27 December 2006

end of series

after my adrenaline level returned to normal i was able to respond.
As your instructor, it's my responsibility to make clear to you why the reflection was unacceptable, and what you can do to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. I responded only to what you gave me in regards to this assignment: your attendance of the film and your written reflection of the film, both of which were dismissive and not at the college level.

It is difficult to interpret statements like these:

All that I learned from the movie was that the black people were forced to live in government built housing called the Meadowlands. Other than that, I couldn't find any other reasons that the black people disliked the white people.

I have no idea what it had to do about art other than the singing in that movie. Music is art and that was the only artsy thing I found in it. Maybe the end of the movie would have answered all my questions but it was lasting forever with no signs of ending and I had to go to study group.

I'm not trying to be your life mentor but I won't let work like this go by without responding to it - it's part of the teaching/learning process regardless of subject matter. Anything you read as personal was unintended.
and that was it. i haven't heard anything back and the student didn't show up for the final (consequently failing the class). as a teacher i knew that i'd have to deal with situations like these but you know, i'm never quite prepared for them and they're always more frustrating than i imagine.

22 December 2006

so then...

i wasn't sure what would happen next. i hoped that my student would be compelled to take responsibility, maybe even come talk to me in person. after two days passed (and the student didn't show up to class) i wondered if i'd hear anything at all. i was beginning to think that the student really didn't care... about anything. but on day three i got this:
you dont have to accept it [the assignment] if you dont want to. the reflection i wrote was entirely about the movie and had absolutely nothing to do with my actual feelings on the subject. i dont know anything about aparthied, only what i saw on the movie. i was only stating that i wish the movie would have done a better job of explaining what was going on. it felt to me like it would have been a good movie for someone to watch that already had knowlege of what the situation was like in south africa. if you think my feelings about the movie are the same as my feelings about racism and how the black people are treated poorly over there, you are very wrong.

i didnt appreciate these lines: I suggest taking a few minutes to research apartheid and get informed before making such BROAD GENERALIZATIONS AND SWEEPING JUDGEMENTS. You are now an adult which means that your ignorance is no longer an asset, it's your problem and responsibility, as is your grade in this class.

You dont know anything about me, so you are not entitled to act as a mentor for me in life. there are many things i dont like about the way you teach your class and i dont lecture you on it. so let's just stick to teaching and learning art. if you dont like my paper, fine. dont accept it. i dont care how you feel about it because your opinion has become meaningless to me.
okay... um... yeah.

12 December 2006

champions of the 'ordinary people'

* * * names have been withheld to protect the ignorant * * *

in an effort to get my students out into the world of art and culture i give an assignment at the first of the semester that requires them to attend an 'art activity' in the community. believe it or not, Ephraim has a lot going on in this department relative to its size: opening receptions at the Central Utah Art Center and Snow Art Gallery, visiting artists, and this semester i started an art and foreign film night on Wednesdays. after attending the activity students need to write up "a brief, thoughtful reflection" of their experience (as it is stated in the assignment description). nothing complicated - i just want to see what they think of trying something new.

two weeks ago at film night we featured Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, a documentary on the musical protest of apartheid in South Africa - i highly recommend it.

one of my students came to the film, left half way through, then emailed me this to fulfill the assignment:
For my art activity I watched Amandla! on film night. I think it was made to show how the power of song was used to communicate, motivate, unite, and create a change against South Africa’s apartheid. I didn’t really enjoy the film. All that I learned from the movie was that the black people were forced to live in government built housing called the Meadowlands. Other than that, I couldn’t find any other reasons that the black people disliked the white people. I knew that in South Africa there were problems with racism. I learned that from a movie on the Disney Channel. I thought that it was cool that the black people rallied together and supported each other and it was cool how they expressed themselves through song. But I also thought some of the things they were singing about were creepy. I can’t remember anymore what the exact lyrics were but I do remember that they had something to do with inflicting violence upon the white people. I had a very hard time understanding what the people were saying a lot of the time. I wish that everything was captioned. The movie didn’t win me over and make me feel sorry for the black people of South Africa because they didn’t do a good enough job of teaching me what the black people were so mad about. I know that they were moved to the Meadowlands and that doesn’t sound very fair. Was that the only reason they marched down the streets with signs and why they gathered together as soldiers singing songs about overthrowing the white man? I would have liked to have learned more about what the white people did and I wanted to hear the white folks side of the story. I have no idea what it had to do about art other than the singing in that movie. Music is art and that was the only artsy thing I found in it. Maybe the end of the movie would have answered all my questions but it was lasting forever with no signs of ending and I had to go to study group.
yeah. needless to say i was shocked and very disappointed that a student would turn something like this in - especially after walking out half way through the film. the worst part though, is that it's fairly well-written by Snow's standards (i know this is sad and it's a subject for an entirely different post) but most papers i get from students have grammar, spelling and punctuation errors galore. not this one. this student is smart and yet for some reason s/he choose to take an anti-intellectual approach. why? -- This is where i would go off on how American culture, corporations, our president, etc. reinforce this notion of anti-intellectualism but i don't feel like it right now.-- instead, this is what i wrote back to the student:
I would like you to explain to me why I should accept this assignment considering that you left half-way through the movie (the reason why you left is of no importance to me - you had the entire semester to do this assignment and if study group came up, it is still your responsiblity to complete the assignment).

Also, the reflection that you wrote illustrated only that you had a bad attitude about the film and didn't care to understand. If you are still confused about why black South Africans were against the oppressive (white) government, I suggest taking a few minutes to research apartheid and get informed before making such broad generalizations and sweeping judgements. You are now an adult which means that your ignorance is no longer an asset, it's your problem and responsibility, as is your grade in this class.
the next question was, 'will he respond?'

09 December 2006

site specific

i must admit i'm pretty excited. i recently designed a website for a photographer colleague of mine and it's up on the web now. of course the most important art is her photographs, but hopefully my my art does a good job of letting hers be on display.

