Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Everyone got a rap, dawg.

Embrace it. Be somebody.

More Fun Tutorials videos at

Friday, January 23, 2009

Look at those dogs go!

Believe it or not, the BYU theater department is letting me direct one of the productions on its season this year. The show, Go, Dog. Go! opens on February 3 and runs through the 14th in the Nelke theater, yes that's the same theater many of you performed in with my various class projects and plays.

I hope you'll all forgive some own horn tooting, but I'm pretty happy with the way the show is turning out. Arranged throughout this post are five of the publicity photos, and, as you can see, our costume and make up designer, Amber Wilson, has done a pretty bang up job on these dogs. Trust me when I say that our other designers, Heather Star for scenery and Katie Orr for props, have done an awesome job as well. Lesley, you wife, did a wonderful job with the choreography, making it both beautiful and funny, which is sort of rare mix.

This is theater for young audiences, so any of you with kids (aged K- 3rd grade most ideal) should bring the family. And with a running time of just around 40 minutes hopefully we'll keep the little ones' attention. I figure if my daughter can make it though the 108 minutes of The Tale of Despereaux she should be able to make it through this.

The play is based on the P.D. Eastman book of the same name, is that all ready totally obvious?, and the adaptation is pretty ingenious. The playwrights (Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz) took the dialogue directly from the book, and then framed it with vaudeville comedy gags and silent film sounding music, by Michael Koerner, and turned a book that's very simple into a play that's really a lot more fun than it has any right to be.

I'm also lucky to have the cast that I have. I had six parts to fill and...five people showed up to auditions. Lucky for me all five of them are freaking awesome, and one of them recruited a friend for the last part who is equal in awesomeness as the other five. What could have been a disaster has turned into a completely and total pleasant surprise.

So if you're anywhere around the Provo area come and see it. Bring the kids, or the neighbors kids.

Wow, I didn't mean for this post to be so obnoxiously self promoting, sorry about that.

But, can I tell you all something in confidence? I think you should see this play.

Here comes the weekend!!!

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

The Onion, always good for a chuckle!

It's my son's birthday today. It's his first. My ninth, overseeing as "Dad." He's sick today, however. He was up most of the night vomiting what little he had in his tiny belly. Lucky he doesn't know that today is supposed to be any different from the day before or after.

I paused, this morning, from the routine of preparing myself for the day to observe him. I picked him up and sang a quiet happy birthday to him. He just pulled at my lips, the way he does when he's trying to get something out of my mouth.

And I left him there to go to work.

I hate that these kids grow up without me. I'm scared to death that Julian might take his first steps while I'm at work. He is my third to arrive here; having pushed through his baby-ness, and taking whole milk in his bottle. He's the third to grow out of the car seat and to finally have a need for shoes. All of these landmarks that brought me to tears with my oldest are happening to him every day while I sit at a desk and draw pictures.

We moved this summer into the neighborhood where Jayne grew up, just around the corner from her parents' house. I drive past that house every afternoon on my way home and some days I still flush at the sight of it. I can still sense the flutter of what stirred in me every time I entered that back door. And now I am family, and I walk in without knocking, and I borrow eggs and milk in dishes with Jayne's name written on them. Her name ends with mine, and it looks good in fading sharpie.

And when I come in my own home, my daughter wraps herself around my knees. She's somehow so tall. And Parley, who has been given preternaturally to that familiar masculine detachment since his birth, does not call out, but his eyes glow with anticipation that I might tackle and wrestle and punch his thinning torso. And Jayne is tired. She's tidying the kitchen or changing a diaper, but she seems glad to see me. I know she likes to have me around, but more often than not, I know she's glad to have an extra pair of hands in the house. Sometimes we exchange a brief kiss or we pause to embrace and sometimes I remember how my limbs used to ache with a need to be near her and I kept track of every affectionate transaction between us.

It occurs to me that of my son's (approximately) 12 daily waking hours, I am home for 2.5-3 of them, 5 days a week. And my hours alone with Jayne are even fewer. Am I the only one who feels there is a monstrous debt somewhere that is owed to me for this? One day someone will mail me a check for X amount of hours. Not money in exchange for hours-- I don't want the money. I want that time. I want those hours. And I have a mind to spend them all in one place.

We can't sit for ten minutes in church any more without someone mentioning the decline of the family in modern society. And the war is ongoing, with attacks from every side. It's easy to blame pornography and promiscuity and gay marriage and bla bla bla... but a friend of mine once opined that society's first attack on the family was in taking the father out of the home for 8 hours a day. Something about that made sense to me today as I thought of the relatively small role I played in the first year of my son's life.

