Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Goodbye

Go ahead and click play before you read this post.

Part Time Authors started 2 years ago. And this is our 499th post (which makes me think I should write one more before I post this one.) It was started for a few reasons. Primarily to promote a book we had all contributed essays too. Also to give us all a reason to write more regularly. But mainly because I have really amazingly talented friends and wanted to have a reason to do something creative with them.

Ken is one of the greatest memoirists/biography-ists I have ever known. I barely remember what happened last week and Ken can recall with stunning and hilarious detail events that happened 3 decades ago and his ability to write about his past is unparalleled. Chris is gifted and talented director. If you live in Utah you should see everything he is involved in. Currently he has a production of Big River playing at the Hale Center in Orem that is delightful and magical. Patrick is literally the funniest person I know (and I know a lot of funny people) and a brilliant singer and songwriter. When I hear him sing his stuff, it inspires me to be a better artist and writer because it is just so dang good. And Brett is a nuanced actor and hilarious comedian. I love to watch him perform.

Writing this blog with these gentlemen has been a lot of fun. And you all have been wonderful and have left great comments and sent us encouraging messages along the way. We didn't know what this blog would be when we started it (we were hoping for more free stuff, but alas) and it was incredibly satisfying to have people that NONE OF US KNEW in real life read and comment on our work. It's pretty great.

So it is with great sadness that we announce today that PTA is shutting its proverbial virtual doors. We don't know if this is a temporary shut down or a permanent one and for how long it may last. But for right now we all have different projects that are taking priority. And the last thing we want to do is to churn out content for the sake of having something posted, even when that content isn't our best work.

So we want to say thanks. And that you are awesome. And goodbye. And we will miss you. We'll leave the facebook page active to keep you up to date on our current projects. Thanks for 2 really fun years.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Other Part Time Stuff


You guys, I recently had the opportunity to be in two different commercials. So I should probably quit my day job so I can have a more flexible schedule to practice, you know, my "craft." Right? Let's first watch the commercials and then discuss together how I actually, probably, should not do that.


Yep, that's Utah Community Credit Union. I feel a particular loyalty, since they gave me my first car loan right after Katie and I were married. Our first big purchase! And UCCU was there for us. A single tear rolls down. Also, this shoot was great because I got a free lunch at The Melty Way! Guys, the perks of being a movie commercial star principal are pretty awesome.

The second commercial was for Baja Broadband. It was freezing outside, but that's not what I'll take away from this experience. No. What I'm taking away from this is that I am 42 and my wife in the commercial is … 23. And she's from England! I don't know what this is supposed to say about my character in the commercial. I'm guessing this is a second marriage for him. He's had a midlife crisis. He's super wealthy, guys. And he doesn't put up with other men ogling his wife. That's what I decided when I was doing a deep study of my character and what his motivation would be. I hope it comes through in the commercial.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

no match

I've always felt like I've met a million celebrities, until I read Patrick's post. I cannot match the star power. My celebrities are lame sauce in comparison. I mean come on. David Spade? Thomas Gibson? That's the caliber I'm working with. The B minus list. (Except for Adam Levine.) So I will just post this picture because, even though it's not Cate Blanchett, I could not be more proud.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Name Dropping Like It's Hot!

Ya know, watching the Oscars was so fun, I mean, isn't Ellen just the best...that selfie?! Common!  Isn't it funny how you watch something and then you think that the people in it are sort of your friends and you kind of miss them after it's over.  It was like that selfie was stuffed full of all my dumb friends (and Lupitia's brother) who are all out having this super awesome night and I had to stay home and do Algebra...more likely they were just driving down by Utah Lake but they wanted me to think they were having a super awesome time so they were all really-hard-laughing when Bradley took the picture so I'd feel left out...well I did.



It's funny to think of Celebrities as normal people.  They don't fly or anything, they poop just like the rest of us (Meryl) and yet, they transcend.  Somehow and ridiculously they transcend.

So, in an effort to knock them down to size...or perhaps to elevate me to their level, I now present my list of celebrity interactions.  All of them true but in no particular order only that of my remembering them:


  • I saw Victor Garber shopping in a Mall in LA.
  • I sat on a the floor of a stage Cate Blanchett was performing on. (It shouldn't count but I was on the floor looking at her feet which were two feet away! Pun given and intended.)
  • I saw Frances McDormand in the lobby of that same play.
  • Also Either Joel or Ethan Coen, which ever one is married to Frances McDormand.
  • I helped Angela Lansbury pick out pillows at Pier 1.
  • I saw Sean Hayes buying a pretzel in a mall in LA and I got in line behind him and did the only thing a person can do when so extremely close...I sniffed his neck.
  • I met Jane Krakowski and her mother at a party in NYC.
  • I sang a song at Lance Bass' birthday party...he didn't seem super impressed.
  • Ryan Gosling told me I was F@#$%ing amazing after seeing me in a play I was in...he did seem super impressed.
  • I've done improv with both- Kirby Hayborn and Will Swenson...who is now married to Audra McDonald who I saw in concert once.
  • I'm in a Book Club with Lisa Valentine Clark who was listed as one of the '100 Coolest Mormon Women Alive Today' and is currently on the cover of Utah Valley Magazine...also, our book club is closed.
  • I was once at a party with Chloe Sevengy, TR Knight, Ellen Green, Mamie Gummer, Barbara Cook, Zachary QuintoGuy from ugly Betty, Andrea Martin, Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, the guy who played Will's boyfriend on Will and Grace for a little bit, Steven Schwartz (wrote Wicked) Stephanie Seymour, Cheyenne Jackson, Kelli O'hara, Mo Rocca, Lee Pace, John Stamos, Brooke Shields,Tori Spellings mom, Ace Young, Alfred Molina, and Alan Cumming... I know this because instead of doing anything else at the party I walked around with my phone and made a horribly spelled list so I would never forget never talking to these people.
  • I saw Tina Faye's back.
  • I once met Sean Hayes and told him that I sniffed his neck in a mall in LA.
  • I ripped my pants in front of Mariah Carey, who looked me up and down and then said to her two huge bodyguards, "Oh no." then crossed the street.
  • I said hello to Kate Winslet at an Anthropologie in NYC.
  • I started a fitting room for Amy Poehler at an Anthropologie in NYC.
  • I went on a date with the girl from Major Dad...only one.
  • Heath Ledger once gave my wife a knowing head nod right in front of me.
  • I got hamburgers with Kathy Griffin. 
  • Ryan Gosling came back to see my play a second time and again told me I was great using multiple expletives.
  • I chased after Ty Burrell only to catch up to him and then address his daughter by name even though we'd never met.
  • I met Sean Hayes a third time and gave him a copy of the New York Times review of a play I was in where they stated, "Livingston gave a good Sean Hayes-ian performance."
Needless to say, they are all chumps, all these people passing in and out of my life and has one...even one called me back?!!!

No.

Whatever...


Sean if you're reading this, just leave your phone number in the comments section on Facebook and I call you as soon as I can.


Oh yeah,

  • Sean Hayes asked me in front of my wife if I was straight.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sven, I Think That's Right

I think we've all had a lot of fun this week digging into the stories of two quirky princess and their icy powers and (alleged) lesbian tendencies. But I think the story of Anna and Elsa is pretty straightforward. Ice Queen, frozen heart, true love, blah, blah, blah. We've seen it all before. But there is one part of the movie that chills me (Ha!) me to the core: the pro-Reindeer, anti-people message.

