Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Suggestions to Remember How to Be a Hero


We had a strep attack last night and today so Friday's post is very late. But, I didn't want to leave you with nothing so here's this cool article on how to be a Hero.

In it, Fred Kofman writes, "Heroes are not just mythical characters. They are examples of you at your best," and then he lists five suggestions to remember how to be our best:

  1. No problem -- Take the challenge
  2. Drop “Who's responsible?” – Be response-able
  3. Forget what you don´t want – Focus on what you want.
  4. Take one eye off the ball – Go for the gold.
  5. Failure is not an option – Succeed beyond success.
He concludes by saying success may give you pleasure, but integrity leads to happiness and leaves this quote by Viktor Frankl author of "Man's Search for Meaning":

"Don't aim at success--the more you aim at it and make it (your final) target, the more you are going to miss it. For true success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself. Listen to what your conscience commands you to do and carry it out to the best of your knowledge."

Have a great strep-free weekend, everyone.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wrapped Around My Little Girl's Finger

Can anyone say "No" to that face?
Lately we have been using a website at our house called MyJobChart.com. The idea is pretty simple: you assign jobs to your kids. When they complete them they log in and check them off. Each job is worth points. Maybe 10 points for getting your homework done, or 15 points for loading the dishwasher after dinner. Then, your kids can cash in their points for rewards. There are a bunch of preloaded rewards, or you can make them up. You can even pick a toy from Amazon and then order it right from the site when your kids earn it.

We've been using it for about 3 or 4 weeks and it has been great. The kids have gotten pretty good and setting and clearing the table, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the family room before bed, etc. It still requires a lot of micro-managing (honestly, do kids just not see messes? When I point to the 55 pieces of trash on the ground and say "Now someone pick up all the paper on the floor" and all of my kids say "What paper?" I just don't get it.) but I feel like our kids are learning some responsibility, and the house is a little cleaner (and Amy and I don't have to do it all.)

We've gotten to the point now where the kids have enough points to start redeeming them for prizes. My boys, of course, wanted lame things like new texture packs for Minecraft or some virtual coins so they can download new Pokemon for Pokemon Tower Defense. But when Lulu, my 4 year old daughter, saw that one of the rewards was "Date with Daddy" she immediately declared that that was what she was saving up for. I mean, if that doesn't melt your heart, what does? She could get a new small toy, or a trip to the pool or whatever, but she wants to spend the day with me.

So today was the day to cash in. And I felt like because she had worked so hard and saved her points and been so good and agreeable about doing her chores, we needed to do something funner than just a trip to the McDonald's playland. So we went to lunch and then to the Zoo. As we were getting ready to leave, I said to her "Should we have Mom come to Lunch with us and then you and I can go to the zoo for our date?" and there was a long awkward pause. She answered "Um, let's just start our date now and go to lunch with just us."

I've joked before that Lulu is my favorite. She's not really, even though she is by far our easiest kid to raise (and don't tell me she'll be a terror when she is a teenager. I refuse to believe it.) My boys are amazing - funny, sensitive, smart, energetic. I think the world of them.

Honestly: when did she get so cool? Clearly I am the Nerdy Dad in this picture. 
But when you are a Dad and you have a daughter, there is just something different about that relationship. She's my baby and always will be. And I never want her to not be the smiling happy little girl she is now. Part of it is that I know that there are so many forces out in the world that are going to try and make her feel small. So I want her to know, no matter what, that she is loved, safe and important. And part of it is that I don't want her to date (or marry) a jerk so I want her to think I am the most awesome person ever so that any lame hipster dude named Blaze or Kagen who wants to date her has big shoes to fill. And I just like to make her laugh and smile. Which is why we rode the Carousel two times today. (Also, because she really wanted to get the zebra and she didn't get the zebra the first time.)

Yes, I am a pushover. And yes, Lulu's 500 point reward cost about 5 times what her brothers' 500 point rewards cost. But she's my little girl. And I wanted her to have a great day, and we did. And I realize that some day she probably will think I am lame and ridiculous (please see above photo for reference) so I should try and have as many of these kids of days as I can while they last. Even if I pretend she has to "earn" them by picking up the 55 pieces of paper left on the family room floor. Seriously, does no one see those things but me?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

a miracle!


I believe in small miracles and I enjoy sharing them with others. I think that they can really give people hope amidst an economic crisis, catastrophic weather, and the current Justin Bieber melt-down. There really are angels among us, you guys! Let me tell you how I know.

Last week Lisa and I took a trip to Palm Springs with my brother Jesse, his wife Lindsay, and my cousin Scott and his wife Angerie. Scott is made of money and Jesse likes to golf, which means he must have money, and that leaves me: a college professor! You connect the dots. Anyway, Palm Springs is a beautiful place but it's not exactly welcoming to beardy hipsters, which I'm not, but look like. Most people thought I was Zach Galifianakis and lots of people took my picture.

One night my rich cousin and my wealthy brother decided we would all go to a steak house for dinner. It sounded great to me and Lisa. Sizzler, anyone? No, we would be going to a super fancy place for people who wear Cold Water Creek and Tommy Bahamas. I knew when I flipped open the menu that I was going to be really paying for that steak, and I heard Lisa mutter something under her breath about food stamps.

Please understand that we're not that poor. I'm not pleading poverty here. I'm not on the streets. I'm not Fantine or something. I make a good wage, but I'm a notorious miser sometimes. I could enjoy a simple night at Chipotle and feel on top of my game. But I also don't want to be the guy who grouches about how much his meal costs, so I stayed silent and just hoped that somehow it would all work out.

And then the most amazing thing happened!!! The waiter brought in a basket full of piping hot garlic rolls and I was all handsy and gluttonous and popped about four in my mouth. Midway through my fifth, I felt a strong crack on my back molar followed by the feeling of grisly ash. I felt something hard rolling around the back of my throat and sure enough! It was a shard of glass. You guessed it!

I summoned the waiter over and told him that I had found a smallish piece of glass in my garlic roll, but I assured him I was OK. I wasn't a big jerk about it, even though I could have been. I knew my luck was changing! The waiter's eyes got really round and then he disappeared into the kitchen. Soon enough the manager came out and knelt down by me and talked to me very quietly. I will not reveal the details of this conversation, but I will finish by letting you all know that not only did I get a free dessert out of this whole thing, but so did the whole table! I was the man of the hour. All because I never gave up hope.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let Me Cut Your Hair.



First off, let's just start by thanking Ken for his thought-provoking and turbulent post about me yesterday; he also named the other guys who write for this blog, but if you were me, or my mom, you stopped reading after my paragraph.  But here's the thing: not only am I a playwright and a songsmith, but I can also cut your hair...almost legally.

Once, when I was 21 and fresh-faced and fancy-free, I found myself wandering the halls of my local community college wondering how far my 'Intro to Music' and 'Film' classes would take me.  I was halfway though the semester and it was clear that I would not be passing either one, only because when I say wandering the halls of my local community college I mean lying face down in my pillow at noon.  So college was going to be a lot like high school, only they don't care if you come to class in college, because they want to charge you to take it again...it's okay to fail as long as you keep trying.

At some point, I must have gotten out of bed to get a haircut, 'cause I was at my friend's new studio getting my hair cut.  And you know how it is in a Salon, you're chatting and you're making the ladies laugh and they are all smiling at you and rubbing your head with fancy smelling potions and then boom, you find yourself interning as an apprentice sweeping up strangers' hair but getting an education.

It was great!  My dear friend from high school had recently gotten into the hair game, and somehow I convinced her to let me hang out the studio and do stuff.  Turns out if you hang out and do stuff long enough, you get a hair license and can charge people to ruin their lives.  With my academic career freshly flushed down the toilet, I was grateful for the focus my life had taken.     

