Thursday, April 30, 2009

Frozen Grapes and Immortal Nudists

It's nice when life offers you a new twist on an old friend, especially when the new twist doesn't cost you anything. Right now I have many such twists in my freezer.

I'm referring, of course, to the delicacy that is the frozen grape.

Few discoveries in my life have come with such eye-opening dynamism as the Revelation of the Frozen Grape. I first encountered this phenomenon while serving as a semi-humble LDS missionary in Freeport, Illinois during the summer of 1996. Midway through a visit with Brother Rice-my own personal Doc Emmitt Brown-my friend emerged from his kitchen area with a bag full of the icebound fruits, and my perspective on eternity was changed forever.

What I found most surprising about the frozen grape is that it never entirely freezes. Even after hours in sub-zero temperatures, the consistency of the grape prevents it from completely solidifying, thus affording the consumer instant satisfaction without having to wait for a thaw.

What I found least surprising about frozen grapes was that Brother Rice introduced me to them. Our visits were often filled with such mind-expanding altercations, whether he was telling us stories about how he playing bass for Dick Dale and the Deltones back in the 60's while living in a school bus on a beach in Hawaii, or whether we were debating his theory that as resurrected beings we won't require clothing, since temptation won't exist in the eternities. Our debate was inconclusive, but I'm sure his theory would have come as great news to my future companion Elder Clark, who spent part of his childhood in a nudist colony before coming to South Chicago to get hit by cars three different times in the summer of 1997.

I don't know if it was his intention, but if there is one lesson I can take from the Brother Rice's humble offering, it is this: while frozen grapes may not be rock-solid, their texture is still altered sufficiently to slow the progress of the consumer. Instead of plow through a bag, one must savor each grape independently, giving it his or her complete attention. I submit that we treat life this way, taking the time to smell the roses, note the sunsets, and appreciate the miraculous power of the dryer sheet.

You never know, the day may come where we don't need them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Routine Maintenance

Last week I dropped my car off at the Wal-Mart auto center for an oil change while my dad and I walked over to Chili's for an early lunch. An hour later, I returned to find a cute blonde with a nose piercing behind the counter.

"We are obligated to tell you," she said, "that your tires are legally bald."

"That's OK," I told her, "so am I."

There are few things I find more horrifying than dropping my car off for a routine service check. I'm always paranoid that at some point in the experience, some concerned-looking individual in coveralls will emerge from the work bay wiping grease off his hands with some nasty rag and give me a look that suggests he's about to tell me tragic news.

"Sir, while I was installing your new oil filter I couldn't help but notice that your CV-Joint Intake Manifold O2 sensor bolt was corroded on the right side. Were you aware of this?"

I attempt to look thoughtful, then shake my head.

"If you don't get that fixed, your engine will explode roughly fifty yards from our location. It's very lucky we found the problem when we did."

"Well," I say, trying to sound like a hard sell, "I guess you better go ahead and fix it. How much is it going to cost me?"

"Well, the screw itself is a pretty small item. The trouble is, the way your car is designed, we're going to have to remove the engine block, the driver's side door, and most of your car stereo to get to it. Plus Honda decided to make the bolt out of a special alloy that is only found on the planet Vulcan, so you're looking at about $750, give or take."

What drives me nuts about face-offs with auto guys is that I have no ammunition. They could tell me pretty much anything and I'd have to go along with it. If they told me that a pack of miniature Howler Monkeys had taken up residence in one of my pistons, I couldn't really tell them otherwise, because outside of re-wiring my car stereo, I know next to nothing about the operation of my car. No one these days does.

It's not like I could stare down the mechanic and declare, "what kind of crap are you trying to pull here? I know for a fact that Howler Monkeys are only partial to GM pistons, and never take up residence in Japanese engines because of the different lubrication methods. Do I look that stupid?" (sound of me slapping mechanic with set of white polo gloves)

So the blonde made me sign a form acknowledging that she'd told me about my tire situation. Now I can't sue Wal-Mart if I kill a pack of innocent bystanders on a Segway Tour of downtown Salt Lake City this weekend. I should probably go buy some new tires, though. Just to be on the safe side.

Hopefully the tire people won't find anything else wrong.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hot Rod drives into the sunset

It seemed appropriate last night that when the Jazz made their last rally against the Lakers, it was led by Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap. They were the ones responsible for the team making it that far in the first place. Price held the ship together early in the season while Deron was out with his ankle injury, and Millsap got All-Star consideration for the way he covered Boozer's spot for over half the season.

