Sunday, December 30, 2007

thnks fr th mmrs

I started dating Traci when I was a senior in high school. At Murray High School, you generally take your girlfriend to the big dances (proms, etc.), but ask other girls to the lesser dances. Toward the end of the year, Traci's best friend Katie (pictured above) asked me to a girl's choice dance. I can't remember who Traci asked, but we were all in the same group. After the dance everyone went to Katie's house to watch a movie. While everyone was in the basement Traci and I snuck upstairs and made out in the kitchen.

December Consumption

It's been a while since I've tracked what I've been listening to...


The Killers - Sawdust
Cake - B-Sides and Rarities
Jimmy Eat World - Chase this Light
Voodoo Glow Skulls - California Street Music
Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere in the Between
I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends
Cobra Starship - Viva La Cobra
Aesop Rock - Labor Days
Kylie Minogue - X

Mo' Best and Worst of 07

Because I was frantically trying to create that other best of '07 so I could give an unsolicited copy to In Utah This Week, I forgot some stuff.

Mo' good albums:

Alkaline Trio - Remains
Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out (released in '06)
Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (if it wasn't released in '06 it would have been my best of '07)
Matt & Kim - S/T (Another '06 that I listened to every day of '07)
Mark Ronson - Version
Up Up Down Down Left Right BA - Worst Band Name Ever
The National - Boxer
Tiger Army - Music from the Regions Beyond
Rivers Cuomo - Alone: The Home Recordings of

Crappy Albums

Here are some of the albums I was really looking forward to in '07 that ended up letting me down:

Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell
Bloc Party - Weekend in the City
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Kanye West - Graduation
50 Cent - Curtis (I wasn't looking forward to this album, but it sucked nevertheless)
Jay-Z - American Gangster
Aly & AJ- Insomniac (Yes, I was looking forward to this. You got a problem with that?)
Beastie Boys - The Mix Up
Dashboard Confessional - The Shade of Poison Trees
Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light (good but not good enough, this goes in the "okay" pile at best)
Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (worst album of the year)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Music of 2007

This may or may not be my complete list for best of '07. It's 11:59 p.m. and I'm very tired. I didn't realize it was going to take me this long to put this together. I've been working on it for like three days. Maybe I don't really want to write about music for a living.


Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Iron & Wine, aka Sam Beam, became a folk cult hero after just one album, The Creek Drank the Cradle. But anyone can grow a beard, play an acoustic guitar and sing pretty. It was The Woman King EP that really set Iron & Wine apart. The record felt like the soundtrack to oldie-timey saloon brawl, all brown teeth and chairs breaking over dudes' backs.

The Shepherd's Dog
feels like a mixtape of all of the styles Beam has experimented with over the past few years. It's quiet acoustic one minute, and distortion-drenched vocals the next.Though the album can feel a bit uneven at times, the style hopping makes for a great ride.

Standout Tracks: White Tooth Man, House by the Sea


Bishop Allen - The Broken String

Bishop Allen became blogger darlings when they accomplished their goal of releasing an EP of new music each month in 2006. The band chose to rework and rerecord 10 of those songs for 2007's The Broken String. Though the result is not what you would consider tight, the looseness of the sound is endearing. "Click, Click, Click" is hands-down the catchiest song of the year.

Standout Tracks: Click, Click, Click, The Chinatown Bus


Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere in the Between

Ska, and all of its related subgenres, had a great run in the mid-to late '90s. But just as quickly as it skanked into our hearts, it skanked back out of style. Fortunately, either no one told Streetlight Manifesto or they just don't care. Somewhere in the Between is better than anything released in the '90's, with the exception of Catch 22's Keasbey Nights - an album that SM frontman Thomas Kalnoky also authored. Kalnoky is again on a lyrical rampage, but after touring endlessly with Reel Big Fish, the tunes are a bit peppier. The album doesn't pack the same bunch as the band's 2002 debut, but certainly won't disappoint fans of the band or the genre.

Standout Tracks: We Will Fall Together, The Receiving End of It All

Hip Hop

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass

With commercial hip hop being weighed down by the bloated corpses of predictable/crappy albums (think 50 Cent and Kanye West), it's refreshing to hear someone take the genre in a different direction - or to another world. Though Aesop Rock's lyrics rarely touch down on planet earth, he certainly knows how to spit 'em. Here's a typical stanza, "If you never had a day a snow cone couldn't fix/You wouldn't relate to the rogue vocoder blitz/How he spoke through a no-doz motor on the fritz/Cause he wouldn't play roll over fetch like a #$@#$." If the lyrics are a bit too out-there, the production and delivery should bring you right back in. None Shall Pass is definitely a bright spot in this year's dirge of rap music.

Standout Tracks: Keep off the Lawn, None Shall Pass

Christian Rock

The Almost - Southern Weather

Chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, BOOM! Southern Weather's opening track and first single "Say This Sooner" gets me every time. I start tapping my finger on the steering wheel, then my foot starts going and by the chorus I'm singing loud enough to be embarrassed when I notice the folks in the car next to me giving me an uncomfortable look.

Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie took a break from Christian metaling to a do a bit of Christian emo-ing with his side project The Almost. Writing all the songs and playing all of the instruments on the record, Gillespie shows that he can do more than just keep the beat. He's got a knack for a melody, a solid voice and an ear for radio friendly pop structures. Mixing a little rock, a little country, and a lot of lovin' the Lord makes Southern Weather a surprisingly good record.

Standout Tracks: Say This Sooner, Dirty and Left Out

Pop Punk

Motion City Soundtrack - Even if it Kills Me

Motion City has always had the right elements - dancy punk singalongs, plenty of Moog keyboards, a singer with hair as big and out of control as his heart - but has had trouble bringing them all together. On Even if it Kills Me they finally succeeded. The album manages to be fun without being annoying, and touching without feeling contrived. And "Last Night" may be my favorite song of the entire year.

Standout Tracks: Calling all Cops, Last Night

2006 HoldOvers

For me, the best two albums of 2007 came out in 2006.

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas

How Silversun Pickups managed to make the best album of both 2007 (I know it technically came out in 2006) and 1991 at the same time is a mystery to me. With all of its big guitar riffs and spacey keyboard layering, Carnavas sounds like it should be follow-up album to Smashing Pumpkins Gish. Outstanding from start to finish, its hard to even pick the album's best track - and it gets better with each listen.

Standout Tracks: Well Thought Out Twinkles, Three Seed

Matt & Kim - S/T

[coming soon]

Standout Tracks: It's a Fact, Light Speed

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

christmas yights

Paige has been loving the Christmas season. She's learned all sorts of words - Santa, reindeer, tree, snow, and snowman - and says them incessantly. She loves yights (er, lights) the best so we were excited to take her to Temple Square - even though we knew it would be a huge battle to get her to wear her warm weather gear. She prefers to wear no clothes at all.

We were given a little Christmas miracle when she didn't put up any fight about the clothes. She even wore her mittens. Though the mittens only inhibit the use of her fingers, she thought both of her arms were also immobilized. She spent the whole night moving her arms in robot motion, without bending her elbows.

Despite the millions of lights at Temple Square, she was most intrigued by the one light we could have seen from our house - the moon. "Paige, look at those pretty pink lights." Nope. She was too busy looking into the sky and saying "Moon! Moon!" I tried to get some good pictures of her in front of the lights, but almost all of them turned into neck shots as should couldn't stop staring into the heavens.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Currently Listening To...

Here's a random sampling of what I've been listening to lately.

Voodoo Glow Skulls - California Street Music
I really wanted this album to be good. VGS hasn't put out an interesting record since 1998, but I was hoping this would be their triumphant return. Instead, the result was firmly mediocre. Perfectly listenable (for those who can stand to listen to the Voodoo Glow Skulls), but far from inspiring. Though the songs are tight (and they should be - they've written the same song for the eight records), they don't quite manage to bring the passion.

