Friday, August 30, 2013

My history with TV and the shows I'll be watching this Fall

I have had a complex relationship with television over the years. 

When I was a growing up in the 70s and 80s there were a handful of shows I watched after school, with my family, or with friends. There are too many to list but the ones that come rushing to the forefront of memory for me are: Bonanza, Wild Wild West, Mork and Mindy, Too Close for Comfort, GI Joe, Transformers, Days of Our Lives, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Three's Company, Doctor Who, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Saturday Night Live, Sanford and Son, Taxi, MASH, Cheers, Carol Burnett Show, and more.

The point I should make here is that I never watched these shows loyally. Like every week without a miss. The way TV worked in our house was that when we had time to turn on the TV and watch as a family, we watched what was on. The good thing about this was that I watched a lot of different shows. We were eclectic. The drawback was that if I really liked a show, there was no guaranteed I'd know when it was on, remember when it was on, or watch it when it was on.

Then the 90s came. I was in my 20s, working full-time, in school part-time, and single. I was never home. The only time I watched anything regularly was if a girl I was dating watched anything regularly. The exception was X-Files, SNL, and The Simpsons. I watched the crap out of those shows. But, still, not every single week without fail.

The point is that the idea of being a loyal viewer of certain shows, being a die-hard fan, never really hit me until about 2002. I moved in with a couple of dudes, my friends Ben and Eric, and learned that people still devoted time and attention to TV. They watched shows in groups. Every week. This was, at first, something I did because it was social and I needed to be social. But then something happened.

I fell in love. I fell for Sidney Bristow, Jack Bauer, Detectives Mackey, Stabler, and Benson. Fell for Buffy, Spike, Angel, Fred. The Fischers. The Cohens. They held my heart in their little make believe hands.

Ever since then, I've followed shows. I've paid for a DVR before paying for clothes. I've checked out what's coming and marked the calendar. I've cast away dumb shows. I've been betrayed by the ratings machine. Like Josh, I take it seriously now. Like Chris, I know what I love and hate. Like Patrick, I've binge watched. Like Ken, I like the smart stuff. I know it's just TV but I also know that it's fine to love it.

That's more history than you wanted. But this Fall begins a new ritual. Below, I've picked new shows I'll champion, or at least test, until they get canceled or until I realize they aren't very good. (You can see the list of shows I already watch here. I don't watch reality TV.)*

Could be good
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — You had me at Marvel's.
The Tomorrow People — Sci-fi with a cool concept.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland — Let's hope the acting starts out better than the original.
Reign — My list is CW heavy, right? They're either getting better or I'm a teenage girl.
Almost Human — JJ Abrams produces and it's got writers from Fringe.
About a Boy — Can it translate to the US and TV?
Believe — The creative team behind this is legit.
Crisis — It's got one half of the X-Files duo.
Us & Them — I like that Ritter guy.

Giving these a test run
Dracula — I'm a sucker for a good vampire story. 
Mom — I think Anna Farris is brilliant at comedy.
Sleepy Hollow — Love the story, unsure about the concept.
The Blacklist — As overdone as this genre is, it seems intruguing.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Could be great if the cast gets to play to their strengths.
Super Fun Night — Could be great if the cast gets to play to their strengths.
AHS: Coven — This show's other two "mini-series" brought me to the brink. It's on notice.
The Crazy Ones — I'm rooting for Buffy.
Lucky 7 — Interesting concept around the sharing of lottery winnings.
The Originals — Do I have to have seen Vampire Diaries to get it?
Mind Games — Zahn. I like Zahn.
Murder Police — I have a soft spot for animated comedy.
Resurrection — Huh. Ghosties.
The 100 — Mmmmmmaybe?

How about you?

*As of this writing, I have no idea if all of these shows will even premiere.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What to eat while you are watching Fall TV

I know we are supposed to be posting about Fall TV this week. And I feel like I have a bigger post in me about TV, but it just not ready yet. I take TV very seriously. It involves spreadsheets, highlighters, the Entertainment Weekly Fall TV issue and a lot of prayer. And that hasn't happened yet and I had a long day at work (and I forgot to write this post last night) and I just don't want to give you a half-hearted TV post, you know? I promise you a really good, thorough analysis of the Fall TV season soon.

But...I do have something to endorse. It's a Food Truck And it's the perfect thing to eat while discussing Breaking Bad. Or watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Or pondering who's next to go on The Walking Dead. It's called Sweeto Burrito.

Full disclosure: Christian, the owner of Sweeto Burrito, is a good friend of mine. And one day when I showed up at his house, there was a food truck parked outside. I guess owning and operating food trucks is Christian's "thing" now. And it should be. Because he's a good businessman, and dang, these are some good burritos. 

Tonight, I had the Buff Chick. Its fried chicken pieces, buffalo sauce, cilantro ranch dressing, tater tots and cheese. In a burrito. Yes. I said tater tots. It was sweet and spicy and crunchy and satisfying. I've also partaken in the Smokehouse, which is Sweeto's unreal smoked chicken, cilantro ranch, ONION RINGS, cheddar cheese, the tastes of freedom and magic all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. Fantastic. I want to go there every day and eat everything. (And not all the burritos contained a fried starch on the inside, though the best ones do.)

So if you live in, near, around or within reasonable (5 hours?) driving distance of Provo, Utah. You should go visit Sweeto. Go like their FB page and click around the menu. I wish I could be like Oprah and that I could give you all free burritos if you told them Josh sent you.  But I can't. But don't worry, you will be happy you went. And if Christian is working, he has some interesting thoughts about Breaking Bad. You should ask him. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

i have no idea what i like

I always like a good TV show, and I love when I get really wrapped up in something. Even if I don't have any kind of personal connection with it, as in the case of my all-time two favorite TV shows Twin Peaks and Friday Night Lights. I just like what I like, you know? And I hate what I don't like and I won't watch it.

The bizarre thing, and I think it's bizarre, is that there is honestly no template for what I like and what I don't like. I have no way to determine if I'll like something. For example, you would expect me to like Glee or Smash, wouldn't you? All those drama people and singing and learning special lessons. Sounds right up my alley! But I hate Glee and Smash.

I have forcefully declared in the past that I refuse to watch any show about doctors, lawyers, or private investigators. I still hold to that refusal. They are all basically the same show, right? Sometimes they even switch actors and nobody even notices! I won't watch them. I get that these characters have important jobs, but I want to see something sexier and more compelling. Like ad agencies! From the 1960's!

That brings me to my next point. I should love period pieces. I love Mad Men and The Americans, even though everyone on The Americans looks 1980's except the two lead actors. But I'm theatrical, so I should love all the clothes, wigs, and cars. So why don't I love shows from the future? Those are period pieces, right? None of it makes sense. I also dislike shows about the Wild West.

Here is a list of things I don't like:

I don't like any sitcom that has a laugh track.

I don't like shows where someone is about to shoot someone, but when you hear the gun go off the person drops dead  - and you realize that they had been shot by someone else standing right behind them!