But what a sweet creature he is. And I do relish every minute I have with him. Even the ugly ones, when he's mad at me or when I'm wiping something horrible from between his chubby thighs. At least he knows who I am. It's ok if he chooses Mom-- I do too. But at least he knows who I am.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's up with credit songs

Maybe it's just me but have you ever noticed that the songs played at the end of movies during the credits seem like complete mismatches? I've often come away from a movie thinking who the heck picked that song? Well I decided that whoever that person is, assuming that it's the same guy or girl who picks all credit songs for all moves (which I'm pretty sure is the case), really stinks at their job. In an effort to improve the whole movie/credit song match effort I'm offering some humble suggestions. First I'll list some movie classics followed by what I think are the perfect credit songs. I'm sure that as you envision the following songs playing during the credits of these great movies you'll think, "wow Duerden really has a talent for this stuff, he should get that person's job who picks all the movie credit songs, and I should probably mail him $5." Here goes:

Happy Gilmore-----"The Fabric of Our Lives" (the cotton theme song) by Aaron Neville
Dark Knight-----"Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver
Home Alone-----"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
Encino Man-----"From a Distance" (the world looks blue and green) by Julie Gold
ET-----"Highway to the Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins

and finally

Mr Smith Goes to Washington-----"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal

I've got a lot more gems like these matches but I don't want to give away my whole arsenal in my first post. I do have to admit that I think almost any movie would benefit ending with a "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal, probably the greatest song ever written...I wish Neal Diamond would do a cover of that song that would blow my mind.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stay at Hotels Much?

I've been working at a local hotel for close to four years, I just put in my two weeks notice (I'm a bit too busy to keep this job anymore, although the real reason I'm quitting rhymes with danagerial blupidity) and would feel remiss if I didn't share some insights with you beloved Provonian readers on some Hotel stays dos and don'ts.

1. Sign it to my room!

It's amazing to me how many people don't know how to sign a charge to their room, or how to be able to such a thing, and maybe in the movies a leading man will tell a faceless waiter 'put it to the room', but in real life it's a tiny bit more complex.

First of all, in order to sign to your room a credit card has to be on file. So when you check in and they ask for a card, just GIVE them one. They don't want to steal any money from you, they just need it for your charges and if you kill and cook a goat in your room.

So once you have a credit card on file, all you need to do to sign to your room (for instance if you eat breakfast in the restaurant) is fill out the lines on your receipt that look like this.

Signature _______________

Gratuity (Don't forget this!) ______________

Room # _________________

Printed Name ______________

Just fill this out, and presto! The breakfast will be charged to your room. You don't have to drop the check at the cashier, you don't have to check with the waiter that you did it right, you don't have to give your card again. If you have a card on file, just fill that bad boy out and LEAVE BABY, LEAVE!

DON'T: Fill out the receipt and then give us a credit card. If you want to charge your meal to a separate card than the one on file then GIVE the card to your server, and fill out the credit card receipt s/he gives you. Nothing gives away faster that you're a little green at this hotel thing than filling out the receipt and then giving a card and having to fill out the receipt again.

2. "Is gratuity included with this?"

All, and I mean ALL room service orders have an auto gratuity on them. ALL OF THEM. Some are 20%, some are 15% some might be more or less.

MOST room service orders have a 'delivery' or 'service charge' on them that's usually 1 to 3 dollars.

The server gets the gratuity and the hotel gets the service charge. Any extra gratuity you put on the order will go to the server.

Room service is expensive and the food is usually marginal, but it is completely worth it 1) After a long day and you just want to eat and go to bed 2) you check in late and have no idea where else to get food and 3) for the kids (Kids LOVE room service).

Because room service is expensive, more than most people thought it would be when they ordered it (Think about it, the price of the food + service charge + auto gratuity + tax) sometimes they get a big knot in their throat when they see the burger and fries they just ordered is 14.95, and they ask 'is your gratuity in here' which means 'I don't want to tip you anymore, is that okay?'


Most servers will lie, or tell a sort of lie. 'I spilt it with the hotel' is a common one, and it's not an outright lie. Servers DON'T get the service charge, but do get the gratuity. So they are, sort of, splitting it with the hotel.

Listen, if you're completely strapped for cash, or the server is a bit rude or the food took longer than it was suppose to, feel no pressure to add gratuity. They already have some.

BUT, if the server is great, and the food was fast, put a couple of extra bucks on (please see section one on how to sign a charge to your room). If you're away on business and planning to eat room service multiple nights you'll notice how much better your service is after you've given the kid an extra five bucks two nights in a row.

Also, if you call down for a toothbrush, or a sewing kit or extra sweet & low and somebody runs it up to you, tip that person at LEAST two dollars. I can't tell you how many times I've run up plates or forks or something and the person opens the door, swipes the goods, says 'Thanks!' and slams the door in my face. Most servers make two dollars an hour. How about a little something for the effort, huh?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Typo in Proposition 8

From the

Typo In Proposition 8 Defines Marriage As Between 'One Man And One Wolfman'

SACRAMENTO, CA—Activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate were shocked this November, when a typographical error in California's Proposition 8 changed the state constitution to restrict marriage to a union between "one man and one wolfman," instantly nullifying every marriage except those comprised of an adult male and his lycanthrope partner. "The people of California made their voices heard today, and reaffirmed our age-old belief that the only union sanctioned in God's eyes is the union between a man and another man possessed by an ungodly lupine curse," state Sen. Tim McClintock said at a hastily organized rally celebrating passage of the new law. But opponents, including Bakersfield resident Patricia Millard—who is now legally banned from marrying her boyfriend, a human, non-wolfman male—claim it infringes on their civil liberties. "I love James just as much as a wolfman loves his husband," Millard said. "We deserve the same rights as any horrifying mythical abomination." On the heels of the historic typo, voters in Utah passed a similar referendum a week later, defining marriage as between one man and 23 wolfmen.