Everyone knows that reindeer are literally the worst. The smell bad, they are rude, and if you've ever had a Christmas morning mess up (iPhone 5c instead of 5s, for example. The worst!!) you know that it is 100% the fault of some sloppy reindeer who can't do his job right.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have reindeer. I just kinda wish they'd stay in the North Pole. Or Asguardia, or whatever the name of that Frozen kingdom is. But there are several points in the Frozen story where there is clearly a strong pro-Reindeer message being directed at the impressionable minds of our children, who I believe are our future.

Of course there's a whole song about how reindeer are better than people. That's pretty obvious. But almost too obvious. Like they put that their so you think "Well, surely they don't really feel that way - this is clearly parody." They know that if they throw their pro-reindeer agenda right in your face you will reject in out of hand. But here are a few more subtle moments.

  1. Sven, the reindeer is always trying to Olaf's carrot nose, but always stops at the last minute. Because "they're friends" you are supposed to believe. But let's be serious, Reindeer will eat your carrot nose! They will eat it every time!! Totally unrealistic. Also, everyone knows that reindeer and snowmen are blood enemies, ever since the Northern Wars of 1917.
  2. Kristoff rides Sven like a horse, where you can see him appearing to gallop like he's some sort of fun loving pony. Reindeer can't gallop. Everyone knows that fly, like bats. And when they are on the ground they waddle, like ducks. But of course DISNEY with the PRO- REINDEER agenda didn't want to show a reindeer waddling really fast. So they made him gallop, so our CHILDREN would love him.
  3. When the rock gnomes sing about the reasons that Kristoff is a fixer-upper they site "that he tinkles in the woods." When I was a kid we used to go fishing with my grandma in a boat. And when we had to go to the bathroom she didn't want us to just pee off the side of the boat, like some sort of boat-side-peeing savage. So we had to pee into a bucket, which she called the "Tinkle Bucket" which we would then dump over the side of the boat. And if we had to go to the bathroom she would scream, "Steven! Get the tinkle bucket!" And I guess people say tinkle because it sounds less gross. So when they say Kristoff goes tinkle in the woods its supposed to seem cute and charming and you know who else tinkles in the woods? REINDEER! But its not cute. You probably missed this part, but I paid really close attention and that is what they are trying to do. 
  4. Remember when they are running from the wolves? Total fraud. Reindeer eat wolves in the wild. Google it.
Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are reindeer or have pet reindeer, so I am not some crazy reindeer hater. If you want to live in arctic climates, have fuzzy antlers and have specialized noses with nasal turbinate bones, that's fine. Just don't bring your ruminate four-chambered stomach to my neighborhood in the Wasatch Mountains.

Anyway, I've seen Frozen three times (once was a sing-a-long) so I didn't just make this stuff up. I have watched closely and taken notes and think this reindeer threat is something we all need to take more seriously and that we need to protect our children from. I mean, if you want your kids to think that they can be friends with a reindeer AND have a carrot nose, do what you will. But as for me and my house...

yep, frozen's gay


When Ken announced that we would all write responses to the crazy pearl-clutching Frozen lady this week, my heart started to race. I thought I had sort of weathered this storm last week by doing what I do best in times of controversy: staying the crap out of it. But now I felt charged to lampoon conspiracy theories and self-righteous harridans who find secret agendas in everything. And I didn't know what to do. "Ken!" I texted him, "I agree with that lady!"

It's at this point that I should provide the obligatory "I love the gays!" or "I have tons of gay friends" or "I'm not like most Mormons" speech so you don't think I'm some judgy wingnut. But I don't feel like I have to. I work in Theatre. 'Nuff said. If you don't think I'm cool with the gays, you've never met me or anyone of my ilk. It's just not much of an issue with me. But....you guys....that lady's right! She may have written that blog from her perch on the eagle forum, and she may have used insensitive and ridiculous language, but she's right. There's a hidden agenda in Frozen. And it's probably about gay people.

The thing is, I kind of don't care. It was a cute movie, and I liked a lot of the songs. That business about the snowman dreaming of summer was genius. I had a good time.

But I'm not going to pretend like there wasn't a hidden message about characters' shameful secrets, and the desire to "let it go" and be who they really are. The truth is that Disney is a major factor, possibly the major factor, in the entertainment industry and several of the executives, writers, artists, and performers are openly gay. If you controlled Disney, wouldn't you use it to spread your message? If the LDS church owned Disney (and we'll get to that) wouldn't they get as much "follow the prophet" and "I will go, I will do" as they can in there? Yeah, they would. I'm Mormon. I know how we work. I don't think Disney is inherently evil. Greedy, yes. But I also believe they have an agenda, just like every human being on this planet, and they aren't afraid to push it.

I don't mind my kids seeing Elsa (or whichever one) come out as a lesbian. Even metaphorically. I feel sad she felt she couldn't talk about her struggles. I hope that if any of my kids have same-sex attraction that they will know they have a mother and father to talk to. Maybe the movie will help them realize that they need to reach out and talk about this stuff.

What really concerns me, friends, is the Disney-ification of Mormondom. Somehow we've decided that Disney is on par with doctrine, and we fill our houses with so much Disney that there's no room to breathe. How many of us can quote song after song of Disney but only know a handful of church hymns? We may not know many scriptures off hand, but we sure can sing every word of "Poor Unfortunate Souls!" I love me some Disneyland, but I'm not going to worship it. It's fun, it's diverting, it's entertaining, but I'm not going to wear it all over my clothes. It's just cartoons. It's ninety minutes of your life. I'm not going to freak out if they want me to see a lesbian build an ice castle. Can I still have a temple recommend?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let it Grow!

As Ken stated yesterday we at Part Time Authors are diving deep into the subliminal messaging of one of the Seasons biggest hits:

Frozen






So, a few days ago this lady went off on her blog about how Frozen had a hidden "Gay Agenda".  For some reason it really got to me. Why was she hunting for the scheme in this movie.  I mean, never mind the themes that the movie was overtly targeting: a sisters love counts as 'True Love', don't use Shame as a parenting technique, Beware the prince who falls is love too fast...all of them new for Disney and great take-a-ways.  BUT, some lady, who I will not link to, went and saw this movie (three times cause her grandkids really super wanted to so who cares what kind of agenda it has), then blogged all over me about it's secret gayness.  She seemed to think that because Elsa finds out at a young age that she has powers that others don't and her parents tell her to hide them and then she finally "Let's Them Go!" it means she's a gay. Even though, at the end of the movie Elsa learns to control her "powers" (ie gayness) and is accepted right back into the kingdom, which is decidedly contrary to the Gay Agenda...I looked it up, they are not about getting themselves under control to fit back into society...even if they did get to be the Queens!  Ba-Dum-Ching!