Voodoo Glow Skulls - Fire in the Dance Hall [MP3]

The Hives - The Black and White Album
Though it's hard to take them 100% seriously, The Hives know how craft a catchy garage punk tune - consistently and thoroughly. On their new album they try to expand their palette a bit, adding a few quirky, synthy, haunted housey songs ("Puppet on a String," "T.H.E.H.I.V.ES.," "Giddy Up") to the tracklist - all of which basically suck. Drop those songs from your iPod and you've got yourself a half hour of good times.

The Hives - Tick Tick Boom [MP3]

It's also impossible not to love a band with a band that both a charismatic frontman and two guys who look like they should be selling used cars. Check out the video for Tick Tick Boom here.

David Bazan - Live at the Grey Eagle
I saw the artist formerly known as Pedro the Lion play at Club Sound last week. I enjoyed the ambiance of watching bums and Greyhound buses pass by the club window as David Bazan serenaded the 50 or so attendees with just his voice and an electric guitar.

To get the gist, visit at HardtoFindaFriend to download a complete live show. The Salt Lake City show was even better. There's nothing like watching a man losing his faith right in front of your eyes. I haven't been able to stop thinking about "Please Baby Please" or "Harmless Sparks."

David Bazan - Please Baby Please [MP3]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Walmart-ization of My Heart

I am the reason why local companies don't survive. The other night I went to buy a Christmas tree. I was on borrowed time, in a borrowed truck. I normally get the tree at Smith's Marketplace, but to save time I went to the little tree lot around the corner from my house.

It was 7:30 p.m. and when I pulled in I didn't know if the place was still open. After walking around the empty lot for a few seconds, a guy came out of the house next door and greeted me. I asked him how much he was charging. $30-$50. I could tell immediately that it was going to be a little uncomfortable.

I wouldn't be opposed to paying $30 or even $50 for the best tree ever. But all of the trees looked like the Charlie Brown trees that we used to cut down at my grandpa's ranch...for free. They were all crooked, barren little things. I wanted to support this unknown gentleman and his locally owned and operated tree farm, but I just couldn't find anything at all. "Uh, I don't think you've got what I'm looking for." I sheepishly got back in the truck.

I drove to the other side of town to the Smith's Marketplace. I went straight to the $20 bin and found just what I was looking for. And I felt completely horrible about it. Sorry, local merchant. You just can't compete with the selection and discounts of a regional chain.

On a happier note, Paige just recently discovered trees, thanks to the Christmas lights attached to them in the neighborhood. She went nuts when she saw a tree come in through the front door of her house. "Dad! What's that? Tree! Dad! What's that? Tree! Tree! TREE!! What's that? TREEEEE!!!!"

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Somewhere in the Between

Best. Artwork. Ever.

The three best ska albums of the past 10 years have all been written by the same man. Thomas Kalnoky has completed the trilogy with the recent release of Streetlight Manifesto's Somewhere in the Between. I could spend forever analyzing how this record fits into the Catch 22/Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution/Streetlight drama, but I'll stick to the music itself.

The album rocks. Standouts include "We Will Fall Together," "One Foot on the Grave," and "The Receiving End of It All." It has all of the crucial Streetlight elements: great horn lines, huge singalong hooks (some songs have multiple hooks, it's like an advertising campaign gone crazy) and lots of big, dramatic decrescendos. "One Foot on the Gas, One Foot in the Grave" also contains the best intro of any Streetlight song.

The record differs from previous works because of a greater percentage of upbeat tunes, even if they are about going to hell or watching life pass you by. ("Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe," "Somewhere in the Between.")

With all of that said, this record is probably my least favorite of any of Kalnoky's work. I love it. It's solid. It's awesome. (It's got a few too many happy tracks for me, but I can deal with that.) Keasbey has set the bar so high. It would be next to impossible to beat Keasbey Nights. (Even Kalnoky couldn't beat it when he recorded it again.)

Somewhere in the Between
is a must-have for anyone who loves punk or ska or any of its combinations. And the band is coming to the SLC in January. I'll see you there.

We Will Fall Together

Daddy Daughter Time

Now that Paige is a nonstop chatterbox (she's always been a talker, now she just inserts actual words) here's an average chain of events and conversation when I'm babysitting.

Paige and I, sitting in the family room when she says, "Dah-rums?" She takes my hand and leads me to the door of the basement. We go downstairs.

Paige sits at the drumset and pounds away. She starts out with the drumsticks and I use the brushes. Every few seconds she says "trade" and we switch. When she hits the cymbals especially hard she looks at me and says "Good dah-rums?" I nod in approval. She gets bored after a few minutes and says, "Nino?"

Nino is her word for Play-Doh. We walk back upstairs and sit at the kitchen table to play nino. She sees the purple container and says "par-ple, par-ple, PARPLE!!!" I mold the play-doh into various shapes and she tells me all the names - circle, square, heart, diamond, etc. She can nino for quite a while, but she will invariably catch a glimpse of her halloween bucket on top of the fridge. At which point she says, "Can-dy?" I say no. "Can-dy?" No. "'Nacks?" (fruit snacks) No. "Shapes?" (her Baby Einstein Movie about shapes) No. "Yion?" (lion, a reference to the lion in the same movie) No. "Buh-bles?" I concede.

We go upstairs and I put her in the empty bathtub and blow bubbles at her. When she's had enough she says "Count?" which means she wants to count all of the assorted shampoos and soaps in the bathroom. I put them on the side of the tub and quiz her on the colors. She then counts each of them and tips them back over at me. She will play this game forever. The only way to make it end is for me to say to her "brush teeth?"

We stand and brush our teeth together - she will not brush hers until she sees that I brush mine. Her brushing consists of chewing on the bristles or eating the toothpaste off the brush. When we're finished, I rinse her mouth out three times (she sticks her tongue out and I put water on it), and then I pat her mouth dry. "Brush teeth" is officially done by Paige exclaiming "All clean!" At this point she looks at me and says "Nino?" And we start all over again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Something for Those Quiet Moments: Ruminations on Missionary Music

After the Utes gave up a 40 yard pass on 4th and 18 I needed some cheering up. I found some solace in downloading some new music - The Hippos' self-titled, The Rentals EP and two Get Up Kids albums. The irony being that I don't think there is any group that makes me feel more sad than the Get Up Kids.

As the stream of consciousness continues, I am thinking about the contraband music I listened to on my mission. There was a Virgin Records by our apartment in The Hague (I'd never seen a Virgin Records before) that had a big going out of business sale. Even though we weren't allowed to listen to music, I thought it a shame to pass up such great blowout prices. I picked up a copy of "Something to Write Home About" by the Get Up Kids, even though I'd never heard the band. The artwork, the name of the band, and the name of the album were so awesome that I couldn't pass it by. Like a good boy, I refrained from listening to it until I got back to America.

I would say, all things considered, I was pretty good at abiding by the no music rule. However, here were a few that slipped by the goalie:

Something for those Quiet Moments Mixtape

What a funny mission memory. I was at a zone conference in my first area. I'd only been in Holland a few weeks. I was happy to learn their was a fellow punk rocker in my zone, Elder Josh Ligairi. (Ligairi somehow managed to keep his tongue ring a secret his entire mission. He even created a new way of laughing that kept his tongue hidden. Huh, huh, huh, huh.)

I was in the church bathroom when Ligairi approached me. He slipped me a cassette tape and then disappeared. I shut the stall door and inspected the booty. It was a mixtape titled Something for Those Quiet Moments. Ligairi had included hits by all of the punk rock legends - NOFX, Bad Religion, Millencolin, MXPX. I put the tape into the pocket of my suit and went back to the conference. I felt like I was walking around with a dimebag of marijuana.

Many months later I finally listened to the tape. I think I only listened to it once or twice, but the memory of Ligairi sneaking it to me was priceless.

Ace of Base and the 5BX

Even though he's not a Mormon, my friend Rhett was super supportive of my mission. One day, a couple of months into my mission, I got a package from him. It was an Ace of Base cd. Because my friends always teased me about liking the Swedish dance quartet, I was always too embarassed to buy any of their music. Rhett included a note with the CD: "I saw this in the $1 bin and thought of you."