(Hahahahaha... because Utah/polygamy jokes will never be unfunny!!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Everyone, Sing along

Despot thinks of nothing but murdering man in video all day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Speaking of Redressing Wrongs...

Anyone going back through the old book lists and rereading assigned texts? Oh, just me?

So I reread Steinbeck's The Pearl. On a whim. I'm a big Steinbeck fan, these days, and it's always bothered me that I never liked The Pearl because I couldn't have told you why it didn't jive. It came down to an emotion that shrouded my memory of it. This didn't seem like a fair way to assess a work of literature, the way it wasn't fair of me to hate Annie Hall for so many years because I saw it with Katie Taylor and our conversation afterward was supremely frustrating. But that's for another post (stay tuned, Katie, wherever you are...)

I want to propose something. Here is my revised review that I posted on

I need to do two things: one, take back my 3-star review of this book which I read in haste as a high school sophomore, and two, make sure high schools don't make kids read these books in high school. This is not censorship in the traditional sense. There is nothing objectionable in the content that should be secreted away from the innocent eyes of impressionable youth. I do not advocate hiding it from them, just so they can go to the theater, or simply pay attention in the locker room, to hear and see a lot worse. What I want to advocate is keeping the world's best books out of the classrooms. Away from idle minds when they're not ready to accept the gifts that they are.

Granted, this is a sweeping generalization and there are, undoubtedly, thousands of kids out there, soaking up the best literature through assigned reading and staged discussions on themes too large for their comprehension. They are certainly capable of appreciating the grandiosity of some of these works while they're juggling acne, adolescent social woes, and hormonal monsoons. I'm being catty, I know. Or maybe just speaking from experience.

Because I read
The Pearl in high school. And I hated it-- or at least I thought I did. I couldn't tell you why I hated it, I just did. And I hated A Farewell to Arms, and Moby Dick, and Les Miserables. I know, I'm wincing too.

I also read
The Catcher in the Rye in high school. But I read that because my brother told me to, not because my teacher did. And I never had to write an essay on it or memorize facts about the plot for multiple choice questions to come. I just read it and I freaking ate it up. Like every other 17-year-old budding misanthrope, I thought that book was written for me and I subsequently thought Salinger was the world's greatest author. And what of this pesky Steinbeck that they kept assigning us in school? I hated The Pearl and skipped The Grapes of Wrath (11th grade honors english) but my grandma always had East of Eden on her shelf. So I read that. And loved it. Every word of it.

I was criminally wrong in my assessment of
The Pearl all these years. Yes, it could be the most depressing story ever penned, but it may also be one of the best crafted. I have a sinking feeling that I need to give A Farewell to Arms another chance. And poor old Moby Dick.

So I don't think the problem is that kids can't enjoy good literature in adolescence. I think we should trick them into reading the good ones at home, and assign them the Hardy Boys in the classroom. We should save them the embarrassment of saying, over lunch one day as a self-possessed adult: Yeah, I read The Pearl (yawn). Not that great. Yeah, did
Moby Dick-- boring.

High school English teachers should be ashamed of themselves.

Maybe you were one of those kids who just loved what we read in Browny-Brown's class (I found out Jayne was, which sort of took the wind out of my sails last night-- freaking wives...). And bless you for it. But if you were anything like me and you resisted the first hint of your varied authorities' wishes, I'd suggest you go back and take another stab at some of the stuff you may have missed. It could prove to be most enlightening.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Join the fight!

With all the nasty weather in Provo recently, this alarming report alerted me to a cause into which I can channel my rage. We should all do our part and join the fight.

Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Japanese Tourist Etiquette

This one is good. My brother sent me a copy of this sweet post advising Japanese tourists on how to behave upon reaching our benighted shores. Here is my favorite quotation. "Most Americans are very polite, particularly outside of the big cities. However, outside of the big cities, everyone owns guns. Inside the big cities, almost everyone owns guns. Let's be polite together!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Campus Safety No-No

We're having a bomb threat drill at my campus on Friday. When the alert is sent out we are supposed to search our immediate work areas for anything suspicious. This seems like a legitimate safety exercise, but it reminded me of another safety exercise last year in North Carolina that wasn't as well thought out. At Elizabeth City State University a campus policeman pretending to be a gunman burst into a classroom and held them hostage. Apparently that wasn't realistic enough so he then lined the students up against a wall and threatened to kill the student with the lowest GPA. Brilliant! Read the full story here.