Saturday, December 26, 2009

Long Time, No See

It has been nearly a month since I last posted. My life suddenly got very busy. Here is a short review of some of the things I've been up to in the last month:

A. I took the LSAT. I still don't know how I did, although I'm cautiously optimistic. If I ever have to take it again I'm going to let you kick me in the crotch as much as you want.
B. I finished Fall Semester. My hippie/magic class was finally vanquished. (Supplementary links dealing with my hippie class - 1 - 2.) Never again will I ever have to "connect" with nature, wonder about how awesome the sunset is, or "communicate" with the "living beings" in my "natural environment." I look forward to putting the next animal I see in a chokehold and yelling at it while I burn down a tree.
C. I played the harmonica (with my cousin Phil who played guitar) at temple square. In an hour and a half we made $43. Plus it wasn't a very busy night, and we were competing with a harmonica-playing hobo. We will be back next year. If you see us next year, I hope you'll give us some money. I'm almost always very poor, and will almost certainly be poor next year.
D. I did the dishes...once...in a month. (I'm not usually this disgusting. I promise.)

Anyway, since it's been a busy month, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reintroduce myself. Please enjoy this survey written and designed for 13 year old girls.

My name is Craig, and I filled out this survey:

1. Will you talk to the person you like on the phone tonight? - Probably not talk, but I do plan on breathing heavily into the reciever until she hangs up.

2. Ever had a near death experience? - Not yet. But when I heard rumors last week that Heroes might get cancelled at the end of this season I almost had an actual death experience. Instead I settled for my frozen heart shattering into a million pieces in a way it hasn't since Anna moved back to Pittsburgh.

3. Where’s your cell phone? - It's sitting next to me on the table, minding its own business.

4. What is the last thing you thought about? - Where my cell phone was.

5. Do you regret anything? - I regret seeing Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I wish I had spent that time doing charity work.

6. If you found out you were pregnant who would you tell? - The U.S. government.

7. What are you going to do this weekend? - Tonight I'm going to a day-after-Christmas party at the Lewis' house. Later I might go see Sherlock Holmes. I'll be hanging out with my brother and sister-in-law. And I'll be going to church with my family.

8. When was the last time you talked to one of your best friends? - Just today.

9. Do you prefer revenge or just pure jealousy/envy? - I prefer revenge. Two of the times I took revenge in high school are still some of my proudest moments. But I'm not confessing to any specifics.

10. Who would you like your next “fling” to be with? - Catherine Zeta Jones. By now she has heard of my last "fling" no doubt, because I have so many "flings." That's me. Having flings all the time.

11. Would you curse in front of your parents? - I try not to curse at all. The only time I am known to curse is when I'm all alone in my car in heavy traffic or bad weather. I have genetic road rage.

12. You are walking to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss told you if you are late one more time you're fired. Do you save the dog? - No, I stop, put the dog in a chokehold, yell at it, and burn down a tree.

13. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine? - I would strip and pose nude right in your face in real life. Chances are when you get home, I will be lounging, nude, on your couch. See if I care.

14. Were you ever a boy/girl scout? - I am an Eagle Scout. I am a member of Order of the Arrow. I have three palms. Give me me a destination, one hour, and a compass, and I will immediately get lost in the woods without fail. You can count on me.

15. Do you think musicals are cheesy? - Actually, I love musicals. And I'm not ashamed about it. Whether or not they are cheesy is a non-factor.

16. Ever won a spelling bee? - Two years in a row (3rd and 4th grade) I cried when I was eliminated from the school spelling bee. Just the thought that anyone could spell better than I could ripped my heart to shreds.

17. What’s the nicest text in your inbox say? - "What, that's like a dollar an hour!!! JK that's awesome. I guess you actually could quit your day job. I had no idea you rocked the harmonica so impressively." - Camille said that. That was nice of Camille.

18. Have you ever been called a tease? - Every summer I wear my white nearly-see-through-when-wet swimming suit just so I can tease others when they catch a glimpse of my milky white thighs...still, despite all my efforts, I have never been called a tease.

19. What are your chances of getting with your crush? - I'd say very high. I've been such a romantic success in the past, after all.

20. Are you stubborn? - About some things. I can be really, unbelievably stubborn.

21. Do you always smile for pictures? - Usually in pictures I make a face that I will eventually regret.

22. Do you have kids? - I don't even have one kid.

23. Do you want kids? - Sooner or later, I wouldn't mind having some kids.

24. Whats your favorite color? - I don't really understand picking one color as a favorite color. All the colors seem totally fine to me.

25. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees? - A swarm of bees. With a swarm of bees I think my chance of escape is quite a bit higher. A big bear would almost definitely overpower me in a physical contest. A small bear, however, would be a totally different story. I would beat the crap out of a small bear.

26. Dance in the shower? - If my roommates aren't in the apartment I will dance in the shower to the point of risking serious injury to myself.

27. Dance in the car? - I actually have a playlist on my iPod dedicated to songs I can dance in the car to. I go absolutely and completely crazy when a dancable song comes on. You would not want to know me if you knew what I look like when I do this. Doubly so for the shower dancing.

28. Are you patient? - No. There are times I feel like I'm about to hyperventilate in anticipation.

29. Ever take dance lessons? - In fact, I took Ballroom Dance and Latin Dance at the University of Utah. I'm not going to lie, I'm a pretty good dancer.

30. Have you ever cried because you were so happy? - The Biggest Loser will bring me near to tears. I think that is pretty close.

Anyway, I hope that you had a Merry Christmas. To win you back over from my month-long absence, I've put together this picture:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A News Turkey Brief

Obama reverses pardoning policy in lieu of recession

Reversing a Thanksgiving turkey pardoning policy first enacted by President George H.W. Bush, U.S. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced in a Nov. 25 press conference that Courage, a 45-pound turkey, would shortly be taken into the White House, cooked and eaten by President Barack Obama, who Gibbs explained was, "totally starving."

Obama silently addressed the crowd, shifty eyed as he slowly retreated back through his front door while tightly constricting the flailing turkey in his emaciated arms. In response to later questions on why the administration decided to flip on the pardoning tradition, the visibly famished Obama said, "Because I was planning to eat that sucker."

Although the traditional pardon was scheduled to take place, Obama, malnourished and pale, reappeared moments later only to retreat once again from the crowd of reporters and PETA officials after surreptitiously stuffing his pockets with complementary rolls.


Final Note: He actually did say, "Because I was planning to eat that sucker." Although, in a different context. If you would like to read the actual turkey pardoning story, you can read it (and watch it) here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Condom Column-Editor's Cut

Two posts ago, I mentioned that I work for the Daily Utah Chronicle. Every year, we put together a special edition issue called The Rivalry Guide right before the BYU/Utah game. I don't really have the time to write loads of columns anymore, but I usually take the time to write one for any type of special edition paper. Last year I wrote about my roots selling licorice at U football games.

This year I wrote about condoms. If you don't think condoms are kind of funny, I am sorry. I promise I will get my mind out of the gutter as soon as possible.

