Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Tannenbaum

Presenting our very first Christmas tree! It's a perfectly round and fat five-foot Noble Fir which Julie has appropriately dubbed Bombadil. I took the nomenclature one step further to name the star after the lovely Goldberry.

Look, it's even a Gryffindor tree.

We bought it the weekend after Thanksgiving and totally love the feeling it brings to our li'l abode. Crazy that Christmas is less than a week away...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A New Era Begins

Friday, 11 December 2009 marked a momentous occasion for the animation industry, namely, Disney's glorious return to classic, hand-drawn animation. (I should mention that this day also marked the end of our four-month, 45-film Disney Animation Marathon event, starting with the earliest Disney animated film on 26 August and working our way through the entire canon, almost all of which, we are just a little startled to learn, we own on DVD.) Since its previews first aired, The Princess and the Frog had been advertised heavily as a classically 2D-animated film, Disney's first since Home on the Range in 2005. Naturally (and as has been made abundantly evident here on the blog), I was thrilled and couldn't wait to see it. I should mention, however, that Disney's more recent 2D animated films have not gone unnoticed by me, and I feel even the weakest of them has a lot of generally ignored positives. What bothered me most of all was how Disney seemed to be throwing up its hands (and throwing out its light tables) and shifting all its attention to making sub-par 3D films, when their sister company Pixar was handling that medium just fine. They surely must have thought that Pixar's movies were so successful because of the style of animation, when really Pixar's strength is storytelling and character development, and understanding making quality films with heart designed exactly for their target audience. (I still feel like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. would be as successful if they were hand-drawn, the stories and characters are just that strong.) So, if this new offering, Disney's 45th (or 49th, depending on what you consider canon) animated film, was successful, it could mean any number of things for my future career aspirations. It had been ages since I bought a Disney soundtrack ahead of time and listened to it before even seeing the movie, though I admit I limited myself a little this time so as to avoid any MAJOR spoilers. And finally, the day came, and Julie and I went to a first-run theater on opening night, which only the biggest and most exciting film releases merit. I promise I won't spoil anything on this post, but I will say this:


EVERYONE within reach of this blogvoice must see this movie forthwith, and by any means possible! It was the most fun I've had in a movie theater in I don't know how long, and it was classic Disney at its absolute finest. I hesitate to award the label "favorite," of course (that honor still belongs to Aladdin), but in so many ways it returns to the classic art form, the brilliant storytelling, and the charming characters of Disney's past. The story is enough of a twist on the well-known story to make it interesting, new and original, while still staying true to the spirit of fairy tale storytelling. The early 1900s New Orleans setting lends itself quite nicely to a diverse display of characters, colors, light and locations, including a take on classic Mardi Gras, a riverboat under sparkling stars and the mystical bayous of Louisiana. The voice acting is excellent as well, featuring Tony Award-winning Anika Noni Rose (also seen in the film version of Dreamgirls) as Tiana, Bruno Campos as Naveen and Keith David as the suave and sinister "Shadow Man," Dr. Facilier, not to mention the awesome supporting cast. There are appropriate themes and some deeper lessons than expected present, and a surprising emotional element. (I'm not even going to try and deny that I cried at one point.) It had everything the classic Disney film formula calls for: A beautiful, strong female lead (a princess to boot), a charming, rough-around-the-edges prince (read: frog, for a lot of it), a fabulous, striking villain, and a strong set of secondary characters (which include, yes, talking animals). Then of course, the soundtrack by Disney/Pixar favorite Randy Newman is a glorious blend of several styles of appropriate music. It's been so long since I've had new Disney music stuck in my head, and I am loving it. I predict already that "Ma Belle Evangeline" is destined to be one of Disney's most treasured love songs, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it's sung by a toothless Cajun firefly. This movie was at times funny, sweet, colorful, exciting, just the right amount of frightening, and now and then even heartbreaking.

In the end, we both loved this movie, and I was all for turning right around and seeing it again, it was just that good. And of course, we're not the only ones who feel this way. It seems to be getting glowing reviews from all over the place.

For the record, the fact that Tiana is the first black Disney princess has little to no interest to me whatsoever. There were some issues raised in the film regarding class distinction and such, but they had little to do with the overarching themes and overall storyline. Her race as far as the story goes is practically immaterial, and all I cared is that she's a charming, vibrant, beautiful addition to the Disney Princess canon.

Go see it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Giving Thanks

Yes, it was Thanksgiving a couple weeks ago, and yes, I enjoyed my first T-Gives with The Wife very much. I don't have a lot to say about it, but I do want to post something as a prelude to the upcoming holiday events.

We started the day off with Amber's most excellent 4th Annual Cedar Hollow Turkey Trot (for the record, I'm so glad she started this, it's a fun route and a good crowd). Though our numbers were fewer than usual for a race, Julie, Cami and I had a good time, while Dad was on hand as the ever-present "athletic supporter." I so hoped to win the drawing for the iPod, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. It wasn't TOO cold, and Julie, Cami and I all finished together.* Believe it or not, we didn't take a single picture there, which I guess is what happens when Melody isn't around for the races (even though I think we did bring our camera...). Still, this 4-miler is always a good way to start a day of a lot of eating.

