Thursday, March 22, 2012

Early Morning Shower Inspiration

It's a commonly-accepted truth that the shower is one of those rare locations where inspiration seems to pour out down from the cosmos at about the same rate as the scalding water that pours down from the shower head. This morning I arose early in order to chase the proverbial worm which in this case took the form of scholastic endeavors. Deciding that my academic pursuits would be best served by a healthy dose of inspiration, my first stop, after going upstairs to get a popsicle, was the shower.

I turned on the water, allowed it to warm, and stepped into the flow of water. After letting out a small yelp of pain at the heat of the water, and after adjusting the hot:cold ratio, all the while trying to allow as little water as possible to make contact with my skin, I placed myself below the stream and assumed the position of inspiration reception. In my mind this is what was about to happen:

I was mistaken.

Rather than having sudden strokes of brilliance come to my mind, all I could think was, "Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand, for the times they are a'changin'," and " Shout, shout, let it all out. These are the things we can do without, come on. I'm talking to you."

So unless I'm supposed to somehow incorporate Bob Dylan and Tears for Fears into my "Rhetoric and Poetics" term project I'll just have to find some other source of inspiration.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Before anything else happens tonight I need to talk seriously about food. This evening it was my pleasure to dine with Rob, Courtney, Nick, Jenlee and Lisa at Pizzeria 712.

 Photo courtesy of Nick Homer via facebook

Now this kind of company would make any meal enjoyable and worthwhile, but take that company and add to it the foods available for purchase at Pizzeria 712, and the dining experience is ratcheted up several notches. The pizza is delicious and the brussel sprouts divine. To top it off the establishment does everything possible to be on board with the local food movement, so that's cool too.

But none of that is what I came here to talk about. I'm here about pudding.

First of all I need to be clear that I'm not much of a dessert person. I much prefer savory foods to sweet, and as such I rarely, if ever, order or even ask for dessert. In fact, when offered dessert I often decline, thinking that it would only serve to taint the deliciousness of a fine meal recently enjoyed. The exception to that rule is, of course, Mom's cherry pie which is other-worldly and beats the pants off of any other desserts. Literally. Pants. Off. And yes, I'm still willing to fight you on that one.

Tonight, however, I went against custom and ordered the Amano chocolate pudding with whipped cream and a shortbread cookie on Rob's recommendation. Rob is my food guy, and I trust him on most all food recommendations. That goes for food and music. But I digress.


I feel like I need to pause here so that upon reading what I'm about to write you can fully appreciate the gravity of the situation


okay, I think I'm ready.

Never before at a restaurant have I eaten something so delicious in my life as was that Amano chocolate pudding. I'm serious. It wasn't much to look at - it seemed like your standard, run-of-the-mill pudding with a cookie - but it was astonishingly, mind-blowingly incredible. No really, it was mind-blowing.

Now my generation often uses words and phrases such as "mind-blowing" for things that aren't really that great. We have a flair for the hyperbolic and are often found describing things as "epic" that would make Homer shake his head with disgust. But in all honesty, my mind has not been this blown in ages. The pudding was phenomenal. If John Travolta knew that this pudding existed he would have forgotten about his super-intelligence and telekinetic powers, shaved his fu manchu, slicked back his hair, put on his prettiest dress and come to Orem for just a taste.

As for myself, I took one bite and as my tongue, mouth, throat and stomach took turns dancing with euphoria, I could do nothing but sit and look at my chocolate pudding-streaked spoon with incredulity. Chills ran down my spine as I contemplated what I was experiencing. I sat there thinking that there is no way on God's green earth that anything can taste that good. But apparently it can. And it does at Pizzeria 712. And it was sitting there in front of me waiting to be consumed.

Just when I thought it could get no better, I took a bite of the chocolate shortbread cookie that accompanied the pudding and found myself yet again in the throes of ecstasy. Tears of emotion welled up behind my eyes as I contemplated the wonder of this dessert. It was one of those moments where you want desperately to find some way of capturing everything about the moment, and feel a pang of sadness knowing you can't.

The best word I can think to describe it is Ambrosia. The nectar of the gods. If they don't serve this dessert in heaven, then send me to hell.

And no, I'm under no obligation nor contract to write what I've just written.

All of that said, Mom's cherry pie is still better. And as I previously mentioned, if you can't get on board with that, I'll gladly grow out my mustache in preparation for you and I to get on board with something like this:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pure Beauty

I have never gotten so emotional because of a youtube video.

Not with Susan Boyle
Not with Paul Potts
Not with adorable kittens
Not even with Mormon Messages

This brought a tear to my eye and a smile as wide as the moon to my face.

This year...this year.

art and such

When teaching my students about the issues paper I tell them that they need to pick a topic that they are absolutely passionate about if they don't want this to be their lives for the next few weeks:

Unfortunately, for some reason 18 year olds and recently returned missionaries, both of whom are still trying to figure out their place in the world, never seem to have anything that they are deeply passionate about. That's not true; I'm sure they are passionate about things, but when they step into my classroom all that passion seems to melt away, and they have no idea what their passions are. As such I ask them a lot of questions to try and pull out their passions. One question that I often as them is, "What do you think about when you don't have to think about anything?" (Whenever I ask that question I can't help but to think of the John Wooden quote, "The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching," but that's beside the point.)

Because people tend to be a bit reticent to share their innermost passions, I always share with my students some of the things that I think about when there's nothing pressing. This list includes but is not exclusive to:

-the stars
-figuring out how to be a better teacher/changing the world via composition instruction
-books/reading in the tub
-BYU sports/the Jazz/sports in general
-music (which lately seems to center around this song and this one)

Of late it's especially been that last one. Ever since I left working at the MOA, I've been thinking a lot about how I need more art in my life. That sentences begs the question, "what, then, do you mean by art?" For now we'll not venture into that jungle. Anyway, a good friend of mine and I have been planning to hold our own art show in the next couple of weeks, and so I've been thinking about various art projects that I might undertake. Having always rather discounted my own artistic abilities makes this a bit hard for me. As such, I've been looking for inspiration in many different places.

This search led me here.

If you're reading this and haven't clicked on that last link go back and click on it now. But really.

I'm just fascinated to see the many and varied "workspaces" of so many different "artists". Whenever I've had a spare moment the past couple of days I invariable make it back to that tumblr and spend a few minutes (more than is probably good for me) perusing the various workspaces. I find this one of Matisse particularly lovely:

I can't really put into words what I love about it, but I do. Another little gem that I've run across that has sparked some thoughts in this realm is this video:

I've watched this several times a day for the past week or so. It makes me want to hold/attend a concert in the attic where the stage is framed by a bunch of backlit, taped-together book pages and which involves plenty of audience participation.

Finally, I came across this short discussion of photography and found it very intriguing and thought-provoking. I may have to put that book on my reading list.

I very  much plan to continue thinking about art and how I might engage in artistic endeavors myself, but for now this is a sampling of what is currently stirring the stew-pot of my thoughts on the subject.