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

video

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. 


          video

          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.

          Friday, January 10, 2014

          Out with the old, in with the new

          Today is my last day at my current job.

          This is a good thing. I didn't get fired. I actually was led to an opportunity by my friend Carina and it worked out. I'm very excited.

          Out with the old in with the new, as they say. There is something really cool about starting a new job right at the beginning of the new year. Maybe it's that you have a full year to get results. Maybe it's that everything else is starting new so why shouldn't you. Maybe it's that it's hard to keep my health resolutions so it's nice to know this is one new thing that that'll stick.

          I had my exit interview yesterday. The HR rep asked me if I had feedback for the company. I didn't. I mean, I do. Like, at the Xmas party, don't give the same people who just won a huge TV the chance to pick a pocket on the execs with $200-1000 in cash. Maybe call new names for those? Or something. Nit-picky. I didn't bring it up. Water_bridge. I told the interviewer that I thought things had really progressed in a lot of good ways since I'd started. Better processes, good people, great company growth. I told her I learned a lot. I really did learn a lot. I mentioned that I really only had issues with a few people. She wasn't interested in what those were. We talked, I signed a paper saying everyone was leaving on good terms. Today I have lunch with my coworkers, turn in my gun (read: laptop) and badge, and I'm off to start my new adventure. Out of everything, I'll miss the people the most. Now I'm walking around saying, "This is the last time I'll see this conference room" and "This is the last time I'll ever edit this spreadsheet." It's fun. And bittersweet.

          I'm really excited about my new job. I'm excited about the people I'll be working with and about the potential the company has to grow into something special.

          Also, in my church, I got asked to move from teaching the 9 year-olds to teaching the 14 year-olds.

          Also, we got rid of our Jeep Compass and got a new used car. It's like a trend! New job, new car, new church service calling, new haircut, new clothes. It's like Christmas but with less Amazon and Toys-R-Us.

          I hope this all trying new things rubs off on me. I could stand to make some other changes. They say it's never too late to get the life you dream of. I'm looking at you 2014.

          “We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” ― Joseph Campbell

          What are you doing that's new in 2014?

          Thursday, January 9, 2014

          I hate you, Snow.


          I hate snow. There, I've said it. Yes, it's pretty. And if I have nowhere to go and nothing to do (which describes my life on 0% of days) then fine. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. But since I have a life and a job and children and responsibilities then the arrival of snow means going out in the snow, which means cold and mess and slippery and slow and annoying. I drive a Prius, because I'm a Socialist Liberal Commie (and cheap) and it handles about as well in the snow as if someone gave me a sailboat and stuck it on I-15 for me to drive to work. So I feel like I am literally taking my life into my own hands every time I head to work. 

          And I don't like that as soon as it snows I'm supposed to drop everything and run and go shovel my walk. And them shovel it again 4 hours later because it is STILL SNOWING!! Yesterday I refused to shovel, because I'm lazy, and so now I'm the trashy neighbor with the unshoveled driveway. And worse still my lovely neighbor actually shoveled my sidewalk for me and so now I'm the trashy and guilty-feeling neighbor. 

          "Why don't you move to somewhere where there isn't snow," you say. Believe me, I've tried. I lived in Pasadena and Portland but Utah kept sucking me back in. In Portland when it snows, which it did one winter when we were there EVERYTHING in the city shuts down and all the news channels go to 24 hour coverage of the snow. No school, no grocery stores, no shopping. Nothing but sitting at home eating organic hemp seed bars, knitting beanies from local yak wool and praying for death. 

          If you live in a snowy place, my prayers are with you. May you be blessed with no obligations and no reason to leave the house. And if you do have to leave the house, would you mind running a snow shovel over my driveway? I still haven't touched it. 

          Tuesday, January 7, 2014

          Chris Clark is not Black.

          Oh My Gosh You Guys.

          I was so Flah-ipping sick last week I could have died.  I mean, at the time I thought I was going to and then, somehow, right at the end (yesterday) I pulled it out.  I mean, it would have for sure killed you, but I'm real salubrious.