I don't like shows about fancy rich people who don't acknowledge that they are rich or fancy.

I don't like shows that feature and/or showcase unattractive people. I want good looking people only. (I learned this from my wife, who boycotted TV when we lived in England)

I don't like action shows that just have people running around a warehouse.

I don't really love zombie shows and I don't think they are very scary.

I don't like meeting characters' parents on sitcoms, because they are always old has-been actors and it makes me feel old.

I don't like shows where they make us hunger for two characters to finally kiss. Kiss or don't kiss! Figure it out!

I don't like shows with Miley Cyrus dancing around like a golden retriever.

I don't like when shows have a very special "musical episode."

Here is a list of things I do like:

I like reality shows where sexy housewives fight!

I like shows where people talk the way people really talk, and don't just say awesome ironic things all the time.

I like shows where I can't figure out who the bad guys are, and maybe they are right under my nose!

I like shows that are a half hour long. I can't stay awake for an hour, TV!

I like shows that addict me through fascinating plot lines and shocking conflicts and people who work outside of a law office.

To be honest, I have no idea what's coming up in the Fall TV Season. To my friends here on Part Time Authors, this is redolent of the same people who complain "I haven't seen any of these movies!" at Oscar time, which drives me crazy. I'll watch whatever Lisa tells me to. But I can't promise to like it! I'm an American, and this is my TV, and so help me I'll watch Nashville if I want to!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Me and My TV

Here’s the thing about TV. I hate it. 

I really do. 

It’s like I’m in a bad relationship with it.  I get all excited then I’m getting ready to spend time with it and when things get rolling everything is fine and we face each other and I listen as TV talks and we get into a rhythm and then I think, “I need some cereal.” (cereal: another thing I love that I hate) and soon the dog is licking the last of the milk out of the bowl on the floor and I am totally engrossed with everything TV is saying.  I’m like, ‘You are kidding me?!” and TV’s all, “No, for reals.”

Then it’s 2:30 in the morning. 

“Son of a pistol, those stinkin’ kids are gonna wake up in 5 hours regardless of what Senator Underwood is gonna do now.”  So I make a vow.  Never again. And the shows almost over and I hate myself for doing this, I’ve got TV on my body, on my body like a tattoo and then…HE KILLED THE CONGRESSMAN!! You are joking me?!!

Then it’s 3:30 in the morning.

“I WILL KILL YOU!! I hate you so much for doing this to me TV! I have to work in 3 hours I will never get this sleep back! YOU DON’T EVEN CARE!  This is always your plan! Whether I sit down at noon or a midnight you goal is the same, never ever let him leave that couch*.”

And so it goes.  I have canceled the cable and found myself at 4:30 am waiting to see how much this lady’s grandmothers candlesticks, which she found in 1921 next to a dead hobo in upstate New York, will now fetch at auction. 

It literally doesn’t matter. Golden Girls? Love ‘em, I know every name. Nashville? Check. Glee? Okay…well?...okay fine.  Frasier? Oh you bet! Scrubs? Yes, but not the ninth season. Arrested Development? Duh. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? There has never EVER been a better show to grace the frame of my television. Freaks and Geeks? Own it.  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Filthy! Fine I’ll watch…oh, love it.

I have horrible taste in TV and that’s because I have no hang ups. I’ll watch whatever as long as I keep liking it and as long as TV keeps pumping it at me, with that said, here are my recommendations for this Falls line up:

First: Get off the couch and play with your kids, because guess what, they canceled "Happy Endings" which is real sad to me.

Then watch: 
The Mindy Project
The New Girl
Modern Family (forever and ever!)
Scandal (Lindsay's)
House of Cards (very...let's say grown up)
and probably Nashville and Grimm (but don't think it's Buffy, cause it ain't.)

Have fun! 

*Excepting collusions with cereal.    

Monday, August 26, 2013

Parental Discretion Advised

Can you smell it in the air? Season premieres of all your TV stories. They are about to launch. You can almost feel it. Of course nowadays we have the luxury of DVRs. Could you imagine how laborious it would be to try to watch all these shows live or record them on a VCR - like ANIMALS?!

As a child it was more visceral. Nobody really informed me of season premieres or reminded me what the cliffhangers were from the season finales. (It's like my parents completely ignored their civic duty all together of keeping me up to speed on what happened on Mork & Mindy.) I could just kind of sense when it was happening.

I do remember that when I was younger my siblings and I were forbidden to watch the television phenomenon known as Three’s Company. Probably for the same reasons you were forbidden to watch it. (Too many pratfalls.)

It was not uncommon for youth my age to be banned from Three’s Company. But my television restrictions did not stop there, ladies and gentlemen. My parents also forbade me to watch such popular small screen sensations as Diff’rent Strokes, Happy Days, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The A-Team, among others. And it wasn’t due to the violence, language or suggestive subject matters. You want I should tell you why I was not allowed to watch the Dukes and Boss Hogg squabble over bootlegged moonshine in Hazzard County? “Because those shows are stupid,” said my dad, laying down the law.  (How Mork & Mindy made it through the approval process remains a mystery. Child Protective Services is still investigating.)

That’s right, not because these shows were inappropriate, but because Dad thought the writing on these shows was sub par. We had one TV in the house, and we were going to watch what Dad wanted to watch. What’s interesting is that my parents were not overly moral about television. They were not the type to threaten to throw out the television or unplug it. They didn’t lecture us about mindlessly spending hours in front of the TV (because we didn’t, because there were only 13 channels). My dad’s legitimate concern was that these shows were not entertaining to him, but were, by his definition, dumb. And he would not expose his children to such drivel.

What DID we watch? M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Rockford Files, Magnum PI. See, it wasn’t that he didn’t like television in general, he just didn’t care for specific shows. 

In fact, to illustrate my dad’s appreciation for television, I will share with you a quick story. We were moving across town, and everything we owned was loaded into the moving truck, including the TV. We couldn’t unload the truck until the next day. It was a Thursday.

“Dad,” I began, as we sat, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on the furniture-less kitchen floor, “it’s Thursday, and we’re going to miss Magnum PI.”

“I’ve thought about that,” he said, searching through the bucket for a leg. “And I think I’ve figured it out. The furniture section at JC Penney has their couches facing their new, color televisions. We’ll just go down to the mall and make ourselves comfortable.”

“That’s brilliant,” I said, marveling at his ingenuity.

“Not completely,” he said. “JC Penney closes at 9 p.m., and that’s when Simon & Simon comes on.”

Yes, my dad had discriminating tastes. And now that I have children at that same age, I totally get it.
I don’t want to brag, but my kids watch pretty awesome shows, and Katie and I have successfully steered them from watching the Disney Channel as well as other twaddle and rubbish. And that’s my contribution to the world. Uh-you’re welcome, Society.