It's not that she found Gayness where there is none...well, the snowman does have a lisp...it's the fact that while I was sitting in the movie with my daughter for the second time, I was holding back from enjoying something to find trickery.  Now, I'm sure that it happens and maybe it's even happening in this movie...hang on...it is true that the first time I saw this movie I looked like this:






But Frozen opened in November and now I look like this: 






I know?!  My hair has totally stopped being cut!  I really can't explain it...well, I COULDN'T but now things are perfectly clear.  I just...wait for it...wait for it...you know what's coming...but you still have to wait...I just...op! Not yet...here it comes....

I JUST LET IT GO!!!!

When it came time to cut my hair there was Elsa in my mind begging me to not.  So I didn't.

Disney: One.

A well groomed Mormon Man: Zero!

So, there you go.  I guess I was wrong, the Disney Villains done did me in.  Please, don't go see this movie...who knows what you will unleash!  Ken is as Fat as a house and my hair has princes climbing it every time I throw it out the window!  What ya gonna do.

Alls I want is a world where we see a children's movie and we either like it or we don't, or we love it and learn every single word to every single song and blame our vast knowledge of a princess movie on our four year old girls.

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Frozen Conspiracy


If you’re plugged in to any social media at all then you probably noticed when, last week, a seam split and the world became unglued over the “hidden agenda” of  Disney’s Frozen.

I’m not going to point you in the direction of the impetus to this ice storm (you see what I did there?) because I don’t see how anything good can come from that. (Sidebar: If you’re trying to build a brand, then giving your blog a title that doesn’t always reflect your appearance seems like a misstep. I mean, otherwise we here at Part Time Authors would have named our blog cleanshavenmormonmen.com. But we didn’t. Because we aren’t always that.)


Aaaaanywhistle, here’s the thing. Is Frozen really pushing an agenda? Is this little cartoon making sweeping social commentary? Are we being brainwashed by the Disney machine?

You bet your sweet bippy.

Look at these lyrics:
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

Youguys. Disney clearly has an Anti-Diet agenda. The message here is simple: When it comes to trying to eat healthy and maintain your weight - just forget it. Let it go! Let yourself go! Let that waistline grow!


This is clearly a cross-promotion for the turkey legs, churros, and monte cristos found inside the Disney parks. Shameless! And it’s like they aren’t even embarrassed or trying to hide it, you guys!

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let my stomach rage on,
Sweats never bothered me anyway

Disney is clearly a proponent of diabetes. I don’t have proof yet, but I’m pretty sure they are getting kickbacks from the FDA. The more people on insulin, the better - for Disney. Have they no shame? Have they NONE?!

Well, tune in to PTA this week and each day you will be privileged to find another Frozen conspiracy theory from another part time author, who has varying degrees of clean shaven-ness.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rise up to meet you

Hey friends. Remember us? We been a little absent for a couple weeks. Sorry. For whatever reason, the universe made all of us extremely busy at the same time. Patrick started a new job. I started a new job. Brett started a new job. Chris was in the final stages of directing his show, which I am dying to see. And Ken has, I believe, 17 children, so frankly I don't know how he even has time to put pants on in the morning.

This is me now (look! You can actually see me in the reflection in the door!) I've taken a job with Alice Lane Home Collection. We are an interior design firm with (soon to be) 2 retail locations. This job is amazing. I am surrounded by intelligent, talented, funny people and unbelievably gorgeous and impeccably designed home furnishings. It's like working in an Elle Decor magazine. It's fantastic. I will probably continue to offer unsolicited fashion advice on this blog, but who knows, I might even start sharing some design advice.

Currently I'm in way over my had and try and keep up while everyone talks about etageres and hair-on-hide and what it takes to add custom welts to your Davenport with a COM. I'll never be as much of a design expert as the people who I get to work with, but I know what I like and I have my own design philosophies.

I believe it was the great 20th century philosopher, Oprah, who said "Your home should rise up to meet you." Maybe it was Nate Berkus. Or maybe it was neither. But I think I heard it from Oprah. And I think that is true. You should live in a place where you are surrounded by things you love. Your house should take your breath away every time you walk in. In my home, my wife and I have, over the years, gathered and curated things that we love and things that make us happy. Some pieces were expensive. Some were flea market finds that hardly cost anything. Some are paintings by local artists that make us happy. And some are pieces that we've had forever that have moved from house to house to house with us over the years.

Sure, there are a few dogs. Our kitchen table is from Ikea and a piece of garbage and is stained and faded. But it seems foolish to replace it until our children are old enough not to destroy whatever we get. (I've mentioned our sectional which our kids are slowly destroying like they have some sort of grudge against it.) I don't think everything needs to be new and shiny and expensive to have a well designed home. Sometimes you make due with what you have. But don't buy things for your home unless you love them and they make you happy. It's better to have an empty hole somewhere than to spend money on something that is just OK. After all, why would you want to sit on this:

whey you could be sitting on this:

The store opens in early March (date is still not offically announced) in Salt Lake's amazing, historic Trolley Sqaure location. So come and say Hi and I'll sell you a Sleepy Hollow chair. But if you want an Etageres, I still don't know what those are yet, so I will have to refer you to one of my designers. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

waitin' for the light to shine

So, yeah, this is how I am. I take a two week hiatus from PTA, and then I return with nothing more to say than to shill my own show. I apologize. You deserve better, dear readers.

In fact, do you know what you deserve? A night out at the theatre! Say, isn't there an awesome new version of Big River happening at the Hale Center Theatre in Orem? And isn't that the director's favorite musical? Why - why - why yes, it is!

And what's this I hear? Live instruments? On that little stage? Well, I never! I HAVE to see it now! And how are they going to float down a river on that little stage? I guess we better go see!

I guess you better. We open this Friday night, and the show plays until April 12. Even if you don't live in Utah you still have plenty of time to arrange a road trip. Or start walking now. This show is worth it. Plus, ladies act like dogs.



What: "Big River"
Where: Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem
When: Feb. 20-April 12 at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m.
How much: $16-$21 for adults and $12-$16 for children
Tickets: 801-226-8600 or haletheater.org

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Dinner With Michelle...Obama.

So Ken started out this Valentines week writing about breakups and I got super excited to join the fray! Is there anything better then remembering when you were totally right and justified and able to conjure the exact magnificent phrase at the exact magnificent moment?! Well, there's nothing better, but that's because it doesn't happen and when it does, it's because it's fake.

For example:

Once when I was breaking up with this girl, her name was...let's say Michelle Obama, she was all, "You never take me places anymore!"  and I was all, "Really?!"  I mean, we were sitting in the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day when she hit me up.

"What more can I do?!  Here we are having a lovely night and you are complaining?"

"I didn't ask you to bring me here!  Am I some cliché ingenue in some Tom Hanks movie?!  I'm MICHELLE OBAMA, take me somewhere interesting."

She had me there.  It's true, I was on autopilot.  I had been ever since Christmas when she took me to meet her grandmother.  It was fine, she was nice, but I knew it was over. But it was the Holidays and I'm not one to make a fuss.  The truth is, I had forgotten it was Valentine's Day, and all the nice places were booked...or so I assumed, I didn't really have time to check, I just called New York and when there was a table available, I had to take it.  So what if it was sorta hokey? I was trying, which is more then I can say for Michelle.

"Is this why you wore sweats?" I asked.

"What?"

"Is this why you wore sweats...on our Valentine's date?  Are you just done with this?"

"These aren't sweats. I got them from Anthropologie."

