Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Drag of the Great Outdoors

I have all these not-from-Utah coworkers. They're always talking about all of the wonderful things they've done in the Beehive State--hiking this, skiing that, natural beauty-ing whatever. It's enough to make a native feel guilty that all he ever does is awkwardly stand in the midst of teens at Kilby Court.

So this summer I've made it a goal to face my archenemy--nature. Luckily I've got mega-outdoorsman sister to lead the way.

Thus far, in addition to hitting each of our ranch weekends, Aunt Sarah has taken us on two hiking trips. The first one, to Donut Falls (which, thanks to a recent rock slide, no longer looks like a donut), went pretty smoothly.

I somehow convinced Curtis to ride in the backpack and even with a chubby, 30-pound rock on my back, the trail was pretty easy. Paige was ecstatic because she saw a chipmunk (of course it was Alvin) and Curtis was more than pleased to be able to throw rocks in the river. We couldn't have asked for a better night.

It went so well that we figured we'd try it again. The next adventure was to Cecret Lake at Alta. And it was a bit too much for us.

We got a late start, so by the time we got there Sarah said there was no time to waste. Paige didn't get the memo.

Enamored with maps (I curse that blasted Dora), Paige dawdled as she tried to lead the way with the parking map we'd been handed by the ranger. Curtis was again in the backpack, but the terrain was a bit steeper. It was steep enough, in fact, that by the time we made it to the misspelled lake, I was 90 percent sure I was going to have a heart attack.

Cecret Lake

We kept Paige motivated throughout the last stretch with promises of a Capri Sun upon reach of the magical destination, only to find that I had left them on the kitchen counter. Her only solace came from me allowing her to eat about a half dozen bags of fruit snacks as apology.

By the time we made it back down, Paige was in tears, Curtis was in my arms, and Traci was giving me the look that said that we're done with nature for the rest of year.

Song of the Day: The Ramones Bonzo Goes to Bitburg

The best song ever written about Ronald Reagan also happens to be the best song The Ramones ever wrote. (If it sounds familiar, you probably heard it in "School of Rock.")

Whether or not you're a fan of The Ramones, or even punk rock, you should definitley check the documentary "The End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones" from your local Salt Lake County library. It's a heart breaking story of a band who influenced everybody but just couldn't catch a break themselves.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Song of the Day: B.o.B. feat Rivers Cuomo, Magic

I'm really enjoying B.o.B.'s "Adventures of Bobby Ray." The fact that Weezer's River Cuomo donates the chorus to this track is just an added bonus. (Paramore's Hayley Williams is the real star of the album. How can you not love her vocal on "Airplanes?")

For a live version, with Rivers flexing his emcee skillz, click here.

Traci Has Officially Jumped Ship

It's been ages since Traci last wrote for the Manifesto. I finally found out why. Apparently, she's been saving up all of her creative power for the new Murray Library blog.

Check out her review of "29" by Adena Halpern here.

Song of the Day: K'Naan Wavin' Flag

I'm pretty sure that things are busier for me at work now than they've ever been. As a result, that the last thing I want to do when I come home is more writing. So I'll put my brain on autopilot for a bit and post some songs that I've been loving lately.

I was watching a re-run of K'Naan's so-good performance on Austin City Limits the other night and it reminded me just how good this song is. (And it's even better a capella.)

The song is perfect on its own, but it's made even better from me thanks to the memories it brings back of teaching Africans in The Hague and Antwerp. I became friends with a couple of great dudes that would always invite me to sing African spirituals with them. I was always touched by the simplicity of the songs and the sincerity of the delivery. All of that's here in "Waving Flag."

If you're up for it, I'd highly recommend checking out K'Naan's full ACL set:

Watch the full episode. See more Austin City Limits.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Music, Lately

I've been on a real tweener hip hop kick lately, hence the following reviews.

Travie McCoy -
Lazarus. If you like Gym Class Heroes and their emo-meets-hip hop vibe, you won't be disappointed.

Taio Cruz - Rokkstar. I'm a sucker for ultra-hooky pop songs. I was surprised by how much I like this formulaic, R&B-lite record.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

But Football in the Groin Had a Football in the Groin

At age four, Paige has already discovered the key to comedic gold. All thanks to her new favorite show--America's Funniest Videos, or America's Uh-larious Videos as she calls it.

Paige: Dad, let's play America's Uh-larious Videos.

Me: Okay, how do we do that?

Paige: You hit me in the bumper with this soccer ball and I'll fall down.

Gold, I tell ya. Gold.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dress Ups

Again, way too much Chipmunks at our house lately. Now, Paige wants to play "Squeakquel" all the time. That means we pretend to be characters from the show. Paige is always Jeanette (or Jernette, as she pronounces it) and I am Simon. We each wear our sunglasses to make us look more like the four-eyed poindexters. (What kind of kid chooses to be the nerd?)

Sometimes we're allowed to change it up. The picture above was when Paige was Alvin, hence the red shirt and the sideways hat.The other day, Traci was instructed to be Britney. But Traci's brown shirt just wasn't going to cut it. Paige made it very clear that she better put on a pink shirt.

