Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite Songs of 2014

Hey friends that care about good music and those that should care about good music. It is time once again to share my top 20 favorite songs of the year.  Here they are in descending order from 20 to 1.

20. Elbow - "Fly Boy Blue / Lunette"

19. Tennis - "Bad Girls"
18. Manchester Orchestra - "The Ocean"
17. tUnE-yArDs - "Water Fountain"
16. Generationals - "Welcome to the Fire"
15. The Notwist - "Kong"
14. Broken Bells - "Holding on for Life"
13. Bombay Bicycle Club - "It's Alright Now"
12. Stars - "This is the Last Time"
11. OK Go - "I Won't Let you Down" 
10. Bishop Allen - "Start Again"
9. The New Pornographers - "War on the East Coast"
8. Spoon - "Knock Knock Knock"
7. Bleachers - "Shadow"
6. The Rural Alberta Advantage - "On the Rocks"
5. Future Islands - "Spirit" 
4. Passenger - "Scare Away the Dark"
3. Foster the People - "The Truth"
2. Mr. Little Jeans - "Oh Sailor"
1. Tokyo Police Club - "Argentina (Parts I, II, III)"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Free Hot Dogs on Saturdays!

Erma had run the local tee shirt place for over 17 years.  It had been a steady business, with tourists making up over 70% of her business. Her best seller had always been the heart tee. It was a tee shirt with a heart on it. This remained her best seller until the release of the smiley face tee shirt, an instant classic.

Things really started taking off for Erma when she began selling tee shirts with wolves on them. Even though there were no wolves native to Kissimmee, Florida, the tourists loved them. When she added the wolf on camouflage combo shirt, the tourists went berserk, buying up boxes to take back to their relatives.

When a competing tee shirt stand opened up down the street, selling shirts with bears on them and clever bear sayings, it was time for Erma to take things to the next level. She decided to offer free hot dogs on Saturdays.

Erma underestimated how much people truly love free hot dogs. Lines formed around the block for her dogs. The first day, she ran out of hot dogs in just under an hour. The second day, her hot dog stand was overrun by free hot dog ruffians, the worst kind of ruffian. She began hiring guard wolves to guard the stand. Once she hired the wolves, her wolf shirts started selling like hotcakes. If only they sold like the hot dogs.

Things were really going well for Erma until the hot dog stand opened across the street. She figured that they hadn’t realized that she was offering free hot dogs and would quickly move to a better location.

Much to her dismay, not only did the hot dog stand stay, but they started offering free tee shirts on Saturdays. Erma knew that there is only one thing Americans love more than free hot dogs and that is free tee shirts.

The hot dog stand gave away free wolf tee shirts on camouflage every Saturday. The tee shirt store continued to give away free hot dogs every Saturday. Both went out of business within three months.

Erma learned a valuable lesson the day she closed up shop, and one everyone should follow: Americans love free crap. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Obituary for the Portable CD Player

The Portable CD Player died in 2007. I feel like we kind of just glossed over this loss so I wrote this obituary for it.

Our beloved Portable CD player, a friend, companion and patriot passed from this earthly life on Friday, April 13, 2007   He died of a broken heart.

Our dear friend brought joy to all those he met, touching the lives of literally millions of people across the globe, especially at the peak of his popularity in the mid to late 90’s. In honor of the loss of this great 90’s icon, Guess Jeans shall be flown at half-staff across the nation.

Portable CD Player shall be missed most by his beloved companion, Portable CD Player Case (You know, the puffy black one with space for the CD Case holder) and her lovely carrying strap. Together, they had 144 CD children; 116 original CDs of their own and 28 adopted burnt mixed CDs that they adopted from some guy named Larry with an amazing music collection.

Portable CD Player lived life to the fullest. His favorite hobby was skipping and he would often skip up to 50 times per hour. When anyone would push him, tap him or touch him in any way, he would simply skip. In a way, the way he dealt with people was frustratingly endearing. (More frustrating than endearing.)

Portable CD Player is proceeded in death by his Record Player (Grandfather), Cassette Player (Mother), Walkman (Father), 8-Track Player (Weird Uncle) and Mini-Disk Player (Cocky Cousin). He is survived by: iPhone, iPod, iPad, iTunes, Laptop, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and his cheap son, MP3 Player.

