brooklyn Theatre Trope (they have a name, it's 'The Civilians') to BYU and have them workshop with students their methods of creating theater, then set those students loose on Provo and find out what Provo people had lost.

It was a good pitch.  It was a thought-out pitch. It was not, however, a pitch that was ever supposed to become a play.  But BYU was very excited about the idea and they snatched up Lindsay and her pitch and loaded her with resources and time and said, "Let's see it".  That was a year ago, and after some amazing collaboration with some amazing people at the school the finished product is something incredible.

The night begins with a cutting from the Brooklyn show, "Gone Missing"; Provo actors tell the stories of New Yorkers' loss.  Then you get 15 mins to do your business and get back to your seat for the second half of the show, "The Cleverest Thief."  This is the product created by BYU students after interviewing Provo losers (as in, those who have lost something).  Seeing the shows side by side is such an effective way to see both the similarities and differences between a New Yorker and a Provote (trademark pending).  There is music in both and "The Cleverest Thief" has what they are calling a "Lost & Found Orchestra" where the students make music using everyday found objects.

One of the best aspects of the show is that the students chosen were not theater students.  Because they would be creating a show from nothing they reached out to Playwrights, Animators, Graphic Designers, Songwriters, even the Mathematics and Film departments.  The end result has such a different feeling from what actors would present to you--don't be fooled, there are actors mixed in, it is a main stage show after all--but, after a semester of creating a play from interviews, it came to the  Playwrights, Animators, Graphic Designers, Songwriters, even the Mathematicians and Film Students to become the characters they had created. For some of them, this will be their first performance, but then, they were the ones sitting in a room hearing these stories first hand, they are not trying "Become" or "Create" they are just being what they saw, telling you the stories that were told to them.

A woman in Provo lost her hearing.  When she decided to have children there was push back, "What kind of mother could you be if you can't hear your children?" "Is that really fair to a child?" "What if they need you?"  In a filmed moment in the show, when children are playing in the snow, there is no sound as they play, no boots crushing snow, no snow suit swooshing, no screaming, no laughing, or rather, no sound of all those things happening. Then, just out of frame there is pain, and someone is hurt, the soundless mother is holding the camera and her daughter comes to her for help.  It's just a moment, one of thousands in their lives, but with a small brush of a mothers hand, her child is comforted and regrouped and rejoined. Somehow, she did it, she mothers without hearing. And we learn her loss, while defining, was not finalizing.

I love stories. I love new ways to tell them, I love different peoples version of the same story, and this show explores many ways to tell a story.  You love stories, too. You come to this blog, and likely others, to hear them.  I hope, this week or the next, you find yourself sitting in that quiet theater seeing stories of people you will never meet and of those you who may already know.

At the very least you will leave with a story of your own to tell.  

For ticket information click here: The Most Amazing Show on the Planet.            

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Most Embarrassing Moment

Not my actual bum or pants. 

One night, whilst in college, I went out on a first date with a girl named…hmmm… It started with an E. (I cared for her, deeply, as you can see.) Elaine? Elizabeth? Anyway, we were walking through a park, fairly close together, but with our hands in our jacket pockets, as it was a fall evening, and the weather was pleasantly cool. When out of the blue, Ellen says, “Tell me your deepest, darkest secret.”

I did not care for this.

Firstly, I had known Ester for about two days. Who was she to demand to know my deepest, darkest secrets? Was I to automatically trust this attractive – though virtually unknown – woman at face value? A woman who had not shared her deepest, darkest secret with me? A woman who found it perfectly acceptable to walk through a park and consider it a date? A woman whose name started with an E? (Edie? Electra? Ebony?)

But secondly, and most importantly…I didn't have any deep, dark secrets. Unless you counted my extensive Huey Lewis & the News CD collection. (And I didn't.)

I’ll never know what Edwina was probing for that day. But I have attended a number of social gatherings since then where people play such “get-to-know-you” games where you are required to recount, in great detail, information you would not normally or casually put on display. “Deep, dark” information, as it were. Only now it is masqueraded as “What’s your most embarrassing moment?”

Well, I happen to have one.

It was early summer, 1993. If memory serves, Rod Stewart couldn't remember if he’d told us lately that he loved us, Tom Hanks was having difficulty sleeping somewhere in Washington state, and I was dating a lovely young woman from Salem, Utah. Danielle.

With BYU located not too far from Salem, we would occasionally go visit Danielle’s family for some dining and dancing. (Mostly dining.)

On this particular weekend, her family’s ward, the Salem 984th Ward, was having a barbecue in a nearby canyon. I am a big fan of both barbecues and canyons, so I was excited to go.

It was still early enough in the summer that it was quite cool up the canyon, so there was a roaring fire to take off the chill. I had helped Danielle’s little brother get a plate of food, and he went off to sit by his sister on a log by the fire. I got my own plate and, not seeing a place to sit, remained standing as I ate on the other side of the fire, straight across from Danielle and her little brother.

There was a large turnout of people, and there were conversations taking place all over the camping area; though most people didn't drift too far from the fire. I had chatted with a few pleasant folks, making nice and quashing rampant rumors about our impending engagement.

