Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Diamond in the sky

Marc and I had already had a challenging day.
We had hiked up to Timp Cave and back with an assortment of grandkids and their parents and back and forth from our picnic site a couple of times.
We were looking forward to the Neil Diamond concert that night as a chance to sit down and sit back and just revel in the music. (We're both fans though he likes the rock and roll while I prefer the love songs.)
The concert started at 8 p.m. in the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
Since we live in American Fork, we knew we ought to leave fairly early which we did.
We allowed time to stop at the hardware store to pick up a bolt so Marc could rebuild the bed in the Barbie room. (That's another column.)
We allowed time to zip through the wedding reception for a girl in our neighborhood.
We thought we allowed time to eat and that's where our plan started to break down.
McGrath's had a 20-minute wait and then it took forever to catch the fish we wanted to eat, apparently.
Traveling to see the Traveling man
It was nearly 8 p.m. when we left the restaurant with a herd of other anxious people headed to Neil Diamond.
Now we started to look for parking. A friend of ours had suggested the South Towne Centre parking lot since parking near the stadium costs $25. We turned in but there was a big sign "$15 parking."
We didn't have cash so we turned around and plowed on...and on.. and on. The signs in the businesses and yards got progressively cheaper as we neared the mountains but we still didn't have any cash.
We ended up about 15 blocks away.
Then, when we finally got to the Will Call window to collect our tickets, we were told they were at the window on the OTHER side. (Of course!)
Three floors and a bunch of steps later we were in our seats, exhausted and grumpy.
Fortunately there had been some wind and sound problems so Neil started late, about the same time we arrived around 8:30 p.m.
It was a great concert. We were happy to be there.
But be warned, if you go to an event at Rio Tinto, start jogging in way early.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tossing and turning

My grandmother never threw anything away. She always figured she'd need whatever she was holding in her hand someday: Cool Whip containers, big pieces of cardboard, little scraps of fabric.
My mother constantly de-cluttered. If the object in question didn't have an immediate, useful purpose, it was gone.
As a result of this mixed heritage, I'm paralyzed.
I throw something out and then go retrieve it.
I start a little collection of something (once I have two of anything, it's considered a collection) and then one day, I'll toss it all overboard.
It makes for some tough cleaning binges.
Like right now when we are re-carpeting most of the house.
It's an opportunity to look at everything up close and decide: Do I keep this? When will I ever use it?
Will it take up space I need for something else? What if I throw it out and a grandchild needs a stray bit of soiled leather for a school project?
I am conflicted most of the time.
On the one hand, I hear my practical, thrifty grandma saying I ought not to throw anything out that still has something to give to the world.
On the other hand, my grandmother's house was filled to the brim with old magazines, cards, letters, bits of this and that. (It made for a wonderful treasure house for visiting grandchildren.) She could barely move from room to room in it.
My mother's house was a lot more tidy but not as much fun.
So I lean from one side to the other.
Fortunately, right now we're planning a family garage sale to help Scott/Toby/Alyson or Fiona get to the Olympics someday.
So I don't have to decide between toss and save.
In fact, I have several options: Save it for my dress-up closet or grandkid toy pile or donate it to the Deseret Industries, the trash can or the garage sale.
It makes it so I can put off the moment of decision and still feel I'm accomplishing something.
I'll just have to keep track of what I give away — maybe take the buyer's phone number — so I can go get it back if I need to.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I guess babies hate Star Trek