Graveside services will be held at the Panasonic Graveyard on Thursday at 4:00PM. In lieu of flowers, please purchase 200 blank CDs and place them lovingly around the gravesite.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Man Who Didn't Own a Cellphone

He didn't own a cellphone and people were starting to notice.

"Why not?" they said. 

"Are you poor?" they asked. "Even poor people own cellphones, you know."

"Is there something wrong with you? There must be something wrong with him."

"Are you Amish?" they pleaded.

"No no, just never wanted one. I can't, for the life of me, think of a situation where I'd need a cellphone."

Folks were flabbergasted.

That night, the local news ran a story about the crazy man with no cell phone. Some important reporter named Dick Gephart conducted the interview. 

"What if people need to get in contact with you?" Dick asked incredulously,with that stupid grin on his face. He always grinned when interviewing people, it was kinda his "thing."

The man answered sincerely,"Oh, I don't know. If someone really wanted to contact me they could just call my home phone, my office phone, they could reach me via fax, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I know it's old fashioned, but if they really want to reach me, they could just come and knock on my door."

"Unbelievable" said Dick.

"I guess so" the man replied. 

Dick was more assertive. He wasn't named Northern Utah's 2012 Most Assertive Journalist for not being assertive. No, on the contrary, it was for his assertiveness that he had won.

"So, let's say your car breaks down and you're stranded and you need to call someone to come pick you up?"

"Hmm" replied the man, clearly impressed by Dick's assertiveness, "I had not considered that."  And it was true, he had not considered that. 

The man began to second guess himself. Perhaps he should buy a cellphone, you know, just in case.

Then, something strange happened, the man became ridiculously famous. His story was picked up by the AP, then USA Today and finally Ferrets Magazine (a magazine about ferrets). The man was interviewed by Barbara Walters, Barbara Streisand and Barbara Bush. He was the first man to be interviewed by the three Barbaras. The "Barbara Trifecta" they called it; it has never been done since.

People started calling the man "The No-Cell Guy." The name stuck. The No-Cell Guy started doing commercials with "Subway Jared" and becoming a regular on the Kardashian reality TV shows. The No-Cell Guy had become one of those guys that got famous for doing next to nothing.

One day the man was driving a remote stretch of highway. He was alone, thinking about the day before he had spent with Johnny Manzel, making a cameo appearance on Jack Ass when suddenly smoke appeared from his hood.

He pulled to the side of the road as flames engulfed the engine.

The man watched his car burn, his worst nightmare appearing right before his eyes.

Now what? If only had purchased that cell phone. The thought lingered in his brain.

But no. Had he purchased a cell phone, there would have been no "Barbara Trifecta", no free passes to Dollyworld, no Subway commercials and definitely no "No-Cell Guy."  

Had it all been worth it? Would he pass away quietly right here in the desert as his car burned before his eyes.

Suddenly, like a ghost - a friendly ghost, but not Casper, that would just be silly- a car appeared in the distance.  Five curious heads popped out the window.

"You all right?!" one of them called.

"Yeah, fine" said the man.

"HONEY, IS THAT NO-CELL GUY?  I THINK THAT'S NO CELL GUY!" a woman's voice pierced the air.

"Why darlin', I think it is. Just our luck, out here to take the boys shootin' jackrabbits and we run into the No-Cell Guy." 

The man looked at his shoes and then at the minivan full of children and rifles. "Yep, you got me. The No-Cell Guy, that's me."

The family clapped and shrieked. "WE LOVE YOUR AVON COMMERCIALS!" the mother said, beside herself with joy.

"Why thanks. Not sure what I'm going to do out here now. My car's gone and my wife is expecting me home soon.

The mother jumped out of the minivan and dug into her bra and pulled out a phone. "Why here, use my cellphone!"

"Thanks" the man said.


Friday, April 25, 2014

To my boys: How I Met Your Mother

*Editor’s Note: I wrote story for my sons while I had four straight free hours with no internet during my son’s swim meet.  I’ve been meaning to write this story for years for my kids to read someday, but never got around to it. I thought it fitting that I finally write it right after the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother” aired.  Although I wrote it for my sons, I am posting it here for the world to read if the world is VERY bored.  Hope the world enjoys.


