The Wounded Mosquito

"Blogging your world since only very recently."

May 31, 2005

DEEP THROAT SPEAKS!

Looks like Deep Throat has finally been revealed. Some ex-FBI guy named Felt. I'm guessing he's going to start turning up everywhere now, like Henry "Goodfellas" Hill. Thing is, I'm kind of disappointed. I had always hoped Deep Throat would turn out to be Bob Bennett. Such is life.

BOOK OF MORMON COMICS INFILTRATE GEEK WORLD

Read a story in the D-News this morning about these brand-new Book of Mormon comics. My only reaction is to wonder why it took this long. The action figures have been out for ten years now. I'm just trying to picture the scene at the local comic outlets, with all the D&D fans mingling with parents that already have all the Living Scriptures videos and need a new outlet for the kids.

JOSH CELEBRATES MEMORIAL DAY WITH BAND PRACTICE!

In the hopes of playing at my first gig in two years, I had a band practice Monday afternoon with a couple of friends in Farmington. Two hours later, we had a set list and the deep conviction that I couldn't hold a reggae beat to save my life.

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May 24, 2005 BONUS!

Congratulations to Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector, who recently overtook longtime champion Richard Simmons for the title of "Best White Guy Afro". Way to go, Phil!

Phil Spector Richard Simmons

May 24, 2005

A few brief items first:

-Paul Newman was on Letterman last night. Truly one of the best actors of all time. "Butch and Sundance" and "Cool Hand Luke" alone put him in my all-time actors list.

-The current all-time actors list (in no particular order), along with a few of the movies that qualify them:

Gene Hackman (Superman (I & II), Hoosiers, The Royal Tenenbaums)

Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler)

Alan Arkin (Gross Pointe Blank, Edward Scissorhands, Wait Until Dark)

Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, Silverado, The Big Chill)

Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom, Gung Ho, Batman)

Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction, The Rundown)

Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate, Tootsie, All the President's Men)

-Hit Maddox on Saturday for a burger (two, actually). Maddox is the only place I've driven over a half hour to get to just to have a burger.

OK, now for my thoughts on Episode III…

THE MOVIE: The quick review is: great movie, probably tied with "Return of the Jedi" for 3rd all-time Star Wars movie. "Sith" is, as everyone keeps saying, the prequel we were all waiting for. It still has a few of the flaws from the first two, but it has plenty to make up for it.

I saw it again Saturday night, so with two viewings under my belt, I think I can make a bit more astute assessment of the film. The danger with the first time is that you're so excited you don't know what thrills you get from the movie and which ones you brought in with you. E3 has plenty on it's own. I'll be somewhat discreet in case any of the three people that read my blog haven't actually seen the movie yet, but here are a few random thoughts about the experience:

-The opening shot of the battle over Coruscant is incredible. The kind of thing CGI was meant to produce.

-Loved the integration of the original themes at key points in the movie. Like I've said before, I think the music was one of the hang-ups for the earlier prequels.

-Also loved the integration of E4 elements to smooth the transition from 2005 to 1977. As my buddy Breto mentioned, all the dudes from Alderran had 70's haircuts.

-My heart was beating like crazy for the last 45 minutes of the first showing. It felt even more intense than Empire. Second showing? Same thing. I am simply floored that George made me feel that way even though I knew almost exactly what was going to happen. In fact, that may have added to the intensity.

-One unfortunate observation: while I feel a desire to see each of the original series, the funny/tragic thing about the prequels is that each one has been so much better than the last that it almost makes the previous one obsolete. I have a feeling that any future movie marathons will start with "Sith" and end with "Jedi", bypassing the first two altogether.

-While most of the critics have been gushing so far, the dude from Rolling Stone hated it. He says the problem is that people want to love the movie so much they refuse to admit their disappointment. I agree with some of his criticisms of the movie itself, and I think his point applies to Episode I and probably II, but I didn't have any trouble loving the third movie.

-Here's the thing about Star Wars: some people get into it because they want to be Jedi. They are the ones dressing up at age 30. But I think the reason so many other people love these movies, myself included, is because they transcend the fictional universe they inhabit. It's not about Jedis and Sith Lords, it's about a story that is uplifting and inspiring. It connects with the imaginations that many of us left behind when we turned twelve years old. It's a positive story in the midst of a pessimistic society. That's why people loved Lord of the Rings. Most of the people watching those movies wouldn't be caught dead playing Dungeons and Dragons, just like most of the people watching Star Wars wouldn't be caught dead dressed as Obi Wan at a fan convention. These movies are great because they let us embrace ideals that were socially acceptable when we were kids, but feel inclined to suppress as adults. And even though E3 was incredibly dark, it still did a better job of regenerating that original Star Wars optimism than either of the first two prequels. I think that's why people like it so much more.

I just hope it can beat out "Titanic".

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May 21, 2005

What else could I do today but dedicate my blog entry to Episode III? Here's the whole experience…

THE LINE: After a nice visit to Crown Burger Thursday afternoon, my buddy Vaughn and I arrived at the Gateway 12 about 5pm, a solid two and a half hours prior to start time. We joined a line already about fifty-strong that had been formed outside the main entrance. This of course was a little discouraging, not because I didn't expect a line, but because it was a very sunny day, and I was a bald man without a hat.

