Don't Tread On Me

We got new tires for the Outlander last January. We were only about 18,000 miles into their 70,000 mile warranty, so we weren't too worried this past week when we noticed one of the tires had a leak. Kristen stopped on her way home from work on Friday to have it patched since Firestone will do it for free for the life of the tire. Well, it turns out the tire's life was shorter than we thought.

Upon closer inspection, they found a wayward screw along the edge of the tread. Apparently this specific spot on the tire won't hold a patch, thus making it irreparable. No big deal, right? Firestone will still replace a tire if it gets ruined before the warranty is up.

But here's the hitch. Since our car is all-wheel drive, they couldn't replace just one tire since the tread had worn two millimeters past where the manufacturer says you can safely mix a new tire with the old ones. Doing so could cause damage to the transmission, or some such spook story.

So we were told we needed four new tires. The good news is they would give us the one tire that was damaged for free, plus they were having some big tire sale that weekend. Of course, for every discount they gave us, it seemed as if they tacked on some hidden fee to make up for it.

So there goes another $400 out the window. I told Kristen it feels like we are unwitting participants in some vast conspiracy bent on preventing us from ever saving any money. She grimly nodded in agreement.


We Heart More Burgers

I don't understand the need to declare one burger joint the best. There are plenty of styles and variations of burgers to go around. And go around we do. The fact that Eddie now requests "buggahs" and "fies" has only encouraged our habit. Here are a few additions to last year's list.

Iceberg Drive Inn
Locations: Riverton, Salt Lake, Bountiful, Etc.

We used to frequent the very first Iceberg over on 3900 South for shakes when we lived in Sugar House. Then, not long after we moved to the south end of the valley, a Riverton location opened and we discovered their burgers and fries are not to be overlooked. But the "thick thick thick" shakes are still the primary draw.

In-N-Out Burger
Locations: West Jordan, Draper, American Fork, Orem

Kristen and I have observed with bewilderment the ridiculous hype that has accompanied In-N-Out Burger's arrival to the Wasatch Front. 20 cars in line at the drive-thru at nine in the morning? Really? The West Jordan location is only about two minutes from my office, so I have eaten there a few times now. The burgers themselves are good. They have a memorable, distinctive flavor. The fries are another matter. They are inexcusably bad. I have heard them defended as "healthier than other fries" and "an acquired taste." Well, I suppose I could acquire the taste of styrofoam if I ate enough of it.

I have a few theories about In-N-Out's insane popularity. First, the prices are low enough that you can feed a large Mormon family for like $10. Second, the brand has been shrewdly marketed to have a certain amount of mystique. For those of us not blessed to live in California (sarcasm alert), In-N-Out represents something out of the ordinary. Something you could only get when you went somewhere. Perhaps it conjures that elusive good feeling of being on vacation. I can only speculate that the next generation of Utahns won't feel quite the same way about In-N-Out now that they are all over the place.

Locations: Draper, Sugar House, West Valley, Orem

After trying SmashBurger in Sugar House last summer, we had been waiting for the new Draper location to open with In-N-Out-esque anticipation. These burgers are a little more high end, and the price does reflect that. Their name is derived from the unique way they cook their meat. According to their website, they place a ball of angus beef on the grill, then smash it into a patty to "sear in the juices and flavor." I'll admit I was a bit skeptical of this gimmick at first, but it was hard to argue with the results. On our first visit Kristen declared it to be one of the best burgers she had ever eaten. The soft egg bun and tender patty seem to melt in your mouth as you sink your teeth in. A tasty companion to the burgers are the "smashfries," which are lightly seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and rosemary.

Knock-Off Corner

Locations: American Fork, West Valley, Provo

The similarities between Chadder's and In-N-Out are transparent enough that legal action was being pursued at one point, and supposedly prompted In-N-Out to mount their Wasatch Front invasion. I did eat at Chadder's once, but it was over a year before In-N-Out's arrival so I can't compare them very accurately. It can't be a straight copycat though because I seem to remember actually liking their fries.

JCW's Burger Boys
Locations: Lehi, American Fork

I'm not sure if JCW's is a deliberate knock-off or not, but the menu and overall vibe of the restaurant reminded me quite a bit of the Training Table, sans phones.

Jumbo Burgers
Locations: Riverton, Ogden

Just what we needed... another Crown Burger clone.


Paging Dr. Cox

Inspired by one of Dr. Cox's classic rants on Scrubs, I thought I would riff on a list of things I care as little about as when Tiger Woods is returning to golf. Let me see...

Brett Favre's retirement plans. John Mayer's love life. Sandra Bullock's marriage. Oprah's emotional manipulation. The far left. The far right. Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. Sarah Palin's opinion about anything. Team Edward. Team Jacob. The Clone Wars. The Karate Kid remake. Subway-flavored sandwiches. Whose idea Windows 7 was. Whose idea paying KGB 99 cents per answer was. American Idol. The Bachelor. John and/or Kate Gosselin. Every reality show ever. Every reality star ever. Everything that exists, past, present and future, in all discovered and undiscovered dimensions. Oh... and Hugh Jackman.


