Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here we go, Radagast

These are a few off the top of my head--

Q.  Who is a dachshund's favorite politician?
A.  Anthony Weiner

Q.  How do dachshunds count off?
A.  Eenie WEENIE Miney Mo

Contributions welcome!

Happy Halloween

If I had a dachshund--which I kind of wish I did, actually (I would name him Kaiser Soze) (or maybe Gary)--I would be busy making Halloweener jokes right now.


Since I don't, I will share a few early morning snapshots.

Gnome party!

Pull away shot of gnome party!

The most awesome cat who ever lived!

This isn't for Halloween.  It's how I decorate all round.  My style is totally Early Magic.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tales from the crypt

Ken Cannon has a sideline business (for which he receives no payment) of running tours through the Salt Lake Cemetery.  He puts on his Jungle Cruise hat and hops in his Jungle Cruise boat and guides one and all on a fascinating journey through Salt Lake's past.  He did one of these gigs on Saturday for the Alta Club, and he was amazing.  And also he gave me an idea for a column.  Because I didn't have one yet.  And I hadn't been pulled over by any cops last week, thus depriving me of material.

Here it is.  Column!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour

My friend the writer and illustrator Alicia VanNoy Call invited me to participate in a "Blog Tour," which means I will answer the following questions and then tag three other writers I know to post answers next Monday. Sounds fun, right?

1. What are you working on right now? 

A young adult mystery which has taken me entirely too long to write. And it doesn't even have a lot of pages, so I don't know what my deal is.

2. How does it differ from other things you've written.

It's a lot darker than what I normally do. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to write.
3. Why do you write what you do? 

Hmmmm. I don't know. I think I like to write contemporary realistic fiction because it doesn't require homework.   When I write my column I like to write about ordinary daily things that somehow make me laugh or go wtf. Can I say wtf in a blog tour?
4. How does your writing process work? 

When it comes to writing novels, I start with a character that I find interesting. Then I go looking for a story--a problem for that character to solve. Or not solve. When I write picture books, I tend to start with an incident (what happens when you're asked to babysit a fish, for instance) and then turn it into a narrative. When I have to write a column, I think about moments when I was most irritated or upset or embarrassed or whatever and then I mine them for their humor or insight. To paraphrase Wordsworth, humor is generated by powerful emotions recollected in tranquility.

What people who apparently don't have enough to do spend their time doing

They sit on porch swings and take selfies with dead people.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

You know what that is right there?

That's twelve dozen donuts in the back seat of my car, Son.

We gotta big freakin' donut transport going on here.  I'm hauling them to the church parking lot for trunk-or-treat any minute now.  BREAKER ONE NINE!

This is one of the perks of being a Church Lady, don't you know.  Donuts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tiny missives

Over at HTMS Lisa B. has been tearing it up with smart little letters to all and sundry.  I am following her lead because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  And I am sincere.  People give me prizes for my high level of sincerity.  (Thanks, Lisa B. for the idea.)

Dear Princess Kate,

My friends Shelley and Caitlin and I would like to be your visiting teachers.  We will come visit you at the palace and bring you casseroles (including funeral potatoes!) and tell you amusing stories and hold George while you sit on the back porch and have a cigarette break.  We won't judge.  Obv.


Your new visiting teachers

Dear Trib readers who are still yelling at me for sucking up to the cops,

You should try it.  


Someone who can't write about being tazed.  Because I wasn't.

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the bike ride today.  You're right.  It's better to want what you have instead of wanting what you don't have.


Your mother

Dear Sheryl Crow,

Thanks for letting me steal your lyrics.  I used them in that letter I just wrote to my oldest son.


Someone who just listened to a couple of your cds on the way to Logan and enjoyed them all over again.

Dear Doughnuts.



Someone who wants you go get in my belly

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reasoning with dogs

So this morning our big newfie, Zora, just couldn't be bothered to stand up.  She was all, "Yeah, I'll go on that walk with you.  IF YOU'LL CARRY ME."  Which, that wasn't going to happen since she weighs close to 200 pounds and also smells a little bad right now.

So then Ken Cannon started talking to her in his frustrated-but-trying-to-be-reasonable voice, telling her that she had to get up because he had to be in court this morning and didn't have time to mess around with a lazy dog pretending to be a hairy sofa right there in the entryway.

The I-have-to-be-in-court-this-morning argument?  Didn't work.  I don't recommend it for you and your dog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When experiences turn into columns

The funny thing is that five minutes before I got pulled over on Saturday, I was wracking (is that the word I want?  Is it spelled that way?) my brain for a column idea.  Oh, Universe.  You're such a joker.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A few garden shots for your viewing pleasure

In some ways this is my favorite time of year for my garden.  Everything is big and blowsy and all yellowing around the edges.  I'm not a photographer, so there's nothing special about these pictures.  But whatevs.   Enjoy your Monday!