Speaking of eating, Julie and I then headed to Mom's house to prepare our contribution for the glorious feast. Curiously, our assignment was what Julie was quite hoping to make anyway, so we made our yams and our green bean casserole (made with only the right kind of beans, which we went to three grocers to find), and went with Dad to Cami's house for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Everything you could want was there, and the company was excellent as always. We missed those of ours who were absent for whatever reason, but look forward to having everyone here for Christmas. There was plenty of food to go around, and quite a lot of leftovers for all to take home as well (did you really think we would need TWO whole turkeys, Cami??). We webcammed with Mom, Emily, KC and the triplets, and it was good to be able to talk to them and see how big the babies are getting! We also had a nice look at the progress of Cami's basement, which is looking better all the time. Cami set a lovely table, and Julie's plate was chosen as the ideal sampling for the photo:

We came home full and happy, had leftovers enough for several more meals, and not two days later had our very first Christmas tree up and decorated, details to follow...

* ThoughIprobablyshouldmentionthatifIhadrunatmyusualpaceI'mprettysureIwouldhavewon1stplace...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

100 (+) Movie Redux

As you may or may not recall from this post, as well as the running list down the right side of my blog, I like to clean out my list. Posting them here not only cleans up my blog but also serves as somewhat archival information for future reference. What reference, I don't know, but here it is anyway. These 100 films weren't viewed in quite as short a span as the previous post's, but I still recently reached 100, so the time has come. For the record, this list includes only films that I hadn't previously seen, so there are dozens that I watched that I had already seen, and they didn't make the list. I don't even want to think about how many movies total I have seen since last summer.

Top Five:
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Bleak House
  • Star Trek
  • Australia
  • Cloverfield
Honorable Mention awarded to several other excellent miniseries, such as North and South, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jane Eyre and Wives & Daughters, as well as TV series like The It Crowd, LOST, Firefly and certain seasons of Prison Break. Other highly-rated films include 9, Serenity, The Spirit, Leatherheds, Baby Mana, Gran Torino, Taken.

Bottom Five:
  • Nosferatu (Either version)
  • G.I. Joe
  • He's Just Not That Into You
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Twilight
The last one up there might qualify as the worst film of all time, not just of this list. Chicken Little and The Day the Earth Stood Still earn Dishonorable Mention for the bottom list.

Georgia Rule * 1/2 / Frankenstein (1931) *** 1/2 / The Box *** 1/2 / The IT Crowd (Season 3) **** / Dracula (1931) *** 1/2 / Nosferatu: The Vampyre (1979) * 1/2 / Nosferatu (1922) ** 1/2 / The Time Traveler's Wife ** 1/2 / Ringu ** / Inkheart ** / Eyes Without a Face ** 1/2 / Valkyrie *** 1/2 / G.I. Joe * 1/2 / Prairie Home Companion ** / 9 **** / Melody Time *** 1/2 / Fun and Fancy Free *** 1/2/ Make Mine Music *** 1/2 / The Three Caballeros ** 1/2/ Saludos Amigos ** 1/2 / Wives & Daughters **** / Quantum of Solace ** / Jane Eyre (MT) **** / Night at the Museum: The Battle for the Smithsonian *** 1/2 / Julie & Julia *** 1/2 / New In Town ** 1/2 / Push *** 1/2 / He's Just Not That Into You * 1/2 / Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ***** / The Brothers Bloom *** 1/2 / The Proposal ** 1/2 / The Last of the Mohicans ** 1/2 / Gran Torino **** / Passengers *** 1/2 / Up *** 1/2 / The House Bunny ** / Serenity **** / Firefly **** / Coraline *** 1/2 / American Idol (Season 9) *** 1/2 / Knowing *** 1/2 / 24 (Season 8) *** / Star Trek **** / Survivor Tocantins *** 1/2 / Doubt *** 1/2 / Prison Break (Season 4) ** 1/2 / LOST (Season 5) ***** / X-Men Origins: Wolverine ** 1/2 / Under the Greenwood Tree **** / The Mayor of Casterbridge **** 1/2 / Bedtime Stories ** 1/2 / Chicken Little * 1/2 / Bolt *** 1/2 / The Spirit **** / Slumdog Millionaire *** / Marie Antoinette *** 1/2 / Be Kind Rewind *** 1/2 / Twilight * / North & South **** / Taken **** / Fireproof *** / Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! *** 1/2 / Dracula: Dead and Loving It **** / Bleak House **** 1/2 / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *** 1/2 / The Day the Earth Stood Still * 1/2 / The Tale of Despereaux ** / The Lake House *** 1/2 / Run Fatboy Run **** / Australia **** 1/2 / Shattered Glass *** 1/2 / Firstborn ** / Get Smart *** 1/2 / Hancock *** 1/2 / Aeon Flux *** / Dear Frankie *** 1/2 / Nim's Island *** 1/2 / Leatherheads **** / The Great Gatsby ** 1/2 / Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day *** 1/2 / Martian Child *** 1/2 / The Happening ** 1/2 / Baby Mama **** / Animal Farm *** 1/2 / The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning **** / 21 *** 1/2 / Prom Night * 1/2 / Cloverfield **** / Goya's Ghosts ** 1/2 / The Flight of the Conchords (Season 1) *** / Penelope **** / Sense and Sensibility (BBC) *** 1/2 / Les Choristes (The Chorus) *** 1/2 / Match Point ** 1/2 / Prison Break (Season 3) *** 1/2 / Next ** 1/2 / Prison Break (Season 2) **** / Prison Break (last half of Season 1) **** 1/2 / Vantage Point *** 1/2 / The Visitor ** 1/2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Unexpected Twipost

