Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Armchair Apocrypha

For you lovers of songbirds and violin, this week is your week. Yesterday Andrew Bird released Armchair Apocrypha and it is a terrific album that is on par with The Mysterious Production of Eggs—one of my favorite records of the decade. Some great releases have come out this year thus far (The Shins, Arcade Fire, Menomena, Dolorean, etc), but this is one that should skip to the top of your next shopping list.

Do you wonder where the self resides
Is it in the head or between your sides
And who would be the one who will decide
It's true location?


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Les's 100

1. I used to hate the thought of eating a spoonful of peanut butter, but now I love the thought of it.

2. Blue ink rules and black ink drools.

3. I hate bananas with a passion, but I can eat approximately twelve pounds of banana chips.

4. More or less here is the evolutionary train of my favorite musical artists beginning from my earliest recollection of pop music (which was Kindergarten). Some lasted months, some lasted years. Michael Jackson → Bon Jovi→ Poison→ Garth Brooks→ AC/DC→ Pearl Jam→ The Doors→ The Beatles→ Phish→ Built To Spill→ Mason Jennings→ Elliott Smith→ Wilco→ Sufjan Stevens.

5. The first time I kissed a girl was in an alley behind a Chinese restaurant in seventh grade. I went in for the kill and was off target by about an inch and a half. I got a little lip and the rest cheek.

6. In about fourth or fifth grade while exploring the vast amounts of farm ground behind my house my good friend Brett and I came across an old car that my family used to drive a few years before. We went back to the house and got the tools we needed: crow bar, knives, baseball bat, etc. It took us a steady week of demolition to really get the job done.

7. If I could go back and re-live high school I would be nicer to everyone.

8. One thing I’m ashamed about is that I’m really not that good at small talk. It’s not that I don’t like it, but mainly I’d rather listen to it than make it.

9. I ran away once when I was little. It’s tough to do when you live in the country. The thing that took me the longest was getting my hobo stick ready (the one with the little bandana satchel tied on the end full of various goods). I made it about a mile away before I got hungry and had to come home.

10. My high school chemistry teacher told me that I wouldn’t amount to anything in life.

11. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was when Sam, Faren and I were playing with an Aerobie in the Ricks College gymnasium. Faren, who is blind in one eye, was on the stage and went to catch the disc on his blind side when he stepped quite suddenly off the stage and landed on a piano. I can still hear the delicious echo of the keys today.

12. I love board games. Especially ones that I’m pretty good at, and I win most of the time. I’ve never beat my wife at California Speed though. That game’s dumb.

13. When I got baptized I was a little concerned that there might be some sins floating in the water from the kid who got baptized before me. He was mentally retarded though, so I knew there couldn’t be too many. I still remember feeling the Spirit on the way home, and that’s why I know eight years old isn’t too young.

14. It would take my Grandpa Blake about 35 minutes to drive the five miles from his house to my house. Sometimes I would hate it when he had to drive me home from school. He said he didn’t want to miss anything by going too fast. I wish I could go back and not miss anything with him again.

15. I wrote a screenplay that I’m not sure will ever get made into a movie.

16. I think Beyonce Knowles is hotter than a stack of pancakes.

17. If I grow up to have a character just like my Dad I will have lived a very successful life.

18. When I think about the stars and the vastness of space I become very overwhelmed by how small we are and how much more there is out there. I really love that feeling.

19. I used to have extreme nightmares growing up, that would make me cry a lot. I would also get Charlie horses in the middle of the night from time to time, and my Mom would make me drink milk and walk it off. Man, I hate the taste of milk.

20. I loved He-man when I was little. When Santa Clause brought my older brother “Fistor” complete with horse for Christmas I was convinced that Santa had made a mistake and I repossessed Fistor and the horse for myself. When my parents sided with my brother I think that is when I knew Santa was a sham.

21. I don’t really like getting back rubs or shoulder rubs.

22. Christy is my most favorite person to be around. She excels at silliness (not to be confused with light-mindedness), which is partly a divine gift I think.

23. I have a special sister, Lisa, who really has things figured out. She seems to only worry about the important things.