I was finishing the last of my barbecued chicken and preparing to throw my plate in the fire, when I felt an odd sensation around my…uhm, derriere. It was a hand. At first it was cupping my bum, but then it began to rub it. And rub it. And rub it. It was as if my bum was a lamp, and they were expecting Robin Williams to appear. Alarmed, my eyes searched across the fire for Danielle. Not that it would have been okay if Danielle was doing this to me, but she was really the only familiar person there. 

Slowly, as if I were being held at gunpoint, I turned and looked to my left. There, facing away from me…was a total stranger. She was probably mid-forties, long hair, mother of five. And her right hand was now stuffed into the back pocket of my jeans. She had clearly mistaken me for somebody else – her tall, firm-bummed husband, for example. Unsure of what to say, but confident this was going to end no other way than badly, I didn't say anything.

I stood there staring at her, waiting for her to turn and make eye contact with a man who she did not know. A man who was not comfortable with the whereabouts of her hand. A man who did not give this stuff away for free!

Finally, she turned and realized she had been fondling the wrong bum. Oh, the horror in her eyes! The shock! In an effort to defuse the situation and bring some levity to the entire scene before she could speak, I threw my arm around her shoulder and said, “Hey, baby, you coming with me?”


Well, she had found her voice. The entire ward stopped and turned. Wards from neighboring canyon barbecue parties stopped and turned. Yes, in addition to roving hands, this woman had some lungs. But now, while her stating of the obvious should have incriminated her, I suddenly look like the visiting sick-o from outside the ward who had been going around shoving people’s hands into my back pockets.

Well, we all had a good laugh, she decided to go back to her husband, and I never visited Danielle’s family or ward again.

Edwina, if you’re still out there, I have a story for you now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Shrink to Fit Levis Experiment

A while back I read an article that inspired me to try something I've always wanted to try: shrinking Levis to fit me right.

It's harder than you'd think and I've never had a good experience buying some, washing them, and hoping they fit. But I've always wanted a good manly pair of Levis that aged gracefully, even if I can't.

Thanks to Primer Magazine's Andrew Snavely, I now own a great fitting pair of classic Levis 501s. You can read how to do it perfectly here. The purpose of this post is mostly to confirm the validity of the in-depth post written by Mr. Snavely.

Basically, you need to order them an inch bigger in the waist and 3" longer in the inseam. Once I got mine, I tried them on. They looked like the photo below. Obviously, they're meant to shrink so they were huge on me.

Next, I filled our tub with enough hot water to fully immerse the denim. (I can't find that picture.) Then, I turned them inside out–to preserve as much as the blue as possible–and dunked, soaking them for 1 hour. There was a lot of dye run-off after this but it didn't harm the tub.

Once I drained the tub, I hung them on the shower head (pictured above) and let them drip until they stopped dripping.

 Then I put them between a large towel and walked on them for about 5 minutes to soak up most of the water in them. Then I turned them right side out and did the same thing.

The hardest part for me was the final step: wearing them damp until dry. It's the middle of winter and it was chilly. However, this is one of the most important steps, according to Snavely, because the wet jeans will be "using your body as a guide" and prevent over-shrinking. Here is the result:

I believe it was a success. I really like them. I think they will last a long time and they only cost me $30 or something. What do you think? Is it worth the effort for you (or your significant other) to get a really good fitting pair of Levis? Has anyone else tried this method? I'd love to read your comments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

what to talk about at your oscar party, 2013

Hello, everyone! Can you believe it's that magical time of year again? Can you smell the greasepaint and feel the nerves emanating from Hollywood? Can you hear that little pixie Anne Hathaway nervously practicing her acceptance speech so it sounds completely unrehearsed and spontaneous? From the four corners of the earth, the shallow winds pronounce the word: it's Oscar time!

I have some troubling news. I will not be watching the telecast from my usual armchair this year. I will be in St. Louis visiting my parents. I have no doubt that my mom will want to watch the show with me, but she's a mission president so I don't think she's seen any of the movies and I'm worried she will just fixate on all the boobs, boobs, boobs. I know I do. But I keep it to myself.

Anyway, for those of you gathering together in little nests of gossip and sneering this Sunday night, I bid you l'Chaim! I will miss you. And for those of you with babies and toddlers who didn't get to see a damn movie this year and are unsure of what to talk about at your party, here are some thoughts:

1. Seth MacFarlane is hosting. He sings like a crooner and does lots of funny voices. Most people have no idea who he is. You do. Quick! Go here.

2. Did you know that the Best Actress category contains the oldest ever nominee (some french lady) and the youngest ever nominee (a little Cajun girl)? Tell everyone that. They love trivia! They'll beg for more. Just raise an eyebrow or give everyone a sly wink. They don't have to know that you don't have any more trivia.

3. Here are what the nominated movies are about:

Amour: A french lady gets really old and dies.

Argo: Some people in the 1970's sneak out of Iran by pretending to make a movie. They wear huge sunglasses and Naugahyde jackets and sweat nervously.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Some hipsters move to an island south of New Orleans, where a little girl blows up a levee and slow dances with some hookers.

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino!

Les Miserables: A cast of eight movie stars all take turns auditioning for an Oscar, resulting in lots of closeups of crying, singing, and snotting. It's all set in the magical world of France.

