Monday, June 16, 2008

Mosquito Bites, Vol. III

A few observations and radar blips before I head out on a Chicago pilgrimage...

Sherpa Time!

One of the drawbacks to my job is that I never get to meet any of the guests we have on the show. Since my primary on-air role is to be timekeeper, I’m pretty much stuck in the control room for the duration of the broadcast, and unless a guest makes a rare detour through that room on their way out, I just see them the same way everyone else does at home.

One recent exception was a guy named Apa Sherpa. Apa is a fairly nondescript guy, pretty short, really quiet, totally humble, and to be honest, most people would probably mistake him for a member of the cleaning staff if they didn’t know better. He also happens to have climbed Mount Everest eighteen times.

When Apa finished his interview out on the studio floor, he walked back through the control room on his way out, making sure to wave and give a big smile to every single member of the staff. He was a remarkably friendly guy. I was very impressed. I was also amazed that the guy who has scaled Everest more times than every other human, and according to dossier is physically capable of carrying incapacitated members of his climbing party down the mountain if necessary, probably stands about 5'2" and weighs ninety pounds.

A Compulsive Milestone

I hesitate to toot my own horn too much here--though some might suggest that's all this blog is for--but I'm getting ready to celebrate a pretty significant milestone. It's not even a joke, either. As of June 24th, I will have made consecutive journal entries for ten full years. Meaning I haven't gone to bed in the last decade without at least writing some fleeting blurb in one of six hardbound journals. Naturally, that June 24th, 1998 entry was about some girl.

The Monilith

While on the topic of compulsive behavior, this might be a good time to mention another little side drama that has been evolving in the Life of Josh. A few months back, I got into the habit of dropping my scripts into a pile on my desk at the end of every morning broadcast. These scripts started to pile up, and soon the practice began to take on a life of its own. They say that over time, actions become habits, and habits become character, but I'm really not sure how the four-foot stack of scripts on top of my KJZZ cubicle constitutes character. And neither do any of the people I share office space with.

The Weinermobile

You can't have a huge life-changing experience everyday. The human psyche can only take so much. But if you learn to pay attention and look for the little positives, each day can at least put a smile on your face. Now, before you think I'm dangerously close to picking up a job writing Hallmark greeting cards, keep in mind that the little detail that made me smile the other day was seeing the Weinermobile outside the Centerville Wal-Mart.

There, see Centerville residents? You were so bent out of shape when you heard Wal-Mart was coming, but now don't you feel silly? If they had never built the store, you never would have gotten your own personal visit from the Weinermobile, and then you'd just be another middle-American no-Weinermobile-having po-dunk town. So be grateful.

No Pico for You!

The tomato/salmonella crisis has officially infringed on my way of life. Last Friday I swung by Barbacoa to pick up my weekly burrito bowl, only to discover that they had voluntarily suspended use of their mild salsa (essentially a pico de gallo) because of the tomato scare. My usual routine is to get rice, pinto beans, spicy pork, two scoops of mild salsa, and one scoop of hot salsa, so you can see how significant an impact this ommission would make. So I walked out brokenhearted, grabbed some takeout from Yoshi's Japanese Grill instead (along with a large order of spicy fries and a Butterfinger shake from Eat-A-Burger, cause if I'm going to drive all the way out to Holladay for my lunch, I'm going to make it worth my while), and wondered how soon this crisis will pass.

To Dig or Not to Dig

In my constant search for new and exciting ideas for blog entries, it occurred to me that most of the items on my Dig/Not Dig list on the right-hand column of this blog are completely unexplained. So I'll explain a few.

No Dig: Atmospheric Pressure Changes

Whenver a front moves in, triggering any kind of significant atmospheric pressure change in anticipation of a storm, I get headaches. Yes, you heard that correctly: I can predict weather patterns with my skull. They aren't migrane-level, thankfully, but they do hurt. And they do hurt badly enough that I always maintain a source of ibuprophen for quick and easy access.

Dig: Yahtzee

I'm not real huge on game-playing. Mostly because I'm really competitive, and games tend to bring that side out of me. Plus I find a lot of games boring, frankly. But Yahtzee will always hold a fond place in my heart. Yahtzee will forever go hand-in-hand with my childhood excursions to my grandparent's place up in Island Park, Idaho (which is about ten miles outside of Yellowstone). My family was never a really outdoorsy family, at least in terms of going on long hikes or camping, so when we weren't driving through the park or taking pictures of Old Faithful, and when I wasn't out climbing around the side of the hill with a dozen of my Star Wars action figures, my family was gathered inside my grandparent's trailer (this was back before they built the cabin), playing us some Yahtzee.

To this day, one of the hardest decisions to make comes late in the game when confronted with a third roll that has netted absolutely nothing. Do I take a zero on my Yahtzee, and basically forfeit any chance of getting the big 50 point score, or do I put the zero on my fives, which will prevent me from getting the 35-point bonus from getting three of each number in my top bracket?