          Anyway, last week everyone got to pick their favorite post from one of their fellow PTA'ers and I missed it, cause it was Christmas Eve and then I was gonna get super sick.

          Ladies and Gentlemen...and by that I mean Mom and my brother Chris...let me introduce you to Topher Clark who posts on Wednesday's.





          Oh, hang on, I don't think that's him...though it could be...he's an actor sometimes.




          There we go!!

          So Chris was born in...hold up...that's not him. If that were him he'd never wear a hat...or a shirt




          There she is!!!  Now Chris was once known as "Motown Great White Hope" But that was back in '67...She was born February 1, 1946 in Santa Cruz, California, Christine Elizabeth Clark commenced her musical career early in life. “I think I sang from the time I was knee-high,” she says. “When I was in junior high school, I was working with eighth grade bands, and when I was in seventh grade, I was working with high school bands. It kind of escalated from there. But I was singing what the rest of the little white girls sang. And the problem was, when I tried to do folk, I just had a minor resonance. And I never really listened to black music. It was really odd. It was just something, I guess in my makeup. And by the time I was 15, I was working nightclubs.

          WHAHHHH?!!!

          That's not him.

          Hang on.




          Ahhh, there she is!

          So here's the thing about Wednesdays on PTA. I mean, let's just calls it like it is.  Chris kills it on this blog.  I mean, people DIE over anything Chris writes, but for two reasons: It's funny. It's good.  No other reasons. Funny. Good.  He has such a natural voice that I plagiarize freely and he makes you feel like your getting the goods from someone whose got the goods.

          For example:  The 2014 Oscars are coming up soon...but you need to get prepared so you should read last years ramp up:



          Go a head, click the link it will pop up in another window so I'll save your place here.


          *******************


          I do love his movie reviews, his horoscopes and his movie reviews.  Here's a fantastic one he wrote for Les Mis

          Chris' Les Mis Review

          I mean, people killed puppies over that post...I did.


          I am so lucky to, week after week, put my voice up with Chris and tell you all something about something...luckily, I go before him...I'd HATE to be Josh...blugh, can you imagine?!


          So join us Wednesdays for Chris Clark, if not Motown's then PTA's Great White Hope!!

          Monday, January 6, 2014

          Thankyou. Thankyouverymuch.


          Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Or is even the phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” enough to make you feel discouraged? I’ve made my fair share. I am going to publicly share one of mine for 2014. Ready? Here it is:

          Write more Thank You notes.

          I’m not particularly bad at this; I just want to be better. Being a words of affirmation guy myself, I enjoy doling gracious words out to people I love - family, friends, or neighbors - who have selflessly done something for me or my family. (A thank you note seems like the very least I could do for somebody who invites our family of 10 over for dinner. I mean, really. Who does that? Only the saintliest of folks.) But I want to be more conscious of doing it. Even devoting just a few minutes to it changes my perspective and broadens my view of how good I have it - to be surrounded by people who are generous with their time, consideration, cupboards, talents, finances, or words. I want to be more dedicated to looking at the gifts in my life and expressing thanks that they are there.

          I found a few examples online of Thank You Notes that made me smile.

          Here’s one from Conan O’Brien, which I found to be a wonderful combination of kind and funny.


          Transcript:

          Dear Nikki -

          Thanks for your very flattering offer. It's great to know I have such a devoted fan out there, and I'm sure you would make a great prom date (I didn't go to mine - it's a very sad story).

          Unfortunately, I got married recently and my wife doesn't allow me to go to proms anymore with cute 16 year old girls. Still, it was very cool of you to ask me. Thanks and have a great evening.

          Your Friend,

          Conan


          Look at this one from President Obama. How cool that he was reading with his daughter. And how cool that the took a moment to convey his gratitude and appreciation for the work. The author personally noted, "What amazes me is the gratuity of it. As you would know, there is a large measure of calculation in what public figures do. But here, what does he gain? I’m not a US citizen. In no way can I be of help to President Obama. Clearly he did it for personal reasons, as a reader and as a father. And in two lines, what an insightful analysis of Life of Pi. Bless him, bless him."