24. If you ever watch the documentary “Stevie” it will knock your socks off. There is a part where Stevie and his girlfriend visit a friend Tricia in Chicago. It is ridiculously amazing.

25. I am a shrewd business man. I once sold my little sister Addie a used New Kids on the Block tape for seven or eight bucks…nearly full price.

26. I’m 2 and 0 in fist fights.

27. I’ve been beat up multiple times with boxing gloves though. Fun Christmas present, but maybe not such a good idea.

28. One game that Christy and I break into is where one has to dance in front of the other one. The dancer has to dance a dance move that has never been done before in the history of earth and the other one nods when the dancer is doing it and shakes their head when not.

29. I’m gonna be honest. I really hate the Olive Garden.

30. I won about five bucks on the first lottery ticket I ever bought. That ruined me for a good year.

31. Some catchphrases that you’ll hear around my house are the following: “I just love him so much” – Raising Arizona, “Mom, can I ask you a favor?” – South Park, “The doctor would like to see you with no pants.” –Seinfeld.

32. I almost fell out of the bed one night from laughing so hard while watching Conan O’Brien’s “If They Mated.” The new Pale Force stuff is hilarious too.

33. I used to have “Blonde” as part of my spousal criteria. Christy knows this. It’s because I was never attracted to brunettes, but she kind of pioneered my way through that foreign country.

34. Some things Democrats really have figured out, and some things Republicans. No political parties have it all figured out. That is important to remember.

35. My brother Frank is one of my heroes. I really miss him since he and his family moved away. We named our son Gus after him. His middle name anyways. Gus means “exalted one.”

36. One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was when Colby Stead played a living room show in Provo to a crowd who had never heard him before. He ended the show with a loud acapella rendition of “Song For Me.” He got a standing ovation that went on and on and on. It was electric.

37. I have a very long tongue. Gus does too. That’s a strong gene.

38. I’ve liked every person I’ve ever met who has the same birthday as I. It’s August 6th.

39. I’ve tried to like Jazz lots of times but it never resonates with me.

40. I have insanely sweaty hands. When I would hold hands with girls in Jr. High and High School we would have to unclasp every few minutes and wipe them clean, then reclasp. It’s really been an Achilles Heel of mine. It is also the reason why I’m not a star rock climber. What can you do?

41. I have a weakness for Chocolate Cream Pies. Man, that stuff is like kryptonite.

42. There are a few things I am somewhat obsessed with. Wrestling is one of them. Is it weird to say you are obsessed with a sport where two guys are wearing unitards and are trying to pin each other? I don't think so either. What a great sport though. Most people just don’t understand it.

43. One time while I was playing Call of Duty at my brother-in-law’s house Christy walked in as I yelled, “Die World!” I was really letting the bullets flow. She didn’t think kill-people-games were a good idea then and doesn’t now. She’s probably right. I’m not a video game guy anyways. I do like the Legend of Zelda though.

44. I’ve surprised a few people with what I’ve been capable of while working on remodeling our house. Me included.

45. I choke on my food a lot, which makes for somewhat awkward dinner experiences in public. A couple of times it’s been pretty serious.

46. One of my favorite games to play with a basketball isn’t basketball. It’s Lightning. Some people call it Hot Shot.

47. I graduated from BYU in English. I like to read, but the most important reading I’ve done has been outside of school. College just taught me how to read.

48. Christy says “pantsed” and I say “de-pantsed” and I think I make more sense.

49. Some more catchphrases you’d hear around the Blake household: “Whooo Whoo, Nyuk, Nyuik, (pant, pant), Ee-rrr, Ee-rrr, Hubba Hubba” – (adapted) The Simpsons, “I said, this is nice and cozy Joseph" – Millions, “Are ya real? Are ya really real?” - adapted from It’s a Wonderful Life, “Very angry” – Chris Farley/SNL.

50. I’m a morning person and a night person. I guess I’m kind of a day person as well. 6 hours of sleep will just about do it for me. No naps needed.

51. I am pretty good at keeping a journal. I have been ever since I was about eight years old. I want to burn the teenage years.

52. When we were little my sister Addie and I would slide down the stairs together in a sleeping bag for fun. One time we got to the bottom and she landed on my face in a sitting position and laughed so hard that she peed. In my mouth.