Nanu-nanu, and good day to you, sir or madam. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here's proof I was an idiot in high school

I'm 42. I was 16 once. When I was 16, I thought I was pretty cool. In fact, for much of my life I thought that I had things pretty well figured out. It's just been the last 10 years or so that I realize I don't. We're all just doing the best with what we've got, right? But I digress. My point is I was a stupid teenager.

In my 11th grade English class in 1988, we were required to keep a journal. Here, to prove my point and for your reading pleasure, are some of those journal entries with grammar, spelling, and stupidity left alone. Some have been shortened for time:

1-25-88 Why America is Awesome

"America is a great place to live because of our rights. A lot of countries don't have rights or freedoms. We basically get to do what we want when we want. I enjoy not having an army always patrol the streets. I like going places without the government knowing my next move. [Author's note: Hahahahahahahahaha! Good one.] I like living where I want, talking with who I want and saying what I want. America is the best place I could live."

1-27-88 The DQ Incident

"Last night was not my night. At work everything was fine until I had to empty the fridge. I was taking the unfrozen ice cream mixture out and the top crate came off. The whole bag of total liquid ice cream splashed all over the floor. It took me at least a half an hour to clean it all up. Then I emptied the fryer. But instead of only opening one valve I opened one to many and both the fryers emptied. We had not hot grease. I then had to put the grease back in so we would have hot grease. It hurt. Then I spilled chocolate all over my shirt and pants. I got out of there at 12:15 am."

1-29-88 Smoking

"Smoking really sucks. Not that I do, but I have friends and friends parents that do. I'll admit I've tried it. I'll also say it sucked. The smell that gets on you and clings there. ... The kid in front of me has a pregnant cat. I don't see how anyone could enjoy killing themselves slowly by smoking. There is a dance tonight." [Author's note: I smoked on and off from 2000-2005. I should have remembered it sucked.]

2-4-88 When I'm 75

"The kind of life I want at 75 is an active one. Of course I don't think the world will last that long but I'll pretend. I'd like to still be living an enjoyable, active life. I want to be vacationing, retiring from the business world. On a cruise one week, Italy the next. ... That is all I'd like to be doing. Relaxing away, soaking up some rays, etc. There is nothing more that would be best to be a 75, besides being 50 or 30 or 20."

2-26-88 Decisions, Desisions

"I think I should be allowed to make the decisions of when I go somewhere and when I'll be home. I usually do. I know I'm not going to be out partying so, I must be doing something constructive. My mom trusts me. I like that. Another desision I should be able to make is if wheter I want to work or not. If I don't want money that's my choice. My mom still wants me to be a slave to DQ forever."

I could go on. In fact, maybe throughout this year I'll post more of my high school naivety. It's sort of fun to remember these moments. I'm thankful I'm less stupid today. Just a little.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Goodbye, comments!

Does it make me sound shallow if I say I do things mainly for praise and recognition? I am not someone who wants to labor silently in the shadows where someones "smiles are thanks enough." If I do something awesome I want people to tell me loudly and boisterously how awesome that thing is.

I served my LDS mission in Rome. (The one in Italy, not Idaho.) And while I was there, I learned to make a pretty killer lasagne. (Yes, it should be spelled with an "e." Lasagna with an a is singular and would refer to one lasagna noodle. It why you say you ate spaghetti and not spaghetto.) The sauce has three kinds of meat and cooks for a minimum of 5 hours. The noodles are made and rolled by hand. And the creamy beschamel sauce (where your mom would have used cottage cheese) is lightly seasoned with black pepper and nutmeg. Even old Italian women have told me my beschamel sauce is amazing. It's topped with freshly grated parmiggiano and baked to perfection. And while I enjoy making it, it is definitely a labor of love. It takes pretty much and entire afternoon.

Over the many years since I have been home, I have made this lasagne for various friends, family and loved ones. Some are kind enough and say "Thanks" or "This is good!" but you can tell they would be just as happy with a frozen Stouffer's Lasagna. And others rave and sing praises and go blind with happiness. They proclaim that this is the greatest lasagne they have ever eaten. They never want to eat anything ever again. Surely the very angels in Heaven wept at the creation of this masterpiece and their tears are what give the lasagne is subtle umami flavor. Guess which group I am more likely to make the lasagne for a second time?

I'm not saying this is something I am proud of. I recognize that it is a character flaw. You should do nice things for no reason at all. And I try to. But, boy, is it more fun when there is a lot of praises sung after you do a nice thing.

As a writer, you do most of your work in anonymity. While we know a lot of the people who read this blog (Thanks, Connie!) many of you we have never met. And it blows my mind that there are people in the world who have no personal connection too who take time out of their day to read this blog. It's flattering and humbling and lovely. We have received nice messages, emails and comments over the two years we've been doing this that have been incredibly heart-warming. So thank you for reading and thank you for sharing. You are all great.

This blog has never been a great generator of comments. (Not to be confused with generator of great comments. We've have plenty amazing comments. We just don't get that many.)  We've even tried begging people to comment, and it worked somewhat. And truthfully, I don't know why we have been so desperate to get people to comment. On most websites the comments are full of trolly statements, meanness and bad spelling.  They are the last things anyone wants to read. I guess it is because as a writer you want to know someone is listening. So you put up your post and you check a couple times throughout the day to see how many comments were made. And then you do math and calculations in your head. "Well, I did get this up later than usual, so maybe people didn't read it in the morning and had to read it on their phones and it is harder to comment on the phone so..." or "Well, my post last week got 3 comments and I didn't spend hardly ANY time writing that one, but THIS on was a real labor of love, so SURELY it will get lots of comments!" It's silly.

So, as of today, we are shutting off the comment section. Mainly so I can stop measuring my self worth that way. But also to consolidate the effort. A lot of great comments are being left when the post is shared on Facebook. So rather than having the comments in two places, we are shifting them all over there.

Also, some people have asked where the "like" button has gone from the bottom of the posts. It has something to do with Facebooks new graph search feature and blah, blah, blah...Basically I need to write new code to get it back up and I haven't been able to figure out how to do it yet. So, hopefully it will be back soon.

So, what if you were a regular commenter (Hi, Seashmore!) and you still want to share the love. What can you do?

  1. Like our Facebook Page. We try and post links to all the new posts there. And you can then just comment on the link. 
  2. See those little social media buttons at the bottom of the post? Click on those. You can tweet about us, share this on your own Facebook page, +1 us on Google+ (sidebar: $10 to the first person who can explain Google+ to me.) And we would LOVE if you did that. Help us spread the word about this little labor of love.
  3. What if you are not on FB, don't have Twitter and don't believe in social media? First of all, I applaud you. Surely you are writing the great American Novel or curing cancer with all the time that you don't waste liking photos of people's food. And secondly, feel free to click on the picture of an envelope at the top of the page and send us an email. We've gotten a few lovely emails over they years and they are truly wonderful and moving.
  4. Lastly, just keep reading. As I said, I'm working on not being validated by praise, so if you don't do any of these things, that's OK too.
If you like this new policy, please share in the comments below!! Kidding...Old habits...there are no comments below. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

movie cheating

By now I know you have all watched and memorized Episode One of Season Two of my wife's web series Pretty Darn Funny. It downloaded on Monday so it's all you can talk/think about! So now I thought I would give you some "behind the scenes" info! You know, stuff from the stars! Actually just me.