          Mr. Martel —

          My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals.

          It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.
          Thank you.
          Barack Obama


          This one from President Reagan actually pulled on my heart strings a bit. It’s to a broader audience - the American public. Personally, I felt his genuine gratitude for the opportunity to be of service. I think what got me though was the image of a man on the threshold of decent. Still with all his faculties, but completely aware that his health - physical and mental - are fading and will soon evanesce. And the effect of that on his loved ones. And yet he is still gracious and wanting to offer thanks. I really liked that.



          My fellow Americans,

          I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.

          Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.

          In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing. They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.

          So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clear understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.

          At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life's journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.

          Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.

          In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.

          I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

          Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.
          Sincerely,
          Ronald Reagan



          Friday, January 3, 2014

          Best Tech and Apps of 2013

          It's time for our favorite/best tech/apps/sites/stuff of 2013!

          This year I made it a point to steer away from games on my devices. Nowadays I only keep one game on my iPhone. This is because I get addicted to games really easy. The one game? Ridiculous Fishing. It is fun and cute and frustrating and addicting. It's also the Game of the Year in the App Store for 2013.

          Other apps I love are:

          Duolingo - See Patrick's section.
          Lumosity - Games that are proven to increase your memory and focus.
          Audible - Part of the reason I was able to read more books this year is that I listen to them on my commute. I think that this has made me a happier and more well-rounded person.
          Spotify - I don't use this app too much in my car anymore since I listen to books 90% of the time, but I do listen to it using the app on my laptop at work. Music is a huge part of my life and this gives me access to almost anything I can think of to listen to as well as helping me find new bands/artists to enjoy.

          The best piece of tech I got this year was the Bose Solo sound system. We had been getting by with our TV's native volume controls which, when you watch a movie on DVD or BluRay, meant turning up the TV to its max. For some reason that is 63. Now, we have great sound for our movies and we don't have to have the closed captioning on anymore. And the sound quality is just perfect.

          Chris:

          Well, I don't know much about technology or science books or the french I took, but I know that I love the apps on my phone. Here are my favorites!

          Akinator: It's an amazing genie that can guess any person you can think of! My kids love it, and I secretly play it when I'm bored.

          Buzzfeed: 2013 was the year I stopped reading my facebook news feed. So many things irritated me about it. But now what was I supposed to read to kill time? Thank you, Buzzfeed. You saved me. I love humanity again.

          Fandango: I buy movie tickets and do everything by my phone! It's space age! You guys have probably been doing this for years.

          Flixster: Speaking of movies, I'm a snob. I won't go see anything with bad reviews. And I actually trust rotten tomatoes. So it's all here: movie descriptions, reviews, upcoming and show times.

          Life Reminders: It literally runs my life. It's a boring little app, but man - it's changed me.

          Runpee: So I know when the boring parts in movies happen and I can take a leak.

          UDOT Traffic: It's all the 411 on I15. I know about accidents and stuff before I get on the freeway. And can thus plan accordingly.

          Patrick:

          Right now I'm real into Duolingo:




          So I love to play word games on my phone on my break on my job. This app is a bunch of games, but it's teaching me French. So I have to translate what my phone is saying or I have to type it out in French. It feels like I'm playing a memory game or a spelling game but in the end I'll be buying and selling stocks on the champs de elysees!

          I'm playing Letterpress but not with you.

          In 2014 I am going to get super skinny, so I am on the look out for a great weight loss app...but not one that tracks how bad I'm doing, rather I would like an app where I stick my phone to my "Trouble Areas" and it sucks the fat strait into my phone...it would be nice if it then sent my fat to my enemies as a voice mail.

          Ken:

          I'm pretty confident in saying that I am the least technologically savvy person in the group. For most things technology, I text Josh with all my questions. (I DO know how to text. And I don't do it while I'm driving, so save the hate for somebody else.)

