Food Aversions

Ah, the joys of the first trimester. I feel like I can't complain too much, since I have not been nearly as sick this time around as I was with Eddie. However, there are certain things that I cannot bring myself to eat at the moment. Because of these aversions, eating has become a much more complicated thing, and I have lost a couple of pounds over the last month. Since I know everyone is dying to know what weird things my pregnant body can't handle, here they are:

Peanut Butter. This was one of my aversions from when I was pregnant with Eddie, too. Just the sight of it makes me uncomfortable, and the smell of it makes me nauseous. I don't dare taste it because I'm afraid of what might happen.

Hamburgers. In general, I quite enjoy a good burger. But these days, the very thought of consuming a patty of ground beef is enough to make me grimace. I could probably eat one if it was one of those thin restaurant patties smothered in ketchup... but I wouldn't risk it unless I had no other choice.

Basil. Random, I know. Lately we have been eating a lot of fresh basil on pizza and in pasta, which is normally very tasty. But last week when we ate at Settebello, and yesterday when we got pizza from Sweet Home Chicago, I had to pick off all the basil because it was suddenly grossing me out. Dave said, "I couldn't even taste the basil on this pizza" and I said, "it's the only thing I can taste!"

Green Veggies. Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables normally. We got a Bountiful Basket the other week and ended up with tons of green beans, but I haven't been able to bring myself to cook them. So the lovely things are rotting away in our produce drawer. The same goes for broccoli. I don't mind it normally, but I don't even want to think about eating it these days.


Dah-Pah, Dee-Too

For the last several weeks Eddie has been repeating the phrase "dah-pah, dee-too," and Kristen and I have been left to wonder what it could possibly mean. Finally, as both me and his cousin Sarah have had birthdays this past week, we figured out he is saying "happy birthday to you." Eddie serenaded me with the birthday song several times throughout the day on Saturday, and pitched in to help Kristen make me this custom card.

Kristen made birthday ice cream sundae pie for the third year running. You should know, if Eddie gets mad enough, he will bonk his head on the nearest available surface. As he was finishing his pie, he suddenly got quite angry (I can only guess because he wanted more), and head butted his plate. Luckily the camera was nearby to capture the aftermath.

We dropped Eddie off with my sister Cheryl for the evening, then went downtown to Settebello for dinner. As we were being seated I noticed Utah Jazz legend Frank Layden was sitting at the table right next to ours. When I pointed him out to Kristen, she inquired, "Was he the one that was really fat, then melted?" The one and only.

After dinner we headed over to Spring Mobile Ballpark to see the Salt Lake Bees take on the Reno Aces. Thanks to some discount vouchers from citydeals.com, we got a good deal on some seats right behind home plate.

Midway through the game we enjoyed some overpriced ice cream from a souvenir helmet. It was well worth it though. The next morning I washed the helmet out and gave it to Eddie. It has seldom left his side since, even going to the tub and to bed with him.

The Bees fell behind 3-0 early, but clawed their way back into it. By the bottom of the 7th, it was all tied up at 5 when Bees star Cory Aldridge knocked in the go-ahead run. I happened to have my camera out and captured the game-winning hit in progress. Final score: Salt Lake 6, Reno 5.


This Day in History

June 26

1498 The toothbrush is invented. Of course, who really would want to rub hog hair bristles on their teeth? Thank goodness for the eventual invention of nylon.

1819 The bicycle is patented by W.K. Clarkson.

1870 Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the U.S.

1896 Vitascope Hall, the first movie theater in the U.S., opens in New Orleans. Admission is 10 cents. Today that would get you one unpopped kernal of popcorn.

1929 Milton Glaser is born, and graphically teaches the world to ♥ NY.

1933 Pat Morita is born, and later we learn that "man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything."

1964 The Beatles release the album A Hard Day's Night in the U.S.

1970 Chris O'Donnell is born, and immediately begins training for his big kung fu laundry scene in Batman Forever. Maybe he should have used chopsticks.

1974 Derek Jeter is born, and helps bring five more world championships to the New York Yankees, thus undoing all of Milton Glaser's efforts.

1980 Dave Barton is born, and eventually turns 30 in the year 2010.

1981 For Your Eyes Only premieres in the U.S., further perpetuating the myth that Roger Moore is a sex symbol.

Happy Birthday, Dave! Here is to you not looking like Roger Moore.