A nice little stand of anenomes

Asters and roses

Asters and roses, part deux

Who doesn't love a Cinderella pumpkin?

More anemones

Statue of boy peeing in memory of all the boys who have, in fact peed in this garden

Leaves on sidewalk

A sea of autumn color

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Boys crack me up.

Last night we went to a fundraiser for our friend Phil Spencer who's wife, Mel, has breast cancer.  Anyway, the Jazz Bear made an appearance and you should have seen all the little boys in attendance go CRAZY right there in the church cultural hall.  They were were squealing and chasing the bear around and smacking each other and laughing up a lung or two.

So I said to Ken Cannon, "I love little boys."

Today Geoff went up to Ken Cannon and said in a fake-earnest-therapist-type voice, "Let's break down some emotional barriers right now, shall we?"  Then he hugged his dad sensitively.

So I said to Ken Cannon, "I love big boys, too."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Logan on my mind

I spent part of the day in Logan and, as always, I found myself wishing I could have seen my dad play college ball at USU.  The old DN writer Hack Miller once wrote that pound for pound, he was the "mightiest man God ever made."  I would have loved to watch him make his crazy mad man hits.

Days like today are reminders, of course, that your parents had huge lives before you came along.  And after you went away.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What husbands worry about

The other day Ken Cannon told me what he worries about if he were to die before I do.

ME:  What's that?

KC:  I'm not sure who will lock the doors after I go.

I didn't see that one coming.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A love song to a childhood friend

That's kind of what this week's column is, I think.  Lucky to have known Gigi Ballif for most of my life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thank you, Universe!

The past few days I've had several conversations that I REALLY needed to have.  It's like the Universe served me up a big platter of Good Advice with a healthy side of So-Pay-Attention-to-This.  Thank you, Universe!

One of these conversations just happened on our morning walk.  Kathy has been talking lately about some of the challenges facing her school this year--which is why her principal asked all the teachers in their faculty meeting last night to list ten things they like about teaching there.  And they all did.  Because they could.  They could all find things they liked.    And the exercise was a useful reminder of that.

This is not (cliche alert!) rocket science.  And if you're in a certain kind of cynical mood, it's easy to go pffft! Whatever!  But the fact is that choosing to be positive while handling difficult situations (which is not the same thing as going into denial) makes you feel better.

Although sometimes denial works, too . . .

Monday, October 14, 2013

The car of my dreams

I already posted this on fb, but I'm posting it here now because I'm serious.  I want this car.  And I'm putting it out there to the Universe.  So listen up, Universe!  I want this car!

Meanwhile, I've been scattered.  I'll try to pull it together and start posting again this week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A day at the Cloisters!

I would have loved to attended this.  New York in particular and the Hudson River Valley in general is gorgeous in the fall.  I used to tell people when we lived in New York that autumn made up for the other three seasons there.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

This and that

First this:  your captions were awesome.  WELL PLAYED!  Thank you.  Ken Cannon had a grand time reading them, and he says thank you, too.

And now that:  so the column I did on Mike Lee has kind of taken off.  At least by my very modest standards.  I mean, I'm happy if I get 50 likes on facebook and a handful of comments when something gets posted online.  I've gotten a bit more attention than that this time around.  My brother called last night to ask how this makes me feel, and I said it's been fun to be Robert Kirby for a day.  I even celebrated by eating a coconut cupcake.

Some of my favorite responses include one where a reader wrote that the coach's daughter just gave Mike Lee a verbal spanking.  And another told me it was my own fault I didn't go to the park because THE PARKS BELONG TO THE PEOPLE and alls I had to do was kick down the barricades--to which I can only say, dude.  I'm not Rambo.

Somebody else also told me to stop saying dude.

This all make me smile.  And you know what makes me smile the most?  I figured out how to use the phrase "can of whoop-ass" in a sentence.  In the paper.

Talked to Lisa B. this morning.  Life is good today.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Ken Cannon did yesterday morning

For the record, he said I could share this picture.  Meanwhile, I think we should try to come up with awesome captions, don't you?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Well, let's see what happens.

Well, it'll be interesting to see what response this one gets. You can never tell.  Sometimes I write a column, thinking I'll hear from a lot of people and I don't.  Other times I write a column, thinking I won't hear from a lot of people and I don't.

So there you have it.

Regardless, I just had to get all this off my chest.

A disturbing experience just now

So my friends and I just went on our early morning (5:30 a.m.) walk.  As we were crossing the street at 4th and K, a car passed through the intersection.  I thought I heard screaming and someone saying "Someone help me, please."  But I couldn't tell where the noise was coming from and if, in fact, I'd really heard what I thought I'd heard.

Then Nancy said, "Did you guys hear that?"  And we all had.  We assumed it came from the car, so we tried to get a good look at it and the license plate, but it was too dark.

