Friday, November 27, 2009

Teaching the Law of Tithing to a Nine-Year-Old Girl

Missionary: So it says in this scripture that God will open up the windows of heavens to us. How many blessings do you think that is?
Kid: Uh, a crapload?
Missionary: That's right. A crapload.

Enter: Crap Bag

A few years ago, my sister always referred to her house as "crap bag." This was curious given that she has a nice house. Now I understand. Her kids were the same age then that mine are now. The constant cleaning that is instantly destroyed could not be more frustrating. It takes more than an hour to put things together before we go to bed and 5 minutes to destroy everything when they wake up. I live in crap bag.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trot

While I'm waiting for the opportunity to get fat, Traci is running a 5k. You go, girl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Miracle

How's this for a faith promoting story. Nine years ago, I was living in Antwerp, Belgium, preaching the Good Word.

My companion and I shared an apartment with two other missionaries. There were four sister missionaries serving in the city as well. Our very nice ward mission leader (much nicer than me, the lousy ward mission leader), knowing what Thanksgiving means to a bunch of American kids far from home, invited us to his house for a full Thanksgiving dinner.

Folks in Antwerp rarely fed us, not to mention full American dinners. So we couldn't have been more excited. I was so excited, in fact, that I totally spaced the standing dinner appointment that we had every Thursday.

I hated to call and cancel, as the couple were so nice to us. But we couldn't miss our Thanksgiving dinner, right? I made the call.

"Hi, uh, about this Thursday night..."

"Oh, Elder, Thursday night is going to be great. I'm preparing you an extra special meal."

Extra special? She fed us the same thing every week--one full rotisserie chicken for each of us, complemented by a plate of french fries. (Belgians eat french fries with every thing, thus making it the best country in the world.) What could be more special than that?

I chickened out. And then I lied.

"Oh, great. I just wanted to see if we could bump our dinner up an hour. We've got a teaching appointment at six." We never had teaching appointments.

"Sure, no problem."

Big problem. She fed us enough food to kill us. How could we possible eat one ginormous dinner and then go straight to an even bigger dinner?

I prayed.

So what does God do to lying missionaries?

We ate the chicken. We ate the french fries. It was delicious. We drove to dinner number two.

And here's when the miracle happened.

We were right on time for the dinner. But we were the only ones. When I asked our hosts if they had heard anything from the other missionaries they told us there was a tram strike. Having to take the bus would make them at least an hour late.

Just enough time to digest and prepare for second dinner.

Prayers are answered.

A Thanksgiving Miracle.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In this week in In This Week

Here's what I had to say to my hanging-around-bus-stops-and-looking-for-something-free-to-read audience this week:

Feature: Christmas Gifts for Music Lovers
Review: Fanfarlo - Reservoir (Recommended)
Review: Megadeth - Endgame
Review: Why? - Eskimo Snow (Recommended)

These Hands - Why

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: Weezer Raditude

So here's the deal. Ever since Pinkerton (or maybe The Green Album) every Weezer fan has asked, "When is the good Weezer coming back?" After three straight sub-par releases, you'd think we'd just give up. Oh, no. We always just think it's going to be the next one.
But it happened. Despite its unfortunate name (coined by Dwight from The Office. Really.), Raditude is really good.

Over the years, I've spent more than a healthy amount of time trying to figure out exactly what it was on those first two albums that's Weezer's been missing since. The easy target is always the lyrics. Sure, Pinkerton had plenty of awesomely introspective moments, but really Rivers Cuomo has always written boppy, non-serious tunes.

The bigger problem has been the music. The Green Album was solid start to finish. But it was like Cuomo had taken all the heart out of the songs. Just simple, straight forward chords, and catchy choruses. But no personality. Nothing that made the songs uniquely Weezer. It's gotten worse ever since.