This is a fairly recent phenomenon I've had to adapt to. I've been shaving my head for about two years now, and have had a frustrating time dealing with a new spot to remember to cover with sun block. Years of painful nights thanks to sunburned shoulders and neck have taught me to use "the block", but now my head is my most vulnerable area.

Last summer when I worked construction, my room smelled like Coppertone 45 for three months. I loaded up twice a day, and wore a brand new hat into a disgusting mess by the end of July. Not fun.

Anyway, thanks to a nearby wall and the tactful posture of my friend Tim Davis, I managed to avoid the first burn of the season. Vaughn and I spotted a group of friends--Tim included--when we arrived, and proceeded to spend the next two hours talking, philosophizing, and generally zoning out.

Key observations:

1- Most of the people we saw dressed up were kids, which holds with the general theory I have about non-midnight opening day releases: All the weirdoes come out for the first couple of screenings, then by the time the evening shows roll around on the official opening day, you get the people that, while lifelong fans, have kept more of a grasp on reality. For the most part.

2- There were a few guys in their late teens running around with lightsabers, but their duels felt a little half-cocked to me. It seemed more like they were parodying the saber-wielding fans that really did take it seriously. The sad thing is that a half-cocked battle between two nineteen year olds is just as pathetic.

3- The Moment of Grandest Irony happened about an hour after we had been waiting in line. A guy came walking by the line dressed in full on Anakin attire, heading for the theater. As soon as he came around, a bunch of guys in line ahead of us started mocking the guy incessantly. Basically you had one fan being mocked by other fans who had been waiting in line themselves for multiple hours on opening day. To make it worse, that guy turned out to be a Gateway employee that was dressed up to promote the event. He was the ticket taker. He was being paid to be there, and he was being mocked by people that were skipping work to wait in line to see a movie.

THE THEATER: Eventually the Gateway folks rotated us indoors so we could hang out in a cement back hallway instead of out in the sun. Over that time the rest of our little party arrived: Vaughn's wife Christie, my buddy Tyler, and my friend Randy and his wife Alex. We were joined by even more friends we didn't know had tickets to the same showing. Quite the event.

Thanks to our early arrival time, we managed to get decent seats about halfway up in Theater 2, which is plenty big even if not as massive as Theater 1. I wasn't feeling picky. From here it was just another half-hour wait while we watched about three cycles of the ad reel. Finally the theater went dark and people started cheering through the previews. The big moment had arrived.

Finally, the 20th Century Fox fanfare played, the Lucasfilm logo followed, and lastly, those magic words: "A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…"

As many times as I've watched the original movies at home, even with the addition of my new sound system, there is nothing that can match the thrill that literally hits you when the theme explodes over the speakers and the big words "STAR WARS" flash onto the screen and retreat back into the opening crawl. Just the same way it's always been.

Next entry: the movie itself.

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May 19, 2005

Well, I'm about eight hours shy of destiny. Excuse the sentimentality, but there's something kind of dramatic about getting ready for the last time I'll ever see the words "A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy Far, Far, Away" and NOT know what's coming afterwards. In some ways, that's my favorite part of the movie experience; the anticipation of what's about to come. It's like waiting on the doorstep when you're just picking up a date. Very cool.

My buddy Jared and I had an interesting conversation last night. While driving south from Farmington, we noticed a couple of guys out and about that made us think about current fashion trends. With a little discussion, we came up with some specific characteristics for two new "types".

The first one, the one we saw yesterday, we decided to call "The Mouth Breather". To understand this type, one need go no farther than the current "Napoleon Dynamite" craze. For some reason, teens have embraced the "drooling idiot" look to an absurd level. It existed previous to ND, mostly in the form of wearing a crooked baseball cap over long feathered hair to create a sort of "White Hip-Hop Meets Cletus From The Simpsons" look. Thanks to ND, this look has expanded to massive curly hair and even more vacant stares. The Gen-X Slacker meets Revenge of the Nerds, perhaps.

How to use "Mouth Breather" in a sentence: "Slow down the car, honey. There's a Mouth Breather in the middle of the road."

The second type is the natural evolution of the Mouth Breather into a twenty-something twerp. This type is called "The Churro Salesman". While the Churro Salesman has a more downplayed look, there is still the giveaway vacant stare. Now in his twenties and aspiring to a full adult existence, the Churro Salesman usually will complete his look with some form of facial hair.

How to use "Churro Salesman" in a sentence: "What is she doing with that guy? He's a Churro Salesman!"

While still on the topic generally, let me say with full conviction that I am a big fan of "Napoleon Dynamite". Great movie, great subtlety, great writing. I am a little worried about it's future, though. I fear the general public may have embraced the movie a little too enthusiastically. Sometimes movies like ND are better suited to relative anonymity in cult status. Given the fickle tastes of popular society, as well as the near saturation of everything "Napoleon" in the public view (namely, the many cameo TV appearances and billboard "Gosh" ads for driving safety), I'm worried that ND is going to be so overplayed and beaten into the ground that everyone is going to hate it in a year. Which would be sad--I think it's the "Rubin and Ed" of the 00's. It's just that it's already reached "quote status" on a level reserved for "Holy Grail", and "Princess Bride", complete with rancid hack-impressions.

