Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm Not Sure How I Feel About This Song

My good buddy El Guapo chose Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” for his music of the day yesterday, and I enjoyed watching/listening to it on YouTube. It’s an old favorite that I haven’t heard in a long time. It got me thinking about something I started writing recently, intending to post it here. So I went back and finished…

I have some John Denver on my iPod, and earlier this week his song “Rhymes and Reasons” came up in the shuffle as I listened while walking to class. Musically, it’s a pretty typical song for him, with a nice, simple melody, straightforward arrangement, and his pure, unique vocal style.

I like John Denver, and his music always brings memories of my youth, because my parents had several of his albums on vinyl. (We didn’t own any CDs at the time, mainly because they weren’t invented yet.) I also like Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, and (probably most of all) Willie Nelson.

As I’ve said before, I DO NOT like flower power, make-love-not-war, we’re-all-children-of-mother-earth, pot smoking hippie music. (Let me interject here that I get a kick out of “Alice’s Restaurant” in spite of its overt anti-war theme. I find it original, thought provoking, and very funny.) Anyway, when I listened closely to the lyrics of “Rhymes and Reasons” for the first time the other day, I was a little troubled.

Here is its chorus (after the first verse):
   For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers,
   Their laughter and their loveliness could clear a cloudy day.
   Like the music of the mountains and the colors of the rainbow,
   They’re a promise of the future and a blessing for today.

Following the next verse, the first two lines are unchanged, but the third and fourth lines go as follows:
   And the song that I am singing is a prayer to nonbelievers:
   'Come and stand beside us; we can find a better way.'

Some things I am absolutely certain of. For example, I never doubt the following:

  • Raspberries are delicious. Tomatoes, not so much. Mushrooms are not meant for human consumption—think about it, they’re FUNGUS! 
  • B-52s have always been awesome and always will be. I'm talking about both the USAF bomber and the band from Georgia, but not the "beehive" hairdo favored by the women in the band, which is sometimes called the B-52, apparently because of its resemblance to the bomber's bulbous form. Pretty straightforward, huh?
  • Spring is best. Winter is miserable. Summer is fun but often intolerable. Fall is okay but kind of depressing. 
  • Ewan McGregor is cool incarnate. If he and Catherine Zeta Jones were to mate, their child would be so perfect, mortals could not stand in its presence. (It’s too bad Ewan took his friend Charlie along instead of me to ride motorcycles around the world. I would have been a perfect candidate for that.)
  • Anyone who gets deeply, emotionally involved with any professional sports team is a moron, maybe even a bozo. 
  • The Jaguar XKE is the most beautiful car ever conceived by man. 
  • Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is a genius.

On some other stuff, I’m ambivalent. “Rhymes and Reasons” falls into that category. I want to like it, but I can’t fully. I kind of like it when I listen passively and ignore the lyrics.

Don’t ask me to explain. "Rhymes and Reasons" is musically superior to “Alice’s Restaurant” by any technical measure. Denver’s vocal talent exceeded Guthrie’s. Lyrically, “Rhymes and Reasons” is by far the less revolutionary of the two songs. Applying objective standards, I should despise “Alice’s Restaurant.” But artistic tastes are subjective. We cannot reduce aesthetics to a collection of absolute, black-or-white judgments or empirical quantification. In the words of Ulysses Everett McGill (played by George Clooney) in O Brother, Where Art Thou, “It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.” Amen to that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Bozos

I just added five more nominations to The Bozo List. (Click on the tab above, or here.) They're all bozos we meet while traveling to see relatives, eating a big feast, and shopping for seasonal bargains. Check it out!

Thanks, El Guapo, for providing this week's update.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Best Books I've Ever Read

One of my readers, who writes an excellent blog called THEFLAMEINSIDE, recently became the first to ask me a question on my "Ask Me Anything" page. (Click the tab above if you'd like to follow suit.)