Step One. Watch the episode:

Step Two. Read what happened behind the scenes!

0.09: "Pearly Gates Nursing Home." I thought that was the most awesome name ever for a nursing home! Also note the "Humor She Wrote" banner. These things only pop up very quickly but they're funny and worth noting.

0.11: Why did we decide to shave my beard like that? I had scruff, but no beard. So we decided to make it look like I had a beard, when I clearly didn't. This will bother me (and no one else) through the remainder of the episode.

1.33: We had to do this scene in one take. Lisa is losing her voice. We kept messing up our lines because we had to change her out of her Batman suit, move to the car, and talk super fast. We shot this scene about fourteen times. You would never guess there were about 25 people standing around watching this and eating giant cookies. Also, I got stung by a bee in the rose bushes.

1.45: This is a movie theatre in American Fork. They call it the "Sticky Shoe." It's really gross in there!

1.52: Read that funny sign on the door! It references not one but two jokes later in the episode!

1.54: That's the director, Jeff Parkin.

2.20: That's Jeff Blake, who is kind of a genius. He made us laugh a lot and we had to keep starting over.

2.38: That was really some kind of car spray or something. It smelled disgusting! We had to fumigate between takes. I was still super tempted to eat that popcorn, though.

3.55: The light on our faces was from a TV monitor, showing endless clips of the "Great Pit of Carkoon" scene from Return of the Jedi. I saw Princess Leia in her bikini one hundred times and it never got old!

4.35: Lisa looks really pretty in this scene.

5.00: My kids did this once. Do they need a shot?

5.28: Note Lisa's voice. She hated screaming. Also, what's going on with my "beard?"

6.05: Lisa really does put that much cheese on her nachos. It's so gross. You have to wade your fingers through inches of muck just to find one lonely, sopping chip. It's what the lady likes. So this is drama in real life. Also, I am a total movie cheater.

7:03: I've never watched Duck Dynasty.

7:33: Sometimes I dance when I talk.

8.08: Oh, man. This voice was way funnier on set! I promise! It was totally funny!

8.38: Empire Strikes Back in-joke!

8.50: Weird to kiss your wife on camera.

Thanks for watching - and five more episodes to come!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Little {but true} Story.

I was sitting in Taco Bell on 14th street in NYC, too full from over ordering, reading a book.

I looked up
and a Nun was standing at my table
with a little wooden bowl
with money in it.

I thought she would sit down.

"St. Joseph's Orphanage?" She held out the bowl.

"I'm Sorry?"

"St. Joseph's Orphanage...Yes or No."


She looked somewhat surprised for less than a second. Then she said,

"God Bless you, Ma'am."
And she moved to the next table.

I felt it was calculated.


Monday, August 19, 2013

School & Rites of Passage

When I was a kid I seem to recall school starting in September. But more and more it seems the beginning of the school year has crept further and further into August. (Thanks Obama!)  Anyway, around this time of year, I inevitably remember my youth and feel all the feels that accompanied starting school and entering autumn. The new clothes, the shorter days, sitting by new friends, comparing teachers – and of course the rites of passage that came with each year. For example, I was seven years old the first time I was left at home by myself. An experience I have always associated with school, as that is where it all began.

It was October of 1978, in a small suburban town in southern California. Abba ruled the airwaves and Star Wars ruled my dreams. Mr. Schwamm was my second grade teacher, and though his teaching abilities were called into question more than once by my parents, I enjoyed Friday afternoons when we had “dance time.” What a festival it was each Friday, full of music and courting. As long as you kept your finger out of your nose, pretty much anybody was willing to dance with you. There was no social awkwardness in second grade.

This particular Friday morning, on my way out the door, my mom kissed my cheek, handed me my Mork & Mindy lunchbox, and reminded me that when I got home that afternoon she wouldn't be there. She was taking my brother and sisters to the dentist, and she would be back shortly after I got home. She carefully explained that she would leave the door on the side of the garage unlocked, and I could enter through that door and then take the connecting door from the garage into the house.

I was never a big fan of the garage – what, with the darkness and dampness and the hideous child-eating hobgoblin that lurked there on the off chance I was stupid enough to go into the garage by myself. (I was never that stupid. Before going into the garage, I would usually organize a posse of family members to accompany me.) But I was also excited for my bachelorhood and all that it would entail. Let’s see, drinks at 2:30, a light supper at 3:00, and the dancing that started in Mr. Schwamm’s class that afternoon would then continue at Casa de Kenny Craig.

This is what the house looks like today, says Google Maps. 
And it looks pretty much the same as it did 34 years ago. 

I nodded to my mom that I understood how to get from outside the house to the inside, and I headed off to school. As soon as I got to school I began to imagine our house. I knew my mom was still there, but in my mind, it was already sitting there, empty and silent. I thought about it on and off throughout the day, and each time I did, I imagined myself walking into this house that had been left alone for hours. Abandoned, really. It was a little unnerving.

I casually walked home from school that afternoon, not in a hurry to make any kind of destination. Kicked a pile of leaves or two, inspected some bugs in some trees, hummed the Peanuts theme song. I eventually arrived at my house and stared at it from the sidewalk for a few moments. I walked to the door on the side of the garage, and turned the handle. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and tried to casually walk through the garage as if the whole world was grading my performance of bravery. I stepped into the house…and it was even more still than I had imagined. It was an eerie quiet. I could almost hear myself sweat.

Once you entered the door from the garage into our house, the master bedroom was off to the right, and directly in front of you was a bathroom that you could enter from the hall, where I was, and that also lead into the master bedroom, so if you were sitting on the throne, you would be looking right into the master bedroom.

Relieved to finally have some much-needed peace and quiet for such an occasion, I dropped my little Levis and took a seat. It was then that I noticed my dad’s rifle, lying on the bed. I had seen it once or twice before, but it was a rare sighting. As children, we were generally discouraged from even looking at, and had never been allowed to touch it. The fact that it was so brazenly lying there almost startled me, and my first thought was “Ooooh…somebody’s in trouuuuuuubllllllle.” Taking my time doing my business, my eyes began to wonder around my parents’ room, and I started to take notice of how untidy their room was. Drawers pulled open, items from said drawers thrown about the room and covering the floor. I decided right then and there that I was not going to listen to even one more lecture from them on the state of my own room.