Life of Pi: An Indian boy shares a lifeboat with a tiger, but if you want the REAL scoop on this movie, you should ask my friend.

Lincoln: Everyone is crazy about Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as our 16th president, especially Mary Todd Lincoln, played with adequate hand-wringing by Sally Field. Tommy Lee Jones also shows up to fart around.

Silver Linings Playbook: All the cool people in Hollywood got together to make a movie! It's about disabilities. Bradley Cooper turns his handicap into a handicapability: he can dance! Also stars Katniss Everdeen.

Zero Dark Thirty: In a movie full of surprise bomb explosions every ten minutes, Jessica Chastain tortures Al-Quaeda detainees until they literally poop their pants.

4. This is the year to talk about "how edgy independent films are giving the big budget films a run for their money." Wait, we talk about that every year!

5. Did I mention Anne Hathaway? She's going to win. And she will give the most ridiculous, humble-braggy, high school drama girl speech on human record. Please don't fight me on this.

6. You can also bet on Daniel Day-Lewis. He's a shoo in. Or should I say, shoot in?

7. For my money, the best picture of 2012 was Skyfall. But we don't get to vote for that. I also liked The Master, which we don't get to vote for, either. So of the list we DO get to vote from, I pick Argo. It was a nail-biter!

8. If there's a lull in conversation, bring up how neither Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow got nominated for Best Director, even though both of their movies are up for Best Picture. It was a huge shocker. People will be amazed that you know stuff like this! They'll beg you for more juicy trivia! You don't have any. Just smirk to yourself and bite into a giant chip.

9. Don't go on and on about ladies' dresses. Man, that gets old!

10. Look for my good friend Jenny Latimer. She's singing back-up for the Les Mis sequence. She'll be wearing an immodest black dress and standing stage left. When the time comes, she will shoot an arrow into the back of Amanda Seyfried's head.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2nd Favorites

When my Mom and Dad were younger, they had a baby.  It was 1974 and everyone else was having kids, so they knocked one out. And then there he was, perfect, dependent, theirs. Immediately following my oldest brother's birth, my mom went through a phase of wondering who was going feed that screaming thing in the other room. All had been fine in the hospital, someone would sneak out the baby after she fell asleep, feed him all night long, then sneak him back in the morning.  Well, at home she was the only one with boobs and therefore the only one to get the job done.  She found it a bit thoughtless of her new son to want to eat every two hours though, she supposed, it was decent of him to empty the burgeoning bulges banging between her shuttering seemingly slender shoulders.  It wasn't until a tear duct didn't open and she had to take him back to the hospital to have it gently opened--in those days they used a large fish hook and pressed it deep into the duct of the newborn's eye and gave it a slight jiggle to insure a reasonable passageway for the tears, which at this point were bountiful, as he was far too young for any sort of pain medicating, but was a ripe age for a hook in the eye. (None of the last sentence was an exaggeration.) Holding her screaming, eye-bleeding son, she vowed to never, ever, let anything else ever harm him.  And he was hers.  And she was his.

They named him Michael John.  Michael because it was the cutest name of 1974 and John after his father...and mine.

And then another thing happened.

A few weeks after having her firstborn...she wanted another one. As a parent myself, I think this must have happend durring the soft cooing cry, breast milk poop-phase, when babies are hot water bottles who sleep 23 hours a day and the parent accidentally bonds to the singular expression of their love's affection.  Well, she did and then she went for it and four months after having a baby and three months after liking it, she was carrying her second in her freshly broken-in belly.      

They are 13 months apart.

It was another son.  This one whose tear ducts worked on their own, which was good 'cause she never would have elected for the fish hook surgery and he would have never cried and would have died in 1991 when he saw 'My Girl.'

And then they named him.

You should know that both my Father and my Mother are the second children in their families. And both of them the same gender as their older sibling.  So real seconds.  They both grew up in the shade cast off the family's first explorer.  They never got new clothes, they never got first pick, they never had their own stuff, they never, they never, they never.  Also, they were always shorter, they were always dumber, they were always slower, they were always, they were always, they were always.

And so they named him John.

John Spencer.  Spencer cause it was the cutest name of 1975 and John after his father...and mine.

Tonight, I was cleaning my son's pink bib that was, of course, once my daughter's bib, but I just bought bibs two years ago and I wasn't about to shell out another five bucks for "more manly" bibs?! (Here's a secret: they don't exist.)  And I got to thinking about the seconds.  Now I have a son and a daughter, and because adoption is both emotionally and financially expensive, I doubt we will have any more children.  So he is not really a second, but another first...and an only...and a last, but not really a second. And I remembered my parents and the decision they made to name their first two sons John because they didn't want the second to feel like the second. And then when I showed up, they didn't want me to feel like a second either so they named me John.  And then when my two younger brothers toddled in, they didn't want them to feel like seconds either so they named them both John, too.*

And it wasn't the fact they did it.  That has always made sense to me, it's the fact that it worked.  Five boys and each one actually and totally believes that they are my parents' favorite, though I still can't see how my brothers still can't see that I am so obviously the favorite, I mean, they read this blog, they see Momma's comments, she doesn't read their blogs, she doesn't leave them comments...though I suppose if they had them she would read them and she would comment and they would be fooled again, but again (and still) they would be wrong.