My answer is so long, I devoted a new page to it, on the tab called "The Best Books."

I'll probably add more books to the list from time to time, so check back occasionally.

I also welcome guest bloggers. If you'd like to add your own contributions to The Best Books, say so in a comment or email. I'm at

Elvis, Fast Turtles, and Hand Me That Mockingbird

It's time for another entry in a category I've decided to call Caleb Sez. One reason I like Caleb so much is he's not a conventional thinker. (Check my blog's title.) In the past week he's said stuff both nonsensical and remarkably insightful.

First the nonsense:

Caleb: Hey, Dad!

Me: What?

Caleb: Guess what!

Me: What?

Caleb: Ummm... [Long pause]

Me: Caleb?

Caleb: What?

Me: You were going to tell me something.

Caleb: Oh, yeah. I forgot. Guess what!

Me: What!?

Caleb: Some people call hammers Mockingbirds.

Me: Oh, really?

Caleb: Yeah. In the nineteen-seventies they did.

O-kaaayyyy... I'll just have to take his word for it. I was alive in the seventies. Granted, I was pretty young for most of the decade, but I don't recall ever hearing that. Maybe the less ornithologically-savvy* will confuse a Gray Catbird or a Phoebe with a Mockingbird in any decade, but a hammer?

Nope. I'm not seeing it.

He's said things that reflect a curious view of religious doctrine, but he clearly understands a lot about it. Consider what he told his mother a few days ago:

Caleb: Can turtles run fast if they have enough faith?

Celeste: Yes, they could.

Caleb: I thought so. They must not have faith.

Brilliant! When I heard about this, I said, "My boy is a GENIUS," because it shows not only a keen understanding of the concept of faith (as taught in the Judaeo-Christian tradition generally, and especially in the LDS church), but also perfect application of deductive reasoning.

I guess we could also say that Mockingbirds could drive nails with their beaks if only their faith were strong enough.**


Since I'm already writing about stuff at the intersection of silliness and profundity,*** here's another installment of Stuff George Carlin Said:

" I wonder if an Elvis impersonator could ever get famous enough so that someone who looked like him could become a celebrity lookalike. Is there room in this culture for an Elvis-impersonator lookalike? Probably."

I'm not sure there is. It's an interesting idea, but I think first-degree lookalikes are the limit. I'm absolutely certain we don't have room for a third degree lookalike (someone who looks like a famous lookalike of an Elvis impersonator).

It's like that stupid "Inception" movie about people who can go into someone's dream, and then they go into a dream within a dream. But when they try to go into a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, everything gets fouled up, and we end up turning off the DVD to watch "King of the Hill" instead.


* "Ornithologically-savvy" is perhaps the best term used in my blog so far, and proof I have not mastered the art of brevity.

** The ball peen hammer shown above is not designed for driving nails. I couldn't find a carpenter's hammer for the picture, but you get the idea. The ball peen one is good for seating bearing races and pushing roll pins with a pin punch, more tasks that Mockingbirds cannot perform.

*** They really should put in a traffic light at that intersection. It's getting too busy, and I'm afraid there will be some bad accidents.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We're Not Exactly a "Licensed" Day Care Center

Tonight the Missus went out with her girlfriends to get some dinner and see a teenage vampire romance movie. She deserves it, because she takes excellent care of me and our young-uns, and she very seldom takes a night off.

One of her friends has a little boy who needed a babysitter, so we said, "Why not leave him with us? We planned to stay in. The girls can entertain him, and I'll be around in case any problems arise." So that's what she did. The boy is about one, maybe two years old. I'm not sure exactly. I'm not really a baby expert.

Here is the conversation between my oldest daughter, Josie, and me about 5 minutes after the moms left:

Josie: Oh, maybe he shouldn't play downstairs where all those jars are stacked.

Me: Yeah, bring him up here... [Looking around the living room] Just keep him away from the wire cutters and the soldering iron.