I completed my business, finished the paperwork…and flushed the toilet. At that precise moment, I heard a stampede of hurried footsteps right…over…my…head. My flushing had alerted intruders, who were now trapped upstairs, that somebody else besides them was in the house. Still not completely clear on what was happening, I ran alongside the footsteps above me until I saw three individuals run down the stairs and out the front door. Shaken (not stirred), I looked around the house and discovered that most things were in disarray – tipped over, emptied, broken, out of place. I was suddenly not so interested in being home alone, and I ran across the street to the safety of my friend Jeff, or more precisely, Jeff’s mom. We waited together until my mom came home. When I looked out the window of Jeff’s house and saw my mom’s car in the driveway, I walked over. She came running out of the house, looked right at me and said, “Kenneth Quentin Craig – what have you done to this house!?”

I explained, she apologized, and a few weeks later the men were apprehended. Surprisingly, I was not scarred by this experience. And apparently, neither were my parents, who promoted me immediately to the position of Babysitter and left me in charge of my brothers and sisters on most Friday nights. And the position of Babysitter has its perks, to be sure. For example, I could assign somebody else to retrieve things from the garage.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The best quotes from the books I've read this year

I think I've mentioned in a post or two this year that I'm reading more. It's been great. I read novels, business books, self-help, and non-fiction. I like the variety. I think it's helped me with my writing too. Not here, obviously, but at work and on other projects.

So I thought it would be fun to gather some of quotes from most of the books I've read this year and put them here for all of you. Maybe they'll inspire. Maybe they'll make you want to read. Maybe they'll give you a peek into my psyche.

Who knows?

“I always feel uncomfortable when people speak about ordinary mortals because I've never met an ordinary man, woman or child.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“My daddy always told me to just do the best you knew how and tell the truth. He said there was nothin to set a man’s mind at ease like wakin up in the morning and not havin to decide who you were. And if you done somethin wrong just stand up and say you done it and say you’re sorry and get on with it. Don’t haul stuff around with you.” ― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

“The story is not in the words; it's in the struggle.” ― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy

“...being happy and fulfilled is probably one of the most attractive traits you can offer a partner.”
― Amir Levine, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“He was there for you, and yet at the same time he was inaccessible. You felt there was a secret core in him that could never be penetrated, a mysterious center of hiddenness. To imitate him was somehow to participate in that mystery, but it was also to understand that you could never really know him.” ― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images ... Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life.” ― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

“Anyone too undisciplined, too self-righteous or too self-centered to live in the world as it is has a tendency to idealize a world which ought to be. But no matter what political or religious direction such idealists choose, their visions always share one telling characteristic: in their utopias, heavens or brave new worlds, their greatest personal weakness suddenly appears to be a strength.” ― David James Duncan, The Brothers K

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” ― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

“Logical validity is not a guarantee of truth.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.” ― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

“Basically, secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving; anxious people crave intimacy, are often preoccupied with their relationships, and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back; avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.” ― Amir Levine, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love

“[On having a rival] Women intrinsically understand human dynamics, and that makes them unstoppable. Unfortunately, the average man is less adroit at fostering such rivalries, which is why most men remain average; males are better at hating things that can't hate them back (e.g., lawnmowers, cats, the Denver Broncos, et cetera). They don't see the big picture.” ― Chuck Klosterman, Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it. [Steve Jobs]” ― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one's sights and pushing toward the horizon.” ― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are. [Steve Jobs]” ― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.” ― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

“You can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between. Try to learn. Be coachable. Try to learn from everybody, especially those who fail. This is hard. ... How promising you are as a Student of the Game is a function of what you can pay attention to without running away.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

What are some of your favorite books this year? Do you have a favorite quote you try to live by?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life Lessons

Every summer, my family spends a couple of weeks in Bear Lake. It's lovely and peaceful up here and in the past we've spent most of our time sitting on the beach reading while the kids play in the sand. My goal is always one book per day, and I usually do pretty well. But the kids are a little older, now, and they actually want to do stuff. 

My middle boy is a tough one to understand. He struggles with anxiety and everything scares him, but strangely he loves roller coasters and things that go fast. And lately he loves going in the boat. He sits in the bow and screams for the boat to go faster and faster. 

The other day he was riding with my brother-in-law, screaming for more speed, when he witnessed him look around, lean forward and spit right into the wind. I don't know what he thought would happen, but I guess kids do stupid things to learn lessons. And sure enough, that blob of spit splatted right back on his ear, trailing glistening streamers behind it.

He didn't say a word, just quietly tried to clean it up and then went right on enjoying the ride. My BIL laughed quietly, and was grateful that the spit didn't make it past my son's head and find him, or the windshield of the boat. 

I'm glad my son had had a fun week. And I'm glad he's conquering his fearsand trying new things. And I'm glad he's literally learning life's valuable lessons, like how spitting in the wind is never a good idea. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

sorry, i hate august

 Hello Friends,

I really need some help, because I hate August so, so bad. I think it's the worst month of the year. I can't help it. Everybody is always talking about how bad January or February are, but August is way worse. August is the month that dares not speak its name. August is the Whore of Babylon. August is the apocalypse.

I really want to be professor positive and enjoy every month, but I don't know how to love August. It wants to be loved, but I don't have the capacity to give that love. It holds its arms out open to me, but I can only recoil in horror. Why can't August be more like October, I think. Or June? Why can I not find anything virtuous or of good report about August? All I can think about are August's failures and deficiencies.

I cannot recommend August for the following reasons:

1. It's so hot. Interminably hot. Remember back in late May when we were all so excited for summer? Swimming outside, BBQ's, counting the stars on the front porch? Well, none of that sounds like any fun now. Swimming outside = sunburns. My BBQ has a hornets nest inside of it. And I have three words for sitting out on the evening porch: WEST NILE VIRUS. Summer, you have worn out your welcome. We hate you and we hate your hot sun. And Fall isn't for another two months! Now we just sit inside and watch TV in the air conditioning, and all that is on TV during the day are Diagnosis Murder reruns and Little House on the Prairie. Mary Ingalls drops her glasses into a field of dead hay and starts a brush fire; I know exactly how she feels!

2. I'm tired of my lawn. It looks great, yes, and I've worked hard on it. But I have to keep mowing it! Nobody told me I would have to mow it so much. I trim it down and then two hours later it's ready to be cut again; all those little blades of grass breezing back and forth, mocking me like so many middle fingers. And there are patches of it that randomly decided to die. I fixed all my sprinklers and I fertilized, but it doesn't care. It's willy-nilly, my lawn. So there is a big yellow swath in my back yard and I'm starting to care less. It's sort of my parenting style: if my kids do stupid things I ignore them and they eventually stop. I'm doing that with my lawn. If I blind myself to dead patches I assume they will get the hint and grow green again. I do not respond to cries for attention. Especially in August.

3. No major holidays! What kind of a month gives you nothing to truss your house up for? August is dead set on giving you nothing to look forward to. And it's not like anything is really in the pipeline; my favorite holiday, Halloween, is weeks away. I can't even start thinking about Halloween because I'm too busy swatting flies.

