Falling Domino's

Recently I have noticed new commercials for Domino's Pizza. They are promoting that they have changed their pizza recipe from the ground up (and essentially admitting that their old pizza was crap). But they're so confident in their new and improved pizza that they have put a guarantee on the box offering to refund your money if you aren't satisfied.

Now, I have lofty standards for my pizza. But hey, if they've made these improvements, I'm willing to give them another try—especially if they are promising to give my money back if I'm not happy. Some Domino's coupons arrived in our mailbox yesterday to seal the deal.

Let's walk through Domino's so-called improvements. The crust? It's the same flavorless, spongy mass, only now it has been masked with a little garlic butter around the edges. Does the sauce taste different? A little. But is it an improvement? Hardly. The cheese? Now they're using 100% real mozzarella! Well, what the heck were they using before?

Normally I would just shrug off this disappointment, but I had a stressful day and felt like seeking a little retribution. I picked up my phone and redialed Domino's. A teenage employee answered, asking how she could help me. I explained I wasn't satisfied and wanted my money back. "What was that?" she replied. I politely repeated my request, calling her attention to the guarantee on the pizza box. "Can you please hold?" she asked.

So I waited, presumably for a manager. A minute went by. Then two. Then three. I got the message. I hung up the phone slightly amused, reminded of a scene in Tommy Boy. "Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box 'cause he wants you to fell all warm and toasty inside. Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of crap. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time."


Giving Up the Ghost

April 2008-January 2010

Tad Ghostal died suddenly of unknown causes this past weekend. His parents, Dave and Kristen Barton, have admitted to cleaning his tank for the first time in several months just prior to his unexpected death.

Renown fish expert Dr. F. Nemo is speculating that this cleaning may have upset Tad's ecosystem—a carefully controlled mixture of tap water and scum-covered pebbles. Being plopped into a clean tank could have given the little fish's body such a jolt that he simply gave up the ghost.

Tad was not a particularly active fish, and his translucent body often inspired onlookers to ask, "Is there even a fish in there?" But comparatively speaking, he lived a long life, approaching an almost unheard of two years.

Tad is survived by his parents, Dave and Kristen, and his brother Eddie.


Catching Some Waves

Like many, I have been riveted by the late night talk show drama that is currently taking place on NBC. Not riveted enough to stay up past my 10 pm bedtime to actually watch any of the shows mind you, but at least enough to read the latest headlines and check out the YouTube clips of David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel unloading both barrels on Jay Leno. But that's not what this post is about.

As I have been pondering Leno's "hallowed" career, I was reminded of a time before he hosted the Tonight Show—the late '80s and early '90s—when he was a spokesman for Doritos. Yes, the so-called "King of Late Night" honed his impeccable comedic timing hawking bright orange, MSG-laced tortilla chips. But that's not what this post is about either.

You see, those old Doritos commercials got me thinking about other prominent snack foods of the early '90s, such as the purest of all soft drinks, Crystal Pepsi. Soon I was pulling up its Wikipedia page and something I read jogged my memory:
In 1992 PepsiCo introduced Crystal Pepsi to test markets in Denver, Colorado; Sacramento, California; Dallas, Texas; and Providence, Rhode Island and had a positive response.
I actually remember when some friends from Colorado came to visit us in the summer of '92. When they told us how they had tried Crystal Pepsi, I was insanely jealous. A few months later, when I started the odyssey that is Junior High School, I was in for a few surprises. One being that I was now being forced to shower after gym class, but another was soda machines at school... and they were stocked with Crystal Pepsi!

That night I cracked open my Tootsie Roll bank in search of a few quarters. As the next school day ended I ran to the Pepsi machine so I could enjoy a ice cold can of crystal gold on the school bus ride home, but it was all sold out. I continued this pilgrimage for days (DAYS!) until it was finally restocked and my very own can came rolling out. I boarded the bus, pulled back the tab, and took my first swig. It tasted like... like... regular Pepsi.

Alas, the world wasn't ready for Crystal Pepsi. Or Crystal Gravy for that matter. But that's not really what this post is about either. So what the heck is it about? Oh, nothing really. Just another productive day surfing the web.


