Thursday, December 30, 2004

Remember the Titan

I hope everybody's just as excited as I am for January 14. That's the day when Huygens lands on Titan! We're finally going to find out what's under the mist! Well, if everything goes right, that is. Maybe we'll find out why it's the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere. I was thinking about throwing a Titan party on that day, but it would seem a bit anticlimactic, I think, since we'd have to wait for the images and data to be sent back, and then for scientists to interpret them. And then I'd be surprised if it even got a three-second mention on the 11 O'clock News that night. At any rate, this landing is furthest from Earth ever. Join me on the 14th in at least sending a smile Saturnward as we think about the great scientific event going on up there. After all, it took $3.27 billion dollars to sate those scientists' curiosities. And again, that's if everything goes right.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Veil is Thin

Well, I was going to tell this story anyway, but since Novel Concept brought it up, here's the story of my discovery of my toaster oven:

I honestly didn't even know that the words "toaster oven" referred to something other than a toaster. I thought it was just a midwestern or old-people way of saying the same thing. Then one day a few weeks ago I had Uffish Thought and Novel Concept over at my house and Uffish Thought noticed my toaster oven, and commented on his/her jealousy of it. I was astounded. I'd noticed that something was there on the counter during the several months I'd been living there. From time to time I'd probably even looked at it. I'd never really paid too much attention, though. Over the next few days, I kept going into the kitchen and looking at it. Sometimes I'd tamper with it inquisitively, like when a monkey or raccoon stumbles upon a piece of modern technology, like a watch or laser gun. "How does it work?" I wondered. Eventually I put in some bread. It was great! I tried a bagel. Also great! I found myself trying all sorts of things in there. Everything came out so crispy and delicious. I no longer would need to plug in my Char-B-Cue every time I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich! So my question is why didn't I know about these appliances when I was growing up? Why am I just now discovering the toaster oven a year into college? And four months of being exposed to it on a daily basis? I guess I should just look forward to the time I have ahead of me, and not regret the time I've missed. That is my whole story for today.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Night of the Phoenix

Phoenix and I hung out tonight. We decided to see Ocean's Twelve, since my headwound has mostly healed (I got it this time, too!). So we were just chilling at his apartment answering questions on his multiple computers before the show, and we decided to get some strawberry ice cream to make milkshakes. So we went to the Creamery on 9th. CLOSED! We tried the freshman creamery. CLOSED! We tried the Wymount creamery. ALSO CLOSED! (That's supposed to be read aloud in a voice like the buzzer that tells you you're wrong on Family Feud. Go back and do it now with the voice.) So we decided to stop and see why the Moroni on the temple doesn't point east to answer an upcoming question. Phoenix had a theory that it DOES point east, but the mountains and streets are not exactly cardinally aligned. Unfortunately, he forgot his compass. So we got out of the car so I could find Polaris. It wasn't cloudy, but the lights of the temple were so bright they blocked most of the stars. I found Cassiopeia and Orion, but I couldn't even find the big dipper. There were two stars near the horizon that could have been the end of the handle, but my glasses are too old to be able to see whether the second one in was a binary star (Mizar and Alkor). So as far as we could tell, from the temple, the North Star is behind a mountain. Anyway, Phoenix is going to go back with the compass. So then we went to the creamery at Wyview. LIKEWISE CLOSED! So we went to Macey's. And we found strawberry ice cream for $1.50. At this point I realized I'd put my money in my pocket BEFORE I'd changed my pants, so I told Phoenix he'd have to buy it. We got in line and put it on the black rubber conveyor belt, but then Phoenix remembered he'd left his wallet on the floor next to his couch. We ended up driving all the way to my place and then to his and then we were back at Macey's.

As we were walking back down the freezer aisle, Phoenix said, "Oh, I just remembered my emergency $20 in the car!"

So I said, "Oh, man, I was going to ask if you had any change in the ashtray or anything."

Then HE said, "Oh, man, I DO have tons of money in my ashtray!"

So after four creameries and two trips to Macey's those were destined to be the best freaking milkshakes ever experienced by humankind, right? Well, they were all right, I guess.

Actually, I was pretty unimpressed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What a wonderful world

Today was such a great day. I hung out with my two newest friends, and it was fantastic. In the words of Horatio the great, "that is all."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Native Cheery Temperament.

Sometimes I feel bad about feeling so good all the time.

