Friday, March 31, 2006


By popular demand, more entries from "Modern Mormon Names." Today, it's all girl's names, and I'm limiting myself to a single page. But still so much on offer...


and... the name that I'm sure we'd give to a girl if we were having one (although I'm sure this could work for a boy):


As Dave Barry would say, I swear I'm not making this up.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


As fresh as today's headlines, assuming "today" means "about 3 years ago."

July 27th, 2003

We’re in a mall in Singapore and we hear odd music coming from the center court. Being in a mall in Singapore is not all that unusual. The place must have more malls per square mile than any other country in the world. And the malls are air conditioned, whereas most of Singapore outside of the malls is not. My point is simply that I didn’t travel halfway around the world to hang out at a mall, but that’s just what I’m doing. So there.

The strange noise is coming from a troupe of alphorn players. They are dressed in traditional Swiss costume and are playing what I gather are traditional Swiss songs. It is hard to describe just how out of place they look.

It is the middle of the summer, and we’re just a few miles from the equator. If I walk out of the doors of this mall, it will feel as if someone has slapped me across the face with a blanket soaked in boiling water. It is hot here. Really, really hot.

But here are a half dozen Swiss people, playing songs that evoke images of rugged alpine landscapes, and lederhosen, and perhaps even Ricola. As a Swiss person, I couldn’t be more proud.

(Now when I say I am a Swiss person I mean, of course, that I’m not actually a Swiss person. My great grandma Robinson came to the US from Switzerland. So from a heritage standpoint I’m probably more Swiss than any other nationality. It goes without saying that I’m 100% American, except when I question anything the President tells me. At those moments—if Fox News is to be believed—I am a terrorist and unfit to call myself American. I imagine the Swiss don’t care what I think about the President, what with them being neutral and all.)

Sorry for that diversion, but it’s not hard for one’s mind to wander while listening to alphorn music.

As I watch these people wearing their brightly colored outfits and blowing into 10 foot long pipes, I realize that Swiss culture has gone global. Surely, if you can find it in Singapore, you can find it anywhere. And here it transcends its humble origins and blends with the local culture to become something completely new.

Kids who have never been to Switzerland can pick up the alphorn and use it to tell the stories of their communities, and thus they become part of the worldwide alphorn community.

Oh wait, I’m sorry. That was my speech on hip-hop culture. It comes out by accident sometimes. Never mind.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Note: I was going through some old files on my laptop when I found this. I wrote it while flying from Los Angeles (where I lived at the time) to Singapore, changing planes in Tokyo. The SARS epidemic was in full swing and we got tickets for $250-round trip. I will brag about that until the day I die. But once we found our way onto the plane, we discovered another crippling illness, plane-induced insanity. A document of that illness can be found below.

July 25 or perhaps July 26, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

I have no idea quite what day it is now. We may have crossed the international date line, but I don't know because we're flying in one of those stone age 747s with 2 bathrooms, no legroom, and no readout that tells you just where you are over the ocean. Quite frankly, this plane is probably better suited for display at Colonial Williamsburg than regular passenger service.

Most long trips like this start the same. I get very, very excited and count down the days until I leave, getting more and more frantic as the time gets short. As we drive to the airport, I'll be bouncing around in the car like I'm a four year-old who's just been told he's going to McDonald's. We'll check in and I'll get on the plane and be almost screaming with joy.

I have seen our plane take off many times before. I drop Julie off at the airport on a fairly regular basis, and I'll see that Northwest Airlines 747 getting ready to take off and I think to myself (or say out loud of Julie is unlucky enough to be in the car), "Hey, there's a whole plane load of people going to Tokyo! The next time they touch the ground, they'll be in Japan! Isn't that cool?" That concept amuses me to no end.

As we were taking off, I look out the window and realize that I am no longer that guy in the car looking at 300 people going to Japan, I am one of the people actually going to Japan! Yahoo! I'm cool! Look at me! Then the plane takes off. Then I notice how little leg room I've got. Then I realize the in-flight movies are "Miss Congeniality" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." Then it sets in. Aw crap, I'm stuck in this chair for 10 hours.

So the time drags and you read for as long as you can and you pee a few times and think you've consumed most of the flight time. Then you check your watch and realize you've got 5 hours do go. Damn.

The way this flight works, we left LA at about 2 in the afternoon on Friday, and we'll arrive in Tokyo at about 5 PM on Saturday. It sounds jarring, but it's really not that bad. It just feels like one really long day. You leave in early afternoon, and ten hours later it's early evening. I can handle that. That's how time worked when I was in the fourth grade. But the meal service on this plane seems tailor made to induce jet lag. An hour after take off, they feed us lunch. It's 3 PM in LA and 6 AM in Tokyo. Either way, it's no time for lunch. Then, an hour before we land, we get (wait for it) breakfast. Soon after that, we get off the plane and it's 5 PM.