The Blue Album
had its harmonica ("In the Garage"), finger picking ("Surf Wax America"), and best-basslines-ever ("Only in Dreams)." Pinkerton was all over the place. Crazy guitar solos, moog, "El Scorcho." It was perfect. (And, more importantly, is just as good today.)

Raditude is still a far cry from their first two records, but the songs are really solid. (The only dud is the bunch is "In the Mall.") They do a great job of mixing things up--hip hop, Bollywood, The Cars--even if they're all just standard pop songs.

So, the old days are gone. But Good songs are good songs. Weezer fans have stuck around because all of their records have at least had a few of 'em. Fortunately, we finally got record full of 'em. Hooray.

Weezer - The Prettiest Girl in the Whole World [MP3]

Recent Bookworm-isms

I am certainly no Traci The Librarian, but I've been quite the little reader lately. I offer my recent reading list as a help to those who are looking for something to read, but who know absolutely no one who reads books, and therefore, have no choice but to trust my horrible taste in literature.

Longshot by Lance Allred
The subtitle (The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA) pretty much says it all. If you are curious about polygamy, college basketball and/or the horrible, horrible way Rick Majerus treated his players, you should find this pretty interesting. I'd highly recommend this one.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
I've read much of Nick Hornby's stuff and this pretty much falls in the middle. The story keeps you interested throughout, but doesn't really have much of a payoff. I don't regret reading this, but wouldn't have been sad had I missed it. (I highly recommend his young adult novel "Slam!" Think "Juno" from George Michael's perspective.)

Punk Rock Dad by Jim Lindberg
is the (up until a few months ago) lead singer of Pennywise. So of course I needed to check it out. Not extremely well written, not always interesting, but as opposed to Juliet, Naked, really comes through in the end. You can help but feel for a guy when he gets recognized by a checker at the grocery store, only to have a basket full of tampons, men's hair die, and enemas in his hand. Fatherhood (and adulthood in general) can be hopelessly uncool.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
The Lost Symbol is exactly the same as the DaVinci Code, which was the same as Angels & Demons, etc., etc. But why mess with a winning formula? The only surprise was that I spent a chunk of the book wondering if Dan Brown is actually gay, given his extremely detailed description of the antagonist's physical appearance and showering routines.

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
I spent the first chapter thinking this was going to be the first Klosterman book I didn't like. Fortunately, he quickly turned things around. A great collection of random essays on Kurt Cobain vs. David Koresh, The Unabomber, and why Weezer fans hate all new Weezer albums, it was like this book was written just for me. So if you're me, you'll love this one.

Lil Wayne Can be My Sugar Daddy

A few months ago, I jokingly asked if I was gay for Lil Wayne. Though I believe the answer was "no," I may reconsider.

I was reading an article about Rivers Cuomo in Rolling Stone today that mentioned Weezy's verse on Weezer's song "Can't Stop Partyin.'" Apparently, Wayne's standard rate for a song cameo is $75,000. That's almost $10,000 for each bar. I think I'm in love.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Politely Asked to Leave

Our little Tinkerbell turned four yesterday. She's not only been counting down the days until her birthday, but also informing us of all the things she'll be able to do when she's older.

"When I'm five, I'll cut Curtis's hair with those clippers."

"When I'm seven, I'll put lots of salt on your salad."

"When I'm 16, I'll drive that car."

"When I'm 20, I'll eat my beans."

But as a four-year-old, she's already becoming pretty independent. Yesterday, I went up to her room to play with her new Animal Hospital with her. After a few minutes she asked me, "Dad, is your tummy a little hungry?"

"Um, I don't think so. Is your tummy a little hungry?"

"No, my tummy's not hungry."

I noticed she'd just been holding her toys the whole time I'd been in the room with her. "Do you want me to go downstairs so you can play by yourself?"

"Uh. Yeah."

