Early Sunday morning around 2:00 AM, we were sleeping peacefully when we were woken up by a ridiculously loud banging noise. After the first loud bang, I rolled over and said, "what the heck was that?" This was closely followed by two more loud bangs. Irritated that someone was making so much noise in the middle of the night, I got up to close the windows. I closed the first one and moved to the second. I happened to peek between the blinds as I did so and thought something seemed out of place. It took a minute for my half-sleeping brain to process what was happening. Through our bedroom windows, I could see the neighbors' houses facing ours. On one of them, I could see flames reflecting on their windows.

So I said, "I think someone's house is on fire." Then, as that thought sunk in, I said, "SOMEONE'S HOUSE IS ON FIRE!!!" and started scrambling around for clothes. Dave got up as I ran down the stairs (and fell down the last few) and rushed outside. From the reflection on the windows, I thought the building directly south of ours was the one on fire, but when I got outside, I realized that it was the next building south of that. I felt slight relief that there wasn't really a chance of the fire spreading to our building. Several of the other neighbors were already outside and I could hear one of them on the phone with a dispatcher, so there wasn't really much for us to do except stand around and watch.

Apparently one of the neighbors who lives across the lawn from us has a dog that woke them up, freaking out about something. So the kids got up to see why the dog was acting crazy and discovered the fire. The two kids and their mom rushed around and started banging on peoples' doors to wake them up—including the man who lived in the burning house. He got out without a problem, as did the neighbors on both sides.

The fire was located in the garage. We suspect that the loud noise that woke us up was the garage ceiling falling in. We stood and watched as the fire devoured the man's truck and the ceiling fell in more and fed the fire. The fire department arrived 5-10 minutes after we got outside and they quickly doused the flames. We went back inside because, once the fire was out, it was pretty cold out on the wet lawn. We laid in bed for more than an hour, listening to the firefighters work and waiting for the adrenaline to settle down so we could go back to sleep.

Needless to say, it was a pretty restless night. Dave lay awake thinking, "I wish I had taken my camera out to get photos of the fire." I lay awake thinking, "If our garage lights on fire, we wouldn't know because there isn't a smoke alarm in that part of the house." We have learned our lessons. Dave will always remember to bring his camera when crazy things happen—even if it seems a little insensitive at the time—and I will be purchasing another smoke detector this week to install in our kitchen by our garage door.


Ten Things...

...That Will Get You Blocked From My Facebook News Feed

As I have briefly covered before, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. So much about the social networking site drives me absolutely crazy, yet still I compulsively return day after day. Don't feel too bad if you have committed one or more of the sins below—just try not to be a repeat offender, okay? Besides, I'm sure some of my Facebooking tendencies have elicited eyerolls from a few of my 108 oh so close friends.

10. You don't know the difference between there, their, and they're, not to mention your and you're.

9. You love Cougar football, and you want the whole world to know it.

8. Your status updates are so ridiculously vague that multiple people always have to ask "what's going on?" and "details, please!"

7. Yet updates about your recent bout with the flu aren't vague enough.

6. You never met a post you didn't "like."

5. I have ignored your previous friend requests because I haven't talked to you in 10+ years and have no desire to resume, yet still you persist.

4. You have a mobile device and you aren't afraid to use it to update your status approximately 37 times a day.

3. You end all correspondence with "lol" or "woot woot."

2. You take time out from romantic getaways with your spouse to share the intimate details. I don't want to know that your room has a hot tub, really!

1. Facebook is your outlet to tell everyone what a sad sack life you have.


Wild Thing

A belated thank you to everyone who helped make Eddie's Halloween Costume poll our most commented post ever. But even after Batman had pulled away in the voting, we still weren't totally sure if that was what we were going to do. Then, as I was reading Where the Wild Things Are to Eddie for the umpteenth time on Sunday, I had an epiphany—he could be Max in the wolf suit.

I figured since the movie is coming out in a few weeks, surely there would be a selection of officially licensed Max costumes out there. No such luck.

But Kristen did find plenty of online tips detailing how to make the wolf suit. After mustering her courage with a few trips to the fabric store, she is ready to put her seamstress skills to the test.

As for our poll winner, don't worry, Batman will still get his chance. In a few more years Eddie will want to be Batman on his own accord.


Almost a Great Weekend

We almost went to see Boyz II Men and sing along to all their biggest hits at the Utah State Fair on Friday night. It almost would have made for a classic blog post.