53. While in high school I would pray very sincerely in behalf of Eddie Vedder.

54. Last year I made a New Year’s resolution to read the entire standard works by the end of the year. I did it, but was about two weeks late getting done. It’s only seven pages a day, believe it or not. But if you miss a week you’re fifty pages behind and that adds up. It was a magnificent experience.

55. Christy has a very contagious laugh. I imagine that when she passes people walking down the street they look at her and wonder why she is so happy. The reason is because she has a secret she wants to tell.

56. My favorite poet is Larry Levis. I studied him in college and can’t stop reading his poetry. I wish I was better at seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

57. I can see why a person could glance at the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and be skeptical, but I do believe that if they studied it and the doctrines of the gospel with an open heart they would see and feel beauty beyond all expectation.

58. If I had the guts to try and learn more languages I would most like to learn Russian and Hebrew. I would least like to learn that language that Nell spoke.

59. My Grandpa Mecham played basketball for the Univeristy of Utah and he was invited to be an Olympian but couldn’t because you had to pay your own way in those days. I, on the other hand, am pretty short and 5 times out of 10 I’ll miss a layup in the open court.

60. I grew up deathly afraid of a fictitious monster called “The Sidehill Gouger.” He had one eye, was very tall, and had one leg that was shorter than the other (which made him a whiz on the sidehills). He lived in the mountains and in our potato cellar.

61. The longest I’ve ever held my breath is two minutes and twenty seconds. I practice this from time to time.

62. Some of the greatest summers of my life consisted of spending endless days swimming in the rivers at Twin Bridges and Fun Farm. I get really nostalgic thinking about it.

63. The one time I got to meet Sufjan Stevens I tried to impress him with my knowledge of the works of Saul Bellow (this was before the Avalanche was ever a concept in his head). I get star struck really easy when I’m with artists I admire.

64. I’ve seen basically every Coen Brothers Movie. Here they are ranked from my most favorite to least favorite: 1. O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2. Raising Arizona 3. Fargo 4. Miller’s Crossing 5. Blood Simple 6. The Big Lebowski 7. The Man Who Wasn’t There 8. The Hudsucker Proxy 9. Barton Fink 10. Intolerable Cruelty 11. The Ladykillers. (the last two aren’t complete originals).

65. When I was younger I was really into ninja stars and survival knives.

66. Every year I look forward to highpower rifle shooting matches with my Dad, brother, brother-in-law, and cousin.

67. In the not quite six years we’ve been married Christy and I have lived in six different homes. We’ve owned the last two (or rather in the process of owning).

68. I feel like had my cards played out just a tiny bit differently I could have been a three time state wrestling champion. I don’t blame anyone but myself though. Sports are good because losing allows you to confront things within yourself you otherwise would avoid.

69. Speaking of sixty-nine. I won a school wide art contest in the seventh grade that was voted on by the student body American Idol style. Each piece was assigned a number, drawn out of a hat by the artist, and guess what number was mine? I drew a really terrific deer and won by a landslide. They disqualified me later after suspicions arose about my number. I confess that I drew the number on purpose, not because I’m sick or anything, it’s just that I’m smart that way.

70. I used to get migraines when I was in grade school and Jr. High. I had one during track practice and asked if I could go home, but my coach said the best way to get rid of it was to run it off. I puked on the track and then went home.

71. I love my family very much, and I think about my brothers and sisters often. I’m just not very good at calling them up to talk.

72. Christy hates it when I do my country music voice. That is when I purse my lips really tight, so only my front teeth are showing and I sing lyrics or say words like "trucks," "Justin," and "black tornado."

73. When I think about how much I’ve been blessed in life, there is a part of me that wonders what dark thing must be coming down the pike to throw it all back into balance.

74. I write music that I think has a lot of unrealized potential. I have a pretty good critical ear, but it’s hard to turn it on myself.

75. Gus is a really incredible boy. Already his personality is starting to blossom into something fun and original. His giggle kills me.

76. iPods are amazing. This is no news to anyone. I just think it is terrific that what I used to haul around in three massive Case Logic CD books I can now fit into my back pocket (with enough room for a melty candy bar and some keys).