06 December 2006

an army

and so it begins... along with paying the rent, the first of December brings the making of gingerbread men - and lots of 'em. i don't even remember where we found the recipe five years ago but after several seasons of adding a bit here, and taking a bit out there it's now perfected. that means a slightly chewy cookie with crispy edges and enough ginger to be worth its name without kicking you in the mouth.

i found out today that Asian cultures have long time believed that ginger "may have a cleansing effect, help digestion and encourage inner harmony." (see the back of a Nature's Path Optimum ZEN cereal box).

what more can i say? it's time...

Gingerbread Men


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup Crisco (butter flavored)
11/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup warm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons baker's cocoa
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, mix butter and Crisco together until combined. Cream in brown sugar and egg. Add vanilla, molasses and water and mix until smooth.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, cocoa, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Stir them into the wet mixture until all of the dry is absorbed.
3. Cover the dough and chill for 15 to 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out into shapes. Place cookies at least 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Use parchment paper if possible.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Makes an army.

28 November 2006

it's a marshmallow world

last night some time after seven the snow started sticking to the ground... this morning everything was covered. this is the first real snow of the season and so we must celebrate with hot chocolate and a version of It's A Marshmallow World by Los Straitjackets. when i was 15 or so my younger sister sang It's A Marshmallow World in her girls' chorus class. it's a pretty goofy song but i can't help but sing it when is snows and it looks like marshmallows.

it's a marshmallow world in the winter,
when the snow comes to cover the ground.
it's the time for play, it's a whipped cream day,
i wait for it the whole year round!

those are marshmallow clouds being friendly,
in the arms of the evergreen trees;
and the sun is red like a pumpkin head,
it's shining so your nose won't freeze!

the world is your snowball, see how it grows,
that's how it goes, whenever it snows.
the world is your snowball just for a song,
get out and roll it along!

it's a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts,
take a walk with your favorite girl*
it's a sugar date, so what if spring is late,
in winter it's a marshmallow world!

*the girls chorus said 'guy' so that's how i remember it

26 November 2006

holiday music reform

it's not like any of us really need to comment on the holiday music ambush that is taking place, but after the bombardment i sat through at a nice Italian restaurant yesterday i cannot help myself. i know it's customary to take to the stores the day after Thanksgiving in order to get the holiday deals and i know that holiday deals must be accompanied by holiday tunes. but why oh, why for the next four weeks does all other music have to be placed behind closed doors and swept under rugs? people don't replace all of their other non-holiday stuff with mistletoe and cinnamon scented candles. no one i know towels off after a shower with a tree skirt or replaces Lost with Mr. Kruger's Christmas. so why must we jam in yet another rendition of Let It Snow where a perfectly nice, equally as pleasing non-holiday song should go?

now don't get me wrong, i have almost seven and a half hours of holiday music on my computer... i'm no Scrooge. alls i'm saying is, for the same reason you're not pouring egg nog on your Cherrios every morning this month, let's mix in a few songs that are fine and good the rest of the year into our holiday audio experience. i bet there would be less fighting and more Christmas cheer if we did.

14 November 2006

full, adj. 1. completely filled

with Thanksgiving just around the corner i think we should take some time to reflect on the relative term 'full'. in the olden days full meant what we would now describe as satiated. these days full really means 'no more food please' or 'stuffed to the brim' or 'i'm in pain from eating too much'*... something along those lines.

waiter: 'so did you save room for dessert?'
you: 'oh, no thanks...' (bummed out shake of the head) 'i'm full!'

but even with our updated definition of full, Thanksgiving has a way of making the term even more slippery than ever before. first of all, almost everything at Thanksgiving dinner is delicious. i mean, heck! the holiday is all about eating dinner. secondly, you can always manage to eat more mashed potatoes. they are way too good. the 'full' light simply does not ding on. finally, Thanksgiving is as much about pie as it is about turkey and stuffing and when are you ever too full for pie? in fifth grade we would sing this song that went,'too full, too full for broccoli. but i still have room for some pie.' see, even kids songs understand this complex contradiction between gut and mind.

then why am i feeling a bit glum? well eating for two isn't what it seems. you get full (see second definition above) much quicker than normal and to add insult to injury - or maybe it's the other way around in this case - being full is really uncomfortable... more so than with a regular, non-inhabited belly. and it lasts.

so this year my Thanksgiving mindset will have to be different. i'm going to have to cut out the dishes that don't have a five-star rating. i'm going to have to use a small plate (so i can still go back for seconds). and i'm going to have to let full be full.

*my friend's dad once sprained his stomach from too much food. that's right, sprained... doctor's diagnosis.

08 November 2006

Boris is a girl!

the ultrasound tech said she was 85% sure it was a GIRL and apparently those are pretty good odds! so baby girl it is! needless to say we're thrilled and while we didn't ever have a definite feeling, we did have some pretty strong girl vibes. :) now the challenge will be to find at least a few baby girl clothes that aren't pink. ha!

03 November 2006

delightful drink

baby, it's cold outside. come on in and have something to warm you up... here is the recipe for one of my all-time favorite cold-season drinks (that i invented sometime back in the 90s):

  1. get your best mug.
  2. add a little less than the regular amount of instant hot chocolate to half a mug of hot water.
  3. stir in just a smidge of Pero (Postum works too but i think Pero is better).
  4. stir in enough milk to almost fill the mug.
  5. stir in a bit of egg nog.
  6. heat a few more seconds in the microwave if it's not warm enough.

mmmmmm... delightful.

p.s. my sister used to make fun of the original name of the drink (mocha) so i changed it to delightful drink. can't make fun of that one, eh Linds?

31 October 2006

Happy Halloween at 18 weeks

second year in a row winning best overall at the pumpkin carving contest & wassail party. i can't help but feel proud.

we'll let you know if it's a boy or a girl next week.

