Saturday, July 29, 2006

Smells like teen spirit

I feel like I missed a major milestone in music. I don't know if I was on my mission, or just not around when Nirvana came out and in particular when Smells like teen spirit came out. I have heard Gabby (and Josh and Jared) say the same kinds of things about when this song came out for a while and I was listening to All songs considered, and a featured band was talking about their favorite or most influencial song, and Smells like Teen Spirit was one of the songs. What did it for me was that the reasoning was basically identical to Gabby's.

Gabby has been saying this for years, and the featured band said it too: Once the song came out and the video first played, everything was different. This was unlike anything else before, and everything would be different after; it was as if all the rules for music were now changed.

It wasn't some obscure artist who was awesome and the few who knew about her shared knowing nods.

I never saw the video for "Hey Ya", but I saw a performance on one of the late shows and felt like this was totally fresh and original, felt like it challenged music, I haven't heard anything that was that big and that original since, and it swept the nation. Was that what Smells like teen spirit was like? Or was Hey Ya too fun?

Still love both songs. Can my experience with Hey Ya compensate for missing Smells like teen spirit? Or is it not a fair comparison? Other songs up for consideration?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Etiquette journal: Moving help

So many people are moving in and out of our neighborhood, and I have been thinking about my experience moving out to New York.

When Gabby's brother, Jared, and I drove across country and arrived at our new place in New York, we were welcomed by members of the Elder's Quorum. We were exhausted after driving 10+ hours a day for the last four days. One of the helpers brought a Dominos Pepperoni pizza and a two liter bottle of Sprite and said: "You guys must be exhausted and hungry, why don't you sit down, eat some pizza and take a break, we'll start hauling in the boxes." This was of course extremely nice. They brought in a considerable number of boxes, and we joined them after a much appreciated rest and, of course, we appreciated that they brought some much needed food.

As Jared and I considered this, we thought how nice these strangers were, and how nice it was to be able to arrange an arrival time, and how reassuring it was to talk with a contact on our way out; we checked in regularly, and made a point to be available should they need pertinent information--such as contact numbers, food preferences, etc. to make for a smooth experience.

A couple thoughts occurred that hopefully can help in thinking about moving etiquette: I love pizza, EVERYONE knows that. I also like soda. Now if you were to ask me if I like sprite, I would answer: "Yeah. It's great." If you asked me: "What is your favorite soda?" That is easy too: root beer. By that same token, if you were to ask me if I like pepperoni pizza, I would answer: "Yeah. It's great." "What's your favorite pizza?" Easy: pepperoni and sausage.

So we were in contact with a person who arranged these helpers. We loved the pizza and the Sprite. I guess my question is this: How hard is it, really, how hard is it to make a simple request, like: "Hey, we're gonna be bringing some pizza and soda...what do you like on your pizza? How about soda--do you have a favorite? Really, is it much more difficult to ask what someone likes? It's just a simple--what do you like on your pizza? What's your favorite drink? That's it. Simple. And you know what? It can make a world of difference. It's etiquette, plain and simple.

We are still SO GRATEFUL for the plain pepperoni pizza and the sprite. Yet, I can't help thinking what our experience would have been like had they asked 2 simple questions: We arrive, a stranger brings OUR FAVORITE pizza, and OUR FAVORITE soda. NOW, I would feel really welcomed--who wouldn't?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


My kids won't stop telling this one. We have had to limit their telling to only family members, though.


Who's there?



You eat poo? Gross.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Waterskiing instructions

this is an audio post - click to play

Below is the transcript for the audio above.

Now when you gonna be waterskiing, there are several things that you’ve got to remember. Now, you’re gonna be jumpin into the water, right, you’ll slide your foot into the boot of the waterski, right mate. You might want to put in some shampoo so as to make it easier for you to put your foot in. Then is when the real waterskiing adventure begins, right mate. You gonna be holden onto the rope tight. You wanna hold the rope close to your chest, and keep your knees up too. Don’t let your arms out yet either right mate. When you’re ready to go, you’ll signal the driver of the boat by saying these words: “hit it.” At that point, the driver’s gonna hit the accelerator, the boats gonna be pushin across the water. You gonna wanna keep your ski tip up, out of the water, the boats actually gonna pull you up out of the water, and you’ll be gliding across the water like you were flying mate.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

on getting complicated TV and movie roles

Well, since my last post, I have realized that in order to get more and more complicated TV and movie roles I need to do more accent practice. I feel pretty good about my Australian and Irish accents (well Irish I am awesome, but mostly limited to things Bono has said). Australian I'm pretty good, but I'm great if I'm giving instructions for waterskiing. I really need to work on: Scottish, German, French, South African (Seth Eh'vreekun), and Boston, and of course, British. You know what I could use? Does anyone know of any on-line forums or audio chat rooms where people can practice fake accents? Because that would be excellénte!

On roles that I see myself playing (not neccessarily in the order of preference):
1. I would really like a role where I play a really handsome, tall tennis player who drives a convertible red corvette and is a stock-broker working on wall street. He's the kind of guy who is the envy of every single person in the world, but he is mostly just a determined, hardworking humble man who loves to spend time with his autistic kids. In one scene, he could buy a hotdog from a street-vendor for his kids, then he helps his kids give the hot-dog man a hug, and later in life, the kids remark that that simple act was their favorite experience of their whole life.