Unfortunately, Millsap hit a wall around the All-Star break and was never quite the same. And I still don't know what happened with Ronnie. I keep waiting for some story to break about him conducting human sacrifices in the locker room or trying to recruit Sloan into Amway, something to justify the late-season benching.

Whatever the reasons, it was nice to see the team-not just Deron Williams-play like they cared for a while last night. That was the craziest thing about this season. Normally a series with LA would bring out a whole bevy of anxieties and frustrations, but this time around, the Hollywood crowd didn't even bother me. Ultimately, the demise of the 2008-09 Utah Jazz was self-inflicted.

At least that last run late in the fourth quarter gave Hot Rod Hundley something more interesting to call in his last game. It's hard to believe that guy has been calling games longer than most of my friends and I have been alive. When I started listening to him, "Big Mark" Eaton was still swatting shots, Darrell Griffith was hitting three-pointers from the parking lot, and Ricky Green was still "the fastest of them all." Stockton was still just "Little John." And by that time, Hot Rod had already been at it for almost fifteen years.

I remember eating at his restaurant back in the early 90's and getting a stack of team photos. I remember reading his autobiography and smiling at how crazy it was that a showboat party man like him would wind up calling games coached by Jerry Sloan in the Mormon Heartland. Best of all, I remember hearing over and over how people would turn down the volume when the Jazz were on national TV, and turn up Hot Rod's radio feed because he called the games so much better than the network honks. Fittingly, Boler and Boone turned over the last five minutes of last night's game to Hot Rod before the final buzzer sounded.

I never did get to meet him, though I did see him in the press room the few times I've gone to shoot Jazz games in the last couple of years. If I ever do run into him, I think maybe I'll ask him to tag along and give live play-by-play of one of my dates. He's offered me so much entertainment over the years, the least I can do is offer the same.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Score for Jack

My buddy Chidsey usually runs all the jumbotron stuff for the Jazz games, but he also does the same thing for the Bees and Real Salt Lake (SLC's minor league baseball team and pro soccer team, for all of my European and Asian readers*). Saturday night, all three teams had games, so Chidsey pegged me to pinch hit for the Bees crew (pun intended).

I drew the video board operator straw, so my responsibilities were essentially to rotate different LED graphics and custom announcement posts onto two different sections of the big animated scoreboard in right field. The biggest trick involved was that each of these sections was controlled by a different computer, so when Colby-the director-called out for a graphic, I had to make sure that I clicked the right mouse. Otherwise I might, say, post some outdated NBA scores from a month ago that I hadn't finished updating instead of posting a small LED ad commemorating the sponsorship of Colosimo's famous Bratwursts.

Aside from the NBA gaffe, I only had a couple of minor screw-ups, like plugging in the wrong name for a Bees batter. But I never accidentally inserted swear words into the birthday announcements, and the wedding proposal after the eighth inning seemed to go smoothly. All in all, I probably earned my keep for the night.

This new professional experience led me to reflect on my ever-expanding resume of random jobs I have held over the years. Here's the newly updated list of paid gigs from the 7th Grade on:

Farm Laborer, Greenhouse Laborer, Bag Boy, Grocery Cashier, Music Store Cashier, Ticket Sales Associate, TelePrompter Operator, TV Cameraman, Cartographer, Bouncer, Actor, Rock Drummer, Public Affairs Rep, Web Designer, English Composition Instructor, Movie Critic, Humor Columnist, Framing Assistant, Baker, Staff Assistant, Variety Show Sketch Producer**, Portrait Photographer, Promotional Filmmaker, Television Producer, Promotional Sketch Editor, Lighting Assistant, Copywriter...and Video Board Operator.

Kind of makes you wonder what's coming up next...


*Really. When I check out my sitemeter stats, I'm amazed to see who's landing on this blog sometimes. Yesterday, for example, someone from Belgium visited almost thirty separate pages on my site alone. On behalf of the Wounded Mosquito Editorial Board, I would like to officially extend the hand of international friendship, and encourage all my foreign and domestic visitors to click the little "follow" button at the right.

**Technically I wasn't paid to produce the "B All Over" sketches, but my stuff was televised, and the gig did translate into a full-time job producing the KJZZ morning show, so I think of it as kind of an unpaid internship. But strike it off the list if you don't feel good about it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

God is a Jazz fan...kind of

Last night at the Arena, while the Jazz and the Lakers were taking turns hitting big shots as the clock was winding down, I have to admit that I made a plea with divinity on behalf of the home team. You know, as if to suggest that God might actually care about the outcome of a basketball game.