Unfortunately I don't have a solution to the problem. I hate it when people complain and don't offer a solution to what they're complaining about. The best I can figure is I'll try to dodge as many of the "hip" references as I can, and only pull out the DVD on special occasions. It's kind of like my James Brown "Live at the Olympia in Paris" CD. You don't want to overplay it, cause that would ruin it. The marketplace has a tendency to squeeze every last ounce of profitability and exposure out of something new and good as fast as possible. Then what's left over is a kitchy memory that's only remembered fondly ten to fifteen years later (see MC Hammer). We shouldn't let that happen to ND.

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May 17, 2005

Well, the results are in: the ankle is broken. Technically it's a small crack on part of my fibula, and it's insignificant enough to be treated the same as a serious sprain, but I guess I can't go around telling people I've never broken any bones anymore.

Interesting point: everyone has this idea like I'm enjoying going around milking sympathy for this thing, but the truth is I really hate dealing with it. Last night I went to a stake dance, and after talking with a few people, I realized that I'm currently a one-note act, always talking about this dumb ankle. I don't want to talk about it anymore. I think I'm going to see how long I can go without bringing it up myself (people are going to keep asking me about it, so I can't completely avoid it, I guess). It's kind of like this idea I had a while back about going an entire day at church without shaking anyone's hand. That has to be one of the biggest of the unofficial LDS practices: the firm handshake. I really wonder what would happen if I deliberately avoid them for a day.

I have to throw caution to the wind and be totally honest here: I am wired for Thursday. I cannot wait to see Episode III, and if anyone thinks I'm a geek for feeling that way, or an idiot for remaining optimistic after two previously sub-par films, fine. The first one came out six months after I was born, and I spent the first ten years of my life wanting to be Han Solo. Now on Thursday the last one ever is coming out, and in my mind that's a pretty significant thing. I'm willing to throw my support behind George Lucas one more time.

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May 12, 2005

Well, I had a job interview today, but I don't feel like writing about that. My dream last night was much more read-worthy. It wasn't much of a dream; it was one of those dreams you have where you really only remember an image rather than a whole storyline. In this case, the image was of good old Dennis Rodman, though in a condition we've never seen him in before.

I can't quite pinpoint the reason, but somehow Dennis had decided to turn his back on his wild ways. He'd had all of his body jewelry and tattoos removed. But this wasn't a flashback image to how he looked beforehand. No, Dennis had all these holes and flaps on his body that were evidence of his physical alterations. Almost like a doctor had gone in and tried to sew him all up, but only did a half-cocked job. His skin was its regular color, and so was his hair, but he looked kind of like Frankenstein. Far out.

The only audio I remember from the dream was Dennis saying something bad about David Stern. As if Stern had recently accused Rodman of something, and Dennis was going on TV to refute it.

The weird thing is that today ESPN aired an interview with current NBA bad-boy Ron Artest, who, if you think about it, is kind of like Rodman without the tat's and piercings. (Although I think most of Rodman's schtick is an act, and Artest may really be crazy.) Perhaps my dream was trying to tell me that Ron Artest is really Dennis Rodman in disguise, trying to log a few more NBA miles and headlines while travelling incognito. Dennis is so far removed from homebase he may actually look just like Artest if he dressed down. Not such a crazy idea, eh?

One more item: Just got word that Jerry Sloan's back for another season with the Jazz. Good. Welcome back, coach. This was one guy that never took one on the chin and ran away.

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May 11, 2005

Thanks to my recent gimp-status, I've fallen off the blog wagon for a bit. For the last week, I've been hobbling around with the help of a combination of crutches, air casts, and ankle wraps, and so far all I know for sure is I won't be stepping on the soccer field or volleyball court for quite a while to come. On the bright side, my ankle and general foot area has slowly progressed from "hideous" to "you sure you don't want to go to the doctor?" status. Most of the swelling has centered around the ankle itself, as opposed to my foot and shin, and the purple streaks are starting to fade. I even finally learned how to put my wrap on right.

Still managed to make it out to the Drive-In last weekend, though. Saw "Sahara" and "Hitch" up at the Motor-Vu Drive-In in Ogden. I don't know if it was the movie itself or the fact that I watched it while crammed into the back of a pick-up with nine other people, but "Sahara" felt like the longest movie I've seen since the Extended Return of the King. What's worse is I couldn't tell you a thing about it.

I could tell you all about "The Omega Man", though. My buddy Jared and I caught that one one afternoon last week. About a half hour into it, I was absolutely floored that it took me twenty-eight years to finally see it. "Omega Man" gets instant induction into the Oddball Hall of Fame, with banner "Heston" designation. I knew from the opening crawl that it was going to be good. There was just something about Charleton Heston driving around an empty LA in a convertible while wearing some sort of hack military jumpsuit that looked like it was designed by Boy Scouts that made me smile. When one of the pasty-faced bad guys called Chuck's armored hideout "Honky Paradise", I almost decided to rename my blog.