As much as I loathe almost any and all things Twilight*, in wake of The Wife's latest blogpost, I have decided to write something short to illustrate just how far the Twi-chotics have gone. (That's a new term I've invented, isn't it great?) I will also say that I will be really glad when this movie comes out. Why, you ask? Because then we will be halfway through one of the greatest cinematic travesties of our time, and then it can begin to be forgotten once and for all.

Visit this link if you dare discover the meaning of this little gem:

I am informed there are grosser things than this being churned out by the foaming fandom. Anything grosser than this is beyond my realm of comprehension. What must Ms. Meyer feel about the hysteria she's inspired?? (Though, from the sound of things, it seems like even she's a little burned out on the whole franchise...)

Seriously, this is becoming an illness.

* Excepting, perhaps, some of those pointed out by The Wife in her latest blog project.

Friday, November 13, 2009


(Any excuse to use a euphemism, right?)

A couple weeks ago on Friday night Julie and I loaded up the car with sticky rice and running clothes and headed up to Logan with Elise and Jeff. We met Dad there and after an evening of delicious dinner and homemade apple pie, we rested in preparation for the annual First Dam Run the next day. Jonny and Julia found their way up that morning (seriously, I am ALL about races starting at 10 am... You should consider starting a little later, other 5Ks, and yes, I'm looking at you, Alpine Days...). It wasn't even that terribly cold, I was perfectly comfortable in shorts. Julie suggested quite ambitiously several weeks before that we would try for the 10K this year, and I was definitely up for that, so we spent a few days a week running together training for that. Most of us did the 5K this year, including Jonny, Grandma, and for his first ever, Jeff, and they all did great (Jonny placed third and Jeff placed in the top ten too, and in such a big age group!). Julie and I were absolutely satisfied to have even survived the 10K, which course incidentally actually does go up to the so-named first dam. I had two goals regarding my time for this race: 1) Do 8-minute miles, which was my more realistic ambition, since I had never done a race this long before, and 2) Do the race in under 45 minutes, which is still more than twice my best 5K time. Imagine my surprise, then, when I ran toward that finish line just as the timer passed 44:00! Even better than I had hoped (which makes for a pretty ambitious goal for the next one, I guess...). I placed 2nd in my age group, which is a big deal to me since me placing at all is an unprecedented event, and took 12th place in men, and 17th overall. I admit I was about to die, and also that I was quite frustrated that when I paused my iPod Shuffle at the start of the race to hear the instructions, it never played again for one step of the race (after a while I just gave up on it, even though it sometimes responds after a little rest... it's pretty temperamental these days). Julie came really close to her goal too, so we felt really accomplished after, and really earned that late afternoon nap we took. You did great, sweetheart! A 5K will seem like nothing for us now! Elise, Julia and Dad were excellent athletic supporters, as always.


Jeff, Elise, Jonny and Julia headed home after an excellent lunch courtesy of Grandma. Julie, Dad and I stayed one more night, spending time at the house, taking Grandma to see a trippy movie and having leftovers of soup and pie. As always, thanks to Grandma for her hospitality and excellent company.

Julie and Julia having a delightful tea party

Final time: 44:08.4
Miles run: 6.2
Minutes per mile: Approximately 7:06
Number of buckets sweat: 42
Number of songs that played before iPod was unresponsive: 2.4

She's so cute.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Incredible iTunes

As much as I loathe almost all things Mac, anyone who knows me well knows how much I love and use iTunes, and how I treasure my iPod above almost all other material possessions. I'm a little bit OCD about how I use iTunes, and I really like to have everything labeled and organized correctly, with the corresponding album artwork appearing while a track is playing. The other day I noticed that for some reason about half of my album artwork had disappeared, much to my vexation. I started going through replacing the ones that were missing. iTunes does have a feature to look up artwork for your albums, and a lot of times, this is quite useful and accurate. Other times, it either can't find any artwork, or it will find artwork for something with a similar title or artist name, random or repetitive as the result might be. Sometimes it's impossible to understand how the program could ever mistake an image that appears as the artwork for the album I was searching, but sometimes it's so amusing, I just have to save a copy of the artwork the program retrieves.

Last night I was looking for the cover art for Linda Eder's 1991 self-titled debut album, and this is what downloaded:

I don't know who this Linda Dian is (and evidently, very few resources online seem to have any information on her), but she really made my night during this tedious, semi-pointless process.

(In case you're curious, the actual artwork I was looking for can be seen here. I know it's not her best look, but it's not her best album either. Don't make fun, I told you it was released in 1991.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How in the world did I live my life and complete my degree and call myself a Disney fan and think about working for Disney without ever knowing about this website??