I think it all comes from my mom telling me I was her favorite.  Yes, I think that's what it was. And not in some funny way that she sometimes does when two of us ask her point blank, "Mom which one of us is your favorite?!"

"You are, dear."

"WHAT?! I thought I was your favorite?!"

"You are sweetie, my very favorite."


"That's right, darling, you are."

Though we did have those off-handed bouts for her affection, they were for sport and we all knew the lines and we all played our parts.  But there were other times, when things were quiet and you had just come home from closing night of your Jr High play and you were certain of the answer, because none of these other Johns were in plays, they all auditioned for sports and forced this poor woman to sit on splintered bleachers watching other people's kids strikeout with an iceless diet coke between her legs. I brought in culture, I gave her class, and I did it with padded folding seats!

"Mom?  Who's your favorite kid?"

"You are."

"For reals?  Like really?"

"Yes. It's you."

She never wavered.  Though, I suppose that means she never wavered when the others asked either.  And don't think they didn't.  They still do.  Just last week my oldest brother, the one will the bum duct (not the one with the duck bum) sent out a text to my mother clarifying his status in her affections; he also copied all four other brothers to make sure we got the message...he's 39.

So, scrubbing my son's powder pink bib I silently said a prayer, or wished, or hoped, for two things:

One: That he would never feel like a second child.

Two: That he and his sister will somehow make their way through a whole childhood, and a whole adolescence, and a whole rest of their lives, knowing, that of the two of them, they are my favorite one.

*Michael John,  John Spencer,  John Patrick,  Christopher John,  John Casey. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Complex Relationship with Celebrities

With the Grammy’s last week and the Academy Awards coming up in two weeks, it would appear this is the season for award shows and Hollywood mucky mucks to congratulate each other on being awesome and attractive and so rich that they actually sneeze money.

By and large, I try not to learn too much about the personal lives of our nation’s most abundant commodity – our celebrities. Why, you yourself have most likely observed as well that the more you learn about somebody famous, the more you are disappointed to hear about their political agendas, or their social calendar, or their propensity for flicking children and small animals in the ear and other personal choices. Or they’re Mel Gibson, the action star of your youth who now seems to have more vices than offspring and he just kind of makes you sad.

So rather than invade their privacy, I prefer to just let their body of work speak for who they are. This is why I believe I would enjoy a road trip with Tina Fey or Bono (both of whom I conclude to be extraordinarily creative in their respective trades), and why I won’t go to dinner with John Malkovich or Christopher Walken (both of whom I conclude would kill me before dessert arrived). (Walken with a gun, Malkovich with a fork to my forehead.) 

My friend Kacy and I were recently discussing the complexity of our relationships with celebs. You want to just admire them for their talent, but you can’t help but wonder, “Would we be best friends if we knew each other?” And you kind of want to say “Of course!” But the more you learn, the more your eyes get big and your eyebrows raise, until finally, your eyes are huge and your eyebrows are so high you look like Groucho Marx. (Who I don’t know well enough to decide if we would have been friends.)

So, which celebrities do you think you’d be best friends with? And what makes you think so? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!!

I am brought a great amount of glee by the phrase "winner, winner, chicken dinner!" Why do we say it? Or do just I say it? And where is my chicken dinner?

Thanks for all the support of our amazing giveaway from SafeSound products. Using I picked three comments and the winners are:

Ruth M

Congrats!!! Please go to the AirBudz page and pick your color. Then email me with your address and I will send it over to the wonderful people at SafeSound products. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 16 Traits to Look for When You Want to Be with Someone Sexy

What a week of LOVE! I will say, on the record, that I love each of my fellow Part Time Authors and their significant others. What stories they have about love. I enjoy hearing them again and again over the years because I'm always so happy and inspired by how their relationships started, grew to what they are today, and continue to grow.

Onto the sexy ...

Finding someone sexy is completely subjective, isn't it? I've seen two people together that I would normally not view as sexy but they sure love each other and probably find one another sexy quite often. So, what is sexy? Are there sexy qualities that sexy mean that someone will sexy like someone else? Why do I sexy care? Sexy.

I think my wife, Amelia, is very sexy so it follows that my definition of it is informed by her and all that she is. This is my tribute to her, really. But I'm sure you've all also wondered what I find sexy. So here it is.

Attractive - Let's get this out of the way first. In order to be sexy, you have to have be at least a little attractive and, to the person you love, they have to think you are unbelievably gorgeous.

Chemistry - It's sexy when someone can finish your ... cake. And sentences.

Sense of Humor - This is the ability to laugh at life and to find comedy funny. Yet, there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy and a sexy person knows the difference. But, if the person can't laugh at themselves, they aren't sexy.

Dorkiness - Generally, nerds aren't sexy. Dorks are. It's sexy to be comfortable enough in your own skin that you can spaz out to a song, make an ugly face at the right time or turn your foot into a life-like puppet. Dorky? Yes, but also super sexy because it shows you are comfortable and confident.

Confidence - Wow. When a person knows who they are, what they want, where they are going and what to do to get there, it's ultra sexy. "For there is nothing either meh or sexy but thinking makes it so." - Shakespeare?