4. Back to School. My little brother Andrew used to get really upset when K-Mart school supply commercials started coming on in late July. Can you blame him? August is about school, and not the fun part. It's about sitting in hot classes wearing uncomfortable, new shirts. As a professor I loathe the first few days of class as much as my students do. Oh, if only everyone could feel what it's like to walk into a classroom full of 19-25 year olds who don't want to be there. They put their heads on the desk from day one and it takes me until late September, at the earliest, to wake them up. The only person I know who is excited for school to start is Margaret, who is excited to learn about "science and a cat who dances and does tricks."

5. Loss, and regrets. August is a reminder that nothing you planned to do this summer panned out. Remember how you were going to hike Timp? Too late now, you lazy bum. 'Member how you were going to exercise everyday and lose all that weight? Try again next year, fatty! How about that water rafting vacation? No, you were too busy mowing your lawn three times per week. Maybe next year! (unless there's a drought. Or a nuclear war.) August is a simple, gentle reminder that even though you didn't fail to plan, you still failed.

I guess what I'm driving at is that this is a miserable time of year. Even Martha Stewart hates it. You can tell. I saw her magazine recently in a waiting room. Typically, you can count on Martha to find the joy in every month. This month, Martha writes about mussels and clams. Even the pictures look gross and boring. You can just hear her going "Ah, screw it! I hate August. Somebody dig out that old article about the clams."

Dear readers: I need your help. Inspire me. Give me a reason to love August. I need something. I'm barely holding on. And don't say I should love August because it's your birthday; that doesn't help. Happy Birthday to you, and I'm so sorry. I need supportable, solid reasons to enjoy the next three weeks. Any ideas will help.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How To Host a Winning Family Reunion

Step One:  Have your cousin Tiffany do it.
She's a great host and has a huge lovely home with three pools and trees as far as the eye can see.  Let her do the heavy lifting like, organizing, coordinating, and financing the event then you show up and sing a mildly offensive song about reindeer.

Step Two: Attend.
This is really such an important step.  I mean you sit on the fence for just long enough that people are genuinely surprised to see you when you show up, but you do show up.  I mean, afterall, Tiffany went to all that trouble.

Step Three: Reconnect.
There was a time in your life when these strangers were the most anticipated event of your summer.  There was no lag time before you ran screaming into the sugar beet fields not to see your parents for the next 12 hours.

Step Four: See Things for What They Really Were.
Hold on, you didn't see your parents for twelve hours?!  Now that you are older it's time you knew the truth...that was the point.  All that time spent depriving your parents of the opportunity to fulfil your every whim, was the reason they shoved you and your four brothers into a Buick and drove 4 hours. They didn't want to see you...for twelve hours.  Though, it was the 80's so they did let you sleep on the dashboard while they drove...that might have had subcontext as well.

Step Five: Scheme.
You're older now, and those old fools who once dropped you off in Rupert seem to genuinely like to spend time with those vagabonds you are raising; Plan a week to hang out at your parents and let the kids run wild for twelve hours a day.

Step Six:  Eat.
You look around and the realization sits on your chest.  You are old.  The way you used to look at your Aunts and Uncles, like they were old people who hadn't figured it out yet...that's you now, and your cousins kids can't figure out why you keep asking them if they are "Super Stoked" to be there.  They give you that look you used to dole out which means, "Poor, Poor, Cousin Uncle, you have no idea." And also, you don't have any idea, but you do know one thing that those brats can't take that away from you, this chicken in a box is amazing!

Step Seven: Have a Memory Lane.
This is where Tiffany has outdone herself, not only are there jars of candy on each folding table with guessing folders next to each jar, where you guess the amount of candy in each jar, using the guessing folder and the best guess gets said jar of candy, but there is also a memory lane.  This is where she has collected old photographs and hand made dresses and uniforms from the originating family and hung them all on a meandering close line (not unlike the one in front of Gramma's little green house, next to the weeping willow with the monkey swings (another touch Cousin Tiffany has not overlooked)) with old wooden clothes pins allowing the walker to be reminded that there was a time when his parents thought they were young and optimistic and hot.  Thankfully Cousin Tiffany omitted the full length mirror with the plaque that reads "You are now looking at what happens between these pictures and those old people sneaking candy out of the guessing jars and sneaking back in the wrappers so the count won't be off."  That was a classy edit.

Step Eight: Sing Your Mildly Offensive Song About a Reindeer Despite Your Grandmothers Request for a Hymn.
Afterall, you said you would, and luckily Uncle Jeff has a magic show following your song, so it will be quickly swept under the rug.

Step Nine: Begin to Regret:
Things are winding down and you realize you have squandered your time adding post-it note quips to the photos in 'Memory Lane' and now you won't see these people for another 30 years.

Step Ten: The Love Scramble:
You begin your scramble to have loving, thoughtful connections with 47 different relatives, which only leaves you about 30 seconds for each.  You wonder if you did it wrong and if you should have just spent all your time with one long lost cousin, but then Aunt Susan reminds you that these kinds of check in's are needed too. And even if you can't name all your second cousins step kids, at least you had this day, under these trees, in these pools, with these people, who are forever part of who you are. And you load up your own kids, who now run the world, and you drive away down that long wooded driveway feeling filled and grateful for the new snapshots of faces of the people who were some of the first faces your memory ever snapped shots of.  And you think to yourself, "Thank Heavens, for Cousin Tiffany, she has got some major cleaning up to get to!" 

A Remembering of The Haynes Family Reunion 2013             

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Garrens 20 Year Anniversary Reunion Show!

It was 20 years ago that BYU’s most treasured sketch/improv comedy troupe, The Garrens, first performed. And I was one of those original members. If you would like the full, unabridged history of The Garrens, you can read about it here, on the website of my dear friend and founder of The Garrens, Eric D. Snider.

Being involved in The Garrens turned out to be one of the most influential decisions I ever made and was the vehicle for much happiness in my life. I summed it up in this blurb I wrote several years ago for BYU’s alumni magazine, regarding The Garrens Comedy Troupe:

Student Performing Groups
In December of 1992 my roommate and good friend, Lincoln Hoppe, told me about a flier he had seen in the Wilkinson Center announcing auditions being held for a comedy troupe that was going to start performing regularly on campus.

Had I known how many good things would come from being a part of The Garrens Comedy Troupe, I would not have mocked Lincoln so quickly for suggesting he and I audition. Especially when I could have used the energy to mock him for so many other things, as is the practice among roommates in college.

When the original nine of us got together that December to start practicing, we thought we were hilarious. We were also fairly confident that nobody else would think we were. We practiced in a little theater in the Wilkinson Center that held no more than 100 people, and that is where we were scheduled to perform. The joke was that we would one day perform in the Marriott Center, while we were actually unsure if we would ever fill any of the 100 seats there in the Wilkinson Center. I mean with anybody besides our roommates.

The Garrens became bigger than any of us thought it would. We moved to larger rooms to perform, shows regularly sold out, we began performing off-campus, and in April 1995, just over three years from when we started, we performed in the Marriott Center.