I have already applied for six positions, and check for more regularly. Doesn't hurt to get some lines in the water, right? The other areas on the site are also rather interesting, especially regarding the officially announced upcoming projects.

On a related note, I heard a preview of the soundtrack for The Princess and the Frog on a Disney podcast and it made me squee like a fangirl. I am so excited for this movie and what it means for the industry. Just a few more weeks!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"And It's True Too, It's Funny AND True..." *

This offering from yesterday's paper illustrates perfectly the current social climate in my office regarding the you-know-what flu.

Not everything is a symptom, people. And people get sick every year around this time.

* Quote taken from a classic episode of The Simpsons.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Holloween*

I do like Halloween, I really do, I just don't love it. I guess I did when I was younger and costumes and trick-or-treating were THE thing to do, but now I'm good after a few mini Milky Way bars and a nice evening at home watching a scary movie instead. Nevertheless, this was probably my most enjoyable Halloween yet, and I will now explain why in bulleted fashion, accompanied by photos.

  • This was my first Halloween with The Wife, and her love of the holiday had to rub off on me a little bit at least. She had a lot of ideas of how to dress up, should the occasion arise that we went somewhere that required costumes, and while we debated over Jim & Pam or Penny & Captain Hammer, we decided for our first Halloween together it was only fitting to go with the classic Harry & Hermione. We both already had all the costume elements, and it really is so much of who we are, it was the obvious choice. Next year we may change it up a little.
  • We spent several nights through October attending films at BYU's International Cinema, from the ridiculous (Nosferatu-1979, Eyes Without a Face) to the sublime (Psycho, Pan's Labyrinth, Ringu). Let it be known that as far as we're concerned, Nosferatu is the ultimate geek of all vampiredom, and is in no way frightening or threatening. That movie was extremely dull and boring, and the silent original made in the 1920s is far better. These two movies, along with the current *ahem* trend of vampires (on the big screen and the small) have pretty much turned me off of vampires forever. I hear that word in a movie preview and I totally zone out. I do like the original with Bela Lugosi and the spoof my Mel Brooks, but that's pretty much where my interest stops.
  • On Thursday night we went to see this year's Actors' Repertory Theatre Ensemble production of Sweeney Todd at the Castle Theater at the Utah State Hospital. It wasn't entirely freezing, and the cast was pretty good for the most part after all. Do I smell a new tradition? After we had kith and kin over to our place for hot chocolate (with whipped cream and marshmallows, the way to go) and cinnamon toast sticks.
  • We went to Cami's house on the afternoon of the 31st to make and decorate cookies with all the cousins (and secretly cringe with the glances stolen at Monsters vs. Aliens, which the kids were watching). We wore our costumes and must have looked mighty impressive, mayhap the best Harry & Hermione ever! We webcammed with Emily, KC and Mom and saw all three babies, which was great. They are looking so big and healthy! It would have been nice to see Julia in her much-anticipated candy corn costume, but bedtimes superceded all.
  • We supported Julie's visiting teaching companion by attending her Trunk or Treat activity at the church and were suddenly visible to our ward members. Our costumes were a big hit, and we ended up with enough candy to take home with us to imagine that we had gone trick-or-treating ourselves! (We're trying to pace ourselves with it, don't worry.) We had a great display in our trunk too, consisting of a full set of the Harry Potter books, some other relevant books, some pumpkins, our wands, a Golden Snitch, and my iPod hooked up to speakers playing songs from the film soundtracks.

  • We wanted to show off our costumes a little more (we just don't get to put on our Gryffindor gear that often) so we walked around the mall and did a little window-shopping, then had Winger's for a festive dinner. We even won free dessert on their scratch-and-win-a-prize ticket! Our server was dressed as Rogue and was quite daring in her choice of spandex legwear.
  • The next day, to prolong the festivities, we made short work of the two pumpkins we bought earlier in the week. Mine was quickly transformed into a jack-o-lantern of Harry a la Potter Puppet Pals, and Julie's was stuffed with meat, rice and vegetables and eaten as delicious Dinner in a Pumpkin, which glorious leftovers will be enjoyed for days to come.

Dear Pumpkin: I love you!

  • We rounded out the weekend by watching an old favorite, Edward Scissorhands. I know, it's not really a Halloween movie (more a Christmas movie, if anything), but Tim Burton's movies all have that sort of spooky feeling to them, and it had been a while since either of us had seen it, and The Nightmare Before Christmas is appropriate any time from October to January anyway, so on Edward went. It's still a brilliant film.
So there you have it! Halloween come and gone, and now I can start to phase in my Christmas music! (For the record, I usually start to listen to it casually mid-November, then listen with wild abandon and almost exclusively starting the morning after Thanksgiving. I just think it's unfair to relegate listening to some of the best music ever to just three weeks of the year.) While I have issues with the liberties some people take with Halloween, using it as a flimsy excuse to put Satan in their front yard or dress as a rotting corpse or a shameless slut, the idea and fun of the holiday still eventually meanders its way to me, and surely with this superfan at my side each year, this trend will continue and increase in the years to come.