Anyway, this column is already available on U campus, but it will also be included as an insert in both the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News on Thanksgiving. So those of you who have a subscription should be sure to clip it out, and post it on your hope chest. Plus, I have re-inserted one sentence that was cut. So those of you who are reading this blog are getting one additional sentence you can't get anywhere else! Pretty exciting. I don't know what the headline is, so you'll have to use your imagination:




Win or lose, as Ute fans we can leave Provo on Nov. 28 knowing that we are winners.
That’s right, the U scored a lofty ranking as the 107th most sexually healthy campus out of 141 universities rated by Trojan Condoms. There is truly nothing quite as satisfying and rhythmic as leaving a packed stadium chanting in unison, “We’re No. 107! We’re No. 107!” To commemorate this event, U administrators will soon be hanging a new banner between the two already draped over Rice-Eccles Stadium: “12-0 Fiesta Bowl Champions; 13-0 Sugar Bowl Champions; 107…err…Condom Rating.” We have finally arrived.

For those of you wondering how this makes U fans winners, consider the fact that the U outscored BYU by 30 points, its ranking filling the 137th spot. That’s a blowou… err… a really good score. Yeah. Good for us, huh?

OK, it’s time I faced the facts. I can’t live the lie any longer. The truth is neither school did all that well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. As a Utah native, I can attest that it took me several years to recognize the difference between a condom and an irregularly shaped balloon. Imagine the wonder of my first grocery store encounter: “Wow! A whole aisle of balloons! This is AWESOME!”

In high school, I remember health class having a few lasting and traumatic effects. For example, with a deft use of 10-year-old video cassettes, my health teacher ensured I would be too terrified to ever try cocaine or give birth: “OK, so far so good…oh…oh…OK…that’s not so bad…oh…wait…what the…what are they…AAAAH! AAAH! WHAT’S HAPPENING TO HER!? AAAAHHH!” Meanwhile, my knowledge of condoms remained undeveloped:

Craig: So, what about condoms?
Health teacher: What’s that, Craig? You want to watch the STD video again? OK, I’ll just put it up on the big screen…
Craig: No, please! I’ll be good.

That’s not to say I’ve had no experience with condoms. In fact, more than once I’ve used them to decorate the car at wedding receptions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t included in any of Trojan’s 13 rating categories, which included silly things such as “student opinion of health center” and whether condoms and contraceptives were available on campus. Well, that’s the problem right there. Trojan completely overlooked some crucial criteria that both U and BYU students can relate to:
1. Number of students who have wrapped a rear-view mirror in an extra-large condom.
2. Survey of student body to see who can sing a song about abstinence that was learned in high school.
3. Availability of SpoonMe frozen yogurt parlors.
4. Percentage of male students who enjoy watching “While You Were Sleeping.”
5. Frequency of boys asking girls on dates by leaving a cute puzzle on their porch (BYU takes the lead!).

Seriously, what was Trojan thinking? In the meantime, the U and BYU can take solace in the fact that both schools totally wasted DePaul University, which was ranked last place at No. 141. Take that, DePaul! I guess this is just what you can expect when a balloon manufacturer tries to rate universities on sexual health. Plus, its balloons are totally crappy.
We’re No. 107! We’re No. 107! We’re No. 107!


Final Note: If you are at all interested in checking out another column I've written, one of my favorites can be found here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

News With a Beat, Please

A friend who works with me was watching some of these videos, and I couldn't help but overhear. Then I went home, and watched them multiple times.

Basically, these people put voice synthesizers over the news, answering the the major question that has caused my dissatisfaction with broadcast journalism: Can't this news be delivered to me in song? I think it's a really excellent idea. This is how I want all my news to reach my ears from now on. Again, I hesitate to post videos because I think a lot of people immediately lose interest without watching them. But I think if you are true to yourself, you'll realize that not only do you have time to watch these videos, you are very interested in watching them as well.

Warning: The first movie starts a little slow, but it really gets moving once Joe Biden shows up.


Lettuce Regulation and American Blessings



Michael Jackson, Drugs, and Sarah Palin

Final Note: I posted this pretty soon after my last post, so feel free to continue on down and see what it was about. Think it over.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Post Will Blow Your Mind...Literally

I have a friend named Scott. Scott has told me throughout the years how much he dislikes when people misuse the word "literally." For example, Meg Stapleton, Sarah Palin's spokeswoman recently said about Palin, "The world is literally her oyster." Really, Meg Stapleton? There are a few ways you could interpret this. Either Palin has actually magically transformed the world into an oyster and claimed ownership ("See this world? It's not a world anymore, it's an oyster, and it is mine."), or Palin already owns an oyster she has affectionately named, "The World." ("Good evening. I would like to introduce you to my oyster, The World.")

There are some practical uses to knowing the difference. Suppose a person said, "I'm literally going to knock your socks off." Whatever they are literally going to do is going to have to be pretty violent, so watch your back. When I said this post will literally blow your mind, I'm serious...this post might make your brain explode. Continue at your own risk.

For those of you who don't know, I am the opinion editor for the Daily Utah Chronicle. If you are an internet stalker/molester, you can add that piece of information to your Craig-knowledge to help you narrow down my location. I also think you should know that I have rigged my house with elaborate traps and a zipline in the fashion of Home Alone.

Anyway, one of my jobs is to recieve and edit letters to the editor. There are a lot of things I could say about this process (like why people think they can submit a 900 word letter to the editor). Recently I got a letter in response to a photo we printed after the Utes got soundly beaten by TCU. The author titled the letter:

Utes get screwed by TCU Horny Toads...Literally!!!

I certainly hope not. If so, people certainly have been good sports about it. It reminds me of a line from Dirty Work after one of the characters addresses the other prisoners as he is being released from prison:

"You fellas have a lot of growing up to do, I'll tell you that. Ridiculous. Completely ridiculous. Can you believe these characters? Way out of line. Way out of line. Have a good mind to go to the warden about this. You know what hurts the most is the... the lack of respect. You know? That's what hurts the most. Except for the... Except for the other thing. That hurts the most. But the lack of respect hurts the second most. "

Final Notes:
- The Sarah Palin spokesperson quote was taken from a fantastic blog that does nothing but track the abuse of the word "literally." You can find it here.
- Last night I played wallyball, and my legs feel like they are about to break in two...literally.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Major Achievement Behind Me

I am usually pretty good at ignoring Facebook ads and invitations asking me to join my friends' struggles against other Mafia bosses, build a virtual roller coaster, or to start my own farm. However, I totally support things like FarmVille because of their educational value. FarmVille offers 20 and 30 year olds an opportunity to peek into the every day life of an American farmer, which usually goes something like this:


Craig found a lonely Black Sheep on their farm. Oh no!
Craig was farming when a lonely Black Sheep wandered onto their farm in FarmVille. She feels very sad and needs a new home.

Comment . Like . Adopt the Black Sheep!


In fact, farmers spend almost all their time adopting neglected and sad animals. If you have ever been near a farm, it might appear like some harvesting or planting might be going on, but you can rest assured that the resident farmer is wandering around his land locating unhappy animals in need of adoption. "Well, I would do all the farm work, but then who would tend for all these horribly sad animals?!"