Don't want this entry to be another movie re-cap (or a preview, since Episode III is only a week away), so I'll jump topics with a quick observation: With everyone wearing red t-shirts to Heat playoff games, doesn’t it look like Shaq and Co. are playing to a half-empty house each night? I always have to squint to see that there are actually people in the seats.

As of last Monday, Spring Semester is officially over. Since Summer Semester starts next Monday, I won't have much of a break. Though to be honest, if I had to sprain my ankle, I picked the right window for it. I've already managed to compress my curriculum from 30 to 21 days, courtesy of the shorter term. As a bonus, we've got three Monday holidays. I'm still waiting to see whether the "I just worked eight hours and now I have to listen to you" look is going to be better or worse than the "I could be at Powell right now but instead I'm stuck here listening to you" look. That's almost as interesting a proposition as seeing just what kind of people actually sign up to take a summer English class at 8AM.

The Ward Reunion came off OK. Kind of a bittersweet affair. It was great to see a lot of old friends, but then again, what single guy wants to spend his Saturday night with a bunch of ineligible females and their husbands? Must be one of those "glass is half-full" things. I've considered the idea of writing a U32 memoir a thousand times, but I may have to wait another ten years or so before I stop worrying about offending people. It may take me that long to get out of the Ward anyway.

As I get ready to wrap up this entry, my only thought is, "Is this the week I finally download 'Come On Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners?"

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May 5, 2005

The Terry family is going through a brutal phase at the moment. Last Friday my mom had knee surgery, then on Saturday night my uncle fell off his motorcycle and broke his hip. Then last night, while trying to stop an opposing goal, I sprained my ankle in a nasty way.

So now I'm in gimp phase for the time being. The time being looks to be an extended stretch, too, given how nasty my ankle looks at the moment. Thanks to the contributions of friends and family, I have an air cast, a boot, and a pair of crutches to aid in my recovery.

I've really been pretty fortunate when it comes to injuries. I've sprained this ankle a few times, but other than the one I sustained in the MTC, none have been very bad. I've never broken any bones, and I hadn't had stitches until a year and a half ago when I cut my chin open on the Eccles Ice Sheet while trying to learn how to skate backwards on a date. Sometimes the code backfires on you, I guess.

Barring any miraculous recoveries, I'll be hobbling around the U32 reunion on Saturday night. I'm guessing my outward demonstration of physical handicap will represent an inner spiritual yearning for all of the single folks there confronted with all of their happily married peers. This will be a strange dynamic to observe this weekend: usually the most singles and marrieds interact is at the occasional wedding reception, which in LDS culture is a kind of drop by and sprint for the door type of happening. But in this case, people will feel obligated to stick around for a while and socialize. It will be interesting to see how the natural groupings fall into place. Will the marrieds talk to the marrieds while the singles fraternize on their own? Will people group according to prior groups of friends, or even according to the periods they attended the ward together? After all, this reunion covers three and a half years of ward activity, and there will be plenty of people there that have never met each other.

Actually, my guess is that everything will be just fine, that everyone will be thrilled to see each other, and that we'll all have a happy festive evening. Since I'll be one of the few that will know most everyone, I'll probably have to spend the evening rotating from place to place making sure everyone is having a nice time. The same thing happened years ago at the Drive-In. I managed to recruit about ten couples to come on a massive group date, but none of them knew each other. So while my poor date sat and talked to another girl while I wandered around and talked to the couples that had that "we don't know anyone here" look on their faces. That's me, the great diplomat.

The big question about this weekend's reunion is really going to be how many people show up. Of about 400 invitations via email, 90 or so have confirmed attendance. Fifteen or so are maybes, and only fifteen have confirmed that they won't be able to make it. That leaves nearly 300 people unaccounted for, and I already know some of them are planning on coming. Thing is, most of the time I never would reply to e-vites either; I'd just show up or not show up. So we could have anywhere from 50-500 people there. Ooh! The excitement!

Had lunch at Chick-Fil-A with my old friend and colleague Spence Wixom today. He's leaving for DC in a few days to start his first post-MBA job. Spence is on a short list of people I felt like I could collaborate on a writing project with. Whatever my comedic sensibility is, Spence seemed to have a common feel for it. We actually did co-write a column during the first year the Century was published. The Century was the student newspaper/magazine the LDS Institute put out on the U campus. The more time goes by, the funnier I think it was that our "Men on the Moon" column was in that publication. It was kind of like sticking Dave Barry in an Amish quarterly. Spence and I are both the types of people that remember obscure mid-80's pop culture references, and act consistently on the impulse to integrate them into everyday conversation. Even when he was living out here we only got together from time to time, but I still feel bummed he's moving so far away. All the best, my man.