Wit/Funny - This is different than a sense of humor because it takes it to the next level. Not only can a sexy person laugh at life but they can make others laugh too. Wit is the older, smarter version of being funny but they are both sexy.

Eyes - If you don't have intriguing eyes or if you don't make eye contact, then you can't be sexy. Sorry. Those with blank, dark soulless eyes need to report to their Lord Satan and leave sexy to those with light and life in their gaze.

Intelligence - When someone knows a lot about something it's quite awesome. It's even more awesome when they're humble about it, open to other ideas, but know they could lick any sonuvaB in the house with their particular smarts. E=mcSexy

Independent - It's really awesome when someone can take care of themselves and their life. They don't necessarily "need" someone as much as they love the things you bring to the relationship that adds to their strengths, making one sexy combination of sexiness.

Vulnerable - Show your layers. Acting like a stone when there are problems or pretending there aren't problems prohibits others from getting to know who you really are. If you let people in, they'll see who you are. That's alluring.

An Interest in Others - Don't always talk about yourself and your problems. It gets old so fast. When you, instead, show interest in others' problems, interests, goals, and then do things to show you listened to them, it shows off your kindness/sexiness.

Loyalty - Just stay faithful. Don't cheat. Stick up for your friends and significant other. Take her/his side often. Invest. Be present.

Courage - This is more than standing up to bullies or going to war. It's waking up, seeing how awful the day could be and forging ahead anyway. When people see you battling your own trials and various inner and outer demons, it's inspiring and attractive.

Conviction - Believe in something. Wishy-washiness isn't cute. "So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor [sexy], I will spew you out of my mouth." - The Bible

Sensitive - Similar to being vulnerable but if you can't cry in front of a person you love, shed a tear at the end of "Ordinary People" or "Glory" or, I don't know, "Toy Story 3," then you are cold and soulless. (Not really, but you get what I mean.)

Selfless - Service is sexy especially when you know the person giving service has a huge mountain of their own problems that they are putting on hold to help others for a bit. When you see someone making an effort on behalf of humankind, I defy you to not find it at least a degree of sexy.

Happy - The most sexy people are the ones that seem to be genuinely happy about life. Not pretending that everything's fine. That's different. People see through that. Also it doesn't mean ALWAYS being happy. It's impossible in life to face some of our challenges and smile but a happy person will persevere and live to smile big another day. Smiling is sexy and happy people smile a lot.

There you have it. Happy Valentines Week. Let me know in the comments what you think is sexy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is Not All

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink

Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; 
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink 
And rise and sink and rise and sink again; 
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, 
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; 
Yet many a man is making friends with death 
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. 
It well may be that in a difficult hour, 
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, 
Or nagged by want past resolution's power, 
I might be driven to sell your love for peace, 
Or trade the memory of this night for food. 
It well may be. I do not think I would. 

Love is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Milay

When Amy and I were married (10 years ago last week!) we didn't have a traditional wedding reception with a line and nuts in a paper cup and cubes of cheese on toothpicks and 500 people from our ward and our parents work. We got married in the morning and then had a nice lunch in the afternoon with about 100 people. Really just our closest family and friends. We wanted it to be fun and we wanted to have good food and we didn't want it to be exhausting for us or for our guests. And it was, by my recollections, super fun and awesome. 

One of the things I loved was that we had friends do toasts - you know, not with alcohol because we're Mormon, y'all. But they would give some sort of tribute, or sing a song or whatever. Our good friend Topher (yes, THAT Topher!) read that poem above, Love is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Milay. Most people wouldn't think this appropriate wedding fare, what with its talk of blood and thickened lung and fractured bones. But I adore it.

To me, what it is saying is that your grand romantic gestures are all well and good but love, true love, isn't only about that. It's about the day to day. Living your life, raising your kids, emptying the dishwasher so your spouse doesn't have to. And even though on its own love can't fix everything - marriage takes work and dedication and compromise - it is because of love that you do it all.

For our 10th wedding anniversary last week Amy and I left the kids with the in-laws and went to stay overnight downtown. There were no roses or candles or harps on the agenda. We had dinner at Malawi Pizza (they don't even have waiters), went to a movie and went shopping. And for us, that is a dream day. Sure, it may not seem that romantic. But for us to be away from the kids and remember that we are human beings (not just the robots that keep reminding the 8 year old to do his homework again and again) and laugh and talk and hold hands without our 7 year old getting grossed out by our PDA was delightful and romantic in its own way.

I want to make sure that Amy, who is my best friend, remains my best friend for the next 70 years. Because while our lives now are busy and full of school projects and doctors appointments and dance classes, there will come a day in the not too distant future where the kids grow up and move away and it's just the two of us. And when that flood of day to day activities and schedules and pick up times has slowed to a trickle, I know that I will still have my best friend to spend the rest of my life with and that she still will be the person that I want to laugh with and talk to and hold hands with. And we will probably spend our time going to movies, and eating and shopping. And that is my definition of true love.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Here is a photo of 4 of the 5 wives of the Part Time Authors, from 2003. 
From left to right: Katie Craig, Amy Bingham, Lisa Clark, Lindsay Livingston. And our lovely friend, Chanel. 
Nope, I don't remember why Katie is holding a bottle of wine. 