2010 Coming Attractions

2009 was a lousy year for movies, at least according to my specific tastes. The #1 movie of the year prominently featured the font Papyrus. Michael Bay continued to mock and mangle my childhood with his crappy Transformers franchise. And don't get me started on those sexy vampires and half naked Indian werewolves. 2010 looks much more promising. Because you are dying to know, here's a few films I have high hopes for:

Alice in Wonderland

Release Date:
March 5
Tagline: You're invited to a very important date.

There are a few things you can always depend on when a new Tim Burton movie comes out. It will be visually stunning, with plenty of gnarled, swirly tree branches. And there will be some wild, new Johnny Depp character (in this case, the Mad Hatter). But Burton will also be exploring new territory in Alice in Wonderland, using a combination of live action and motion capture animation for the first time. Burton has never been a big special effects guy so I'm interested to see how he handles it. I'm also curious about the direction of the story, which isn't going to be a straight retelling of what has already been told countless times. It is actually being approached as more of a semi-sequel, taking place some years after Alice's original trip to Wonderland. Just as long as it's not another Hook.

The A-Team

Release Date: June 11
Tagline: There is no Plan B.

Here's yet another big screen adaption of a favorite childhood TV show that I am looking forward to against my better judgment, given the track record of similar properties (i.e The Dukes of Hazzard, Transformers, G.I. Joe). Surely Liam "Mentor" Neeson will lend some gravitas as Hannibal, the cigar-chomping leader of the A-Team. But if the movie doesn't feature countless rounds of ammunition being fired without anyone actually getting shot, or at least one scene where the bad guys roll their car half a dozen times only to climb out totally unscathed, I will be very disappointed. The first trailer does seem to have fully embraced the goofy spirit of the show. I have two words for you: Parachuting. Tank.


Release Date: July 16
Tagline: Your mind is the scene of the crime.

For months now, Christopher Nolan's follow-up to The Dark Knight has only been described as "a contemporary science fiction action thriller set within the architecture of the mind." Given the lack of details, many were speculating early on that Inception was actually Nolan's next Batman film. The trailers have been refreshingly vague, content to only hint at the overarching story while offering tantalizing glimpses of the mind-bending special effects. A recent feature in the L.A. Times further characterizes the film as part international thriller, part story of madness and lost love, and part metaphysical heist movie. Nolan also cites the globetrotting sensibility of the James Bond films—not just geographically, but within the dimensions of time and reality as well. Oh Christopher, you had me at metaphysical heist movie.


Ski School

One of my friends from our ward, Jane, has organized a blog for the ladies in the neighborhood and puts together a Girls' Night Out every month. She does a great job at getting people together and making everyone feel welcome. It has been a lot of fun. I have gone to one or two of the activities in the past.

Yesterday, we went skiing. You can ski for free at Alta from 3:00-4:30 PM every day, and you can rent all the equipment (skis, poles, and boots) for $10. I have never skied before, but have snowboarded. I was never very good at snowboarding because I am really afraid of hurting myself. I thought that for $10, I could try skiing just to see if I liked it.

We got up to Alta around 2:30 to rent our equipment, so we beat the rush and were able to get on the hill by 3:15 or so. There were six of us skiing, and two of us were complete beginners -- though I had a slight edge on Lally because I had at least been to a ski resort before and knew the basics of getting on and off the lift.

Michelle, Kjersten, Sidney, Jane, Me, Heather, Beka, and Lally

Then, up we went. We skipped the real bunny hill that has only a tow rope, but went for the next hardest hill. The lift ride takes 10-15 minutes so Michelle (who has only been a few times before) and I had plenty of time to get all psyched out about getting off the lift without killing ourselves. By the time we got to the top, we were both really scared, but managed to make it off the lift without too much trouble. The problem after that was that we were at the top of a mountain with very little idea how to get down without injury.