It might have been four months, it might have been a year; as most of you know, there is no time at the hair salon.  But I sorta worked and I sorta cleaned and I sorta can now cut, dye, and blow out your hair.  Eventually, Pier 1 realized what an amazing and dynamic leader I was and they offered me full time employment and I had to choose: hanging out with the girls at the shop (which is also the premise of my TV sitcom vehicle that will one day make me my millions) or take a job that paid me.

Though it was short lived, I did learn enough to be the sole hair artist for my wife.  Though there are guys out there who would scoff, that decision alone has literally saved me thousands upon thousands of dollars. Wait, no really, ten years of free hair.  How much does a woman spend on hair in ten years?

I have real good stories from those days. Once, I ran a comb through my hair only to find out it was a texturing comb that cut my hair off exactly where I began combing... the root, at the front of my hair line.  Loads of others too, about mixing dyes, and spraying myself and my client and some other girl client with the shampooing hose that shot off like a furious cobra that had to be wrangled.  Nothing is as funny as ineptitude in a hair salon.

As for cutting your hair, well you take your hair into your own hands (sometimes literally). And because I am not licensed, I call myself a hair artist. An artist does not need to be fully trained or need to be sanctioned by the state. No. And I am neither. Also, like an artist I charge exorbitant fees and don't take direction.  When I'm done, then that's what I meant to do, and I don't really want to hear your thoughts on my art.  If you want to give your thoughts then you can take them over at Fantastic Sam's...they'd love to hear them.

Please leave your personal contact information in the Comments and a picture of your current hair mistake.  I will get to you on a need to save basis.

Thanks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kudos and High Praise


Just for today, please allow me the indulgence of bragging about my friends. Specifically, the rest of the Part Time Authors. I’m kind of proud to know these guys, despite the fact that associating with them is intimidating and talent-wise, I am the slightly-less attractive, nobody’s-favorite guy in every boy band.

 That's me in the middle. 

Blondie on the right, back. 

I'm pretty sure I'm the guy in the back, on the left. 

Let’s go in order of our posting schedule, shall we?

Patrick. (You know him as Tuesdays.)  Did you know Patrick once wrote an off-off- OFF-Broadway musical? Well, me neither! It was called R.R.R.E.D. and it played in L.A. and N.Y. I found this out a few months back. I was so embarrassed I didn't know this earlier! Patrick and I have been good friends for forever! Well, technically, not forever. We hung out a LOT and produced some truly fantastic plays together in the Premortal Life, but then, due to creative differences, we spent the first half of our mortal lives apart. But now…now he is a joy to behold. I love listening to Patrick sing and play the piano. He is tremendously talented and blends comedy and poignancy beautifully.  At Christmastime we heard him perform with his trio, The Tuesday Night Supper Club. It was delightful. My favorite was an original song Patrick wrote about Dancer, the reindeer. It was called “Dancer, the Reindeer.” Or maybe just “Dancer.” Or maybe “Not Prancer.” I’m not sure. Patrick is so artsy, his choices are sometimes confounding. The song has fast become one of my favorites. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that it is hilarious, and at the exact same time, it will break your heart. I wish the whole world could hear it. Patrick also wrote a song for a play his lovely wife, Lindsay, just produced and directed at BYU. The play was incredible, and so is Lindsay. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Chris. I've known Chris the longest, of all the PTAs. We were friends back in college, before any of us were married and it was not a problem at all to eat a full meal at Village Inn at 2:00 in the morning. And one of my favorite things about Chris, from the first day we were friends, was that he could grow a beard overnight. Well, not really. (He CAN, that’s just not my favorite thing about him.) (It’s my third favorite thing.) Sincerely, it was his creativity and his confidence in building a career where he could specifically use that talent. Chris is a renowned and highly-sought-after director now, and it is my goal to see anything he directs. And regarding his amazingness, you don’t have to take my word for it. The man just swept a national theater award competition, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. You can readall about it right here. He’s kind of a big deal. Congratulations, Chris! I am so pleased, and you absolutely deserve it. 

Josh. Josh is a magnificent storyteller and prolific writer. Conversations with Josh are some of the most entertaining you can ever have. And they are especially delightful if you are eating something – something he himself has made. Once last year, when I was still living in Las Vegas, I came up to Utah for work and Josh invited me over for dinner. I don’t remember the details, but his day ended up not going the way he had planned. So I showed up to eat, and he was frantic, and I was not going to let him off the hook, so he whipped up this dinner, and – I’m not kidding – it was amazing. Like, he didn't have a recipe in front of him, he was just kind of off the hook, “Oh, I made this thing once that I think I can do pretty quick,” and it was like a movie with pots and pans clanking and stirring utensils in them and flames and buzzers going off. And suddenly there was this delicious spinach salad with bacon and I think an egg on noodles and he acted like he needed to apologize and I was like, “Are you KIDDING ME?!” If he had shown up at my house like that and my day had gone like his, then he would have enjoyed a singular bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. (With toast and a glass of juice, part of a balanced breakfast and/or dinner. I mean, I’m not an animal.) My point, Josh is a fantastic cook; I envy his instincts, and I’m grateful when he shares it with his friends.

Brett. As you read last week, Brett is in a movie! Yeah Brett! I've seen Brett perform, and he is sensational. There is this mountain of creativity percolating in Brett’s mind at all times. He is very still and relaxed on the outside, so as to disguise his genius. Then you are sitting there trying to come up with an idea or a story line or something – and Brett speaks, and he just nails it. Whatever it is. He is a versatile actor and, as it is with Chris, I would try to see whatever production Brett is performing in. 

Thank you for letting me brag about my friends. I just think they deserve great things. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: I Get to Be in a Movie

Guys. I can't write much this week because I'm totally going to be famous. (Jk.)

But, this is exclusive, ya'll. I did just get offered the role of Agent Knight in Inspired Guns (click here and Like the page, please). It has an estimated release date of ... sometime in 2014. Of course, if the producers don't want me to leak this, my post will mysteriously vanish until it's approved. Scandal!

I don't know much about the movie itself. I have the script but, to be honest, I've only read my lines so far. There are about 30-35 of them, er, 135 or 1,035 or something. It's the most lines I've had in a movie part in my 7 year film acting career. Pretty cool. I feel like a Christopher Clark! My character is an eager, aloof, clueless, goof. Or, as my sister said, "Typecasting!" The plot involves missionaries, Mormons, mafia, hitmen, and feds. Crazy hijinks will def ensue.

Anyway, I'm very excited. For real. It shoots throughout May (for now). I'll have to take vacation time to do it because I have a 9-5 job to hold down that doesn't give away days off like candy. I may actually have to work remotely a tad. All for the art. All for the process.

I auditioned 3 times for it and it was a good experience. Let me share with you why I think I got the part:

1. I showed up on time for my appointments.
2. I was memorized, never needing to look at the sides while reading.
3. I made choices with the role and tried something different.
4. I took direction when given direction. ("Too slow. Speed it up this time.")
5. I was close to what they already had in mind.
6. I took inspiration from Andy Dwyer aka Bert Macklin:



Anyway, wish me luck. I'll post updates as I am allowed if you think it will be fun and/or interesting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Have a Winning Book Club

You too can have a book club this fun!
I have very little social life. With work and blogging and going to the gym and getting the kids to scouts  (Blerg!) and dance class and gymnastics it just seems like hanging out with friends is so low on the list that "buying light bulbs at Target" often seems to take precedence. I typically only see my friends once a month at our Book Club. And every month I thank my lucky stars for it. You see, when you vaguely have some ideas about "we should all get together soon" with your friends, it will never happen. (Those light bulbs won't buy themselves!) But if you have something on your calendar, something that involves great food, great conversation and an excuse to buy a new book, it gets you out of the house.