More recently, the Craigs, Clarks and Binghams out to dinner. 

Dear Devoted Reader,

You may have noticed that Patrick and I kind of had a theme going this week on Part Time Authors. That theme? Hoping that writing wonderful and true things about our wives on this here blog will count as our Valentine Gifts to our wives. Well, today is Chris’ turn to write about Lisa….and wouldn’t you know it, the man is out of the state on bidness. Maaaan – he must have gotten Lisa something AWESOME and luxurious and pricey and HUGE to make up for THAT! I can’t wait to hear what it is, Lisa! Congratulations!

Nevertheless, I am not going to sit idly by and have Lisa go unnoticed on this, her Special Day. She deserves this, this amazing and lovely lady. This mysterious female. This woman who’s maiden name is actually, literally VALENTINE, for crying-gosh-sakes-out-loud!

Where do I start? The face. Lisa’s face is…what? What, should I start with the hair? Oh, I see. I'm making everyone uncomfortable? No, you’re right. Let’s go another direction with this.

Of all of us on Part Time Authors, my wife, Katie, and I have known the Clarks the longest. In fact, we knew them before we were the Craigs and they were the Clarks. 

See. Here’s a photo of us from our dating years at Chris’ family cabin in Wallsburg, Utah. Chris and Lisa on the left, in the back. Katie and I on the right, in the front.

Katie and I met in The Garrens, a comedy troupe that performed sketches and improvisations weekly on BYU campus. We had been friends for just over a year, when in the fall of 1994 we started dating. By complete serendipity, we had a class together that semester, and though we didn't know it at the time, that class included two individuals that would become two of our favorite people ever. Chris Clark and Lisa Valentine.

From the fall of 1994 to the summer of 1995 the four of us seemed to be walking very similar paths. Katie and I started dating about the same time as Chris and Lisa. Things started to get more serious about the same time. All of us had similar emotions, similar interests, similar points of reference. But it was more than that. There was something very effortless about our friendships. And born out of all this was this level of trust and safety and acceptance. And genuine happiness for each other. And the hilarity. My gosh, the hilarity. So entertaining and amusing were our conversations (to us), that it became burdensome to find a break in the banter and return to our regularly scheduled reality. It usually came to an end when somebody would say something like, “Well, I’m already late for class, I better go” or “ I've got to get up in three hours to take a test” or “I’m going to the bathroom, please don’t follow me.” And even the occasional, “You guys, seriously, shut up, ER is starting.”

One of the things I truly love about Lisa is her loyalty to her friends. I love to observe her friendship with Katie. I also love that Lisa doesn't treat me like I’m her friend’s husband. You know what I mean? I’m not just Katie’s husband, or Chris’ friend. I’m Lisa’s friend. I like that.

I have never seen Lisa look more like her mom than in this photo. 

So, since Patrick and I shared memories from yesteryear, here are some memories of Lisa from the mid-90s.

1.  Before any of us were married there was one sunny afternoon when I was walking across BYU campus with Katie and Lisa, when it became abundantly clear  that I was merely a backdrop in their world. They were lost in their conversation, like school girls, laughing and discussing how they would always be friends, and it went like this:
Katie: “And it’ll be, like 20 years from now, and I’ll be calling you and saying, ‘Well, we’re just coming to town for a graduation and we’d love to see you; we’re just going to be staying at the Motel 6 –’
Lisa: (Cutting Katie off). “A Motel 6?! Absolutely not, I will not hear of it! You will be staying with us!”
Katie: “Oh, no – we couldn’t.”
Lisa: “Katie, this conversation is over, you are staying HERE!”
More laughter from both of them. And wouldn’t you know it – they’ve had that conversation/inside-joke for almost 20 years now. Every time we would be coming into town we would call to let Lisa know, and I would get to hear Katie and Lisa having this exact dialogue and laughing hysterically. We just moved back to Utah a few months ago, and that’s the only thing that makes me sad about living near the Clarks. I don’t get to hear that joke anymore.

2.  Also before we were all married, Chris and Lisa and I were in a play together. Ordinary People. Everybody saw it, right? Anybody? Nobody? Ok. Well, after practices, Lisa and I would go on long walks. This was so she could tell me what was going on with her and Chris, and I could tell her what was going on with me and Katie. And during these walks, we usually shared a lot of shoulder shrugs and head shakes and the phrase “ignorant bliss” was thrown around a lot. But somehow, it was always comforting to be reassured by a friend that everything was going to work out fantastic. And guess what, it sure did.

3. Lisa later joined The Garrens comedy troupe with Katie and I. During the early part of the summer of 1995, after Chris and Lisa were married, but before Katie and I were later that summer, The Garrens had a midnight radio show on Monday nights, at the KSTR studio. I would pick up Lisa around 11:30 p.m. and we would drive over to the studio together, singing Dionne Farris’ “I Know What You’re Doin’” at the very top of our lungs. Also, Lisa would tell me how great married life was and how excited she was for me and Katie. And when you’re engaged, you LOVE having people excited for you!

4. I remember when Abbie, our oldest, was born. And I remember the day we brought Abbie home and Lisa came running over to see her. And she scooped up a sleeping Abbie in her arms and held her close. And I watched Lisa cry. And watching Lisa cry because she is so happy for you…well, that is simply a beautiful thing to watch.