The CD made its appearance 18 months later when I was introduced to the 5BX workout program. My friend Jonny Wix discovered a photocopied workout program in his missionary apartment called the 5BX (a cool, hip way of saying 5 Basic Exercises). Since we had all grown fat from eating french fries with mayonnaise for every meal, I asked him to send a copy to me and my housemates down in Antwerp, Belgium. Every night we'd do our exercise routine, which included some move where you lay on the floor and pretend to be a fish or something. The best part was that we all agreed we could only work out properly if we had some great work out tunes. Enter Ace of Base. Beautiful Life, Lucky Love, Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry, man, those are awesome songs. The rest of the album sucks, but those tracks were perfect for the 5BX.
The list goes on, but time runs short. Many great songs trapped in the time warp of '99-'01, but I guess it I'll have to save that for the next time I'm depressed about sports. There's a story about Enya and other New Age hits, a bad run in with Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb" and many, many more. I'd really like to write a book about my mission, but Traci ensures me no one would want to read it.

The Kooks - All That She Wants [MP3]
Ace of Base - The Sign [MP3]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two Years of This Kid

Today our little monkey turns two. Here's Paige through the ages:

Fresh out of the womb [Post 1 | Post 2 |

One year birthday party [Post 1 | Post 2 |

Halloween 2007

November 2007

Even after two years, we still like her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Streetlight

Streetlight Manifesto just released their first-ever video - "We Will Fall Together" from their forthcoming album. I pre-ordered it and if all goes well it will be in my mailbox when I get home from work today. I've basically been waiting four years for this record to come out. Can't wait.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Afternoon

Paige is looking happy in her church dress, but that's only because we're home from church.


So I went to the iFly Utah center on Friday. I had big plans of posting the video, but it wasn't that great. I wasn't really that great either. (I was certainly nothing like the promo video.)

Here's how it works. After watching a short instructional video, you get two one-minute sessions in the air tube with a flight instructor. The wind blows 160 mph and if you do things right, you'll hover anywhere from four to six feet above the ground. If you don't position your body right (like me), you spend most of the time being repositioned by the instructor and bumping into the walls.

While it was definitely a noteworthy experience to be pummeled by 100 mile winds, it wasn't really what I expected. I thought it would be more like the weightless feeling of riding a rollercoaster or bungee jumping. It just seemed like a lot of hard work.

At least I looked really good in my jumpsuit.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Get Your Wind Tunnel On!

Tomorrow afternoon I will be going to iFly in Ogden. I'm taking my camcorder. Hopefully I don't return with a video of me peeing my pants.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thanks, Japan!

I was listening to the new Britney Spears CD on my way to work the other day (because that's just how I roll). I browsed through the liner notes and couldn't find one song that she actually wrote or even co-wrote. Though I have no way of knowing this, I would imagine that someone calls her up in the morning and says "Hey Britney, it's time to record an album." She rolls out of bed and drags herself to the studio where someone hands her the lyrics, teaching her the tune, and tells her how to sing it. She lays down the track. They auto-tune it and voila! a new Britney record.

It seems weird for a musician to be so disconnected or uninvolved with her own music. Its one thing to sing someone else's lyrics about universal topics like love or the dance floor, but it seems strange to have someone hand you the words you're supposed to be thinking. (i.e. "I’m Mrs. ‘Most likely to get on the TV for slippin’ on the streets/When getting the groceries, no, for real") Weird. It's also gross when mother of two sings "I just wanna take it off, I just wanna take it off." Leave it on, please!

All of this brings me to my experience with Japan. I ran into the myspace page of a Japanese artist called Alone Together the other day. I was interested in the piano protege vs. spastic japanitechno vibe but much more intrigued by this statement:

My wish is to have many people in the world listen to my music.
If you need my CD, please send an E-mail to myspace email or my hotmail.
I send CD for you.
A money is not necessary.
(If you write your address on an E-mail, I send a CD for you soon.)

So I sent my address. Just a couple of days later I got a package from Japan (the cardboard CD sleeve is shown above) with a personal note from Yuki himself. It's cool to see a guy who's willing to shell out shipping costs to anywhere in the world just so people will check out his tunes.

Yuki is a very talented artist. However, the EP felt the musical equivalent of those Japanese cartoons that give American kids seizures. I'd like to give it a few more spins, but I think I might turn into an epileptic. That said, I can't get enough of the opening track, Human Beings. Very Awesome.

So, Britney Spears, if you don't get your act together and work a little harder, this is going to be the new face of American pop music.

Human Beings [MP3]

Blah, Blah, Blah, and So Forth

The way Paige repeats words back to us makes me really wonder how we must sound to her. Most sentences start with a lot of unintelligible sounds and end with the one word we understand. Example: Garble, garble, noise, sound, "chair." That means either she's now sitting in the chair you just vacated (her favorite game) or she wants you to sit by her on the chair. Maybe that's why this video of this kid saying the blessing on the food is so incredibly funny to me. [Thanks, Brian.]

T-Shirt Hell

Traci and I have been in our new house for 4 months and we've probably only unpacked 3/4ths of our boxes. (Those boxes have just moved from the garage to the basement. We're not what you'd call, uh, "organized.") Realizing that I have more crap that any sane person would need, I'm trying to get rid of unneeded items.

I started going through my clothes last night. I have so many clothes. And it's not like I have good taste or anything, so it's just piles and piles of band t-shirts and ugly Old Navy jeans. (The fact that I refuse to try clothes on also results in a lot of items briefly worn and then shoved in drawers or closets.) I got rid of a few garbages worth of stuff and made another bag of band t-shirts that I don't wear anymore that I can't bear to get rid of.

My mom said that Danny Ulrich's mom is taking all of her kids high school sports t-shirts and sewing them into a quilt. My first response was "time to let go of high school sports." But then I quickly realized that would idea be great for a guy who can't let go of the memories of concerts and bands he liked in high school. So the big bag of t-shirts is going to my mom's where I need to trick her into helping me make a quilt. It will be the coolest rock 'n roll quilt ever.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Don't I Know You From Somewhere?

At the Jamboree Music Festival:

Traci and I were sitting on our blanket watching the boringness when a middle-aged lesbian sitting behind us as gets my attention:

MAL: You look really familiar. Are you on the news?

Me: Um, no. Not that I know of. (I decided not to recount the one time I hung out with Shelly Osterloh. Here and here.)

MAL: Oh, well, where are you from?

Me: [Skipping through all of the 'where could I know you from's] Where do you do your banking?

MAL: Uh, America First.

Me: I worked at Cyprus Credit Union for five years and usually that's where people know me from.

MAL: Oh, I have an account there. That must be it.

Me: Yep, that must be it.

I wonder how often news anchors are approached and asked if they are bank tellers.


The day after I got home from my mission I was I was meeting some friends at Temple Square. (Talk about nerdy and predictable for a returned missionary.) I could see two girls looking at each other and giggling.

Were they checking me out? Doubtful, I thought. As if on a bet, one of them approached me.

"Uh, hi, are you, uh, Lance Bass?"

"Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but you've got the wrong guy."

I wonder if people ever ask Lance Bass if he is the purveyor of the Sutherland Manifesto.

TV: Spencer vs. Traci

Shows that Spencer likes that Traci doesn't:

-Prison Break
-Gossip Girl

Shows Traci likes that Spencer doesn't:

-Scrubs (I even hate the theme song)
-Girls Next Door
-America's Top Model (Urge to kill Tyra Banks. Growing. Growing.)

Lame things currently on our DVR:

Legally Blonde the Musical (Traci)
High School Musical 2 (Traci)
Mad Hot Ballroom (Traci)
Gridiron Gang (Spencer)*
Step Up (Spencer)*

*I haven't watched either of these yet and I know Traci won't watch them with me. If anyone wants to come over, let me know.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Tracks on the Manifesto Radio

For a music snob such as myself, it was a bit embarrassing standing at the check out stand at the county library holding both a Sum 41 cd and a New Found Glory album. I don't know what inspired me to listen to NFG as I dismissed them immediately after I first heard them back in '01, but I wanted to hear Coming Home. I'm glad I did. I haven't stopped listening to it in a week, despite the worst lyric in the history of time. "You smell how angels oughta smell." Awful.