There is great satisfaction in seeing people laugh and enjoy something that you’ve created. To feel like one of your talents is appreciated. But more influential to me were the friendships that I came away with. Some of the greatest people I know are people I met in The Garrens. Do I have a favorite? Why, yes. My wife, Katie, who joined the cast in the fall of 1993, decided she would date me in the fall of 1994, and married me in the summer of 1995. 

I bring this to your attention NOW because, well, we are doing a 20 Year Reunion Show! I KNOW! We are gettin' the gang back together! You will not want to miss this show, folks. It promises to be 100% sensational! This show alone with heal the earth, bring peace to warring countries, and fix the economy! There is nothing I can say that will overhype the magnitude of the amazingness of this show!

So get your tickets today, before it's sold out! Here is the link! And you'll have a chance to see all four Part Time Authors there together, because they are my friends and they are obligated to be there! (Did you read that, other PTAs? Because I mean it.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

My favorite non-PTA blog is ...


No, I kid. It's not. I mean, it might be one of my favorites. Are you my wife or one of my 17 friends? Then, yes, your blog is one of my favorite blogs.

Also, did you know that every author here at PTA has their own personal blog (that they rarely update)? They do. You should read them.

Since I can't list all my favorite blogs, and it's impossible to narrow it down to one, I'm going to list three:

1. Amelia Merritt. This is my wife's blog. She's got a gift for telling it like it is, girlfriend. She holds nothing back. It can make people uncomfortable at times, even me, but it's mostly because truth can be awkward. Her posts about her heart failure and pacemaker surgery make me teary-eyed and I already know the story!

2. Modern Mormon Men. I don't just recommend it because I contribute to it often or because Chris and Josh used to. I recommend it because, if you're Mormon, it gives a variety of perspectives on the LDS experience that are hard to find in one place anywhere else. You'll love a lot of it, and you'll disagree with a lot of it. That makes a good blog.

3. Splitsider. The blog/site for comedy nerds and/or geeks. It's for those who enjoy reading funny stuff or thoughts on why stuff is funny (sometimes with scientific proof) or comedy history or comedy pop culture. Is that you? Yes? Then you'll love it! My favorite feature is called Saturday Night's Children: "Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 37 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member every other week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure."

There you go. I hope this gives you minutes of online reading pleasure. What are your favorite blogs?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mind the Gap

Topher at Downton Abbey

Do you remember the summer of 2006? Let me refresh your memory: You were trying to get all your arty friends to watch a little TV Show called Friday Night Lights even though it was about football and you were super excited about a little TV show called Heroes and were certain that it was going to be a huge long lasting success (Spoiler Alert: it wasn't.) James Blunt was telling you that You're Beautiful and everyone, including your mom, had a blog. (Gah! Remember your mom's blog? It was so awful.)

Topher, if you don't know, runs the Study Abroad program for UVU. In fact, he is there right now. And back in 2006 when EVERYONE had a blog, he started one called Mind the Gap to chronicle his annual adventures across the pond (which is how Americans who want to pretend they are super continental refer to Europe.) It seemed apropos. After all, even your Aunt was writing a blog (about ceramics. Boy was it awful.) And then everyone stopped writing blogs, but Mind the Gap lived on.

Every summer for the month or so that Chris is taking students around London, Scotland and Paris he writes a daily account of where they went, what plays they saw, how many ghost tours they went on, where they ate and which places Topher decided to take a nap. Honestly, he takes a nap in EVERY MAJOR EUROPEAN LANDMARK. I imagine it is a huge promotional tool for the school and the study abroad program. How could you read it and not want to drop everything and spend 30 days in Great Britain? And if you are any sort of college student living in or near or withing spitting distance of Utah, you should do it. Take it from this bald, overweight, mortgage-carrying dad who wishes he had gone on a study abroad when spending a couple of fortnights in London was a conceivable idea.

You all know that Topher is a hilarious and witty writer and Mind the Gap doesn't disappoint. Here are a few totally randomly selected posts and my favorite line from each one:

  • "I screamed like a giant ladybaby." from hoo! hoo! by the beautiful sea.
  • "You cram so many people into the tube cars, and the heat goes up, and the arm pits come out, and people drop like flies." from for the rain it raineth
  • "One more dumb drunk word," said their eyes, "and I will cut you."from we happy few
  • "That’s what it means to be forty one. You are tall enough to see magical midgets!" from lord mary, lord titus
  • "She has yellow this, and white that. Also very stupid." from la vie en rose in which Topher relates the tale of his student getting lost in Paris and his enlisting of the french police to help find her with terrible French. 
So if you are stuck on this side of the pond with all the other boring Americans and want to dream about what it would be like to spend a month in Europe, see dozens of world class plays, eat delicious Nando's Chicken, Pizza Express and McDonalds, and take naps in all the great spots of English History, Mind the Gap is definitely the blog for you. And that is why it is my second favorite blog.

For the record, I'm sure Topher had no idea I was going to write about his blog. And I am sure he is really embarrassed by this. But I sure do love that blog. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

every day i check the book

There is no question in my mind that the finest blog out there is Kacy Faulconer's Everyday I Write the Book.

When I first heard about blogging, in the mid-aughts, my friend Ben Blair told me that I should have a blog, and that Kacy Faulconer had one. Immediately I knew that blogging was legit. Because why else would Kacy Faulconer do it? She doesn't do things she hates. She doesn't do stupid pointless things.

I first met Kacy at Dixon Jr. High school in Provo. The year was 1986. We had a computer science class together. This was when computers could talk to you and start nuclear wars if you programmed them wrong. Kacy and I had a teacher named K Johnson and she had a haircut that looked like someone put a bowl on her head and then curled all the hair hanging out. Flat on top, curly at the tips. It was amazing. She was super mean. We drew pictures of her and passed them back and forth, and we were never caught. We were also never caught when we hijacked a computer game called "Ask Eliza" and changed Eliza's answers. You were supposed to ask Eliza a personal question, and then Eliza is supposed to give helpful advice. Kacy and I hacked it and had Eliza swear back at you or tell you that you were fat. No matter what you asked! It was the best of times.

Kacy and I stayed close all through school and even into BYU, where we would often loiter and smoke fake cigarettes outside of our Book of Mormon class during freshman year. She has always been a good time gal. Had I known she would someday be a best friend to my wife I might have acted a little more dignified.

The good times continue on her blog, where she is irreverent, honest, and brutally funny. Which she manages to do without being mean or cruel. It's a fine line she walks, and she does it with such wit and panache that I'm always in awe of whatever she writes. And she often writes about ordinary, even menial things. The magic of her writing makes everything seem important, and wickedly funny. Here's to you, Kacy Faulconer! You're the true original.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I Say YES to Hoboken!

So, one of my favorite blogs, that is not this blog, is a little blog called 'Say Yes to Hoboken'.  It was started by a dear friend of mine Liz Stanley and I had this great idea to interview her for this blog, but we couldn't quite get our scheduled linked up and also, I never asked her.  But I don't think that should stop me from completely fabricating an interview with her, I mean after all we really are good friends and what are good friends for if you can't exploit their success by concocting a made up interview that shows you both in the best light.  So here goes:

Me: Liz!  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.  I know you're very busy and it means a lot to me that you would.