Happiest of Halloweens to each and all, and God bless us, everyone!

*The typing of the title of this blogpost is intentionally misspelled. It's one of my biggest pet peeves this time of year when people pronounce it "Hollow-een" instead of "Hallow-een" as it's spelled. It doesn't make any sense, especially since the name's origin is All Hallows Eve. There you go.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AI Update: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Re: Cover artwork revealed for upcoming debut albums from American Idol 8's top 2 (The first on 17 November, the second a week later). A study in contrast.

Dear Kris Allen,

Well done. Simply self-titled, this is artistic, classy and dramatic with just the right amount of edge, and even displays the fact that you're a married man.

Dear Adam Lambert,

What is wrong with you?? I said months ago that you're a drag show waiting to happen, and here is the fulfillment of that prophecy. I don't care if it's "deliberately campy," there is a line as far as taste is concerned and you have crossed it.

It's times like this I'm so glad America sometimes votes right.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Snow falls from the 'bove.

Welcome, winter. I've missed you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visit this Blog

I guess I've never really promoted this formally, so it's about time.

The Standard of Liberty foundation now has a blog up and running. There are ever-current and up-to-date posts about the pervading social issues and subtle (and not so subtle) dangers posed against our families and children. I invite and encourage you to visit often, leave comments, and educate yourselves against the agendas threatening your freedoms and morals.
Find the blog here (

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recent Hankering Unsatisfied

For the last few weeks I have had this insane and profound desire to go back to Disneyland (which Julie shares). I don't know if it's because we honeymooned there two months ago or if it's just been "too long" since we were there or if it was crowded last time we went or whatever, I've just had a crazy hankering that's sometimes only made worse by listening to Disneyland music or podcasts (but I still listen to them anyway). In the last two weeks there have been two radio contests giving away passes, and though Julie and I tried faithfully both on KOSY and The End, we were utterly unsuccessful. No one wanted those passes more than we did, and I'm pretty sure no one tried as hard as we did, and with three tries a day for two weeks, I was sure we would get some of the 101.9 ones, but it wasn't meant to be. (The contest was that they would play a clip from a Disney villain and the caller identifying the character would win four two-day park hoppers. The results were at times shoddy, giving the prizes to people who guessed incorrectly or partly correctly--I'm pretty sure it's not Jafar who sings "Hellfire" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, LaFleur is not the same as LeFou, some villains were repeated, some were ignored, and sidekicks and live-action villains are cheap shots. Get it together, man.) We're now quite certain that it's entirely a matter of luck as to whose call gets through, though we came close once or twice, after getting our system down. (Online streaming has a delay of over a minute, by the way. Not knowing this cost us dearly.) If I disliked the radio at all before, I have a definite beef with it now.

Anyway, I guess the hankering will just have to subside if I want to maintain my sanity. On the plus side, I guess that I don't have to sit by the radio at 9:00, 12 noon and 4:00 every weekday and redial fifty-plus times in futile attempt to get through. Very small plus side, but still. Elise drew this at work to illustrate my excitement as the Disneyland contests began.

I mean, doesn't it seem unfair to anyone else that I've still never seen the Haunted Mansion Holiday? Or the new overlay of Space Mountain? Or the new fireworks show hosted by Jack Skellington and featuring Zero flying over Sleeping Beauty Castle?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tale of Rings and a Healing Finger: An Anniversary Blogpost

I don't even know if this is blogworthy story, but I'm due for an update, so here goes.

Two months ago today I was married to my lovely wife. We had previously carefully picked out our wedding bands and even had them engraved , and the very nice salesman at the shop insisted that we get mine a half-size smaller than we had decided, since my finger would surely shrink in the winter months. I learned quickly, however, that we should have gone with the half-size bigger (you wouldn't really think a half a size makes that much difference, but oh how it does). My finger was rapidly swelling and at times the ring wouldn't even fit on or off of it without much pain and extreme difficulty. I was pretty sure your wedding band shouldn't put your finger in a state of perpetual throbbing and pain, but I thought it might just be the California humidity or getting used to a new ring or something. After a while I just quit trying to remove it altogether, which very quickly started to cause a band of raw, white, pinched skin at the base of my ring finger. The ring store and online research suggested I give it a couple months, since winter was coming, but I decided in the end that I would rather have it be a little loose for half the year than unbearably tight for the opposite half. Luckily the ring shop provides care for the life of the ring, and while Tungsten, evidently the hardest of all metals, cannot be resized (which is a shame, because Julie and I are both a little sentimental about these sorts of things and I wanted to keep hold of my original wedding band), they were willing to replace it (and they had better, since it was their idea to get a ring that was too small for my finger), and I quite insisted they foot any bill for the engraving too (even though we didn't originally have it engraved at that location...). They were nice enough to provide this little loaner in the interim so I looked like a married man still:

I'll spare you all the details of the following two days weeks that it took to provide my replacement, and suffice it to say that I called once, sometimes twice every day as suggested, only to find that it had been engraved crooked at least three times, and then the $100,000 machine was broken and needed to be fixed, and then when it finally arrived, believe it or not, they had misspelled the engraving. I mean... isn't that something you double- and triple-check the spelling for? Several days later, a ten-minute job was finally finished and I am now wearing the wedding band we picked out, but in the size that was meant for my finger. I'm a happy man, and my finger is healing nicely.

