Cabin Birthday

We spent my birthday up at the family cabin with some friends. One of the great things about being there is temporarily unplugging from things like the internet, TV, and cell phones and enjoying nature…

…then barricading ourselves inside to watch movies and play video games on a projector screen all weekend.

Eddie entertained himself by doing boy things like throwing rocks in the stream, squashing ants, and peeing in the bushes (a newfound perk of being potty trained).

What better way to spend a birthday than with my two favorite ladies?

We frequently laid Violet down on these down comforters, and no matter how noisy it got, she would conk right out. We may need to invest in one. Then once we have a functional A/C, we'll never lose any sleep again.


Ten Things...

...that make Dave wonderful.

This post is dedicated to Dave in honor of his birthday this coming Sunday. Dave is a fabulous husband and father. I hope he realizes how appreciated he is, but just to make sure, I wanted everyone else to know the great things he does for Eddie, Violet, and I. Of course, there are more than ten good things about Dave, but for simplicity's sake, I narrowed it down to ten:

10. He likes tidiness (and I am a slob), so he is very good about cleaning up the living room and kitchen when they get messy.

9. He is an expert at loading the dishwasher to maximum capacity.

8. He loves to cook and is pretty good at it, which lets me off the hook most of the time.

7. He works two jobs so that I can stay home with the kids.

6. He rides his bike to and from work most days so that we can survive with only one car for the time being. And he doesn't complain about it, either.

5. He rolls with it when I make big parenting decisions, like when I decided to get rid of Eddie's daytime diapers.

4. He impresses Eddie and all the neighborhood kids with his sidewalk chalk drawings.

3. He can get Violet to fall asleep just by snuggling her up on his lap.

2. He sees the crazed look in my eyes after I've spent the day alone with the children and immediately gets down on the floor to let Eddie climb all over him and get his energy out.

1. He counteracts my craziness quite nicely and helps the rest of us stay sane (I'm not sure how he stays sane, though).

Happy birthday, Dave! We love you!


Cinematic Utah: Rejuvinated vs. Dilapidated

Previously: Back in Business

After extensive remodeling, the Huish Reel Theatre in Richfield triumphantly reopened its doors in 2010. By contrast, the Carol Theatre in Monroe is one of the more rundown movie houses I have seen. As an added bonus, included is an update of Smithfield's Main Theatre (originally featured in my inaugural Cinematic Utah post). While visiting Cache Valley last month, we drove up to the Pepperidge Farm outlet in Richmond to procure a gargantuan sack of green goldfish. As we passed through Smithfield I noticed the Main was halfway through a new paint job. I couldn't pass up this unique opportunity to capture a work in progress.

Huish Reel Theatre #1 // Richfield // 4.29.11

Huish Reel Theatre #2 // Richfield // 4.29.11

Carol Theatre #1 // Monroe // 4.29.11

Carol Theatre #2 // Monroe // 4.29.11

Main Theatre // Smithfield // 5.21.11


WPA Style

Introduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the New Deal, the Works Projects Administration (WPA) employed millions of workers to carry out public works projects during the Great Depression. Since its demise in 1943, the lasting legacy of the WPA has become the bold, graphic posters they produced to publicize the war effort, health and educational programs, the arts, etc.

I have long been a fan of this instantly recognizable, oft-imitated design style. So I was quite excited to discover that the Library of Congress maintains a huge online gallery of vintage WPA posters. I immensely enjoyed looking through them all, and pulled out a handful of favorites to share.

I can't get enough of these old war posters.

The most frequently addressed topic after WWII was treating syphilis, which apparently is what wiped out the dinosaurs.

I know what you're thinking. M. Night Shyamalan totally ripped this off.

Is it just me, or does this poster exhibition look kinda painful?

Just in case you were thinking about it.

I'm sorry, but that baby is anything but helpless. In fact, I'm kinda worried it's gonna eat my soul.

'Nuff said.

This poster does not reflect the opinions of The Dave & Kristen Show. Comments are encouraged as always.


Ten Things…

...I miss about TGIF

As a child in the late '80s and early '90s, every Friday night when the mood was right I would tune in for TGIF on ABC. The lineup of shows frequently changed over the years, but I'd say the most prominent ones were Full House, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Step by Step, and Boy Meets World. Here are a few things I miss from these simpler times.

10. The totally overstimulating colors and fonts of the intro animation.

9. The best way to have chocolate milk—drinking milk out of the carton, then squirting chocolate syrup into your mouth.

8. Pulling off the premise of three straight men living together in San Francisco without the benefit of irony.

7. The lost art of opening credits—you know, characters casually going about their business, then pausing in front of the camera to smile?

6. And let's not forget theme songs—those peppy, heartwarming theme songs. Heck, I still want to know what ever happened to predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, and evening TV.

5. Every major character having their own catchphrase. "How rude" … "Of course not, don't be ridiculous" … "Have mer-cy" … "Did I do that?" … and the list goes on.

4. One word: Topanga.

3. Balki and Cousin Larry could perform elaborate dance numbers to "U Can't Touch This" in public, and their hot blonde girlfriends never even considered leaving them.

2. Knowing that every problem can be solved with a heart-to-heart and a hug. Even driving the car through the kitchen wall.

