Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sweet Dreams, #457

This morning I had another one of those dreams where I'm serving a second mission. In this one, I'm out on a remote Iowa highway, desperately clinging to the hood of a speeding rust-covered pickup truck while some hillbilly tries to kill me...and I only have fifteen minutes before my next teaching appointment. Missions are awesome.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Twisted Vibrations

First they told me that the dinosaurs were really birds. Then they said Pluto wasn't a planet anymore.

Now they're telling me I'm a Virgo instead of a Scorpio.

In this case, "they" is some astronomer in Minnesota who says the Earth's alignment with the constellations isn't what we thought it was. And not only are we about a month off our "true" Zodiac sign, but we also seem to have left out a 13th sign, which you pretty much can't pronounce without dropping the F-bomb.

This wouldn't bother me except for the fact that I always thought I had the coolest of the Zodiac signs. Scorpio. The scorpion. I thought that was pretty cool. You know what my symbol is now?

The Virgin.

That is not cool.

So now I'm stuck trying to adapt to my new identity. I used to be driven by passion and power, but now I'm a sensitive soul who just wants to love and be loved in return. No more listening to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin before getting ready to bust heads on the basketball court; now it's all about quiet Barry Manilow tunes and free verse poetry about pine needles and crap. At least that's what Athena Starwoman says.

I really wonder what Whoopi Goldberg thinks about all this.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The 2010 Book List

I've often heard that if you want to be a better writer, you need to read. A lot. I've heard that statement often, but I've rarely followed it.

I don't know exactly why, but last year I read a lot more books than usual. Probably not as many as I should have, but enough that I haven't had the time or motivation to write reviews for them all. But even if I may not have enough time to review them, but I do have enough time to list them. I'll include a quick take on each, but you can pretty much assume that I recommend each.
  • High Fidelity, Nick Hornby. Fictional story about a 30-something music store owner who doesn't know what to do with the rest of his life (inspired the movie with John Cusack).
  • Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher. Memoir of Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher.
  • Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs, Dave Barry. Dave's chronology of bad pop songs; perfect airplane read.
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy. Post-apocalyptic fiction about a man and his son; don't read if you're depressed.
  • Fargo Rock City, Chuck Klosterman. Pop culture essayist Klosterman's memoir of growing up as a metal head in rural North Dakota.
  • The Dude Abides, Cathleen Falsani. Non-fiction analysis of the religious themes behind each of the films of Joel and Ethan Coen.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell. Non-fiction/sort-of self-help book on the true nature of success.
  • He is I Say, David Wild. Biography of Mr. Neil Diamond by a longtime writer for Rolling Stone magazine.
  • The Breaks of the Game, David Halberstam. Non-fiction portrait of the late 1970's NBA as seen through the 1977 Portland Trailblazers.
  • Sports from Hell, Rick Reilly. The longtime SI (and now ESPN) columnist researches outlandish sports from around the world.
  • Humor in School is Serious Business, B. Lee Hurren. Educational text about the value of using humor in the classroom.
  • U.S.S. Enterprise Owner's Workshop Manual, Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley. Technical manual outlining the various systems and functions of every version of the iconic Star Trek starship.
  • Bigfoot: I Not Dead, Graham Roumieu. Fictional autobiography written from the perspective of the legendary Sasquatch.
  • 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Aron Ralston. Memoir of an avid outdoorsman who cuts his own arm off to survive a canyoneering accident. 
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks. Super-dense documentary-style fiction about the Zombie Apocalypse.
Now that I look back at that list I'm not all that impressed. In my head I read about twice as many books as I have listed here. I will try better in the coming year. In fact, if you have any recommendations, feel free to comment.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Official 2010 Post-Christmas Letter!

Dear friends, family members, and various law enforcement agencies who have requested that I provide viable alibis for specified dates in the month of June,

Now that the holidays are officially past us, it is time for that precious moment when I attempt to recap my year in a finely-crafted way that subtly balances humility and appreciation for the little things with blatant 21st Century self-promotion. Just for fun, I'm writing it in exciting multiple-choice exam form! Good luck!

1. In April I pulled a practical joke on my loyal readers by:
A. Pretending to quit the blog business
B. Going on a date
C. Changing my name to a symbol
D. Coming out as a die-hard country music fan

2. In August, I made a solo road pilgrimage to what important landmark from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind?"
A. Devil's Slide
B. Devil's Tower
C. Devil's Haircut
D. What's with all the Devil references?

3. In October, I finally got back in print, writing for which Salt Lake area newspaper?
A. The Salt Lake Tribune
B. The Deseret News
C. The Daily Planet
D. The Davis County Clipper

4. In February, I concluded a run that netted how many speeding tickets in six months?
A. 2
B. 3
C. 4
D. 5

5. In November, I interviewed what Country Music superstar from the 1990s?
A. Billy Ray Cyrus
B. Garth Brooks
C. Collin Raye
D. Vanilla Ice

6. In January, I saw what Utah Jazz backup point guard defeat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a last-second three point shot?
A. Sundiata Gaines
B. Delaney Rudd
C. Magic Johnson
D. Abe Vigoda

7. Last summer I visited the grave of what Seattle-area celebrity?
A. Kurt Cobain
B. Jimi Hendrix
C. Xavier McDaniel
D. Abe Vigoda

8. In April I switched my morning wake-up station from Oldies 94.1 to Arrow 103.5 because:
A. 94.1 never played my favorite songs anymore
B. The female co-host only wanted to give reality TV updates
C. The female co-host had a stone-cold-serious visit with her personal psychic on-air
D. All of the above

9. This month I will become _____________ for the first time?
A. an uncle
B. debt-free
C. a homeowner
D. humble

10. The best piece of evidence from 2010 that suggests I am movin' on up in the world is:
A. I finally embraced sophisticated adult food like sushi.
B. I finally bought a smart phone in December.
C. I finally upgraded my Jazz season tickets in December and "got out of the ghetto," as one of my students put it.
D. All of the above

In spite of its ups and downs and multiple speeding tickets, I'd have to say I'm pretty grateful for 2010, and looking forward to 2011. As a final send-off, here's a clip I came across on one of those nerd blogs I love so much.

Here's hoping that 2011 gives you plenty of chances to laugh...