Friday, April 30, 2004

Should I or Shouldn't I?

I'm waffling quite a bit on whether to buy an amplifier that I saw in the Musician's Friend catalog. It's a great deal, but it's still a lot of money. I felt a lot better when my wife said it could be a combined Father's Day/birthday present. So I think that's ok. But there's another dilemma to be resolved. We both think it's important to get our kids involved in music, not necessarily so they can do it for a living, but because, just as there are positive effects from playing sports, learning an instrument teaches a lot of valuable lessons. We tried piano lessons but, like me when I was a kid, they became disinterested very fast. While we were looking through the catalog, we came across a Fender "mini-strat" electric guitar that's just their size. They claim that they will practice intently if we get it for them. They really want it. I've explained about the sore and blistered fingers that initially come with frequent practice and the fact that they'll have to share and they still assure me that they'll practice everyday. Of course, my oldest, the future lawyer, left open a loophole should he need it: "The only days I won't practice are the days I feel sick." This worries me because he was born with a congenital, mysterious ailment that strikes whenever he has to clean his room or do the dishes or any other task he doesn't like. We've tried everything but nothing seems to help. It would be great to get this guitar for them, but not if it's just going to sit around collecting dust.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


"Hi, Blog."
"Oh. Hi."
"What's the matter? You seem kind of down."
"I've noticed you've been coming around more often lately."
"Oh. Yeah. I'm sorry about neglecting you for so long. I've been really busy lately, and I got sick a couple of weeks ago. . . "
"I know, Dinky. You don't have to explain."
"Well, I just wanted to say happy birthday. I'm sorry that it doesn't seem to be a good day for you."
"It's your birthday today. It was a year ago that I started this whole thing."
"Really? I didn't know."
"Hmm. Ok. Well, why don't we go out and celebrate."
"Well, I'm kind of stuck here right now."
"Oh. Yeah. How awkward."
"It's ok. Some friends are throwing me a party on the web. In fact, I'd better be going."
"Really? Ok, then. Uh, have fun."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Had a lot of fun yesterday. My friend Tony interviewed Jane Seymour for his show. She was very charming. The picture was taken by my buddy, Scott Frederick. I'm second from the left.

Monday, April 26, 2004

They Keep Going and Going and Going and . . .

Sometimes my job is very satisfying. There aren't many professions in which you can work all day then come home, turn on the tv and see what you were working on. The inaugural running of the Salt Lake Marathon was held on Saturday. Of course I didn't run...what, are you crazy? But I had a marathon of my own. A production company out of Jersey taped it and I edited what they shot into an hour-long show that aired on another station here in town. I started at noon and we finished up at about half past midnight. They laid the audio yesterday. So, at 10:30 pm last night, my wife and I turned on the tv and watched what I'd been working on. It was kind of surreal. I'd been working so hard that there was no time to really review what I'd done, so, in a sense, I was watching it for the first time. That can be fun and it can be agonizing. There were some mistakes I hadn't caught and it was painful to watch them go out on the air and not be able to do anything about it. But on the whole everything looked pretty good.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Makes me want to go Country

When I was about 12 or 13, I would help my dad deliver milk door to door. We'd get up at midnight, when everyone else had the luxury of snoozing away, get into the Carry Van, and head over to the giant refrigerator he kept the hundreds of glass half-gallon bottles full of milk. I'd watch as he loaded up the van, then we'd drive all over the city filling orders from his customers. I would take the wire basket and fill it according to his instructions: "OK, the Smiths. They need two half gallons of homo (homogenized, or whole milk), a carton of half-and-half, and one dozen eggs." Then out I'd go, into the blackness, hoping the Smiths' dog was tied up in the back, which, of course, he never was. I hated it. I hated it more than anything. It colored the rest of my childhood with awful memories of being so tired that I'd get out of the truck and puke on the road, of not getting any sleep because I was so afraid I wouldn't get enough sleep before we had to go, of getting screamed at because, in a daze, I had gone back to bed. While we delivered milk, we listened to Earlybird Bob Burtenshaw on the radio and his parade of country favorites. I heard Johnny Paycheck, Mickey Gilley, and Tom T. Hall sing about honkytonkin' (whatever that was) and stronger whiskey, looser women, and faster horses, or however the song went. And I was sick of hearing whoever it was say she never promised me a rose garden. The music was a monotonous drain on my little-boy sensibilities and I hated it, too. To this day I hate country music. It opens a sick and oozing wound whenever I hear it.