77. Christy makes fun of me because I wear a backpack or carry a man-bag most everywhere I go. It’s because I always have to have a good book on me and something on which to write ideas. I’ll tell you the contents of my bag right now: a notebook, a journal, Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, a pamphlet on emergency preparedness, a yellow legal pad, and scriptures. I should really think about fitting some victuals and a bottle of water in there somewhere.

78. I’ve told people before that if I had to choose between death by drowning or death by fire I’d choose death by fire.

79. When Gus was born that was one of the greatest moments of my life.

80. Sometimes I think it might be a little unfair how happy Christy and I are together. We get in disagreements just like everyone else, but we don’t fight and we certainly don't yell.

81. When I was little I wanted to grow a mullet in the worst way. I would get so mad when Dad would bust out the clippers on Sunday morning. He is no hairdresser, let me tell you, but he cut my hair almost until I was in Jr. High. That is penny pinching for ya.

82. My first rock concert was Pearl Jam on November 2, 1995 at the Delta Center. My ears rang for two days.

83. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The pig is the tastiest animal.

84. For the last year or so I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a genuinely delicious chocolate truffle. About four different recipes have failed me. I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t the confectioner’s fault.

85. Probably the greatest and most haunting read of my life was Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, and it is the greatest ending to any novel I’ve read, bar none. (warning: this book is crazy violent)

86. I’ve done a number two in catholes I dug myself in five different states. That is just a really gross way of saying I fought wildland forest fire the summer before I got married. Here is a photo, I’m third from the right.

87. One movie that makes me cry every time is "My Life" starring Michael Keaton. Great flick. "Lonesome Dove" will do it for me too. I love the way Captain Call just says “Augustus” when it happens. Nothing more, nothing less.

88. It’s always amusing to me when I’m meeting someone for the first time and they finally drop the old joke, “More or Less!” They always get this look in their eyes like they are the cleverest souls.

89. Christy used to punish herself when she was feeling bad or whatever by not turning on the AC in her car if it was hot.

90. I used to hold (I haven’t checked to see if I still do) the eighth grade record for most situps done in a minute. 84. My brother Frank held the seventh grade record with 86.

91. I’ve always been somewhat shy and I’m worried that it sometimes comes across as arrogant or rude or standoffish. Partly an extension of #8.

92. If I ever had to go to war and kill someone I would think that would jack me up for a really long time. I pray that my son(s) will never have to go to war. I suppose I’m a pacifist that way.

93. I haven’t seen very many movies since Gus was born, which is kind of unfortunate, but probably my favorite moment in film this last year was in "Stranger than Fiction" when Will Farrell’s character performs “Whole Wide World” for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character.

94. Christy didn’t “have me at hello” but she certainly did get my attention. By the time she sang me “Little Bird” I was well on my way to gone.

95. One reason I consider myself lucky is because Christy is a really good cook and I'm still skinny.

96. The first poem I ever wrote was called “The Sun.” It rhymed, of course, and it was an allegory about how the sun sets and rises. I was about twelve or so and it was about my cousin Steve who died a few years earlier. No one but me ever read it.

97. Whenever I get to choose what my birthday cake will be I choose cheesecake.

98. Pull-ups are probably my favorite exercise, even though I’m not that good at them. I have an unrealized goal of being able to do a one armed pull up. I've seen it done.

99. I used to think I could be a foot model, until Christy crushed that thought. She thinks they are too pale, nails too long, too boney, and too hairy. What can I say, I like to wear shoes. I believe that if you keep any body part covered long enough it will start to grow hair. When I was a kid I saw a foot expert lady on Johnny Carson who said that hair on feet is a sign that the person is quite sexy. Cheers to that lucid woman.

100. I tried my hand at cussing on and off throughout my youth, but could never make it sound convincing. I don't cuss at all now. Not even when I hit my thumb with a hammer or pinch my finger in a chuck and get a blood blister. It would just sound phoney.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Christy's 100

Inspired by the very funny lists of our friends James and Dede, Christy and I have decided to make lists of our own. Since she has no forum on which to post them (at least that she's willing to share) I asked her if I could post them on my blog! Mine will follow in a day or two. So here you go, as written by my better half...