This is what she was wearing:




"Those-are-sweats." I stated slowly and with punctuated pauses between each word. "You wear whatever shoes you want, you showed up tonight ready for a light sprint out of here, and now I know why...I don't take you places."

"I don't want to do this here."

"Are you kidding?!  I don't want to do this here?  I don't want to do this until after St. Patrick's Day."

"Of course you don't.  It's all about keeping the peace with you isn't it.  Well, I can see right through you...I saw how you were with my Grandmother!"

"What are you talking about?!!!"

"You were all weird and distant."

"Pull yourself together, Michelle, I was causal and aloof. I didn't want to seem like some nutcase who's all up in your Grandma's business."

"Are you joking right now?  Is that what you're telling me, that you didn't want my 90 year old Grandmother to think you were into her?!"

"I didn't!"

"I'm leaving. Would you hand me my coat."

"No!  You don't get to drop your bombs and walk out!  Oh, No, you get to sit there coatless while I tell you a thing or two!"

"Keep the coat."  Then she shoves her chair out and it sorta bangs into the man sitting behind her. "Oh, excuse me."  She says, but to him and not me.

"Oh yeah," I jump in, "Please don't let her chair tap interrupt your lovely dinner of listening to us scream at each other at the top of our lungs!"

I could tell the guy was embarrassed to be dragged in, but what did I care?

"You are a real jerk sometimes, Patrick, you know that...a real jerk."  Her face was flush with her own embarrassment.

"You know what, Michelle Obama...I don't think this is working out."

"Are you kidding me?"  Her forehead tilled to one side.

"No, I mean it.  I'm not going to drag this on any longer.  We're done."

"You got that right, buddy."  She came straight at me and I lifted my arms up to protect my face, but she only grabbed her coat and walked out.  She didn't look back, and she didn't pay the bill.  When you are dating Michelle Obama, then you get used to a certain lifestyle and there she was, walking out the door.  

The guy whose chair she hit started this slow clap and soon the whole restaurant was clapping. All I could do was fumble through my pockets pretending to search for a wallet I knew was on my dresser.

In the end I walked out moments after she did, only to meet her waiting for the elevator.  It was the longest 102 floors of my life.





  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do


We're coming up on Valentine's Day this week, kids. Love abounds! Except when it doesn't. And you know who you are. And believe me - though I am crazy-insane in love with my wife for decades now, there was a time when I treaded the ground of "Having to Figure Love Out." And that inevitably included break-ups. And man, I hated those.

I used to work with a girl named Tobie.* Tobie had lived in Las Vegas for a number of years, but originally heralds from Planet Drama, where she is considered royalty. (*Names have been changed. Kind of. She spells it without the “e.”) Each morning when I walked into the office, I couldn't wait to see what the Crisis De Jour would be. The dramatic episodes ranged from “Last night I talked to my mom for the first time in three years!” to “I lost 1.5 pounds!” And most memorably, when she broke up with her boyfriend of eight months. Or more accurately, he broke up with her. And what, I ask you, could be more dramatic than that?! (Well, if you’re Tobie, then just about anything.)

So I’m listening to her heartbreaking story, line upon line and precept by precept, when I suddenly begin having flashbacks to my own breakups. I start getting knots in my stomach, I get a little moist under the arms, and I find myself looking for the opportunity to assure Tobie that her and I can still be friends, even though we aren’t the ones breaking up. It’s just instinct.

For me, breakups were the absolute worst. I avoided them like they were cancer. Oh, how they pained me to the core of my dating soul. It’s still hard to talk about some of them…

Tess Dresher. Fourth Grade. I can still recall the day she walked up to me during recess and asked me to “go with her.” “Sure,” I answered. And those were the last words every exchanged between Tess and myself. We occasionally sat by each other, and I gave her a very special Peanuts Valentine’s Day card, but we never did speak, or even make eye contact. So I guess technically we are still “going together.” Boy is she going to be mad when she finds out I got married and had eight children. She’ll want to break up for sure. I’m not looking forward to that conversation.

Julia Zimmerman. High School. It was the summer of 1987, and I was sixteen years old – with a license to drive and to date! I knew Julia really liked me when her mom had grounded her and she promptly ignored said house arrest to go to the movies with me. Yes, we were young and crazy in love! I was pretty sure that after the summer of 1987 I could die happy. By fall of 1987 I was so miserable I was praying for death. We went to different high schools and Julia was first to acknowledge that our long distance relationship wasn’t really going to make it. I nodded my head in agreement, but inside I felt like somebody was cramming my heart through a paper shredder.

College break-ups were the toughest, obviously. You've all been there. Sometimes it's almost cliche. But there was genuine pain, due to genuine feelings and possibilities. It might be too soon. I don't think I can talk about it. Her name was Danielle. It was Halloween night. We had gone to a party and we were sitting in my car in the parking lot of her apartment complex. I was dressed as Aladdin, she was Jasmine. Things had been in the pooper for quite some time, and it felt like a stranger walking by could glance in our direction and know exactly what was happening. It was silent for a few minutes, and then I spoke up. Tell me if you've had this exact conversation before:

“I think we should see other people.”

"Define our relationship,” she said.

“What?”

“Define our relationship!”

“Uhm…we should…see other people…but we can still be -”

“Are you giving me the Friend Speech? Don’t you DARE give me the Friend Speech!”

“Uh…NO…never, never. I think it’s just me.”

“OH, NO – the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ bit?”

“Noooo! That’s not what I mean at all...”

An eternal silence. Like…three days have passed while we’ve sat in the car. And finally she speaks.

“Well, what do you want me to do?”

“I…don’t understand the question.”

“I can’t do this!” she yelled, and bailed out of the car.

Joy to the world.

It was truly painful. Of course, not as painful as Tobie’s overly dramatic reaction to the hair she found in her salad at lunch one day. “I almost ate this and diiiiiiieeeeedddddd!”


Thursday, February 6, 2014

I love you, soft serve.



I'm kinda sorta in love with soft serve ice cream. And I know the middle of icy, frigid February seems an odd time to write this epistle. But right now I'm sitting on a white, sandy beach on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. And I just finished a banana strawberry twist. 

Somehow, soft serve seems less guilty and less decadent than regular ice cream. As if, somehow, being soft means it's also low-cal. "Surely," we all think, "something extruded from a machine must be more akin to yogurt or porridge that actual frozen cream."  And this, my friends, is the primrose path to soft-serve induced fat hell. 

You get to Castaway Cay in the Bahamas aboard a Disney Cruise ship, which is where we are vacationing right now. We feel really lucky to be here, and if you ever get a chance to go, do it. It's as amazing as you think it would be. Great food, great amenities and the diet coke flows from the tap like water. And there is self-serve soft-serve at every turn. Which inspired me to try and eat my own weight in soft serve every day. 

Which is, of course, paradoxical and impossible. You see as you ingest soft serve you immediately get slightly fatter. And so you can't ever eat your actual weight because each bite increases your weight. It's like you're Sisyphus pushing a stone up a sweet, sweet mountain of chocolate and vanilla swirl. 