Don't get me wrong; my life has its challenges, and I've been through a lot af rather serious crap. It's just that that stuff never seems to get me down for too long. My default is set to "cheerful," I think. I know what you're thinking now: He just suppresses those negative feelings. I promise it's not like that, though. I never swing to the other end of the pendulum or get depressed or anything. My dad and my grandma are the same way. They both seem to approach life with a certain uncommon zeal.

So why should I be unhappy with this inexplicable happiness? Well, it makes things a bit awkward for me in a few different circumstances.

Sometimes I'm talking to people who have had similar trials to mine. They all seem pretty depressed about it. I feel like they feel like I'm rubbing something in their faces by being happy in spite of the situation.

Also, I have several friends who struggle with depression, and I fear (and have been told) that I come off insensitive to their feelings. It's true that I don't put much stock in feelings (other than the fruits of the spirit), but I have to admit that the only times I truly feel sad are the times when someone I care about is sad, and I can't fix it, and I can't even sympathize with it. Those are some of the saddest times of my life. It's true that I was sad when I had to come home sick from my mission, but even that was easier because I am used to accepting bad things that happen to me as the Lord's will. I was over that in about a day or two. But I can't accept my friends being so miserable that I can't reach them. I wish I could find some way to dive into the muck with them, but I can't. I'm just so dang happy all the time.

Like right now, after twelve and a half hours at work, I'm sitting here typing and smilin' to myself like a little boy whose teacher doesn't know about the frog in the boy's pocket. Just loving life. I just don't feel justified in doing so, when there are so many sad people out there. Oh, well. At least everyone believes it's just a facade.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Rugged or Overrated? II

Well, it's time to rate some more aspects of life. Here we go:

Pennies: overrated. They make your hands smell funny, and you can't buy ANYTHING with them.
Cats (the musical): overrated. Freaky cat people. Now, that's my cup of tea. And I'm Mormon, so I don't drink tea.
Halo: overrated. What better way for six sickly slackers to waste up to ten hours every day for their entire tweenage lives?
Napa: rugged! And beautiful!
Ginger Altoids: rugged! Wiggle got me some for Christmas!
Alzheimer's Disease: overrated. And terribly frightening.
The Hogan Family: rugged!
Roy talking to me: overrated. And how!
Forever Plaid: rugged! Unless you're on a date with Mary Davidson.
Chiropractors: rugged! Hook me up to that electric thingus any day.
Duct Tape: rugged! I make hats and clothes out of it. I have camo duct tape.
Sloth: overrated as both a sin and an animal, rugged as a Goonies character.
Double Double: rugged! Animal style, no pickles, plus raw onions, extra ketchup.
Seafood: overrated. And it comes from the sea.
Swearing: overrated. Sometimes funny, but always overrated.
Mirrors: overrated. I always avoid looking into them, except for when I'm getting ready in the morning.
Redwall: rugged! I, am that is.
Buster Keaton: rugged! Okay, I can't really remember who that is.
Aluminum foil: overrated. It doesn't hurt my teeth, but it sure drove my wrists and head nuts when I tried to go as a knight for Halloween.
Periwinkle: overrated. Give me a nice cerulean or cornflower any day.
Mace Windu: rugged. Well, he has rugged potential. He'd better do something cool in the next movie. Like kill Jar-Jar.

Thanks again to James Evans, who will likely never read this. I mean, it's mostly just mocking his limited vocabulay. And now I sleep, for there is church tomorrow, and I imagine Phoenix will be picking me up in about five and a half hours. Ah, rugged, rugged sleep.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Saintly Appliance

Toasteroven is one of the best people I know. Through and through. I knew I liked him, but I had no idea his friendship would be so good for me. I can't go into specifics, but I really just like the guy. He's so much wiser than I gave him credit for being, which was pretty wise. That makes me excited to get to know the other one better, too, because that's the same feeling I get from her. That's all, today. Tomorrow we'll talk about my brother's phone call, and the Drama Queen. This is not interesting to anyone else, is it? My friend Chris wrote a song called, "I rock so hard your pants blow off," and a sequel, "I rock so hard old people explode," and yet a third installment called, "I rock so hard your water breaks." That's how Toateroven rocks.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Curse of the Gypsy

This Blog entry is actually a journey back in time. This is a prelude to my modern life. I hope it explains some things. Free your mind from the bonds of cruel Father Time. Float with me back to the year 1998. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, and in all dimensions.