We've had three good years together. Now she's done with me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Her Name is Jonas

Paige and I have listened to the new Weezer album about a thousand times. I just walked by the bathroom and I heard a little voice singing "I can't stop partyin' partyin.'" Rivers Cuomo would be so proud.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Disappearance of Simon Snake and the Return of Marvin Mouse

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's being manly. A few weeks ago, I went out into the front yard to turn off the sprinklers for the year. I opened up the box and was a bit shocked to see a snake curled up around the valve. I may have released a little squeak, but I think I kept my cool pretty well. (It was just a little garter snake, but still.)

So what did I do in this situation? Well, the manly thing, of course. I went in and told Traci.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"Ah, I'll just give him some time."

We went out and ran some errands and then I checked on him when we got back. He was still on the valve, though he'd uncurled a bit. I decided to give him some more time.

A few hours later, he was gone. I closed the valve as quickly as I could, in case he decided to reappear and attack me. Traci came out to check on me and said, "I want to see him...AHHH! I'm stepping on him!"

As startled as Traci, little snakey slithered off into the leaf-filled lawn.
Traci thought she saw a mouse in the garage a few weeks ago. I told her she was seeing things. When she found the mouse pooh everywhere, I was slightly more convinced.

Yesterday, she came running into the house. "The mouse is in the garbage can in the garage!" By the time I got out there to look, he was gone.

"He was standing right there on top of those bags!" To make sure he wasn't hiding, I took the can out of the garage and dumped it on the driveway. Sure enough, a cute, beady-eyed little guy shot forth and ran across the front lawn. See you around, Mr. Mouse.

I guess we were better friends than I thought. I just went to get something out of the garage. I heard some rustling, looked in the garbage can, and once again saw my little friend. I had no problem shooing him on his way yesterday, but today, in the blowing snow, I had some second thoughts.

Should I let him stay in the garbage can? Should I find him a cage and let him live in Paige's room? Should I smack him with a shovel?

I once again dumped the garbage can on the driveway and let him run off into my backyard. I'm sure I'll be seeing him again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

May I Recommend...Fanfarlo

These guys are playing in Salt Lake tomorrow. If you're looking for something to occupy a Saturday night, I recommend checking them out. (You can read my not-really-that interesting interview with drummer Amos Memon here.)

Their debut release, "Reservoir," is on my list of favorite new albums. It sounds like they heard Arcade Fire's "Funeral" and immediately decided to start a band. If you love the parade of instruments--mandolin, saw, viola, clarinet--and the not-so-great-on-purpose indie singing, you'll enjoy this one. Plus, the band wears suspenders and is very British-looking.

Take a listen here -

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Rock 'n Roll

Best. Musical. Experience. Ever.

To get a little natural reverb on the vocals, I moved my recording stuff into our bathroom for an afternoon. I'd been in there about two seconds before my curious little fans were knocking on the door to see what I was up to.

I could see that Paige was very concerned. She doesn't like things to be out of place and she's currently not a fan of microphones. She immediately said, "No, dad. That's very much too loud."

I explained that it would actually be really quiet, because we'd just hear the microphone through the headphones. Slowly, she eased back into the room and eventually she put on her pair of headphones. She watched as I started recording some vocals.

I could see in the mirror that she was starting to bop her head along to the beat. Next thing I knew, she was singing along (making up her own words and melody). When I played back the recording, I noticed a little angelic voice singing backup. I couldn't have been more pleased. I'll guess she'll be getting publishing rights now.

Breaking Up with the Hills

She did it. She actually did it. After threatening during every episode of five straight seasons, Traci has officially cut The Hills out of her life. I am now a lone man, watching it all on my own.

Of course, I had my doubts about the post-Lauren Conrad Hills. But I've been pleasantly surprised.

Less Lauren = more Audrina, Lo, and Stephanie Pratt, which is bad. There is also some intense boringness with Heidi and Spencer (though his cowboy hat could have its own show, costarring Charlie's mustache).

Kristin Cavallari is a million times more entertaining than LC, there's more room for Brody to start girl fights and conveniently walk away, and Justin Bobby gets to have lots of different hairdos. I'm content.

