Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pet Shop Boys Rock!

I've liked the Pet Shop boys since my mission in Germany. It's not that I was rocking out to their sweet electronic euro beats while I was serving but because we had this member in one of the branches I served who looooooved the Pet Shop Boys. He had posters of them all over his house. Whenever I hear a Pet Shop Boys song or read about them on this blog it reminds me of this guy and he was pretty amazing.

We only had about 10 peole show up to church each Sunday and this guy would always sit in the back corner and put his legs up on the seats in front of him. He would shout out commentary during the meetings, not because he was crazy, he was a pretty smart guy, but because he was opinionated I guess. If he didn't like the hymn we were singing he would say things like "this song makes me want to puke" loud enough for everyone to hear.

One time he gave a talk where he started out saying that he didn't have enough time to prepare anything so he was going to ask a question and anyone who could answer it would get to come have dinner at his house. His question was "what is the leading cause of death in the world"?Most of the members were little old ladies and one of them answered, "hate." To which he responded, "wrong, I hope you went grocery shopping Sis. so and so cause you're not eating at my house tonight." He then went on to tell us that it was unhealthy eating habits and talked about the need to eat more vegetables. Later that week we had dinner at his house and all he served was five different kinds of meat.

One last anecdote. We had another member who was pretty old and in a wheel chair. His mind was starting to go and even though he was a nice guy he started saying some pretty crazy things. He didn't come to church that often but one Sunday he came for fast and testimony meeting. He had someone wheel him up to the front of the room and then he started talking about how the branch was in bad shape and about all these problems the branch was having. He then told us he was dying and that someone needed to call an ambulance. As he was being wheeled out of the room to go to the hospital he called out "I am leaving now as the leader of this branch and I call Br. Klandisky (Pet Shop Boy Guy) to now lead you forward." It was the most dramatic exit from a church meeting I've ever seen and it was even more memorable because this guy declared himself the leader of the branch and then appointed Pet Shop Boy Guy to take over for him, in the same sentence.

Anways, I love the Pet Shop Boys.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shameful Love

While I should be studying for my screens theory foundation quiz, my mind is elsewhere.

Is everyone familiar with what a guilty pleasure is?

Just to make sure, let's lay down a definition.

1. The 'pleasure' in question comes from some form of media. Be it a Music group/TV show/movie, etc.

2. You have to really like the show/group. You can't like them ironically or think it's so bad it's funny. You watch/listen because you actually think the item is good.

3. You have to be at least a little embarrassed by liking the item because you know that the item is A: lame B: cheesy C: Poorly put together or D: all of the above.

Some examples:

If you think 'flavor of love' is like a train wreck that you can't look away from, that's not a guilty pleasure, but if you love watching 'flavor of love' and know all the contestants names and can't wait for the next episode, and you're just a little ashamed of yourself every time you watch. Then it's a guilty pleasure.

If you actually liked that Fabio movie that Mikey had lying around, and got caught up in the world of romance, that would DEFINITELY be a guilty pleasure.

So, knowing fully well what I'm getting myself into, here's a very brief list of some of my guilty pleasures...

1. Les and I have been watching the 1st season of 'Smallville' this month. Not going to lie, I think the writing is pretty clunky and predictable, and that girl who plays Lana can't deliver a line to save her life, but man...we keep watching. Occasionally they'll surprise you with a well thought out scene or sequence and a storyline. Also we like the Lex character. It blew my mind when I realized that it's STILL ON THE AIR and IN ITS SEVENTH SEASON. They seem to be sort of repeating themselves on storylines in season one...

2. "Westend Girls" by the Petshop boys. I will never...

A) Skip this song if it's on a CD.

B) Flip stations if it comes on the radio. And if I miss part of it, I regret missing it, and I'm horribly embarrassed by that admission.

3. And this one is the kicker...

That old show "Roswell" on the WB.

For those who don't know, 'Roswell' was about teenage aliens who look like normal kids but have special powers (I just reread that line and laughed myself silly. Believe it or not, that IS the premise.)

It's basically a cross between a sci-fi and a teeny-booper romance between Max, an alien, and Liz, a normal girl who knows...that he's...you know, an alien.

Admittedly the first season's not so bad, lots of interesting story plots about government cover-ups and teenage angst. Our favorite episode was where Liz gets visions of Max's past every time they make out, so they have to keep making out for her to get the whole picture. If there was ever a better excuse to have your two main characters make out for most of the show I haven't heard it.