26 October 2006

elevated plastic

at 2:00 pm on September 27th the art faculty at Snow started our collaborative project called Twenty-Four Seven. we had 24 hours to start, work on and finish an original work (or works) then hang and light the show in time for an opening reception at 5:00 pm on the 28th. the show was then up for seven days.

i'm exploring plastics. see, these are the first paintings i've done in acrylic (the switch from oils was much more emotional than i thought) but i found i don't dislike acrylics as i thought i would. indeed they act differently and i was nervous having my first experience with them be a public one but it ended up a fortunate event.

24 October 2006

free monster poster on the back!

true, Christmas comes but once a year but please don't forget Halloween and Thanksgiving. i'm guessing that most businesses around here - including Wal*Mart - bought defective calendars (no October or November) from Wal*Mart. if they kept their receipt they should take it back and get a refund. as the saying goes... thirty days hath September and Halloween is October 31st. don't forget it!
p.s. i hope i didn't scare too many of you away with my interest in science (see post below). i must be some kind of jerk.

06 October 2006

down the rabbit hole

Wednesday night English & i had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Steven Jones (the BYU Physics professor who has recently published a paper questioning the 9/11 report) talk about demolitions and metal slag. i admit, after hearing Jones on Radio West i thought he might be a kook. but after meeting him in person, he's one of the normalest 'brothers' around. not to mention, the science he's talking about is very compeling.

if you're interested, there's a 90 minute video that presents this information. it takes a little while to load and some of it's kind of dramatic - to appeal to most tv viewers - but i think it's worth watching if you have the time. i don't know anything about motives or who would do it but there are some pretty compelling facts here; the towers coming down at freefall speeds, molten metal still pooling at ground zero for several weeks after the collapse, and WTC Building 7 coming down hours later for no reason.

no, i'm not nuts. no, i'm not jumping on the hysterics bandwagon. i'm completely serious and that's what's wierd.

26 September 2006

the cars crash - on purpose

remember that movie Down & Derby? neither do i. but earlier this month i did go to the first demolition derby ever in my life and it was the best seven bucks i've spent in a long time.

Manti, Utah is not known for its dining establishments or clothing stores but we have to ask ourselves, do those things really matter? what makes Manti the unique Central Utah town that it is, is the stuff it's citizens are made out of... for example: the Mormon Miracle Pageant, the True & Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, the Yardley Inn, and of course the Sanpete County Fair.

true, the rides and roosters probably don't differ too much from those at the Utah State Fair or even the California State Fair. but just you wait little buddy... that announcer from the local radio station is going to bring you right back to Sanpete county (oh, and the beautiful back drop doesn't hurt either).
pay close attention to the Deseret Book ads this Sunday - prints are on sale for a good price.

this semester i try once a week to convince my students that there's more to movies than romance and explosions when i encourage them to come to (art) film night at Snow. but the fact of the matter is, everyone loves a good car crash and the derby just affirmed this fact. chewing on a hot dog with ketchup and mustard i stood on the bleachers and cheered and ahwed with everyone else as the ultimate bumper cars played out in front of me. and with each bash i was secretly hoping for a car to catch fire.

25 September 2006

who's the jerk?

mean people from all over the country have been hounding me to update my blog. update. update. update.

now i could take this really hard, throw in the towel and wax philosophical about how blogs are nothing more than a substitute for real human interaction never to blog again...


i could start updating my blog on a regular basis.

it's not like i didn't have ideas or something to say. it's just... i don't know. i think sometimes you can get blogged out or water blogged or blogger logged and it's hard to jump back on the speeding freeway of blogging. i simply got comfortable taking the back roads.

all that said, blogs are like friends: if you ignore them they'll start sending you mean emails with textual crusties. and who wants that? not me. so here are some Red Vines along with my apology. let's be friends again, eh?
p.s. i got one of the big tubs so everyone could share.

28 August 2006

bird land

a while back there was a nest for rent in our porch roof. earlier this summer a lovely swallow couple moved in. they brought their own stuff (turkey feathers and horse hairs) to make the place nice. they did a great job with the place but i had to feel bad for them on those really hot days. it's hot up there.

little did we know the swallows had big plans for this one room apartment. they chose it as the place to start their family. a few weeks later, little peeps came and three wobbling heads poked out of the nest for food. the parents were very aware of us downstairs neighbors... going out to get the mail was sometimes a frightening event.

it wasn't long before the pile of bird poop directly under the nest began to grow like crazy and those little featherless guys started to open their eyes and stick their bums out over the edge of the nest to poop.

for the last few days they've been confident in their ability to stand up on the outer edge and stretch out their wings. i even witnessed a demonstration of seniority as one baby swallow nudged the other two against the beam so he could have more room. today two were brave enough to fly out (or maybe they just got sick of being pushed around). at any rate the last one in the nest was apprehensive to fly out. he'd get ready, get set... then nestle back in the nest. maybe tomorrow will be his day.

28 July 2006

teens, teens... please get in the van

during these summer months i develop a greater tolerance for dirt on everything and meat in everything (sometimes both at the same time). it's that crazy little thing called camp. over the last several weeks i've met 51 teens - boys and girls - during different sessions of the ranch. we've had a great time playing games like 'ready, set, EMO' and glow-in-the-dark frisbee, commiserating about middle school, hiking up Horseshoe Mountain, coming up with desert island scenarios, talking about whether it's better to kiss one person you really like or sixteen dorks, singing everything from Amazing Grace to Closing Time, swimming in the lake that, just yesterday, i found out is infested with swimmer's itch, discussing why we don't sing certain songs at any volume in the van full of people, making tie dye shirts, and so forth and so on.

chili dog Charles. . . . . . . .. . . . .dip the doc. . . . . . . . . . . . . van of teens

sometimes i feel like i'm going to implode from the number of senseless questions i'm asked on an hourly basis. other times i worry about the grip that pop culture has on these guys. but most of the time i feel like we're making a positive difference here. and that's why i keep coming back.