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May 3, 2005

I kind of fell off the blog wagon for a couple of days, had a tough time coming up with a meaty enough topic to write on. So I guess I'll just fire off a few quick shots…

  1. I'm hereby putting a one-month moratorium on all "Men are pigs" complaints, thanks to the gal in Georgia that faked her own abduction to get out of her wedding. If you need an explanation why, consider your personal moratorium extended to two months.
  2. On a smellier note, last weekend I officially kicked off bonfire season up on Dead Man's Flat above the "B" in Bountiful. Everyone always complains about the way your clothes smell the next day, but I think it's one of my favorite smells, along with the smell that hits me whenever I get out of the car in Island Park.
  3. Today was the final preparatory lunch for the U32 Reunion Committee. The big event happens this Saturday. Depending on the turnout, this could be the single largest gathering of past rejections since my 10-year high school reunion last summer.
  4. The lunch was held at Red Iguana, which was great as usual. The odd thing is that I had dinner at Taco Bell with an old student of mine that's covering the Real Salt Lake games now. How does one reconcile a deep appreciation of Red Iguana with a Taco Bell addiction?
  5. We're in the middle of finals week at SLCC. My students all turned in their final papers last week, and now I'm trying to motivate myself to grade them. So far I've taken care of about three out of forty. My next task will be trying to figure out how to cram thirty days of English 2010 curriculum into the 21 days of Summer Semester. Ugh.
  6. Last Sunday's lesson went quite well in Sunday School. My only regret was not being able to use Boo Berry cereal for my Law of Consecration demonstration. I had to go with Raisin Bran instead, since Boo Berry is only seasonal. Still, the overall lesson was a great success. I'm a little up in arms about the whole situation. My understanding was that you are supposed to struggle in a calling until you figure it out, then once you love it you get released. I've loved my calling since I got it last June. Does that mean I'm doing it wrong? I think it may be my favorite calling of all time. In that case, I'm definitely doing it wrong.
  7. Tonight the Pistons eliminated the Sixers, and Indiana went up 3-2 over Boston. If Indiana wins, we'll have a rematch of the two teams involved in the big brawl last November. Am I wrong to be excited about that?
  8. Another related thought: is there really anyone to cheer for in these playoffs? With no home team to pull for, I find myself just generally entertained by the games themselves. Miami's a good story, but does Shaq need a fourth title? Does Duncan need #3? Does Detroit need to repeat? Maybe Reggie Miller could go out on top, but that's one whale of a long shot. And if there really isn't anyone to pull for, why am I still watching?

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April 29, 2005

I have no choice but to dedicate this entire blog entry to Charles Bronson. A longtime undisputed champion of action cinema through his roles in films like "The Great Escape" and "The Magnificent Seven", Chuck reached new status last night as I witnessed the dramatic conclusion of "Death Wish III" on AMC. Let's just say you take your chances when you turn on the TV at 11pm.

Due to rating and reputation, I hadn't seen any of the other "Death Wish" films, though I am the proud owner of a "Death Wish V" poster I scored from some video store several years ago. There are some people you just don't want to see in larger-than-life printed format. The Greg Ostertag billboard on I-15 Southbound is the first example that jumps to mind. But I'll take Chuck anytime. Even though I hadn't seen any of the other films, after watching the last hour of "III", I think I get the general idea: cops are lazy; vigilante justice is the only way to go. Preferably with as large a gun as possible.

"Death Wish III" may be the greatest single testimonial to gratuitous street violence I have ever seen. The basic plot has Chuck living in a bad neighborhood in "East NY" where an unchecked street gang rules. The gang looks like a cross between the post-apocalyptic bikers in "Mad Max" and 80's teen band Menudo. I kept waiting for Ricky Martin to show up with a switchblade. The leader of the gang is this guy that has long hair everywhere except where his Mohawk should be. That part is shaved so he can put a streak of red marker over the top of his head. Anyway, reverse-Mohawk guy and his gang rape and murder a local girl, and Chuck decides to waste everyone since the cops don't seem to have any interest in the matter. In fact, one of the greatest things about this movie is the fact that despite being in the middle of New York City, the only police representation seems to be about four patrol cars and a helicopter that only show up after half the neighborhood is already in flames.

Chuck starts off slow, shooting one gang member in the back with an obscenely massive handgun with about a 12-inch barrel. Then the next night he throws another guy off a roof. After this the gang calls in reinforcements and World War III starts. The gang decides killing Chuck isn't good enough, so they start after his girlfriend, his buddy Harry, and then they just decide to destroy the entire town. The way they kill the girlfriend is pure schlock genius. The gang dudes knock her unconscious while she's waiting in his car for him, then they put the car in neutral and push it down the hill. At the next intersection, while rolling at approximately twenty-five miles per hour, Chuck's car cuts another car in half and both instantly explode, incinerating everything. I don't know what was funnier, the wreck itself or Chuck trying to look depressed afterward. He had this annoyed look on his face, no kidding, like "man, not again."

Somehow Chuck and the husband of the murdered woman come up with a WWII gattling gun, which they carry around town blasting any of the Mad Max/Menudo guys they see. (The gang also has a few token females, who never seem to do anything but sit around looking bored in Blondie outfits). The last twenty-thirty minutes is Chuck unloading his gattling gun on guys that fall over despite no visible wounds, interspersed with shots of cheap dummies being tossed from high buildings.

One gang member deserves special mention. Reverse-Mohawk guy's right hand man is played by none other than Bill S. Preston of "Bill and Ted" fame. I don't know which came first, especially since he seems to be wearing the exact same outfit in both movies, but I really think it's sad that Keanu Reeves gets superstardom and his buddy gets "Death Wish III". Yeah, so Chuck kills him, too.