In my life, I have been involved in starting many book clubs and they always fail. People get busy, the books are lame, no one reads anything. When Amy and I moved to Oregon our friend Chanel started a book club. We met every month with that book club the whole time we lived there. And when we moved back to Utah we created a similar book club and have met every month since. That's 5 straight years of book clubbing, y'all! And I think having some rules and structure makes it easier to be successful.

My friend Kacy (who is in my book club) has already blogged about some of her rules, and I think she hit some key ones (Mainly: have good food. It's the best part of book club.) Here are a few that I think are key:

  • Have a different person choose the book each month. You can draw names or have a rotation. The person who choose the book is in charge of hosting book club and leading the discussion.
  • You can only choose books that no one has read. (We will make an exception if only 1 or 2 people have read the book.) This way you avoid the problem of someone choosing "their favorite book" and then having everyone else hate it. If someone chooses a terrible book (and it is usually me) no one's feelings are hurt. I have friends in other book clubs who have been called names because they didn't like someones favorite book enough.
  • Books can be no longer than 300-350 pages. We are all busy people. If someone chooses a 600 page book it feels a little overwhelming. You don't want book club to be a chore! But if the book is 275 pages, even if you don't start it until late in the month you feel like you can get through it. 
  • Choose the date for the next book club before you go home for the night. Anytime we forget to set the date and try to do it later it starts a string of emails where people suggest dates and then other people reply that that date doesn't work for them and what about a different date? And then some people don't reply either way. And then some people don't really read the emails and think we're talking about a different date. It's always easier if the date is set in stone before everyone goes home.
  • Make enough food that people can go home with leftovers. It's fun to be sitting in church the next day and get texts saying thing like "These runzas are even better the next day!" or "Just getting ready for my Sunday nap but first I am eating some leftover smoked chicken!" It's like a part of book club continues until the next afternoon. 
So there you have it. All you have to do is have some rules, read some books and make some amazing food and you too can have a book club. Trust me, when you are sitting through that terrifying Cub Scout court of honor where someone is wearing a slightly racist Native American costume as he hands out Arrows of Light, you'll be glad that you have something on the calendar to look forward to. 
Some of our book club selections that Patrick arranged artfully on his end table. Patrick does everything artfully. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

three


When I was three we lived in Littleton, Colorado, and I remember very little of it. My memories of this age come and go in little flashes. But here's some of what I remember:

I had a my third birthday party at a Mexican Restaurant called Casa Bonita in Denver. It was a family-style restaurant, and I seem to remember that you ate around a giant swimming pool. People would cliff dive and do tricks in the pool while you ate. There was a show where a lady in a torn bikini came screaming out of a cave onto a diving board and dove into the pool, followed immediately by a man dressed as an ape. He would pound his chest and holler. I was so scared of that ape!

We had a babysitter that we hated. There was a canal near our house. My best friend Stevie Labo and I tried to make a quicksand trap down there to kill her.

I used to randomly walk around the neighborhood. We did things like that back then. We randomly walked around the neighborhood and spent time around canals and ditches and nobody seemed to freak out about it like they do today. Somehow I ended up at the house across the street. The woman there was very sweet and welcoming and offered me some oreos, which I quickly ate. Then she offered me tea. I accepted, but felt funny about it. I wasn't sure why. About the time she pulled out the tea bag and set the kettle on the stove I remembered that Mormons didn't drink tea, and I ran out of her house. I can't imagine having that kind of moral clarity at age three, but I did. It's also kind of funny that running from tea was like running from Potiphar's Wife.

I played a lot with my sister Page, who was very imaginative. We made up interesting situations and acted them out. We would play 'Boss and Secretary.' We had these plastic telephones and she would take calls and relay me the message. The thing is, the secretary job seemed so much more fun than the boss' job. She fielded all these incoming calls and got involved in water cooler drama. I just got to sit at this desk and wait for her to bring me the latest field reports or a travel itinerary. But of course we would never switch positions, because Page and I were always very adept at perpetuating gender stereotypes. And still are!

One time I was at my second cousin Parker Jones' house. We were staying overnight. Parker and I liked to jump on the couch. Parker's dad did not like us to do that. He caught me jumping on the couch and he spanked me. Back then it was okay to spank other people's kids.

One Sunday my family was packed in the station wagon, leaving for church. Someone realized that I wasn't wearing any shoes. My dad sent me back inside to get my shoes. I remember running upstairs to my room. As soon as I entered the room I heard angels singing. I can't describe it any other way. I heard angels singing from the clouds outside my window. They were singing music I could recognize and remember. There is no clever twist to this story; I literally heard a heavenly choir. I remember it vividly and I can still feel what I felt then when I heard it. I listened for a few seconds, and then my dad started honking the car.

I was terrified of carwashes. In the 70's carwashes had these giant mechanized rotating brushes that looked like creatures from the Sid & Marty shows. I genuinely thought they would crush us. My family always thought it was funny that I was so scared of the carwash. My dad used to pretend to drive into carwashes whenever we passed one. It was fairly mean, I guess, but I pull that kind of crap on my kids all the time now, too.

That's about it for age three. Everything else is fuzzy and I'm not sure if I actually remember it or if I made it up. Did someone really catch a snake and slide it into the hollows of the handlebars on my Big Wheel? Was I potty-trained on a little toilet seat cover with a duck head emerging from it? Were swimming lessons really that bad?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A well thought out post, about the things I, well, thought out...

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. -Voltaire




Well, I ate too much.

I was going to sit down and write a brilliant blog about some clever nuanced thing that only I noticed, but then I ate too much.  Why?!  Why don't I just stop when my platter is full...that's one thing, my sister-in-law didn't want to dirty dishes (and why would she?!  I sure wasn't going to do them!) so she used paper plates...the thing is, the only paper plates she had in the house were these huge oval platters!

 Boom.

Good Heaven's why do they even make those?!  A pack of TWENTY FOUR!  Anyway, I filled mine up twice.  I know I know, but she didn't tell me that she had made dessert, certainly I would have only had one platter of food had I had known about dessert.  And worse it was these little raspberry and lemon glased cookies...so you really had to have at least seven before the taste of Honey Lime Chicken enchiladas even began to get out of your mouth...not that I wanted it out of my mouth...no, quite the contrary, there was a time where I would alternate a cookie bite with a enchilada bite...salty then sweet is my bingeing combination, I could eat the following combinations until my gut split down the center and the following ingredients would spill out...un-chewed:

  • Popcorn/Milk-Duds
  • Lays Classic Potato Chips/ really Dark Chocolate Chips
  • A fist full of rock salt/ Peanut butter M&M's
  • Chicken Enchiladas/ Lemon Raspberry Glased Cookies
I knew I had gone too far.  I did.  I knew it.  But that was two platters of Enchiladas, rice, refried beans, a small stack of blue berries and pineapple, and seven Lemon Raspberry Glased Cookies later...then I stopped.  I mean, I'm not a psycho!  I know when I've had too much, but tonight, I just couldn't stop and now I feel horrible, both physically and emotionally...I mean, I just started a new diet today.  For reals!  Today I had, like, a glass of water for breakfast, a hard boiled egg (three days old) for lunch, came home cranky from work to find out we are going to my sister-in-laws (whose some kind of wonder cook) house for dinner but that I would have to wait until 6:30 (6:45) to eat.  It was a perfect storm.

BTW, this is what one of those platters looks like full of food and not crisp and white in the packaging:

  2x

Great Mouse Detective! What have I done!  This post is giving me heartburn, honestly the only thing worse than eating too much food is to then search the internet for pictures of big platters of food.  I've ACTUALLY had some Alka Seltzer this evening...for it's intended purpose! You think Ken is old??!  That guy plays racquet ball! (I used the "Q" spelling to make it sound fancier) I do not play anything...hide and seek sometimes with the kids, but thats only to snuggle down in the quilt closet and catch a nap in the middle of the day, not a lot of calories burned.