Zina sneaks a nap . . . . . . . . . . . . .yak pinata. . . . . . . . . a butt-load of muffins

29 June 2006

i'm all lost in the supermarket

there's an area near the supermarket check-out counters where all intelligence goes to pot. it's like the Bermuda Triangle for common sense and reason. even if you are not drawn into actually buying something off the shelves stocked with candy, magazines, tabloids, horiscopes, travel-size tissues, mini flashlights, Armoral wipes, giga pets, etc. you stare at the plethora of impulse buys with a sort of hypnotic interest. all of a sudden someone turns the volume down on everything and you find yourself thinking of times when a little can of Static Guard would be useful. or you can't take your eyes off the magazine featuring the most popular pregnant celebrities. who gives a rip if the older gentleman in front of you can't figure out which way to swipe his debit card? did you know you can get a bag of 100 straws for a dollar? the three-year-old twins screaming about gum in the cart behind you only draw your attention away for a moment, then it's back to a small plastic tub of gummi bears or the newest version of the Reeses peanut butter cup.

out of no where it's your turn to interact with the cashier. somehow all of your things have been placed on the conveyor belt and are now being scanned and bagged and pretty soon you're going to have to gather together enough brain power so you can figure out which way to swipe your own debit card. you reluctanly look away from the bold headline that reads, 'HUMAN MOTHER GIVES BIRTH TO ALLIGATOR BABY' and offer a shy 'hi there' to the cashier. like blood rushing to a limb that's fallen asleep, you slowly but surely become your regular self and the noise of the supermarket once again registers in your ears. the transaction is completed and soon you're off to the parking lot forgetting most, if not all of what was once your entire world...

and in the next visit to the supermarket you'll go through it again. almost every time.

24 June 2006

greasy burger

summer time is also burger time. here's how:
  1. buy lean ground beef
  2. make a personalized patty by hand with garlic salt & black pepper
  3. grill over hot charcoals, add and melt (sharp cheddar) cheese if desired
  4. serve on a substantial bun (no Western Family or Wonder) with
  5. ketchup, brown mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles
  6. and if you have them, sauted mushrooms
  7. and if you really want to make it a kicker, skip the sharp cheddar and add crumbled bleu cheese
and of course along side the burger serve watermelon, under-mayoed potato salad, salt & vinegar chips, and rootbeer. that's a good summer eve'nin'.

19 June 2006

Mormon Miracle Madness

it's mid June in Sanpete County and Pageant - as it is fondly called here - is in full swing. this year is special. it marks the 40th season of the pageant and attendance is expected to be up two percent compared to last year... this is big.

the Mormon Miracle Pageant involves nearly everyone in the county. sign up sheets for try-outs are passed around in April, hours of preparation are volunteered by folks of all ages, the Sanpete Messenger sends out a complimentary 'Pageant Issue' to every household with several full-color photographs, and this morning i heard our neighbors leave for Manti at quarter after six and they usually don't get home until well after eleven... this is huge.

the first time i saw the Manti Pageant was two summers ago and even though my bum was numb half way through the show, it was a spectacle to say the least. now, my honest opinion is this: the show itself is too long and quite awkward though it does have its moments of dramatic genius. i'd try to describe more of it for you but you really should see it for yourself - for the experience if nothing else. i have no desire to see it again and in a lot of ways it seems as silly and unnecessary as another reality show about the making of a boy band. but i must say that while the pageant is ridiculous, way over the top, and may even teach false doctrine (according to some of the Christian Fellowship websites i've visited) it brings this community together like nothing i've seen for a long time - i mean, we're talkin' hundreds of people here. i'd say that's a good thing. and for that i'm willing to let it dazzle itself - and its spectators - to death. lots of people say they like it. why argue? it's summer time. let's go get some ice cream or a snow cone or somethin'.

13 June 2006

insert thumb here

this summer i'm working at a service ranch for the fourth year in a row. when i tell people this, one of the first questions they ask me is if it's a camp for troubled youth. afterall, if it's not girls/scout camp it must be a reformation program for wayward kids who need the evil dried out of them (hence the eight-day desert hikes with nothing but a bottle of water and a fist full of peanuts). but on the contrary, the ranch i work for is neither boondoggled nor butt-kicking and if the kids are troubled, it's only in as much as all youth are troubled.

this ranch is located on eighty acres of juniper forest near the Wastach Plateau and most days it's pretty hot and dusty. that means my nose has to do more filtering and that means more boogers - the kind you can't ignore. now i was brought up by goodly parents who taught me to refrain from picking my nose in public. it's an ugly and offensive habit. but i've noticed that several people have found a way around this all-but-universal rule... and that is the thumb-pick. indeed, the thumb is the key!

for some wonderful reason picking one's nose with one's thumb, while it's not admirable, is permissible and therefore it happens quite often in public - even church. so now that i'm filtering all of this dust and making lots of tar-boogers in the midst of the campers and my fellow staff members, i find myself thumb-picking on a regular basis. i honestly don't know if this is okay or if i'm really embarrassing myself (and my mom if she could see me). i admit i feel a little sheepish sometimes when i thumb-pick but other times i don't even realize i'm doing it until i'm well under way.

i guess the most important thing to keep in mind is nosebleeds. even if it really is just an arid climate issue, people are still going to wonder if i was picking my nose.

05 June 2006

a public service announcement

summer is in full swing and that means it's time to get comfortable (nothing's worse than a sweaty back).


it is not okay to go driving in your car without a shirt on.
that goes for everyone.

thank you.

26 May 2006

some chores are better than others

this morning i took the garbage out without any problem or hesitation... but the pile of clothes on my bedroom floor is still there and it just keeps growing as the days go by.

things i do not like to do:
  1. fold up my clothes
  2. put my clothes away
  3. wash the dishes
  4. put the dishes away
  5. put most things away (i'd rather make piles all over the house)
  6. clean the hair out of my hair brush
  7. unpack after a trip (camping or otherwise)
  8. clean the bathroom floor
things i do without any objection:
  1. take out the garbage
  2. laundry: phase 1 (put clothes in the washer then drier)
  3. grocery shopping
  4. make the bed
  5. water the plants/yard/garden
  6. cook meals
  7. scrub the kitchen sink (it's porcelain)
things i do without any objection - but rarely do:
  1. vacuum
  2. sweep
  3. dust
  4. clean the bathroom (except for the floor)
  5. iron my clothes
once i read a magazine article with all these great ways to keep a clean house; crap like, 'set a timer for 20 minutes everyday and clean until the timer goes off'. what does that even mean? the only one that made sense was: plan parties and get togethers at your house... then you'll want to clean/straighten up. not a bad idea, but i can see one flaw: what if you aren't embarrassed to have people over to your unkempt house? then what?