Thing is, I think God does care about the outcomes of our sporting events, just not the way some people think. Not in a "Jesus willed the ball over the defender's outstretched hands and into the grasp of the All-Pro wide receiver who has an appointment to buy $20,000 earrings the next morning" kind of way. And not in a "the point guard once shot a guy outside a club because he owed him from an old track bet, so God made sure that he went 3-10 and committed eight turnovers in Game 5" type of way.

No, I think God cares about our sporting events the same way He cares about everything else we do in mortality. It's an opportunity to teach, to learn, and to respect our personal agency. It's an opportunity to see the fruits of hard work, to see the underdog overcome unfathomable odds, and to see that if the underdog doesn't overcome, that there is still something valuable to take from the effort.

I think sports are a great teaching tool, and a place to offer tender mercies. When I was a missionary in South Chicago, I didn't see a second of any of the Jazz-Bulls Finals games in the summer of '97, but I still felt awful to know they'd lost. But when I looked around at the area I was in, and what most of the people I was serving had to deal with day-to-day, I figured they needed the boost more than I did. Because regardless of whether you think it's stupid, sports can bring a community together.

Salt Lake needed it last night. Gratefully, we got it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Evening in Lynch-Land

Several years ago I watched "The Elephant Man" alone in my basement on a Saturday night. I'd rented the film over at Hollywood Video, and while I was waiting in line I ran into an old high school friend who had been married for about a year. As I spoke with him, I realized that I was at my social nadir, much the same as I believe my dating nadir came while trekking across the BYU campus one fall night and getting recruited by the Amway of financial planning.

But that's another story...

"Elephant Man" was a good movie, even if the circumstances surrounding my viewing were less than desirable. Last night I watched "Eraserhead", another David Lynch film, this time under better social circumstances: I had a roommate and my buddy Jared in tow. And that's about as many as I figured I could get away with, because in spite of how many film-enthusiast friends I have, I doubt there are many who could make it through "Eraserhead."

"Eraserhead" isn't a dirty movie. At it's heart it's just a surrealist interpretation of Lynch's anxieties regarding fatherhood. There is no profanity, no nudity, and the violence is minimal. Plus there is a main character who boasts a six-inch flattop. But it is pretty disturbing, and most moviegoers wouldn't last five minutes without getting bored or seriously creeped out by it. Nevertheless, there is something undeniably fascinating about the film, and I wasn't the only one in the room last night who felt that way. About ten minutes in, my roommate Dustin-a pilot for Skywest-remarked:

"This makes me want to make a film."

The movie was unquestionably weird, but it was so creative you couldn't help but be inspired by it. People say that when the first Velvet Underground album came out in 1966, hardly anyone bought it, but everyone who did formed a band. I'd say "Eraserhead" has the same effect.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

...and now for these messages

When I was a little kid in the midst of my own personal Beatlemania, I remember a lot of people being steamed because Nike had decided to use a Fab Four song to advertise their new line of basketball shoes. Something about using a socially-conscious anthem for a cheap commercial use, I believe. I think the affair also played a part in breaking up this particular bromance, since Jacko owned the publication rights that let Nike get away with it.

I can see the purist frustration of using a "noble" song like "Revolution" for a base effort like pimping sneakers, but last night I was pretty happy about the use of mainstream rock in TV commercials. If it weren't for a Sony PSP ad from a few years ago, I never would have heard of Franz Ferdinand, and thus I wouldn't have wound up down at the Avalon Theater last night to see 90 minutes worth of sweet blaring swagger-strut rock out of Glasgow. Wouldn't have seen the whole band plus a roadie gather around Paul Thomson's drum kit to finish off "Ulysses" with a five-man percussion jam. Wouldn't have done the Pogo for the second time in a week (the first was during "Why Does It Always Rain On Me" at the Travis show).

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the PSP ad introduced me to a band, but the Nike ad defiled an established act with strong emotional ties to a conflicted era. Maybe, in that case, the commercial use dilutes the power of the song and contributes to the capitalist corruption of pure art through the commercial obsessions of cheap popular culture. Maybe we've just got more important things to worry about. whether I'm going to go see The Horrorpops on Friday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watch your back, Wilford Woodruff...

Last night, just before midnight, I passed a modest milestone by filling the last page of my ninth journal since returning home from my LDS mission to Chicago. This is notable for a couple of reasons. First, as many people have observed, my handwriting comes in at about 9-point font at best, which means filling the pages of an entire journal-let alone nine-is no easy task.