While Traci was changing, Paige came back in the room and made an announcement.

Paige: Mom, I put your shirt away.

Traci: Where'd you put it?

Paige: In the boring pile.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salt Lake City Law Breakers Beware!

Traci is at jury duty right now and she's tough on crime.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Return of My Nemesis

He's back. That sneaky snake that nearly ate me whole last fall. I was enjoying a rigorous regiment of "Ready, Set, Go" (otherwise known as a race) with Curtis, when I nearly tripped over the monster.

I let out quite a shriek--er, manly exclamation--when I saw him. "Ah! A snake!"

Paige didn't want anything to do with it, but Curtis couldn't have been more curious. And he was, of course, the manliest man in the group. Which was a good thing.

That snake was no match for Curtis' dog-pitched squeal of delight and quickly slithered away in fear. Hmmph. Reptiles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Unleashing the Awesome Power

This morning, my work homie Rachel was eating this for breakfast:

"Pudding?" I asked. (I don't discriminate. I'll eat pudding for breakfast.)

No, some sort of hippie concoction made of carrots and walnuts and bark or something.

"It's got your whole day's fruit and vegetables in just one cup. Try some."

Dare I?

(You'll notice from the background of the picture that I've clearly turned my cubicle into a you-bicle.)

It was okay, as far as breakfast sludge goes.

It made me think of that Simpsons where Homer was eating all that Power Sauce so he could climb the Murderhorn.

HOMER: I only eat food in bar form. When you concentrate food, you unleash its awesome power, I'm told. That's why I'm compressing five pounds of spaghetti into one handy mouth-sized bar.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Open Containers

Last night, Paige and I were playing "tea set." When it was time to get in the car to go to Lowe's to do--you know--man stuff, Paige said, "I'll bring the pot and the cup in the car, so when you get thirsty you can drink while you drive."

Yes, officer. I was drinking and driving. But I was thirsty. My daughter said it was okay.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare Some Music Reviews?

Silversun Pickups

In addition to talking to The Wiggles, and then watching the Wiggles, I have actually listened to some grown up music. Here's the latest.


Tokyo Police Club - I don't hate all Canadians. I wasn't even bugged when guitarist Josh Hook kept saying "oot" and "aboot."

Face to Face
- Singer Trever Keith never bothered to call me back, so instead of an interview, I wrote this little history piece on the band. (I'm crossing my fingers that the reunion album, out this September, is a return to form.)


Silversun Pickups. It was long and loud (and I'm clearly too old) and impressive.


Deftones - Diamond Eyes. If you're a fan of the heavier stuff, I'd highly recommend this one. (I've already confessed my love for it here.)

Tokyo Police Club - Champ. Meh. I like TPC, but this one was a little bland.

Sage Francis - Li(f)e. As a whole, not a great record. However, there is some spoken-word-indie rap awesomeness, namely "The Best of Times." Check the vid here.

The Wiggly Circus

Paige may not have been too impressed by my interview with Anthony Wiggle, but she was very excited that I scored us tickets to see the show. (I know this because she keep saying "Dad, I'm very excited for the Wiggles concert.)

When we made it to the venue, my only worry was that the Aussies may not live up to the four-the-year old's ultra-high expectations. No problem, there. Paige loved every minute, singing and doing her Elaine Benes-esque dancing to every song.

Curtis, however, was a different story. I'm used to taking him into the foyer at church when he's being bad, or taking him home from the 4th of July fireworks because "fireworks are skeery, Dad." But taking him out to the concourse because the Wiggles, who he loves to watch on TV, were too scary, caught me off guard. And that was before the band even came on stage.

Once the show actually started, we finally got him settled down and he sat tight-gripped on my lap. After every song he'd say, "Is the Wiggles all over, Dad?" (He did manage a smile and a wave when he saw Dorothy the Dinosaur.)

On the way home, Paige, who was still beaming with enthusiasm, asked, "Do the Wiggles know my name?"

(This was tricky territory. I felt like she was asking me if Santa Claus was real. But luckily I had the answer.)

"Of course they do. Don't you remember that I talked to Anthony on the phone about you?"


(I've impressed her now, I thought. Finally.)

"But what about Murray?"


"Hey, how 'bout we go get a Slurpee."

(Sweet distraction.)

A very successful evening.

And here's the show review.

The Wiggles
August 3, 2010
The Maverik Center

As the lights came up at the conclusion of the 90-minute “Wiggly Circus,” my four-year-old daughter turned to me, with her upper lip trembling, and said, “Is it all over?”

“Yes, it’s all over.”

“Why? Why is it over?”

“Because The Wiggles played all of their songs.”

“But I want them to play a thousand songs!”

Those four Aussies, and their team of dancers and characters, certainly know how to the leave the Pre-Kindergarten crowd wanting more.

This was my first “kid” concert. Going in with no more expectation than that of cotton candy, sticky kid fingers, and overpriced merchandise, I left feeling quite pleasantly surprised.