23 May 2006

TGiF & T.G.I.F.

i know it's not Friday - it's Tuesday. but let's take a minute to remember not one, but two TGIFs. of course i am referring to ABC's hilarious block of sitcoms, TGiF and the restaurant with flair-to-the-max, T.G.I. Friday's*. the founders of fun.
*warning: the website plays a rockin', unsolicited song on the homepage - big surprise

first let's start with TGiF. who could compete with the incredible line up when TGiF was first invented? i mean, it was one kicker after another: Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, and Just the Ten Of Us. okay, okay. Just the Ten Of Us was kind of lame but hey, it was the first year of TGiF. Mr. Belvedere was soon replaced by Family Matters and it wasn't long before Full House was bumped out of the TGiF schedule to be shown during a more prime spot during the week. no major objections there. fortunately Going Places only lasted one season and Step-By-Step took it's place. the full two hours of comedy and life lessons continued.

it's Friday night,
and the mood it right.

come have some fun,

show you how it's done: T-G-I-F!

for a few years the catchy TGiF jungle meant fun and excitement... (air guitar) 'weekend!' (air guitar). but between the ages of 14 and 16 the jazzy number meant your friends didn't call and you were a loser. the bait-and-switch of TGiF.

as for T.G.I. Friday's, it was equally - if not more awesome when it was invented. i think it was one of the first restaurants to clutter the walls with crazy crap. they had license plates from like, 43 of the 50 states - and they were all rusty and stuff. plus, the waiters weren't stuffy jerks who were on-the-job. these people were your friends... pals... old chums! 'those chicken strips are pretty darn good, wouldn't ya say? the honey-mustard dippin' sauce it where it's at! can i gitcha another Dr. Pepper there? no prob!' a completely new kind of dining experience... with flair!

but pretty soon the waiters were nothing but obnoxious and the crazy crap plus the freaking loud music, not to mention the decline in flavor and texture of the chicken strips, added up to a lousy dining experience. what gives T.G.I. Friday's?

once the two TGIFs were like beacons in the darkness of a fifth-grade school week. now... well, why should we dwell on the way they are now? instead let's sing theme songs and dream of ordering the Loaded Potato Skins.

standin' tall on the wings of my dream.
rise and fall on the wings of my dream.

the rain and thunder, the wind and haze,

i'm bound for better days (ahhh-ahhh)

it's my life - it's my dream,
nothin's gonna stop me now...

16 May 2006

you be the judge

English and i have a 'difference of opinion' every four, five months or so over whether the set of Sony headphones that we now share were his or mine (for we both owned a pair prior to our eternal commitment). the 'discussion' never amounts to much but that fact that we keep having it makes me wonder how i can prove to him that they were in fact mine and it was i who contributed them to the marriage. after all, this is important information. now you may be thinking to yourself, 'how can she be so sure? how does she know one set of Sony headphones from the next?' those are great questions, and now i will answer them for you...

first of all, i have been using my set of Sony headphones on a regular basis for the past six years. i got them when i purchased a new Walkman so i could listen to my mix tapes while i painted (oil on panel mostly). now this is critical evidence: there is a small amount of white paint on the left ear piece and a bit more phthalo blue paint on the right ear piece. the same paint that appears on the Walkman itself (that i still own, by the way). hard evidence people - hard!

now for English's argument (from my point of view): 'but i had a set of these headphones too. don't you remember i used to listen to music in between classes and...'

'yes, yes, yes. and you'd wear them upside down so the band that's supposed to go over your head hung down by your chin like a helmet strap... i remember.'

'so i had a pair too.'

wow. that's some case you've got there. oh, and by the way, remember how you left the country for a couple of years and all of your stuff, including the headphones were available to anyone who could get into your house and stick a bent hanger in the doorknob to your room? yeah.

so why would he assume that i would have a harder time keeping track of my set of headphones, that i lost them some how, and that the ones that are sitting on the shelf are his? not that it matters or anything. we do share them. but i get first dibs - 'cause they're mine.

11 May 2006

frozen yogurt: taste it again, for the first time

as temperatures rise and summer comes into full swing all of us will have more opportunities to eat more ice cream. whether it's 2 for $5 pints of Haagen Dazs, a slightly melted ice cream sandwich at the neighborhood BBQ, or a scoop of some homemade, ice cream and summer go hand in hand.

but what about frozen yogurt?

sometime in the early 1990's the frozen yogurt craze swept the nation. people went nuts over the endless list of flavors that could be swirled together and topped with crushed oreos or gummi bears. but the best thing about frozen yogurt was that it was low fat! all of the guilt associated with consuming sweet, frozen treats was abolished. and as a result, it became a national past-time for a generally overweight population. it also became the 'comfort food' for several individuals who weren't fitting into their jeans from the previous year. (i'm not making an assumption here - i worked at the Golden Swirl in Fashion Place Mall).

however, what most people failed to realize was that frozen yogurt, though void of fat, was loaded with calories and therefore did nothing to help you stay/become slim or trim. it was another Snackwells all over again.

since then, frozen yogurt has been overshadowed by smoothies, over-priced ice cream mixed on a cold stone (gimmick to the max) and even old fashioned ice cream cones. people have turned their backs on frozen yogurt and all because they refuse to accept it for what it really is: another delicious, creamy, frozen dessert (that when consumed often by people who adopt a sedentary lifestyle will add pounds).

but it doesn't have to be this way. there is still one place - besides the TCBY at the airport and Hogi Yogi (but who would go there) - that you can get frozen yogurt: Maverick. and it's good.