My wife's uncle owns a soft serve ice cream machine (and now that I've made you realize that was a possibility you want one too, right?). He breaks it out occasionally at family parties and BBQs. And when it is there in front of you, you literally want to put soft serve on everything. Put some on a brownie? Sure! In your Diet Coke to make a soft serve float? Absolutely. On your morning waffle? I'll take mine with strawberries.  Turkey sandwich? Why not?!?

Yes, hard ice cream is also amazing. It's like soft serves older, cooler brother who's traveled the world and contracted a fudge ripple in Vietnam. But it still feels great to be a kid and swirl that soft twisty goodness onto a cone until it's so high it starts to lean over under the weight of its own deliciousness. And just keep telling yourself it's basically the same thing as yogurt. Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt with flax seeds and kale. And just keep telling yourself that lie as you climb that mountain, Sisyphus. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Budget Crisis



So, my wife and I are budgeting...it's fully the worst! I mean, I think a person should be able to buy whatever he wants whenever he wants regardless of his ability to pay for it right that second...or in the near future.  Luckily, I married a woman who completely agrees with me.  And now we have to budget.

The hardest part is seeing something you want, and then knowing that last month you would have just got it because you were irresponsible and rash, but this month you are know you were stealing from your children's collage funds (they better be smart!) and planning to finally buy that island before mortgage insurance gets any worse. So you put down the thing and walk away.  boo.

One night, I had just finished climbing all the way to the top of my high horse and I told my wife that she didn't need to just buy the same premium brands that she was used to buying.  "We are in Budget Mode! You need to be buying whatever is cheapest! It's all the same! Walmart just care more about us, so they mark their brands down to help us in our budgeting."

Yesterday, I was feeling like I had a bit of a stomach bug, and so I was eating gently...Chicken Noodle Soup and Saltines.  I opened the cupboard and there they were, 'Great Value Saltine Crackers' I was so proud, we were doing our part, Walmart loved us, and I got the food I wanted.

Well, after using both hands and feet to open the plastic sleeve, I noticed that the first cracker was a bit darker then I was used to, but I popped it in my mouth and dug in for a second.  Burnt. Third. Burnt. Forth. Burnt...Every single cracker was down right brown!  They looked burnt and they tasted burnt especially when you ate one after the other after the other.  It was like they went over the Nabisco's house and went through the garbage and packaged its castoffs at a 'Great Value'.

"That IS what they do!" My wife (clamoring up the side of her high horse) "That's exactly what they do! You think Nabisco can crank out one perfect cracker after the other, are you crazy?! They are not wizards! They sell the trash to someone else who sells them for cheaper then the good stuff!"

So there you have it.  I had stomach problems last night and got to eat both, burnt crackers and crow. I'm sure it was worth it...I mean, we saved 38 cents Daisy can go to collage. But what I was really hoping in writing this is you would just send me a check for a Fafillion dollars, so I can have whatever I want.  I mean, you did read this blog, that should be a fair exchange.  And while I wait for your check...who writes checks anymore, just send a white tiger in a gold helicopter with a money order...and while you do, I'll be eating Feerios for breakfast.    

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Many Faces of Google


You may have heard that Google Fiber recently arrived in Provo, Utah. If you want to know what  exactly that means, read this short article by my friend and yours, Christian Faulconer (the David Letterman of Provo), who actually toured the Google Fiber facility.

My home was officially Google Fibered last week, so I'm a fan. But I'm probably also inclined because our family got to be a part of the ad campaign! And now, since you didn’t ask, I’d like to give you some “Behind the Scenes” of the Google ad. Some “The Making Of” goodies. Some DVD bonus features.

It all started when Google decided they needed a gi-normous family, in order to back up their slogan for Provo: Bigger Broadband for Bigger Families. Yup. That’s us. We are officially a family of 10. But at the time of filming, back in December 2013, we were still getting used to our size, as Hillary had been born only 3 weeks earlier. And it was mid-December with Christmas fast approaching. So, not to brag, but, you know...we were kind of out of our minds and barely keeping it together.

For example, I remember one Sunday morning my 8 year old came into my room to tell me he was ready for church. Judging by his pants, he was either anticipating a flood, or had grown 5 inches overnight. His white shirt - his white short-sleeve shirt in 22 degree weather - looked like it had been wadded up in a tennis-ball container since summer. His hair looked like it was in a fight with itself. We locked eyes, and without blinking, I said, “Lookin’ good, bud; go get in the car.”

So, back to our story, the ad folks from Google came out from San Francisco and showed up at our house the day before filming, so they could do that thing where directors make their fingers into squares so they have a “camera view” as they scan the area for what they plan to film. They were super nice and friendly and encouraging - which is how they tricked us into going through the hassle of taking down our Christmas decorations for the commercial.


The day of the shoot, two different crews were there from 9:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. The morning was for the film crew who rearranged the house, set up lighting, wardrobe, make-up, etc. Meanwhile, I went to work for a couple of hours and came home around 11:00 a.m. When I pulled up to the house, it was a complete and awesome spectacle. I had to park down the street, as my house was surrounded by trucks, cars, and equipment. The garage was full of racks of clothing and craft services. I so badly wanted to know what the neighbors thought was going on.

I walked in the front door, and in addition to my family, the house was buzzing with another 25 people. The furniture was different, lights were everywhere, a woman I didn’t recognize walked by holding Lucy, my two-year old, and they were deep in conversation. Then I saw somebody I knew - my five-year old, Becca. She was already in new wardrobe and make-up, and my goodness - she was gorgeous. She looked like a movie star. She hugged my legs, careful not to wipe her lip gloss on my pants.


Our master bedroom had been converted into “the changing room,” and our daughters’ room had become “hair and make up,” with several salon chairs. Some poor man almost lost his mind trying to figure out if all the kids had been through both rooms and were ready. The house sounded like a dinner party and smelled like coffee. I met the creative director and account executive from the ad agency and part of the team from Google. Lots of handshakes, lots of “thank yous” ... they were really warm and lovely people. Full of genuine compliments about how great my children were. (And if you ever want to win somebody over, tell a dad that his kids are amazing.)

First we shot our portion of the commercial. That’s Katie and Garren at the kitchen table on a tablet - they are supposed to be doing homework, but they’re watching Thor 2 trailers. Then there’s Abbie on the laptop, emailing friends. And that’s Tanner, running from the kitchen to the couch, to join the rest of us who were watching The Avengers on a TV that isn't ours, but the kids desperately hoped was one of the perks of the job. So most of us just had to sit there, acting natural. (Hillary nailed it.) Except Tanner. He and the director had a special relationship. It went like this: The director would say, “Just one more time, Tanner.” And Tanner would whisper to me under his breath, “I just want to watch the movie.” This happened 23 times. He was a trooper.


Then we all broke for lunch. The film crew packed out their gear, and the stills crew packed in theirs. The producers materialized the most delicious craft services, but they also ordered a bunch of pizzas for my kids. My kids loved them for this.

Everybody was so kind. They interacted with my kids, we all told stories, they asked about my career and our family. It was clear that minds were blown and pants were pooped by the fact that we had 8 children and yet we were magically void of any meltdowns, spills, injuries, or wardrobe malfunctions. The gods of advertising smiled on us that day.

Then they took a family photo of us.