2. I would really like a role where a 30-something with a British accent has a blog that is published in the New Yorker, The Economist, and Popular Science. His fan base is loyal, but he starts to doubt himself, and predictably, his self-esteem plummets. Just when he is about to stop blogging, the President of the World asks him to be a cabinet member to oversee blogs and the law. He is conflicted because he had so much self-doubt, yet he desperately wants to help improve the world.

3. I would also welcome playing a retired boxer who has a blind dog that he, ironically, leads. A host of conflicts, and issues surrounding the meaning of 'family' 'faith' 'hope' and 'sacrifice' emerge. The name of the show could be, simply, 'Boxer'.

I have a lot of experience acting. I was in the play Tartuffe, I was Grandpa in "You Can't Take it With You." I was the lead in the Bames Jond series, and recently, I was Simple in "Merry Wives of Windsor" by William Shakespeare. In addition, whenever I teach, I try to incorporate acting. Sometimes this includes dramatic or accented readings of Shakespearean sonnets, other times, its just simply pretending to be a robot. I try to study a character for his/her motives, aspirations, questions, doubts, etc. until I uncover the core of that character's soul. Then acting is simply applying a range of circumstances to that character's soul.

mid-blog crisis

I'm having a mid-blog crisis. Maybe it's because a bunch of people have started blogs and they are way better than mine. Maybe it's part of the nature of a blog to run a course, then to just turn into the same sort of predictable, boring stuff. Maybe it's because I don't like the angle my blog has taken recently, and there is just way too much pressure to keep that up. Maybe it's because I have nothing more to say. Or maybe it's time for me to move into a different medium, say TV, or movies? Or maybe it's because I know exactly what I want my blog to be, I just don't have the ready resources and capital to get it going. I guess I could end it all now (the blog), and leave my Taylor Clark experience as my last public blog expression. But that doesn't feel right. If you don't have anything to say, then you shouldn't say anything, right? But then, I have never had anything to say, and that hasn't stopped me from saying lots of things. Well, if nothing else, this post has convinced me that it is time to look into more, and more complicated TV and movie roles.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Taylor Clark and the Best Christmas Lights

It's no secret that our house in Provo won "Best Christmas Lights in the Neighborhood" in 2000. And the contest wasn't just some lady in the neighborhood that wanted to show us some love; it was official, and included a certificate from the city of Provo.

Of course, Gabby conceived the lighting scheme, and it was pretty simple, just some slightly over-sized white bulbs. We won it not because we over did it, like all the rest of the "competition" but because we stuck with a simple, elegant design, and Salem and I staple-gunned lights according to what Gabby told us.

Gabby wasn't there when the certificate was delivered. The mid-forties Provo City representative brought the certificate when my good friend Taylor Clark was over. (I think he was letting me borrow a jig saw.) When I opened the door, she started reading the certificate and looking at me (and Taylor--though at the time it didn't strike me as out of the ordinary) to verify we were the right people: "Benjamin and G-(look up again for awkward verfication)-Gabriel Blair?" (I'm used to people mis-pronouncing Gabrielle's name all the time, so I wasn't phased).


"Here is your certificate. You won the best Christmas lights in the neighborhood, congratulations."

"Thank you, thank you very much."

I thought nothing of it, but Taylor laughed and pointed out that the lady thought he was Gabriel. And the lights did look really nice.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Any power

If you could have any power in the universe what would it be, and why would you want that power?

Please limit your comments to actual powers that you have seen in either 1. real life or 2. movies. If you decide to describe a power that is not in either of these, but feel strongly that you can make a case for it, please give a brief overview of the case at the beginning, with a fuller explanation later in the text, or a link to a fuller explanation. I have a zero tolerance policy for powers mentioned that don't fit in either 1 or 2, and don't have a case for an exception, and I reserve the right to delete a comment if I don't think it adheres to these simple guidelines. It should be clear that underscoring these criteria, is a basic approach to powers that is grounded in reality or "realistic" imagination (e.g. legitimate superheroes etc.) I also shouldn't need to mention this but feel that I should: any flippant comments will be quickly* deleted, and I may block you as a commenter. Related to this: This post is not an open invitation for jerks to demonstrate why they are jerks. I should say at the outset that I have thought carefully and extensively about this question and feel confident in saying that flying is the best possible power in the universe not including mystic or quasi-religious powers. (And jerks who want to poke fun of other people's religious beliefs and practices, please see earlier note about jerks). Please don't assume that I consider flying as the final answer, because, though I have thought carefully about this, I am always open to new insights. I also mention this as a sort of benchmark to use, because if you mention a power that is clearly not as good as flying, you will have a difficult time justifying that power to people who have devoted considerable time and deliberation to this question. Please do not use this as a forum to investigate the ins and outs of super-hero powers. Though there are likely many fascinating discussions and nuanced understandings that could arise from such a discussion, that is not the aim of this post. This post is not an investigation into all the different powers that exist in the world or in "realistic" imagination. Related to this, the question should not be viewed as an opportunity to show off how much you know about super-heroes or other people with impressive powers. I am not as interested (for the sake of this post) with someone's encyclopedic knowledge about powers (super or everyday) as I am about what you think the best power is, or the power you would most like to have. I realize that this will prevent many commenters from posting because they just can't post anything about powers without showing off how much they know about the powers. To such people, please don't take this post as unappreciative of your knowledge, but rather as having a different aim. Having said this, I look forward to the lively discussion!

*It should go without saying that 'quickly' is a relative term, and just because a comment hasn't been deleted after 48 hours does not mean that it is therefore safe.