For as long as I can remember, I knew your mom.  I should say, for as long as I can remember, I knew of your mother.  She moved about three blocks away from my house when she was in third grade.  Her family moving in was not a momentous occasion for me as she was a year younger than I and she was in the neighboring ward.

Although we grew up around the block from each, it would be years before we would say our first words to each other. That’s not to say I didn’t know who she was.  I would see her occasionally at the ward house or at youth functions or at school.  When I would see her, I would quickly admire her looks but then quickly forget her.

At this point of the story, I think it is important to point out that while I may have been a decent looking lad, as a teenager, I was painfully awkward and shy in my dealings with girls.  I covered this awkwardness the best I could by acting the fool, using my humor as a disguise for my fear.  As you might guess, girls didn’t exactly fall for the goofy idiot boy.

While some girls found my routine to be humorous and silly, they weren’t exactly banging down my door to go on dates with me.  As a result, I didn’t go on my first date until I was nearly seventeen and I did not kiss a girl until I was seventeen and a half.  Even those two milestones were filled with awkwardness and embarrassment for me, but those are stories for another day.

At the age of 18, I was just starting to gain my footing and confidence with the ladies. I had started dating a rather cute girl I really liked that I had sat next to in seminary.  Unfortunately, on what was likely our fifth date, I told her 12-year-old sister a dirty joke and she stopped returning my phone calls.  Chalk that one up to idiotic stupidity.

When I hit the age of eighteen and a half, I still hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with your mom and I started thinking seriously about a serving a Mormon mission. Things were cruising along fine (besides my lack of success getting dates and with girls in general) and then all heck broke loose. (The word “heck” used here instead of “hell” as I felt it was appropriate when used in the same paragraph as talking about my mission.)

Oh, I need to backtrack a little bit here.  There is one important ironic event that happened when I was seventeen. I had been asked to a girl’s choice dance by what I considered to be, at the time, a girl of lesser value. I won’t go into it much more than I considered her to be “nerdy” and this was saying something because I was about as nerdy as they come.  (Hey, I never said I was a kindhearted teenager.)

Anyway, she asked me to a dance and I was too chicken to say no and I don’t believe my kindhearted mom would have let me say no.  I went, hesitantly, making up some story about how my parents insisted I was home by 11:30.

I remember being picked up by a group of people, most of which I barely knew.  This girl informed me we had one more person to pick up and much to my surprise, soon we were back in my neighborhood, in Cathi’s driveway. 

I don’t remember thinking much of Cathi before, but when I saw her come out of her house, dressed in a pant-suit dress (yes, it was a thing and it was hot on her), I was taken aback.  She was one of the most dazzling girls I had ever seen and I remember wishing that I was the one that had been asked by her.

She probably doesn’t remember much about me that night, but she was the highlight of my night. I remember every moment, every chance I had, I was glancing her way and taking in her glow.  I was mesmerized with her smile and those large dimples; her enormous brown eyes made my hands sweat.  Kids, we have pictures of Cathi and I together in this dance group.  Someday, I’ll show you the photo and you may notice my eyes wandering to your mom.

So the dance that evening may have planted the seed, but it really all started one night at the Little Caesars.  My friend and I were picking up a pizza or two one Friday night.  Our plans included sitting around and wallowing in our lady-less misery, just as we had done Friday nights before for as long as we could remember.

As we waited for our pizza to brought to the counter, I turned to see your mother and your grandmother enter the door.  You may have seen movies or read books (more likely seen movies as I know how much you boys love to read) about time standing still in a moment and I’m telling you boys, both time and my heart stopped at that exact second.  She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

As my daze wore off, I noticed her smiling and waving and I don’t know what came over me, but I immediately walked over to her.  I started talking, mostly gibberish, but talking nonetheless, about who knows what and what knows who.  I believe I squeaked out a couple sentences about crappy pizza being perfect for a Friday night.  She giggled and left with her mom and I stood silent and stunned in the middle of the Little Caesars floor.

I recall turning to my friend as she left and saying, “Wow, she is so amazing.”  He replied with something like, “Yeah, she has gotten really cute lately.”  I replied by staring out the pizza joint window at her as she got in her car.

At this point, I was absolutely taken with Cathi McPheeters.  I thought about her at least once an hour.  A couple days later, I was playing basketball with some older men in my church gym.  As we finished up a game, I noticed my newfound crush enter the gym doors, dressed in a flowing dress and looking quite incredible. 