          2013 was the year of the podcast for me. The year I started listening to stories or conversations on my commute. I generally listen to NPR's This American Life and Pop Culture Happy Hour. ALSO, for movies, I listen to my entertaining friend Eric D. Snider and his Movie B.S. podcast (with his friend Jeff Bayer). (Get it? B=Bayer and S=Snider. That's the kind of genius you come to expect with Movie B.S.)

          Apps: I am still a bit of a novice with phone apps. But I do love the Flixster. It provides the Rotten Tomatoes %s and tells me movie times and even has previews! Sometimes, for funsies, I like to look up my favorite movies from my youth and see what the Rotten Tomatoes %s are. (Really, Splash? 92%?! Impressive, Tom Hanks. Apparently even more impressive than your Forrest Gump's Academy Award winning 71%. But not as good as Toy Story's 100%.)

          And the thing that makes me feel like I AM tech-savvy? My Apple TV. I've had it for several years now, but I still love it. I can stream Netflix through it as well as digitizing all my movies and putting my DVDs in storage so it's at least more difficult for my kids to scratch and destroy them.

          What were your favorite apps or pieces of tech this year?

          Thursday, January 2, 2014

          Best TV of 2013

          I am tasked with writing the TV profile, because I am the most avid TV watcher of the PTA. But TV has been really, really different for me this year. I officially cut the cord and do all my TV watching now on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes. And part of that was motivated by the fact that I am less and less impressed by what Network TV has to offer. There are a few shows that I am excited to see what happens next (Parenthood, Scandal, Nashville) but not as many as there once was.

          So, my top show of 2013 was Broadchurch

          Even googling images from this show made me emotional

          Broadchurch was on the BBC earlier in the year and now can be had on iTunes for about $20. In British fashion it is only 8 episodes long and tells the story of a small, English, seaside town where a young boy is found murdered on the beach. It's about the investigation that follows, and because the town is so small, it's also about the impact that that investigation has on everyone in town. It's one of those places where literally everyone knows everyone else. The finale was like a gut punch and I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks.

          Other shows I loved this year: Breaking Bad: A satisfying finish to the series that was a modern day Shakespearian tragedy. The Returned: I blogged about this before. It's French, it's terrifying and it's awesome. Orange is the New Black: so smart and funny and original and SO rated R. So do not watch this show and then send me angry emails. Scandal: I was late to this bandwagon, but devoured the first three seasons in about a week. So campy and insane and fun to watch.


          Ken's picks

          Thanks to the miracle of Netflix and a lackluster TV line up this fall, I'm watching very few current TV programs, but enjoying a few series of yester-year (Cheers, West Wing). 

          My loyalties are still with Parks & Rec, though I am upset with the way NBC is treating this gem of a show. It is consistently funny and entertaining. 


          I also occasionally tune in to The Goldbergs because A) If Wendi McClendon-Covey, who plays Becky Goldberg, ever died, my dear friend Lisa Valentine Clark could step right in and America would never miss a beat. They wouldn't even know. And B) I always enjoy a throwback to the 80s. That being said, this show drives me absolutely out of my mind with its inconsistencies. Hey Goldbergs, the 1980s did not happen IN ONE YEAR! When the son references this new Rubik's Cube (1980) while he's dressed as a Ghostbuster (1984) and watching Alf in the afternoon with his brother (never happened), I scream to myself, "Is ANYONE working on this show even TRYING?!" 1987 was NOT the same year as 1981. I assure you. I was there. I tried wearing Parachute Pants in 1987. It did not go well. 


          Topher's picks:



          I watched a lot of TV this year by my own standards, but I'm a loser within the PTA ranks. My TV selections are admittedly strange and I can't really help it. I like what I like. So here's what brought me to the boob tube in 2013:

          Game of Thrones. Lisa and I started with seasons one and two this year, and holy crap. Holy, holy crap. I'm addicted. Even though I have to look up every episode online after I watch it to make sure I understood it. Yes, even though that. The acting, writing, and art direction are mind blowing. You can skip all the sexy parts, it's ok. 