But Traci has moved on. One can only hope that our television paths will cross again.

The Dora Dog is Back

After a trip through the dishwasher, he's back in action. Curtis had thrown it in the toilet. His aim was even more impressive, given Paige was sitting on it at the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family Pictures

My friend Brian was nice enough to take some pictures of my family last weekend. Here's how Curtis felt about it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Stickin' it to Chastity

So after much reworking, I got my lesson all ready and catered to an adult audience. I walked into the classroom and one of my class members said, "This is my 16-year-old sister. She's visiting today." D'oh!

So I went to Plan B, Aaron's made-for-seminary approach:

"You could always put a piece of candy in your mouth and then spit it on the ground and say 'Who wants it now?!'"

No. I didn't. I actually don't really remember what I rambled on about. But nobody got up and left class early, or worse, asked me where babies come from. So I guess it was okay. The real test now is whether they come back to class next week.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Remember When I Got $2 Haircuts at SLCC?

When I worked at SLCC, my office was right below the cosmetology department. When I'd walk out to my car there would always been a bunch of girls walking around with their bag full of heads. When one fell out of the bag it was always a little creepy.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gettin' Down With the Law of Chastity

I have to teach the dreaded Law of Chastity lesson in Gospel Principles class on Sunday. The last time I had to teach this lesson was to the Young Men just after Paige was born. Here's how I decided to teach it.

I asked them all how much money they made at their little after-school jobs. Then I told them how much we paid in medical bills for Paige's arrival. I then divided that amount by their minimum wage earnings and told them how many hours they'd have to work to pay for a kid. And then, if they weren't scared enough, I told them about what witnessing childbirth was really like. Are you ready to be a dad? If not, no sex. I think I scared them straight.

But I'm teaching this lesson to grownups. How do you scare grownups?

Blog Wankery

I spend entirely too much time messing around with this stupid blog--changing settings, adding pointless crap, etc. A few weeks ago, I took a bunch of time to add the little Twitter widget to the right sidebar. The thought was that I could have a place for Manifesto readers to see the dumb status updates that I put on Twitter and Facebook. Then I realized it was just posting my same blog posts. Blarg! (Or, as Paige would say, Darg!) So I've wasted some time getting it fixed. (If you're reading this in Google Reader, you can add to your feed. If you dare. Ah, wah, hah, hah.)

I'm still not sure why I blog. I believe it's always had something to do with keeping a journal-ish story of my life. But I doubt that when I'm 80 I'm really going to care to read all of my old record reviews. So the little Twitter feed will allow me to post links and songs and generally unimportant stuff that I likely won't feel bad if I don't print off and shove in a book for posterity's sake. And it will allow me a place to write Traci's snarky comments as we watch The Hills together (though, since the laptop is breathing its last breath, I don't know that I'll generally be typing while watching TV. Oh, the humanity.)

So, anyhoo, on the banality.

New Reviews: Tegan & Sara, Avett Brothers, Steady Machete

Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
Steady Machete - Riots

The Avett Brothers played Letterman the day we were there.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

It's 1994 Again!

I went to Best Buy tonight and bought NEW music by both Nirvana and Weezer. Suddenly, I'm back in junior high again. I love this crazy time warp.

Thanks, Charlie & Lola

Paige is now speaking to us in a British accent. "Mum, would you like some tea and a biscuit?" Charming.

Monday, November 02, 2009

David Bazan and Say Hi

David Bazan

Tonight's show was amazing. But, believe it or not, the best moment was performed by neither of these bands. The highlight came from the high school kid standing in front of me with the big, boofy 'fro.

During David Bazan's customary Q&A session, the kid raised his hand and shouted to David, "Do you have a beard for your name? I mean, do you have a name for your beard?" Obviously embarrassed, he turned to his friend and said, "Oh, man. Memory FAIL!"

Thank you, failblog, for your contribution to pop culture.