Sunday, January 21, 2018

Manifestogram


The @chghealthcare Road Show continues. We’ve knocked out Oklahoma and SLC. Now on to Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, and Connecticut!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Favorite Books of 2017

ver to finish a book. I don't get a ton of time to read and, when I do, it's usually right before bed. After about five minutes, my eyes just can't stay open anymore. So I was pretty proud of myself for making it through 29 books this year. (Most of them were graphic novels, so I probably only read the equivalent of like 8 or 9 books, but who's counting.)

Here were my favorites, in no particular order. (You'll notice that some of these are bit old. Whatevs.)

Real Friends 
Shannon Hale


Despite working at Insurance with her husband, Dean, I've never read any of Shannon Hale's books (though I did watch the movie of Austenland, which was pretty good). Traci bought this graphic novel for 12-year-old Paige. I don't think she liked it too much — you might not appreciate a memoir about how cruel children and siblings can be when you're still a child — but I thought it was wonderful.



Old Records Never Die: One Man's Quest for His Vinyl and His Past
Eric Spitznagel

It's not unusual for guys to hit a midlife crisis and want to listen to all the records they had as a teenager. But instead of just buying replacements of his old vinyl, Spitznagel tries to track down the actual records that he sold over the years.

It's a heart warmer for anyone who's ever been in love with their record collection.



Goliath
Tom Gauld

It's a graphic novel and the premise is pretty simple. What if, instead of being a big, scary bully, Goliath was just a regular dude (an adminstrative assistant, in fact) who didn't really want to fight? It's a nice twist on an old tale. Took me about 20 minutes to read. Twenty minutes well spent.



Hostage
Guy Delisle

I've read a few of Guy Deslisle's graphic novels. They were okay. But this one, basically a biography of a dude working for Doctors Without Borders' who was kidnapped, was pretty compelling. 



Snotgirl, Vol. I
Bryan O'Malley

After I fell in love with Scott Pilgrim series, I read all things Bryan O'Malley. His latest is Snotgirl, about a fashion blogger with a sinus problem. Gross premise, but I'm a sucker for any story that feels like it could be an episode of Gossip Girl or 90210. Can't wait for Vol. II! 



The Sun is Also a Star
Nicola Yoon

Sometimes when I read books about teenagers I'm like, "These teenagers are so dumb." And then I realize that I'm almost 40 years old and still reading Young Adult fiction. Whatevs.

Despite me largely agreeing with the horrible parents in this book — the kids should worry more about college than teenage romance, silly kids! — this was a page-turner for me.




Everything, Everything
Nicola Yoon

After I turned all the pages of The Sun is Also a Star, I turned to Nicola Yoon's next book. Everything, Everything was even better than its predecessor. It's about a girl who can't leave her house because of a rare disease. But, uh-oh, a super cute bad boy moves in next door. You know what's gonna happen next. Or do you? Dun-dun, dunnn. I'd highly recommend this one.



Trump: A Graphic Biography
Ted Rall

Think Trump is crazy? Think Trump is crazy like a fox? This graphic novel is a quick crash course on who Trump was before he was the leader of the free world.



The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
John Boyne

Spoiler alert. When you read a book about Jews and World War II, crying is likely to follow — even when the story is told by a little boy. I've got the movie sitting in my Netflix queue, but I have to wait to watch it until no one is home, in case my eyes start sweating.



Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin: A Memoir
Nicole Hardy

It can be tough to be a Mormon. And even tougher to be an unwed 40-year-old Mormon. This is a pretty honest look at the struggles single people face as they try to fit into a church that puts so much emphasis on marriage and family.



Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout
Laura Jane Grace 

If you're a punk rock fan, you know that Laura Jane Grace is the lead singer of the band Against Me! And you also know that before she was Laura Jane, she was Thomas Gabel. Fortunately, Thomas Gabel kept a daily journal for years that allowed Laura Jane to beautifully chronicle the transition. An added bonus, Tranny also offers a great look at the inner workings of a band who went from being loved by their fans to nearly killed by them. Crusty anarchy punks. Pfft. 


And here are a few to add to the so-so pile.

  • Origins, Dan Brown. This is basically the Da Vinci Code (and Angels & Demons and Digital Fortress) with different characters. Very long-winded and preachy. 
  • On Bowie, Rob Sheffield. I love Rob Sheffield, but I only really love Bowie for Labyrinth. 

And here's one I hated. 

  • #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso. The Netflix series was lighthearted and fun. The book was bor-ring. 