The second is a bit more interesting. Along the way, I've put together a daily writing streak that is fast approaching eleven years in length. I don't know the exact count, but right now I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 consecutive entries. They aren't always very long, some are little more than a quick statement or a brief summary of the routines of the day, but in some way or another, every day for the last decade is accounted for. I've got a while to go before I threaten Wilford Woodruff's writing streak-his reportedly lasted decades, according to that "Mountain of the Lord" movie-but I think I can still feel good about the effort.

The first entry in the streak was appropriately penned up in Island Park at my grandparents' place in the summer of 1998. I was about six months removed from my missionary duties, and two days removed from a fantastic first date that never saw a second (a theme that picks up steam over the next several years). Back then I was about halfway through a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication up at the University of Utah, and mostly excited to be up in Yellowstone during the last summer of unlimited speed limits in rural Montana. Unfortunately, I was only driving a 1988 Honda Prelude at the time, and wasn't able to get going any faster than 112MPH downhill.

Last night's entry was a tad more sober. A lot has taken place in 4,000 days, and the tendency now is to look back more than forward, even though that isn't the way it should be. See, that's one of the strange distortions of being single: if you're 30 and married, you're basically a kid with your whole life ahead of you. If you're 30 and single, you're the geriatric of your social group, worried that your day in the sun has passed. It's like you have the shelf life of a professional basketball player. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired from the NBA, he was barely into his 40's, which for all intents and purposes would suggest that the bulk of his life was ahead of him. Yet as a professional athlete, he had a foot and a half in the grave.

These days sometimes I feel like I should be running around in goggles and nutter shorts, but if for some reason I do kick off prematurely, at least I'll leave some creative rants behind. Almost eleven years' worth, and counting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Band of Buggers

Last Saturday afternoon, after an epic battle with the overgrown expanse of grass around my house, I noticed an old friend hanging out by my back door.

"Hello, old friend," I said.

My old friend didn't say anything back. That's because my old friend was a Box Elder Bug, and to my knowledge is incapable of audible communication. For some reason, I have held a strange affection for Box Elder Bugs for several years now. Part of it is due to the fact that I attended Utah State University, where they are known to hold a heavy population, but I think another part of it is because Box Elder Bugs are so much more non-threatening than other bugs. For example, no Box Elder Bug has ever tried to bore a hole in my abdomen and reproduce itself 10,000 times over.

(Note: no other bug has ever tried to bore a hole in my abdomen and reproduce, but I wouldn't put it past most of them to try. I have heard of such horrible things, and this is one of the primary reasons I avoid Central America.)

Box Elder Bugs seem to be the pot addicts of the Insect World. Most of the time they seem content to just hang out. They don't move real fast, and when they try to fly, it's actually kind of funny. When I saw the one resting on my door frame, I ran downstairs to get my camera, and when I came back, he was still just hanging around like nothing was going on. I even stuck my macro lens in his face, and he was totally cool.

I looked Box Elder Bugs up on Wikipedia, and learned that their real name is Boisea Trivittata, which suggests they may hail from Idaho, or they are named after Travis Tritt. I know there are tons of them in the Ray B. West building on the USU campus. They'd also do well in 1970's discos, because apparently they mate in groups of three or four at a time.

Sadly, most of the Wikipedia article was filled with information on how to kill these dudes, which seems excessive since they are so laid back all the time. Like I said, the one I hung out with Saturday stuck around for a full five-minute photo session before he had to bail.

"I gotta split, man," he said.

"No problem, thanks for hanging around," I said. "You got a hot date?"

"Three, actually."

Friday, April 17, 2009

"...and look how I turned out?"

Came across an article on the other day that perked my interest. The author seems to think she's committed some mortal sin by letting her young sons watch "Star Wars." I guess they've become rather obsessed with the galaxy far, far away ever since, and she can't fathom why.

I'll tell you's because she's never been a six-year-old boy.

I can understand why a parent might get annoyed with the commercial bludgeoning that comes with the Star Wars Phenomenon, but the author also recounts a conversation she has with a psychologist who basically tells her she's putting her kids on a path to oblivion by exposing them to excessive violent images.

Star Wars? Seriously? Do these people have any idea what else those kids could be watching? I'm guessing most parents would count themselves lucky if Star Wars was the worst of their children's pop culture fixations.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Promo Portfolio

Over the last few months, when I haven't been applying for grad school, writing my memoir, or catching up on all the sleep I missed when I was producing the KJZZ Cafe, I've been able to do some part-time work editing Utah Jazz promos. For most of them, I merely took existing promo films and cut them down to 30-odd seconds, then added my own music. The Clippers promo, however, is all me.