Apparently there is a trend going around - to blog 100 things. I'm not exactly sure what 100 things they are - things you don't know about me? my favorite things? interesting and semi-embarrassing things about my past? Confessions? But, whatever it is, I can't not give it a try. I just seems so fun. So, here is mine.

100. If I eat something sugary in the morning, I want to eat sugar all day long.
99. My current job scares me a lot, but gives me satisfaction in facing what is hard.
98. Even though I feel like I'm supposed to, I don't really like peanut butter
97. and I don't really like shrimp.
96. When I am dressed nice I feel really cool.
95. I only shave my legs about once every two weeks and that seems to be enough
94. Whenever I hear that 'In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep' song I do the dance that accompanies it from 9th grade dance company.
93. Deep down in me there is a greener, more health conscience, book loving, exercise machine waiting to come out.
92. Because I am genetically engineered to be cheap and thrifty I sometimes have an urge to cheat or lie to save 30 cents here or there - I really try to supress the urge.
91. I always wished I knew all of the words to Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls -specifically that fast rapping part.
90. I do, or did at one time, know all of the words to Young MC's Busta Move
89. I memorize song lyrics extremely quickly - usually after only hearing the song once.
88. I really like to cook
87. I love watching Iron Chef America, Les and I both enjoy watching it together
86. I would love to be able to cook like a gourmet and very nutrisiously -the way they do at that pay-what-you-want-cafe (One World Cafe?).
85. I really think Gus is going to have a great personality
84. In so many ways I hope Gus turns out like his dad.
83. I love playing board games
82. I love winning board games
81. When I was young I copied everything my older siblings did, and now that I'm older, on a subconscious level, I still do
80. Like Dede, I still feel like I'm 18
79. I really miss hanging out with the boys the way we used to
78. One of the greatest sounds in the world is Gus laughing
77. I think I'm pretty good at making people laugh, especially my mom and Les
76. My feet stink a lot of the time
75. I've been wearing red polish on my toes for the last 11 years (this can be attributed to #81)
74. When I was in 6th grade a girl from another school labled me as 'big boobs, tiny waist, big bum'
73. I think I'm a pretty okay singer but I have vowed to never try out for American Idol, as I'm sure to make a fool of myself
72. I took tennis lessons every Summer for 5 years and I still can't play
71. I took piano lessons for 7 years, never practiced, can't play
70. I used to be a pretty good dancer, but considering the freestyle way I dance now Les doesn't believe I was ever good.
69. I don't wear makeup 5 out of the 7 day of the week.
68. I've been to most all of the classic vacation destinations: Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Southern California, New York City.
67. Ever since I was 14 I thought Seatle could be a good place to live, and I still think so
66. If I ever have a lot of money I would do my grocery shopping at Wild Oats and my clothes shopping at Anthropology.
65. I think I'm pretty good at convincing people....maybe I should go to law school
64. I don't really care what kind of car I drive, but I do like a car that can go fast.
63. Luckily, I never went through that awkward phase that middle schoolers usually do.
62. Being a mom is hard and I'm nervous to eventually have 2 babies to take care of
61. I know from many past experiences that my mom would do anything for me
60. I don't know how my mom raised the 4 kids in my family without going totally crazy considering all of the crap that we put her through
59. I am the baby in my family and because of that I felt an obligation to talk in a baby voice until I was almost a teenager. Les says that sometimes I still talk in a baby voice when I want a back tickle or when I want to buy a piece of furniture
58. I feel bad that I never did chores
57. I never realized until I got older that I am so similar to my dad
56. I know that in not so long from now I will become my mom and I'm okay with that
55. I did, do, and always will love candy
54. One year on Halloween I ate my whole bag of candy the night of. My mom said I would get a stomach ache, etc. but I didn't.
53. I double hate having big boobs.
52. When I'm not chubby I like my face shape.
51. I really love to sleep. That is one thing that is hard about being a mom - you can't sleep whenever you want to.
50. I can fall asleep just about anywhere at any time.
49. I didn't graduate with my bachelors degree. Some days I regret it and some days I don't. But, I really don't want to be one of those moms that goes back at 45 or 50.