          My other favorites:

          Parks and Recreation
          Mad Men
          Nashville (I still watch it!)
          The Americans
          Bates Motel
          Orange is the New Black

          Patrick's picks:

          Why is Hatty in this picture? She hasn't been on the show for like 20 years. 

          Parenthood...it's Parenthood. I died. I watched all the back seasons on Netflix (only 3...maybe 4) then hopped over to Hulu for the current season (Kristina as the Mayor, bleh, but real into Ray Romano...I KNOW?!)  

          My wife would say Scandal.  She tore through them so fast I couldn't keep up, so then I refused to watch them and now I'm in the dark.

          Still loving The Mindy Project and New Girl.

          Sad about: Happy Endings...though it's nice to see it's actors farmed out to The Mindy Project and New Girl.

          Stopped watching Nashville, but I feel bad about it.

          Dove in to: Orange is the New Black but I can NOT tell you to watch it, it's super filthy and your kids will walk in at just the wrong spot and you'll blame Part Time Authors...so please don't watch this amazing show whose next season comes out early next year...which is in a week.

          Did not want to watch but then it hooked me:  House of Cards.  When I heard that Kevin Spacey was going to talk to me in my living room about his schemes in Washington DC I was reminded of the first season of Sex in the City where, if you watch it now you're all like, "Oh, Carrie, don't do that....you're better then this, just live your life and act like I'm not here."  But when Kevin Spacey does it...I die over it!  It's like I'm part of his team...no, gang...yeah, I am getting the inside scoop and it's just me and him and Robbin Wright taking over America!!! 

          Brett:

          It's hard for me to pick a favorite show this year. But I think, for its penetration into all of pop culture, its near panic-attack-inducing pace and story, its ability to create conversation like nothing else, my favorite drama is Breaking Bad. My favorite comedy is The Wrong Mans, a little British export on HuluPlus. This show is funny, sweet, action packed, and has a cliffhanger almost every episode. It's about two guys who work in an office and accidentally get thrown into a murder, mob, spy, robber thing and bumble their way through it. Please check it out so we can talk about it?


          Here's my top 10 list of dramas and comedies with an honorable mention thrown in for good measure:



          Dramas Comedies
          1. Breaking Bad
          2. Justified
          3. The Americans
          4. Top of the Lake
          5. Luther
          6. Orphan Black
          7. Broadchurch
          8. House of Cards
          9. In the Flesh
          10. Elementary

          Honorable Mention: Sleepy Hollow
          1. The Wrong Mans
          2. Parks and Recreation
          3. New Girl
          4. Brooklyn 99
          5. Mindy Project
          6. Bob’s Burgers
          7. Moone Boy
          8. South Park
          9. Happy Endings
          10. Regular Show

          Honorable Mention: Modern Family  

          Wednesday, January 1, 2014

          2013: PTA's year in movies!

          Topher:

          Hey all! Time for the 2013 PTA movie round up! I thought it was a pretty good year for movies.  Anyway, it was better than last year. Here are my top 10 movies of the year!




          1. Gravity. This was one of the most stunning and perfectly crafted movies ever made. I don't know that I've ever had this immersive of an experience in a movie theatre. I felt like I was in space. I wanted to throw up. It was amazing. I genuinely think this movie is a masterpiece.

          rounding out my top ten...

          2. Before Midnight: the best written and acted movie in years.
          3. American Hustle: style and substance.
          4. Nebraska: Bleak, funny, touching.
          5. Blue Jasmine: Cate Blanchett is astonishing.
          6. Saving Mr. Banks: Made me cry.
          7. The Heat: Super funny on a day that I needed it.
          8. The Bling Ring: Really overlooked - but an amazing commentary on our times.
          9. The Saratov Approach: A solidly crafted film by some great and talented friends.
          10. Blancanieves: Rent this right now! The Spanish Snow White.