Before the carnage subsides, even the neighbors get in on the act. Every last one of them even has a pistol or shotgun handy, too. It's like a 90-minute NRA promo. There is literally a scene where a band of vigilante citizens rush out into the road and gun down three bikers they’ve just clotheslined by pulling a chain across the street. This movie must have been an absolute blast to film. The ad for extras must have said something like "any actors wanted, but preferably those who look like innocent vigilante civilians or who look good in Menudo outfits."

An orgy of violence like this mandates an over-the-top conclusion. But Chuck delivers when he finally dispatches the reverse-Mohawk guy with an ANTI-TANK GUN. The blast literally blows half of the building out behind him, and all that's left is a burning splotch on the road for the citizens to dance around. The set-up for the gun is great, too. Halfway through the movie, when you know Chuck is stocking up to open up his can of whoop-a, he picks up these huge brown packages at the local post office. He's just ordering anti-tank guns THROUGH THE MAIL.

America! What a country!

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April 28, 2005

Well, last night a dozen of my friends and I defied the rain and played two hours of muddy soccer back behind Centerville Jr. High. It was great to get out and play; outside of a game over Spring Break I hadn't played since my indoor team closed up shop last December. It's been a strange transition over the last year, going from a pick-up basketball guy to a pick-up soccer guy. Before last year's rebirth, I hadn't played organized soccer since the sixth grade.

Wanna know why? Yep, the code!

As fun as it was to play in the rain yesterday, it still comes in second to my favorite CJH game of all time, a Turkey Bowl from about three years ago. Like yesterday, it was raining and muddy, but unlike yesterday, we had lightning. The whole game was a classic match of diving splashing grabs, nasty tackles and plenty of scoring. The moment of immortality came about halfway through the game after we kicked off to the west end of the field. Just as their guy caught the kick for the return, lightning struck out over the Great Salt Lake, and the silhouette of my friend against the electric backdrop looked like it was taken right out of a movie. I don't remember who won, or how many touchdowns I had, or even what I had for dinner that day (turkey, perhaps), but I do remember one of the funnest pick-up football games I've ever had.

I don't hang on to a lot of regrets in my life, but from time to time I do wish I had gone out for the JV football team my junior year at Viewmont. I'd played as a sophomore, in practice anyway. Our team had a habit of only playing starters, and even though I ran the offense with them all year in practice, I was just low enough on the depth chart to never get in until the meaningless plays at the end of lopsided games. My motivation wasn't high to return, but it turns out the JV guys all got great playing time since so many were going up to Varsity, so it would have been a good opportunity.

Besides the playing time, one of the things I never liked about organized football was the pads. Maybe I'd have felt differently if mine had fit. As a sophomore, the equipment guys just kind of go, "here player, here shoulder pads" and push you out the door. My shoulder pads could have rotated around my head like a helicopter propeller, they were so big. I liked beating up on my buddies sans padding in pick-up games a lot more.

Some of my favorite football memories didn't even have an opponent. In the sixth grade, my best friend Greg and I would go up to the softball field behind my church and run pass plays up and down the field like we were in the Super Bowl for hours. He was Dan Marino and I was Marcus Allen, and we'd take turns using our official team mini-footballs as we made NFL history on a weekly basis. Greg pumped his Dolphin ball up to near-popping pressure so his passes felt as hard as the real Marino's. I guess it helped me become a better receiver.

That was about the time I walked away from the soccer field. My other soccer friends were trying out for competitive league teams, and I had fallen in love with a new game. After six years of anchoring the fullback spot for a variety of SDSA teams, I decided that maybe I was better with my hands. I guess life kind of comes full circle sometimes.

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April 27, 2005

By some bizarre twist of fate, last night I wound up at Trolley Square watching 200 people line dance. My buddy Tyler talked me into going country dancing with him, and by 10pm I was reassuring myself that by being there I was fulfilling the mandatory masochistic requirement of any good writer. I even decided to wear my cowboy boots, but also wore my Ramones T-shirt for good measure.

Lest any fear a horrible act of musical treachery on my part, I still echo the sentiments of an early 90's stand-up who called country the Special Olympics of Music, even though I've begun to feel like that was unfair to the Special Olympians. Last summer I almost quit my framing job on two separate occasions because I simply couldn't take listening to K-Bull any longer. Old School guys like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash are fine by me, but when it comes to the country of the last twenty-five years, well, sometimes I feel like it is so fundamentally unnatural that it should have ripped open some sort of space-time continuum by now.

And yet, there I was, mostly watching, but sometimes even swinging to some of contemporary country's "finest". I looked at the red smiley face the staff had inked on my hand and wondered why I was there. The answer was obvious: the code. For those unfamiliar with the code (I think I'll write an entire column on it some time--look for it as a future "Baboon Shavin' Tunes"), it basically states that a guy is justified in doing pretty much anything if there's a shot at spending time or making progress with a girl he's interested in. For legal reasons, I'll qualify that "anything" doesn't include extremes like murder or armed robbery (unarmed robbery would be fine). What I'm saying is if a guy has plans to hang with his friends, and an opportunity arises that involves either a specific girl or the potential of unnamed girls, no friend in the world will blame him for ditching out. They might complain, but that's just because they wish they had the same opportunity, and know they'd do the exact same thing themselves.