Then we did a photo shoot in our kitchen. Katie was in the front, holding a frame where the gifted designers would later superimpose our new family photo. Behind Katie were all our children - a mix of baking, cleaning, and playing with electronics. And that is the billboard currently making the scene all over Provo.


As the day was wrapping up the delightful wardrobe lady came over and told me that she was going to leave us the wardrobe used for the shoot. Awesome! Then they told us they were leaving the rest of the craft services with us because nobody wanted to haul the food away. Dinner is served! And the photographer said they would make sure we got the family photo.  Christmas in December!

Then, my favorite part. The gentleman from Google came over to me and said, “I’ve been watching your kids all day. My wife and I have an 18-month old...and we plan to have more. I watch your kids and I get excited - thinking of my children being as good of friends as yours are.”  And as fun and exhausting as the entire day was - that was the moment when my day was made. Yes, we are a big family. Yes, that often means things aren’t on time or wrinkle-free or at a low volume. But sometimes, against all odds, it means maybe you get to be a force for good in the world.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

c.c.l.

Ken wrote an interesting post on pop music. Music really defines us, doesn't it? For example, when I want to be defined as "cool" I just ask Brett Merritt what he's listening to, and then I listen to that. When I want to seem educated and classy, I turn classical music and talk about Dvorak. When I want to define myself as mysterious and sexy, I have a playlist for that! And nobody cares.

But Lisa and I have a very special game we play in the car (ONLY AT STOPLIGHTS) which I like to call Christopher Clark Sign Language. It's not really sign language, as you'll see, but a really bastardized form in which I pretend to know sign language. Heads up: if you actually know any form of sign language, you will be horrified by the video below and I apologize. But for the rest of you....

I present....

"Roar" by Katy Perry


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sleepwalk with Me...or Rather, Don't.






Okay, so Milo just walked by my office door and off into the night?!

I mean, okay, so about 15 minutes ago I was watching TV and I hear these soft footsteps and then they sped up and got much louder, and, since I'm sure that every house I live in is super haunted, my first thought was that the devil was slowly deciding to come for me but then he really made up his mind and started running for me.  Because Milo is small and because I was looking for the face of a eight foot demon, I didn't see Milo until he was standing right in front of me.  That's a funny thing about being a parent, sometimes your kids scare you.  Once I woke up and Daisy was standing at the end of the bed...just standing there...creepy...go to bed.

I should preface this evening with the fact that Milo, during dinner, had pointed to something in the kitchen and said, 'Shark'.  And then on our after dinner (freezing) walk he stopped and waved at nothing and said, 'Hi.'.  So...well, I mean, there you go.

So after I realized that it was my 20 month old son and NOT the devil, I was able to put him back in his crib...which he has recently figured out how to get out of with the silent stealth of a ninja. So I get him to bed and back to the couch, and a half hour later, I see Milo, footy pajamas and all, walk steadily past the living room door way, he doesn't even glance over at me.  He walks into the dinning room when I yell, 'Milo, go to bed!' and he bursts into tears.  I run over, cause I was only being stern in sort of a funny way, but my wife tells me sometimes it just comes across as being real stern. Anyway, I pick him up and I realize that me might have been sleeping and when I yelled it woke him up.

I do not want a sleep walking 2 year old.  I mean Paranormal Activity aside, he can't be walking around the house at 2:30 in the morning putting things in blenders and seeing how long his face can be in the toilet!  Now I can't sleep.  I'm the Dad and I protect if I'm asleep how can I keep him from figuring out what happens when you stick your tongue socket. So, I thought I would blog...I hadn't and I needed to, so it's good...but it's also, ya know, 10:30...midnight is coming soon and I don't know what I'm going to do...hang on, he just woke up...

So Milo really just wants his Mommy.  Isn't that sweet?!  He just loves her guts, she's been in bed for an hour cause she teaches an early class tomorrow, but his high pitched but loving scream somehow woke her right up!  They are in there now and everything seems real nice and quiet...quite quiet and quite nice...quiet...quiet and nice....well, it's very late (10:38) so I'm gonna head of to bed.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

And the Nominees Are...


Did you watch the Grammy Awards last night? Me neither. But are you going to look up clips on Hulu sometime this week? Me too. (Are you going to eat ice cream while you watch? ME TOO! We are, like, total twinners!)

Anynote (did you see what I did there?), ah, music. I adore it, in all its varieties. Except not so much Metal. And I will freely admit that I do not have an extensive library of sitar music. But I really am a music junkie. And I love how music can take you to a very specific time and place and frame of mind. And so, since nobody asked, I will now share with you my own musical award show: The Faux Grammy's. 

There will be no live performances, per se. (And by “per se,” I of course mean, “of any kind.”) But perhaps you may find yourself entertaining thoughts of your own music lists. And if so, then my job here is done. Actually, my job here is done, regardless of what you do.

The Song that Immediately Takes Me Back to High School:
And the nominees are….

  • With or Without You – U2
  • New Sensation – INXS
  • You Be Illin’ – Run DMC
  • Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  • Wishing Well – Terence Trent D’Arby



The Song that Immediately Takes Me Back to College:
And the nominees are…


  • Nightswimming – R.E.M.
  • Selling the Drama – Live
  • One – U2
  • Stay – Lisa Loeb
  • Dissident – Pearl Jam
  • Loser – Beck
  • Dreams – The Cranberries
  • Runaway Train – Soul Asylum

The Song that Makes Me Feel I’m in a Dentist's Waiting Room:
And the nominees are...

  • I Love You – Climax Blues Band
  • You Are the Woman – Firefall
  • We Just Disagree – Dave Mason
  • Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes
  • Shining Star – The Manhattans

    The Song that Take Me Back to School/Church Dances in My Youth (’85 to ’89):
    And the nominees are…


    • Open Arms – Journey
    • Crazy for You – Madonna
    • The Flame – Cheap Trick
    • Melt With You – Modern English
    • Oh L’Amour – Erasure

      The Song I Should Not Listen to In the Car Because Suddenly I Am Driving 35 Miles Over the Speed Limit:
      And the nominees are….


      • Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
      • Regatta de Blanc – The Police
      • Red Barchetta – Rush
      • Electric Co. – U2
      • Panama – Van Halen

        The Song Which I Really Have No Idea How I Know All the Lyrics, Yet Somehow I Do:
        And the nominees are...
        • Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – The Andews Sisters
        • Parents Just Don’t Understand – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
        • El Paso – Marty Robbins
        • Seaside Rendezvous – Queen
        • The Rose – Bette Midler

          The Song that Currently Sums Up My Life:
          And the nominees are...
          • All These Things that I’ve Done – The Killers
          • Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads
          • Waiting for My Real Life to Begin - Colin Hay
          • Find the River - R.E.M.
          • 40 - U2




          Wednesday, January 22, 2014

          get the lead out!


          I'm so sorry about the short post today, but I'm so busy. I'm way busier than you are. It's not even close. I am busier than you will ever be. Just give up. I won the busy battle. Roma Victor!

          I just wanted to tell you something I did this morning. I feel bad about it. But I also feel justified. Here's what happened.

          I was driving to work on 800 South in Orem. It was about 9 am. Kids were all in school, and it wasn't too busy on the streets. I was driving behind a woman in a Subaru Forester. She wasn't an old lady, I would say she was about 50. She was also driving under 20 MPH. The speed limit was 35.