And of course, my favorite:


Craig found a lonely orphan on their farm. Oh no!
Craig was farming when a lonely orphan, who most certainly isn't a 33 year old midget prostitute, wandered onto their farm in FarmVille. She feels very sad, can play the piano, needs a new home, and wants to seduce your husband.

Comment . Like . Adopt Esther


Although I'm usually careful to not participate in this stuff, I have recently played a little bit of


I know this is very embarrassing. In fact, when I sent out invitations for people to join my army, I handpicked the friends I thought were less likely to mock me openly. This didn't really work, because Bekah exposed me to public shame last night.

Not to be discouraged, I quickly learned that the world of Castle Age is almost completely populated by extremely well-endowed elf women:


These women don't have time for t-shirts, they need clothing tailored specifically with the challenges faced by elf women in a fantastical world in mind. Clothes like V-neck leather jumpsuits, off-the-shoulder halter tops, and sheer lingerie. You couldn't possibly expect these gals to kill anyone while wearing a pair of jeans.

Anyway, with the help of these magical ladies, I recently killed Gildamesh the Orc King. Soooo...pretty cool... prrrreetty cool. I just thought you should know.

Final Note: Craig understands if you are no longer interested in knowing him.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Message from the Cosmos

One of the things I like to do occasionally is check my horoscope. I'm a Cancer, which says a lot of really significant things about my personality. For example, according to Horoscope.com, my "charismatic marks" are my medium build, round face, prominent breasts, and a tendency to take charge. I totally agree, my breasts have always been really important to me. That's why I recently bought a collection of low-cut blouses. I hope that as a result of this blog people will start paying more attention to my prominent breasts. I have some really charismatic breasts that will no longer be denied your attention!

The website continues to remind me about some of my dislikes, according to the cosmos they are - "Strangers, revealing of personal life, any criticism of Mom." That's true. If you introduce me to a stranger, delve into my personal life, or criticize my mother you run the risk of being smashed to death by an astroid.

Anyway, I would like to debrief you on a few of my current and upcoming horoscopes -

This Week:
This week you'll follow your logic and forget about your innate intuition! You'll find it hard to make sense of a puzzling circumstance on Tuesday. Use your brain cells to understand your life scenario, as the Moon, your ruler, squares foggy Neptune in your zone of inner wisdom. You're ready for a vacation from your responsibilities on Thursday. You'll concentrate on having fun as the Sun conjuncts Mercury in your sector of amusement. You'll do your chores over the weekend.


Oh... yeah... I'll just use the brain cells for when the moon squares in my zone of inner wisdom with... Neptune. Yeah, that's what I'll do. Well of course I will. What else would I do? Oh, and then all the conjucting going on in my sector of amusement. Yeah... saw that one coming. All that conjunction is going to be way cool.


And last, I appreciate the straight-forward prophetic warning, "You'll do your chores over the weekend." I imagine the hopelessness I feel by that decree is kind of how the parents of Oedipus felt. It won't be until after I have finished my chores this weekend that I will realize, "Wait! What have I DONE!?" All of my efforts to avoid doing my chores will in and of themselves condemn me to the same fate. "Ha! I won't do my chores! I'm too busy cleaning these dishes to... damn it!" Chores are my destiny.


After getting a good understanding of how this week is going to go, I was curious to know what the cosmos have in store for my love life. Well I'll tell you. According to the Psychic Guild -
No other sign romances better, equally though, no sign takes it so badly when romance turns sour either. But with their changeable natures Cancerians are fascinating, mysterious, stimulating and extremely alluring. This sign is one of the most magic of all and once their magic has reached you, they are the most beguiling companions. After all, isn't the Moon the most talked about and romantic galactic identity?


So the most important thing we've learned here is that I'm extremely alluring. If you don't think so, it's because my magic hasn't reached you yet. Once it does reach you, I plan on beguiling the crap out of you. You won't know what to do with yourself. And if you don't believe it, well then you have clearly ignored the fact that the Moon is the most romantic galactic identity. Face the facts, I'm an extremely alluring, beguiling sort of guy. That's right, I'm one of the most magic of all the signs, you never stood a chance. Doubtful? Well maybe you forgot about this!


Final Note: Feel free to share your sign/horoscope and what cosmic truth it tells us about yourself. But if you don't want to, fine. I understand, because if anyone tries to get any personal information out of me, they are crossing the bounds of my cosmic dislikes, and I will pray that they are eventually smashed to death by a shooting star.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Halloween Movie You've Been Dying to See

Every year, my friend Jon makes a short film for Halloween. This Halloween I was able to be in his movie. Since this is my second short-film appearance this year (for the first, click here), I'm hoping to star in at least one more so I can start releasing the Craig Blake DVD Collection. I need you to all start thinking about movies you could make for me to be in.
Again, I always hesitate to post videos because I feel people see a video and think, "I have no time to watch this video." But follow your heart, and I think you'll find that you do have time for this video. Plus, you get to be exposed to Craig... ACTING! It's like all your wildest dreams are coming true.

Warning: This is not a comedy. This is serious stuff. Wipe that smile off your face.



Final Notes:
- I suggest watching this film in full screen. But what do I know?
- I mispronounce one word in this short movie. I don't think you will be able to tell.
- Go ahead and vote on the loosely-related poll! To the right, down, and straight on 'til morning.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Propaganda Strikes Back

In July I wrote a blog post about propaganda. I really love the way old propaganda posters look. And as far as propaganda goes, communists know how to make it look good. I'm sure being a communist has it's ups and downs, but capitalists don't get to be in posters like this:


I'm pretty sure the text at the bottom is translated as, "Communism! Hell yeah!" I'm sure holding a machine gun in front of a huge red star would make me feel pretty fond towards Mother Russia myself.

Here is an example of some capitalism propaganda, for comparison:

There isn't even one machine gun or big red star in this poster. I don't feel united with these people. How can I? Not even one of them is holding a sickle, or clenching their fist above their head.

Anyway, I have stored up a few more propaganda posters, and I think it's been long enough to post a few more. I want no complaints.

1. Propaganda From World War II Allies:

I think the Chinese really had a handle on propaganda. My favorite part about the one on the left is that it doesn't seem to have any major agenda other than just covincing Chinese people that being Chinese is pretty cool. Is being Chinese getting you down? Check out these guys, they're all pretty pumped about it.
I imagine the Chinese writing on the poster to the right says something like, "China: We are making magic potions" or "Women, do your part in the war effort. Invent a magical potion."


















Continuing China's currently spotless propaganda record, I like the message this poster is trying to send, which I think is: "China, we've made elaborate costumes for all our children." And last in the category, here is a poster Canada produced when they were trying to rally the cartoon animals from Bedknobs and Broomsticks to fight in World War II. If I was a timid Canadian, this would certainly drive me to enlist, "I was nervous to enlist before, but that was before the anthropomorphic sword-wielding beavers joined the army."























2. Axis World War II Propaganda:
Both of these explain pretty well why the Allies won the war. The Nazi's would have been better prepared for our mainland attack, but they had tailored their defensive strategy to protect solely against the devastating onslaught of the United States' Ku Klux Klan military robot, driven by the commands of one bugling American Indian. Big mistake.
Second, the German's apparently thought U.S. soldiers were vampires. So when actual Allied soldiers showed up, they probably just let them pass, "Oh... no you can go through. We're on the lookout for our vampire enemies." Big mistake.