Here are the fruits of those efforts:

Jazz vs. Lakers

Jazz vs. Nuggets

Jazz vs. Warriors

Jazz vs. Rockets

Jazz vs. Kings

Jazz vs. Blazers

Jazz vs. Clippers

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pop Culture Stew

Life is all about choices.

That's why last night, as the Jazz were getting punked by the Lakers in a first-round playoff preview, and while Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls were furthering the sexual corruption of Utah's youth down at the Energy Solutions Arena, I'm glad I chose to be across the street at The Depot watching a drunken Scotsman climb up on top of a double-stack amp to play his guitar behind his head.

Watching Travis lead guitarist Andy Dunlop wave his Les Paul around in the pretty lights was probably the most memorable moment from last night's concert, but it was hardly the only surreal moment of the evening. It only narrowly edged out the sight and sound of Kenn Janowski, lead singer of opening act The Republic Tigers, who's falsetto vocals during the band's cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" were so spot-on I wondered if he was lip-synching. And if I was having any second thoughts about skipping out on Britney, my fix came courtesy of a special acoustic cover of "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" courtesy of Travis's frontman, Francis Healy.

When the dust cleared from the show, I went home and watched Monday's episode of "24" online with some fresh strawberries and a shrimp cocktail. Turns out Tony Almeida is more loyal to Jon Voight than Jack Bauer. Bummer.

Life is all about choices.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Sushi Question

Last night, after watching the Jazz notch a long-overdue victory against the Clippers, I dropped by The Happy Sumo with Breto, Randy, and Randy's brother Ben for some post-game international cuisine, and for the first time ever, all I ordered was sushi.

I have ordered sushi in the past, but always as an effort to augment whatever traditional entree was taking center stage. At the Happy Sumo, that entree is usually the Teriyaki Chicken Bowl with tempura vegetables. But last night I only ordered a Firecracker Roll, and in its aftermath I am wondering what new stage of life I may have entered.

To me, aside from the obvious question of taste, the prospect of embracing sushi was similar to embracing golf: sure, it would have its advantages, but deep down it was a little too sissy-boy to accept wholeheartedly. I can't take any sport seriously if it doesn't allow for heckling (sorry, tennis), and I can't take food seriously when it comes out of the "smaller portion/higher price" category.

Identifying myself as a sushi guy could threaten my entire Machismo Equilibrium. We all have various aspects of our personality that demand counterbalance. Here are a few of mine, for example:

Manly Man qualities:

-Passion for red meat
-Beard-Growing Capacity
-Bench Press Max. over 200lbs.
-Unable to Weep

Sissy Boy qualities:

-Fondness for Barry Manilow
-Copy of "Serendipity" in DVD collection
-Correct grammatical usage of "Your" and "You're"
-Writes a Blog

I have always worked hard to maintain the balance of these categories, just like I used to maintain a balance between the number of LDS temples I've attended with the number of Hard Rock Cafe's I've visited. But adding "Sushi Fan" to the Sissy Boy list might threaten that delicate equilibrium, and then in a panic I might start carting around a .45 in my pants to compensate. The solution so far has been to treat sushi as an appetizer, allowing myself to enjoy the subtleties of the ingredient varieties and texures while assuring myself that I really came for the teriyaki chicken and hot waitresses.

But as of last night, I cannot make that argument. In an effort to offset my concern, I attempted to convert Breto and Ben by offering them a sample of my roll. They acquiesced to my gesture, but remained unconverted, and I also learned that it's not a good idea to try to cut a piece of sushi in half with a chopstick.

Next time you see me, better not pat me in the lower back area. There's a good chance a gun may go off.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Looks like we've made it..."

The well-oiled machine of Apartment 204 is picking up speed...

A week ago the posse (minus Dave, who is still at Second City) gathered at Chidsey's place to pay homage to the great green screen in the sky and shoot the follow-up to "Livin' in the 801." Can't give too much away, but the newest offering will have a hint of the "Dark Knight" to it, along with some absolutely fabulous hairpieces. Should be up and running before too long ("too long" meaning anywhere between a week and six months or so, depending on how far the Jazz go in the playoffs and if our raw footage gets abducted by alien videophiles).

In the meantime, "Livin' in the 801" has continued to rack up hits on YouTube, over 22,000 at the last count. Even better, we're getting lots and lots of offensive comments, which is always a good sign for any online offering. You know you've made it when people start going out of their way to tell you how much they hate you.