No Dig: People who try to get you to look up scriptures during their sacrament meeting talks

I try to be charitable when it comes to criticizing the public speaking skills of my ecclesiastical peers, especially since most people are not egomaniac publicity hounds like myself who actually seek out opportunities to speak in public, but this is seriously one of my biggets pet peeves, and for the sake of those same peers, I must address it. The premise is simple: there is a difference between giving a talk in sacrament meeting and giving a lesson in Sunday School. One is meant to be a prepared address; the other is an interactive facilitated discussion. When you give a talk, you are supposed to be the one doing the talking, so write your scripture references into your talk, and deliver them in a fluid fashion with the rest of your text, just like they do in General Conference. Don't ask me to pull out my scriptures and look stuff up. You're supposed to be delivering a message. Not a lesson.

Dig: Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey's Kisses in them

I feel 75% confident in specifying these as Christmas cookies. I do remember seeing them on a few other occasions in my time, but by and large my memory of these little delicacies is tightly bound to my childhood Christmases. In fact, these cookies have been so impressed on my mind that I have actually taken the initiative to make them on my own...more than once. I even took some pictures of them:

The funny thing is that I'm not a huge fan of Hershey's Kisses otherwise. Not that I don't like them, but more that I'm just not very likely to buy a bag of them unless I'm planning on making the cookies. So there you go.

No Dig: People who insist on warming up on one side of the basketball court while the pick-up game is still in progress on the other end

This phenomenon is as entrenched in pick-up basketball as deeply as hard fouls and the token old guy in sweatpants. Whenever you have people waiting on the sidelines for the next game, there will inevitably be one or two who are convinced that in order to perform at their peak level they must run out onto the empty end of the court and shoot half a dozen jump shots while the game is still going on at the other end. They always think they can grab their rebounds and get out of the way before play gets back to that end, but inevitably the players actually playing the game will take off on a fast break that will have to be cut short because some idiot's long rebound came bouncing through their passing lane.

If you're not playing, stay off the court, morons.

Dig: Hammond B-3 Organs

Last weekend I got into a conversation about favorite sounds, and other than the sound of my old 64 1/2 Mustang driving through a parking garage, I noted the sound of the classic Hammond B-3 Organ (with rotating Leslie speaker). Of course, there's no real way to describe the sound of a Hammond B-3, so here are a couple of sample clips of one in action:

All Hail the Techno-Viking!

I may have to apologize for this one in advance. I will say that a bad word is superimposed over the very end of this clip, so you might want to stop it before you get to the end. But to be honest, I'm guessing most people will stop watching well before that point, because this is just one weird mother video. describes its star as "the Pied Piper of drugged up ecstasy e-tards". That's about as good a description as I can come up with, other than to suggest that he's also got some hybrid Hulk Hogan-Patrick Swayze action going on, and he reminds me of a guy I see at the gym all the time that my old roommate nicknamed "Dr. Death". Either way, I can't run this thing for Catch of the Day, I can't really explain why I find it so funny (it's kind of a Josh 4.0 level of twisted humor sophistication), and I just can't sit on it, either. It has to be shared.

So consider yourself warned.

ALL HAIL TECHNOVIKING! - Watch more free videos

If it will make you feel any better, we actually did run the clip below for Catch of the Day. I'm guessing it won't.

Membership has it's privileges

About a month or so, I was walking on the sidewalk outside the Salt Lake Institute Building with my buddy Micah when we had an encounter that could best be described as “curious”. As we were strolling along, we heard an insistent voice call behind us.

“Hey, you two!”

The voice sounded quite angry, and when we turned around, we expected to see some weirdo who wanted a fight or something. Instead, we saw a weirdo standing still. He was dressed normally, looked a couple of years younger than us, and didn’t look all that out of place otherwize. He just had a strange way about him, like you could tell that something was off.

We gave him a quick acknowledgement, wondering what on earth he had to say to us.

“When you’re endowed," he asked, "does that mean you can take cocaine? I NEED TO KNOW.”

Now, I wrote the statement above word-for-word as I remember it, with special all-caps emphasis on his last sentence. But I'd like to reinforce the fact that he said that last sentence with a very sincere degree of passion. As in to say he wasn't joking. He really needed to know whether taking out his Endowments would allow him to do blow.

I began to wonder what train of events led him to this inquiry. I had heard plenty of bizarro "Mormon-Rumors" in my time (my favorite was the one about how we juggle squirrels in the temple, which, to be honest, might increase my attendance if it were true), but I had never heard anything about a temple recommend granting someone amnesty from following the Word of Wisdom, particularly when it came to Hollywood party drugs. Near as I could figure, someone might have decided to have fun with this guy--he did look a little bit, ahem, "slow"--and told him some crazy story about faithful LDS crackheads. It would also make sense to think that he'd confused LDS with LSD, just like William Shatner did in "Star Trek IV", and then confused LSD with cocaine. It would be a totally honest mistake. But I think the most likely scenario is this poor fellow was contacted by some dude from West Jordan who woke up one night after a rough go at Beto's and convinced himself that he'd received divine instruction to immediately build a reinforced bunker in his basement that could hold ten years of food storage, seventeen cages of live poultry, a full arsenal, and a small meeting room for the breakoff sect he needed to found that would reinstitute polygamy, canonize the first printing of Mormon Doctrine, and allow for senior members to get buzzed on a weekly basis.

That's just how these things go.