08 May 2006

highly reflective

remember that movie Mask (not to be confused with The Mask starring Jim Carrey)? it's the one based on a true story where Eric Stoltz plays Rocky Dennis and Cher plays his mom and he has a rare disorder that causes his skull to grow at an abnormal rate and his face is disfigured so all the jerks at the middle school say mean things like, "why don't ya take your mask off?" and terrible things like that. maybe you remember watching it on t.v. as a little kid... i do.

well, about three months ago English started listening to Jens Leckman, a musician from Sweden who has a song called Rocky Dennis Farewellsong to the Blind Girl. it wasn't until we'd listened to it a few times that we recognized the lines about when Rocky tried to explain colors to his blind girlfriend: this is blue (frozen rock). this is green (refrigerated rock). this is red (hot rock). this is billowy (cotton balls). needless to say, our interest was re-sparked so to speak. we both knew we had to watch Mask again.

so we did - thanks to Netflix - and did you know that Sam Elliot plays one of Cher's boyfriends? he was great! one of the scenes that i remembered right as it was starting was the part where the motorcycle gang goes to the fun house at the carnival and Rocky looks into one of those crazy fun house mirrors and he sees what his face would look like if he didn't have the disorder.

anyway, i could go on some more about the movie but last week while visiting my sister in Chicago we went to see an installation/sculpture titled Cloud Gate and it was kind of like a fun house mirror, but no Rocky Dennis.

26 April 2006

Mr. President

i've heard several theories (some more believable than others) on whether or not President Bush is really as stupid as he appears. i mean the guy still says nuc-u-lar and mixes his metaphors* like nobody's business. he also felt the need to remind us all that he's 'the decision maker' the other day... uh, yeah... you're the president (a.k.a. king of the hill)... we know. now, i'm not a Bush-basher (waste of time) and i have no interest in talking politics (i'm neither red nor blue) but i really do wonder if this 'stupid president' act is for real or not. could it be a so-called public relations tactic - one theory - where he's trying to relate to the American people on a personal level? or is he truly not smart - another theory - and simply ignores or doesn't comprehend the advice coming from his speech writers or publicity managers? perhaps it's a combination of both. i don't know. it's a tough call. one thing is for sure though. he can't possible be faking the ridiculous facial expressions we've come to know (and love).

* this isn't such a big deal - it's just that in his efforts to appear down-to-earth he ends up sounding like an idiot.

25 April 2006


i just finished reading a book that is worth mentioning here. it's called The Complete Maus and it's a graphic novel; meaning it's told with pictures or, more specifically, comic strips. however, the story is not the typical light-hearted material that is usually told through cartoons. it's about WWII and the Holocaust and it's pretty incredible. the idea alone is very intriguing and in some ways a bit shocking (portraying the horrors of the Holocaust through the same medium as Calvin & Hobbes?). but Art Spiegelman, the author and son of an Auschwitz survivor, creates a brand new way to experience a story we've heard several times before and does so with a reverence that is atypical of the cartoon genre.

so before this starts to sound too much like an unsolicited customer review on amazon.com i'll stop and simply say: i liked it - you might too.

21 April 2006

yes, your highness

this morning i heard some news. that is to say i was listening NPR. i heard that Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her 80th birthday today and as part of the celebration she'll be doing her 'traditional' walk about (as they called it) around London. they played a sound bite of people cheering for her - all out cheering like they were at a rugby game or something. it was great! they also filled us in on some of the royal protocol: in the presence of the Queen you shouldn't speak unless spoken to and if that were to happen you should say 'happy birthday' and nothing more.

then what's going to happen to all of those cheering Brits who have not been spoken to and are saying other things in addition to 'happy birthday' at the top of their lungs? i know the Tower of London has long since been turned into a museum and tourist attraction so they can't throw them in there. and i highly doubt they'll ship them off to one of the old colonies that aren't really British colonies any more. so... what will be their fate? maybe they'll be forced to watch that one movie What a Girl Wants where Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes), a strong-willed American girl who has no regard for British protocol goes to London in search of her estranged father (Colin Firth), who happens to be a British senator, and finds out that he is about to marry a stuffy-jerk English lady with an even bigger stuffy-jerk English daughter and there are scandals and montages and romantic consequences.

p.s. the only redeeming quality of that movie is when they play the Clash's London Calling during the 'getting to know London' montage .

13 April 2006

snippety-snip, snippety-snip

last night i cut my hair, meaning i gave myself a pretty substantial hair cut. don't worry, i didn't do it in an act of rage or drunkeness or anything like that. i was just frustrated with it. see, i've had two professional haircuts - from hip salons, mind you - in the last six months and neither of them really did the trick. also, because i cut my sisters' hair, i know what kind of haircut i would give myself. so for the last week i've been giving myself imaginary haircuts every other day. last night i figured hey, summer is on the horizon, shorter hair would be nice... it's time to take matters into my own hands. fortunately it worked and i have a hair cut that i like (for now). ha ha ha ah, hu hmmm. wait, that's a joke on me. how'd that get in here?

anyway, i'm not necessarily recommending that everyone go out and cut their own hair, but you just never know until you try it out. besides, summer is on the horizon...

10 April 2006

daylight savings is kicking my butt

i thought i'd be adjusted to the time change by now but it's been an entire week and i still feel like i'm 80 years old when i get up in the morning and i'm tired right now. uhgh. don't get me wrong - i'm all for daylight savings. i love the longer days! and the lighter evenings are a must. but geez! naps have become a daily routine around here. not the 'sleep-too-long-so-you-wake-up-feeling-groggy-and-you-can't-sleep-at-night' naps. these are the 'right-on-time-twenty-or-thirty-minutes-tops' power naps. even Oprah recommends those kinds of naps.

so what's the hang up?

maybe i am getting older after all... to the point where i really can't eat anything past 7 pm or stay up late to watch the free DVD that the Baptists left on my door knob. maybe i really do need to retire at 9 o' clock. wait, wait, wait! that's no solution. if i start going to bed that early i'll start waking up at 4 in the morning. i definitely don't want any of that. but i can't keep waking up after a decent-night's sleep feeling like my eyes are the fridge and their lids are magnets (and strong magnets at that)! it's a lousy feeling. so what am i to do? i don't know. perhaps you may have some ideas. but please, none that have to do with boiled raisins, frozen Q-tips, or Coast brand soap - the scent doesn't really open your eyes. it's a buch of baloney!