Crash. We're here. Everybody out of the time machine. We've a story to tell.

So when I was a senior in high school, I was a compulsive litterer. I got the biggest kick out of throwing the biggest items out the window. One weekend, I went camping with some Foof's (Friends Of Other Faiths), or "gentiles," as Brigham Young would have called them. They packed along a drink called "Red Devil." It was Caffeinosaurus Rex, basically. Now, I don't ever drink caffeine. In fact, at that point in my life, I never had even once. My friends thought it was so funny to act out the stereotypical "non-members tempting us with beer" routine, only with this caffeine drink. All weekend, it was, "Come on, Smurf, all the cool kids are drinking these," and, "I bet he's just too chicken," and, "are you going to let you bishop and your parents run your life?" They had once found some seminary video, and liked to think that we Mormons needed the high-school level persecution portrayed therein to feel truly Mormon. So they obliged me. Anyway, I played into their little scenarios like a good Peter Priesthood should. "You guys, you are my friends, but I respect my body too much to be putting harmful substances into it." This went on sporadically for the whole weekend.

The final day, we were packing up to leave, and there was one Red Devil left. My friend reached for it, but before he could get it, I reached out, popped the top, and didn't stop 'til I'd slopped the last drop. My friends were flabbergasted, but then highly amused. We piled up into the car and began the tortuous journey home.

As I'm perpetually ravenous, I soon began to bug the other guys about stopping for some grub. We drove-thru a Taco Bell, and I ate a ton. But soon the effects of the Red Devil, the windy road, and the "Mexican" food combined, and I knew I was going to retch. So, I totally blew chunks in the plastic Taco Bell bag. It was unpleasant, but not as bad as ralphing KFC, I'll admit. Now we were driving down the freeway with a bag of vomit in the car. And remember my propensity toward littering....

Without a second thought I chucked the upchucked muck out the open window. The bag landed on the windshield of the car behind us, smearing throw-up everywhere. The driver turned on the windshield wipers, but the bag was stuck to one and the vomit spread everywhere. There were napkins and wrappers and things, too; it was terrible. After the bag o' barf dislodged itself and flew off, the victimized vehicle caught up to us. I was yelling at my friend to outrun it, but we were in his big ol' honkin' station wagon, "Ecto 1," and it just wasn't going to happen. I looked nervously over, and who do you think I saw?

It was a gypsy woman (or maybe a Mobu priestess). She had a silk cloth around her head, and baubles, bangles, and beads on her wrists. In her swarthy hand she clutched what looked like (and we very well could have been imagining things) some sort of bone with feathers tied to it. She was shaking it at me. At ME. And she was shouting something that we couldn't hear because her window was rolled up, but we just KNEW it was some foreign language. My friends recognized the signs immediately: "Dude, she just put a curse on you!"

Could it be? Could the woman really have put a curse on me? I'm not so sure. However, from that moment on, nothing has gone right for me until it has gone wrong a hundred times. On the mission, they called me "Elder Maldecido," or "cursed elder." Everywhere I went, chaos followed. When my little town started flooding, and we got evicted, and robbed, and we were starving to death, and our members lost their houses and we had to help them find them, and everything was going wrong, I thought back to that bag I'd hurled into and out of the car on the freeway, and I wondered.

One day we were down by the train tracks near the gypsy encampment. It was a rainy day (actually, the only moments it didn't rain during those three months were the moments it was hailing). As we reached the top of the berm near the tracks, we came face-to-face with an old gypsy woman. She looked me in the eye, and said, "Tu eres maldecido. Sal de aqui! Dejanos tranquilos!" You are cursed. Leave here. Leave us alone. I hear the sun came out the day I was transferred.

A few months and a different mission later (I had come down with some mysterious disease of the autonomic nervous system that was never identified, and I'd been transferred stateside), I was in the mission office on my way home (sick again). The office had an elderly couple who handled all the mission affairs. At that time, we had two couples; one was training the other, as it was just about time for the first to go home. As I sat there, looking forlornly out the window at the overcast sky, waiting for the mission van to pick me up and take me to the airport, I heard the old old guy say to the new old guy,

"Everything will go fine until your last eight weeks here. Then everything that can go wrong will. You'll have more sick missionaries, robberies, evictions, car accidents, bike accidents, lost credit cards, and hospitalizations during that time than you had the whole rest of your mission."