          I'm not a speeder - I swear I'm not. I can stick to 35 on a residential street. But this was so irritating. So maddening, so so ridiculous. There was a line of cars piled up behind her. Please know that we were not in any crossing or school zones. There were no flashing lights. Just some dumb lady driving the speed of turtle dump and me, with my well documented road rage issues, swerving back and forth behind her.

          I know she was aware of me behind her, and I don't think she was going slow just to irritate me. She didn't seem the type. She just really enjoyed driving her Japanese jalopy and didn't care that it was LEGAL to go 15 MILES FASTER.

          So here's what I did. I could see her checking me in her rear view. I wasn't tailgating, but I was close enough. Every time she checked on me I made a gun sign with my hands and pretended to shoot her. Not in a joking way, but in a really serious way. Like I was really shooting her. I did this several times. Bang! Bang! Every time. In cold blood. She got the point. Eventually we parted ways and I know she was relieved. I was going to shoot her!

          Anyway. I have to go to a meeting because I'm so busy. But I wanted to tell you about it. I feel bad for acting like that. But I also feel justified, because there is no excuse for driving that slow!!! Amirite?

          Tuesday, January 21, 2014

          January...




          So January is totally the Monday of the year, right?

          I mean, December is Saturday and Sunday and your Birthday and then January comes and you know, you've got another year head of you.

          Another lagging winter that doesn't know when to quit paired with another fashionably late spring.

          Who does Spring think she is?  It's like, we know you're coming.  We get it, you know we want you and you like an entrance, a slow growing, dumb, stinkin' entrance.

          I know we are miles off from Spring, but you'd think the way we are dumping our plastics into the atmosphere we might get some early Springing in Utah...though, probably Ecuador would be dust.

          My Birthday is in January, but at the beginning, I mean, I'm not one of those people who waited to the middle of the month to get myself born...can you imagine?! No, I was more of a New Years baby, which is sweet in it's way, though I do get presents wrapped in Santa Clause paper, which I find tacky.

          As I sit here writing and gazing out my window there is some snow, but we're not snow covered, there is some grass, but very dead, there is some blue sky but it's mingled with toxic grey smoke that surpasses Beijing and legally dictates that I can't build a fire.

          But January is only the Monday of the year, right?  There is still February and then March...The Tuesday of it all...Nothing great but it somehow escapes most the blame.

          Well, I'm sorry.  It's not my fault, but still I'm sorry.  Though I do think there is something wrong with people complaining about the weather in the land where the choose to live.  It's true that it's the same year after year after year and I really hate it when people from Minnesota are all, 'It's so cold here in the winter!' and I'm all, 'Yeah, so move.' People from Minnesota really bother me when they all say that.

          I guess it's the same when people from Utah complain about the weather. It really is the same every year and it's my car that's causing the inversion (though not as much as you and your SUV's, I mean I drive a Honda Fit so I'm doing what I can.)  and I love the snow in the last two weeks of December and I absolutely know there are places on earth where it's Spring all year round and even better a mild summer! But this is my home and I've made my choices and those places don't have my family or cute house or my Honda Fit...seriously they get 45 miles per gallon, I fill up maybe once a month.
               

          Monday, January 20, 2014

          Yes, WE Will Go with You to the Dance

          Youguys, youguys, youguys! Ohmygosh, youguys!

          So, let's just say (totally hypothetically) that your 16 year old daughter - we'll call her Abbie - was creatively asked to her first school dance on Saturday night! And, just for funsies, let's also pretend that you belong to a fantastic book club (which is closed) and it's your turn to host, so your home is filled with 10 amazing people who think your daughter is pretty neat-o, and they can BARELY contain their excitement that they have a front row seat to the actual moment she is asked!!!!

          You know what? Let's get even more detailed. 

          Let's imagine that it kind of happens like, oh, I don't know, like this: (names have not been changed)

          You're all sitting in the front room, discussing books and life and food. (Not in that order.) 

          The doorbell rings. 

          Kacy: (Who has an uncanny ability to sense things, we'll call her the Doorbell Whisperer.) Abbie's getting asked to a dance! I just saw somebody run away from the door!

          Everyone: AAAAAHHHH!

          Katie: I'll get Abbie! (Abbie was downstairs, watching a movie with her siblings.)

          Everyone else jumps into place. By this, I mean Chris stations himself at the piano and starts playing the appropriate mood music - a kind of dramatic pomp and circumstance riff. The rest of us make a line from the stair banister to the front door, so Abbie gets to/has to walk by all of us on her way to the door. Except my friend, Josh, the only one with sensibilities telling him that this might be embarrassing for Abbie. He hides in the kitchen. 

          The room has EXPLODED with emotion! I mean, the thrill, the anxiety, the nervousness, the giddiness - it's all in pieces on the floor and walls and us! Patrick does the sensible thing and films the entire moment.

          Once Abbie opens the door and reads the note out loud, we are all abuzz again; planning a proper creative response to this young man, who has no idea what he has started by simply dropping off a plate of toast and a note on this fateful night.  

          Within minutes, and even after Abbie has retreated to the safety of the basement, we have already made our own plans for how Abbie should creatively respond to this invitation, what she should wear, what our coordinated outfits should look like for when he picks her up for the dance and we all go to the dance WITH Abbie and her date, and a highly choreographed flash mob. (Admittedly, we aren't sure exactly when the flash mob will be needed - but we're leaning towards the moment he rings the doorbell. Cue the Doorbell Whisperer.) (We are about 68% kidding on all of these things.)

          So, I am just wondering…is your 16-year-old self totally cringing while you read this? Would you be mortified or handle it with grace and a smile like Abbie? Would you hate your parents and their friends? And again, this is absolutely hypothetical, I'm asking for a friend. 



          Wednesday, January 15, 2014

          Don't Wear T-Shirts With Dresses


          Did you watch the Golden Globes? More importantly, did you see this dress? I'm torn. I think Julia looks pretty and pulled together and appropriate. But it feels a little odd - like the white shirt is an afterthought. I don't hate it. But I don't really get it.

          I've never had to (at least that I am willing to admit in this forum) dress up in an evening gown. I'm sure it's not the easiest. And I understand that for many women, you want a gown that covers the arms. And maybe that's what Julia was going for. She's a mother of two (three?) and doesn't want to be in a black tube dress. I get it. I support that decision.

          After this dress made its debut, I had this little exchange on twitter with the incomparable C Jane.

          You see, I don't really understand the shirts under dresses thing. Especially the ever so popular here in Utah trend of the white t-shirt under the dress. I mean, there are entire industries built around shirts to wear under sleeveless dresses. Here's the thing: It just looks bad. And I know that I am not the arbiter of fashion. And I know that you don't choose your outfits to make me happy (as someone else on twitter told me when they saw this exchange.) But if you put a t-shirt on under a dress it usually looks goofy.

          If you want to wear a sleeveless dress and you don't want to be sleeveless, as I see it you have two options:

          1. Put something over the dress. Perhaps a cardigan. Maybe a chambray shirt tied in a knot. A lovely denim jacket. A blazer. 
          2. But a different dress. 
          Maybe that sounds harsh and sounds like I am speaking from a place of male privilege (which I also heard on Twitter.) But as someone who has sold women's clothing professionally for the last 15 years, just trust me on this one. It's really hard to make the t-shirt under a dress look right. Think about it - a dress is, well dressy! And a t-shirt is super casual. And when you layer the two together it just doesn't fit. 