And here's one that I hated at first, but kinda liked by the end.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Manifestogram


Curtis has rebranded. He now goes by the name Curd. With a D.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Manifestogram


Started 2018 at the same place we begin every year: Bonwood Bowling. Traci bowled her best game ever (the bumpers didn’t hurt). Seems like it’s gonna be a good year. #latergram

Monday, December 04, 2017

14 Years Later and Traci is Still Mad at Me


February 2002

Homer Simpson once told Bart, "Boy, there are two things I've learned about women: Never give them nicknames like Jumbo or Boxcar, and always get receipts. It makes you look like a business guy."

I should have listened to him.



Summer 1996 

The summer of 1996 was a great time to bus tables at Red Robin, thanks to all of the great jams playing in the restaurant.

There was Tupac's California Love. 

And Beck's Where It's At


And Novocaine for the Soul by the Eels.




March 2002

The Eels' first record was pretty good. Their second record was okay. Their third album was fantastic.

It had Fresh Feeling and Woman Driving, Man Sleeping and the awesome b-side Jehovah's Witness. 

Most importantly, it had my favorite track, Dog Faced Boy. 




Not only are the ultra-fuzzy guitars awesome and the fuzzed out vocals even better, the lyrics are fantastic.

"Life ain't pretty for a dog-faced boy," goes the chorus.  

It felt less like a refrain and more like some eternal truth.



August 2003

For the first few years after Traci and I were married, we didn't have cable TV.

That was fine. We were still able to get The O.C. and CSI: Miami with our bunny ears.

But with no access to MTV, watching music videos took some creativity. After a while, we discovered a station at the top of the dial called Altarnet that played Christian rock videos late on Saturday night. We were desperate, so we didn't care that most of the stuff was garbage.

But there was some good stuff in there, too, like the Grits and Relient K. And so much Dashboard Confessional.

It was around this time I said something that would have made Homer Simpson cringe. Traci and I were driving somewhere and she was complaining about something, looking for sympathy.

I turned to her and said, "Well, life ain't pretty for a dog-faced boy."

"DID YOU JUST CALL ME A DOG-FACED BOY?!"

Apparently, in addition to being called Jumbo or Boxcar, women don't like being called a dog-faced boy.



November 2017

Last night, Traci and I did something we hadn't done in probably a decade. We stayed up late, watching music videos from the '90s. Not on Altarnet, but YouTube.

We flipped through all sorts of hits — Fiona Apple, The Rentals, Spice Girls. It was wonderful.



Right before we turned off the TV for the night, I snuck in one last video — just to check my luck.

Dog Faced Boy.

It took a bit for Traci to recognize the song, but the second she did...

"DOG FACED BOY?!"

She still remembers.

She'll never forget.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Manifestogram


The kid who just won a regional award for his Reflections entry, Money Steal.💰 #tatersgonnatate

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Stupid Crap I Read in the Middle of the Night

Adulting is hard. Jobs + kids + bills + grownup stuff = stress. And I've found all that stress makes it hard for me to sleep. 

I fall asleep just fine but then around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning my eyes open and my brain goes into overdrive — thinking about work assignments or Sunday School lessons or retirement planning or whether I locked the garage door before I went to bed.

I used to deal with my insomnia by watching hours and hours of Friday Night Lights. Then those jerks at Netflix took it away from me.

Now I take sleeping pills that are making things a lot better (though they'll probably kill me in the long run). But they don't always work.

The other night, I woke up at 3:00. With no Friday Night Lights to turn to, I had to reach for a  — gasp! — book.

I'm probably the slowest reader in the world, for several reasons.

1. I never know what to read. (I'm married to a librarian but she refuses to give me recommendations because I've proven to be too picky. Pfff.)
2. When I do find a book to read, it's hard to get started. Getting into a new book always seems so daunting, especially when it's going to take weeks to read.  
3. It takes weeks because I'm an incredibly slow reader. I don't have a lot of free time so the only time I read is right before bed. And by that time, I'm exhausted. Within minutes of picking up the book, my eyes get very, very heavy. 
That's one of the reason why I like graphic novels so much. It's not hard to start a new book when you know it's only going to take an hour to read the whole thing. And when there's so little time commitment, it's easy to read stuff you might not otherwise. Like a biography about Andre the Giant (great) or an illustrated version of Gossip Girl or the history of Reagonomics (pretty good).



So it wasn't surprising that at 3:00 in the morning I started reading Cat Person. Even though I myself am not such a person.

Page after page, I was reminded of just how much of a cat person I am not.
  