More importantly, as of last weekend we have also seemed to pick up a rather unexpected following. Apparently Trails, one of the Salt Lake Valley's finer strip-club establishments, has gotten into the habit of running our clip on one of its video boards. I'm not sure if this means the employees are performing to the song or if it is merely background enhancement, but either way, Trails' owner has offered the services of his cast for any of our future video shoots, free of charge.

(Pause to digest last item...)

Yeah, so things are looking up for Apartment 204! If you get a chance, take another look at the clip, and go join the Facebook fan page. Before long we should have bio's on our homepage, along with a special homage clip to all our haters.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Learning Curves

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a car wreck. Seen plenty of metaphoric train wrecks in the last couple of years, but no real-life auto collisions. So this post isn’t inspired by anything tragic. Actually, it’s inspired by a post from a buddy of mine who just managed to squeeze 500 relevant words out of a snowboarding collision. That’s why I think he’s a good writer.

Thing is, his post is about trying to predict the patterns of people around us, trying to compensate for them in order to progress in life without stepping on each other’s toes—or in his case, knocking them off a mountain. Now I can’t relate too well with John’s snowboard expertise; I would be much more likely to be the obstacle in that context. But if you transpose his metaphor to the highways, specifically, the highways of Utah, NOW I can relate.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the Utah Driving Experience in the sixteen years since Coach Jones leaned against a white Chevy Corsica and initialed my high school driver’s test. Much of that thinking has been employed in an effort to resolve one central conflict: it FEELS like Utah drivers are the worst in the country, but after spending time on the highways on the east and west coasts, I’m not too sure. Coastal driving definitely seems faster, but my Beehive State commutes still seem more aggravating.

But I think I’ve figured it out. Sometimes people want to equate crazy driving with speed, and though that works in some cases, it is not universal. For example, after the time I’ve spent driving back east and on the I-5 in California, I would definitely agree that coastal driving is faster. But the thing is, everyone is driving fast. You don’t have any slowpokes. People may be hustling, but they’re still yielding the fast lane and paying attention to their surroundings. It may be crazy to someone unaccustomed to accelerated speeds, but it’s consistent.

Many of these types of drivers are also found in Utah. I’m one of them. When I decide to go somewhere, I want to get there. I’m far from perfect, but I still try to pay close attention to what is going on around me. But sadly, not all of my Utah counterparts do. Whereas a large part of the Utah driving population could be considered attentive or even aggressive drivers, the thing that makes Utah driving so maddening is the generous population of slowpoke oblivious drivers. And it is this philosophical clash that makes Utah a truly hellish place to commute.

I broke down the various types of Utah drivers on one of my old sites years ago, so I won’t repeat all the details here. Let me just say that people generally fall into one of two categories, attentive and oblivious, and the latter has been driving us in the former crazy for years on end. If someone wants to take their time driving, that’s fine. But that’s what the slow lane is for. And incidentally, even if you’re in the slow lane, you still should be paying attention to the people merging onto the freeway and adjust your speed accordingly—and that doesn’t mean slowing down to 50MPH so everyone can get ahead of you, even though you would pass the merge zone well in front of them if you just continued your previous speed.

But I digress. It’s an easy thing to do with this topic. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it didn’t involve occasional life-threatening situations. Take this, for instance: in the last few years, Utah has welcomed the addition of several roundabouts in certain strategic spots along the Wasatch Front. I think they are awesome; I wish we had more. But my fellow drivers don’t seem to understand how to use them, namely, that when you enter a roundabout, you yield to the left instead of the right like at a traditional four-way stop. It’s not rocket science, but it is annoying.

A couple of months ago, I was approaching the roundabout just south of my home in Bountiful. I was first into the turn, and should have enjoyed the right of way. However, as I made my way through the curve, I saw a pickup truck speeding towards the roundabout on my right side, and he didn’t look like he had any intention of slowing down. I slammed on my brakes as he flew through the roundabout without so much as tapping his brake, and he didn’t even glance over at me as I leaned on my horn. If I had continued on my previous path, I would have plowed right through his driver’s side door and most likely killed him. But luckily, I’m not one of the oblivious people.

Sometimes I think that I spend too much of my time stressing about things other people don’t bother with. That my life would be a lot easier if I didn’t take myself so seriously, if I wasn’t so neurotic about the details. I’m not Jason Bourne. I don’t have spies shadowing my every move. But for one day at least, I’m glad I was one of the attentive ones.