First of all, parking was a breeze, given that everyone in the crowd had carpooled in their mother’s minivan (though it was a real struggle to find our minivan after the show, amongst all the look-a-likes). Secondly, the show was over by 8:30, so I still had time to buy a hotdog at the 7-11 on the way home before putting the kids to bed.

And, as an added bonus, the show was pretty good, too. Of course the kids were happy to dance to “Hoop Dee Doo” and “Rock a Bye Your Bear,” but as an adult, I was happy with The Wiggles handled themselves on stage.

These guys do a ridiculous amount of touring—something like 200 international dates a year. But rather than putting on a well-oiled, auto-piloted performance, the group is refreshingly loose. They easily laughed off the technical problems that plagued the first third of the set. (When Captain Feathersword’s mic went dead, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field quickly put his hand over his mouth and spoke in his Captain Feathersword voice and the Wiggly Pirate lip-synched the words. Both actors got a good laugh from the improv act.) They graciously interacted with the crowd, personally thanking each child who had brought a homemade poster, and genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the set.

They were also good with the parents, regularly throwing appreciation and jokes their way. “We drove all the way here from Los Angeles in our Big Red Car [their little golf cart]. We sang ‘Toot, Toot, Chugga, Chugga, Big Red Car’ the whole way—something like 3,000 times. I’m sure some of you parents can understand what that feels like.”

The Wiggles kept the energy high throughout the set with plenty of singing, dancing, and circus fare. The band, whose ages range from early 30s [Sam Moran] to nearly 60 [Jeff Fatt], swung and rolled, flipped and flopped, without missing a beat or losing their breath. (I got a little tired just watching ‘em.)

The kids left happy, I left happy. And though I do regret not buying myself a t-shirt that says “I’m the Fifth Wiggle,” I couldn’t have asked for a better night.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Talking to TV on the Phone (or My Chat with Anthony Wiggle)

For years, I've been blogging about how television is Paige's true parent. All the way back in 2007 (she would have been about 18 months old), I wrote this about Paige's first encounter with her beloved Wiggles:
Months ago, Paige mastered waving goodbye. The wave is now accompanied by her only recognizable word, “da-die.” (It’s not bye-bye, exactly, but we were still pretty excited about it.) Paige only waves when she thinks someone is leaving – or when she thinks someone should be leaving – but she never waves hello. Well, she never waved hello. About a week ago Traci let her watch The Wiggles for the first time. She was hooked instantly. By day two she was waving to The Wiggles the second they came on the TV – with both hands. Did this translate into her waving to real human beings? No. She only waves to The Wiggles. The other night we were at my sister’s house. Surrounded by millions of toys, Paige spent the whole time clipping and unclipping a booster chair safety belt. Nothing could distract her from this task. She would stop periodically, however, to wave at The Wiggles on the TV.
Though that annoying Dora the Explorer stole the spotlight for a little while, The Wiggles have always held the key to little Paigey's heart.

A few months back, I was looking over the list of upcoming shows in Salt Lake to put together a list of bands I'd like to interview. Amongst Ben Folds, Teenage Bottlerocket, and Tokyo Police Club, there was one show that really caught my eye--The Wiggles at the E Center.

I wasted no time. I immediately emailed their Australian press contact and requested an interview. I figured if I could talk to one of the Wiggles, Paige would think I was the coolest dad ever.

A week or so later, their US rep called me back and gave me my choice of having a few minutes on the phone with either Jeff or Anthony. (Well, Anthony, of course.)

I was just as nervous for the call as when I talked to Weezer or Death Cab for Cutie. (But not as nervous when I talked to Vanilla Ice.)

The Blue Wiggle was just as friendly as I thought he'd be (though there was a little piece of me that wanted him to be a monster--wouldn't that make for some good blog fodder?) and we had a nice little chat.

I record all of my interviews and couldn't wait to get home and play it for Paige.

"Paige, guess who I talked to on the phone today--Anthony Wiggle?"

"What?" she giggled in surprise.

"Yeah, Anthony. Do you want to hear it?"


We went over to the computer and turned on the MP3.

She was impressed for about 15 seconds.

I'll take what I can get.

[Maybe I can impress you, loyal reader, with my interview skillz. Read it here.]

We're Clealy Watching Too Much Alvin & The Chipmunks

Last night Paige says, "Let's play Simon Says. I'll be Simon."

Curtis chirps back, "I'll be Theodore."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ode to Creed (the creepy guy on The Office, not the crappy band)

Sometimes a guy's gotta ride ride the Bull, am I right?

Watching a re-run of "Conflict Resolution." This is, of course, the best part:

Michael Scott: Okay, Ryan, you told Toby that Creed has a distinct old man smell.

Creed: I know exactly what he's talking about. I sprout mung beans on a damp paper towel in my desk drawer. Very nutritious, but they smell like death.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hello, Severed Head

It's not at all frightening to turn on the light and walk into your inlaws bathroom and see a head and some sort of clamp staring back by you.