I've posted some new songs on the Manifesto radio (on the right side of the blog). I also love the new Motion City Soundtrack album, but that could change with more listens. For the time being, I think it's the best of their three releases. The new Iron & Wine will probably end up on my best of 2007 list.

Paigey Monkey

Couldn't have asked for a better Halloween. We were very worried that Paige wasn't going to wear her costume again (last year she was in her lady bug costume for about 2 seconds. To justify the purchase, we had my mother work a lady bug role into her version of the nativity) because she ripped it off the first time I tried to get it on her. But after she saw her best friend/nemesis cousin Ryan in his costume, she decided she could wear hers.

She chased her cousins from door to door during her first trick or treating experience. She would knock on the door (she only knocks once, despite always saying "knock, knock") and then with a bit of prompting say "tricktreat."

She loved carrying around her little pumpkin candy bucket. We eventually had to come back home when the bucket became too heavy for her to carry. She refused to let me hold it, so she switched to holding it with two hands, but then she'd fall over when she started running.

When we got back to my sister's house Paige would help answer the door when trick or treaters came by and greeted each one with "Hi guys."

Best. Halloween. Ever.

Circle, Square, Fruit Salad

In addition to loving animals, Paige also loves shapes. She can identify a circle, square, triangle, diamond, star, rectangle (pronounced 'rectal') and her favorite shape - oval. But for whatever reason, when she sees a crescent she says, "fruit salad!" Every time. And not just with actually toy shapes. She'll see a moon shape on a blanket or something and immediately say "fruit salad." And because she watches so much Wiggles, she'll often follow "fruit salad" up with "yummy! yummy!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloweeeeeen!

The best part about Halloween is that you get Simpsons Halloween re-run episodes all week long. Last night was the episode where Kang and Kudos kidnap Bill Clin-ton and Bob Dole and run for president. My favorite line:

Kang [running for President]: Abortions for all! [crowd boos]
Very well, Abortions for none! [crowd boos]
Abortions for some, miniature American flags for the others! [crowd cheers]

Couldn't find that clip on YouTube, so this one will have to do.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boe Zegt de Koe

Paige loves both animals and their associated noises. Often in the morning we’ll hear her in her crib saying “Horse. Nay. Nayyyy. Sheep. Baaaaaahhhh.”

My niece Meagan was born while I was on my mission. In the airport on the way home, I bought her a Dick Bruna t-shirt with a cartoon of a cow that says “Boe zegt de koe.” (The cow says “boo.” Dutch cows don’t say moo – “moe” in Dutch means “tired.” You can’t have a bunch of cows milling about saying “Tired! Tired!”)

Meagan has since outgrown the shirt and passed it on to Paige. I was very excited when Paige was big enough to start wearing it. And Paige was very, very excited to wear a shirt with a cow on it. So much so that it caused quite a problem.

Spencer: Paige, let’s put this shirt on you. Look, it has a cow on it. [I pull it over her head.]

Paige: [Looking down at the cow shirt] Cow. Moo. Cow. Moo. Moo. Moo. Cow. Cow. [She starts grabbing the shirt, pulling the image up to her face.] Cow! Cow! Cow! Cow! Cow! [Going into stimulation overload] Cow! COW! COW! COW!

I had to quickly take the shirt off before her head exploded. I can only imagine what’s going to happen in a couple of weeks when Traci gives her the Elmo shirt that she bought her for her birthday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Honk! Honk!

Traci's little sister Jillian just had a baby. Last night Paige was getting tended at Traci's mom's house (where the Jillian and new baby live). Paige picked up Jillian's breast pump and said "Horn. Honk! Honk! Honk!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

JTL update

The band has basically been on hiatus all summer long. When Traci and I moved to Taylorsville, it kind of screwed up the practice schedule. The Murray house was central to the band as car-less Danny works down the street at the library and Aaron lived around the corner. Between all of the time spent moving and all of the usual summer stuff, we have only rehearsed sporadically and haven't played a show since June.

Things are finally starting to get back on track. This past week we put together the basis of a new song, the first new song in forever. I'm excited about the music, but it's still without lyrics. That means we now have three songs with no words. (We play them live, I just make up new lyrics each time.) It's a bit embarrassing that I write all day at work, but can't for the life of me write lyrics. Especially now that I'm neither teenage nor angsty.

The band recorded basically recorded all of the instrument tracks for our album at least a year ago. It's still sitting on my computer, needing mixing and some more vocals. How can I start on all of my other recording plans - my rap album, my techno career, my acoustic songs - until I get the Johnny Tightlips album done? I've been spending a lot of time planning drums with Paige. Maybe I can teach her how to use ProTools.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Morning at the Gynecologist

So I'm sitting at the gyn-o-cologist this morning just minding my own bid'ness watching my two favorite shows, Regis & Kelly and Good Things Utah, when out of nowhere the doctor comes in and tells us we're going to have another baby. (I don't even know where babies come from. I looked on the internet at work, but a red flashing firewall screen said I needed to ask my mom.)

Traci's 12 weeks pregnant with a little alien that I saw on the ultrasound. The nurse spun the Wheel o' Due Dates and it looks like April 29 is the blessed day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Elton Paige

Paige modeling her new Elton John glasses

Recent Paige-isms:


At church on Sunday we were sitting in the first row of overflow chairs, right behind the last pew in the chapel, where all the old people sit. Paige walked up to the back of the pew and leaned up behind each old person and said softly, "boo." When the first person didn't react, she moved to the next old person, and then to the next. Her scare tactics were all in vain. None of the oldies even heard her.

Elmo's World

Also at church: During the quiet of the sacrament meeting Paige had to be singing a song in her highest pitched voice. Though I doubt anyone could other than Traci and I could identify the tune, she was doing her best to sing "La, la, la, la, this my song, Elmo's world."


Our little parrot now repeats everything we say. Last night, I hollered for "Trace," and within seconds my little friend had to be shouting, "Trace, Trace, Trace." She also yells "honey," and when I call her "sweetheart," she replies "babble, babble, babble, babble, sweethearrrrrt."

Baby's First Mass

Last night at Traci's parents, I showed Paige how to dump the assortment of toys out of the wire basket and put the basket on her head. She spent the rest of the night with it on her head, walking around saying "Hat, hat, hat, hat."

Today she was being babysat by Traci's mom. Cathie had left her in the other room watching an Elmo movie. When she came back to get her, Paige had changed the station and was now watching a Catholic mass on tv. And she was wearing the basket on her head. Cathie rushed to put in a primary movie before Paige had much time to change religions. She already hates nursery.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard Confession
The Shade of Poison Trees

After the slightly disappointing sales of Dashboard Confessional’s 2006 release Dusk and Summer, teenage heartbreak heartthrob Chris Carrabba has gone to great lengths to give the kids exactly what they want. The Shade of Poison Trees replaces Dusk’s overly produced, full band arrangements with the familiar acoustic sound of earlier releases. While he succeeds with the reproducing the format – even down to the screen print album cover art - the quality of the actual songs is a bit mixed.

The album’s opening track is also its best. The story of a celebrity whose friends disappear when the money does, “Where There’s Gold” finds Carrabba opening up without falling back on his usual first person narrative with lyrics like, “You throw yourself into their arms/Mistresses have all the fun, but no one's ever there to take you home.”

The next few tracks continue strong with acoustic strumming and pop sensibilities, most of which clock in under the three minute mark. Standouts include the up tempo “Thick as Thieves” and “The Rush,” a love letter that any girl would die to receive - “I'll love you tonight and tomorrow you may just feel the same.”