1. Urkel t-shirts. Urkel breakfast cereal. The Urkel Dance. I thought that lovable nerd would never got old. That is, until he actually did get old, donning the glasses and hiking up his pants well past puberty.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

I've always been a reader. Unfortunately, I have not had very much brain power lately, so instead of giving up on reading altogether, I decided to read something that required less thought and attention. That is how I decided to read Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. After making it through the entire thirteen book series, I determined that I enjoyed eight of them. I won't bore you with my thoughts on each individual book, but I will tell you which ones I did and did not like (the number in parenthesis indicating where it falls in the series):

The Fortunate:

The Bad Beginning (1)
The Reptile Room (2)
The Wide Window (3)
The Vile Village (7)
The Slippery Slope (10)
The Grim Grotto (11)
The Penultimate Peril (12)
The End (13)

The Unfortunate:

The Miserable Mill (4)
The Austere Academy (5)
The Ersatz Elevator (6)
The Hostile Hospital (8)
The Carnivorous Carnival (9)

The books are creatively written. Lemony Snicket is a character who is researching the Baudelaire story, so the narrative gets a little strange. He throws in odd analogies and superfluous (and often ridiculous) details. They're funny at times and sad at times. They have plenty of mystery and a fair amount of action.

My main complaints with the series are the sheer number of books and the repetitious plot lines. Every book starts with Lemony Snicket telling the reader not to read the book. The first seven stories involve the orphans being sent to live somewhere. Count Olaf shows up in disguise and hatches an evil scheme against the children. Then they somehow foil his plans at the last second, saving themselves so they can do the same thing in the following book.

Starting in book 7 or 8, the series picks up some steam and the characters get increasingly complex as the mystery surrounding the Baudelaire orphans unfolds. I would recommend these books for anyone who is under age 14, or just looking for an easy read (I read each book in 1-2 days). But take my advice, skip a few in the middle and thank me later.


Throwing Copper

We have lived only 10 minutes away from the Kennecott Copper Mine for over 4 years now, but had never made the brief journey to see the world's largest man-made hole in the ground. Until Saturday that is.

It was pretty surprising to see what was hiding behind the mountain. I took a panorama shot of the view. Click to enlarge.

Eddie's favorite part of the trip was the giant dump truck tire out in front of the visitor's center. Standing under it. Gazing up at it. Getting his photo taken by it. Getting in the way of other people taking their photo by it. He never tired of this (badum).

Conversely, my favorite moment came inside the visitor's center. There was a case filled with miniature work vehicles of every shape and size. When Eddie saw them, his arm immediately extended out like a makeshift toy detector. His little fingers were open, ready to clench as he said, "I play with those!" Then his hand abruptly hit the invisible wall of glass, stopping him agonizingly short of his prize. It's the little moments like this that make parenthood fun.


Summer's Heating Up

The summer movie season traditionally starts in May, but a lukewarm first month (Fast Five, Thor, Pirates 4) has yet to get my behind into a theater seat. Things are definitely looking up though, starting tomorrow. Here's a few upcoming event movies I'm looking forward to.

X-Men: First Class // June 3

The X-Men franchise has had its ups and downs to be sure (ups: X-Men, X2, downs: X3, Wolverine). Plus, origin stories tend to be a dodgy proposition—you never know if you are going to get a Phantom Menace or a Batman Begins. But First Class has a few things going for it that have me leaning toward the latter. It's a period piece set in the '60s—a great way to boost the coolness factor. Also, early word-of-mouth is indicating that this is indeed a return to form for the franchise. But most importantly, Kevin Bacon is starring as the villain. It's about time he was in something noteworthy again. Well, besides this amazing commercial:

Super 8 // June 10

Now that J.J. Abrams has co-created Lost and directed a Star Trek film that was actually watchable, consider me invested in his work. The plot of Abrams' latest film, Super 8, has been kept under typically tight wraps. But I do know it is something of an homage to the Spielberg films of the late '70s and early '80s (Close Encounters, E.T., etc.). Just watch the trailer. It's got aliens (presumably). It's got government conspiracy. It's got coming-of-age kids as the protagonists. It's even set in 1979 so it's got the bad clothes and shaggy hairstyles. I'm tellin' ya, Abrams knows how to dangle the geek catnip.

Cars 2 // June 24

Eddie's ongoing McQueen obsession means he will be making his second ever trip to the theater after last year's Toy Story 3 experience. As for me, I trust Pixar completely at this point. Cars 2 promises a spy storyline, and I'm hoping for genre spoofing on par with The Incredibles. (No pun intended. Because they were the Parr family. Oh, nevermind.)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 // July 15

It's hard to believe The Sorcerer's Stone came out way back when I was a sophomore in college. It's been an unprecedented 10 year run for a franchise that has continued to get better as it goes along. Kristen and I have missed the last few Harry Potter movies in the theater, content to check them out on DVD. But it feels like we ought to take this last opportunity to see Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix Lestrange in all her cackling big screen glory. I'm sure Kristen would agree.

Cowboys & Aliens // July 29

I know very little about the source material for this one. However, I do know that in addition to starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, this has pretty much the greatest movie title since Hot Tub Time Machine. At the very least, it should be better than the last sci-fi western I saw, Wild Wild West.