After the first season it TOTALLY loses its identity as a show. One episode they're trying to be 'Buffy' the next they're trying to be romantic. Their making plots that don't make sense, the characters are getting together and breaking up. In the third season one of the main characters is suddenly MARRIED when she'd just been in high school the last season to a character we'd never seen before. Just a COMPLETE MESS.

But the best part is WE OWN ALL THREE SEASONS ON DVD. That's right. Les and I couldn't just watch them at blockbuster and that was that. Nope, we saw them on sale at Best Buy (15 bones each) and we snagged them up.

So, those are some of my guilty pleasures, what are some of yours?


I'm impressed with Rob's blog leadership. When the blog first went up I thought it was a great idea and there have been some posts that have been totally awesome, but it was usually just Rob posting. Now, with Rob's encouragement, I see the scope and authorship on the blog has really expanded. Props to Swamp Boy.

I've been a really lazy blogger. For one thing, I can never think of anything cool to post. I think this is in part due to grad school which consumes most of my waking and some of my sleeping thoughts. Whenever I do actually think of something amazing to post I'm not at a computer and by the time I get by a computer some paper or report is due or I get sucked into reading about politics on the internet.

I promised Rob I would post something today and I hoped as I wrote that some amazing idea would explode into my brain and I would write it and people would laugh and cry at their desks (like when they read Jed's great post) as they read but nothing like that has happened and I'm just rambling. Maybe that's okay though.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tux Paint

Have any of you tried this great drawing program for kids called Tux Paint? Our kids love it and it keeps them entertained for LONG periods of time (without the guilt if you just stick them in front of the TV). The kids love "going to Penguin Land!" It has been Jane's method for learning to use the computer. From the website:
Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6 in the US, key stages 1 & 2 in the UK). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program.
Hmm, I've never seen the "encouraging cartoon mascot," but at any rate I still recommend Tux Paint to all of you with little kids. One especially cool feature is the hundreds of different stamps they can make of various objects such as animals, planets, you name it. Is there any other good child-oriented software that you use in your family?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Quiet Man

22 January

It is just starting to snow. It’s the kind of snow you only see in the movies. So light and noncommittal in its meandering path to the earth, you’d think it was cotton or down. Not ice. It has only enough density to be drawn out of the atmosphere and it will rest on a tree limb or a sidewalk or the roof of a parked car.

A man stands at a window that makes up the fourth wall of the room he occupies. The window runs from floor to ceiling and from corner to corner. Steel seems bind the panes and magically seal the outside from the man’s reach so that the snow and the cars and the people display themselves, as it were, on a soundless screen. Like a muted television set. The man notices that as the snow flakes approach the energy and heat of his window, they flitter upward. Back to the heavens that made them.

The man is 29 years old. He drags his thumb nail between his two front teeth and paces casually to the right. Then back again to the left. He pauses there and buries his hands in his pockets. He’s only a little disappointed in the outfit he has on, knowing that there will be pictures taken of him later on. But how was he to know as he dressed himself this morning? He’d decided that it was fine for work, but certainly not for special occasions. But he can see himself vaguely in the window now, and he is not flattered. He chides himself for his vanity and he shifts his focal plane to the snow at infinity. It looks like fog or a fine mist.


The man calls his mother. It is clear now that he will be staying and he wants her to know where he is. He stands facing the window and looks in the direction of his mother’s house. The world has disappeared at that distance. A dim, gray sheet hangs in its place and the man reconstructs the image in his mind while his mother stutters and starts and asks if there is anything she can do. He says they are fine, and he turns again to see his wife in her mechanical bed and drab cotton gown. She doesn’t look fine. She is shivering and bracing in pain, but he doesn’t tell his mother that.


An Indian anesthesiologist is giving brisk instructions as he prepares his unnatural needles. He uses polite words but his manner is hurried and only civil. The man bristles at the tone in use with his wife and he settles into a chair near her bed to stare at the wall. He’s seen this all before and he decides he is not interested in the process anymore. He can’t watch it again. The iodine and the needles and his wife flinching under it all.

The Indian says several times that it will feel like a big mosquito bite and then some pressure, but no pain. Just a big mosquito bite. He says it a last time while he does something the man can’t see. His wife winces and bites her lip. The man imagines a six foot mosquito in green scrubs with an Indian accent. He struggles with what feels like resentment and gratitude for the service rendered. But when his wife's eyes open to reveal their whites as the final needle is driven into her spine, the man decides he hates the Indian and his instruments. And he waits impatiently for him to leave.