Happy anniversary, baby! Kuv hlub koj!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Message to the Technology Generation

This post has been a long time coming. The idea started last fall when I used to run every day past a certain Mexican fast food restaurant that proudly displayed window decals detailing their latest marketing campaign: "WHY PAY MORE!" Isn't this a question?... Can't you get the point of urgency and excitement across with color, style and font, and still manage to punctuate properly?...

Also, not long ago, a friend told me to stop using big words (like "intuitive"?...) because, as he said, "it makes u sound dumb"... Seriously? I'm the one who sounds dumb?...

So, maybe it's because we as a generation communicate much more online than we used to, but I have noticed a worrying trend in overall literacy. As many of you know, I'm the worst kind of grammar snob, and have at times appointed myself the local (and/or facebook) grammar police. I'm positive this is rather maddening to almost everyone (except those like me who are anal about this and appreciate being informed that they made an embarrassing mistake before many more notice), but sometimes I just can't help myself. (Some may cite this as inconsistency of style, considering my appreciation for abbreviations or, as I like to call them, abbreves, some favorites of which are "OMG," "WTH," and "tradish," etc., but there is a time and place for these, and I think their use is appropriate as long as they are used knowingly and purposely.) I'm not exactly sure when or how this trait developed, but I think it gets more pronounced as time goes by.* My constant notice of this is especially frustrating as my grammar senses have become heightened working in a publishing company. When I design and proof-read ads, I am mortified when I see sloppy errors finding their way to print. Do you know how many people these things have to get past before they're approved?? Are we just that uneducated about punctuation, grammar, capitalization and basic sentence structure? My high school English teacher would have their heads, that's for sure. It's especially infuriating when it comes from an otherwise professional establishment. Here are a few of the more vexing trends I've noticed lately.
  • Missing or misplaced apostrophes: Okay, everyone, listen up. Contractions are words that are mashed together, such as "can't" (cannot), "don't" (do not), "shouldn't" (should not), "it's" (it is), "I'm" (I am), "you're" (you are) and "we're" (we are) and in these, an apostrophe is necessary, and indicates omission of letters. This is especially important when omitting letters makes the word mean something entirely different (such as the difference between "we're" and "were"). Apostrophes also indicate possession, such as "Drew's blog" or "the internet generation's illiteracy." (Exceptions include "hers," "his" or "its.") For the record, pluralizing a word NEVER EVER EVER requires an apostrophe. Ever.
  • Substituting numbers or letters for a full word: The worst thing about this juvenile practice is that you're usually saving yourself the trouble of typing one or two whole additional letters. Are we really that lazy? Can we really not bother to type "your" instead of "ur"? Or "to" instead of "2"? Or "you" instead of "u"? Or "for" instead of "4"? Or "why" instead of "y"?? It just makes you look like a ten-year-old. Then again, I wonder if I would prefer to see "Ur awesome" rather than "Your awesome"... You can see the dilemma. Maybe this kind of practice was acceptable in days of telegrams and such, when brevity was key. Now it's just careless.
  • Writing excessively in all caps: I admit there is a time and place for going all caps lock on everyone (see two points above), but those times are few and far between.
  • Mixing up homonyms: This doesn't happen quite as often as some others, but includes writing "too" instead of "to" (or vice versa), or "then" instead of "than," "loose" instead of "lose" or any mixture of "they're," "there" and "their," etc.
  • Misspelling words: Enough said. This one is more common, though, and probably more understandable. Some words are harder to spell, and don't come intuitively.
  • Misused punctuation: Commas, question marks and exclamation points are all very handy, and each has a very specific purpose.
  • I instead of me: "My girlfriend and me went to this new restaurant," or "Email Julie or I for more information." This is irritating to no end. I think a lot of times people think using "I" is always correct, and they think they sound intelligent, but it's not always the case. There's a very simple way to determine when which term should be used. Just remove the other party and see how you would say the sentence. Take the above examples. Would anyone say "Me went to this new restaurant" or "Email I for more information?" No way! The opposite, however, is entirely correct.
  • The spilling of all of the above into real life situations: I read a sign at the gym that informed us all that the Pilates class had been changed, and now takes place "Friday's at 8:00." I see some grapes at the store that were .99¢/lb. (That's less than one cent! What a bargain!) I spy a marquee for a store that stated their product was "4 SALE!" I receive a note from a friend that said, "Your so funny!" (My what is so funny?) I proofread a paper that said, "This is definitely a better option then the other one." I receive an order at work that read, "This is her photo, plz use our's." Someone writes me an email and says, "I was so glad to receive you're email, I just knew I had to respond to your's right away!" Look around, you'll see infractions, major and minor, all over.
And yes, I believe this applies even to casual internet conversation, online chat and text messages. I know people are often writing quickly or casually, but it takes just as long (if not shorter) to try to write things properly most of the time. It might require a tad more brainwork, but who couldn't stand to fire a few more neurons than usual? If anyone notices a typo in anything I write, I guarantee it is unintentional, and by all means, feel free to point it out to me. Am I being unreasonable? Do I expect too much? Some might think so, but I disagree. There's just no excuse for an adult in these days of mass produced literature and continuous communication to lack in these very basic skills. I do admit a tiny bit more ignorance in this department would make my life a little more relaxing, but it would also make it a lot less interesting.