Luckily, Jane was there to help. She helped Michelle and I figure out the basic idea of how to turn and how to slow down. Lally was terrified, so she skied the run hanging onto Jane's waist. It probably took me 30 minutes to get down the hill, but I made it and only fell down about 3 times. Pretty good for a first run! I was amazed at how much easier skiing is than snowboarding. I didn't have to worry about catching my edges or getting stuck in the flat spots (those poles are lifesavers). We made it to the bottom and got right back on the lift for a second run. Luckily, we were just in time. We made it to the top just before they shut the lift down for the day, so we got two runs in. That was all my poor leg muscles could handle anyway.

After our second run, we gathered in the lodge to enjoy some hot chocolate and get to know each other better. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to hang out with these ladies again. I am also working on convincing Dave that he needs to try skiing... so hopefully we'll be going again this winter.


Homemade Salsa

We got this recipe from my sister Christie a few years ago. We haven't bought premade salsa since. We typically have most (if not all) of the ingredients on hand so it is super easy to throw together. Plus, it has a great fresh taste.

• 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
• 10 oz can diced tomatoes w/green chilis
• 1/4 cup chopped onion
• 1-2 tbsp diced jalapeƱos
• 1/2 tsp garlic salt
• 1/2 tsp cumin
• 1/4 tsp sugar
• Fresh chopped cilantro

You can dictate the spiciness of your salsa with the amount of jalapeƱos you include. Add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend to desired consistency. Makes about 5 cups.


How Firm a Foundation

The tile in our entryway has been cracked since not long after we moved in. This was actually the primary catalyst for wanting to install new flooring, but we didn't get around to the entryway when we did the kitchen back in November. We did pull up some of the pieces of broken tile and found that the crack was also in the cement below.

We called our Community Association to have "Maintenance Mike" (as Kristen has dubbed him) come take a look at the crack since the structure of our house is supposedly covered through our HOA fees. His "expert" analysis was that since the crack was inside our house, it was an inside issue, thus not covered by them.

Hoping to finish our floor installation this past weekend, we pulled up the rest of the tile and discovered that the crack was quite a bit bigger than we thought. We also pulled up the corner of the carpet to confirm that this giant crack does, in fact, stretch all the way across the front of our house. Not wanting to simply cover up the problem (after all, we don't work for Holmes Homes), we decided we had better have it looked at again to make sure that the front wall of our house wasn't about to fall off. So, instead of finishing the floor, we spent the weekend joking about our house being condemned.

Today, Kristen once again called in the experts (aka "Maintenance Mike") to take another look at our problem. He came and spent a good 30-45 minutes explaining all sorts of things about foundations and footers (and retrieving a roll of toilet paper that Eddie kept chucking at him). Apparently the crack is just a gap between our footers (which are holding up our walls) and the concrete slab.

His theory is that when our house was built during the winter four years ago, the builder poured the footers, then poured the slab, which contracted in the cold weather and left a gap between the two pieces of concrete. A responsible builder would have filled in the gap before slapping a house on top of it (but this is Holmes Homes we're talking about).

There is no evidence that the crack has shifted or spread since it formed, which means that it was there before the flooring was laid down in the first place. We just need to fill in the crack and level the floor. But just in case you happen to stop by and find our house has been swallowed up by the earth, at least you will know why.


The Drive-Thru Diet

Over the past year and a half I have lost about 20 pounds through tired old methods like eating better and exercising. After maintaining my weight (for the most part) through the holiday gauntlet of goodies, I currently reside right around 212 pounds. As weight loss is a common New Year's resolution, I have now set my sights on getting down to an even 200.

As I was pondering how to achieve this goal, a commercial from Taco Bell's new Drive-Thru Diet campaign shined upon me like a beacon of light. Apparently Taco Bell now features the female equivalent of Subway's Jared. Her name is Christine Dougherty, and this is her story:

As you know, the Drive-Thru Diet® menu is not a weight-loss program. It's about making different choices. For me, I didn't want to cut out my fast food so I started choosing Fresco items from the Drive-Thru Diet® menu and making other sensible choices. I reduced my daily calorie and fat intake by 500 calories to 1250 calories a day, and, after two years, I ended up losing 54 pounds! These results aren't typical, but for me they were fantastic!
Wow, Christine, you talk just like a real person would. Sign me up! After all, I would be dumb not to leave my diet plans in the hands of the restaurant that created "Fourthmeal" (that's the meal between dinner and breakfast) and offers tantalizing menu items like the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito.