The man leaves the window again and goes to his wife’s side. He asks how she’s doing. He reaches for her hand but a nurse hurries in and needs something else and wants her consent for that epidural she just had. The man backs away and sits. He crosses his legs and waits. He looks at his pretty wife lying on her side, her enormous belly now concealed under several flimsy blankets. He watches her back expand and contract with her breath and he realizes that they haven’t had a chance to really talk since they arrived. He had worried himself with the paperwork and his cameras for a while, but now it seems that every occasion for conversation is interrupted by another anonymous figure in green. They swish in and swish out. They clack at the keys and fiddle with tubes. They coo their well-wishes.

But the man considers himself a reasonably private person, and he shies into the corner when other beings are present. He thinks that if it weren’t for all these people do to keep her safe and clean, he’d rather keep this experience between himself and his wife. But he is undying in his gratitude for their abilities and care. If only he felt he could talk or help.

He looks again at his pretty wife. She is peaceful. Her contractions register on a screen behind her but she feels only the announcement of them. The microphone strapped to her pelvis broadcasts the whirring beat of her infant son’s heart. It whump, whump, whumps like a propeller under water. Its steady rhythm is the frantic hope that underlines the man’s thoughts as he studies his wife’s little face. He can’t remember when he didn’t love that face. He prays to his God:

I know this is a little late, but be with my girl. Bless my Jayne.

Be with my boy.

Bless these doctors.

Grant me my son.


The man moves his chair up to the bed where he can hold his wife’s hand. It is frigid. The nurse had told her she was shaking because of her abnormal hormone levels and that she wasn’t all that cold. The man wonders if the nurse had touched her hand. What would she say then? But he doesn’t know if hormones can actually make your hands cold, so he concedes.

They watch Ellen Degeneres in silence. Ellen was on last time they were here. She was on at 10:30 two years ago. The man can’t decide which is a better time slot and what that means about the network’s confidence is Ms. Degeneres. What is her demographic, anyway? Seems a gutsy move to put her in the afternoon with Oprah so near. If Oprah ran for Queen of the World, she’d win by a landslide. Don’t know if you could say the same for Ellen, no matter how spunky she is in all her clothes supplied by Adidas and Converse.

The Jonas Brothers and playing on a rooftop in Texas for Ellen’s screaming fans, and the man and his wife are waiting. They wait. Ellen gets up to dance. She dances to the whump, whump, whump of the child’s unborn heart.


The man sits quietly in the corner away from his wife. He supposes she is asleep with her back to him. She must stay on that side as it is hard to get a read on the child’s heart if she rests on the other.

Sometime before she dropped off, his wife had mentioned how quiet he had been all day. He apologized but couldn’t promise he’d be more vocal. He doubted it was in his nature. Even at work, when his wife had called him home so they could have this baby, he had been ribbed for not showing enough excitement. He had laughed it off then, but he got to wondering about it now.

The man tries to remember what he was like the last two times he was here. Had he turned any cartwheels then? Did he carry on with the nurses and swap golf stories with the doctors?

He cried when Hazel was born. The experience was too much for him then.

He had fought for—and won—his composure with Parley. But choking down the lump in his throat had been very painful.

He decides he never talked a lot, though. Either time. He is more calm today than he had been, and he imagines he will be all the way through delivery; he is not one to jump and shout. But he is ashamed at his distrustful nature, that he can’t relax into the notion that everything will run smoothly. He is hardly caught up in images of catastrophe and tragedy, but he reserves his celebration until he feels he is in the clear. He has always done so. Even in situations of much less gravity, he will hedge his excitement out of view so that no one will know if he is disappointed. It is not indifference that protects the man, or even classic, masculine detachment. There is nothing about the man’s behavior that is “put on”. It is simply that where others will make themselves vulnerable to life and its barbs by investing their emotions nakedly, this man chooses to withdraw and secure an outcome before revealing his hand.

Because somewhere, deep in his soul—under a thousand layers of cool and a thick crust of long-tendered pride—he is doing cartwheels. Big, buoyant, juicy cartwheels. And he is crying, right out loud. Crying rivers of happy tears. And they are pooling and sloshing all over the floor of his heart.


The doctor sweeps into the room, all smiles. He sits and puts on his booties while the nurses prepare the trays and assemble the stirrups. The doctor is married to a friend of the man’s family and he exchanges brief banter about having seen him in a play when he was in eighth grade. The man apologizes for his memory. Everyone chuckles. As the man readies his cameras he notices that his hands are trembling.


The doctor sits on a stool on wheels and pulls himself into position. There is a Paramedic hovering in the background, educating himself in the case that he will have to deliver a baby in an ambulance. He is as nervous and quiet as the man in the corner with his sullen camera.