Cinematic Utah: Magna-ficent Marquees

Previously: Beyond Cinedome

I've heard plenty of less than flattering things about Magna. However, the historic main drag there is pretty cool, at least for a lover of old timey buildings such as myself. If it hadn't been raining that day, I might have stayed a little longer and shot more than just the theaters (including a Christian church with a sign that said "Magna-fy Jesus").

Kamas Theatre #1 // Kamas // 5.31.10

Kamas Theatre #2 // Kamas // 5.31.10

Empress Theatre // Magna // 6.11.10

Gem Theatre #1 // Magna // 6.11.10

Gem Theatre #2 // Magna // 6.11.10


Ten Things...

...I Have Learned From the Pixar Movies

Over the last few months I have been watching all the Pixar movies in order of release (not including the several dozen times Eddie has watched Finding Nemo). Here's a look back in honor of the release of Toy Story 3 this weekend. Which one is your favorite?

10. Computer animation has come a long way in 15 years. Toy Story (1995)

9. Replace villagers and bandits with ants and grasshoppers, and suddenly the plot from Three Amigos is fresh again. A Bug's Life (1998)

8. Toys are meant for playing, not displaying. Toy Story 2 (1999)

7. The Abominable Snowman gets a bum wrap. The only thing killer about him are his snow cones. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

6. You can say the name "Nemo" a lot in 100 minutes. Finding Nemo (2003)

5. Never put your life in the hands of anyone who insists on wearing a cape. Also, the greatest superhero name ever: Gazerbeam. The Incredibles (2004)

4. Life's a journey, not a destination. Cars (2006)

3. "Anyone can cook... Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." Ratatouille (2007)

2. If someone can make an engaging movie where the protagonist is a mostly mute robot and the humans are gelatinous blobs, anything is possible. WALL-E (2008)

1. Adventure is always just a short balloon ride away. Up (2009)


A Tasty Morsel

A few weeks ago, we awoke to this:

That's right, the faintest little pink line you could possibly see without a magnifying glass. It was so light that I felt compelled to take another test the next day, which produced the exact same result. With the help of peeonastick.com (yes, that is an actual website), I learned that the faintness of the line is not important as long as the color matches.

And so, without further ado, we would like to introduce the newest member of the family. Eddie was known as "Smidgen" in the womb, so in keeping with that theme, our new fetus shall hereby be known as "Morsel" (for now).

Our official due date is January 23, 2011. Morsel did measure a little bit big for that date, and since Eddie was born a little early, I am hoping that maybe Morsel will be too (on 1/11/11 if we're really lucky).

I am currently a little over 8 weeks along and am already enduring the joys of the first trimester. I have been feeling nauseous for the past few weeks, but I don't feel like I have been as sick this time around as I was with Eddie. Of course that could change at any time. I also haven't been nearly as sleepy as I was with Eddie, but that could be because I try to sneak a quick nap when Ed is napping... something that didn't happen the last time around since I worked full time.

All in all, things are going well. I go back to the doctor in 4 weeks for the next check-up. I think they will do an ultrasound at that time, too, but it will still be too early to see the baby's sex.


The One-Dimensional Movie Villain Hall of Fame

The Karate Kid remake came out over the weekend, and... we didn't see it. Probably never will. But at least it got me thinking about the original Karate Kid, which features one of the greatest one-dimensional villains of all time, Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese. The guy is so ridiculously evil that I have decided to start this hall of fame in his honor.

These are the antagonists that need no motivation. Their sole purpose is to be as big of a jerk store as they can be, thus making life miserable for any do-gooder they happen to come in contact with. For the sake of brevity I have limited my initial class to five, though I have no doubt missed some good candidates. Be sure to state potential cases in the comments and perhaps I will see fit to induct them in a future post.

John Kreese (Martin Kove)
The Karate Kid

Profile: Upon returning from Vietnam, veteran John Kreese found himself a quaint little California studio and promptly banished fear, pain, and mercy from the premises. Thus the ruthless Cobra Kai dojo was born, a place where bullies-in-training can be themselves, but only if your name ends with the letter "y." (i.e. Johnny, Bobby, Tommy, Jimmy).