We loved it.
Marc and I had tickets for the special showing of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which turned out to be a series of little ads for the new Blu-Ray edition of the television series and a documentary of how the show was made.
Included were two episodes that had been beautifully and meticulously remastered.
It was really, really interesting, especially for an audience full of Trekkies.
We knew all the answers to the trivia questions and, in unison, we booed every time Wesley Crusher came on and cheered every time a character said "Shut up Wesley!"
We loved getting the details and seeing the screen tests for Captain Picard.
Everything was great, worth the ticket price of $11.50 each — except we had a half dozen babies in the audience who apparently hated Star Trek.
The babies took turns screaming as their mothers tried valiantly (and somewhat foolishly) to stand in the aisles and get them to stop.
They screamed and screamed and every time it seemed they were going to stop, the loud sound effects set them off again.
And — surprise! There is a lot of loud in a Star Trek show.
The ships blast off, the aliens toss weapons, warp speed is loud, Klingons fight loudly.
We couldn't figure out why the parents thought it was a good idea to bring along these poor infants.
It got so bad one guy hollered "Take him out!!" to one of the mothers.
She finally did but another screamer took her baby's place.
Then a little kid a few rows ahead of us started coughing like he was going to throw up, over and over.
Baby screaming. Kid gagging. Baby screaming some more.
It was almost a circus.
At the end, I told Marc I was going to complain because the tickets were so expensive and I hadn't seen any effort on the part of Cinemark to help shepherd out the noisemakers.
We were waiting for the manager (who actually gave us free passes for a future show to make us feel better) when we saw the babies come by.
One, two, three, four, five. This one crowd of folks had brought five babes-in-arms. Some looked to  be only a few weeks old.
No wonder they screamed.
Their poor little eardrums must have been shattered and they'll have baby nightmares for weeks.
As will we.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paint truths

After spending the week painting our master bedroom: one color for the walls and another color for the ceiling and yet another color for the trim and doors, I've come to the conclusion that there are certain truths that one ought to simply respect when it comes to painting.

That is, in addition to recognizing that it's always harder than it looks and it always takes longer than you plan.

(I once knew a guy — my in-law in Provo — who painted his entire living room overnight before my son's wedding but he's the exception to the rules.)

Here are Sharon's Top Ten Realities when it comes to painting:

1. It's important to lay down a tarp to protect your furniture and flooring but whatever globs or drips of paint you let fly will fall on the unprotected space outside the tarp.

2. If you wear anything of value while you paint — even for just a minute — you will back into or brush up against a wet wall.

3. If you think you might run out of paint, you will, especially if it's late and the store is closed.

4. The color you choose will always surprise you just a little and maybe a lot. Little paint swatches lie.

5. A dining room chair does not a ladder make, nor does a strong box.

6. If you're in a hurry or you're up against it, the job will take longer.

7. Cheating (or painting without taping first) doesn't pay. You will ALWAYS make a mistake and swipe outside the lines.

8. It ALWAYS take a second coat. There's no getting around it. Just plan on it.

9. The phone will ring just as you pull a fully loaded brush from the can or a dripping roller from the pan.

10. If you missed a spot, you missed more. They'll show up in the morning or after you've cleaned the brushes and put everything away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bad review for the reviewer

So this old man read my review of "Forever Plaid" done well at the Pickleville Playhouse near Bear Lake.
He was mad at me.
He told me he read the review and went to see the show based on my recommendation.
Now he wants his money back — from me.
And he's accusing me of taking bribes.
Never mind that he didn't go to see the show at the Pickleville Playhouse, the one where I clearly said, it was unusually enjoyable because the Pickleville players are so funny and so good at what they do.
Never mind that he chose to see the show in some little town in Canada where he hated it.
"I went with high expectations and left disappointed...To me, the show was boring. 
"Somebody needs to tell you that your view of quality production is very lacking...It appears you are paid by the group to give what they want you to say..."
I was truly taken aback.
I've been raked over the coals from time to time for my reviews but usually because I "attacked" somebody's daughter/son/wife/husband/friend when they couldn't hit the notes or act the part.
I kind of expect that and understand the reaction.
(I once did a review of a Lehi community production of "Fiddler on the Roof" and said Yentl was pretty harsh and difficult to like. I heard for weeks about how I'd publicly humiliated the actress and wasn't I ashamed of myself?)
Part of the job of a theater critic is to focus in on what's wrong so the people in charge can either fix the problem or at least understand why tickets aren't selling.
But in this case, I raved about the Pickleville show.
My husband and I really, really, liked it and it wasn't because "Forever Plaid" is typically my favorite show. When I've seen it other places, it was always just OK.
But this guy feels like I steered him wrong and robbed him of his time and money.
I tried responding with my typical "Thanks for reading and I'm sorry you disagree" email but that didn't satisfy him.
He shot back with an even more vitrolic denouncement.
"How can you say you and I did not see the same show? The songs were the same, presentation, everything is the same. I suggested you were paid to give a good write-up which is what you did... Somebody needs to tell you the facts of life which is what I am taking my time to do. It was your rating that convinced me to go, and waste my money. Are you going to compensate me that cost and my time? I doubt it. Ralph."
I thought about things I could and maybe ought to say but then instead I just hit "delete."
What is there more to say?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shopping without paper