So as much as I hate country music, I can enjoy just about any activity if it has girl potential. How else could I possibly enjoy Ultimate Frisbee? When faced with a choice between eating dinner alone at home or enduring some wretched twang in order to meet--and maybe dance with--a few new girls, the code won.

Sad to say, I doubt I'll be going back anytime soon. Country music aside, I've never been much of a clubber, and in my advanced years (as far as the single scale goes), the fear of accidentally hitting on a girl still in high school (or running into one of my current students) gives me the feeling that the country swing crowd isn't my own. As if the Ramones shirt wasn't enough to establish that already.

Events like this are about as fun to watch as they are to get in the middle of. The dancing is set in a small amphitheater-like commons area at the south end of the mall. It's covered in hard tile, and everyone's feet hurt after a while. While the dancers do their thing on the main floor, everyone else mingles around the surrounding half-circle of steps and the area that blends into the rest of the mall. The amphitheater faces a large bank of picture windows that open up on 6th South, and you wonder if anyone driving by, like a friend or a local news team, can see you in passing. All around you have the usual interactions of guys coming up to the same girls over and over again, repeating the same lame jokes that the girls pretend they haven't heard already (though I'm sure a few of them really couldn't remember). Here and there you'll have groups of guys standing around with their arms folded, trying to look cool and casual as wallflowers. Nearby are similar groups of girls, wishing guys would come talk to them, but not realizing that the only guys that like to approach entire groups of girls are high. You've also got your random wanderers, solo artists (like myself) that at least try to keep moving from one end of the floor to another to at least appear involved.

Then you have the dancers themselves. You've got the ones that try to maintain their apathetic cool while dancing, but really wind up looking like they've got a four foot iron pole down the back of their shirts and a slow-working sedative in their stomachs. They're offset by the people that seem a little too enthusiastic as they jump and pivot like they're trying to win a spot on Hee-Haw. Others gleefully take advantage of the opportunity to gyrate like strippers, even though they'd condemn any guy they thought actually went to a strip club. Not that the guys are any less innocent as they perform lifts that are a layer of cotton-poly away from a Bishop's interview. At least it's a way to get your energy out without rioting.

Like I said, I did dance a few times, thanks to a few gracious girls willing to spend at least one song trying to show me what I was supposed to be doing. I tried hard to phase out the music while still paying attention to the beat. The slow dances were easier to deal with. I drew the line at the line dance; I still can't shake the memory of my old friend Brian comparing it to goose-step Nazi marches. Most of the time I felt like I was more of a chaperone than a participant. Ed did his best to help. Ed is the Czar of the country swing scene at Trolley. He does dance instruction for an hour previous to the official start time, and it's very likely he was born in a room that had Hank Williams playing on a nearby stereo. He even wears a wireless microphone during the lessons. Tyler and I wondered if he ever accidentally left it on after the real dancing started.

"Hey, do you come here often?"

Girl stares at him in horror. Ed looks around, puzzled.

"Why is everyone staring at me?"

Ed knows everyone that comes, and he was the one that got me hooked up with a few girls that knew what they were doing. As I started dancing with one of his hook-ups, he assured me that I would like her since "she goes to SLCC". I cringed. I'm positive she's going to show up in one of my summer 2010 classes.

The truth is, country swing isn't all that tough for a guy. You don't have to do much from the waist down other than stand there. Most of it is just swinging the girl around. I wonder how many girls take Dramamine before showing up. I'm sure that with a couple visits I could be pretty good, but what drives me nuts is that every time someone tries to show me a move, they start with one that requires ten different steps. While I'm trying to remember step one and two, the girl has already demonstrated step eleven and twelve, finished the song, and stopped for ice cream on her way home. One of my tutors said that in order to get good you have to commit to it "religiously". I replied that I wasn't ready for a conversion.

By the end of the night I had a few dances under my buckle-less belt and enough red marker on my hand to get on my face and arms by early this morning. I didn't get any phone numbers, didn't embark on any grand romances, but I had something to write about, and for that night, that was good enough.

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April 25, 2005

I've come to a couple of conclusions about this blog thing. First, it's much more interesting to write (and, I imagine, read) if the writer is actually out DOING things. Unfortunately, that hasn't been much of the case lately.

The second is that writing a blog is considerably easier when it is the result of actual human reaction. Many of my favorite writers produce work that is largely a response to feedback from their readers. I don't get much feedback, mostly because I have two readers. But the other day, I did get an interesting question from a friend about the concept of "leagues" when it comes to dating. Specifically, the question was whether or not they exist. Suffice to say, it's much easier to come up with material when it's spawned in response to a real outside question, so now I'm going to post my reply. Here it is:

OK, you asked for it, you got it. Here's Dating 2400: Theory and Analysis of the League Concept...