3. My Current Favorite:
I love the concept behind this poster. Basically this was the U.S. admitting, "You asians all look the same to us." I'm sure after this was printed everyone in America was like, "Oooh... so that's what the Chinese look like!"



Anyway, I hope after looking at these posters you've taken all these viewpoints to heart. If the draft ever returns, you can enter the armed services without fear, knowing that you will be fighting alongside beavers with swords. And that, at least, is comforting.

Final Notes:
- Craig doesn't necessarily agree with any of the propaganda above, except anything produced by the Chinese.
- Here's an optional music video by the Pet Shop Boys that has some nice propaganda looking stuff in it. It also illustrates how all communist-looking propaganda guys look very strong, and the appeal of holding your hand in a fist in unison with a bunch of other people or marching while carrying a red flag with a bunch of strong men wearing white leotards.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Oregon Trail Travel Journal


Lately I've been dabbling in Oregon Trail II. I think most people remember playing the classic Oregon Trail in elementary school. Back in the day you would watch your little wagon with two oxen trek across the plains, trying your best to ensure nobody in your party dies.

Oregon Trail II is pretty much the same, except it shows your party crossing the plains with a birds-eye map view, and there are loads of additional options. For example, you don't have to go to Oregon at all. You can go to Salt lake City if you want, or a few cities in California. Plus, the jewel case on Oregon Trail II clearly states that this game is for "Ages 10-Adult". I fit snugly in this category. Anyway, with an intent to travel to Sacramento, my wagon companions and I set out on the Oregon Trail earlier this week.

First of all, who would lead our team? Not me. The last time I appointed myself as wagon master I drove us in a 400 mile circle, and was later fired by the wagon train. (Which is the most embarrassing way to lose Oregon Trail II... I would have much rather the entire group die of diarrhea, and I can only hope they did after they fired me.)

Since I had already failed, I couldn't think of anyone else better equipped to head this trip than Candace Cameron, who starred as DJ on Full House:


With my wagon master position filled, I went about filling the rest of the team.

1. Craig B. - I might be disgraced as a wagon master, but I still have a pretty good handle on when you should clean and dress a wound in the event of a bear attack... which is nearly always... considering your other option is to fill the wound with sulfur.
2. A 14 year-old boy named David - I decided that at least one of the people travelling with us should be an actual pioneer. David fit the bill.
3. Hermione Granger - I was thinking that as long as Hermione Granger was a part of our group, we might be able to expand our options, like so:
Broken Wagon Wheel
- Try to repair it
- Replace it from supplies
- Trade for a replacement
- Ride safely on the back of magical hypogriffs all the way to California
4. Karl Malone -

5. Spawn - It hasn't happened yet, but I anticipate that I'll eventually recieve a notice somewhere along the trail that sounds something like:
The lord of Hell has sent demons to kill you.
- Stop and gather wild fruit
- Caulk the wagon and float
- Have Spawn spitefully send them back to Hell with a bunch of totally bad-a guns

Here is a picture of our team right before heading out on the trail, plus two children who got in the way:

Independence Missouri, April 1852
First of all, oxen apparently only cost $11 in 1852, so I bought 20 of them. I figured that if every part of our wagon broke, we could all resort to mounting an ox and riding him to California individually.

The first challenge of the trip happened seven days and seventy miles away from Independence, when I realized I had failed to buy a gun. So we turned the wagon around, picked one up seven days later, and headed back towards California. At this point I was very happy to not be the wagon master. I'm sure all the wagon train's anger was deflected from me, and onto Candace Cameron.

After reaching Nebraska without too much trouble (besides Spawn getting a bad cold), we discovered an abandoned wagon which we searched for useful items, turning up a ladle. YES! Thank the fools who left their ladle behind! Haha! A ladle was something we had been unable to purchase in Independence, and we would no longer have to experience the extreme suffering caused by crossing the plains without a ladle. Luckily we were able to benefit from the misfortune of some ladle-less idiots somewhere down the trail.

After discovering the ladle, I tried my hand at hunting for the first time on the trail. One very lucky thing about travelling the Oregon Trail is that bears often wander laterally across the open plains of Nebraska. Obviously this isn't a very good simulation of reality, and I think, a downgrade from Oregon Trail I's hunting program which quite a bit more accurately depicts the behavior of wild animals, consisting of running haphazardly through the woods until they run into an object (usually a cactus or rock) forcing them to turn 180 degrees and run the other direction, as wild animals are prone to do. Also, once shot, animals in the original Oregon Trail would roll over on their backs in the same fashion as actual wild deer lie on their backs when shot. Anyone who knows anything about hunting can support what I'm saying.
I soon dispatched two bears, who were practically loafing around, for 300 pounds of meat, but I was only able to carry 186 pounds back to camp. I guess the designers of this game didn't realize that it wouldn't be a challenge for Karl Malone to wrestle both of those bears into submission and rip their arms off, let alone carry them both back to camp.

Suddenly I found our wagon train running into loads of rivers. You have a few options when crossing rivers:
1. You can ford the river, by just forcing your oxen to drive through it
2. You can caulk your wagon, and float it across
3. You can take the ferry or toll bridge if they are available
4. You can hire Indians to help if they are available

I had trusted the indians before, but I feel like every time I hire them to help cross a river my wagon tips over in the water, and without fail I lose my only checkerboard (which I'm always very careful to buy). I don't think this is coincidence. I think the Indians love checkers.

Something you might not know about every river in America is that they are plagued by maelstroms that bounce back and forth between each shore. Should you ever in your life plan to cross an American river, be sure to avoid the maelstroms. Otherwise, your vessel will tip over, and you will lose any checkerboards you have on deck.

We reached Salt Lake City on July 15, 1852. We kept going and soon enough we were crossing the Bear River. Unfortunately, I nearly drowned in the crossing, caught in one of Americas dangerous maelstroms no doubt. In fact, Candace Cameron recorded in her own journal: "July 20 - Craig B. gave us a good scare by coming close to drowning. I decided to continue." This doesn't really surprise me, since the only swimming techniques I have ever mastered are the sidestroke and the elementary backstroke. I'm sure everyone got to shore safely while I was still laying on my back screaming, "Soldier, monkey, plane! Soldier, monkey, plane! Why oh why did I only manage to learn these two very ineffective methods of swimming?!"

Unfortunately, I assume as a result of our difficulty crossing the Bear River, David suffered internal bleeding. Finally, I decided to "Administer laudanum." I have no idea what laudanum is, but it sounds like some sort of medicine. I imagine this is how the actual pioneers handled their injuries:
Pioneer 1 - Hey, David is bleeding internally, what do we have?
Pioneer 2 - Well... uhhh.... we have laudanum, epsom salts, peppermint, or we can increase his activity.
Pioneer 1 - Ummm... well, let's just try the laudanum.

David died a couple days later, but I still stand by my decision to administer laudanum.