It's not even that!  I'm a mid-middle aged married man, I suppose to be chubby!  I'm sure if Ken had some church activity where everyone was swimming, he would have to leave his shirt on because he would be humiliated to whip out his racquet ball abs in front of Sister Christiansen, the Ward Librarian. 

But I can't take this out on Ken, though I hope he enjoyed his brussel sprout for dinner, no, this was my doing.  My wife only ate half her platter and she's in a fine mood. Not me...it's 11:45 PM and I'm writing this blog that is making me sick to think about the sick things I sicked in my mouth and the whole time I've had to be sucking in my gut so my fingers can reach the key board!  WELL I'M DONE!  I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!  I CAN'T EVEN BREATH IN MY OWN HOdijlsjksdnnfydsnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNF,MFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFASDMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNKMNVVVVVVVVVvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvweeeeoiioweiiiiiiievvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvkh=wpl





Sorry.  

Apparently at some point my gut hit the CAPS LOCK button.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fortysomething

Me and my dad in Los Angeles ,1971; the year I was born and he turned 28. 


Yesterday was my birthday. (Thank you, and yes, I got your gift. It was just what I wanted! But I got two of them. So I’m going to return one and use the money to buy some new shoes. But I’m totally keeping the one you gave me. I’m returning the other guy’s gift.)

I am now 42 years old. Not a huge milestone birthday; however I can confidently report there is no midlife crisis on the horizon. (I check every six months; so I’m cleared until September.)

I’m actually quite fine being in my 40s. The thing that really stands out to me is being able to so clearly remember when my dad was 42. It was 1985. I was 14. My son, Garren, will be 14 this year; so the age gap is about the same.

I think about that decade for my dad and me. Ten years of milestones or rites of passage for me, all while my dad was in his 40s.

In 1983 I started junior high school, became a deacon, and received the Aaronic Priesthood. I think I also started officially using deodorant and loved watching The Outsiders. And my dad turned 40.

In 1985 I started high school, began attending early-morning seminary, went on week-long Scouting high adventures, played on the high-school water polo team...and my dad was in his 40s.

From 1987 to 1988 I became a priest, started driving, started dating, had my first kiss, got my first and second speeding tickets, went to my first U2 concert, went on a week-long surfing trip to Ensenada, Mexico, moved to Hawaii with my family, went skydiving…and my dad was in his 40s.

1989 to 1990 I had graduated high school, started college at BYU, received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and left on a mission to Portugal…and my dad was in his 40s.

In 1992 I came home from my mission and started back up at college…and my dad was in his 40s.

I am sure my dad experienced new things and had his own life alterations during his 40s, but for an egocentric teenager, it seemed like my world changed a thousand times over, and all while my dad was in his 40s. My dad will be 70 this year; but somewhere in my mind, he will always be in his 40s. And that’s the decade I am in now. And for some reason, that is what kind of blows my mind.

Friday, March 15, 2013

An Analysis of the Contents of My Comcast DVR

Unfortunately, this is not a Comcast DVR.
Have you ever pondered what your viewing habits really look like on paper? Have you ever been unable to sleep because you wish you knew the comedy vs drama breakdown of your series season passes? How about kid shows to mature-themed shows? Do you wonder which network has you in their pocket?

If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then hold on to your remotes! Well, I can't show you your habits ... you'll have to settle for mine.

Note: this is DVR only, not streaming. I tried to do fancy HTML tables but I didn't have enough time to make it look good. I'm still learning.

Total Series Recordings - 43

Comedies - 10
Parks And Recreation
New Girl
Community
Happy Endings
Psych
Modern Family
Bob's Burgers
The Mindy Project
Childrens Hospital
Saturday Night Live

Dramas - 15
Doctor Who
Masterpiece Classic (mostly for Downton Abbey)
Once Upon A Time
Justified
Southland
The Americans
Mad Men
Nashville
The Walking Dead
Pretty Little Liars
Suits
Elementary
Falling Skies
Smash
Bates Motel*

Reality - 13
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
The Voice
X Factor
America's Got Talent
Secrets From A Stylist**
HGTV Design Star**
Fashion Star
Property Brothers
Counting Cars
Extreme Homes
America's Funniest Home Videos***
The Ellen DeGeneres Show***

Kids - 5
Gravity Falls
ThunderCats
Adventure Time/Finn & Jake
Kung Fu Panda: Legends
House Of Anubis

Network Representation
NBC - 6
ABC - 6
FOX - 5
HGTV - 4
Cartoon Network - 3
Nickelodeon, USA, FX, TNT, AMC - 2
CW, CBS, BBC, ABC Family, PBS, History, A&E, Lifetime, Disney - 1

Watching Distribution
Shows I watch with just Amelia - 6
We watch as a family - 5
Only I watch with both the kids - 1
Only Amelia watches with both the kids - 6
Amelia watches with B - 1
I watch with B - 1
Amelia watches with A - 1
I watch with A - 1
The kids watch "alone" - 3
Amelia watches alone - 7
I watch alone - 10

Genre Distribution
Competition - 7
Sit-Com - 7
Cop/Detective/Mystery - 6
Animated - 5
Sci-Fi/Fantasy - 4
Home/Self Improvement - 3
Period Dramas - 2
Musical - 2
Horror - 2
Legal - 1
Other - 4

Shows that someone likes but don't catch up on well:
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Nashville
The Americans
Southland
Kung Fu Panda: Legends
House of Anubis

Shows I delete often in order to make room for other shows:
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Kung Fu Panda: Legends
America's Funniest Home Videos Elementary
The Mindy Project

Shortest show: Childrens Hospital - 15 min
Longest show: Project Runway, SNL - 90 min
Show I was surprised to see on the DVR: Counting Cars
Shows recently removed from the DVR: American Horror Story, The Following, The Office, Alphas, Arrow, Zero Hour
Show we most often watch in real-time despite being recorded: Once Upon a Time
Estimated hours of TV our DVR records each week: One million?

Here's what I learned ... We watch more stuff than I realized but less than we did 2-3 years ago. We watch more shows as a family than I thought and more than we did 2-3 years ago. I thought there would be more legal-themed shows. Many of the shows we hope will last don't. Some shows that start out good don't stay that way but we keep watching because we are completionists. (Or, I am.)

Was this helpful? Does it make you want to audit your DVR? If you're reading this from 2002, does it make you want to have a DVR? Was it a waste of your time and mine? Let me know in the comments.

*Hasn't actually started yet.
**Not sure if these are canceled or not.
***These shows feature real people doing real things but I don't know if they are "reality" per se. I don't know where else to put them.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let's Go Back to Neptune

I love TV. A great, great deal. And I watch a lot of shows. Some are fun, but come and go. And some are the Great Ones. Those TV shows that change the TV landscape and that you think about for years to come: Friday Night Lights, Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, and Veronica Mars.

That's right, Veronica Mars. In case you missed the news today, this canceled TV show that went off the air 7 years ago just made over $2 million dollars in less than 8 hours all from fans. Let me break it down for you:

  • Veronica Mars was a TV show on the CW that lasted 3 seasons and then was unjustly and untimely-ly canceled.
  • There was talk of making a movie but of course it didn't happen, because it NEVER happens (Serenity being the one exception.) 
  • We moved on with our lives.
  • Today, Rob Thomas, the shows creator launched a Kickstarter campaign. Essentially, he had gotten the major stars to agree to the movie but lacked the funding because big movie studios don't typically want to put the money down for a movie based on a TV show that had low ratings and was canceled.
  • The fan's, excited by the prospect of not only a movie, but cool swag like signed posters and t-shirts, rallied and the movie met it's funding goal of $2 million in about 8 hours. (And the money is rolling in.) 
  • Next year, there will be a Veronica Mars movie, and I am thrilled.
Here's the Kickstarter video and if you are a VM fan you will be filled with glee. (Warning: Adult language. Don't watch withe the kiddies!)