This passion could go all the way back to when I used to participate in grade school spelling bees. But now, what have we become?? Curse you, Spell Check and Grammatik! And curse you further, MySpace, Twitter and facebook! You have made us lazy and ambivalent!

P.S. It also bugs me when people write with alternating upper case and lower case letters ("OmG, tHiS bLoG iS sOoOoO cUtE!"). But that's not really a grammar thing. Just sayin'.

* Looking back, my dad was always correcting our grammar growing up, and my mom was a very thorough proofreader of school papers, and also I, like most of us, possess a certain inclination to at least some OCD tendencies. So probably all three of these factors contributed to this part of my person.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Run Faster than Classical Composers

A couple weeks ago we (me, Julie, Melody, Jonny, Cami, Allison) ran Pleasant Grove's Beat Beethoven 5K, all proceeds going to fund the Pleasant Grove Arts Council, which you should all know is a worthy cause as far as I'm concerned. The race begins with the famous first strains of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, and the idea is to finish the race before the piece is finished (roughly 32.5 minutes). We were pleased to report that each and every one of us beat Beethoven, and were thusly awarded with a commemorative button. It was a really nice course, slightly different from the Strawberry Days one, and it was a nice, cool September morning. Julie and I were afraid we had missed it the weekend previous when we were in Missouri, but as it happens, the timing worked out perfectly after all. There was even a dude there dressed as Beethoven bringing up the rear with the golf cart playing the music. Next year I hope they figure out a way to have the music audible throughout the course, and not just with the cart or at the finish line. We all ended up with pretty good times (21:41 for me, just under 7-minute miles, thiiiis close to being in the top three for my age group, and thiiiis close to being in the top ten overall!)

I'm not exactly sure why it looks like I'm doing some kind of mixture of deer-in-the-headlights and Blue Steel in this picture, but whatev.

Eat it, Ludwig!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hero Worship to the Extreme

There are so many, many things wrong with this picture:

Seriously, people would never, EVER have praised previous presidents in recent years in this sickening manner, least of all the most recent president. So gross. The man has hardly even been in office for half a year, and he has performed most unimpressively so far. What is there even to praise? His (half) skin color? It is interesting though that everyone else is stating his middle name so prominently when that used to be an argument against Republicans.

So this kind of crap is allowed to go on while recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is forbidden? Ick.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Open Letter to the Weather

Dear 64 degrees,

I love you.



Friday, September 18, 2009

Moste Disappointed

It's been a little while... Of course, the thing that gets me to blog again is TV...

Last night was a big night of season premieres. While I can safely say I was quite satisfied with Survivor Samoa, The Office has really let me down. I think I laughed a total of one time, and even then it was half-hearted. Alas, has the greatest comedy on TV jumped the shark?? Say it's not so! Everyone was out of character, the whole thing was uncomfortable and awkward the entire time, and they've been pushing Michael and Dwight's characters way too far lately, even for Michael and Dwight. *sigh* I'm holding out for improvement as the season goes on, but allow me to register my disappointment.

Oh, The Office! What has happened to you??

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Glorious Honeymoon

At the risk of getting too gooey, I'm going to just post a few fun honeymoon pictures as well, and just suffice it to say that I'm so wonderfully in love with my wife. We had a great time in southern California for six days, and I'll provide my report in bulleted fashion as in the previous post. (FYI, Julie has also posted on the honeymoon, which can be read here, and as before, I plan on uploading many more pictures on facebook, so check out more of them there if you're interested.)

  • We stayed the first night in Little America in Salt Lake City until catching our Sunday morning flight to LAX. The hotel provided a lovely set of newlywed surprises including chocolate-covered strawberries, a bottle of bubbly, and a souvenir key engraved with our names and the date of our wedding. The room consisted of a king-sized bed, a killer view of downtown SLC, a living area with a big desk (and complimentary wireless internet), a plush sofa and a dining area, a mounted plasma-screen TV, a an iPod compatible clock radio (both of which we didn't even touch) and a really nice jacuzzi tub with glass doors. It was such an awesome hotel, maybe the nicest I've ever stayed in, and we would have loved another night there to check out the pool and other amenities, but Delta called...
  • We flew into LA on Sunday morning, picked up our car at what might be the most ghetto rental establishment in California, and drove to Long Beach.
While waiting to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, we did a little sight seeing on the nearby pier, had some dinner and watched Julie & Julia at the local Cinemark. The aquarium was fun, and had lots of fish. I overcame my fear and touched sharks. They were itty, but they could still probably have eaten at least two of my digits at once.