Months later we arrived in Sacramento. After settling for a while, I was able to (I assume magically, and with Hermione's help) look into the future of Candace Cameron, which read -

"In 1852, Candace Cameron settled on 688 acres of land along the banks of California’s Sacramento River.
Despite some hardships in the early years, Candace Cameron proved extremely prosperous, steadily acquiring more land and becoming a leader in the growing community.
Regrettably, several of Candace Cameron’s descendants—including a major figure in an early twentieth-century government and business scandal—have managed to tarnish the family’s good name."

I'm not surprised to be honest. After settling for a bit, we turned around and tried to make it back to Salt Lake City (which is something you can apparently do in Oregon Trail II... this was news to me). This trip wasn't quite as successful. The wagon train eventually fired Candace Cameron while we were crossing the Utah Desert... which ironically is where I was fired two weeks ago. I checked out Candace Cameron's journal later, and found there was all kinds of stuff she was keeping from us. Take, for example, her comments on eagles:

April 2 - Saw eagles today near Lone Elm. What majestic creatures!
April 21 - Saw eagles today near Red Vermillion. What majestic creatures!
June 15 - Saw eagles today near North Platte River. What majestic creatures!
July 22 - Saw eagles today near Bear river.What majestic creatures!

I'm totally pissed she didn't tell me about all those times that she saw eagles! What kind of person sees a bunch of eagles, and doesn't tell everyone else?

Worse, Candace Cameron apparently hid some other things from our party:

April 4 - Enjoyed a cup of coffee with Mr. Lumare today at noon near Blue Mound.
July 15 - Mr. Lumare figured we would reach Great Salt Lake City today, and he was right.
October 22 - Mr. and Mrs. Billings came by for a visit today near Big Meadows; had a very nice chat.

Who in the world are these people? I was never told about any of them. This means Candace was either, 1. Insane, or 2. Undermining our wagon trip from the very beginning with these sinister, mysterious people.

It doesn't actually say what happens after the wagon master is fired, but I can only assume she died of diarrhea in the Utah Desert.

Final Note: Don't forget to vote on the new poll! Hot dog!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Stroll Down Memory Lane With Craig

The other day some friends of mine were going through their yearbooks to find what they had written to one another. For the most part this ended in embarrassment. I shudder to think about the ridiculous things I might have written in other peoples' yearbooks. However, this did cause me to be pretty interested in my own yearbooks, and I went through them the other day.

Today I decided to reveal some of my favorite entrees. I have left out the names and phone numbers. Also, I have excluded the usual, "Call me" except in a few cases that I feel it was an important part of the message. I also colored all the yearbook messages in green so you can tell them apart from the rest of the post. Enjoy!


1999 - Eastmont Middle School - 7th Grade


"Craig, Sup? Your cool K. I won't kill anyone ecept you! ha! ha!"


- A friendly gesture! This person didn't actually sign their name, and I can only assume they are still planning to eventually good-naturedly murder me. Everyone else is safe, however. Put your fears to rest.

"The Brownie's in the mail - still love ya"

- This young lady was getting an early start practicing for her future integral role in the Relief Society. It isn't hard for me to imagine this message typed on pink cardstock and tied with a ribbon to some sort of affordable and unsatisfying candy.


2000 - Eastmont Middle School - 8th Grade


"CRAIG! Hey you are seriously going to be a heart breaker when you get older! I mean it. Stay sweet until next year"


- Unfortunately for this 8th grade gal, by the time the next year had rolled around I had become a cold and bitter individual. Also, in a roundabout way she was able to point out that I was currently totally failing to break the hearts of 8th grade females.

"Craig, Thanks for doing an awesome job in Health. I appreciate having students like you. YOU GOT AN "H"!

- Yes, I had my health teacher sign my yearbook. This could easily have been the reason why I wasn't breaking as many hearts as I had hoped for. The other reason is that I was short, skinny, and kind of a dork. But I think it was mostly because of my health teacher.


2001 - South Jordan Middle School - 9th Grade


"Craig. you suck you Jackass"

- This wound has never fully healed. Just like Frodo after he was stabbed on Weathertop.

"Craig, your the biggest pimp with the ladies!"

- Another friendly gesture, but unfortunately based upon no evidence. Subsequently, it wasn't true. More correctly he could have said, "Craig, you're the biggest pimp at collecting Spawn toys and merchandise."

"Graig, you are so nice,"

- I had many close friends during my year at South Jordan Middle School.

2002 - Bingham High School - Sophomore


"Craig, Keep going the women and you will hopefully get one sooner or later"

- Yet again, a person shows confidence that I can get a girlfriend. This sort of support gave me the fuel I needed to launch into my successful dating career you have all heard about, no doubt.


"Craig - Hey stud! Next year is going to be way fun!"

- This seems like a perfectly normal thing to say in a yearbook, right? Now consider the fact that this girl once stole a pen from me one year previous, and refused to give it back! I can only assume she still has it. Take this as a lesson that I will remember every time you have wronged me and take it bitterly to my grave.

2003 - Bingham High School - Junior


"Craig: Why are you so hot! I love you to death! you are so cute! Your smile and laugh makes me melt like a popsicle on the 4th of July! Call me!"

- It is my largest regret that I never took advantage of this glowing review. The next time someone tells me I make them melt like a popsicle on the 4th of July, I will be well-prepared by my past failures. Live and learn.

"Craig, From what I've heard you are a slutty, slutty person. And I will have nothing to do with that - Trent"

- I am identifying Trent, because I don't think he'll mind. I think this message was a good idea. That's all I have to say about that.

2004 - Bingham High School - Senior


"Hope is necessary in every condition! The last thing a fish will notice is water!"

- I assume this girl had discovered my secret plan to dive in front of traffic right after signing yearbooks. I hope she got a comfortable job writing greeting cards.
"Craig, Man I wish we would of had classes together this year. Call me"

- Very nice. Especially considering the fact that this person had told me my bleached hair looked like a cat had "pissed" on my head in my 9th grade yearbook. He was right all along.

Final Note: This picture is a good way to remember my high school career.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Isn't nature the coolest? Aren't fireflies the coolest?

The other day when I wrote about the first writing assignment for my MAGIC! class, Jaime and Mickael requested that I post the completed paper here on my blog. I turned it in last week, but I figured I'd hold onto it for a little while. Afterall, I did post something just yesterday, and I wanted to fill some space between posts. Kind of like when a girl texts you, but you wait a little while because you don't want her to think you are too eager to text back... no? I don't do that either. Mostly because girls don't text me.

Anyway, I decided not to wait. But I hope that you will still consider reading and commenting on the blog post I wrote yesterday. You can find it by scrolling down a little, or if you are especially lazy, by pressing this button.

Final Pre-Paper Note: I think it is only honest of me to let you know that the part about a man with hooks for hands was added afterwards for your reading pleasure, because I didn't have the guts to include it in the actual paper. If you don't understand the context of a man with hooks for hands concerning this paper, press this button. That button will also be useful if you aren't sure what this assignment was about in the first place.
Also, I know this is a little different than most posts, but that is because I don't get graded on most blog posts. Have a heart.
This was originally typed in 12.5 size font.

Wonder and Fireflies in Story City


My concept of fireflies was formed almost exclusively by Disney. Growing up in Utah, where fireflies are either sparse or nonexistent (I’ve never really been able to tell which), I actually never saw a live firefly until I was 19-years old.