 

Do I think leagues exist? There are a number of ways to answer the question. If we were to examine the issue through the lens of Marxist theory, the simple answer would be yes. Here we have another classic struggle between warring classes, the wealthy bourgeoisie, who control the means of production, vs. the disenfranchised urban proletariat. In modern terms, we would be referring to the OC vs. the Freaks and Geeks, with the ultimate winner being the OC in terms of widespread popularity in terms of ratings, though the Freaks and Geeks would win the long-term victory through a dedicated cult following and creative superiority. But I don't think that's what you're referring to.

 

I have two primary thoughts on the issue. The first has to do with the context in which I hear the term "leagues" used most often, specifically, "He/She is out of my league." Most of the time in situations like this I think the orator is focused on a perceived notion of a lack of self-worth. They don't think they deserve what they want. Rather than make an attempt to win the affections of their chosen one, they retreat into a haven of self-doubt and justify the action by claiming that "He/She was out of my league, anyway." The response of the object of desire, in this case, doesn't even present itself as a determining factor. The easy cliche to sum this concept up is that "You miss every pitch you don't swing at."

 

I think there may be a deeper issue to discuss, however, and that is my second thought. I used to think this was just a "Girl" problem until I saw the movie "Hitch", at which point I realized it affects both genders equally. This is the fallacial notion that there is some sort of magical formula that if followed, will win the heart of any person at any time. The real world quote is "I've sent him all the signals, why doesn't he ask me out?" for the girls. For the guys, it's the long list of examples from my personal experience where I've unsuccessfully campaigned for a girl's affections.

 

The hard truth, I fear, is that sometimes people just aren't interested. And there is nothing you can do to alter their agency. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but for one's own sanity, they have to realize that an exception is an exception, and can't be counted on too often. Guys (myself included) are notoriously bad at reading signals, but we aren't really the goofballs that Budweiser would have all of us believe. More often than not, the guy just isn't interested, and that probably won't change. Same for the girls. I can't tell you how many personal experiences of my own substantiate this. I think we'd all like to think that if we changed one thing, we would find success, since that would put the power within the realm of our own agency, but unfortunately we have to realize that a second agent is involved, and sometimes that person just chooses to say no.

 

In a religious vacuum, this might be extremely discouraging. That is why I'm so glad to know that there is someone with unlimited powers of planning involved that can get me together with someone that will not only be compatible with me, but reciprocate the same interest and attraction. That bugger we call chemistry/attraction/compatibility/African Voodoo is a tough one to nail down, so I'm glad I'm not the only one flying the plane. The bottom line is that whether leagues exist or not, until further notice we're only asked to find one person to ride off into eternity with. So in the end a 1-151 record is a winning record, since that one win is the only one that really counts.

Not bad, eh? At least it's more interesting than me lamenting about the end of the Jazz season.

More later.

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April 21, 2005

So I'm driving down 5th South in Bountiful yesterday, and I notice the Mrs. Cavanaugh's sign. Nothing new here, anyone from Bountiful knows about the periodic messages on the Mrs. Cavanaugh's sign that have nothing to do with chocolates. My favorite was "Cherry Chocolates $9.99/lb. Beware of New World Order." It was almost as good as the Northern Xposure sign from a few years back: "Best girls in town. Chicken Fried Steak."

This time around the Cavanaugh's sign said: "Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Remember Administrative Assistant's Week." Lest anyone think the Cavanaugh's have intentionally swung left, I submit the Bountiful High School sign from two Christmases ago: "Have a merry non-denominational holiday season." Ah, Bountiful is rife with social commentary. Throw in the helpful sayings on the Community Churches signs around town, and we've got a veritable melting pot of a marketplace of ideas.

I remember a few years ago, back when "Administrative Assistant's Week" was still called "Secretary's Week". My mom won a pair of tickets to a suite at a Salt Lake Buzz game. (The Buzz were a minor league baseball team that was unfortunate enough to come along during a nasty stretch where the good people of Salt Lake decided to give every sports franchise a name that ended with "zz". Truly a dark time in Utah professional sports.) Mom wasn't much of a baseball fan, so she passed the tickets on to me, and in no time I found myself in a Buzz suite with my buddy Jason.

Thing is, I'm not a huge baseball fan myself, especially when it comes to the minor leagues. Like most people, I get interested in the playoffs, because then the games actually count. It's kind of hard to care when a win or a loss gets tossed into a pool of 1,000 other games during a season. So when Jason and I realized that we could watch Game 5 of the Jazz-Rockets series on the TV in our suite, we crashed on the couch and proceeded to take down an endless supply of snickerdoodles. I can't remember if the Buzz won or not, because the next time I walked out to our seats, the game had been over for a half-hour. The entire stadium was empty, except at the suite level, where every single suite was filled with people watching the Jazz game.

The Jazz won that game, but they sure won't be making any playoff visits this year. I watched just enough of last night's season finale to realize that Golden State guard Mike Dunleavy looks just like his dad. And to see that his three-point shooting was going to put a sad stamp on the season for the rest of us. I really hope Sloan comes back next year. It would be a travesty for him to have to end on this kind of a note. I still say he's the toughest guy in the league, players included. Maybe if he does retire, I'll send him some Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

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