Not only is this amazing because I get to see all my old friends from Neptune, California again. (Veronica! Logan! Keith Mars! The Piz! Dick! Weevil! Wallace!! Mac!!) but it kinda might change the face of the TV/ Movie industry.

Whenever a culty TV show gets the can, the fans panic and there is always talk of the show being made into a movie or moving to another network. And it almost never happens. When Buffy the Vampire Slayerwas canceled there was talk of a movie, even though that TV show was based on a movie. And no one backed it.

But a few years ago when NBC canceled Friday Night Lights it was picked up by DirectTV and lasted another couple of seasons. And the fans rejoiced. But it seemed like kind of a weird fluke. And then Arrested Development was canceled far too soon. And suddenly Netflix stepped in and it is coming back. Soon. And now this - a show that ended 7 years ago still resonates with fans enough that it raised $2 million in less time than it takes me to work a shift at Old Navy.

I think my friend Daryn (who is a filmmaker) said it best:
This is kind of genius. Made a show with devoted fans? Get the fans to pay for the movie by giving them fan stuff. Unlike investors, who would expect to make money on the money they invest in the movie, the fans get the movie and the geek stuff. The filmmakers get paid and keep all the profits. Everybody wins. Especially the filmmakers. 
 And it feel like this is changing in a lot of creative endeavors. While the studios (and the publishers and the music moguls) still have most of the power, that power is shifting slightly. If you want to make a movie, get your fans to pay for it. If you want to release an album, put it online. If you write a book, self-publish. We are taking the power away from the gatekeepers and putting it in the hands of the artists and creators. And I think it is pretty awesome. And I hope you all do too when I am begging you to buy my self-published novel or back Patrick's Kickstarter to get his play produced. If Veronica Mars can do it, why can't we?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

top of the mornin'


St. Patrick's Day is coming up, and it begs the question. How much do you know about the Irish? No - but how much do you really know about the Irish? I thought maybe I'd take a minute and tell you a little about our magical friends across the pond. Clear up some misconceptions. So listen up: you just might learn something!

1. The Irish love Lucky Charms. I'm serious about this! All they think about is oat flour with corn starch and marshmallow bits. They are obsessed! They will steal your Lucky Charms if you don't watch it. That's another thing about the Irish: they love to steal!

2. The Irish ride around on donkeys and live in thatched cottages. They are very quaint, and everything is very green in Ireland. Even their clothes (including pork pie hats.) They love to have visitors come pay 'em a call. Their door is always open, except when they are busy growing shamrocks.

3. Looking for a pot of gold? Look no further than the hills of Ireland, where pots of gold are about as commonplace as strip malls are in Orem. I mean, you don't even have to follow a rainbow or anything! Even though I have never been to Ireland, that's what I have heard from reliable sources. You can pick up a pot of gold and then do a dance through the heather on the hills. Watch out, though, you may have to duel it out with a leprechaun! (J/K, leprechauns don't exist! LOL)

4. Irish people love potatoes. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...no one knows potatoes like the Irish do! And nobody grows 'em like the Irish. Often they will eat potatoes cold - like apples - and then chase 'em down with a pint of beer. It's really great to watch (I'm told.) Then they will take sticks and scare away snakes. (Whatever!)

5. The Irish people are violent and potentially dangerous. Sadly, nobody is perfect. Sometimes the Irish people put bombs in pubs and blow people up. But that doesn't happen very often. You shouldn't worry about it if you go there, unless you go to Belfast. Then you shouldn't go around talking about pots of gold and Bono. And don't stay at youth hostels. Those are always a disaster. So gross.

6. Irish people make fishing hats out of lambswool. This is true! I have one. A leprechaun gave it to me.

7. Irish people sometimes eat their babies. They have potato famines there, so can you blame them?

8. If you live in Ireland and your name is Patrick, they will call you Paddy. If your name is Michael, they will call you Mick. If your name is Daniel, they'll call you Danny. If your name is Tricia, they will call you Shelby. (because they are drunk.)

9. Irish people are extraordinarily lucky! Have you heard of the Luck of the Irish? Well, that little saying really sums it all up. If their luck runs out, they die. And then they "keen," which is where people cry over dead bodies and sing "Danny Boy".

10. Famous Irish people include: Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Bono, Fiona Shaw, Ewan McGregor, and Sean Connery!

I'm about to submit this article to Wikipedia. Let me know if you have anything you would like to add to my list of fascinating things about Irish people. I pretty much know everything, but I'm not too proud to accept additional info!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Which Kid Am I Raising?



So my friends little boy...ok he's twelve, broke his nose wrestling.  At first I was not sympathetic, you put you son in a girls swimsuit and make him fight other one-pieced boys getting his nose smashed in is a pretty reasonable result.  But then he had to get surgery and they had to re-break the nose and set it delicately back into place.  He makes it through the surgery just fine and gets home nice and drugged up and the next day he is feeling good and wants to go over to his friends house, which he does and in the first 3 mintes of being there another twelve year old walks up to him and asks, "What happened here?" and slaps his nose. It should have fallen off.  It was only held on by a small bandage and the Dr told him not to do anything to it for a week so it will set back into place.  Then Eddy Haskel comes over and pushes it to the left.  Obviously it was so painful but he was in front of his friends so he fights off tears and calmly calls his mom and says, "I'm done here, could you come pick me up?" Of course he doesn't tell his mother, because she will be mad, either at the friend or him or both (turns out Moms just get mad at themselves for not saying, "No, you just had surgery and your friends are idiots, stay home.") so she finds out when the kids mom texts her this huge apology and offers to pay for any damage done.

So here we are:  On the one hand twelve year olds are dumb and we should know they are dumb and we should put them in boxes with holes until they are...what am I now, 34? Yeah, 34. I should not have to be in a box but they should.

On the other hand, let's imagine the other kids mother.  Twelve years in and she realizes she raised, that kid.  The kid who has such a lack of awareness to walk up to another human being who is bandaged in the face and think, "That's my joke!  I'll swat the freshly BER-OKEN appendage and everyone will think I'm hilarious."

The trouble is... it could have been me.  It could have been anyone of us at that age.  Your desire to be liked far out weighs your desire to be reasonable.

When I was 15 I had a saying, if someone said something or did something that put me down in anyway, I would just shrug it off and say, "Oh, yeah?  Well, you're fat."  Easy. Clear. Final. I would say it to anyone, guys, girls, teachers, strangers. (I had a lot of teacher and strangers putting me down I guess) Well, then I was sitting in English next to Brenda, another 15 year old and she helped me out with my grammer.  I had made such a simple mistake that I thought it was funny.  She wasn't mean in correcting me, on the contrary, she was always real nice to me, which is why I thought it would be real clever if I gave her my signature line.  "Yeah well...you're fat."  And I went back to my paper.  Like, 10 minutes later I notice Brenda quietly shaking in her seat, her wrists limp in her lap, tears sneaking down her face, which was red trying to hold them in.  It actually took me a moment to figure out what had happened, it wasn't until she gently corrected me again, "That was the meanest thing anyone has ever said to me." she said with zero emotion, just as a matter of fact.  I remember trying to explain that I called everyone fat and that I did it all the time...this did not help my case, in fact it made me meaner that I did it all the time and to lots of people. Even as I said it I could hear that I was that kid.  Dumb. And I couldn't take it back.

I remember this story crystal clear and, no doubt, that nose whacking kid will remember that moment for the rest of his.  He thought he would be the hero and instead had to sit there while his mother, humiliated texted a stranger his apologies.

I was going to blog about how we text things that are too uncomfortable to talk about, but then I remembered Brenda and being that age and that boy and remembered I have little boy, who already thinks he shows his love by slapping other babies in the face (he's 9 months! Come on!) and realized I didn't have a leg to stand on, but then I realized, none of us do.