Thanks to the dazzling technology of video cassette I was exposed to some of the more predominant activities of fireflies, mostly consisting of floating silently around the forests of Never Never Land or terrorizing the garden of Mickey Mouse. Apparently fireflies were prevalently loafers and vandals. Judging from my keen childhood observations, two things were certain: fireflies were closely related to fairies, and by some force—most likely magic—managed to stay permanently aglow.

When I moved to Iowa I remember nearly every relation or friend at a loss concerning what I could expect, except for two recurring topics: corn and hogs. And while corn and hogs most definitely dominated a large portion of my time in the Midwest, fireflies commanded my attention for the few pre-harvest months when they swarmed the fields of rural Iowa.

Corn was certainly an imposing force, and a field could literally stretch beyond my eyesight. Once you reached the end of that field, another one began. Local farmers earnestly claimed that corn grows fast enough that some nights you can hear it grow. I did spend some time attempting to tune in to these claims, but apparently my ears aren’t yet trained to pick up the frequency of growing corn. Regardless, the endless corn fields of the Midwest probably deserve a longer description of their own.

Hogs were indisputably in control of my sense of smell. On windy days the air would be thick with the compounded stench blowing into our town; usually home to two or three thousand individuals who were able to share this character-building experience two or three times a week. Needless to say, my relationship with corn was quite a bit healthier than my relationship with hogs. Although I’m sure the hogs, who spent their entire lives within the confines of a man-made aluminum compound, might return the sentiment. It is lucky for humanity that some especially gifted hogs are able to escape this numbing existence and harness their often untapped potential for sheep herding.

But as impressive as the corn was, and as potent as the hogs were, fireflies had the advantage of having already grabbed my attention and curiosity by being featured in at least one version of Peter Pan, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, and a short cartoon starring Mickey Mouse and Pluto.

The first night I finally spotted a real firefly, I quickly realized that at least one of my childhood assumptions was false: fireflies are not constantly lit—they blink. This didn’t disappoint me so much, although I had to face the realization that Walt Disney had ultimately betrayed me. My ability to get over this minor loss was helped along by the fact that there were thousands of them. In one night, thousands of fireflies had mysteriously managed to invade every corn field surrounding Story City, Iowa—corn fields which, we have established, often stretch beyond the horizon—like they had just been there all along, and maybe they had been. They would float over the top and in between the corn, over the road, blinking on and off in small, hovering circles. The image of countless tiny white lights hovering at eye level, at ground level, at waist level, is about as near to magic as I can probably hope to ever get, maybe even surpassing the thrill of being rescued by a man with hooks for hands, and contingent on me putting aside my hopes that Quidditch will one day be a reality. At least in that one aspect Peter Pan hadn’t totally led me astray.

I was completely and thoroughly impressed. There have been just a handful of times that I have felt so sincerely taken-aback by nature to label it “awe”, and that night was one of them.

Later at my apartment I wrote in my journal. First item of business: “Fireflies blink on and off—must put an end to Walt Disney’s campaign of misinformation.” Second item of business: “It is pretty strange how a flying bug that blinks on and off has the ability to make a person that much happier.” And I was honestly thrilled, which again, I found pretty interesting. The presence of thousands of bugs in my surrounding area, a situation that I generally take great pains to avoid, had a pretty profound and positive effect on my mood. I was thrilled every night for about two months, as the number of fireflies in the air slowly diminished bit by bit until they were finally gone.

Final Notes:
- This is the first time I've ever posted over four times in one month. I feel pretty good about that.
- Whenever I carry a gun, I nestle it between my breasts like the woman in this Facebook Mafia Wars ad.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

That's a Nice Butv You Have There

Problem:

I own a Motorola phone that is constantly thwarting my texting efforts. My phone is endowed with a interpretive text function that is supposed to help it learn what I am most likely trying to say. But apparently my phone is a little squeamish, because, when typing "butt", my phone will first offer me "butv", followed by "but8". (At this point you might be wondering why I'm talking about butts so often. Consider these possible text sentences -

- Hey, you have something on your butt.
- Nice butt.
- I have a butt.)

Finally, on the third try it will produce "butt". Oddly enough, the second I throw an "F" afterwards, my phone immediately and accurately predicts that I want to call someone a buttface.

What drives me the craziest, is that butv and but8 are not words. I want to know what phone programmer sat down to program my phone and thought, "In the occassion that someone dials 2-8-8-8, I assume they are having a discussion about butv's."

- Hey, there are butv's all over the place.
- Quit goofing around with that butv.
- Have you considered some of these butv's?

But the trouble doesn't end there. Whenever I try to say "Hey", my phone quickly picks up on the fact that I very well might be trying to say "Hew". And if not Hew, then I am most definitely talking about a "Hex". I am glad Motorolla is catering to the needs of ax-murderes, gardners, and magicians.

When I try to talk about a taco, my phone realizes that I'm probably trying to communicate my feelings about tabo... which is a Philippino alternative to toilet paper. All of this from a phone that can perfectly interpret when I want to say "Nintendo64". (Something Bridger shared with me about his phone years ago, but I hadn't experienced until now.)

This needs to stop. Whoever the ax-murdering, gardner, magician, philippino, Nintendo 64 enthusiast who is programming these phones is, he needs to be stopped.

Monday, September 14, 2009

'Headlines' or 'Confessions of a Paperboy'

Before the Internet became a major contributor to my life, I read the news. Once upon a time I made it a point to read the newspaper every day. I think this is mostly because I was a dedicated paper boy between the ages of 8 and 15, and so we got a free newspaper subscription.

If I had to slog into a dank, cold warehouse at 4:30 a.m. every morning for several years and be accosted by my middle-aged manager who wanted to shove brownies in my mouth, take my picture so I felt like I was a member of the paper delivery community, smile inches from my face and try to motivate me to be a happy paperboy as I looked forward in dread to the remaining long years of soul-sucking paper delivery, then I was going to take advantage of the free newspaper. Now I shudder at the thought of the 40 year old paper delivery manager who thought she could make delivering papers at the crack of dawn enjoyable for anyone. I remember most conversations going something like:

Manager - Hey guys! Good to see ya! Here, let me take a picture...SMILE!!... I made some brownies! Put them in your mouth! Have fun! Paper delivery can be fun! Paper delivery in the cold, cold rain can be fun! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Put this brownie in your mouth at 4:30 in the morning! Force this brownie through your digestive system at 4:30 in the morning! You're part of a team!! Work! Try! Have Fun! Be Your Best!


Craig -
In fact, I was 19 years old before I completely washed my hands of all paper route responsibilities. Had this image-tarnishing secret been made public, it probably would have made it difficult for me to make and maintain meaningful relationships with my peers.

Anyway, the point of the story is I used to read the newspaper. Now I just peruse the online news headlines under "top headlines". I love what the Internet considers the "top headlines" of the day. I usually don't read the stories, I just like reading the headlines. This means I'm a lot less informed when it comes to things of importance, but I'm a lot (very minutely) more informed about things that do not matter... which is nice. This is where the real news is. Here are a few of my recent favorite headlines:

(I like to read this one as if he was actually just shocked by the behavior of a 20-year-old)


Final Notes: Once my brother Curtis and I (who jointly ran the paper route for a long time) won the "Best Paperboy of the Year" award from the Salt Lake Tribune. We were really good paperboys.