What's a body to make of that? They should at least try to trick your body by making announcements like, "Hey everybody, it's breakfast anytime! We're like a big, flying Denny's! We're serving you some breakfast, but it's your choice. You didn't want the grilled cheese. You wanted breakfast in the afternoon, right?" Come on, at least make a show of it.

The "Greatest Hits of the 80s" audio program has repeated 3 times now. Ministry's "Work for Love" is playing.

I Just looked in the in-flight magazine and discovered that the movie on our next flight (Tokyo to Singapore) is "Maid in Manhattan." It is clear that God is punishing me for something.

Saturday, July 26, Location Unknown

I have officially lost the will to live. It is 5 AM back in LA and we're still a good four and a half hours from our destination.

We spent about two hours in Tokyo's Narita Airport, arguably one of the dullest airports in the world. I thought it would be a brief introduction to the fast paced Japanese culture. Instead we found an ugly airport with nowhere to eat and no good newsstands. I understand Tokyo has another airport and I'm sure it's exciting. (note: I've since learned this is not the case) Perhaps we found Japan's answer to Gatwick.

Now we're somewhere off the coast of China, probably near Taiwann.

With the nonexistent eating scene in Narita, I really haven't had a decent meal in 20 hours, and that's assuming you consider a soft pretzel and Pepsi a decent meal. Every couple of hours, Northwest flight attendants bring little trays of inedible food around, and I stare at it for about 20 minutes and then the flight attendant picks it up again.

The only good news is the Pepsi. It's a regular United Nations of Pepsi up here. While some of the Pepsi is the nasty corn syrup-based swill you get in the US, one flight attendant has a stash of Pepsi from the Philippines, which features real sugar of southeastern Asian origin. The result is a lighter, crisper, tastier medium for caffeine intake.

With the lack of nutrition, my body is going into hibernate mode. With each minute that passes, I can feel myself getting dumber, but sadly, not so dumb that I'm interested in watching "How to Lose a Man in 10 Days."

I can't think. I'm pretty much past reading, and it's even too much effort to put on the headphones to see what they're talking about on the TV screen a few rows up. I'll just look at the pictures and the faces. I'm also working on an experiment that will answer this age old question: if you concentrate on the subject long enough, can you actually cease to exist? So far, no luck.

They've just started "Maid in Manhattan." Oh sweet death, come quickly.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


For the ladies:
(from the "X"s)

For the gents:
(still from the "A"s)

and a special bonus from the "b"s:

Friday, March 24, 2006


For the ladies:
(from the "S" file)

For the Gents:
(all "A"s today)

(Arkwright was already used in a previous post)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


For the ladies:

For the gents:
(all selections taken from the "U" section)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


As of last Friday, we’re halfway through the pregnancy thing. I think I’m getting though it quite well. I haven’t gained much weight, and my mood swings have been kept to a minimum. My only complaint is that Julie has to pee a lot and she wakes me up at night with all her shuttling back and forth to the bathroom. Other than that, everything is fine.

Except the naming part. We don’t really have names picked out, although both of us are quite partial to Grandmaster Flash for one of the twins. That does leave open the question of what to name a twin whose counterpart is named Grandmaster Flash. That’s a hard one to follow up.

Many people look to their culture when naming a child. In our case, that may not be such a great idea. The Mormons have a long and proud tradition of giving their children some crazy names. We’re quite partial to putting “La” in front of any female (and more than a few male) names as in LaVonda, LaJenny, LaKelly, etc. We’ll also fuse together two lame names with the hopes of making one less-lame name. It doesn’t actually work, as evidenced by a co-worker I once knew named BoRyan.

But those are old people names, right? What about modern Mormon names? Lucky for us, we’ve just come into possession of a book (more like a pamphlet) called “Modern Mormon Names.” There is no copyright date on it, but I think we can assume it’s pretty current. Modernity is portrayed on the cover by pictures of a diesel locomotive, the atomic energy symbol, and what appears to be a supersonic jet.

The book, as you can imagine, consists of pages upon pages of possible names for our two theoretical bundles of joy. But there are a few tips for picking a baby name that I will share with you all now.

“It will be noted that the majority of our outstanding citizens have names of phonetical balance. It’s not a mere stroke of chance that so called ‘lucky names’ work to the decided advantage of the bearer. They can give authority and dignity. The reverse is just as true, so it is wise to avoid names as custom has labeled ridiculous (sic).”