The doctor asks Jayne to push once. She does so and the child’s head appears with a healthy black mop of wavy hair. Then the face pushing angrily into space. That face that has for so long been shrouded in mystery and anticipation. Now it twists and pulls, fighting for air to fill its lungs. The man knows that face when he sees it, and he bites hard on the emotion welling in his throat. He smiles and smiles, recognizing his son. His camera hangs mute at his side.

The boy slips casually into the doctor’s able hands and his home spills out around him. He finally gets the air he needs and belts out a choked cry that is sweet music to the waiting crowd. And with that, everyone else breathes again. Jayne cries, the doctor is relieved under his mask, the nurses tell the paramedic it is not this easy all the time, and the quiet man in the corner is finally able to snap a photograph of his son. All purple and flailing and covered in muck. The man thinks he could never get tired of this moment. If it could somehow go on in perpetuity—if another dimension opened itself to him wherein this moment could have no end—he’d gladly stand by and watch until his camera rusted in his hands and his bones dried and crumbled inside him.


The boy is clean and sits peacefully in his mother’s arms. He is not crying, she is. The man watches her through the video camera. The tears roll down the viewfinder and off screen. She talks quietly to her son. The man thinks that, in his own way, the boy is listening to what he knows is his mother’s voice.

And when the man is finally given his son to hold for the first time, he doesn’t speak to him. He holds the boy close and examines his perfect tabernacle. He brings his face to his son’s—he hesitates, knowing his stubbled chin will abrade the boy’s soft cheeks. The man pulls his boy tight into his frame and closes his own eyes, wishing he could somehow absorb the child. Thinking that if he could mingle their respective elements, compel them into the same space, the boy could comprehend his father’s affection for him without language or other things of this earth.

The man sways slowly by the window clutching his precious bundle to his breast. The snow has stopped outside and the world is dusted in perfect white.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who's Ready For Spring?

I don't know where the rest of you's guys are, but here in Provo we've had the coldest winter since...last winter. But the winter before THAT (2006 for all those who can count) was unseasonably warm. If we had a cold spell it was quickly replaced by warm weather.

I just checked weather.com for the ten day forecast and they were predicting 'snow' or 'some snow' for the next ten days. TEN DAYS OF SNOW OR SOME SNOW?! Just shoot me and bury me in an ice cold grave.

The frigid weather, the WGA strike and Heath Ledger (the Hollywood version of Dwerden)dying make this a real stinker of a January.

If it weren't for you, loyal Provonians...well, and my family and oreo cakesters, I might give up the ghost and call it a life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Governor Schwarzenegger" Prank Calls Mitt

This is awesome. One of the commenters on Youtube noticed that you can get Mitt's phone # by watching the video. I bet they've changed it already.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Candidates' Names Mean to You

I recently heard a segment on NPR entitled "What Candidates' Names Mean to S.C. Voters," in which the host, Michele Norris, asked approximately twenty people to give "the word or image that immediately springs to mind when they hear a specific candidate's name." (The link for the segment follows.)


As I listened, I thought "what kind of people is she asking?" Mostly because out of the many respondents, only one person had a negative association with Hillary Clinton. To me that seemed improbable--particularly in South Carolina where Hillary is not doing so hot. And also because there were plenty of negative things said about the other candidates (excepting, of course, Obama whom I can't see evoking a negative response from anyone.)
Sampling issues aside, it seemed like a fun exercise to choose a word or image to describe each candidate. How would you respond? Here is my response:

1. John McCain: straight talker
2. Mike Huckabee: Baptist minister
3. Mitt Romney: business whiz, Mormon
4. Rudolph Giuliani: very likable
5. Fred Thompson: true Republican
6. Ron Paul: Libertarian
7. Hillary Clinton: can't stand her (this is my immediate gut response, she has some strong positive qualities to be sure)
8. Barack Obama: dynamic
9. John Edwards: populist, foolish (I don't apologize for dissing Edwards)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Revisiting The Wall Of Pain

'The Wall Of Pain' was a fixture on the west dinning area wall in apartment 15 in the Cinnamon Tree apartments in winter of 2001. If I remember correctly it was started by Dwerden and Ollerton who affixed a 'WALL OF PAIN' sign on the wall and hung images of people experiencing, or items that cause, pain (I believe Kevin hung up an O-chem test score where he got, I think, 38%). In honor of that wall, I humbly present, my own wall of pain.

If you're wondering that is my daughter at the end there. Did NOT want her picture taken.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Am Your Brother

This just made my day.