The same sense of tingling and fluttering came over me, just as it had at the Little Caesars.  Again, without thinking (I have to say, for me to approach and talk to a girl was very rare at this point in my life.) I jolted towards her and again, I flustered out a bunch of awkward nonsense and goofiness that even the great Chris Farley would be proud of.  Yet, in spite of my clumsy word slinging, I noticed that she laughed at me.  She always laughed at me.  I saw this as a sparkle of hope.

As I returned to the game, I walked over to my Bishop, who had been playing with us.  I told him, (and he will vouch for this) “See that girl over there?”  “Yeah, sure”, he replied.  “I am going to marry that girl someday.”  He laughed a big, hearty laugh and said these four words that will forever engraved on my brain, “Yeah, you wish, Abe.”

Well, another couple weeks passed and I still had not gotten up the courage to actually call your mom.  However, the good news was that her best friend had started dating my good friend and this would provide ample opportunity for much needed face-to-face time.

Also, at this time, I started to finally find my courage.  I decided to call my former gal pal (Remember: “Dirty joke to little sister girl”) and give it one more try.  Shockingly, she decided to give me one more chance and said yes. (I never did find out the exact reason she stopped dating me.  I simply assume it was because I told her little sister a dirty joke. But I think that’s a pretty safe assumption, don’t you?)  I made the date for Friday night, December 23.

The day after I made that date, I went to my dentist for a checkup.  A young, new girl cleaned my teeth. She was bubbly and attractive and she clearly, shockingly again, was flirting with me.  Clearly, there was something about the way my gums didn’t bleed when she flossed them that made her attracted to me.  I left the office, got home, called the dentists office and with my newfound courage, asked her if she’d do a follow-up appointment on Monday, December 26. 

I had two dates with two different girls lined up in four days.  Not only had I beaten my personal record of one date lined up in months, but also I had crushed it.  I was feeling as confident as I ever had.

Now, I know what you are thinking: What about mom? Did you just forget about her?  Well, the answer is yes and no.  I never once stopped thinking about her, but I was realistic.  Your mom was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in person.  I knew my chances at actually landing her were about .2% and that was only because she would actually laugh at my lame jokes. Besides, I wasn’t really looking for a girlfriend, I was “preparing” for a mission. (Preparing in quotes because HA! I wasn’t really doing much preparing at the time.)

With my date on Friday, December 23rd fast approaching, I began spending more time with my friend that had started dating your mom’s best friend. Tuesday evening we all went to my friends’ hockey game together.  Your mom and I sat in the backseat together.  We immediately hit it off and ended up talking and laughing the entire night. 

After the game, Cathi and her girlfriends came to my house and hung out for a couple hours.  This was a new experience for me, having a large group of girls just hanging around my house.  I believe my mom was a little flabbergasted at even the thought.  But I couldn’t have cared less about the other girls there.  Your mom was by far the cutest and the only one I had any interest in.

That night I asked your mom if she would be going to the East High School “Battle of the Bands” the next night.  She said she wasn’t planning on it, but she would go with my friends and I. So there we had it, a real date.  Well, kinda a real date.  There we had it, a place that we would be together at the same time again.

The Battle of the Bands was ferocious and raging, but I didn’t listen to a single song.  Your mom and I spent most of the evening talking and being as close as we could to each other.  When we dropped her off, we were with a carload of my friends.  I didn’t want to make a big scene and have my friends whistling and whooping from the car as I walked her to the door, so I made up some stupid lie about having to go to the bathroom and not being able to get out of the car.

Your mom still teases me about that fake bathroom lie, but I don’t care.  Beyond all the belief I could muster, she clearly liked me and I was going to ask her out on an ACTUAL DATE.  In the back of my mind, I had a lingering doubt that a girl as smoking hot as Cathi would never have any sort of romantic interest in me. I called her up and made a date for Friday, December 23rd and she said yes.  Clearly, she was just messing with me.

As I got off the phone with your mom, I immediately called the former girl I dated and broke off the date. I then called the dentist girl and broke off that date as well.  I was going ALL IN, putting all my eggs in this one, super hot egg basket.