          Let's put it this way: there is definitely a trend (whether you think it looks good or not) in urban men's fashion right now to wear shorts that hit either just above the knee or mid-thigh. Let's say that I wanted to participate in that trend because I have really incredible  legs (For the record: I do.) But because of my religious beliefs, I can't wear shorts that short. Would it make sense for me to buy a pair of knee-length sweat shorts and put them under those shorts, so I still had the great fashion trend, but remained covered? No it would not. You would think I was dressed like a fool. 

          And don't tell me that cardigans are too hot. Because anywhere that you have to wear a dress, I am wearing a suit. Which means I am wearing a shirt, a jacket, a TIE and PANTS. So even if you have a cardigan over your sleeveless dress, you still don't have pants on. So I win the "too hot" argument. 

          So let's please agree that if you stop wearing t-shirts under dresses, I will stop wearing sweat shorts under shorty shorts. And I'll stop wearing shorty shorts. And I'll stop wearing sweat shorts. All of these things are ugly. And silly. Even if Julia Robert's says they are OK. (I'm pretty sure Julia Roberts doesn't endorse men wearing double shorts.)

          engaged


          Last week our "friend" Carolyn Stone found this picture somewhere in a dusty old box full of spiders and gum wrappers and posted it on Facebook where four million people were able to view it. Sometimes you can't control who sees what online, and let this be a cautionary tale to you all. Someday you youngin's will probably experience someone posting your twenty year old wedding invitation photo online, and I promise you won't think of yourself as hot or attractive as you did when you took that picture.

          Actually, I didn't think this was a good picture of me even then. But Lisa and I had to take a photo for our wedding invites and this was the best one we got. You have to remember that there was a time, in the early 90's, where wedding invitations didn't look like pottery barn catalogues and you didn't really get to include twelve pictures of you and your fiancee laughing and walking down an aisle of fruit trees. You put on your church clothes, went to a "portrait studio," and smiled into a bunch of lights.

          Lisa made the appointment for this photo, and to this day she regrets making the appointment at 7:30 in the morning (I swear.) For some reason I showed up late, and had been awake for about 30 minutes. I had not showered. I did a really half-hearted shave and did what I could with the wispy feathers I had for hair. For some other reason, I had a split lip. Maybe I was in some kind of grungy college fistfight? I don't remember. But I had a split lip, and there was no hiding it. This was a time before photoshop, before you could take "cute" wedding photos of you and your lover running from dinosaurs.

          Speaking of hiding things, at this epoch in my life I was wearing braces. From an orthodontic standpoint I was truly a late bloomer. But at that time we were given an option of something called "clear braces" which meant that your braces would be invisible and nobody would see them! I opted in. Too bad that they weren't clear at all and basically just made your teeth look yellow. These braces fooled nobody, so you learned to talk through a small wedge of mouth. You hid the braces nicely that way, although your articulators had to work overtime if you wanted to sing in the singles ward choir! It was hard, you guys. When it came time to smile for this photo, I did what I could to hide my candy corn teeth, retaining the tightest and most strained grimace in all the land.

          I still don't think this picture is that bad, though. Even though we look 12. It would have probably turned out better if I had been awake and tried a little harder. Our friend Jjana claimed that this was a terrible picture even back then, and accused Lisa of looking like a relief society president. I think she looks pretty. Her hair is super coiffed and she has dark lips and eyebrows, just like Lea Thompson in Caroline in the City. But is it weird to say that, now in our forties, we both look way better? Or is the mind just playing tricks? Will I someday look at pictures from 2014 and be embarrassed at how I look now? Or remember what it was like to be bald? In the future they will cure baldness, by the way.


          Monday, January 13, 2014

          Dr. Schulze, I Presume...

          Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Richard Schulze, a botanical pharmacist who approaches healing and overall well-being with herbs. This is a man who believes in natural remedies. A man who snubs western medicine. A man who inadvertently promotes himself in the most obnoxious of ways.

          Truth be known, I’m fine with his natural healing mode of thinking. I don’t take a great deal of medication or chemicals for my health. I don’t get the flu shot, I don’t take antibiotics for non-infections, and I don’t chew aspirin when I’m out of gum. But I’m no Dr. Schulze. I think if I ever met this man, I would slap him senseless, with herbs falling out of every one of his orifices as I slapped him.

          See, his theories on health issues are fine, but he offends me in two ways. The first is his advertising. Any piece of promotional material you receive from Dr. Schulze, be it a brochure, his website, or I imagine even a text message, is written in about 18 different fonts, giving the impression that he is YELLING AT YOUemphasizing every … single … written … word, or pretending that every other sentence is the key sentence to his theory. This has lead me to believe his personality is very loud and that he believes there is not a whole lot that he doesn’t already know about almost everything.

          You may feel that I am unfairly labeling Dr. Schulze, and you may have a point. But the second (and greater) offense is not only a more serious accusation, but I have proof to back me up. Ladies and gentleman, I give you…horrible tasting herbs.

          So, I’m thumbing through a catalogue by Dr. Schulze, and despite his YELLING AT ME IN PRINT, or maybe because of it, I decide to take a serious look at a product he calls SuperFood. SuperFood is made up of every vitamin, mineral, and super power a growing man needs. Why, with SuperFood, I was convinced I could take one pill a day, without changing my usual diet of doughnuts, Almond M&Ms, and cheeseburgers…and be the absolute picture of health. No need to be bogged down with fruits, vegetables, or produce of any kind. Got ‘em all packed into this magnificent little SuperFood pill. I can just dedicate those calories to more delicious intake.

          So I called to order SuperFood. And when I called, I got completely suckered into ordering SuperFood in bulk. So a few minutes later, I am into SuperFood just over $100.

          “Well,” I tell myself, “isn’t your health worth $100?” And I console myself by imagining the things I’ll be able to do with my newfound strength and vitality that will come from something so wonderful that it says right in the product how super it is.

          And then SuperFood arrives. And surprise! It’s not in a pill. It comes in raw powder / grain / grass / stuff. You scoop it into a beverage of your choice, and chug it. I’m already not as thrilled. This looks like a lot more work. I scooped some into some orange juice, mixed it around, looked at it (my first mistake) and threw it down my throat (my second mistake).

          Imagine a meadow, somewhere. It’s rained for days, and that meadow is now a swamp. Now visualize, if you will, a heard of buffalo. They have rolled and stepped all over the meadowy, swampy area, infesting it with years of filth that has been in their hair. And now picture one of these buffalo eating some of the filthy, swampy grass, chewing it for hours, digesting it for days, and then dumping it where it sleeps. Now envision Dr. Schulze stumbling upon this heap, combing it with one-part dirt and two-part dried-out sin, and bottling it as SuperFood. I just bought $100 of that stuff.

          And I assure you – I am going to take every last grain of it. I paid for it, and I am too stubborn to just throw good money away. EVEN IF IT MEANS I AM JUST CRAZY ENOUGH to consume the nastiest tasting stuff I’ve ever held in my possession.

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