Albums I Grew Up On: Synthpop Sisters

Previously: Road Trippin'

This might not be the manliest pair of albums, but my two sisters, Cheryl and Christie, were a huge influence on my earliest musical tastes. What can you do?

Duran Duran: Arena

My sisters were just hitting their teenage years during the mid-80s, so that means they were obsessed with Duran Duran. They had compiled quite an impressive scrapbook of band photos carefully cut out from the pages of Tiger Beat and the like. But more importantly, they recorded the band's 1984 tour documentary when we briefly had MTV. This was Duran Duran at the absolute height of their popularity. Culled from the same tour was Arena, which featured most of their biggest early hits performed live. "The Wild Boys" single was tacked on to the album as well, which quickly became my favorite song and music video. Some years later, in the midst of their early '90s comeback, I was there alongside my sisters to see Duran Duran perform at the old ParkWest Amphitheatre—my very first concert.

He may have been an atypical idol for a young boy, but lead singer Simon Le Bon was once the coolest guy on the planet in my eyes (right after Luke Skywalker, of course).

Erasure: The Innocents

As Duran Duran faded from the limelight in the latter half of the '80s, my sisters started listening to other groups such as Depeche Mode and Erasure. Depeche Mode later went on to become one of my favorite bands as well, but I have found that Erasure is best taken in small doses. Still, I have written before about albums that have the power to transport us to another time and place. The Innocents is one of those albums for me. As soon as I hear the oh-so-peppy opening synthesizer beat of "A Little Respect," I am immediately taken back to my sisters' room in our old New Jersey house where I grew up. And now I am recalling my dad infuriating Cheryl and Christie by calling the band "Eraser." I'm tellin' you, this album is almost as good as having my very own time machine.

Adorning the wall of my sisters' room was this large, colorful (and kinda creepy) poster.


Sexy Vampire Candles

My boss came strolling into my office a few months ago, unable to suppress the giggles. With this bit of forewarning, he told me about a new project: Twilight Candles. He also made me promise not to blog about this until the collection officially debuted. Well, they were unveiled at a trade show this last weekend, so I can hold my tongue no longer.

Apparently he has had enough requests over the last few years that he finally gave in. I suppose it makes sense. The women who go crazy for Twilight also happen to be the primary target market for scented candles.

The fragrances in the collection are musky, fresh, outdoorsy—meant to conjure the Pacific Northwest where the series is set. Since this isn't officially licensed merchandise, the trick has been to make them sexy, but not so sexy that we infringe copyright.

Rejected Concepts

Approved Labels

The final art looks a little more sci fi than sexy vampire, but at least Salt City (probably) won't get sued. Now if you will excuse me, I've got to make some room in my portfolio for these beauties.


Krissy's Life in Film, Pt. 1

Obviously, I stole this idea from Dave. You can see his "Life in Film" posts here, here, and here. While Dave chose movies that have held up over time (for the most part), I chose the movies that have had the biggest impact on me, even if I would no longer care to watch them. If we've already blogged about one, I have just linked the title to the corresponding post instead of writing more about it now. Enjoy!

1984 // The Nightmare on Elm Street & The Muppets Take Manhattan
I elected to break the rules right from the start and declare a tie for 1984. This strange pairing seems to represent my childhood very well. I was a kid, so I loved the Muppets, but I also was not very sheltered, so I was exposed to some movies that I probably should have never seen. I still love Muppets Take Manhattan, perhaps more for nostalgia than anything else. My favorite part is Miss Piggy's roller-skating chase scene. But the part when Kermit has amnesia and encounters Gil, Jill, and Phil is priceless as well.

Then one fateful day in the fall of 1989, my neighbor was babysitting me and, unbeknownst to my parents, I was allowed to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. I remember very little about the movie itself. What I do remember is that seeing that movie when I was 5 has scarred me for life. At the time, I had nightmares for months about Freddy Krueger. To this day, I think he is one of the most terrifying characters ever. I also think this is responsible for me not liking scary movies and still being a little bit afraid of the dark. I would be confident in saying that Nightmare on Elm Street is probably the movie that has had the biggest impact on my life.

"Whatever you do don't fall asleep."

1985 // The Goonies
We already have plans to elaborate on the wonder that is Goonies in a future post, so I will spare you for now. Suffice it to say that I pretty much have the whole thing memorized and I always wanted to be a goonie. I even wore a denim jacket because I thought Mikey's was so cool.

"Ye intruders beware. Crushing death and grief... soaked with blood of the trespassing thief."

Runner-up // Commando

1986 // An American Tail
This was, hands down, my favorite animated movie as a kid. I never thought of it before, but perhaps this movie is the reason I've never cared for cats. It's got great memorable characters and even greater songs. The only bad thing about it: the sequel. I remember that I was quite distraught when our VHS tape with this movie recorded on it got lost so I could no longer enjoy the adventures of Fievel Mousekewitz.