5. In 1997, when Katie and I finished college and moved away from Utah, and the Clarks stayed, Lisa asked if there was any possible way we could stay. I explained that I had looked for advertising jobs in Utah and just couldn't find anything. She said, “Well, let’s build your portfolio.” And then she and Chris posed for an ad I had written about these new car tires that wouldn't go flat. And here are the photos. We ended up having to move for work, anyway. But I was flattered at what Lisa was willing to give to try to support us in staying.

So Happy Valentine’s Day, Lisa Valentine Clark! I love that we are friends. I love that you and Katie are friends. I love you, period.

Don't forget!!!

If you haven't already, don't forget to enter our giveaway for a set if Airbudz. They are the only ear bud tip that allows you to her your music and what going on around you at the same time. Go running with your favorite tunes and avoid getting hit by a low flying crop duster. Fold you laundry and hear your audiobook and the sounds if your kids fighting. Listen to your favorite podcast at church and still hear the sermon.

Their great and you'll love them. Follow the link below and leave a comment on the original post (not this post.) You have until Saturday to enter!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Upping Ken.

Ken thinks he has the corner on cute meets because he and Katie met when I was a freshman, but have I got a tale for you:

It was the spring of 2003 (Ken had 6 kids by then...maybe more, maybe less) and I was doing improv in a little club in a tiny suburb of LA called, Provo Utah.  I was younger and thinner but just as funny, my eyes just as blue and my front tooth just as fake.  I don't remember the first time I saw Lindsay, but she does, but you have to understand that she was SO FAR out of my league that my mind didn't even think to hold on to that moment.  As a mid-attractive man there are women that you see who are at your level and you mind spins off into the eternities and crates a whole fiction of what life would be if you were to fall in love.  My mind did no such thing when I met my wife, certainly my mind spun a filthy web of debauchery, too indecent to blog about here, (that's for my other adult blog, tableandsinglepot) but that was all my mind was ever doing at 24 so why would it hold on to this one perfect moment.  Anyway she says I picked her up and spun her around.  Who knows?!  Why?! This must have been right at the end of my 'Spinning Strangers' was only, like, two weeks.

So no, I don't remember the first time we met. I do remember our first dinner...well she was actually having dinner with Brett but she sat across from me and I was transfixed.  But again, she was out with Brett and Brett only dated (and eventually married) wildly stunning women (He only married one wildly stunning woman)...he was much broodier than me...and taller. But then summer came and with it magic.  It was all very fast and tremulous and passionate and fraught and wild and there was a phone call to my district manager to transfer to the Pasadena store and then we were signing a lease and then we were forcing her mother to plan the wedding back in Utah and forcing my mom to pay for the HUGE luncheon (we wanted to save the reception money for our honeymoon, so we utilized the 'Grooms Parents pay for the Luncheon' and invited 200 people and then flew off to Puerto Vallarta.

But then...

After that...

Everything went quiet, or rather, calm...

After the most romantic and passionate summer of any summer ever lived by anyone.  We settled, or rather, landed on the first year of our marriage.  And the soft gold dust of LA landed, or rather, settled on our skin.  And we traded our midnight independent movies for 5 o'clock homemade dinners on our balcony, just the two of us, face to face and the whole year, still, stays gold and edge-blurred and perfect.  We had found each other against all odds, my mid-attractiveness and lower middle intelligence and her staggering beauty and insatiable mind not withstanding, we found each other.  It was not in either of our plans but then, one day, it was only ever going to be just like this:

or this...

and this...

or this... 

now this...

And I will love her forever.

Monday, February 11, 2013

If You Like Me, Check This Box

My wife and I when we were dating in 1994.

I was an advertising major in college. I wanted to write commercials for radio and television. My goal was to one day work at a large ad firm in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, or San Luis Obispo. (I don’t think there are any large agencies in San Luis Obispo, but 1. I adore little beach towns, and 2. Don’t you kind of giggle when you say “San Luis Obispo?” Me too.)

In my dreams, I would have a little office with a window view of the ocean, an oversized poster of The Joshua Tree hanging on my wall, a mini-freezer filled with ice cream. Also one of those little basketball hoops rigged atop a little wastebasket for the ultimate cliché of the tortured writer who rips scarcely touched paper with half-written ideas on it out of the typewriter, wads it up into a ball, and throws it at the wastebasket. Also, everyone else in the office would give me a hard time for still using a typewriter in this day and age.

In an effort to stay true to my art form of writing and completely avoid developing any business savvy, I took only one business class in college. It was held in a stadium-style classroom with hundreds of savvy business students and me and my roommate/future commercial writing-partner – Lincoln Hoppe.

We always sat in the front row. I don’t know why we sat there; maybe because we felt out of place with all the snooty business students. What with their briefcases, collared shirts, and large brains. It seemed like the average age in the classroom was 42, and I was at all times slightly uncomfortable, like somebody might stand, call my bluff, and demand my dismissal from this and any business classes. “Pardon me, Mr. Professor, your Honor, but I object to this hoodlum occupying a coveted seat in the front row of this, your stadium classroom. Furthermore, I submit that he has neither the inclination nor the maturation or substantiation for comprehending the volumes of wise and insightful tutorials you have prepared for us, your insatiable business students. Plus I heard him make a fart joke when he walked into class today.”