Ten Things...

...I Have Learned From '80s Music Videos (Part 2)

After assembling my first '80s music video tribute last January, I had nearly enough leftover bits to comprise a second installment. But for whatever reason I never finished it, and it sat on the shelf for close to a year. Lucky for you, a round of 80s Scene It? on New Year's Eve sparked me to dig up this long lost post. (NOTE: I would recommend revisiting Part 1 since it sets up a few of the jokes below.)

10. If you can't find any flower pots, creative use of hair products can be just as memorable and budget friendly. I Ran (So Far Away) // A Flock of Seagulls

9. Some of the top musical performers of 1985: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and... Dan Aykroyd? We Are the World // USA for Africa

8. It's amazing what you can accomplish with some clever choreography and goofy costumes. Oh and did I mention lots and lots of drugs? True Faith // New Order

7. Video never would have killed the radio star if people had first caught a glimpse of The Cars' frontman Ric Ocasek. You Might Think // The Cars

6. Man, that David Lee Roth is such a tool. There is no way he's going to make it as a solo artist. California Girls // David Lee Roth

5. It takes a lot of mullets to save Africa. Also, who else but Bono could sell a line like "Well tonight thank God its them instead of you." Do They Know It's Christmas // Band Aid

4. Wow, is there no limit to what we can achieve with these newfangled computer graphics? Dire Straits // Money For Nothing

3. Even something honorable, such as recording a duet for charity, has the potential to become, as my friend Spencer put it, "the gayest thing ever made in the history of the universe." David Bowie & Mick Jagger // Dancing in the Street

2. When forming a music duo, try to choose a partner with a bad perm and mustache. That way you'll always be front and center in your videos. Maneater // Hall & Oates

1. To help ensure a hit single, incorporate a simple, easily repeatable dance move into the video. The Safety Dance // Men Without Hats


The Year in Pictures

As another successful blog year comes to a close, let's take a look back at some of the most memorable images to grace The Dave & Kristen Show in 2009.

I took my turn reveling in the ineptitude of the Mets, this time manifested in their inability to design a halfway decent uniform patch. We know who got the last laugh though. Oh that's right, it was the Yankees.

After years of development with my friend Scott, I finally recorded the theory of The Compound, which explains where celebrities go after their 15 minutes of fame are up.

To celebrate the release of the new U2 album No Line On the Horizon, I completed a four part look at the band's entire discography. At least two readers were totally riveted.

I asked readers for input on a first birthday gift for Eddie, including a Tauntaun sleeping bag and this 30" Batman figure.

Things got geekier than usual around here as I celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Phantom Menace, recounting its build-up, release, and lasting impact.

Kristen and I went on an odyssey through our neighborhood in search of baby swings. Among our more interesting finds was this contraption.

Certain readers balked when I chose to post photos of a creepy doll and nothing of me or Kristen when documenting a trip to the family cabin.

I found a website where you play the original Oregon trail online and waxed nostalgic about the educational video games of my youth. Eddie got dysentery along the way.

While attending Swiss Days in Midway we learned the hard truth that Swiss tacos taste an awful lot like Navajo tacos.

Eddie got in touch with his inner mermaid at our annual trip to the Pumpkin Walk in North Logan.

We turned our focus toward home improvement, installing new lighting and a laminate floor in our kitchen. Now we get to use Christmas money to pay it all off. Hurray!

The three of us enjoyed a nice Christmas season filled with fees (trees), fans (snowflakes), a-men (snowmen), Ho Ho (Santa) and a trip downtown to see the lights on Temple Square.

Thanks to everyone who continues to visit our blog, including those who are content to lurk in the shadows. We hope you stick around in 2010, and maybe even get up the nerve to post that first comment.