This is good advice, indeed. So on the very next page, this book suggests “Alcyone” as a desirable name for a baby girl. But we’ve got two boys to name, so I guess we’ll have to put that one in the “save for later” pile.

There are plenty more to choose from. About 3,000, actually. I’ve been Mormon all my life, and that’s a life that stretches back to the Nixon Administration**, but I think I’ve only encountered 6 people with names included in this book: Farrell, Elwood, Norbert, Shane, Zachary, and Trent. I have met people named “Summer” and “Madison,” but they were both girls, and “Modern Mormon Names” lists those as boy’s names.

Looking more closely at some of the names, it appears the authors left off another important rule in naming a child, never pick any name that rhymes with something dirty or otherwise undesirable. You may not make such a rhyme in your house, but those kids on the playground… they will. With that in mind, we can pretty much rule out “Fermin,” “Whit,” “Enis” “Nestor,” “Hinkle” and “Magan” (sounds too much like “maggot”).

It is also wise to exclude names that suggest traits or activities you’d want to discourage. So that rules out “Craven,” “Ransom,” “Wild,” “Wilder,” (there is no “Wildest” in this book, but I’d rule that one out, too) and “Gaylord.”

Now before I get any angry mail, if one of our twins turns out to be gay, I will love him as if he were my own child. But if he turns out to be straight, saddling him with the name “Gaylord” is going to be tough on everyone. And if he turns out to be gay, then people will say, “Well, that’s what you get for naming him ‘Gaylord.’” Either way, it’s a situation you want to avoid.

And then there are the names just too odd to slap onto an innocent child, like “Arkwright,” “Nicanor,” “Tremayne,” “Valdimar,” “Urtan,” “Thorold,” and “Tancred.”

The fact is, there are numerous names I haven’t mentioned because of space (this thing is getting a bit long), and we haven’t even scraped the surface on the girl’s names. So I’ll post more names from the book this week. And, as always, we’re open to suggestions. If we pick the name that you suggested for one of our kids, we may even let you raise it.

** I know this is Dave Barry's gag, but "The Nixon Administration" really would be a cool name for a band.

Friday, March 17, 2006



I've lived in Medford for just shy of three months now, and I've known right from the start that I like it here much better than Texarkana, where I used to live.

But I wasn't sure just how much more until today. Moments ago, they announced the lineup for the Britt Festival. Elvis Costello? Cake? Spearhead? Good heavens!

I haven't seen live music since I left Los Angeles in 2004. To my knowledge, there hasn't been a worthwhile concert in Texarkana since Scott Joplin moved from there about 110 years ago. So to live in a city once again with good live music... oh... as Rochester native Chuck Mangione might say, "It feels so good."

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that, some time in the 1950s, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley may have played a concert or two in Texarkana. While I think Buddy Holly would have been interesting to see. But Elvis Presley? Well, he's no Elvis Costello, that's all I can say.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


So Julie and I moved into our house this week, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Technically, that’s not really true. Let’s say we discovered the attic was stuffed with 100 dollar bills… that would thrill us more. But the fact remains that we are substantially thrilled to be in our house.

Part of this has to do with the apartment we moved from, which smelled of stale cigarettes and flatulence. It was also across the street from a sawmill and we awoke every morning to a light dusting of sawdust on our cars. And it was in a neighborhood frequented by meth-heads. And there wasn’t enough parking and you’d have to circle the block for an hour looking for a space if you came home after 8 PM. And the carpet looked like someone puked on it. We didn’t like the apartment.

But we’re not in that apartment anymore, we’re in our house, and we’re still taking it all in. There is a big bay window in the front affording us views of the hills to the east of Medford. There is a large covered patio in the back with a barbecue grill. But I have stumbled upon my favorite feature today. It’s in the bathroom. It’s a showerhead. A very naughty showerhead.

Now I’m a very environmentally conscious kind of guy (well… as much as I can be and still be an American). I recycle, I won’t drive an SUV, and I’m very concerned about the polar ice caps melting—although I haven’t a clue what to do about it. My point is, I’m earth friendly. I’m all about the earth and all of its earthen earthiness. Yes I do love that earth.

But I do have one weakness. I like a real showerhead, not these wussy low-flow pieces of crap they install in homes today. For those of you who live in homes built before 1991, low-flow showerheads are essentially misting systems like the ones you can find in the produce section of a grocery store or on the sidewalks of swankier Phoenix shopping districts. But there’s a big difference. The produce gets several misting heads, but you only get one.