I am so glad that I finally finished with that phase.  And too bad for Milo...it's a comin'.

Monday, March 11, 2013

If You Like Movies, You'll Love Moving Furniture



Get ready for the game sensation that is sweeping the nation!*

(*Please note, this game has yet to sweep this or any nation. But when it does, I would like full copyright benefits. Also, I would like it to be called Ken’s Movie Game. Catchy, right? Well, I got my degree in advertising – so yep, I know some things.)

Back in 1996, my friend Steve and I were coerced by our wives into attending some sort of “party.” (Some multi-level-marketing shtick, featuring beauty products.) I don’t remember the entire theme, but I do remember at one point both of us soaking our fingers in adjoining bowls, in preparation for manicures. I can’t say it was my proudest moment, but Steve and I had been friends since before puberty, so it wasn’t the first time we’d found ourselves in a situation that would never be discussed afterwards. (Like the time we decidedly kicked a fellow Scouter out of our tentat Scout Camp, so a younger Scouter with a much more attractive sister could stay in our tent and tell us what she might be looking for in a rugged, almost-Eagle Scout. That was probably the least talked about incident, pre-manicure.)

Anyway, we started talking about movie previews. And then we started talking about how often you see a tag line on a poster or preview that says:

If you liked _____, you’ll love ______.

You’ve seen them.

“If you liked Rocky, you’ll love Hoosiers…”
“If you liked Pretty Woman, you’ll love Green Card…”
“If you liked The Godfather, you’ll love Goodfellas…”

And so forth.

So out of an awkward moment of pampering, and all in the name of comedy, a game was created where we would try to come up with movie tag lines that connected two movies in name only (or a nebulous association), but not really in any other similarities. In other words, the movies had to have a similar word in the title, but would actually be almost polar opposite in subject.

Steve had the first one:

If you liked Dirty Dancing, you’ll love Dances with Wolves



It took off from there.

If you liked Sleepless in Seattle, you'll love Sleeping with the Enemy.
If you liked Fight Club, you'll love The Joy Luck Club.
If you liked Lilo & Stitch, you’ll love Thelma & Louise!
If you liked Polar Express, you’ll love Pineapple Express!

 





Now, player beware. Sometimes you will think of titles that actually are similar in name as well as subject, and I won’t be there to referee in person, but you should know that that just doesn't work. Example: If you liked Superman Returns, you’ll love Batman Returns. (If you actually liked one of these movies, you would probably like the other. So it’s true, not funny. Thus, no points. More appropriately would be: If you liked Superman Returns, you’ll love Max Dugan Returns. I think we've all learned a very valuable lesson here. Way to dodge that bullet!)

Now, once you are comfortable at this level, you are ready to introduce a new rule. That of the connection being more imprecise. Instead of just sharing a word in the title, it might be a shared syllable only. Or a shared theme.

If you liked Dumbo, you’ll love Rambo.

 


If you liked Philadelphia, you'll love Fargo.
If you liked The Postman, you'll love The Cable Guy.
If you liked The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, you'll love The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
If you liked You've Got Mail, you'll love You Got Served.

One final note, when you are playing this verbally, you have to say it with as much conviction and excitement as a movie announcer would. Like you are just SO SURE that If you liked Mystic River, you’ll love Mystic Pizza!

 

So please enjoy this new game! If you are playing with a fellow movie aficionado, the two of you will have a great time. I've played this with many, many, many of my friends; none of whom are as famous or easy to name drop as Chris Clark. And Chris is spectacular at it. 

If you liked The Godfather, you’ll love Father of the Bride!
If you liked Slumdog Millionaire, you’ll love Brewster’s Millions!
If you liked Return to Witch Mountain, you’ll love Brokeback Mountain!
If you liked Saving Private Ryan, you’ll love Save the Last Dance!
If you liked Sense and Sensibility, you’ll love Dumb and Dumber!
If you liked Schindler’s List, you’ll love The Bucket List!

 


Play along, won’t you?  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jack of All Trades ... Master of One?

It's fitting that the theme of the posts this week have surrounded work in some way. Ken's new job, Patrick's wife's project, Josh's expert dress-to-impress advice, and Chris' BEARD working as a movie star. As it turns out, I've been wanting to write about this topic for a long time.

I have a job. It provides for my family. It's something I'm glad I have and something I feel blessed to have gotten. Landing the job I have now was definitely something God had a hand in, and he continues to help me each day. I'm thankful.

I'm good at my job. Truth is, since I hit my teens I've been OK to good at everything I've ever tried in my life. Everything I can think of anyway.

But I'm not great at my job. I'm not an expert in the strict sense of the word. Truth is, I'm not great at anything. I haven't attained mastery in any facet of my life.

It's the old saying: "Jack of all trades, master of none." Which I think was coined by Moses. (I'm only OK at history.) So, being fine has gotten me through my life pretty well. It worked for a really long time. Sometimes I'd get an A, and sometimes I'd get a C+. Sometimes I'd hit 15 three-pointers in a row and then I'd miss a lay up. Sometimes a girl would say yes. I also got frequent nos. What I hadn't thought about is that, at some point, being simply OK meant that there would always be someone better than you at everything. Someone who decided to take the time to master something.

This is a problem for me. Being good or OK isn't great. I want to be amazing. And, I know the blame falls on me. It's my life, after all. I made choices to get me here. I look around and I am surrounded by greatness. By genius. By mastery. I see spiritual greatness, creative genius, musical proficiency, parenting greatness, and acting, improvising, writing mastery. I am so proud to know all the wonderfully talented people I know who are or who are close to being the very best at what they do. They are friends, they are relatives, they are acquaintances, and they are even married to me. I'm happy for the success of others. I'm happy that so many people I know get to do what they love, what they're great at, and still provide for their families doing it.

What to do? I've decided it matters so I can't just accept being OK. I guess I need to try harder at being an expert at something.

I think the closest thing I have is my acting. It's the thing in my life that I enjoy doing more than anything else. It's the thing I get the most validation doing. Contrary to what you may have heard or believe, good acting is hard. Film, theater, improv, all of it. It's difficult to become an expert at it. But that's doable. It's even more hard to earn a living at it. This is why I think I've plateaued at good and not great. I think if I really believed in my heart that, at 42 years old, I could make a run at professional acting, then I could see myself spending the remaining hours of the 10,000 needed to become an expert. But then there's that voice that says, "Acting is great but you have a good job and a family to support." My brain cannot justify working at it more since there can be little return on the investment. See? I sure am good at talking myself out of that one. I have to keep telling myself that retirement and college funds will thank me.

The other thing is writing. That could be something. I like to do it most of the time. I could even make the effort needed to get good at it. I don't thoroughly enjoy it as much as performing. It's sort of how I already make my living. The tough part about this one is that I really love writing poems, sketches, and scripts. I don't always like marketing writing. This creates a conundrum. I could spend the time needed to get great at marketing writing but could I learn to love it and be fulfilled by it? And, after spending most of my day writing about products, do I want to come home and squeeze a few more writing hours out of myself to write a novella? The evidence against me is that I prefer watching TV to unwind rather than writing to unwind. I'll forgo TV to study for an acting audition but not for writing. Huh.

For the record, I have implemented plans to both of the above more. Maybe I will become great at them if I stick with it. It's possible.

But hold on ... I just thought of this. Maybe the answer is to become great at the things that will make me a better human. Practicing to master the non-career related things. I should spend more time becoming an expert at marriage, fatherhood, friendship, service, listening, humility, positivity, encouraging, supporting, and caring.