Did anyone see the Golden Globes?

Let me just be the first to say that it was the most awesomely bad thing I've seen in a while. Because of the WGA strike, and the fact that WGA wouldn't grant a waver to the foreign press for the event, writers were going to picket the event, and none of the actors/celebrities would have crossed the line, well...at least if they ever wanted to work again.

So, the awards were called off and a press conference hosted by Billy Bush and a younger version of Mary Hart took its place. They would read off the nominees, read the winner and then have a back and forth that went a little like this...

BB: WOW! I did not see that coming!
YMH: Yeah, what a big surprise, although I did love that movie.
BB: Yeah that movie was great, and I'm a big tool.

Occasionally they would go over to two other tools, whose names I didn't bother to read and they would talk about the winners in this matter:

T#1: Wow, what a great performance so and so gave!
T#2: Yeah, there's certainly nothing getting in their way for the Oscars this year!

BLAH! What a complete waste of an hour, the only significant thing is the fact that hopefully it will be the only awards show like it.

And frankly, this just brings home the fact that the real losers with this strike mess are us viewers. No offices, no 30 rocks only 8 episodes of Lost...

And the globes were usually fun to watch because recipients of the awards were loose and candid in their acceptance speeches, which lead to some genuinely funny moments like Geena Davis (who knew?) and Sasha Baron Cohen (A bit PG-13, watch out for little ears in the room). Surely watching Johnny Deep accept might have been fun.

Now we have to hope for some sort of resolution, or the Oscars are going to be the same sort of thing, which REALLY will be a shame.

So Provoian, what think ye?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Old Copy of the Book of Mormon

Once every three or four weeks I help my shut-in neighbor pick up groceries and other necessities. I also help him empty his cat litter and do other chores that are difficult for him. He lives with chronic pain and requires lots of medication due to numerous physical ailments that I won't detail here. When I help him shop, etc. he usually insists on paying me or buying me something. Previously he had showed me this old copy of the Book of Mormon that he owned so one week I told him that instead of paying me he could give me the book--and he agreed! I haven't done any careful research but according to this article it is probably a variation on the 1879 edition with Orson Pratt's verses and footnotes. It's definitely not the 1920 edition because it lacks the double column format introduced in that edition.
This page was included. I can't decipher it. It looks like it says "Mrs. Watson from some guy Utah. June(?) 16, 1917." What do you think?
Tucked inside the cover were some old Christian tracts decrying the evils of alcohol and tobacco. The poem above is the cautionary tale of one Tom Gray. "Tom Gray lay down on the barroom floor, Having drunk so much he could drink no more; So he fell asleep with a troubled brain, To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train." He sees how he is going to suffer in Hell and wakes up and prays "to be saved from drink and the devil's power . . ." If you click on the picture it is large enough to read the whole thing.

Another tract entitled The Bar. The tracts were printed here in North Carolina and I imagine they made their way into the book after it's time with the Watsons in Utah--or a Watson brought it here. The book also contains the birth dates of the Watson family:

James H? Watson, March 3, 1888
Marth R. Watson July 19, 1895
Ethel Watson Dec. 15, 1912
Baby James Watson Feb. 10, 1914
Kathleen B. Watson May 16, 1913

I'll have to see if these folks are in Ancestral File. It's fun to hold a piece of history. I will show this book to my gospel doctrine class tomorrow as we are just starting our study of the Book of Mormon.
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Friday, January 4, 2008

Weary of Boring Holmes Posts? Take the Poll

Admit it, with time the initial luster of The Provonian has begun to dull. You thought you would imbibe merrily from an eclectic stream of chuckleworthy and thought-inflicting posts by the likes of Jed, Tony, Mat, and Brandon--and if you were really lucky maybe even Kirk or Mikey. Instead, you've grown lethargic and weak on a steady diet of stale Holmes and his grad student ennui. Sure he has his moments, but he's not the RSC franchise player. So c'mon Provonian readers, let's show these guys how much we want to hear from them. Please take the poll to select the non-Rob blogger from whom you would like to see more posts. (I know it's hard to choose just one, but it is a necessary evil. This is not a popularity contest, just a motivational tool.)

I'm not denigrating the past efforts of these fine gentlemen, but it's time to take The Provonian to a higher level of execution. Let's make this blog something Bronco would be proud of. Fully invested! And what about you gentle reader? Did you know that if you lack your own blog we will happily post your inspiring composition, free of charge? That's right, we will graciously share our sophisticated cosmopolitan audience with you.

Thanks in advance!