We almost went to the new Olive Garden that just opened by our house, but changed our plans due to the huge crowds and excessive wait. Instead we checked out the nearby Mark Anthony's Italian Restaurant in Riverton. It was almost as good.

We almost ditched Eddie for a weekend road trip to see the Yankees take on the Angels in Southern California.

BYU and Utah "almost" busted the BCS. Allow me to speak for the 1% of the state that isn't a Ute or Cougar fan when I say I'm glad we don't have to endure the nonstop speculation for the rest of the season.

Kristen and her mom almost ran the Daybreak 5K. They walked it instead. Not that I am pointing fingers—I almost joined them, but chose to sit on the sidelines with Eddie instead.

I am almost ready to commit to training for next year's community triathlon.



My Life in Film, Pt. 1

Since our "Movies We Grew Up On" series has been on hiatus due to a creative drought these last few months, I thought I would try out something a little different. This new concept, inspired by a series of articles I recently read on DVDActive.com, works by selecting a defining film from each year of your life. These films may not be the best or most popular of their respective years, but each one has left a lasting impression, and remains a favorite to this day.

In the case that I have already blogged about a film on the list (which is quite a few of them), I have linked it to the corresponding post. For all the others I have written up some brief thoughts. For years where the decision was particularly difficult I have included runners up.

Now—Ben, Scott, Marc, Melissa, Steve—while I am not officially tagging you, I just wanted to let you know I have noticed your lack of blogging lately, and think this post idea could be up your alley. And any one else out there who wants to do this, be my guest. Should you accept the challenge, I found BoxOfficeMojo.com to be a great resource since it lists the top 50 grossing movies of each year all the way back to 1980 (the year I was born, conveniently enough).

1980 // The Empire Strikes Back

1981 // Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982 // E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
Okay, I actually do have a good idea for how to cover this movie in a future "Movies We Grew Up On," so if you don't mind I'm going to save my thoughts until then.

1983 // Return of the Jedi
Luke Skywalker was one of my childhood heroes, but I didn't constantly parade around in his mask from the back of a C3PO's box because of his Tosche Station whining in A New Hope. I did it because of his Rancor-killing, speeder bike-slicing, father-saving, and overall butt-kicking actions of Return of the Jedi. You know what? Scratch all those other costume ideas—Eddie's gonna wear this mask for Halloween.

1984 // Ghostbusters
Since I was such a scaredy cat as a kid, certain parts of this movie used to terrify me. Specifically, the opening sequence in the library, the eggs popping out of their carton and frying on the counter, and any scene featuring those red-eyed demon dogs. The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was much more my speed.

1985 // Back to the Future

1986 // Ferris Bueller's Day Off
One of the seminal movies of the 80's (RIP John Hughes), for a long time we only had the TV version, recorded during the height of the poorly overdubbed profanity era ("...if you stuck a lump of coal *in his fist*, in two weeks you'd have a diamond"). Who out there hasn't wished they were Ferris Bueller at one time or another? He pulls off that leather jacket/vest/slacks ensemble with panache. He gets to tour the greater Chicago area in a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. And to top it all off he can talk to the camera. I mean, how cool is that?

// The Princess Bride
It seems everyone loves to quote this movie. The unusual thing is that pretty much all of the famous lines come within the first 45 minutes. You know, the sequence where Wesley climbs the Cliffs of Insanity, duels and banters with Inigo Montoya, and battles wits to the death with Vizzini, all to rescue Princess Buttercup? But with a first half like that, who cares what happens in the second half?
Runner Up // Raising Arizona

1988 // Beetlejuice
There wasn't much to choose from this year (Crocodile Dundee II, anyone?), so this selection comes with some begrudging. While I do enjoy Beetlejuice, it definitely isn't one of my favorite Tim Burton movies. What the film does offer is an interesting glimpse at a developing artist. In this his second film, Burton's quirky style has started to emerge, but his technical skills are still wildly undisciplined.

1989 // Batman

1990 // Edward Scissorhands

1991 // The Rocketeer
This underappreciated movie is a lighthearted, retro adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones. My sisters took me to see it for my 11th birthday, and the art deco stylings caught my eye before I even knew what art deco was. Plus, a young, ridiculously hot Jennifer Connelly helped kickstart puberty for me. I'm still bummed that potential Rocketeer sequels were scrapped due to its less than stellar box office performance.
Runner Up // What About Bob?