My son Derek has developed a new shopping app called "CleverList."
We bought one last night because I'm always shopping and he's my son and I wanted to go on record as spending the $2 for one of the original apps.
Besides, Derek just might become rich and famous with a pool at his big house someday and we want to be visitors who are admitted to the premises.
Marc and I sat down to check the options out.
It's actually pretty well thought out. There's a place to list the things one usually buys like bread and milk and eggs and as you repeat the shopping exercise week after week, the app tracks your movements and creates a pattern for you.
Eventually your iPad or smartphone can get in the car, start the engine and do the shopping without you. (Not really, but wouldn't it be nice?)
I think the idea is a sound one and something that would eventually save time and paper.
There's only a few problems I can see from the cheap seats.
I have different lists for different stores.
I started explaining this to Marc as he tried to keep up with the input.
"I only buy eggs and roasts and those little round cheeses wrapped in red wax at Costco. I never buy my fruit or bread there. The bread's old and the quantity of fruit I get is too much for us," I explained.
"At Smith's, I get the sugar-free ice cream we like, the frozen orange juice for a good price, the super lump crab meat and milk that tastes good. I never buy my vegetables there because I can't find the petite corn or peas. I do buy the double fiber with honey bread unless I've splurged this week and bought some at Great Harvest."
I drew a breath.
"At Fresh Market or Macey's, I pick up fresh fruit and vegetables and frozen vegetables. I can find the tortellini I like there but not the chicken in little packages of two breasts each."
Marc was having a hard time keeping up.
"When Smith's sends out their gold coupons, I shop there for all of the things I can save money on, like butter, cheddar and cottage cheese. When Costco releases their coupon book, I buy toothbrushes and dish detergent and rice and flour, not soup because I don't like the kind they carry."
Marc stopped typing.
"Well? Aren't you putting this all down," I said.
He sighed.
"I think you're exceeding the program limits," he said. "And you don't have a smartphone or iPad so how are you going to do this?"
Oh, yeah. That will definitely make it harder.
I guess, for me, it's back to pen and paper, huh?

Friday, July 13, 2012

In love with the music man

I've been in love with Yanni for years now and my husband doesn't mind.
Ever since the first day I saw the display in Media Play of this handsome Greek guy with lots of wavy dark hair and put the earphones on to hear samples of his music, I've been hooked.
Marc knows the music soothes and restores me.
I use it to keep me sane, to boost my spirits, to fill me with joy.
And I'm not alone.
The concert last night was filled with fans just like me, ladies sighing and swaying, guys smiling, some even jumping up to smack hands with Yanni.
It was extraordinary and I was blissful.
The music has such a vibrancy and such heart.
The songs speak to my soul.
I can't believe a mere mortal can produce such majestic music and communicate that to musicians who can play it.
(The violinists, the drummer, the harpists, the keyboardist, the flugal horn guy, everybody is incredible.)
I believe I have all of Yanni's albums and his book and his video and I've either advanced or reviewed every concert he's given in Salt Lake, the most recent one just last night.
I've talked to him on the phone several times and e-mailed him back and forth this last go-around with interview questions.
The only thing I haven't done is meet him face-to-face which is probably good because I'd faint dead away. (I came close once but chickened out.)
I'm admittedly an irrational fan, one who is so glad he keeps making music.
I'll just be glad when he makes enough money to buy himself another T-shirt. This black, short-sleeved one has got to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The 2nd Lemonade stand