Josie: Right! Our house isn't exactly "baby-proofed," is it?

Me: Not exactly. He has some toys in his diaper bag.

They fixed a snack and then turned on the TV to watch "Gnomeo and Juliet" with him. If I'm not mistaken, it's just like Shakespeare's tragedy of forbidden love, but with more gnomes.

Please don't call the authorities on us. All night, only one glass got broken. It was a complete accident, and the kid was nowhere near it. NOBODY WAS EVER IN REAL DANGER, AND I HAVE FOUR UNBIASED WITNESSES WHO WILL TESTIFY TO THAT FACT.

I am posting this for your enjoyment, knowing the mother probably does not read my blog. And knowing we're really not interested in professional child care, so we have no need for references from anyone who does read it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Super High Tech Computerized Drinking Fountain

Here's another installment of stuff I see that reminds me of other stuff.

These days it seems everything is computerized. Check out this amazing drinking fountain:

From the front, it looks like any other fountain, but look at the top...

I'm not a computer expert, but I think if you click on that logo in the corner, it sends the water directly to your email.

Really Simple Sipping?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Like Ernie's Uncle Sid

In my last post, I put up a few pictures of myself and my daughters. Before doing so, I did not look at them very closely. Just got them off the camera, quickly cropped out the background clutter, and threw them out for the world to enjoy.

I've since gone back and taken a closer look, and it occurred to me that
   I've become Sid Fernwilter.

My hair isn't quite as thin in front or as long in back, but with my cheesy almost-mustache, gut that sticks out past my chest, and goofy smile, there's a real resemblance.

For those unfamiliar with Bud Grace's Ernie/The Piranha Club comic strip, Sid is a greedy swindler, always seen wearing a blue polyester suit. So that's where the similarities end--I prefer greens and khakis, and given a choice, I will always go with flannel.

This is the kind of stuff that inspires cartoonists.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dads and Daughters

I've written quite a bit about my only son, Caleb. That's mostly because he gives me so much great material, stuff too good to keep to myself.

But I also have three wonderful daughters, and this weekend we got to spend some time together.

Last night, Sarah (whom I call Josie) and I slept out in our trailer. It was a wet, chilly, blustery night, in other words, typical November Utah weather. But that's okay, because the trailer has a good built-in heater. It also has AC outlets, so we took a little TV and DVD player out and watched movies until we fell asleep. (Before that, we enjoyed some pizza, sodas, and candy bars.) It was just like camping!

Like camping, but with pizza, movies,
and indoor plumbing 100 feet away.

This morning, Keely, Lydia, and I went to a Daddy-Daughter activity at the church. We had a nice breakfast and made little glass snowman ornaments. Who says dads can't be crafty? It was fun, and hopefully something they'll remember for a long time. (Ensuring this was kind of the point of the ornaments, so I wrote little messages on their backs.)*

The nice thing about these girls is they're pretty
enough to attract the attention of princes, but they
don't mind hanging out with their goofball dad.

* The ornaments' backs, not the girls'

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm Like the Octomom

Check out the tab right above here called “Ask Me Anything.” That page is now all set up! I know, you were on the edge of your seat waiting for it, right?

If blog pages were babies, I’d be that lady in California who gave birth to a whole litter a few years ago.

Please check out “Ask Me Anything,” and I’ll keep making more pages until my womb is empty. (I'm trying to keep up with El Guapo, and that dude has pages for everything! Surfboard and guitar pictures, music, adminisilliness... he's got it all covered. He even has a page about my Bozo List page; how am I supposed to compete with that?)

By the way, if you have something to ask on "Ask Me Anything," you'll have to post it in a comment or email it to me. Unsure how to do these things? You can ask about that too, and I'll gladly walk you through it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Simple Christmas Wish

Over the past few months, I’ve often shared things our resident 4 year old, Caleb, said. (Like here, and here, and also here.)

Here’s another gem from him. He told us his Christmas wish the other night. Can you guess what he wants?