The paperboy profession is quickly going extinct thanks to an influx of single, overweight papermen. Oddly enough, this makes me feel a little sad.

Also, I thought Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech was pretty bad, which was disappointing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Magical Update

In my magic class, as I've begun to refer to it, we finally got our first actual paper assignment. This is a huge step forward, since up to this point we have only been responsible for reading some books and writing down our observations in a notebook that no one but ourselves will ever look at. The honor system is really a great system. On the print-out explaining our assignment are typed a few pretty fantastic things.

First - From a line describing the page length, "Aim for 2 - 4 pages total, TYPED (12-point font or larger, please!)"
- 12-point font or larger? Really? Because it might surprise you how large I can type. I can't wait to turn in 4 pages of 64-point font.

Second - There is a section where she wants us to brainstorm a few "Moments of Wonder". She explains what we should do, and then proceeds to give us a few basic examples. Here is the description -
"Think about times when you have been astonished by something you encountered in the natural world or your personal environment (clouds, snow, cold, mosquitoes, bees, cliffs, modrona trees, a river running gold with tannin, a coop full of pure white pigeons, subalpine firs that had become snow ghosts, a man with hooks for hands who came to your rescue, reflections of tre..." wait a minute! A man with hooks for hands who came to your rescue?! Is this a pretty common occurence in other peoples' personal environments? Because my personal environment is a real let-down.
I cannot wait to begin my 64-point font paper with, "There have been times in my life when I've been astonished by the clouds and snow, but what really comes to mind was the time when a man with hooks for hands came to my rescue."
I very nearly lost myself to a 10-minute fit of laughter at this point in class and only curbed it by averting my eyes from Bridger, who I think was having a similar problem, and thinking, "Dead puppies, dead puppies, people punching me in the face, people punching me in the face."

Other noteworthy class items: The kid who talked about his efforts to rescue quails last week has changed his efforts to rescuing the snails who live on his driveway. He stepped on one and could "feel the pain" that came from the snail, and is now on a crusade.

I'm pretty sure my teacher is convinced that I can and should learn to talk to squirrels at the same level that I am now able to talk to humans. I am going to get right on this.

Here is a picture of me with hooks for hands coming to your rescue:


Final note - My Quidditch poll has been the most successful yet. Way to go. Feel free to continue voting so I can correctly gauge your support for future Quidditch activities.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dreams Do Come True

I really love Harry Potter. The fact that I'm currently enrolled in a class that spends a large portion of it's classtime discussing magic, awe, and wonderment has only made me think more about Harry Potter. If there is any doubt in your mind that I'm serious, I dare you to say it to my face:


Most people underestimate how intimidating I am when I'm dressed as a wizard.

Anyway, of all things Harry Potter, I really love Quidditch. I have spent a good portion of my life mastering the Playstation 2 game Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup. I seriously wonder if I am the best player of this game in the entire world. I would not doubt it. I really would not doubt it. The moments you spend playing me in this game will be among the most humiliating and miserable moments of your life.
Because of my unusual ability, and maybe a little bit because I specialize in a very mediocre six year old video game, it has been difficult to find anyone willing to actually play Quidditch World Cup with me for several years, so I've decided it's time to move on to the next level of Quidditch, and I've finally found it. Here it is:



This could be the best idea I've seen in a long time. I desperately want to do this. And I'm not joking, anyone who wants to do this should contact me immediately.

Final Note: Go ahead and vote on the Quidditch poll. Go ahead and do it. This arrow will direct you to where it is --------------------->

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taking Wonder and Magic to a Collegiate Level

Today I sat down in what I expected would be my least favorite class. I'm an English major, and occasionally I have to deal with Critical Theory. Critical Theory is basically studying the different ways you can critique literature by employing exciting methods such as Marxist theory, Feminist theory, Deconstruction, and more!
I'm kind of pessimistic about Critical Theory, because although it can be very useful in the hands of a reasonable person, it can wreak havoc in the hands of overachieving English majors, like this:

Marxist Criticism - "Have you noticed how this WHOLE BOOK is about how capitalism is the worst!? Gosh, I just HATE capitalism! America totally blows!"

Feminist Criticism - "Have you noticed this WHOLE BOOK treats women like they're just a bunch of dumb broads!? Have you noticed how women's bathroom signs force women to wear dresses... as if I can't wear pants if I want to like a man?! Like maybe you think I'm not as good as a man! Do you even care?!!"

Deconstruction Criticism - "Have you noticed how everything in this book means, like nothing... but like everything too!? It's like the whole word is like... nothing. Wow, like I always thought that might be true, but maybe there is no truth... it's so crazy isn't it?"

All of these things make my brain want to implode, and that is what I expected when I entered my class, since it had been billed as a Critical Theory course.
Little did I know I had actually comitted to 15 weeks of


MAGIC, AWE, AND WONDERMENT!


The syllabus actually labeled it "Ecocriticism, Wonder, and the Spiritual Imagination", but as the discussion continued, I immediately translated our main areas of study to be MAGIC, AWE, AND WONDERMENT! I soon realized this was a class designed to teach me how to take my awe and wonder with nature and magic to a collegiate level. This was helped by the fact that I'm pretty sure this woman is my professor:


Anyway, since I was awed, amazed, and wonderfied during most of our discussion, I imagine this class is doing just what it set out to do, and I figured I would present to you my translation of what I'm pretty sure the syllabus actually meant according to 1. What I heard, and 2. Things she said while commenting on the syllabus. I am keeping as much original material as I can:

ENGLISH 5910 - Fall 2009
Magic, Awe, and General Wonderment!

Professor: [Censored]
Room: TBA
Phone: Sit in the forest, wonder at nature, and call my name with your mind or send me an e-mail. (Use with discretion: PLEASE NOTE: There are many times when i do not check e-mail for a full week (or even more) because I am busy consulting the bones in a canoe somewhere in the wilderness.

If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, it is available at video stores. If you haven't stuck your tongue into Al Gore's mouth, you should drop this class.

You will also need one notebook to use as a secret journal to write down things you think about. No one will ever check it or hold you responsible. It can be the size and style of your choice, including completely invisible to everyone but yourself. I prefer sparkley folders.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
Today's writing experiment: List twenty things you "couldn't live without." Then list twenty things you could easily abandon, and twenty things you believe you could leave behind if absolutely necessary. If you can't think of twenty things, do less than that. If you don't want to do this, then okay, because Buddha wouldn't want you to rush it.

Start reading The Miracle of Mindfulness, the first 35 pages are about MAGIC! Start doing some MAGIC! If you don't want to read all of those pages, just read what you want, because Buddha thinks you should work at your own pace.

Rescue a family of Quails

Start being amazed with nature!

The American with Disabilities Act If you have a disability, talk to me after class so I can reassure you that when your feeble body causes you to die an untimely death your body will become the grass, and the antelopes eat the grass, and we eat the antelope.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other noteworthy things about this class are:

Bridger is in it with me, and can be my witness that this class sounds an awful lot like I have described. He also shared in our "getting-to-know-you" portion of the class that he is really good at basketball.