04 April 2006

the 7 wonders of Utah

our mini-tour of Utah has left us appreciative of the little things that make this state more than just "pretty great". while we didn't make it to all of the wonders - weather put a damper on the Sun Tunnels - we still had the chance to see both the serene and the surreal... from the quaint town of Huntsville nestled in the hills of Weber County, to the looming peaks of Fish Springs mountain range out in the west desert, to Paria Canyon's narrows on the Utah/Arizona border just southeast of Kanab. we drove through 15 of the 29 counties, put just under 2000 miles on our car and ate one giant scone. needless to say it was the most rockin'est spring break since 2001. here are some of the highlights:

in Huntsville we visited the Trappist monastery on several beautiful acres in the hills where we saw just how normal all the old monks were. it was business as usual so we rested in the chapel and bought some of the honey the monks harvest and all natural peanut butter.

shortly after we found ourselves in the company of a great blue heron, sandhill cranes and harriers at a waterfowl refuge near the Great Salt Lake and the town of Hooper. the snowy Wasatch made an incredible backdrop.

the next evening, at the One Man Band Diner we realized that we weren't the only ones out for a joy ride. but we didn't let it get us down. in fact, once we'd eaten, we felt the need to press on.

Notch Peak was covered in snow but Topaz Mountain, just an hour and a half north (on a dirt road) was covered with... not topaz, but obsidian. we actually got lost on the way back to the car because there were so many different trails, but eventually, we found it.

about a mile into Paria Canyon English's Chaco strap broke and the sandal was useless. hmmmm. yes, it's true... English is tough but how was he going to do the rest of our three-day hike in this fashion? i didn't know. i just had to have faith.

no less than a half hour later, we came upon a pair of old canvas boots someone had left on the shore. the boots had been there for a while (little mouse poos served as a dating method) so we felt better about borrowing them... that is, if they fit. to our surprise and much rejoicing, they were a perfect fit - size 12! and only minutes after that i found a check in my pocket for $300.00 - just enough for groceries and utilities. (just kidding. we honestly did see the hand of God in this situation and thanked Him on the spot).

the narrows were incredible! the water was a bit chilly but we got used to it. we crossed the state line into Arizona where we filled up our water bottles at a spring then headed up Buckskin Gultch - the longest stretch of narrows in the world! after that it was back to camp for some slightly gritty cous cous for dinner. grit is good.

the next day it was off to St. George where we stayed at a B&B that was built by English's great, great grandpa back in the pioneer days. i don't know if these folks are them but we thought, hey... why not? St. George had spring break written all over it.

on the way to Pine Valley (just outside of St. George) we drove through some camping areas and noticed this sign. English pointed out that it looked like a trailer taking a poo. at least it dug a hole.

one of our last stops on the trip was this pyramid on a polygamist compound out by Modena (a city near the Utah/Nevada border). we admitted it was somewhat of a disappointment. we were hoping for, well... something else i guess.

so, as you can see spring break 2006 rocked the house and our self-guided tour was totally sweet. it's nuts to think that while we were out doing all of this, a bunch of dopes probably went to Negril to stand calf-deep in the ocean and drink beer from neon green mugs they bought at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. whatever.

30 March 2006

applied statistics

last night i had one of those dreams where i was in a college class that i had pretty much forgotten i was taking. as i walked down the hall trying to remember exactly where the classroom was i realized that i had only been to the class one other time the entire semester. once i got situated and the class started the frustration and disappointment escalated. i had absolutely no idea what was going on and i literally did not understand what the teacher was saying. all of his gab about statistics came out as feeber-lee gehks and skaffity crumbs and it was a completely different level of confusion. to make matters worse my four best friends were in the class and all i wanted to do was talk to them. who gives a rip about statistics when your best friends are sitting right next to you? i kept thinking, i've got to drop this class... there's no way i'm going to pass... i have no idea what's going on... what is that guy saying?... are those picture books? and that's when the classroom turned into my elementary school - carpeted walls and everything - but old professor comb-over was still droning along with his nabbery libs and so forth. ahhh! this sucks. when is recess? i need to talk to my friends! i have to drop this class! i hope they let me... i thought i already took statistics.

and that was it.

i love dreams! how great is that? i mean the whole professor thing, the confusion, the carpeted walls, recess... wonderful! you'd think that by this time those kinds of dreams would have subsided. but on the contrary - and to my enjoyment - i believe they will be floating in the dream pool for as long as i live (right by the ones where i show up to church in only my underwear so i try to make a dress out of the coats i find in the coat room and i really need some masking tape).

22 March 2006

God bless spring break

this year as English and i revel in our spring break adventures (a mini-tour of Utah) i can't help but be grateful for this space of time to chill out. i'll be the first to say i need spring break just as much as students do (heck, who doesn't need a spring break?). by this time in the semester - and school year - we're all a little spent and even sick of each other... especially my drawing class, the punks. but spring break allows us to recharge. the sun warms us and we feel the energy reserve deep down inside start to thaw. let us fortify it with giant scones from One Man Band Diner and songs from the Ocean's 11 and 12 soundtracks. wahooooo!