About thee-fourths of the way through the album, however, the momentum is lost. “Little Bombs” sounds like signature Dashboard until the forgettable chorus and “I Light My Own Fires Now” seems better suited for Carrabba’s early work with Further Seems Forever. The lowest point on Shade is “Matters of Blood and Connection,” the Dashboard version of a rap battle, where a spoiled Cambrige kid is dissed for faking street cred. Despite the lull, the album finishes nicely with “Clean Breaks” and the piano-driven “The Widow’s Peak.”

Regardless of Shade’s missteps, Dashboard was wise to pull back from its leanings toward big, athemic rock songs. Millions of screaming girls have already proven that Chris Carrabba can fill an arena with just an acoustic guitar and his shaky tenor.

Rating: Burn a friend's copy

Where There's Gold [MP3]

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

X96 Big Booty S(ho)w

Jimmy Eat World

Since when does rock and roll ever start on time? Perpetually annoyed by the lack of punctuality in concerts (see Thanksgiving Point Jamboree), I was shocked by the X96 BASH last weekend.

The show was supposed to start at 11 a.m. and feature The Starting Line, Sum 41, Cold War Kids, Jimmy Eat World, Social Distortion and The Used. Traci was working until 2, but I figured if I left right after she got home I would be able to see everything I wanted to. Wrong.

I arrived to the cavernous Salt Palace Convention Center (38 degrees and rain all day moved the festival indoors) at about 2:40 and Jimmy Eat World was already 10 minutes into their set. We had already missed all but three bands. Now that's punctual!

Their 50 minute set reverberated through the concrete hall and was mostly comprised of Bleed American material - Get it Faster, Bleed American, Authority Song, Sweetness, The Middle. They only played two tracks off of Futures - Futures, Pain - and three from Clarity - Lucky Denver Mint, Crush, Blister. They also threw in one new track. Though it definitely felt like a radio show, it was great to see them, and my comrade Tim and I happily bopped along with all of the 14-year-olds.

After their set we stopped by the VIP room where I learned we were also too late for the free pasta. I got a Sprite. Yipee.

I don't know who decided the band order, but Social Distortion played between Jimmy Eat World and headliners The Used. It was demographical night and day going from the JEW stage to Social D. Tim and I were no longer the oldest dudes in the crowd. In fact, most of the people could have been our dads. That is, if our dads still wore black t-shirts tucked into cut-off Levi shorts, complimented by sleeveless denim jackets. Lotsa hot chicks there, too. The 50-year-old lady standing in front of us was wearing a calf-length cheetah print coat with matching cheetah-print shoes.

Nothing gets a crowd going like some good old fashion onstage banter. Here's some from Social D frontman Mike Ness:

"We want to thank, uh, the radio station. (He apparently didn't think to look at the giant X96 banner behind him.) When we first started playing, radio stations didn't play punk rock. We were stuck with Fred Nugent...[applause]...Dead Zeppelin...[more applause]...and Guns 'n Roses! [wild applause]"

Yeah, radio sucked from 1970 to 1992!

Tim and I stuck around until we heard "Same Ol' Ball 'n Chain" and then figured we could go. [Note: X96 has played that song everyday for the past 15 years. Nothing makes Traci more mad.] Neither of us cared to see The Used. So that was it. We went home. I think we were there for about an hour an a half total. I was home in plenty of time not only to make it priesthood session, but to eat some dinner and take a little nap.

Though we didn't see Sum 41, I did see lead singer Derek Whibley at the autograph booth. He's probably 5'2" and 85 pounds. I kept looking around to see if wife Avril was around, but no luck.

October Consumption


Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Dashboard Confession - The Shade of the Poison Tree
Ben Harper - Lifeline
Mum - Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy
Mum - Finally We Are No One
Mark Ronson - Version
Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
Matt Pond PA - Last Light

Saturday, September 29, 2007

September Consumption


The National - Alligator
Get Up Kids - Guilt Show
The Chinkees - Searching for a Better Future
Mum - Summer Make Good
Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd
Kanye West - Graduation
50 Cent - Curtis
Up Up Down Down Left Right BA - Worst Band Name Ever

Thursday, September 27, 2007

They Made Frogs Smoke Til They Exploded

Múm - "They Made Frogs Smoke Til They Exploded" [MP3]

Here's a strange musical tip from my friend John. It's your run-of-the-mill ambient Icelandic 8-bit rock combined with some fairly disturbing imagery. It's a great pick me up when you're working at Insurance on a Thursday.

Functioning Shower?!

I tried my luck with the work showers again this morning. Hot water! Hooray! I never wanted to get back out. But it sounds like there's a chance I may actually be able to start showering at home again.

The home warranty repair man is at our house right now. He said that the water heater was not the problem, but some archaic valves in the shower. ("I thought I'd never see one of these again.") He was able to track down the part and is now making the reparation.

Could it really be? A functioning shower with water pressure and hot water for the Sutherlands? Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still Deaf

So I went to "real" doctor. He looked in my ear and said with congratulations, "That's the worst ear infection I've seen in a long time." So I guess the week of antibiotics didn't do much. Now I'm on a different prescription. I asked him when I was going to be able to hear again and he said it might be two more weeks. While I was sitting in the waiting room the nurse was standing in doorway saying something over and over. I finally looked at her at said, "Are you saying Spencer?" She was. I guess I'm deafer than I thought.

Morning Whine

I've been having a rough go of it lately. The house - the new house is a never-ending torment, the most annoying of which being the lack of water pressure in the showers. We're talking a drizzle here. Shampoo in, no problem. Shampoo rinsed back out, better stick your head in the sink.

We finally got the pressure problem fixed and thought life was great - until we turned the shower from cold to hot. Back to the drizzle. So now we're waiting to (hopefully) get the water heater replaced, which is under our home warranty.

Since it is gone from summer to winter here in the past three days, the cold shower in the morning is quite unbearable. Today I decided I would just go to work early and shower in the locker room. There's never a shortage of hot water there. Until today. I stepped in, got 30 seconds of hot water and then coldsville. Oh, the irony. I could've had a cold shower at home and avoided the awkwardness of seeing my coworkers naked.

After a week of antibiotics, I'm still deaf in my right ear. I feel like an old man because I have to ask people to talk into my good ear and lean in real close. I think eventually Traci is going to stop talking to me completely to avoid my incessant "Huh?"s. I've given in and made an appointment with my "real" (see also full price) doctor for later today. We'll see if he can fix me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jonny Wix & The Ear Explosions

A couple of years ago, my friend Jonny Wicks told me the following story (I'm sure the facts aren't exactly right, but here's how I remember it):

He was in a hotel with his wife in Cincinnati while they were scouting colleges. He said his ear started hurting incredibly bad and there was nothing he could do to ease the pain. Because he didn't have health insurance, he decided to just tough it out.

The only thing that made him feel better was standing in a hot shower, so he basically spent the whole night under the water. And that's when he heard the pop. He said a small piece of skin shot out of his eardrum, releasing all of the pressure in his ear as well as a steady stream of blood. He finally gave in and he and his wife headed to the emergency room.

I've had a cold for the past week. It started as a nasty sore throat, moved on to sinus congestion and, two days ago, moved into my ear. Because I didn't want to pay my doctor $75 to tell me that it would go away on its own, I tried to just ignore it.

By Monday night, it was hurting me so bad that I figured I had to go to the doctor. So around midnight, I decided to go to InstaCare. I looked up the phone number online and saw that they closed at 10 p.m. (Which I should have known, since I am the one who maintains the InstaCare info on SelectHealth's website. Duh.) So I looked for other options. I couldn't find anything that was still open. Traci recommended going to the nighttime place she had taken Paige last year, but couldn't remember the name. So at 12:45 a.m. I got in my car and drove to Murray - only to find that the place had closed. I came back home, couldn't sleep, and watched Prison Break and The Royal Tenenbaums. I fell asleep around 4 a.m.

I went to the doctor in the next morning - the ExpressCare in the Smiths. The pregnant, Asian nurse didn't speak great English, but she was very nice. The examination went along just fine, until she looked in my ear. "This is very, very bad. Your eardrum not supposed to look like that. Almost ruptured." She told me the thing was going to explode at any moment. She warned me not to blow my nose and certainly not to take a shower. Thoughts of Wicks went reeling through my mind.