This is so troubling.  I mean it could have been a weird dial tone or something--Geoff has one that sounds like a snotty Frenchman chewing him out for not picking up the phone.  Still.  It was weird.  And  I don't know what to do.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A dog named Charlie Brown

You like a good dog story, right?  Well, here's one of my favorites.

My girlfriend Becky and her family had this little mutt named Charlie.  And because their last name was Brown, the dog's name was actually Charlie Brown.  But whereas Charlie Brown the Cartoon was a sad sack, Charlie Brown the Dog ruled the streets of upper Oak Hills, because he was part terrier.  And you know how terriers are.  All bark and swagger.

Charlie Brown the Dog also had a genius for picking out the people who didn't like him.  And then he would torture him.  One of these people was a short round music professor in our ward whose feet used to dangle from the piano bench when he sat on it.  Maybe I'm remembering that wrong, but he always looked a little like Mr. Toad from W in the Ws to me, and (of course) Mr. Toad had feet that dangled.  I say that affectionately.  I loved Mr. Toad in W in the Ws.

Anyway.  Said music professor hated Charlie Brown the Dog, and Charlie Brown the Dog gloried in those ill feelings.  It's like he kept watch all day, so that when Mr. Music Professor went for a tiny walk, Charlie Brown was there to ruin his life.

One night when Mr. Music Professor went for a walk (and I like to imagine that he went at night so he could fly under the radar and escape Charlie Brown the Dog's notice) Charlie Brown rushed him, which scared Mr. Music Professor so badly that he fell down.  Which, okay.  I know that's not funny.  It's not good for dogs to scare music professors and make them capsize while on evening walks.  I'm not THAT insensitive.

However, Mr. Music Professor's response was funny.  To me and Becky at least.  While he lay there on the ground, flailing about, he roared at Becky's mother, "SHEILA BROWN, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN!"

I think this may have been a little bit funny to Charlie Brown the Dog, too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Look what Ken Cannon and I did yesterday instead of going to the Great Basin National Park

We went to the Spiral Jetty where we walked on water!  Because it was all salt!

This is Ken Cannon going, "We walked on water!  Because it was all salt!"

This is me saying, "Julie said I would look skinny if I popped my leg."  Thus!  Leg pop!

This is where the water was supposed to be.  But it's all salt right now.

More not water.

This is Ken going "Look!  I'm standing on the Spiral Jetty!"

This is me--worn out from all the rigorous leg popping.

Yeah.  That looks like water right there.  But it's not.

I think I took this picture by accident.

Hey, Aliens!  The pool party is that way!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

One day I am going to write a ghost story

Because I love ghost stories!

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy the Halloween by reading other people's books.

Have a nice weekend, all y'all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bumper stickers

I just saw a bumper sticker with the Gandhi statement that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.  Which, of course, reminded me of the Seven Psychopaths' Gandhi riff, that goes like this:

HANS:    An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

BILLY:   No, it doesn't.  There'll be one guy left with one eye.  How's the last blind guy gonna take out the eye of the last guy left?

This, of course, is a question I have struggled with for my whole life.  I expect the same is true for you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Miley and Sinead

Today Sara (Happy Birthday, Sara!) told me about Sinead O'Connor's recent open letter to Miley Cyrus, so naturally I was interested.  As I noted over on fb just now, the f-bomb gets lobbed frequently and with great effect in said letter, so if you're squeamish about that, be forewarned.

But I have to say O'Connor's letter really impresses me.  I've given this subject a lot of thought, because it seems clear to me that the post-feminist notion of out-there-in-your-face female sexuality as being somehow empowering for a young woman is wrong-headed.  To me it feels like old-fashioned exploitation in a new shiny package.

Someone like O'Connor can say that much more forcefully and with more credibility than a middle-aged Mormon lady, right?

Rock on, Sinead.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A thought about blogging every day

As you know, I made it a little goal to blog every day during the year of our Lord 2013, and I mostly have.  Many of the posts are fragile, skimpy little things--probably not worth the paper they're printed on (or the internet space they occupy) (or whatever it is we say these days), but the exercise has been invaluable to me.  Here's why.

Historically whenever I've sat down to write, I've felt a LOT of anxiety.  Like enough rushing anxiety to shoot my eyeballs right out of their sockets.  The exercise of writing every day--even just a little bit--has made it easier for me to sit down and get busy on other writing projects.  I did not foresee this as a result of my daily experiment.

And now when I tell writing students that you need to practice every day--just like basketball players or pianists--I will be speaking from experience instead of talking out of my hat.  (Or whatever it is we say these days.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More meter!

Well, all that ranting I've done about parking meters has turned itself into a column.  Awesome, right?

Meanwhile, I have been assigned a new editor at the Trib.  My previous editor, the fabulous Lisa, has a lot of new stuff on her plate due to the recent shakeup, so I'll be working with someone else who I've been told is fabulous, too.

Change always makes me nervous.   Inside I'm still that kid who had a hard time saying goodbye.  To anything.   But change is also an opportunity.  This I have learned in lo these many years of living.