I bet I could be great at a couple of those. With a little expert help. Who's in?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fashion Man-Date

Southwest tie. T-shirt cardy. 
As Ken mentioned, he started a new job this week. Yeah, Ken!! And since he also implied that for the last 6 months he has been walking around the house in t-shirts, a beard and no pants (and believe me - I've been to Ken's house and I cannot un-see the things that I have seen!!!) as he prepared to reenter the work force he needed to spruce up the wardrobe. So natch, he called me and Patrick. Patrick and I both work in retail and both have worked in retail for the last 100 years and basically we are a little mini Clinton and Stacey (I'm Clinton) or Trinny and Susanna (I'm Trinny.) We spend time professionally helping people pick outfits.

So the three of us went on a little Man-Date to the Banana Republic in the City Creek to update Ken's look. And as we shopped, I came up with a few fashion mandates (see what I did there?) that you can use in your life (if you are one of the 7 men who read this blog about fatherhood) or your husband's life (for the other 93% of our female readers.)

Patrick thinks about how long until the return of pleats.
Mandate 1: Before the shopping trip, Ken and Katie (his wife) took stock of his current wardrobe. He relayed the following conversation:
Ken: I have those blue pants still that are pretty nice.
Katie: Don't those pants have pleats?
Ken: Yeah...but that is OK, right?
Katie: Um...you better clear that with Patrick and Josh.
Katie's right. Pleats are no good. (Now, right now Patrick is saying that pleats are making a comeback. Because literally everything in fashion makes a comeback at some point. And pleats probably will be mainstream someday. But it's like 10 years off. So if you want to wear pleats now, that's what I called "Advanced Fashion." And it's not for the faint of heart.) So please don't buy or wear pleats. They make you look fat and dumpy. And old. And like you shop at JC Penny. With your mom. Picking your clothes.
This scarf is clearly too big. 
Mandate 2: As Patrick and I were shopping, not consulting Ken (who was standing in the middle of the store texting) I said to Patrick, "What size top do you think Ken is?" Patrick replied, "I don't know - a medium?" Me: "You're right. For sure he is a medium. But he probably thinks he is a large." Sure enough, when we consulted Ken, he said he was a large. Ken is not a large. He's tall, but he is a racquetball player and he is fit and he is a medium. Please, for the love of Mizrahi, wear clothes that fit you well. Here is a tip for shirts: Look at the seam on top of the shoulder. It should run parallel to the ground and lay flat. If the end of the seam rolls over the edge of your shoulder and points towards the ground, the shirt is too big. And for pants, don't get a loose fit or relaxed fit. That is retailer code for clothes that make you look fat. I'm not saying everyone needs to wear a skinny jean. But get a straight leg jean. It is like a loose fit jean, but just slightly narrower. 
I wasn't able to convince Ken to buy that cardigan. I may never forgive myself. 
Mandate 3. The funnest part of shopping with Ken, is that he literally had no opinions. He trusted Patrick and I completely. So when I hesitantly asked if he would try red pants, he said "Sure!" And look how great he looks!! Look, I'm not saying everyone needs red pants. But don't be scared to try new things. Just because you have always bought loose fit jeans and Big Dawg t-shirts, doesn't mean you have to only buy those things for the rest of your life. OK...hold on. Let's go back a bit. The mandate stands, but I really do think that everyone needs red pants. Colored pants have been pretty on trend for 3 or 4 seasons now, which I think means they have officially crossed into the mainstream. I don't think I currently own pants that aren't jeans, colored pants, or colored jeans. Don't be scared. Go buy some. And because I know you are going to ask, they are a neutral and match almost anything.
Not a bad haul! And Patch even got himself a new fedora!
Mandate 4: When first started in retail, we had a saying when we were working in the men's department. "If you only knew what we knew." See, we retail kids spend hundreds of hours a week dealing with clothes. We watch training videos and read product knowledge guides and peruse fashion magazines. The people who work in those stores know how to dress you! So ask for help. What we meant by "If you only knew what we knew" was that if a guy would only come in and say "I've got $100 bucks and I need to look great for a date and I am in your hands" we would move heaven and earth to make sure that you did indeed look great and that you felt great too. Because then you come back and spend more money. We're not going to send you out of the store looking like a fool. Because then you don't come back and you tell your friends. We want you to look amazing. So let us do it.
We happened to be shopping the night of the Mad Men Collection launch and they had appetizers! FTW!!
That's it. That's not to hard right? I'm not giving you specific fashions or styles (OK, other than red pants. Go get some.) I'm just giving you some guard rails. So your mandates are:
  1. Pleats are not good.
  2. Wear clothes that fit well.
  3. Don't be scared to try new things. 
  4. Ask for help.
You can do that, right? And if you can't, Patrick and I are available for a small (enormous) consultation fee. And you'll probably leave the store owning red pants. Don't be scared. It's better than the no-pants you've been wearing for the last six months. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

au naturale


I only have ten minutes to write this blog so I'm going to focus on the one thing that is always on my mind: MY BEARD. Apparently it's on everybody else's mind as well. That's all anyone ever wants to talk about. It's a lot of work explaining it. It's pretty massive, this beard. When I walk down the street, people notice BEARD and if they are brave enough to talk to me, they talk about BEARD.

The reason why I have a beard is because I was cast to play the Apostle Paul in the LDS Church's New Testament film. I'm super excited about it and I get to go to Sicily, so I'm not going to be all whiny about that. But it does come with the caveat that I have to grow a beard, and this beard has been happening since November. And it will continue to happen until June. So it's just going to get worse.

If you are in my ward, you should know all this by now. Why do we need to talk about my beard every Sunday? Yes, it's getting longer! Now, share your testimony or go back to complaining about your calling. I enjoy those conversations. My beard doesn't do anything magical and it has no opinions. No need to discuss it!

If you are a friend, and you are hungry, feel free to search through my beard for a morsel or two. They're in there! There's enough for everyone. I ate lunch at J Dawgs yesterday for lunch and I got solid lick of BBQ sauce at about 8 pm last night! Remarkable! It tasted like it was straight from the bottle!

If you are my wife, keep pretending you think it's sexy. You are doing an amazing job. You scruff it with your fingers and still make-out with me, and it does wonders for my fragile self-esteem. I don't mind if you pull on it! A baby would. It doesn't hurt at all! I like it.

That's all I have to say, and anyway I have to go to a boring training meeting. I will listen to the lady talking and she will occasionally look at me and she will think BEARD and I will think CLOCK ON THE WALL and the other people at the meeting will be thinking BEARD and then it will be over and we will all get on with the rest of our day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PHEEEEW!



So, last week, as I'm sure you remember I posted about the most amazing play ever written and how my wife devised this play and how everyone should see it cause it's super good and ground breaking and something that you won't see around here any time soon.

Well, here's the thing:  I lied.

It's horrible.

no, just kidding, but could you imagine?!  I'm on my blog all like, "My wife's play sucks eggs! DON'T SEE IT!"  That would be super 'kward.

But here's the thing: I lied...or rather, I didn't know.  You see, when I posted last week, well, I hadn't seen it. How could I?!  It opened on Wednesday, I'm not magic! And so when I was pitching that YOU should see it, well, I was just being supportive, ya know, but I had no idea if this experimental, student written, high risk, wildly expensive (not Phantom expensive, but it blew the budget for my last ward road-show out of the water...'course that was 15 years ago and with the economy what it is...) play would be good, bad, fine, adequate, reasonable, turbulent, riveting, or dumb...I just had no idea.   But that didn't stop me.

I saw it this week.

Lisa Clark can tell you, as the spouse of a Director, you sorta only hear how things are crazy and what's hard and what's not working.  And Lisa Clark can tell you, any supportive spouse smiles and says, "That's just theater, honey.  It's always wild and scary and then, it's wonderful...or at least, fine."

But I gotta tell you, I was sacred.  This was a huge HUGE project and all that stuff I said about it being "experimental, student written, high risk" that's not me being funny...that's the real story, and what's worse my wife willingly laid her delicate neck on the chopping block in taking on this albatros and there were nights we both were lying in bed in the dark with four wide eyes playing out the flopping of this play.  SO OF COURSE I WAS SUPPORTIVE! What else was I going to be?!