48. I really really like decorating although I know there are a lot of people much better at it than I am
47. I am very good at being silly.
46. I ask my husband the same questions all the time: do you think I'm smart? do you think I'm nice? did I say anything stupid?
45. I try too hard to please people.
44. I often fall into the trap of trying to be 'the perfect everything' instead of just being myelf.
43. I think my siblings and my cousins are all very attractive.
42. I love going to Lagoon although I didn't dare ride a roller coaster until I was older.
41. Although my Dad worked with me often, I didn't learn to ride a bike until quite old as well
40. The first time I rode a bike on my own I almost rode off a cliff.
39. Ever since I've had a baby I feel weird:
38. I have a hard time concentrating on the road.
37. I can't remember simple words or names for things - thank goodness for Les being able to read my mind.
36. I am continutally surprised by the reality of a Mother's intuition.
35. I have an amazing marriage.
34. My dream car is a Subaru Forrester.
33. I don't pass on forwards.
32. I will never again ride on a Greyhound Bus.
31. I had a rough relationship with my mother-in-law at first but now I really like her
30. I have lots of ideas for books I want to write. I want to write a book about mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationships
29. I want to write a book called 'According to my Grandma Toni' with all of the old dutch sayings that she uses.
28. When my grandma dies I'll cry for at least a week straight
27. I went to EFY for 4 years and I loved it - especially the dancing
26. I kissed about 20 boys before I met Les, which he thinks is a lot, but that is not very many compared to my cousin Heather.
25. When Les and I first kissed there were serious fireworks going off.
24. My mom, although she won't admit it, has an obsessive shopping problem.
23. I also have a shopping problem that I am working on.
22. Before my CD collection was stolen I owned 5 Celine Dion CDs - I can't help but think of that thief going through my CDs totally disappointed in the selection
21. I think sometimes about how our grandparents must perceive the trends of today (peircings, tatooes, immodesty, vulgarity) and I like to think that my Grandma is proud at the way I turned out.
20. I've always had a strong sense of self, and strong self-confidence.
19. I've lost 50 pounds since I was pregnant.
18. Although I tried several others here and there, I have been using the same Pantene Pro-V shampoo since I was in 7th grade.
17. I have a really amazing extended family - I often want to brag about them, but restrain myself.
16. Lately I have seen so many women with facial hair. It is kindof freaky.
15. Once in a while when I'm driving around listening to country music radio I'll encounter an especially cheesy yet touching song and I'll have to quickly wipe away a tear.
14. I usually listen to talk radio in the car.
13. I am my kid's mom. (I love you, Dr. Laura)
12. I've noticed that Gus loves when I sing along out loud to the radio. He also likes to sing, he joins in during church hymns.
11. One time in high school I called a radio station who was trying to drive up rivalry between 2 schools the night before a big football game. I actually got through but I froze up and had nothing intelligent to say so I just said something like, "we're going to win... because... I don't know." It was stupid.
10. There used to be a show on MTV called 'Motor Mouth' where they would secretly pose a camera inside of a car and catch the driver singing loudly and passionately the songs on the radio, also with a little car dancing if you're lucky. I'll just say I would be a perfect candidate for that show.
9. I have a staring problem. It has come to the point that when I'm caught staring I don't even look away - I just smile at them as if to say, "Yeah, I was staring at you. It's okay though".
8. I'm not a big reader, which is maybe Les's thing he'd like to change about me; but recently, I've been infected with the bug just a little bit. I even joined a book club.
7. Les and I often throw around quotes from Jerry Seinfeld's stand up routines, Raising Arizona, The Incredibles, Conan, and The Simpson's, etc. And we've recently added Jim Gaffigan quotes to the repretiore. He's funny, man.
6. Les and I like to sing duets together while he plays on the guitar. Although it's not really in my character, sometimes I get into it and sing with my eyes closed because Les loves that.
5. My sister loves watching court TV. She has it on all day sometimes. I prefer decorating shows.
4. My sister's husband is going to Iraq in April and I try not to think about it because it makes me want to cry.
3. I think my biggest motivator to do what is right are my family's loving examples.
2. Writing these 100 things has taken me several weeks.
1. I like stuff.