What is this crap? Is this funny to cat people?



Why am I reading this? Oh yes, because it's 3:00 in the morning and all I want to do is sleep and I'm hoping and hoping and pleading that this will make me fall asleep.

But it wasn't working.

So I kept reading. And then something weird happened.

I started laughing. Bleary-eyed, tired laughing.



This cat lady is right! Oreos aren't good. So why do we keep eating them?!



Whoa, she's right. Oreos are just like potted plant soil mixed with sugar. This book is genius!

4:00 a.m. Eyes getting sleepy.

Sleepy.

Sleep...

I think I should write a book called Oreo Person. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Big Week for Paige


Our little lady just turned 12.

But her birthday was just the start of Paige's big week. She also had a big performance at school. Her class did a Shakespeare sampler, performing one scene from half a dozen plays.

Paige, the girl who was born for the stage, played three roles.



Bianca in Taming of the Shrew



Ophelia in Hamlet



Peasblossom in A Midsummer Night's Dream

And that wasn't even the best part of the night. After the show she got to go out for ice cream with all her friends.



(If you haven't been to Leatherby's in a while, don't worry. The ice cream is still lousy and it still costs a million dollars.)



The next night, Paige had her first swim meet. For the past few months she's been swimming with the Murray Aquatic Club.

She's really enjoyed the practices, but a meet is a whole new thing — for all of us. She was pretty nervous. But not as nervous as Traci.

Luckily, things got off to a good start and the nerves subsided quickly.

Her first event was the 100-yard freestyle. After a slow start, she kicked into gear and won her heat! (She was only racing against one other girl, but a win is a win.)

After the race, she was pretty smiley when she walked past us on on her way back to her seat. And I could almost feel the pressure lifting off Traci's shoulders.

She also took second place in the 50-yard breast stroke, getting edged out by the winner of her heat by just one-hundredth of a second. She also took second place in her heat in the 50-yard freestyle, her third and final event. Not bad for a first timer!

We're pretty proud of our 12-year-old.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Manifestogram


Hoping the second half is better than the first. #goutes #tatersgonnatate

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Manifestogram


I love Tate's fantastic family portrait. I'm the guy with the little bit of hair. Curt and Paige have the brown hair, Tate and Traci are the redheads. We all have enormous biceps. It's like looking in a mirror! #tatersgonnatate

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Manifestogram


Net? Who needs a net when you've got an extension cord? #tatersgonnatate

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Manifestogram


I hope the trick-or-treating community is ready for this crew.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Manifestogram


Bear Picnic Basket badge? Apparently that's a thing. 🐻

Monday, October 23, 2017

Manifestogram


Lost his first tooth. #tatersgonnatate

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Manifestogram


Tate's first season of little league is officially in the books. ⚾️ #tatersgonnatate

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Endless Summer

We escaped the fall rain in Salt Lake City for one last weekend of summer in St. George. 


In just three days, I managed to: 
  • Shoot some hoops
  • Play baseball with the boys (before Curtis hit Tate with the ball and Tate headbutted Curtis is return)
  • Ride bikes with Paige
  • Read a book in the tub
  • Swim in the pool
  • Float in the lake
  • Climb on the red rock
  • Take a nap during Despicable Me 3 (Tate bet me that I wouldn't stay awake for the whole movie -- I tend to fall asleep during kid shows. I made it through the trailers but then my eyes got real heavy. Tate won the bet.)
  • Eat mashed potatoes at the Chuck-a-Rama
  • Drink a bottle of Leninade (Get hammered & sickled! the bottle proclaimed) 
  • Watch Like Mike and Captain Underpants with the kids and laugh and laugh at Bridesmaids for the millionth time with Traci
  • Wear my Chucks to Priesthood Session
  • Do a little bit of writing about Curtis and Tate
Not sure what else you could ask for in a vacation. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Day I Nearly Killed Curtis


“Alright, give me a good one this time,” I shouted to my nephew Nathan.

It was a warm Sunday night in June and the empty street in front of my parents’ house made the perfect field for an impromptu batting session.

After a half hour of pitching tennis balls to Tate, Curtis and my teenage nephews, I figured I deserved to take a few swings myself.

Sure, the teenagers could hit a pitch or two. But there’s no way these young punks were going to show me up. After all, I was a baseball All-Star…in 1992.

I hike up my shorts, tip my cap, raise my bat, and point it to the outfield wall (which was really just the neighbor’s front yard).