But I remained dutiful in attending my big business class. After all, I’d paid for it, I needed the credits to graduate…and my future wife, Katie Fillmore, happened to have a class in that same building, about half an hour after my class had started. And she started this little tradition that I adored.

About 25 minutes into every class, I would receive a love note from Katie. As if we were in junior high. They were always thoughtful; but my favorite part was that she would write the note, fold it up, and on the outside of the paper write: “Pass this note to the handsome, dark-haired man on the front row named ‘Ken.’” She would then sneak in the door of this monstrous classroom, tap the suit in the last row, at the top of the stadium-style seating structure, and hand him the note. The guy would read the instructions to pass it down, and he would hand it to the guy in front of him. Down and down. Down and down. Down something like 36 rows of seats the note would go, until somebody would tap me on the shoulder and hand me the note.

Now, we had been dating several months at this point, and I think Katie truly loved me. I think she knew I appreciated getting these little notes. But somewhere in Katie’s psyche, I think she also got the biggest kick out of this little phenomenon. That amidst all the no-nonsense attitudes of these business students, who would just as quickly clock you with their Franklin Planners as shoot you a dirty look for disturbing them during a business lecture, she could single-handedly reduce them to schoolyard behavior in three seconds flat. Inherit in everyone who ever went through adolescence is the knee-jerk, sociological reaction to not ask questions, just do what the note says and pass it along to the receiving end. Like you have no choice in the matter. The instructions are clear; I must pass this note on or endure the consequences!

I loved Katie for that. I loved that she found hilarity in random acts of frivolity. I loved that she thought of me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 2:25 p.m. I loved that she would write “the handsome dark-haired man in the front row” and assumed everyone would know who that was. And I love that Katie still thinks no matter what other vocation I pursue to support our family, I should never give up on that little writing office with the typewriter that overlooks the ocean.

Happy Valentine’s Week to my very favorite person!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Giveaway: Airbudz by SafeSound Products

You guys. I am super excited about this giveaway. Not only because I love giveaways (who doesn't?!) but because this is a product that I use and love.

Today we are giving away three (3!!) packs of Airbudz by SafeSound Products. I am a runner. And because running on the tiny track at the rec center with the senior citizens and their walkers makes me crazy, I am much happier and much more motivated when I can run outside. And when I run, I have to have my music (I have a lovely little play list called "Run, Tall Boy, Run!") But when you are outside with regular rubber tipped headphones, they block out TOO much sound. You want to be able to hear - cars passing, other runners coming up behind you, etc. 

Enter Airbudz. These little rubber tips replace the noise-blocking tips that come with your headphones. They have specially designed air channels that allow ambient noise to come in so you can still hear your music, but you can also hear that semi barrelling towards you. Or the zombie horde that is approaching from behind. When your run is done, the Airbudz easily pop off and you can put your regular noise cancelling tips back on. 

But they aren't just for runners. Let's say you like to listen to the Slate Culture Gabfest while you are folding the laundry. And even though you don't WANT to hear your kids, you feel like as a responsible parent, you should be able to keep an ear on them. Airbudz! You can still be culturally uplifted and distracted as you work, but if world war 3 breaks out upstairs (and you know it will) you won't totally be oblivious to it.  

They have been featured in CNET, USA Today, Wired and everyone loves them. I really do own and use the Airbudz and I love them, too. And so will you. And we, and the generous folks at SafeSound Product, are giving away 3 sets!

Here is what you get:
  1. A pack of Airbudz in THE COLOR OF YOUR CHOICE. Go here to see the color options - I got the neon (because of course I did.)
  2. Each pack contains 9 pairs of Airbudz. A pair of small, medium and large in each of the three colors. So you can pick the size that fits your ears the best and switch up the colors when the mood strikes you. Or I guess you could share them with your running partner if you are a nice person. (But don't get any bright ideas, Brian. I'm keeping all of mine.)
  3. You also get the handy little carrying case pictured above. It's great to keep your extra Airbudz in and keep your noise cancelling tips when you are using you Airbudz. 

And here's how you can win:
  1. Leave a comment on this post (not on the FB page. It has to be on this post.) Tell us how you plan on using your Airbudz if you win!
  2. For a bonus entry: go to Facebook and like the Part Time Authors page. Leave a SEPARATE comment telling us you did that. (And if you already like the PTA page, just tell us that.)
  3. And for another bonus entry: go to Facebook and like the SafeSound Products page. Your going to want to do that anyway to see what exciting products these guys come up with next. When you've done that, leave another SEPARATE comment on this post telling us that you liked the SafeSound page. 
  4. You have until next Saturday (February 16th) to leave a comment. Winner's will be announced on Monday February 18th. 
It's important that each of your entries is a separate comment. When we pick a winner, we basically (literally) draw a comment out of a hat. So if you tell us in one comment that you did all three things, it will only count as one entry.

And be sure to share this post! Tell your friends! Get the word out about this great product. You will love it. I can't wait to pick the winners!

Disclosure: While SafeSound Products is providing the prizes for this giveway, the opinions expressed are all my own. I really do love this product. 
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