It isn’t world peace. (Enough kids are already wishing for that, so I’m sure it will come this year.)

It isn’t a baby brother. (That’s a good thing, because one of those is definitely not coming.)

Here are his exact words:
   “All I want for Christmas is TOYS.”

He has never been intimidated into shunning materialism, and he’s nothing if not honest.

Thank you for making our job easy, Caleb. Now we don’t have to fret over whether to get you socks, office supplies, or delicious vegetables. “Oh hold on, Celeste… cancel that donation in Caleb’s name to the starving widows’ fund. He says he prefers toys.” Thankfully, that’s exactly what Santa’s elves specialize in.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Nose You Could Hang a Raincoat From

Just a quick post today to share a picture of a little fellow who made me smile when I saw him in a bathroom stall.

I'll call him Pinocchio!

Also, check out the latest additions to The Bozo List. (Click the tab above.)

10 November Edit:

Check this out, folks. I shot that picture yesterday, published it here this morning, and tonight saw a remarkably similar one, posted by my friend on Facebook:

What is it with all these silly coat hooks, and how many more of them will surface?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't Be a Bozo, Check Out the New Page

Hey, folks! Look at the tabs near the top of this page, just above what you're reading right now. The one called "The Bozo List" now has some actual content, i.e., words that I typed. I think you'll like it, but just to be sure, you'd better give it a read and then leave some comments, 'kay?

The other pages will be up soon, cross my heart!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Early Morning Booty Call From My Sister-In-Law

My lovely wife has sisters scattered all over the country, and she often talks on the phone with them.

Recently, she got a call from one of them at about 7:00 A.M., when we were just starting to wake up. I didn’t hear what they talked about, but it was a very short conversation.

Later, she told me her sister had somehow called by mistake, and it might have been something she terms a 'butt call.'

I said, “A what?” and got ready for an explanation that’s either very interesting or totally confusing. I was a little scared to hear what she meant by 'butt call.'

She clarified: A butt call is what happens when you put the phone in the back pocket of your jeans and your butt pushes the buttons, unintentionally calling someone.

“Oh, of course,” I said, “...but people already have a name for this. It’s a ‘booty call.’”

She insisted this is not what’s meant by 'booty call,' but I know I’m right; butt and booty are synonymous.

I just can’t figure out why we got so many strange looks at church on Sunday when I asked her if she’s had any more early morning booty calls. People need to mind their own business.


Here’s Munchausen by Proxy, featuring the always delightful Zooey Deschanel, who declares in song, “I’m not your late night booty call.” (Apparently, she has friends who aren't careful with their phones.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beware: Deadly, Slithering Invaders

It's been several weeks since I last alerted you, my loyal readers, to any horrifying threats to our survival. Always vigilant, I now must call your attention to a story featured on the KSL news website today. Before clicking on the link below, be warned that it's guaranteed to give you the willies:

Yes, it seems hordes (four so far) of baby rattlesnakes (they're even deadlier than the adults!) are infesting a building on the campus of Weber State University. Folks, this is where I go to school! I'm there at least two days a week, and I find this situation UNACCEPTABLE.

It's really no surprise that we have a snake epidemic, because the campus is right on the foothills of some rugged mountains, and it has suddenly gotten chilly here. What I want to know is just this: What are they doing about this frightening problem? The story mentions some vague plans to bring in reptile experts and inspect the building. It doesn't say anything about immediately burning that place to the ground, along with all the surrounding structures in a 200 foot radius, which I feel would be an appropriate response.

Even more shocking is the earlier story, linked within the Weber State one, about a house in Idaho that's infested with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of snakes. What is it with these evil, venomous, legless creatures trying to take over the planet? Rise up, fellow mammals, and take back our homes, our schools, and our cities!

Note: In case it isn't obvious, I've taken a sarcastic tone for much of this post. But I do think they should burn that building.