Eight weeks. The exact amount of time, to the day, that I had been in that mission. And everything on that list had happened to ME during those eight weeks. I just sighed and kept my burning eyes focused on the stratus clouds out the window, trying not to think about a certain gypsy woman (or maybe Mobu priestess) and a particular ballistic bag of beans, beef, and bile that I had so carelessly tossed out the window years before.

I don't litter any more. I've never drunk caffeine since then, either. But still, my life is a circus: entertaining and chaotic. And still, whenever I go back home, I have one eye out for a dusty beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit with a mystical, scarf-headed woman inside, so I can find her and somehow make amends. Like take her to Seven Flags Car Wash, where it's a two-for-one special on Tuesdays. You know, something like that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Not with a whimper, but a bang.

Work update! Tonight was friggin' awesome! So here's what happened (are you ready?):

The managers decided to have their big manager party tonight. One of the lead waitresses was going to act as proxy. Then somebody decided to accept a reservation for 70. So we reserved the whole front room for the party. It turns out it was for some Provo Youth Hockey team, so there were tons of obstreperous eleven-year-old boys everywhere. We had two parties upstairs, also.

We were sizzlin'. Then we ran out of quarters. "Here are seven dimes; I'm sorry." Everything's still fine. Until the power went out. I guess the power went out for at least six city blocks. We had some emergency lights and flashlights, but it was basically pitch black. We couldn't print checks, place orders, cook food, get drinks, or anything. The little kids we had packed into the front room were wailing and crying and screaming. It was just like 3 Nephi 8:23. The fans turned off in the kitchen, and soon the heat was oppressive. All the poor Mexicans were just huddled quietly in the muggy darkness, tring to use their keychain-lights to identify the food that was ready. The waitress/managress was on the phone with the managers, the owner, the city of Provo. People were asking for their money back. Some woman claimed that she had already paid before the blackout, but her server insisted she hadn't. Some people were impatiently trying to pay with credit cards; others had just come in and were insisting that we seat them right away. Fortunately for me, I had already printed my tickets so I could save a trip to the computer (others were having to calculate tax with a calculator), and my food was ready shortly after the darkness fell. One of the nice Marias grabbed my order book and went around the kitchen gathering everything I needed for me. I told my tables I had made arrangements to create a more romantic setting, just for them. They all tipped me very well after all was over. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, the power came back on. The computers were still down for a good while after that. One of the managers was there helping by that point.

The surprise of the lights coming back fell into the umbrage of the scene that it illuminated, however. The hockey children had thrown chips and salsa everywhere. Some were on the tables throwing pinecones at each other (the head mom had brought pinecone decorations for some reason!). About six of the brats had taken off their jackets and were IN THE FOUNTAIN collecting everbody's wishes and splashing the elderly couples who were seated nearby. Before we could ask them to get out, one of the kids grabbed the sides of the terra cotta fountain and tried to climb on top. It toppled over, cracking the whole thing. We got the enfants terribles out of there, and by that time, there were so few other customers that they let me clock out, on the condition that I help them rearrange the tables and clean up the slops. So I did. Things were almost back in order, except for the computers and the fountains, when I clocked out and went into the bathroom to change my cothes. The toilet was overflowing. I did what I felt was the right thing; I left without saying a word to anyone.

Skipping Has its Drawbacks

So I saw Ocean's 12 last week. When it was over, I had no idea what had happened. I didn't get the plot at all. Wiggle and the Man on the Oatmeal Box had to explain it all to me. I was disconcerted, mostly because I've never seen a movie without being able to catch the clues and understand the plot at least by the dénouement. There was key factor that I missed: the identity of the Night Fox. They told me it had been given away when he pointed at something. That explains a lot, considering my nonverbal learning disorder. Still, though, I shouldn't have been as confused as I was. I was starting to think maybe the movie was just poorly written and my friends were reading too much into it. Then I had a flashback.

7 hours earlier:

I was at work, and just in one of my unaccounted-for cheery moods. I was humming along with the Christmas music and skipping about the restaurant like some sort of nancy. The problem is that I skipped through a low archway and smashed the top of my head. OOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW. White flash! I was on the ground, blocking the arch with my over-long body. I stood up and felt the swelling on my head, and there was blood on my hand when I pulled it away. I had to run and keep serving my tables, though. Luckily my good mood wasn't at all affected by the concussion. However, my brain seems to have been. When the lump on my head goes away (it's been five days and there's still a scab and everything) I'll go see the movie again. Hopefully nothing permanent happened there. If so, oh, well. I'm still happy!