So I've been taking my antibiotics and I still feel like crap. Two of my three sisters have told me their horror stories of the earache that would never go away, but I am crossing my fingers that I feel better by tomorrow - and that my ear doesn't blow up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Honey Baby

Today Paige started called me "honey." Now if she's looking for me I'll hear "Daddy? Honey?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jamboree Music Festival

Traci and I spent 8 1/2 hours watching 4 hours of music at the Jamboree Music Festival at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday. Some thoughts:

The Aquabats

Lap steel guitar is the new Moog, which was the new horn section, which was the new - I don't know - three-headed guitar monster. By the time we had sat through three alt-country bands (Piebald, Limbeck, Cub Country), I couldn't believe how excited I was to see the Aquabats take the stage.

I know I just dissed them, but they really put on a good show. I solved the mystery of what they do with the old songs now that they've dropped the horn section from the payroll. For the most part, they just power through the ska songs, just using the keyboard. But on a few songs, such as Super Rad, the keyboard player just busted out his sax-a-ma-phone and handled the brass parts himself. Pretty impressive.

The So-Cal superheroes were up to their usual antics. They led the crowd an oath, declaring this the best day ever and renaming Thanksgiving Point "High Five City." This resulted in two pilgram-costumed men (the founders of Thanksgiving point, of course) coming on stage to challenge the name change. After an exciting battle, the Aquabats were victorious.

The Aquabats were also the only band of the day to get the entire crowd on its feet. No one wants to miss two six-year-old crowd members have a crowd-surfing race will sitting on blow-up swimming pool dragons.

The music wasn't half-bad either. I am really starting to dig on their latest album - the Aquabats vs. punk rock, plus Reel Big Fish-style vocal harmonies - "Charge!" More than anything, it was nice to hear something upbeat after all of the sullen acts that proceeded it.

The Format

The chance to see The Format was the motivating factor for getting the Jamboree tickets. This was the first time either of us had seen them and I wasn't really sure what to expect. Their album Dog Problems has been on constant rotation in my car for about a year. I was skeptical that they would be able to recreate the very orchestral sound of the record live, but was pleasantly surprised. The two man studio band becomes a six piece live band, with - at any given point - three keyboards, three guitars, a saxophone and a fugelhorn. The poor Thanksgiving Point soundguy couldn't keep up with all of that, but I could imagine how all those things were supposed to sound.

The Jamboree was The Format's last performance of a monster 55-date tour. After a year-and-a-half of nonstop touring, they were heading home to Arizona to write a new record. The band looked pretty road ragged, but sounded tight. I was surprised by the even distribution of songs of both of their two albums. I doubt all of the teens and pre-teens screaming for them had heard much of the material from Interventions and Lullabies, but what do I know? I didn't realize every little girl in Utah County loves The Format.

The forty-minute set was 20 minutes too short. I would have liked to hear Dog Problems in its entirety, or at least been able to choose which songs they played off of it. (We didn't get "Time Bomb" or "Inches and Falling.")

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Basically sucked. Fear is a great record. I had my mind made up that they were going to show up and say, "We're just going to Fear straight through." Not so. There was one of Glen Philips' solo songs. A couple of songs sung by the guitar player (Does he sing?) and a bunch of songs I didn't recognize. Not wanting to feel out of place with all the lap steel, I guess, they invited a friend up to play slide guitar for a few of their songs.

Philips seemed to be resentful toward the teenage crowd. ("This next song is dedicated to your parents, since most of you were probably in the womb when it was popular.") As far as can remember, Toad broke up because they hated each other. Now that they're back together for financial reasons, and it still seems like they don't really like sharing a stage. It felt like a band who was refusing to just play the nostalgic hits, but who didn't have enough chemistry to move forward with compelling new material.

We were thoroughly unimpressed.

Dashboard Confessional

After sitting in the same location for nine hours, the 45 minute wait between Toad and Dashboard was unbearable. Not because of anticipation, but because of frustration. Even though we spent a day away from our child, the parenting responsibilities couldn't be pushed aside. Dashboard didn't go on until almost 10:30 (the show was supposed to end at 10:45). We were only able to see three songs, before it was time to make it home in time to apologize for far overstaying our babysitting welcome. Those three songs, however, were filled with plenty of crowd singer/swooning. Part of the long set up time included the roadies putting up big wooden boxes on either side of the mic stand so Chris Carabba could stand high above the crowd and mouth the words while the adoring girls screeched them back at him.

In the End

The show itself was underwhelming, but it was a beautiful day to sit in the sun and listen to music. More than anything, it was a chance to spend 10 hours of alone time (alone meaning hanging out with 3,000 people and not with our kid) with Traci.

Matthew Myrup Loses Kid

Spartan alum Matthew Myrup lost his kid in the Uintahs. But he got him back, so that's a good thing.

Here's the story.


I think kids (or at least little girls) are born knowing how to talk on a phone. We gave Paige a little red old school telephone rattle when she was really little and even though we have never had a phone that looks that, she somehow knew that she should hold it up to her ear.

Now whenever she gets her hands on a phone (or anything that looks like a phone), she'll put it to the side of her head and say, "Hu-loh." Then she'll babble some stuff and say "Bye," and put the phone down on her leg.

I've noticed lately Paige doesn't even have to have a phone to talk on one. If I just hold my hand up to my ear say "Hu-loh," she will immediately do the same.

Yesterday I was giving her a bath and she really cracked me up. She found the little plastic cover to one of Traci's razors and put it up to ear, "Hu-loh." It made me think of that part in Zoolander when Derek gets the call on his tiny cell phone and answers, "God?"

I unsucessfuly tried to find the clip on YouTube. Fortunately, I did find Traci's favorite part, the gas fight.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Johnny Acousticlips

The Johnny Tightlips debut CD, that I have been procrastinating about for the past year plus, is now on hold until I get enough of the new house unpacked that I can start recording again. In the meantime, Aaron and I recorded acoustic versions of a few of our songs. We sat in my concrete, unfinished - and thus acoustically outstanding, basement and recorded mic-less into an MP3 recorder. You can find "Airport Song" and "Heart on Fire" over at the JTL website.

New Music

New songs and artists are now up on the Manifesto Radio (on the right hand side of the screen). More thoughts to follow...

The Return of the Aquabats

At this very moment, I have not one, not two, but four Aquabats CDs in my car...and I don't even like the Aquabats! Traci and I are going to the Jamboree Music Festival this weekend because we we want to see (in this order) The Format, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Dashboard Confessional. Despite the fact that they don't fit in at all musically, the Aquabats are also on the bill. That's what happens at Utah County shows - there's always room for the Aquabats.

I haven't listened to the Aquabats since 1997, but I figured I'd give 'em another spin to see if maybe they sounded better to me now. So I went to the library and checked out all four of their albums. Within about 15 seconds I was thrust back to high school, crammed into Colin Lewis' mom's minivan (Colin was wearing his Bat Cadet costume) going to see the Aquabats. By 20 seconds in, I realized that I didn't like the Aquabats then and I still don't like them now.

I loved third wave ska. I still think that Catch 22's Keasbey Nights is one of the best albums of all time and periodically I have to listen to The Hippos. However, the whole genre was tainted by two problems: childish lyrics and horrible vocalists. I can handle stupid lyrics, no biggie. But bad lyrics combined with bad singers is too much. I guess if I had ever been really into comic books or dungeons and dragons it would be more fun for me. I've never liked They Might Be Giants or Devo and I don't like the Aquabats.

I am curious as to why on their latest record, the Aquabats have ditched their horn section. It made sense that in 1999, as third wave was ebbing, they moved away from straight ska to Oingo Boingo-style rock. But it's strange that now that they have found a new generation of high school ska fans, they would shift to a leaner sound. Maybe it costs too much to tour with such a large troupe.