Friday, December 23rd quickly came and I picked up your mom at her house. I had an entire evening planned, but was also just going to go with the flow, or whatever, I had no clue what I was doing.  Needless to say, I was also nervous.

We went downtown to see the movie “Mixed Nuts” staring my favorite comedian, Steve Martin.  The movie sucked the worst amount of suck that a movie can suck, but as we left, she held my hand.  She held my hand.  No girl had ever held my hand before.  Certainly not a girl that could easily be a model.

We walked around temple square, with its lighted Christmas d├ęcor and its festive feel.  We held hands the entire time.  I learned for the first time that I get very sweaty hands when I am holding the hand of a pretty girl.  If you inherit this trait from me boys, I am very sorry.

We finished the night at our family’s favorite restaurant, Crown Burger.  We sat across from each other.  It was awesome.

Finally, I drove her home to drop her off.  She invited me in (this does NOT mean the same thing in Mormon town, Utah) and we sat on the couch and watched “Saturday Night Live” with her 11-year-old brother.  We sat close and she was actually touching me.

Now, for you non-geek, ladies men in high school out there, maybe a super pretty girl touching you is not that big a deal.  But for me, this was like hitting the geekdom jackpot!  My heart raced like it never had before. It was all that I could do to not jump up and start dancing and singing a Salt N’ Peppa song.

While we watched Norm McDonald deliver the fake news, I gained just enough courage to lean over to your mom and whisper, “I am just waiting for your brother to fall asleep so I can kiss you.”  At the time, I thought it sounded very dapper, but looking back, I realize this was perhaps the dorkiest thing I could have said at the time.

With her brother asleep, I was ready to make my move. I leaned in for the kill and it actually happened.  A gorgeous, popular, insanely hot girl actually kissed a no name goofball like me. It was like something out of crazy comedy where a gorgeous, popular, insanely hot girl actually kissed a no name goofball like me.

We kissed for what seemed like an eternity, but it was probably only for two minutes.  It would be the second and last girl I would ever kiss.  (Much to my embarrassment at the time, but something I am kind of proud of now.)

Your mom and I continued to spend more and more time together.  She was a senior in high school and I was in my first year at the University of Utah.  We were inseparable for six months.  There was no doubt we had fallen in love. She asked me to her high school dance and I proudly went.  It was the best dance I ever went to.  She did not go to her prom.  We were together and everyone knew it.

Now kids, you may recall that I mentioned that Mormon mission earlier in this tale.  Well, it still weighed heavy on me.  I felt it was something that I absolutely had to do.  However, suddenly the choice had become much more difficult. I was head over Sketchers in love.  Leaving Cathi was not really something that appealed to me.

After a lot of thought, prayer and contemplation and with the support of your mom, I decided to leave for two years.  Now, you may or may not be aware of this, but when a boy leaves a girlfriend home while he goes on a mission, the odds are not exactly in favor of her waiting around for him.  I read it was estimated that 95% of girls don’t wait around and of those 5% that do wait, only half of them end up getting married. As hard as it was to hear this and given her extreme beauty, I knew that your mom most likely wouldn’t be around for me if I left.

Alas, your mother proved faithful. Of course, she dated and dated often while I was gone.  In fact, I am fairly sure she had one or two “serious” boyfriends, although she may not admit to it.  However, she wrote at least every week and never once questioned our loyalty to each other.

After two years and a whole lot of missing of your mom, she was there as I got off the airplane.  We hugged like I had never left.  The very night I got home, I kissed her.  It was like falling in love all over again.  One year later, we were married.

I must admit, coming home and hearing about the boys she dated (from others, mostly) was very difficult for me.  By nature, I am a very jealous person and hearing second hand about men that pursued her for two years was taxing on me. I mean, given her striking looks and her cheerful personality, I knew she would be highly courted. I’m positive she grew tiresome of hearing me whine, complain and worry about them after I got home.  But I’m grateful she stuck with me.

She may not know this, but to this day, I have issues with jealousy.  I think about those two years we spent apart and I have a hard time coming to terms with what may or may not have happened while I was gone.  That being said, I have become much more able to manage my jealousy and, more importantly, I am able to hide it from her which makes our marriage ever so happy.

So, there you have it, boys. That is how I met your lovely mother.  She may have a different perspective on it, but you will have to wait for the sequel, “How I Met Your Father”, which likely will never be written.