16 March 2006

Duff's Smorgasbord

yeah, i know i just recently talked about buffets but last weekend i was reminded of a childhood memory and i just couldn't pass up this opportunity to reminisce about Duff's Smorgasbord. uh... yeah. i'm going to reminisce.

there used to be a Duff's about five minutes away from where i grew up. it has since been turned into an Office Max or something but this should give you a good mental picture of the type of space we're working with. i couldn't have been more than eight when we went there - on Sundays, post-church hunger setting in - but the memory is as clear as yesterday.

so it's a buffet with dark green carpet and white walls. there was a fair amount of brass and fake plants and your typical restaurant low lighting. they had a salad bar with a mound of glistening jell-o and a canister of cottage cheese at the end. but here's the kicker... the entrees were on a conveyor belt that rotated around out into the buffet area, then through a 2 x 2 foot hole and back behind the wall (and of course then back out again)! yeah, sort of like the baggage claim, only there was a wall, and it was food!

now if you think bout it, the conveyor belt idea is actually a very good one and complements the buffet idea quite nicely. the conveyor belt offers customers more convenient buffeting. no longer do you have to take as many steps to fill up your plate. once positioned at the conveyor belt, the food slowly and pleasantly passes you by (unless you're eight and then the mashed potatoes carry you away with them as you grasp the serving spoon). but i digress. besides, if you happened to miss the green bean casserole because you were staring down the 'homemeade' mac n' cheese, just hold tight little buddy... it's comin' around again! the other good thing about rotating entrees is that the customer never has to see the process of or the person who is freshening/refilling the stainless steel bin of fried chicken parts because it's all done behind the wall! voila... more gravy-smothered breaded steaks!

perhaps you are now thinking what i am thinking. sure the conveyor belt provides a sense of leisure, maybe even privacy to the happy buffeting customer, but it also creates a mysterious black box effect. what, exactly goes on behind that wall? who, exactly is freshening my creamed corn and what if they're not wearing a hair net? all of a sudden this lazy river of entrees is like Area 51. fortunately there's the soft serve machine. true, it too has a black box effect but somehow there's less risk involved. plus, aren't rainbow jimmies like antibiotics?

after all is said and done i probably only smorgasborded at Duff's a total of seven times... and then Duff's went away. every now and then i get a twinge in my right side when i think about Duff's. i'm not sure if it's a twinge of fondness or my I.B.S. but it's good to know that you can't even find the place west of the Great Plains. if only that were the case with Golden Coral.

03 March 2006

all that and a bag of chips

remember the phrase '...all that and a bag of chips'?

those were the days. such attitude in one jam-packed sentence. i think my older brother did the best rendition of '...all that and a bag of chips'. he delivered it with just the right amount of sass. sometimes, if we were lucky he'd add a wagging index finger and maybe finish the whole thing off with, 'oh no you di-int.'

just in case you were out of the country when people had trouble saying anything else, here's the definition from urbandictionary.com: To mean that a person is all that and more. Usually it is an opinion and the only one who thinks it is that person. Other people usually don't believe the person is "all that and a bag of chips." (posted by IceWarm in 2004)

well, if you're like me, you may be wondering where '...all that and a bag of chips' has been as of late. heck, you may already be putting in your own efforts to raise it from its dormancy (did you honestly think it was dead?). if so, i have a link for you to visit. if enough of us get into it, we might spark the flame and bring this jewel of slang back into circulation.

all that and a bag of chips

02 March 2006

when were you in Vegas last?

i've only been to Las Vegas twice: once, at the tender age of twenty as a side note to a Lake Mead waterskiing trip with my family, and the second time - two weekends ago, as a novice scooter enthusiast (more on this in a minute). i learned a lot about myself and Vegas on this second trip. for one thing, i was able to nail down why Las Vegas is not on my 'A' list for vacation spots (mainly this cycle of feelings: excited, overwhelmed, flabbergasted, empathetic, depressed, disgusted - enter a night's sleep here - and the cycle just repeats itself perhaps with some variation). i also realized that on that first trip my Dad knew that all Vegas buffets were not created equal and that is why he took us to the Reserve hotel/casino/buffet more than once. but on the bright side, i discovered that the best way to see Vegas is on a moped, and thanks to our generous friends and their connections, English and i buzzed around on a borrowed (but brand new) red PGO scooter.

now, i'm by no means a good specimen of a true scooter junkie, but i hung out with a few and i took the chance to do some studying up at the 2006 Vegas Rally. first, at the Shine N' Show i saw scooters of every color and condition (the same can be said for the riders and their hair). there were Vespas and Stellas and Fellas and stuff. it was quite a sight.

i feel like i should mention here that on the way to the Shine N' Show we had to do a u-turn and i crashed us into the median (with English riding on the back my center of gravity was thrown off). fortunately, the scooter suffered little to no damage and no one was around to snap a photo of my spasm. i'm also glad English has longer legs than me and was able to manage the scooter with much more ease. needless to say, he drove us around from then on as we cruised down the highways of Vegas, catching the gaze of many a-passer by.

like a bunch of punks with backstage passes we scooted up next to the roller coaster at the NASCAR casino (yes, that's right) and we got a clear, unimpeded shot of the Bonanza Gift & Souvenir shop (i've heard it's the world's largest) as a backdrop for this photo of our friends. lucky ducks!

the idea was to ride all together with every stinking scooter from the rally to Hoover Dam and back. but fate had another plan. a series of events involving a scooter wreck (thankfully no one in our party), Burger King, and some poor directions left us discussing our options in the parking lot of Walgreen's.

fortunately the ride wasn't a bust. quite the opposite. we ended up on a hill at the far end of town looking down on the city and the giant storm that was rolling in. it was like a dream. then we realized we had to go back into town (and therefore the giant storm) so we made no delay.

it only drizzled a bit as we crawled along the Strip with the hundreds of other folks making their way into town to spend, spend, spend. it was then that i was reminded of the sad and sorry face Las Vegas wears in the daylight. "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." poor little clown.

yes, it's a stark and ugly truth. Vegas depends on that beautiful contrast of light and dark like Ashlee Simpson depends on the right camera angle. it's the sad reality. i'm not judging though. i really can't. see, i'm a product of the neon industry. my grandpa Jones worked for YESCO when Freemont Street (now considered 'old town' Las Vegas) was all the rage. the friendly, welcoming cowboy... yep. that's his work. so while the business of eye candy runs in my blood, and friends have a way of making 'America's playgound' more than just a mess of poor taste, i've decided that i prefer to consume Las Vegas in repeat screenings of Ocean's Eleven. thanks just the same!