I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I have wasted standing naked under a thin mist of water, hoping against hope that it would rinse something (usually soap) off me. But it never happens. You could get more water pressure from squirting a bottle on Windex on yourself. This is the price one must pay to live in a place like California. But we don’t live in California, we live in Oregon, which is also a very environmentally conscious place.

This morning I turned on the water in our shower and was almost pinned to the back wall by the water pressure. It was a wonderful thing. I’ve got some very thick hair on my head (I’m in my mid 30s, so I brag about this fact as much as possible) and this showerhead actually got it wet… all the way through! And then it got the shampoo out of that thick luxurious mass (as much as possible) in a matter of seconds.

Of course, there must be a price to pay for all this. A 12 minute shower at our house likely uses about the same amount of water a farmer would use to irrigate a 50 acre field for a week. So it’s wrong to have this showerhead, I know it. But how can something so wrong feel so right?

These are questions I just can’t answer right now. I need to go to the doctor to see why my toes and fingers look like prunes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006



Julie: (loud belch) Boy! Your sons have terrible manners!

This from a woman who once wrote a poem so beautiful it made me weep.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I would, on occasion, share the wit and wisdom found on church signs in and around Texarkana.

Alas, I have moved to Oregon, and the church signs just aren't the same. But Shannon Slatton shared a gem in the comments section, and I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

From a southern Arkansas church:
"Body Piercing: It saved my life."

Thursday, March 09, 2006


So I’m running a little late for work and I’m shaving with an electric razor and I’m trying to figure out why my iPod isn’t updating correctly and the phone rings and it’s somebody telling me about who’s going to hook up the phone at our new house and I may have put the razor down and perhaps the iPod, too, but I really can’t say for sure. All I really know is I eventually left and made it to work just in time.

And I tell you all this just so you’ll know there was a perfectly good reason why I showed up to work with a moustache Tuesday.

Now when I say moustache, I don’t mean a My Name is Earl, or even a John Waters. I can’t produce that kind of hair over the course of a single day. But when I looked into a mirror later in my work day, there was something dark above my lip… something so faint and pathetic that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the face of a high school student.

Facial hair, or at least the ability to produce it, is considered a manly thing. I myself had a phase where I sported a full beard—therefore I am manly. But not all facial hair is created equal. Beards, goatees, van dyck (everyone gets goatees and van dycks mixed up) and side burns are all reasonably acceptable. Even the tiny soul patch can get some respect.

But the moustache is a whole different animal. Only certain types of people wear moustaches, and I don’t fit into any of the categories.

The first group is policemen and firefighters… and sometimes construction workers. This is a very macho set of professions, and moustaches seem to work on them. I’m not bright enough to know why, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “Dude, don’t you think it’s kind of odd that cop has a moustache?

The second group where moustaches won’t raise an eyebrow is gay club culture. Now I’m not gay, nor am I cultured, but I used to live just a few blocks from West Hollywood in the mid 1990s, or about 30 pounds ago. My daily walk to the bagel shop on Santa Monica Boulevard would take me past clubs with names like “Rage” and “Axel,” and most of the people that would whistle at me from those clubs had moustaches.

The third group is the Village People, who actually fit into both categories. They were very popular in gay clubs, dressed up like policemen and construction workers, and performed the song “Macho Man.” Rumor has it the producer who assembled the Village People put an ad out in a trade magazine to audition potential members. The only requirement was that group members must have moustaches.

So, to recap the show so far: I am not a construction worker, policeman, firefighter, gay man, or a member of the Village People. (I know many of you read this blog because you think I’m a former member of the Village People. I’m not. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.) But despite all this, I found myself confronted with this dark patch on my face that resembled a moustache.

No one at work seemed to notice. Or were they just too embarrassed to say anything? I’m in an industry where appearance matters, so I slapped on an inordinate amount of makeup on my face and tried to make the best of it.

Still no comments, but deep down inside, I knew I was sporting a moustache. And it was starting to make me paranoid. “People are looking at me,” I thought. “They think I’m a construction worker.” Worse still, I couldn’t help stroking my upper lip, and the makeup was starting to rub off.

Luck was on my side, however. During a lull in the action at work, I was able to dash home and shave again. I looked into the mirror afterwards and recognized my old friend, that dark-haired guy who doesn’t have a moustache. I breathed a deep sigh of relief an headed back to work.

It’s been a week since that traumatic event, and things have pretty much gotten back to normal. But something still lingers from that day. Just a nagging feeling, really, mostly about the YMCA. You know, it really is fun to stay at the YMCA. I could get myself clean, I could have a good meal. You know, do whatever I feel.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Only YOU can prevent narcissism.

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