Runner-up // Wildcats

1987 // Raising Arizona
Even though I never saw this movie until after Dave and I were married, it is one of my favorites. It might partly be because I can really identify with Ed. Not that I would ever think kidnapping is a good alternative to having children through more legal means, but I can understand where she's coming from. A woman gets a little crazy where her maternal instincts are concerned. Just ask Dave.

"Edwina's insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase."

Runner-up // Dragnet

1988 // Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Animation mixed with live action? Sign me up. This was one of the few movies my grandma owned when I was growing up, so it got watched a lot. I had it memorized at one point and still find myself quoting it sometimes. I especially like the diabolically evil Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom with his "dip."

"The apple of my eye! The cream of my coffee! Playing patty-cake with another man!"

Runner-up // Big

1989 // Back to the Future Part II


Spring Cleaning

As it is getting to be that time of year, we have been sporadically working on spring cleaning the last few weeks. While sorting through old clothes, I found a few memorable t-shirts that deserve the blog spotlight.

This shirt goes all the way back to my last year of Little League when I was 14. I must have just had a growth spurt because I got an XL, so it still fits me to this day. Not only that, it is a marvel of quality construction. There are some cracks around the edges of the white trim, and the stitching along the bottom of the shirt is starting to come undone in one spot, but it is in amazing condition considering it is pushing 15 years old. I still like to wear it occasionally, even if it always elicits questions about my loyalty to the Yankees.

I happened to be at Disneyland on a high school band trip at a rare cultural crossroads when both Star Wars and tie-dye shirts were popular. I picked up this explosion of psychedelic nerdery at the Star Tours gift shop, and boy did I wear it A LOT back in the day. I hadn't even realized I still had the shirt until Kristen pulled it out from the bottom of a bin of quilts. Maybe I'll save it for the midnight showing of Episode VII: Revenge of the Skywalker Ranch Utility Bill.

This shirt came to be during one of the fleeting moments of unadulterated fun and creativity while working at Nutraceutical. It was inspired by one of my coworkers who revealed that she had attended clogging camp as a child. When she was out of the office one Friday, I spearheaded a design for our very own Nutraceutical Clogging Camp, and we spent the afternoon ironing it on to shirts. The surprise unveiling when she returned to the office the following week was a clog-worthy hit.

I took a flash class in college, and one of our assignments was to build a faux E-Commerce website. A Korean student, Jong Soo Jeung, was the mastermind behind Pet City, a now legendary site amongst all involved with the class. Filled with classic broken english like "The company to make pleasure with selling pets" and "We are wait for your voice," I collaborated with my friend Ben to make shirts so Pet City could live on. But don't think we were just making fun of Jong Soo. He was a good friend, and got a complimentary shirt for the "pleasure" he inspired.


The Sands of Time

An essential part of any childhood visit to my grandparents' house in St. George was a trip to the sand dunes in Snow Canyon. So, as we headed further south on Saturday morning in search of the aforementioned warmer climates, we decided to stop at the sand dunes along the way.

As I spotted the cinder cones along UT-18, I knew we were getting close. Quite unexpectedly, I was reminded of a forgotten childhood fear that these extinct volcanos would suddenly erupt as we drove by and turn us all into ash. But, just as we always did back then, we made it through this treacherous territory unscathed by any stray molten lava.

This couldn't be the same boy that Kristen describes here, could it?

There's nothing quite like the feeling of sand between your toes.

Or the grinding sound of sand embedded in all the little knobs and buttons of your camera.

Father and son recreate old memories while making a few new ones. I promise I didn't steal that from a greeting card.

Eddie had such a good time playing in this "giant sandbox" that this dormant tradition could see a revival.

"Don't go drinkin' any first... just prime the pump!" 10 points for anyone who can identify the reference.


Friendly Fillmore

Last Thursday Kristen and I rather spontaneously decided that we needed to get away for the weekend, hopefully to warmer climates. So Friday morning we packed up the car and headed for Cedar City. While stopping for lunch in Fillmore I took the opportunity to shoot a few photos.

Memo to owners of old timey theaters still in use: Please only show cool movies. My work is unavoidably sullied when tripe like "Tooth Fairy" is emblazoned on the marquee.

Now, where to eat? How about Winget's Korner Drive Inn?

On second thought, it's a little too run down even for us.

We soon made our way to our actual lunch destination, Larry's Drive-In. We found it to be a worthy addition to our growing arsenal of old fashioned burger joints along I-15. The second half of our weekend adventures, featuring photos of us actually doing stuff, will be coming shortly.


It's All About the Food

Regular readers will know that I frequently like to blog about food, whether it be trying new recipes, good places to eat out, etc. If you have found these posts interesting and/or useful, I wanted to give you a heads up. My sister recently started a Barton family food blog called "It's All About the Food" as a convenient way for us to share recipes with each other. It is still evolving, but feel free to check it out.