I tighten my grip around the handle of the first-and-only bat I’ve ever owned, the 22-inch tee ball bat that has lived in my mom’s hall closest since 1987. The War Lord (such a politically incorrect name for a blunt object) has aged gracefully over the past three decades. Though it lost its original grip years ago, my industrious mother replaced it with blue painter’s tape. As good as new.

Nathan winds up. Throws. The ball hurtles toward me. I lean back, twist my hips, and lurch forward. Hands at ears. Then hands at torso. Then snap the wrists. Always follow through.

The ball rockets off the bat.

But no one watches.


Instead, all eyes turn to the aluminum missile sailing through air — straight toward Curtis’ head. In an instant, his life flashes before my eyes.

The sound of his first cry in the hospital.

The moment that two-year-old Paige walks into the recovery room, sees her new brand new baby brother and exclaims, “Put him back!”

The first day of soccer.

The first day of school.

The first day of braces.

I see it all while the War Lord spins through the air, en route to Curtis’ still-intact skull.

What have I done?

I have killed my first-born son.

His mother will kill me.

And then the window of mercy blows ever so slightly. The bat innocently grazes the top of his hat before meeting the asphalt with a clank.

Before Curtis has time to consider his own mortality, he is smothered by his father’s hugs and kisses and a barrage of I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorr-ies.

War Lords and painter’s tape are make a bad team. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thank You from Johnny Tightlips



I don't think we've ever had a better show than we did last night. Thank you to everyone who came out, bought a t-shirt, danced around, or sang along to our atrocious Kelly Clarkson cover.

You sure made a sloppy punk rock band feel pretty good about itself.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tate's First Hit



Tate has been very serious about his first season as a little leaguer. Just about every night, we're in the backyard, throwing and catching and pitching and hitting. The hard work has paid off. He's become a solid fielder and he's got a mini cannon of an arm.

But that first hit has eluded him.

He's been walked and beaned. He's fouled off a dozen pitches. He just hasn't found a way to connect yet.

And striking out is hard.

After his first strikeout, he walked back to the dugout with tears in his eyes.

"It's okay, buddy," I said. "You'll get the next one."

He assured me that the tears had nothing to do with the outcome of the at-bat. Instead, he said, "There's dirt in my eye."

After his second strikeout, the tears came again. Before I could even console him, he said, "There's dirt in my eye again -- the catcher keeps kicking dirt at me."

Dirty catcher.

The ongoing disappointments were heavy to bear and the little redhead's confidence started to wane.

"Dad, don't make me hit today."

"You just gotta keep swinging, buddy."

I wish I could say it was my continual pep talks that motivated him. Instead, he perked up when I promised to buy him a baseball backpack (which is so much cooler than his regular bat bag) if he got a hit.

Sure enough, the next game he got a hit. Down two strikes, he hit a little blooper that landed between home plate and third base. He was so surprised to make contact that he just stood there.

"Ruuunnnnn!" I screamed.

He started toward first.

"Faster!!!"

After he made it safely to first, he was so excited that he came off the base to the coaches' box to give me a quickly hug. He returned the base, beaming.


Tate is now a proud owner of baseball backpack.

I'm a proud owner of a Tate. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tate's First Utes Football Game



A knee replacement was band news for Grandpa Pearson but good news for Tate and me. 

It was a pretty great night for a little redhead to go to his first Utes football game. Here a just of the awesome things that happened BEFORE the game even started:

  • We took Trax to the game. Tate always likes taking the train but he was even more stoked when the fight song came over the loud speaker as we approached the stadium. 
  • He became the proud owner of a little Utes football, thanks to the generosity of his father. 
  • We were right next to the cannon when it went off before the game, scaring us to death.
  • The Navy SEALS parachuted onto 50 yard line, carrying American flags that were shooting sparklers

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Manifestogram


Nothing says backyard baseball like the batter wearing a flower pot for a helmet. ⚾️

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Manifestogram


Uncle Todd teaching the boys about geocaching.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Manifestogram


Tonight Tate moved up from coach pitch to kid pitch. Caught a few grounders, got hit by a pitch, and stole second base. Pretty good for a first game! ⚾️ #tatersgonnatate

Monday, August 21, 2017

Manifestogram


Back to school. The first and last time they'll all be at the same school all day long.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Manifestogram


...And soccer season begins again. ⚽️

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Monday, August 07, 2017

Manifestogram


Somebody saved up $8 to buy this sweet Angels hat. #tatersgonnatate

Saturday, August 05, 2017

When in St. George



When the boys weren't sitting directly on the fountains, they were letting the water shoot directly up their shirts.

Boys.