That's why I'm always so surprised to find that there's some of it that is good. I just read an article about Loretta Lynn's new album and it makes me want to get it. I like the idea of Jack White but I haven't heard his music yet. I know, I know. I must be the last one on the planet to be able to say that. I'm currently in a music bubble. It used to be that I was up on everything new and cutting edge. I listened to punk and new wave and just plain weird stuff. But nothing's new anymore. The "alternative" scene is a bunch of crap, repeating itself over and over. So I got into classic rock, immersing myself in the stuff I missed because I thought it was dull. It's been quite an experience, discovering the good music that I'd ignored--almost like living in a new era. But in doing so, it seems I'm missing out on good stuff again. I was the last one to discover Nora Jones, and now the White Stripes have eluded me.

This article reminds me of an interview with Dolly Parton that I heard on NPR a few years ago. She was discussing her new album, and despite my intense dislike for Country Music, I found myself really enjoying what I heard. As a person, she was cute and funny, and her music, hearkening back to old English folk, was a startling surprise. I still haven't purchased the album but I need to. There are country musicians I like because of their willingness to step outside the box: Willie Nelson and his love of blues, Johnny Cash and his pushing the envelope into darker and harder genres, The Kentucky Headhunters and their Led Zep influences, and now it seems possible that Loretta Lynn might work in there as well.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Gas Bill

So I'm a guy, you know, and guys think farts are funny. Face it. We really think they're funny. But none of us can say why. But I have this friend who works with me who is the king. Crown and everything. I'm not one to complain because I'm right up there with him. In fact, we're both cameramen on a sports show and one of our favorite things to do is see if we can be so loud in the studio that either our hind ends make it on air, or we cause the on-air talent to crack up on tv. Neither has happened. This has been going on for years. What's different now is the fact that I'm constantly being interrupted mid sentence. I don't remember this happening quite so much before. What I hate most about it is he completely shatters the moment every time and there's no way to resume my point. So the other day when a few of us were at lunch and he did this several times right there in the restaurant, I resolved to do something about it. I wrote a letter to his wife. Now I knew that this would go over beautifully because he's constantly telling us stories about covered wagons (pulling the covers over her head and letting go) and interrupted games of pool when he clears out the entire room. So I knew she'd relate. Here's the letter I sent:

Dear M_____,

We here in the production department wanted to send you our condolences. We can imagine how awful it must be to live with someone whose butt is as loud and as smelly as your husband’s. We know what you’re going through because we live with it everyday here in the trenches. We know the agonies of trying to get a word in without being interrupted, our comments blasted into oblivion with such force and stench that we’ll never remember what we were talking about. We understand what it’s like having to vacate a public restaurant while apologizing to the other patrons and the wait staff, hoping they don’t think it was us.

Since we’ve lived under these circumstances for so long, it has occurred to a few of us you must have it far worse. You have to live with it in the same house. To think of what you must pay to repaint the walls every three weeks! And to have to replace so many curtains and bedspreads! And all those rides in the covered wagon! We just wanted you to know that you are our hero. You have been such a trooper through all of this. What a strong woman you must be to endure in those conditions without the possibility of hazard pay or even some kind of recognition. So we want to tell you we’re thinking of you and that if there’s anything we can do to lighten the “load” please let us know.


The K___ Production Team.

I had a bunch of guys sign it and then dropped it in the mail.

The first thing he said to me when I saw him today was, "You ass!" It was the funniest thing ever. He said he wondered why she'd be getting a letter from the station. And then when she opened it and started screaming with laughter, he couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. Of course, we've all had a great laugh over it. What good times.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Socialpolitical Struggles in the Kitchen

It was one of those moments that I serendipitously cut through the haze that often clouds a parent's perception. Most of the time I'm so busy ignoring the type of behavior that I'm about to describe, that I don't realize it's going on. But it's there: A constant, subtle, internal power struggle that is the essence of kid politics. It is easily missed, just as we miss, and often dismiss, the complex social interchanges of, say, a beehive or anthill. Did you ever see the episode of "Fraggle Rock" that told a story twice, once from the perspective of the Fraggles, and once from the point of view of the Doosers, neither group realizing that the other had any awareness or involvement? My experience, for a second, was kind of like that.

I was nearly finished cooking dinner. I had told the kids that they needed to set the table if they wanted to eat, and, remarkably, it took fewer than twenty tries to get them to actually do it. So I was standing there, waiting for the food in the oven to get done, when I witnessed the cold war that is arranging place settings. My five-year-old had performed the delicate maneuver of placing the plates in the specific order that would ensure he would not be seated next to my three-year-old. It's a small table so this is no easy task. However this meant that the three-year-old was not sitting in his favorite chair, the armed barstool that is broken so it turns 180 degrees instead of its normal 45, and also the chair that had already been claimed by my eight-year-old, the Don of the local mob ring. When the middle boy had his back turned, the youngest switched plates. We should call the middle boy "Eagle Eye" because he wasn't fooled for a second. He spotted the deception instantly and began flailing about, jumping up and down, and whining. At this point I went back into my coma, the only place I can hide when the fascinating behavior study once again becomes the annoying mass of insects. But I am thankful that I was clear-minded enough, at least for a moment, to glimpse the inner-workings of the childhood culture.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

2 am

Can't sleep...can't breathe...throat screaming...g'night.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Good ol' Exercise--And Almost Getting Killed.