// Batman Returns

1993 // The Nightmare Before Christmas
Runner Up // The Fugitive

1994 // The Hudsucker Proxy

Next: 1995-2001


Eddie's Halloween Costume

October is just around the corner, so that means it is once again time to weigh in on some Halloween costume options for Eddie. This decision may also play a part in what Kristen and I will be. Don't forget to elaborate on your choice in the comments.

This would fit right into my ongoing, multifaceted effort to force my Batman obsession on Eddie. Lately I have been imagining him as a rebellious, angst-ridden teen who has decided to hate Batman just to spite me. Kristen and I could fill out the Bat family as Robin and Batgirl.

Billy Idol
Eddie's wispy blonde hair already spikes up quite nicely. Then we could add some shredded jeans and maybe a temporary tattoo on his bicepl. The main problem I forsee is finding a toddler-size leather jacket with cutoff sleeves. In keeping with the 80's rock star theme, Kristen and I could be Hall & Oates. Who gets to be Hall and who gets to be Oates? That's for another poll to decide.

Since Eddie has recently taken to draping things over his face and wandering around, we could go the bargain route and cut some eye holes in a white sheet for him. Or we could splurge on something more "official" like the costume pictured above. Then I could be a ghostbuster, and, based on the popularity of a recent Facebook status update, Kristen could be Zuul.

Eddie unconditionally loves pups of all shapes and sizes, so this seems like an easy choice. Every time he wore his costume he would undoubtedly feel compelled to point at himself and say "pup!" over and over. But would it be too similar to last year's Chewbacca costume? We don't want to repeat ourselves. Plus I have no idea what Kristen and I would be.


Ten Things...

...That Will Happen by the Year 2015

Just so you know, these fearless predictions are based on a top secret, yet very reliable source. If anyone else has a prediction they would like to make, be sure to leave it in the comments so it can be properly recorded.

10. Stacks of soon-to-be obsolete LaserDiscs will line our alleyways.

9. You might as well quit law school now. All lawyers are due to be abolished.

8. Two words: dehydrated pizza.

7. Clothes will be auto-fitting and self-drying. And if you think that's cool, wait 'til you see the sneakers with power laces.

6. State of the art rejuvenation clinics will offer treatments such as hair repair and organ replacement, and can potentially add 30 or 40 years to your life.

5. Fifteen additional Jaws sequels are set to be released, and this time it's really, really personal.

4. Pets (or maybe toddlers?) can be kept in suspended animation kennels while you are away. They won't even know you're gone.

3. Every room in your house will have a fax machine—even the bathroom.

2. The Florida Marlins will move to the American League, change their name to the Miami Gators, and lose to the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 World Series.

1. Hover technology will finally reach the mainstream. You will be able to hover convert your old road car into a skyway flyer for $39,999.95.


Holy Mackinaw! It's a CATastrophe!

We spent Labor Day weekend at the Barton cabin. Since the cabin does not have TV or the internet, I usually make sure I bring a good book to keep me entertained while we're there. This weekend, however, in our rush to leave, I forgot. Of course there has been a stack of random novels on the fireplace mantle for years, including some Tom Clancy and a copy of Moby Dick. When I realized that I had forgotten to bring any reading material, I looked forward to a weekend of slogging through Moby Dick. However, upon our arrival, I was confronted with the awful truth: Moby was gone... along with all the other novels. Well, all of them except for The Cat Who Had 14 Tales by Lilian Jackson Braun. Left with no other choice, I cracked it open on Friday night and read the first sentence aloud to Dave:
"Phut Phat knew, at an early age, that humans were in inferior breed."
I quickly shut the book and we spent the rest of the evening playing UpWords. The next day, we went to Midway for Swiss Days. When we got back to the cabin, I was once again wishing for a book to read. So I decided to give 14 Tales another chance. In an effort to spread the joy and convince all of you to pick up your own copy of this delightful compilation of cat-themed stories, here is a brief synopsis of some of my favorites:

"Phut Phat Concentrates"

Cat witnesses a theft. Cat concentrates. Crime is solved.

"The Weekend of the Big Puddle"

Brash Americans inadvertently summon boorish ghost loggers. Loggers destroy 7-layer torte. Cat is blamed. Cat's reputation is forever tarnished.

"The Hero of Drummond Street"

Cat drools. Cat smells gas. Cat becomes hero. Drooling problem is addressed.

"The Dark One"

Man and cat have disagreement. Cat trips man. Man falls into ravine and dies.