So in just a few days, I will close my eyes, skank to the Aquabats, and pretend I'm in high school again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Mormon President? (But Trix Are For Kids)

I am still undecided about Mitt Romney. I may or may not vote for him, but that decision will likely not be based on his Mormonoscity.

Anyhoo, the Deseret News posted a link today to an article called "A Mormon president? The LDS difference" published in The Christian Century. It does a good job of giving an overview on the faith. It's super long, but worth checking out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August Consumption


Aly & AJ - Insomniatic
Tiger Army - Music from the Regions Beyond
The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out
Mae - Singularity


After Dark by Haruki Marukami

Pebbles in My Pocket

You would think that a company who's business is based on helping people capture their memories with decorative die cuts, cute stamps and floral print paper would be embarrassed that their sign on Redwood Road says "Crapbooking," but it has been like that for weeks and I don't think they are going to be fixing it anytime soon.

I Dare You to Eat That

At lunch at the La Frontera with my coworkers...

Kaleb finds a gumball-sized piece of pork in his enchilada that is about 2 percent meat and 98 percent fat. Rather than be grossed out (La Frontera's questionable cleanliness is part of its charm), he says, "I'll pay someone 5 bucks to eat this."

Brian shakes his head, as do both Helen and I. Noah, however, answers in the affirmative. He takes the fat chunk and swallows it down. It seemed pretty anticlimactic.

"Was that worth 5 bucks?" I ask Kaleb. He shrugs his shoulders.

A few minutes later Noah makes a bad face and says, "It tastes like it's still in my throat."

"Now it's worth it," Kaleb adds with a satisfied smile. He then looks at Noah and says, "I don't have the 5 dollars right now, but I'm good for it."

I work in health insurance. This is about as exciting as it gets.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Paige Updates

Paige learned how to do a somersault tonight. She was very pleased with herself. Then she was doing one of her old tricks - walking around with her eyes clothes - and she ran into the couch and started crying.

Here's some more Paige-related news:
  • Her favorite shape is oval (pronounced "o-full.")
  • She's learned the following new words: today, house, clock, girl, boy, house, star, sun and fish (fish is pronounced sa-u-sh. Not exactly "fish," but we understand her)
  • She now goes to sleep sitting on the bumper pads of her crib. After a few minutes her head is resting on her knees. I sneak back into her room and tip her over onto her stomach.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Work Rock Star Tour '07: Day One

Yeah, I'm on huge rock star tour, visiting with insurance brokers. The tour includes both St. George and Cedar City, Utah. Pretty huge, I know. When we pulled into our deluxe accommodations (Best Western) last night, I had the following encounter in the parking lot:

Just before getting back in the car to head to the other side of the building after checking in, a lady in the minivan parked next to us rolls down her window. "Hey," she says. "Don't forget the 8 o'clock meeting."

Huh? I figured she must have thought I was in her group or something. Before I could even give a response she holds up two energy drinks.

"Have you ever tried such-and-such drink? It's got a bunch of vitamins and blah, blah, blah."

"Um, no."

"Well, you should try it. It's the best. We're having a meeting about it eight. You and your friend should come."

"Well, we're..."

"Where are you from?"

"Salt Lake?"

"Oh, really? I'm from West Jordan!" (As if she were wandering around China and she happened to run into someone from her hometown.) "What high school did you go to?"


"Oh? How many people were in your graduating class?"

"My graduating class? I don't know. Like 1500." (I think in reality there were probably 300-400. I have never had anyone ask me how many people were in my graduating class. What a strange question.)

At this point my coworker and tour mate Tim said from the driver's seat, "We've gotta go."

"Sorry, we've gotta go," I said to multi-level marketing lady.

"Well, give me your number and we'll get together later."

"No, I'm pretty sure we're not interested."

And so Work Rock Star Tour '07 began...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Ward: Week Four

Nursery went decidedly better today. Paige still refused to interact with any of the other kids, but at least she wasn't mean to anybody. Well, she did use another little girl as a stool at one point. The girl was playing on the floor by the table and Paige kind of stepped on her back so she could reach a toy on the other side of the table. But other than that she was pretty good.

Traci and I went to our old ward for sacrament meeting for a farewell of one of my young men. There's nothing like the contrast of sitting in a ward where you don't know anybody, followed directly by going to your old ward. It was nice to see everybody, but Traci said it just made her sad.

We haven't really met anyone in new ward, yet. That should change soon, however. The elder's quorum president gave me my hometeaching list today and said, "So-and-so is your companion. He doesn't really come to church." Can't wait.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Ward: Week Two

Our second week at the new ward brought my turn to go to nursery with Paige. I was curious to see to what degree Traci had exaggerated in saying that "everyone in the ward hated us" because Paige was so bad.

Paige and I were some of the first to arrive in nursery. I greeted the old lady nursery leader and she said hi to Paige.

"Well, we're hoping things going a little bit better this week," I said. "Paige, she kind of hates nursery," I smiled.

"Yes," she replied, very matter-of-factedly, "she does hate nursery." Uh oh. Maybe the people in nursery really don't like Paige.

The first half hour went pretty well (that's the part where you just play with toys). Paige was good unless any other kids even thought about getting up in her business - i.e. either trying to play with her, or with her toys.

By the time singing time came around, she was very upset. She was happy during the songs, but had to be crying and trying to escape in between each of them. I was trying to keep my cool with her, though it was 8,000 degrees in the room. I kept chasing after her and trying to bring her back to the singing circle, all while trying to make sure to not cause anyone to hate us.

I thought I was doing a good job until right in the middle of singing time, as Paige was singing and dancing away, her diaper fell off. Fell off right onto the ground. Though she didn't mind at all, I was quite embarrassed. I was already sweating profusely and had to find a way to calmly collect Paige and the detached diaper without making much of scene. I think the leaders saw it, but didn't even crack a smile. Maybe they do hate us.

I got Paige re-diapered and then we just hung out until lesson time was over. We went back in for snack time (goldfish crackers, my favorite). She happily ate away and then took two sips of her water and then dumped the rest on her dress and on my lap. Church is hard.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Ward: Week One

Moving into a new ward is a pretty big deal for us Mormon folk. Here's the first in an installment of posts on our transition.

Week One

We celebrated the first Sunday after moving into our house by skipping church. My plan to become inactive didn't last long. The next week we made our first appearance at the new ward.

Knowing that there was no way that Paige was going to make it through nursery on her own, Traci volunteered to go with her. That meant I had to be a grown up and go to elders quorum.

Opening exercises was fine. The only person I know in the ward is the bishopric member that lives across the street from us. He saw me and quickly made his way over to shake my hand. “Hello Traci, it’s great to see you.” Well, at least he remembered one of our names, kind of.

Elders quorum was exactly as I thought it would be. Someone made a reference to the Three Nephites within the first two minutes and there was a lot of the teacher asking us to share experiences, followed by long stretches of silence.

I met up with Traci and Paige in the chapel before sacrament meeting. “Was she good?” I asked. From the look on Traci’s face I already knew the answer. “Everyone in the ward already hates us.” Hmm. That must have been one bad day in nursery if everyone in the whole ward already hates us.

Apparently, Paige was quite a handful. Despite Traci being there, she cried the whole time. She kept pushing the little boy who wanted so desperately to be her friend and she (accidently?) kicked another little girl in the head.

The nursery leader is a mid-70s-ish old authoritarian lady. Crying is basically not allowed in her dojo - er - nursery. Traci said that several times she said, “Who’s crying now? Oh, it’s just Paige again.”

"Paige, were you a monster in nursery?" I asked. Her evil grin said it all.