Toasteroven and L'afro

I have lots of friends. Boatloads of them. Sometimes, though, new people come around that I want to be REAL friends with. Not the kind where we hang out and junk, but the kind where if they needed something I'd want them to think of me. The kind that I can actually relate to and be understood by. I also think I'm good at quickly assessing people and seeing their goodness. And I see that in these two friends I've made recently. I don't know if they like me or if they ever will, but I have a respect for them both. Both are trying to do what's right, and that's really cool. TO is a guy, and I have lots of guy friends, but few that seem to understand the importance of life the way he does. Plus he has great taste in music and stuff. We might be roommates soon, and I think that would be good for me. We'll see what happens. And then there's L'afro. She's a girl. And I have lots of female friends, but not too many that I really think of as intellectually stimulating. L'afro seems like that type. Maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up, you know? On either of these cases. I just feel that a lot of people see me as just the guy who cheers people up, and never really try to learn what I'm about, and these are two people who are introspective, and maybe might be able to get me. They'll probably both read this and be like, "Dang, smurfs. You are obsessed. You hardly know us." But I feel like I do, or at least I want to. Yeah. So I'm nuts. Or at least lonely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Gravy's Christmas present

I woke up late. I had only a few minutes to get to work. And my bladder was ready to splode!

I dashed down the stairs to the bathroom, but it was locked. Roy was showering. I decided to go in the back yard. No good; we don't have one. The front yard wouldn't do, either, since it was wide daylight. I had only one option. This story is not for the weak or faint of heart.

I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a cup. We're talking a pretty big 16 oz. or so tumbler here. I ran back to my bedroom. I was in a lot of pain. I started to fill the cup. Then I finished filling it! What to do!? I couldn't very well run back to the kitchen! Then I noticed an identical cup on Gravy's desk. I snatched it. Soon it was half-way full (or half empty?) and I was all the way not full. Roy was still taking his saccharine time in the shower, so I started getting ready for work.

I ran around like like a pickpocket at the Worlds' Fair, grabbing my apron, my shoes, my clothes, my nametag, my order book, my glasses.... Crap! My glasses were in the bathroom, where Roy was STILL showering! It was approaching that fatal minute when I would be late for work if I didn't leave right then, so I stepped out into the street blindly and ran to the restaurant.

After I'd been there for a few hours, I remembered those two lone cups of urine, sitting heavily upon Gravy's desk. Dum dum dum dum.

After work, I rushed home, and was delighted to find that he wasn't home yet. I looked in our room, and the cups were still sitting there on Gravy's desk. I grabbed them both, sneaked into the bathroom, and started to dump them into the toilet. It was only at that moment that I realized that something was amiss. The cups had both been marked in permanent marker with my name, the date, the word "urine," and a line to show how full they were. I guess Gravy HAD been home. Merry Christmas, buddy!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Stone Moon Fro

When I was a boy at scout camp, my friend Don and I came across a cassette tape in the woods. When we played it and listened to it, we found that it was an odd amalgam of Oasis, some ghetto rap, classical music, and what we later learned was a Cheech & Chong album. It seems the tape had been recorded over so many times that all the sounds were coming through at once. We would sit there in a trance and listen to it. It seriously would keep our brains so busy trying to process the different noises and pitches and rhythms that we would go into a stupor. It was fascinating to listen as the different arcs of music came into the foreground and then faded back. We called it Stone Moon Fro.

Sadly, it was lost shortly after camp. It's been years now, and we still pine for it.

Well, until this week, that is. My best friend Brad reproduced it for me for my birthday. It's amazing. He made a very professional-looking cd with a case and everything. It's the most creative and thoughtful gift I've ever received. He even had to buy the Cheech & Chong cd. It has some of my favorite Oasis and Bone Thugs songs, too. It sounds clearer than ever, and it's really great. I love to be able to listen to MoMurda, Wonderwall, The Nutcracker, and Bassetball Jones all at the exact same moment!

I popped it in Sunday evening around six. The next thing I knew, it was 9:00 Monday morning, and I was lying amid an entire box-worth of Twinkie wrappers on a bare mattress, still in my church clothes.

Man, that is some good music. I think I might get another hit of that tonight. Thanks, Brad.