Comeuppance: After losing the respect of his Cobra Kai pupils and bloodying his fists on a pair of car windows, Kreese suffers the indignity of having his nose honked by Mr. Miyagi.
"Sweep the leg. Do you have a problem with that?"

Walter Peck (William Atherton)

Profile: A weasly, humorless inspector for the Environmental Protection Agency (is there another kind?), Walter Peck shuts down the ghost containment unit against the dire warnings of pretty much everyone, causing an explosion. Then he has the Ghostbusters arrested, even though their unique services would be quite useful in saving New York City from all the "wrath of God type stuff" going down.

Comeuppance: Peck's manhood is questioned by ghostbuster Peter Venkman right in front of the Mayor of New York to humorous effect, then is later doused with a heaping pile of hot marshmallow.
"These men are in criminal violation of the Environmental Protection Act, and this explosion is a direct result of it!"

Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell)
A Knight's Tale

Profile: Count Adhemar develops an immediate disdain for rival jouster Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein, which is rather silly considering he doesn't discover that Ulrich is actually William Thatcher, a common man posing as nobility, until much later in the movie. But when he does find out, you'd better believe his actions are cowardly and self-serving.

Comeuppance: Adhemar gets knocked off his horse by Thatcher (who isn't even wearing any armor at the time), then has his own catchphrase used against him by Thatcher's companions in a dream sequence.
"You have been weighted, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting."

Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)
Back to the Future

Profile: Descended from a long line of lunkheaded bullies, Biff Tannen loves to make life miserable for would-be sci-fi author George McFly (and his progeny). Over the years Biff has resorted to cheating off George's homework, banning him from popular diners, and checking his head for occupancy. Biff is especially fond of disparaging one-liners, though he always botches the punchline.

Comeuppance: McFly knocks Biff out cold in the past, thus rendering him a fruity, track suit-wearing auto detailer in the present.
"Why don't you make like a tree... and get outta here."

Cal Hockley (Billy Zane)

Profile: Based on his appearance as a member of Biff Tannen's gang in the mid-1950s, it stands to reason that Cal (aka Match) hijacked the time machine at some point so he could travel back in time and make his fortune in the '20s. His wealth breeds arrogance and entitlement, driving his fiancé, Rose, into the arms of a pretty boy artist. One can certainly understand Cal's rage at discovering her unfaitfhfulness, but chasing her and her lover around the ship with a gun while it sinks, well, that's as one-dimensional as it gets.

Comeuppance: Rose gives him the slip after securing rescue, and relegates his eventual suicide to her voice-over narration.
"Something Picasso? He won't amount to a thing."


Books I Read This Week

I have, once again, gone on a crazy reading binge. Over the past week, I finished one novel and read three more within four days. I don't think I'm through yet, but I figured I would blog about what I have read now before the list becomes unmanageable.

Nicholas Nickleby // Charles Dickens

Since I made a goal to read all of Charles Dickens' novels by the time I am 30, I really need to get cracking. I attempted to read Nicholas Nickleby once before and gave up about a third of the way through. I started it this time because I had nothing else to read and it was on my shelf, giving me a guilt trip (just like Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, and The Old Curiosity Shop still are). Nevertheless, I got through it this time and found it to be one of my favorite Dickens novels.

If you've never read Dickens, let me just say that he uses a lot of words. His books are long and have intricate plots that interweave throughout, and all sorts of outrageous characters with even more outrageous names. I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to get through one of his novels. But I always find that when I am finished, I feel like I have accomplished something.

By way of summary, Nicholas Nickleby relates the story of the title character, his mother, and sister after their father's unfortunate death. They are left destitute and are forced to find some way to provide for themselves. There is a lot of treachery involved as they seek the aid of their uncle Ralph. But of course, everyone gets what they deserve in the end... well, almost everyone.
"Although a man may lose a sense of his own importance when he is a mere unit among a busy throng, all utterly regardless of him, it by no means follows that he can dispossess himself, with equal facility, of a very strong sense of the importance and magnitude of his cares."

Odd Thomas // Dean Koontz

I finished Nicholas Nickleby and couldn't stand to be bookless while Dave was still reading Harry Potter, so away to the library I went. I had heard about Odd Thomas from my brother, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I all day spent Saturday reading it... and finishing it. I couldn't put it down because each chapter ended in such a way to make me feel like I needed to read just one more chapter before I stopped... until I read the entire thing.