In our class is a boy who opened his mouth twice, which resulted in:
1. Complimenting a classmate
2. Complimenting our teacher
3. Telling a story about how he is in the process of rescuing a family of Quails
- I cannot wait until I can count on this student to give me compliments.

I am unbelievably excited about this class, and am very relieved that it isn't a standard Critical Theory course.

Final Note: Here is a picture of me rescuing a quail -

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Feelings of Telemarketers Are Tender

I wrote this as a column for the Daily Utah Chronicle's Openings Edition. You can go ahead and read it. If you are itching to read the column at it's place of origin, then go ahead -

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nobody likes telemarketers. The way they fly through the Russian night sky, cackling as they snatch little children from their beds and eat them, hiding away in their houses made of human bones and supported on dancing chicken feet! I’ve had enough of their witchy ways. In Slavic folklore, the…oh, wait a minute. That’s not telemarketers, that’s the Baba Yaga. My mistake.

After spending the past two summers working as a seasonal telemarketer, I still get the two confused. Old habits die hard.

A 2008 Gallup Poll ranked telemarketers as the second-most hated profession in the United States, right behind lobbyists, and just above Chupacabra. The ranking fell between the two this way, I assume, because while most telemarketers are repulsed at the thought of influencing Congress to act on behalf of special interests, most wouldn’t shy away from sucking the blood of goats. Anyway, aren’t lobbyists the worst? Always...lobbying stuff! Always trying to lobby stuff all over the place! Gosh, it makes me just furious, just plain furious!

But in case that didn’t distract you from your distaste for telemarketers, maybe you should consider some of the nice things telemarketers do for the world every day. For example, my daily summer commute to South Jordan is doing its part to help fund the economy of Saudi Arabia. And I also smile at people when I’m on the phone. Sometimes I try to say something amusing as long as I’m not getting the vibe that they might throw a hatchet at my face if given the chance. See, that’s three things right there. Some of us even limit the time we spend kidnapping babies and feasting on the blood of infants to when it is absolutely necessary.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken a job at a call center. I once worked for a company that conducted compelling 30-minute phone interviews concerning turkey products. This was met by a lot of resistance by the local community, who carefully guarded their turkey information: “Is that the guy who wants to know about our turkey again? Don’t tell him a damn thing!”

For several weeks I painfully pried information regarding which brand of turkey people purchased, where they bought it, how often they ate it and more from the clutches of St. George residents. “Where did you get your turkey? Was it moist? Did you like the taste? Was it moist?!”

I often found the best way to conduct a good phone interview was by taking the path of least resistance. This resulted in conversations that went something like the following mostly-fact-based conversation:

Craig: Hello, this is Craig calling on behalf of (some company), may I ask you a few questions?
Phone Answerer: This isn’t a real person, is it? Is this a robot?
Craig: Umm, yes. This is a robot.
Phone Answerer: Wait, is this really a robot?
Craig: Yes, and if you don’t answer my questions, I’m going to come to your house and drill out your eyes with my drill-hands.
Phone Answerer: What are the questions about?
Craig: Turkey products.

If you think it’s rough having a strange man on the phone delving into your private turkey business, try to imagine the horrors of questioning people on the subject of turkey for many hours a day for several weeks. Isn’t that punishment enough? Compound that with the eventual realization that I possessed the expertise required to be hired for this job at the age of 15.

However, there are some very valuable things I’ve learned from telemarketing. For example, nearly all the residents of Utah wake up in the morning and attend a four-hour meeting between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., coinciding perfectly with my work day. This meeting strikes the perfect balance between casualness and professionalism to allow a person to answer their phone during the meeting, but only to inform the caller that they are in a meeting: “Oh, this is a telemarketer? Oh, I just answered the phone to say that I’m in a meeting and I…err…can’t talk…except for now…just to tell you I can’t talk.” I’ve never been invited to this meeting, but that probably has something to do with why I work as a telemarketer during the summer.

Next summer, with my English degree in hand, I plan on being able to acquire a job that is not listed as one of the top 10 most-hated professions, but would still value some of the skills I’ve learned over the past two summers. Maybe there is a Baba Yaga position open.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For Your Consideration

Here are a couple things I've decided I don't like:

Numeric Messages - Over the summer I work at a call center. One of the things I occasionally find is the line going dead, and then a robot woman telling me that the person is unavailable, and to prepare to send my "numeric message". This is convenient, because I was planning on just leaving a numeric message over the line anyway.

Phone Answerer: Hello?
Craig: 5, 84, 17, 2, 139, 16! Figure that one out.


Sales on Honey Bunches of Oats... and nothing else - I feel like the only cereal on the planet that ever goes on sale is Honey Bunches of Oats. And not the good kind with the fruit, it's always the other kind that nearly no one actually likes to eat. Occasionally an edible cereal will mark down their prices, but to make up for that, Honey Bunches of Oats is ALWAYS on sale. It's like all the Honey Bunches of Oats that were ever made were made 20 years ago, and they just have this huge reserve of it that they can't get rid of.
Because this is the only cereal on sale 9 out of 10 times, it is one of the only cereals I ever buy. I even used to enjoy it, but the taste bud massacre caused by over a decade of Honey Bunches of Oats in my mouth has killed any interest I once had in this cereal. Please, can't someone else have a sale?


Love Shack by the B-52's - Was this song ever even popular? I have a suspicion that there was never a time that anyone liked this song. Somehow it has been forced upon the unwilling public for about 20 years. I have heard Love Shack on the radio this summer several times, and it just leaves me wondering what DJ is out there thinking: "You know what I think people would love to hear right now? Love Shack."
If you have any doubt on how bad this song actually is, here is a video of the B-52's performing it at their induction to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, just before the entire state of Georgia imploded -



The PC Laptops Kid - This is another result of my exposure to radio this summer. I've heard loads, and loads of PC Laptops radio commercials. I can usually handle the HILARIOUS antics of the regular PC Laptops guys, but I have to put my foot down with their new annoying children commercials. For some reason these kids can't talk at a normal steady pace, and they sound like this - (Imagine nasally, annoying kid voice) - "I love my... brand new PC Laptops... computer because... I can upload... videos and pictures... of my... family and friends. One day... I'm going to be... a computer... programmer... and make video... games." At this point it wouldn't be a stretch for me to begin hyperventilating and pass out, waking up hours later in a flaming wreck next to the freeway. It's like the kid can't read a script of more than four words at a time. I wish I could hold this child over a tall building and scream: "Say it normal! Say it normal or else! Diversify your inflection or reap the consequences!"
These kids are the worst.

On the other hand, here is a thing I like -

The Generationals - When they fight, they fight (This is a different version than their album recording, which is better, but I hope it demonstrates how nice this song is)



Final Notes:
- I've recently been asked by two people who do not know each other if I anonymously write Confessions from a Mormon Bachelor Pad. I don't. I really don't.
- You might have noticed that my most recent poll ended in a fierce deadlock between two people. One of those people was me. This is evidence that my blog is a success.