          Ken:

          I love when going to the movies feels like an EVENT! I know you know what I mean. When you've
          walked out of the movie theater and your perception of movies is heightened, you notice your senses have been to a party, etc. I remember feeling that when I was 6 years old and went with my family to see Star Wars. I remember that in the original Superman. In Raiders of the Lost Ark. In Jurassic Park. And this year, in Gravity. I saw it in 3D, and then in 2D. And I am not a big proponent of 3D…but man….in 3D, it was an EVENT. 

          Like the rest of the world, I also was captivated by Captain Phillips - especially Tom Hanks' performance in the last few minutes of the film. Admittedly, there are a number of films I have not seen yet. But I will be controversial and state for the record that while I loved the sister-theme and songs in Frozen, I am still more partial to Tangled. Throw things at me if you must. 


          Josh:

          I'm sure that for my best movie of the year I should be picking something deep and thinky like Inside Llewlyn: Osage County or something directed by someone famous that is really long and dramatic and has lots of swearing and is probably set in the 70s or 80s with crazy costumes. But I am just too, too tired to see movies like that. I want my movies to be short, entertaining, and preferably TV shows. So for my money, the best movie of the year was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I think the movie did a good job of not just dissolving to an action fest, but exploring, on a Hunger Games appropriate level the idea of revolution and change. And I thought it was fun to see how many ways the movie tried to pretend that Josh Hutcherson isn't 4'9" and could LITERALLY ride on my shoulders all day without tiring me out. 

          Just so you don't think I am a total pop-corn movie junkie, I also loved The Spectacular Now which I don't think anyone else on earth saw. It's about a boy and girl, approaching the end of high school and the boys refusal to grow up and face adulthood. It's charming and entertaining and has some great, believable performances. And it has Kyle Chandler as a dead beat, which is always fun to see. 

          Also on the list: Frozen, The Conjuring and Gravity. Thus concludes the list of every movie I saw this year. 

          Patrick:

          Admittedly, I'm the dad of two kids under four.  So it's gotta go to Frozen.  But my reasoning is shallow and selfish: One, there is some mean singing in this show...B'way Style...


          I love Belle from B&tB, but Idina would eat her for breakfast. 

          Also, I love Kristen Bell, but only really because of Ronnie Mars...but I thought she was real good and had to sing next to Idina Menzel and so she did.

          I did see 12 Years a Slave...it was heart breaking and too much for me to take ever again...but you should see it.  It's real and painful, a true story and one we should remember.  The movie is hard to watch for all the reasons you think it will be, but the amount of time spent beautifully dragging out things that were dragged out in real life is so powerful and effective.

          One more thing:  The best thing on Netfix right now is: Black Fish.  
          I don't know what happened but this Documentary about the Killer Whale that killed that trainer at SeaWorld...and ultimately it's about SeaWorld its self rocked me to my core. It made me question how I treat my dog.  It's only an hour and 20 mins and everyone should watch it...though it would put SeaWorld out of business..but it would create a booming whale watching business where we all take our kids to see these incredible (smarter then human...they have an extra part in their brain) animals in their natural habitat.    

          Brett:

          If I go off of pure event film experiences, I'm with Ken. It's got to be Gravity. I saw it in IMAX 3D and it completely engrossed me.

          But overall, I think I still have to go with A Place Beyond the Pines for the top honor. It's different than anything I've seen because of the way the stories are told. The soundtrack was hauntingly juxtaposing. Great performances from Gosling and Cooper. The story really hit me where my longing for past youth and freedom intersects with the honor and pride of fatherhood.

          Another one of my favorites was World War ZMy favorite action movie of the year so far. And that's what it is. Don't be fooled. It's a political action thriller. Not a zombie movie. It launches you right in with one of the most gripping first 20 minutes ever and then takes you on an exploratory journey of moral, political, domestic, and ethical considerations. If you've read the book, it's not the book. But it still does the flavor of the book justice.

          Honorable mentions: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, The World's End, The Conjuring, The Heat, Anchorman 2, The Saratov Approach, Byzantium, and Frances Ha.

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