"A Cat Named Conscience"

Cat makes man feel guilty. Man kills himself. Man's mistress kills cat.

"SuSu and the 8:30 Ghost"

Cat takes a shine to crazy man. Man mysteriously disappears. Cat sees man's ghost. Cat solves crazy man's murder.

"Stanley and Spook"

Evil witch midwife casts spell on human baby and cat. Baby and cat share souls. Cat later dies. Boy goes back to normal.

As you can see, this book is a veritable treasure-trove of fantastic feline fiction. So, if you are a fan of cats who star in ridiculously contrived stories, this is the book for you.

Next on my reading list:


Tacos and other Swiss Delights

While visiting Switzerland as part of a study abroad program in 2003, I gained an affinity for Swiss culture. In the years since then I have heard rumblings about Swiss Days, a two day event held annually in Midway over Labor Day weekend. This year we finally got around to checking it out.

Midway's town square was packed with rows and rows of booths selling crafts. Apparently the Swiss people have gained a good deal of crafting inspiration from Mormon women, because every third booth was selling cutesy wooden signs to promote your family's "forever" status. Meanwhile, our search for some toddler-sized lederhosen for Eddie came up empty.

On the performing stage, an ensemble of tween girls were singing traditional Swiss songs such as "Edelweiss," Abba's "Dancing Queen," and Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American."

By lunchtime we were hungry for some authentic Swiss cuisine. We tried the "world famous" Swiss tacos, which looked suspiciously like Navajo tacos. Other food vendors offered Swiss hamburgers, Swiss chicken sandwiches, and Swiss shaved ice, all of which bore a striking resemblance to their American counterparts.

In case you haven't been picking up on my undercurrent of sarcasm (how long have you been reading this blog now?), we found Swiss Days to be sort of underwhelming. I guess we were hoping for something more uniquely Swiss, rather than your standard county fair spruced up with Swiss flags and "wilkommen" signs.

Don't get me wrong, we still saw some cool stuff. One item in particular we wished we had an extra $350 to spend on was this wooden motorcycle rocker. Our frugal side won out however, and Eddie ended up with a much more modest $6 wooden truck.


The Ghost with the Most

When my sister Christie was preparing for her freshman year of college in the fall of 1992, she innocently purchased a pair of goldfish (one gold, one silver) to grace her dorm room. But as she watched these fish perpetually dirty up their bowl over the next few days, she decided they were more trouble than they were worth and left them for my parents to take care of. Amazingly, Joe (that was their collective name) exceeded the lifespan of the average pet goldfish many times over. These two fish co-habitated for approximately 12 years until Silver Joe died in 2004. Gold Joe lived out the next few years in solitude before finally dying in 2006.

Not long after moving into our house a little over 2 years ago, we decided to get some fish of our own. Our fish troubles have been well documented on this blog. One-Eyed Willy, Admiral Ackbar, Egon Spengler, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannon, Ulysses Everett McGill, and Garth Algar have all tried and failed to survive in our cursed fish tank, with some lasting longer than others.

Around the time that Eddie was born, we got yet another fish (lucky #7). One of the favorite leftovers from last year's fish name poll was Tad Ghostal (the alter ego of superhero turned talk show host Space Ghost). We went searching for the right Tad at the pet store, and settled on a fish that was partially transparent, or ghostly, if you will.

The fish who wasn't there.

It must come down to lighting, because Tad has never looked as cool in our tank as he did at the pet store. And he has never been particularly active either. In short, Tad is boring. This boredom has bred neglect as he has gradually lost several amenities. After not cleaning out his tank for a particularly long time, the water filter and decorative coral were damaged by the surplus algae and had to be thrown away. When we ran out of drops to treat the tap water, we didn't buy a new bottle. Lately we haven't even bothered to turn his light on every day. And he's lucky if I remember to feed him once or twice a week. Yet still he swims on.

After cleaning his tank a few months ago, I plopped Tad back into the water and he momentarily went belly up. When I tapped on the glass he quickly righted himself. Not bothering to hide my excitement I informed Kristen, "I think Tad's gonna die." But ever since then he has been perfectly fine.

Maybe he can't die because he is already a ghost. We might find out for sure when Eddie is tall enough to reach the edge of the fish tank on the book shelf. Either that, or, in a coming day, my parents will hear a knock at their door. And waiting for them on the doorstep will be a small, rectangular tank, wrapped with a big bow, containing one rather boring fish.