I've surprised myself. I'm still riding my bike to work two or three times a week. This morning I lay in bed, exhausted, wondering whether I should brave the bleak weather or just drive in, but there really never was a question. I got up and pulled on my bike shorts and my jogging shorts over them and got ready my camelback and cassette player with my latest read in it and my backpack with my long pants for work. There doesn't seem to be much on the surface to enjoy about the ride. It has steep hills going both directions--the worst being on the way home--and there's not much to look at besides gravel and weedy fields, and the main road that I travel is a narrow two-laner that is always jammed with insane Utah drivers. What I love about it is what it's doing to me. I still pedal through pain. My nearly-atrophied leg muscles still protest wildly as I push them, put the point is that I can pedal through the pain now. As I learn to go at a constant and steady pace rather than pumping like mad for a while and then coasting until I catch my breath, I can keep going without taking a break from pedaling. My progress is exhilarating. I still get snubbed by the many professional bikers I encounter with their colorful, sponsor-laden spandex and their genuine, expensive street bikes, but I don't care. I'm not there to impress them. I'm there for me. Besides, they leave me in their dust long before I can worry about what they think. Tonight after work was a different story, though. The wind was gaining force and storm clouds were gathering, so, since I have to go to work tomorrow anyway, I left the bike there and brought the company vehicle home. The trip home convinced me that the traffic is much safer on the bike. At least I'm not directly in the path of those killing machines with the raving lunatics at their helms. I noticed this big blue suburban when it raced to merge in front of me but didn't make it. I forgot about it and drove until I came to a yellow light and stopped. There had been an accident and the two wrecked cars were on the side of the road and no one appeared to be hurt. There was a lot of distance between the suburban and me but a few seconds after the light went red I heard a horrendous screeching noise and saw him swerve wildly into the turn lane next to me. He put his hand up to his face to avoid looking at me, put his signal on and turned right. I saw him make a u-turn so he could get back on the road I was on. Apparently he had been looking at the accident and not at where he was going and just barely missed wrecking the company car. I'm not sure what I would have done.

I've had long days at work this week. The banquet for which I've been producing the video presentation (which, by the way runs about forty minutes total) is Monday and I still have at least a couple of hours of work to do on it. So, as I said, I'm going in tomorrow to finish it.

Yesterday my wife told me that our five-year-old had come running in shouting "Emergency! Emergency!" She went out to see what the problem was and found our eight-year-old serenely hanging upside down from the willowtree in our front yard by his ankle which had somehow gotten tangled up in his jump rope. She said he didn't seem distressed but was waiting patiently for her to get him down. Quite a madhouse I live in, isn't it.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Now this is a Quiz...

I'm not really into the quiz thing, but I saw this on Kem's blog and tried it, and now I must show off, for grammar is the one thing I am confident about:
Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday Job

A bee and his hive.Here I am, working on a Saturday, my favorite thing to do. Two of the boys, my three-year-old and my five-year-old, came with me. Their brother was at the school taking a test to see if he qualifies for an advanced school. So we had a grand time here, me trying to get my work done, and my boys drawing pictures like this one my five-year-old did of a bee headed toward a flower. His busy hive is in the background above him. They just left a little while ago with their mother. Now I can really buckle down and get this done.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Get'R Done!

First I want to say, Amen!, just leave it to the professionals, honey.

OK. As predicted, the edit session sucked. But at least I can look forward to working on it all day tomorrow, which should be my day off, and then three full days next week as well as a week from tomorrow. And then there are the facts that they're still not very prepared, my co-worker shut off the computer, zapping into the nether regions much of the photoshop work I (stupid, stupid, stupid!) neglected to save, and everyone keeps complaining that "There's not enough time! There's not enough time! The banquet's on the 12th!" So it's been really, really fun.

So to ease the pain, everyone in my department came into the editbay after the edit and we watched the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and laughed our butts off. Mine's still off. I haven't been able to reattach it. I could use some help.

Last night, I taught my boys how to play backgammon. At first they didn't like it. But now, my eight year old has beaten me twice (really--I didn't let him win). Now he loves it. He tries to get me to play all the time.