I saw it this week.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach, I mean, at this point what was I going to do?!  I suppose I knew the songs, if things got real bad I guess I could jump up and lend my silky tenor to the cause, but even then what would it help?  Sure, people's lives would be changed by the gorgeous sound coming from my throat, but the real problem would be the same; I can't be there every night.  And so I hunkered down in my seat determined not to jump in unless a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y necessary.

When I was younger it was my greatest fear that I would marry a girl who thought she could sing.  I could just picture her enthusiasm and always trying to get us "gigs" to sing together and I would have to stand next to her and watch her with her eyes closed leaning right up against the pitch but never quite getting there.  And what could I do?!  I would have to love that tone deaf dope and so I would stand next to her and a try not to make eye contact with the grimacing faces in the audience.

However, my real wife does not want to sing duets with me.  She'll sing in church and has sung in a choir or two and, best of all, she sings to our kids, but she has a reasonable awareness to her vocal talent, just as I do...now where was I...oh yes, I was tamping down my golden godly voice to support the play...

The play... It was spell binding.  It was captivating.  I was both spellbound and captivated. The show is so good! It's all just storytelling, different people, different stories, spell binding, captivating, good.

But that's not what I want to write about (though you should click here and get yourself tickets before they are all gone...it closes and is gone forever on Saturday) what I want to write about is how hard it is to be married.  At first it's not hard, at first it is wonderful and easy and then after the 'at first' part, you move to the next part...what is that? And how long does that last? Until the 'last part', I guess.  So somewhere in that not beginning and not the ending you start to forget that this person sleeping next to you is this amazing creature, who is filled with hopes and aspirations and you start to see them as the person who forgot to throw your underwear in the dryer.  I know, I know, you still know that they are amazing, but you make them amazing for stuff they do around the house or their smile or how after all these years they still like you, and that IS amazing.  But you forget about the time before when you were two separate people and wanted to take on the whole world and you were pretty sure you would be done with that by 30 then you could retire and live off your interest because, really, that's all you need, you've never been greedy.

Anyways...I guess what I saying is that this week I got to see my wife accomplish something amazing and hard and thought provoking and new and it bubbled into this world through her brain and I was so proud and it reminded me of what an amazing person as a person she is and not just as my wife or the mother of my kids or housekeeper or science teacher or moral compass or pageant winner or party hostess or costume designer or sex goddess or short order cook or doctor MD or doctor PhD or pep talker or protector or comedian or Scattergories player or or or or...

Turns out, even with out my help, she is still amazing.

And I was amazed.  

     

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Slump


Five months ago I moved my family from Las Vegas, Nevada to Orem, Utah. (There we are, in Utah.) There were several reasons we did this. Some of those reasons were super clear to me, and some were not. Some were public, and some were personal. Some I’m still not sure of yet. But the path was illuminated and we felt an internal nudge to walk that path. So we did.  

This move included the process of finding a new job. And...everybody relax...I finally found The One. In fact, I start today, and I am really, really excited!

If you've never been out of work for longer than two weeks, please allow me to share just a few personal observations:

1.  It is the easiest thing in the world to “feel busy.” You will sometimes wonder how you ever found time to have a full-time career and do everything else. Your wife will ask you to go to the grocery store, and your response will be, “WHAT? That’s, like, my entire afternoon!” And then when she asks you what you’re so busy with…the only thing you’ll be able to think of is that all five seasons of Alias are now on Netflix, and those episodes aren't going to watch themselves!

2. Up to now, you have been unable to fully fathom both the glory and hazard that is Netflix Streaming.

3. There will come a day when you are standing in front of the bathroom mirror, and you have the razor in your hand, and the thought will come to you, “Who am I shaving for? Seriously, WHO cares if I’m clean shaven?” And with a smirk on your face, you’ll put the razor away. Then you’ll be surprised to notice that you’re wearing jeans…the same pair of jeans you've been wearing for four days. And they do nothing for your figure. And you’ll be disgusted with yourself. So you’ll throw those jeans in a dirty clothes pile, and you’ll go the entire morning pants-less. There will be whispered concerns between family members, but nobody will actually confront you; because clearly, you have only one marble left rolling around in that noggin of yours.

4. There will be moments where you absolutely do not feel like talking to anyone. Because even when they are genuinely concerned about your well being, you have to give them a lame update. And you start to feel that, in addition to being a disappointment to yourself, now you’re letting them down as well.  

5. You will appreciate the vulnerability of others like never before. 

6. You'll develop a deepened repugnance for Know-It-Alls. 

7. You will have conversations with your spouse that goes a little something like this:


Or something like this:

You: I’m sorry.
Spouse: For what?
You: For failing.
Spouse: Failing at what?
You: You name it.

Or maybe even something like this:

You: “The problem is I’m not qualified to do anything.”
Spouse: “You are qualified to do everything!”
You: “I've never done anything great.”
Spouse: “Everything you do is great!”
You: “Just saying the opposite of what I’m saying doesn't build confidence in me.”
Spouse: “So you want me to stop?”
You: “…Not really.”

8. You will watch clips like this, and you’ll wish that in all this "down time" you could have dinner with Elder Holland.


9.  People will ask you if you are enjoying some “down time” to do whatever it is you have always wanted to do. Write, sculpt, paint, lose weight, master the art of kung fu, create an app, become a stunt driver, start your midwifery practice…whatever. (They mean well, so don’t punch them in the throat.)  You have to remember that when you’re in the World of the Employed, having “free time” seems like the ultimate gift. But when you are in the World of the Unemployed, that “free time” and "energy to be creative" and "desire to develop new passions" and "need to wear pants" is completely choked out by the daily anxiety that despite no money coming through your door, it continues to fly out your windows.

10.  If you are blessed to be married to Katie then you will take profound comfort in her unparalleled level of confidence that all things will work together for your good, that you will be blessed to come off the conqueror and that somehow you have the abilities to provide for your family. And that she will be crazy about you, come what may.

11. You will read scriptures and your Patriarchal Blessing and remember other priesthood blessings and counsel you've received and you will be reassured and have fresh hope and courage fill your soul. Then it will be after lunch that same day, and your surroundings aren't any different than they've been for days. And you will conclude, “I know that if I am worthy of these blessings then the Lord will make good on all His promises. So…since the Lord cannot lie, and these blessings are eluding me…I must not be worthy of them. What am I doing wrong?” And so you’ll take it to the Lord over and over, and ask Him what you’re doing wrong. And the only clear answer will be, “We’re not working on your timetable. Have faith. Carry on.” And you’re kind of comforted by that, even though things are not working out when you think they should.

12. There are generous people everywhere; and sometimes even the smallest gestures of love or kindness will make you weep. It can truly be overwhelming. Whether you receive of somebody’s money or time or words of confidence, you feel known. And you wish you could adequately express your love and gratitude to these individuals, who have fast become your favorite people ever.

13. When you least expect it, you will receive clarity. For example, maybe you’re in the temple. And maybe there’s a man in front of you who has cerebral palsy and it takes his every painstaking effort to move ever so slowly, with the help of a walker. And you notice the grimace in his face, and the slowness of his breath. And it surprises you to see he’s younger than you. And a temple worker looks to you, wondering if you have come with this man to the temple today in order to assist him. And you haven’t, but you find yourself placing your hand on this stranger’s back and asking if he needs any help. And his grimace turns into a wide and warm smile, and he chuckles and responds, “Oh…I need every kind of help.” And as you are drawn into his disarming laughter, you marvel at his disposition and his faith and optimism. And you are embarrassed at how whiny you've been about your own temporary struggles. And you feel a voice patiently whispering to you, gently reminding you, “Your trial is a moment. Endure it well.”

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