Odd Thomas tells the story of a young man who sees dead people, which sort of struck me as a knock-off of The Sixth Sense. He sees dead people and helps solve crimes. He also sees things he calls bodachs, which are shadowy creatures that appear to witness particularly gruesome crimes. The up side is that the bodachs help him to prevent terrible things from happening. The down side is that they lead him into trouble. So one day, tons of bodachs show up and Odd uses his supernatural abilities to track down a would-be criminal and, hopefully, stop the event that the bodachs are so excited about. It was suspenseful and a little disturbing (and a tiny bit predictable), but I really liked it and intend to read the rest of the Odd books as soon as I remember to request them at the library.
"A great deal of phenomenal experience has fostered in me a flexibility of the mind and imagination that some might call madness."

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky // Heidi Durrow

I found this book on Amazon's Best Books of 2009 list. It was a good read, as promised. It is about a girl who is half Danish, half African American. Rachel is the sole survivor of a family tragedy. She is sent to live with her grandmother and the book follows her through her teenage years as the secrets of the tragic day are revealed through the memories of other characters, and ultimately Rachel herself. It is a coming-of-age story for both Rachel and a more minor character, Brick. In the end, Rachel and Brick both seem to figure out who they are and who they aren't.
"A woman made of parts is a dangerous thing. You never know when she'll throw away a piece you may need."

The Goose Girl // Shannon Hale

I decided to read The Goose Girl mainly because Shannon Hale is in our ward and I had heard good things about the book. The only Shannon Hale book I had read before was Austenland, which I enjoyed, but that book is a lot different from this one. Austenland is more modern fiction. The Goose Girl is a fantasy novel about a princess who can speak to birds. Through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up tending geese for the king of a neighboring kingdom, then ultimately resuming her rightful place in the palace. The book was a fun read with exciting twists and memorable characters (both human and animal). It's got a good mix of action and romance. Plus it is fun to read something written by someone you know in real life so you can really see the author's personality come through.
"Right now I'd like all my troubles to stand in front of me in a straight line, and one by one I'd give each a black eye."


Albums I Grew Up On: '90s Jangle Pop

Previously: Butt Rock vs. Geek Rock

If one were to assemble a time capsule of the '90s, I'm pretty sure these two albums would have to be included.

Gin Blossoms:
New Miserable Experience

I first saw the music video for "Hey Jealousy" during the closing credits of Entertainment Tonight, aka my primary sources of "news" back in 1993. That song of course went on to become a huge hit, and as other singles like "Until I Fall Away," "Found Out About You" and "Allison Road" just kept coming, I eventually had no other choice but to add New Miserable Experience to my cassette collection.

Setting the tone as all good album openers should, "Lost Horizons" bursts forth with a euphoric pop hook, but the melancholy lyrics pack a hidden punch ("She had nothing left to say, so she said she loved me, and I stood there grateful for the lie"). Its ironic title, New Miserable Experience, perfectly sums up the album and the band, who hit it big just before ousted guitarist/songwriter Doug Hopkins committed suicide. Not surprisingly, their later material failed to capture the same depth and torment of their debut.

Proof that some of the best art is born out of misery, I feel like the Gin Blossoms' music has enjoyed a staying power that many '90s alternative bands have lacked (Dishwalla, anyone?). New Miserable Experience is one of my top 15 favorite albums, and only an unfortunate foray into country on the all-important closing track ("Cheatin") has kept it from cracking my Desert Island Discs.

Hootie & the Blowfish:
Cracked Rear View

It may be a well-worn musical cliché, but I started listening to Hootie & The Blowfish before they really caught on. It must have been a combination of their unusual name and laid back vibe that did it for me. In any case, I remember endlessly extolling the virtues of Hootie to my seemingly oblivious classmates in 9th grade geometry. And yes, I realize how funny that last sentence sounds.

The ensuing summer of '95 was something of a transition period for me. I was old enough to stay up later, but not old enough to be out with friends every night. Typically my nights were spent watching The Late Show With David Letterman, and Hootie was the musical guest with increasing frequency. Next thing I knew, "Only Wanna Be With You" was all over the radio, and Cracked Rear View was selling millions upon millions of copies.