Later we checked into our moste excellente suite in the Anaheim Residence Inn Maingate, which also came with a delightful newlywed bundle, including a bottle of wine (we felt bad they went to the trouble, but they can use it for the next lucky couple I guess), and some Disneyland newlywed paraphernalia. It had a full kitchen and a living room.
  • On Monday we had an open day (I made sure not to overplan--the last thing I wanted was an unrelaxing honeymoon), so we went to Huntington Beach and enjoyed the freezing cold ocean. Julie initially seemed hesitant to visit the beach ("What do you really DO there?...") but in the end the sand and the surf won her over and she was the one who wanted to dive in and swim out to the slightly deeper water.
I like to call this picture "Mission: Accomplished."

Later that night we dressed up and went to Downtown Disney for a little shopping and dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (WOW, the ribs there...).

(No, we didn't fork out the cash for these novelty hats that we would most likely never wear again. Luckily we were able to take perfectly suitable photos, and have the memories regardless.)
  • Early the next morning we went to the famous esplanade and joined the crowds lining up to enter the Happiest Place on Earth.
Shame on you for touching that golden apple when it clearly warns not to touch it!
Then you had to suffer the punishment of spooky thunder noises!

It had only been almost three months since we had visited previously, but it seemed like it had been forever. We were able to see all our favorite attractions and eat at the Blue Bayou (despite them having no openings for the whole day), where we were served a special newlywed dessert.

Honestly, we're never going to Disneyland again without deciding on something to celebrate and obtaining the appropriate buttons. It's so much fun to get the congratulations and occasional surprise special treatment from Cast Members and fellow guests. We hit a sort of wall in the afternoon and headed back to the hotel for a couple hours (it was so deluxe to be staying 10-15 minutes away from the entrance to the parks) after which we came back to see California Adventure in the evening, and then Disneyland again at night.

Of course, why did I never think of making the C into a G?

Fantasmic is back and still super cool, but the new, much-hyped Maleficent dragon was not yet in operation. Maybe next time!

  • The next day we woke up later than planned to head back for Day 2 at Disneyland.

Both days were really fun, but by mid-afternoon we realized that we probably never want to visit in mid- to late-August again. You can still get a lot done, and if you avoid the 12-3 pm time period, it doesn't get TOO hot or crowded, but that's a key bit of information I have gleaned (which gleaning I expected) from this trip. On this day we were also ever so fortunate enough to eat at the ultra-elite and super-secret Club 33. I had never been there, and learned right away that they are serious about their dress code (don't you dare show up with flip-flops, regardless of the overall effect and quality of your ensemble. You can wear the tackiest of tourist apparel and cut-off shorts as long as you have closed-toe shoes). It was worth the trek to the hotel and back in mid-day, though, when we spent a couple of the hottest and most crowded hours of the day in an out-of-the-way, lavishly furnished restaurant discretely located above New Orleans Square. There wasn't any particular newlywed bonus here, but the chateaubriand was delicious, and the salad and dessert bars were quite remarkable. We only regret that we didn't enjoy more of the crab claws and lobster tails.
We rounded out the day by watching the new fireworks show, complete with not only flying Tinker Bell, but flying Dumbo. It was awesome. But so crowded. So we altered our plans of hitting a few more select attractions during the Fantasmic lull and headed home. We were even ushered backstage with the post-fireworks crowd. It was like a flashback to winter 2002, being backstage again. It was also a much quicker, but much less scenic, path down Main Street, USA. We bid a fond farewell to Disneyland, vowing to go back again soon as can be.
  • The next day was another delightfully unplanned day, which was spent enjoying the awesome hotel breakfast buffet, watching TV, and resting our feet from the previous two days. I had one more surprise for Julie, and informed her we had to check out because we were staying somewhere else for our last night. I didn't tell her where yet, but we packed up and did a little shopping (where our rental car was backed into by some other out-of-towners, but we were luckily at no fault, so the insurance should cover it completely) until we were able to check in at the famous Disneyland Hotel. It's always been a dream of mine to stay there, and what better time than your honeymoon?
The theming and atmosphere was expectedly magical, and despite a few hiccups (random people trying to enter our room without knock or invitation), maintenance pestering us a couple times, unwarranted phone call charges), it was a really nice place. The room was really fun and the pool was heated and Peter Pan-themed. We went to Surfside Beach at sunset, where we found a nearly deserted shore of rough sand, tall crashing waves and even a dead pelican, washed up on the beach.
The waves really liked Julie.
Which way to the beach? THAT way!

It was really nice, but turned a little chilly as darkness set in, so we headed back and found some dinner (after an unsuccessful walk through Downtown Disney, we settled for the local favorite Jack-in-the-Box).
  • The next morning we packed up our stuff, took a few last pictures, bought a few last souvenirs, and headed back down to L.A. The traffic was horrendous, but we spent an hour or two at a nearby art museum, after which we turned in the car and headed to the airport. A couple of hours later, we were back in the land of mountains and 90 degree heat (it was soooo nice in CA, go figure). Although the post-vacation fatigue, the L.A. traffic, the trouble with the rental car and the desire to start living life with The Wife made me really glad to see the Beehive State again, we were both already wishing we could go back.
And there you have it. Probably more information than you ever wanted! But I hope you enjoyed it. Three weeks later I'm even more in love. Married life rocks.