Liz: I didn't.  Also, you didn't ask.

Me: I know!  So tell me a it about your blog and how it got started.

Liz: Well, I was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, right up the street from some amazing friends...

Me: Are you talking about me?

Liz: Yes.

Me: Great.  Go on.

Liz:  I was living up the street from some amazing friends and I had the thought that I wanted to start a blog.

Me:  You were a high school councilor at the time?

Liz: Yes, and I loved it.  I loved working with students but I was looking for a creative outlet.

Me: You have always done the coolest stuff.  I still have those GoKo (sp?) cards we made on your living room floor.  Have you always been crafty?

Liz: Crafty?  In the sense that I can come up with a clever scheme?  Yes.  And also, I like to make stuff with my hands.  I remember me and your wife making pillows together.

Me: They are still on our bed.

Liz: Really?!  That was, like, 7 years should probably swap those out.

Me: Oh, you think?  Couldn't they be timeless?

Liz: I mean, they could be...but those aren't.

Me: Got it.  I'll burn them tonight.

Liz: Don't burn them?!  They would make such cute place mats or doll dresses or curtains for a several small windows.

Me:  Is that your favorite thing to do, reshape things into different things?

Liz: I do like that, yes.  But my favorite thing is to spend time with my son and husband.  I love how my son sees things in a different way than I do.

Me: Kids do that.

Liz: They do.  How are your kids?

Me:  So good!  They are running around and...wait a minute!  This is about you, not me?!  Funny how when you are writing, even something like a fake interview, the subject always comes back to me.  Do you blog about me often?

Liz: I'm sorry, what was the question?

Me:  Do you blog...

Liz: About you?

Me: Yes.

Liz: No.

Me: Oh.

Liz:  I mostly share tutorials and style ideas for young moms just like myself, plus I write for other sites and collaborate with brands on content campaigns...I don't know if just blogging about a guy who used to live up the street from me would really fit our bill.

Me: I understand.  What if I made my pillows into curtains for several small windows?  Then would you blog about me?

Liz: That could be something.

Me: I'm not going to do that.

Liz: No, I know.

Me: Well, it's been so good to catch up with you!  I love your blog and you and your family.  You are the best!

Liz: Thanks.

Me: Do you remember that time, after me and your husband fought that drunk guy because he inappropriately propositioned you while leaning on a fence at a church and we had finally made it to dinner after having the drunk guy arrested for punching my wife and we were all sitting at the table facing the window and all of the sudden a man went running past in full death sprint screaming and we all wondered what he was running from and then a cop on a horse came galloping after him?

Liz: Yes.

Me: That was wild.


Well, I hope you take the time to pop on over to Say YES to Hoboken and check out the REAL Liz Stanley and what she is really doing right now.  You'll go back again and again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Favorite Blog

Something you might not know about Part Time Authors is not only do we write, but we also know how to READ! True story. Why, Patrick has been reading for MONTHS now! And Chris also enjoys reading - but generally just the amazing reviews of the plays he directs. I also like to find time to read - but not when I’m on vacation. That’s MY time, and I make no apologies for it. 

But I kid. I do so very much enjoy this national pastime of reading, invented right here in the great country of ours. And just in case you were wondering what I like to read - well, I'll tell you. But only one thing. I'm coy. 

One “blog” I never miss comes from my dear friend (and yours) Eric D. Snider. I put “blog” in quotes because truthfully, Eric was writing these “posts” before there was "blogging." Or before it was known as "blogging," anyway. All I'm saying is: Eric D. Snider invented blogging and it’s time he started getting royalties for doing so. 

Eric began as a columnist for what our ancestors refer to as a “newspaper.” Then he built his own website! (Read: He paid somebody to build a website for him.) And now all his hilarious content can be found in one location:

Eric is now officially a grown up movie critic, but he also keeps his column or “blog” going. It’s appropriately titled “Snide Remarks.” And if you aren’t reading it, you should. 

Indeed, Eric is snide; with all the good connotations that come with that. He is wry and witty in his observational humor, parodies, satire, and occasional ribaldry. But there is also a vulnerability that I really enjoy about Eric’s writing. He’ll use humor to bring up sensitive topics, simultaneously admitting that he is not an expert on the subject. 

Here's a link to his most recent post, “The Surly Urban Juror.” 

Eric is a close friend and I'm happy to claim him. I’ve actually known him since December of 1992. What a privilege to know such a talented, hilarious writer. I would read Eric’s writings every day if I could. But not when I’m on vacation. I believe I’ve already clarified that’s MY time. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

"Ask My Mom!" from Maria Bamford

This is a fun and mostly clean web series from one of the best comedians around. Here's a 1 minute episode. I know a lot of moms like this ...

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Hashtags. They are everywhere #amirite? But I think you are using them wrong. Don't worry. I'm here to help.

Hashtags first gained popularity on Twitter. They were a way to tag your post with some meta-data to make it easier to find in the the glut of information on the web. So if you tweeted something about the royal baby you can use the hashtag #royalbaby. That way if people are searching the wide world of the interwebs for information, you can narrow it down a bit with a hashtag.

Then, a newish use of the hashtag emerged. You could use the hashtag to make a funny comment, or wry aside about what you were posting. So if I tweet a link to this Buzzfeed article about how I am addicted to Diet Coke  I might label it with the hashtag #dietcoke to provide some meta-data info, and an additional hashtag of #sorrymom to make a little joke about how my mom is worried about my Diet Coke addiction and is sure that I will soon have stomach cancer.

But then you got stupid. And you started to abuse the hashtag. And it got ridiculous and inane and obnoxious. You see, a well placed funny hashtag can really give a tweet or an instagram a funny twist that you might not have seen otherwise. But when you just write 17 other comments after your original caption but make them into hashtags you just seem greedy and irresponsible. For example, this is what I see on Instagram all the time, using a photo of my friends Christian, Ken and Patrick  chopping down 1 million trees at Patrick's new house, Sequoia Shadows.
Helping Patrick cut down some trees. #lumberjacks #welookmanly #therewerealotoftreesthere #seriouslywewerethereforseveralhourstryingtogetthetreesprunedandundercontroll #theywereseriouslysoovergrownyouguysitwastotallycrazyandlikebeinginsomesortofcrazyovergrownforrest #splinters
See what I did there? ANNOYING RIGHT?? If you want to say all those things, just say them. Putting them in a hashtag is simply dumb. So let's agree that we won't do that, anymore? #OK? #Becauseitisannoying.

And while we are on the subject, here's another way that you can use the hashtag wrong:
Ah, baby Hashtag. You are going to have a long interresting life. #becauseyournameishashtag #andpeoplearegoingtothinkthatyoucray #orattheveryleastthatyourmomiscray #amirite?
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