Once the summer ended, I was waiting in line for the school bus after my first day of high school. One of my old geometry classmates saw me and exclaimed, "Hey, it's that Hootie & The Blowfish kid!" Yes, that's me, "Hootie & The Blowfish kid" at your service.


Harry Potter: From Screen to Book

I have taken an unusual journey with Harry Potter. It seems that most people have read the books then seen the movies, but for me it has been the other way around. Quite simply, the books started coming out at a time in my life when the story of a boy wizard wasn't on my radar at all. As the movies eventually followed, I dutifully saw each one. I liked some of them more than others, but certainly didn't obsess over them like some of the more diehard Potter fans I know.

Kristen has long encouraged me to read the books, and I finally decided to give them a go a few months ago (I recently finished #6). After finishing each book, I have gone back and rewatched the movies, which now play a little differently with the added context. My brief, spoiler-free thoughts of each installment are as follows.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Sometimes it is easy to forget these are children's books given the dark themes of the later installments, but Harry Potter's debut has no pretenses about who its audience is—The Sorcerer's Stone is a quick, breezy read. Director Chris Columbus guides Harry Potter as he takes his first important steps into the world to film, but fails to push the first movie much beyond seviceable. Certainly this can be partially attributed to the inexperienced child actors, who have gotten much better as the series has progressed.

The Book: 7.5/10
The Movie: 6.5/10

"Can you cast a spell that will teach us how to act, Hermoine?"

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
About as enjoyable as a run on a treadmill, The Chamber of Secrets doesn't do enough to set itself apart from the first book. As for the movie, it certainly doesn't deserve to the title of longest running time in the series. There is far too much of Dobby, Gilderoy Lockhart, and sneering Malfoys.

The Book: 6.5/10
The Movie: 6/10

"Show me evil, Lucius. I feel like you're holding back."

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Featuring important new characters like Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, The Prisoner of Azkaban really starts to expand our knowledge of the wizarding world. It benefits from a higher page count, but doesn't fall prey to the excesses of the next few books. Meanwhile, new director Alfonso Cuarón instills the film version with some much-needed cinematic flourishes, really raising the bar for future installments.

The Book: 8.5/10
The Movie: 8.5/10

How not to pose for your mug shot. It just makes you look more guilty.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
As the first of the longer books, The Goblet of Fire was a somewhat frustrating experience as I tried reconcile the immense detail with my desire for more efficient storytelling. The plot is so sprawling and convoluted, it takes three different characters something like 100 pages to sort everything out in the end (in what I have affectionately dubbed an "exposition dump"). The movie is a bit uneven as well, suffering from some overacting and choppy pacing, but the graveyard climax is a chilling highlight.

The Book: 7.5/10
The Movie: 7/10

"Wanna see my skin sparkle? It's really sexy."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Even longer and more aggravating than The Goblet of Fire, it feels like nothing happens in Order of the Phoenix for hundreds of pages at a time except teenage brooding, though it rebounds in time for a satisfactory conclusion. I actually prefer the movie to the book, its chief accomplishment being that it manages to tone down Harry's incessant bouts of angst so he is still sympathetic. Director David Yates further expands the visual palette of the series, particularly with the striking scenes inside the Ministry of Magic.

The Book: 7/10
The Movie: 8/10

"I feel angry and isolated. I think I'll wander alone down an empty black corridor."

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
My favorite book of the series so far, The Half-Blood Prince combines all the best aspects of Harry Potter in a revealing, emotional, bittersweet chapter that doesn't overstay its welcome. The wit and warmth of the books has proved difficult to translate to film, but this adaptation comes the closest, thanks to generous helpings of Dumbledore, new character Horace Slughorn, and the lasting effects of "love's keen sting" on Harry and his friends.

The Book: 9/10
The Movie: 8.5/10

"Sorry about forgetting to show up for Order of the Phoenix, Harry."

I have just started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be the first book where I haven't seen the movie beforehand. However, I must admit that I am not totally in the dark as to how it all ends. I now regret that I quizzed Kristen about the secrets of the final book after she originally read it. Where's Gilderoy Lockhart with a good memory charm when I need one?