Looks like we’re getting off to a great start in the new ward.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

July Consumption


MXPX - Secret Weapon
Bloc Party - Weekend in the City B Sides
Bishop Allen - Broken String
The Beastie Boys - The Mix Up
Yellowcard - Paper Walls
Strung Out - Blackhawks Over Los Angeles
Fischerspooner - Odyssey

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fun in St. George

I always like to take bad weather with me on vacation. Traci and I are in St. George right now and getting here was quite a white knuckle experience. Between Filmore and Beaver we hit a monsoon. The rains were so heavy that we literally could not see the car in front of us. Along with a half dozen-or so cars we had to pull over on two different occasions to wait for things to clear up. They didn't. Figuring things were going to get worse before they got better, we continued on at about 25 mph. Though it was frustrating, I am glad that we chose the slow approach. For the next few miles we saw cars that had rolled over or wrecked. Blessing of all blessings, Paige was a complete angel through the whole experience, eating a sucker and singing along to her Wiggles CD.

Man Stuff

We are finding that there are many, many projects that need to be done around our new house. The biggest of which has been our quest to remove the very distinct smell left by the previous owners. So far we have been unsuccessful.

As I am not naturally handy, I am finding that owning, and more specifically maintaining, a house can be very difficult. I take pride in the fact that in spite of my unmanliness I have now done the following (and this is a big deal to me):
  • Hung blinds
  • Painted several rooms
  • Replaced locks and deadbolts
  • Replaced a sprinkler (that I ran over the first time I mowed the lawn)
I'm probably going to apply for a job working on the crew of Extreme Home Makeover or Home Makeover Extreme or whatever it's called. The show with the loud guy who does Sears commercials.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

The World's Greatest Compliment

Do you know when you have become a truly influential writer? When some BYU fan links to your article about the 2007 Economic Outlook on a BYU sports message board. Random.

Thanks, Mike Neider, for the headsup. I myself am not a regular visitor to said message board.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ultimate Fighter

On the way home from work the other day, I realized I now live very close to an Ultimate Combat Training Center. Plus I live really close to Americans. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Dissent Begins...

A few months ago, Paige learned how to respond to questions. Any time anyone asked her anything (or if a question was asked in her vicinity) she would turn and say, "Yip." Though it wasn't always helpful that she only answered in the affirmative, at least it was positive.

Earlier this week she learned "no." "Yip" is no longer in her vocabulary and all responses are now "no." But it's not the monosyllabic "no" - it's more dramatic, like "n'yo." She says no to everything, whether she actually means it or not. But she has learned that it can express a lack of desire or unhappiness. Like when a kid takes her toy away in nursery. "N'yo!" Or when I ask her to not push the chair up to the table and then climb on the table. "N'yo!"

Monday, July 16, 2007


I shouldn't have let myself get sucked in. I just couldn't help. I had planned to simply avoid the Smashing Pumpkins "reunion" (it's hard to be a reunion when it's just Billy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain), but Tarantula was just too awesome of a first single. I got so excited that I actually started thinking that if anyone could recreate the feel of a bygone era it would be Billy Corgan. I was wrong.

At its best, Smashing Pumpkins were blend metal brutality with soft beauty and atmospheric layers of sound. At its worst, the songs were bloated, overbearing and self-important. On Zeitgeist, the metal remains but all thoughts of melody or hooks have vanished.

What's most disappointing is that Billy Corgan, who fashions himself both a grand orchestrator and a perfectionist, has made an album that lacks any sort of direction. The production sucks. Songs sound muddy and out of balance. A good producer would have told Billy that he had missed the mark (about half the songs are Billy produced).

Tarantula is the only hit on the album. About half of the songs are listenable, but only (Come On) Let's Go really invites a repeat listen. That's the Way (My Love Is) is the one nod toward the softer sound, but sounds more like a track from Corgan's solo album than Pumpkins. With the possibile addition of Doomsday Clock, these are the only three tracks that have a chance of making it to my iPod.

Though the new record may have got me down, I won't forget the good times - as seen in the following clip:

Though I'm a little sad, I'm not as sad as this guy. He does make some good points.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Songs About Girls Mostly

My introduction into punk rock went thusly. Flashback to 1994. My sister Sarah took my friend Brock and I to Provo to see Stretsch Armstronng, the Aquabats, Skankin' Pickle , Dancehall Crashers and Let's Go Bowling. It was cooler than anything I had ever experienced up to that point. (Way cooler than Nine Inch Nails at the Delta Center, that's for sure.)

I was playing in a Nirvana cover band with Chris Wilson at the time - which later became the grunge-inspired Twelfth of Never - but that brief encounter with ska was one of two big turning points for the band and for my musical world.

The next was when we really discovered punk. Though Chris and I listened to punk-ish stuff like The Offspring and Green Day, we'd never really heard the real stuff. That changed the day we got invited to play at local show at a pavilion in Draper Park in the summer of 1997. After Chris and I chugged through our Local H-style two man-band-set we saw something that totally blew us away. Local bands - kids just like us - playing ska and punk. With horns and everything. They sounded lousy, but they were doing it. And then we saw Homesick.

Homesick looked and sounded like early Green Day. Snarly, poppy punk played really fast. It changed everything for us. We went back home and started playing all of songs in double time.

Even cooler than Homesick's music was that they had actually gone on tour. They had booked all the shows themselves and played such exotic locales as Reno and Evanston. These guys were freakin' rock stars! (Looking back, I bet they were only 18 or 19.) They were everything we wanted to be.

Needless to say, my copy of their 8 song cassette EP was one of my prized possessions. And now the point of this post. (Finally, I know.)

Somewhere around 1999 I lost the tape . I think I left it in my dad's truck or something. Every time I pack up my stuff and see all of my old cassettes, I see that empty Homesick case and feel really sad. Oh, but all was not lost.

A few months ago, I happened to be reading SLUG magazine. As part of its 18 year anniversary celebration, the magazine invited a bunch of local bands from years past to play a reunion show at the Urban Lounge. On the list was a band called The Corleones, featuring guitarist Paul Burke, formerly of Homesick. I had never heard The Corleones but considered going to the show just in case Paul happened to have some old Homesick tapes in his car. Realizing this was stupid, I stayed home.

I picked up the magazine a few months later and decided not to give up on the matter. The article said that Paul was living in Portland. I emailed the girl who wrote the article to see if she had an address for him. Surprisingly, she emailed me right back with a phone number. It took me a few days to get the courage, but I called him on the phone. I think the conversation went like this:

PAUL: Hello?
SPENCER: Uh, hi. My name is Spencer. I'm calling from Salt Lake. Did you used to play in Homesick?
PAUL: Yeah.
SPENCER: I know this sounds weird, but I like loved your band and I left the tape in my dad's truck and I really wanted to get it but I doubted you'd have one at Urban Lounge and do you haveonenowcuzI'dgiveyoumoneyandstuffandstuff.

I was sure this was the point where he'd hang up, but he was really cool and even seemed flattered. He said that the tapes were all long gone, except for his own copy, but he'd been looking for an excuse to get around to digitizing them. He said he would put something together and mail me out a CD. A few days later he sent me an email, gushing about his feelings toward the band and that time period. Very cool.

A month or so went by and no CD. I figured I wasn't really going to get it, but I was grateful for the interaction nevertheless. After about 6 weeks, Paul sent me another email saying that the CD really was forthcoming. Then more waiting. Last week I finally got a package from Portland. It was worth the wait.

He sent me both their EP as well as their full-length, Songs About Girls Mostly. The songs, which I think were all recorded in a basement, are not quite as revolutionary as I remembered, but are just as awesome. Even more awesome is Paul for going to the trouble.

So, kids, follow your dreams. Get people's phone numbers and call and ask them for ridiculous favorites. You too could be working in health insurance, sitting in your cubicle, listening to Homesick quietly.

Homesick - Grandma and death 'n stuff [MP3]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Danger! Danger! "Emos" Alert

I've been meaning to post this for a long time, but just barely got around to it. Our friends in the local Utah media recently unveiled the secret society of "emos." So parents, you best go throw away all of your kids My Chemical Romance CDs (and even their Death Cab albums) because unlike no music ever made in the history of the world, they make reference to death. Holy crap! The media is really going to crazy when they find out that kids also listen to rap music.

While you watch this, keep in mind that Reed Cowen applied for my job at the Community College when I left.