We were headed to review "Fiddler on the Roof" in Midway.
We were a little early and since the High Valley Arts Council "theater" is in the middle of a field, we figured we ought to stop at the lemonade stand at the top of the road.
I'm always a softie for kids trying to make a few dimes and everything looked clean, homemade and fresh.
We bought two drinks and a package of chocolate chip cookies.
We handed over money to pay for our treats and climbed back into the car.
Further down the country road, we saw another little stand and a very unhappy small boy.
He was clearly disgusted.
He had his hands on his hips and he was stomping around with an "I can't believe it!" kind of attitude.
Apparently being the second lemonade stand in line wasn't working out for him.

Monday, July 9, 2012

And he's surprised because?

So this guy who works for BYU objects publicly to allowing the new 9-story missionary training center in his neighborhood.
And he's surprised to get called in to discuss it with LDS Church authorities who persuade him to buck up and sustain the church's plans?
I don't get it.
He, after all, works for a university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an institution that requires an ecclesiastical endorsement from your ward bishop if you want to be employed there.
He's challenging a building that will serve as a launch point for thousands of young missionaries headed into the world to deliver the message of the Gospel.
He lives in a neighborhood blessed with nice home values based on the proximity of the LDS temple and the MTC (which, by the way, is hardly a threat to the neighborhood except that it might cast a big shadow).
Again, I say, why is he surprised?
It's one thing to sign a petition or resist such development in a low-profile way but when you wave the red flag in the church's face, you're kind of asking for trouble.
We're members here of a church that asks for strict obedience and total loyalty.
We're here voluntarily.
In fact, most of us would fight to the death for the privilege of membership. That's in the contract.
We promise every week when we go to our sacrament meetings to "renew covenants" that we made at baptism, to do whatever we must do to further the work of the Kingdom. That includes supporting the building of temples, churches and missionary training facilities right along with not smoking, drinking or shopping on Sunday. It includes not mocking God.
So why are any of us upset when we make a public noise and are gently pulled back in line?
I really think it shows a disconnect when people think they should be allowed to go about shouting and kicking.
Either we are with the plan or we're not.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Personal space

It's been years since Marc and I volunteered to pay for the opportunity to suffer at the Stadium of Fire.
Not that the fireworks aren't always spectacular and that the entertainment isn't generally rewarding but there's the horrendous traffic to consider and the ash in your hair.
This year, Marc really wanted to see and hear the Beach Boys. He knows all their songs and their history and I heard for weeks all about how Brian Wilson would be making the tour after years of seclusion.
AND we had these nifty little stadium chairs from R.C.Willey that would make sitting on bleachers a  less torturous.
We headed over to Provo about 7-ish and parked on the side of the road many, many blocks from the stadium. (We could see it from where we parked but just barely.)
What's not to like?
We hiked in and found our seats and plunked down our chairs. The people behind us sort of gasped because the backs of our chairs leaned into their leg space like airline chairs in full recline.
We sat down and the lady next to me sort of sighed.
The arm rest on my chair was already cutting into her hip.
Marc's chair took over a little more of seat 6 than it should.
We had seats 7 and 8 but the seat space was designed for the skinny butts of starving college kids more than for -- uh -- slightly heavy baby boomers.
We might have been all right but everyone around us was fairly good-size as well so it made for a crowded row (and a crammed tight stadium).
We tried to pull in but the chairs are pretty rigid in design and they don't slide together to save space.
We decided to try and ignore the unhappiness around us.
When Marc went to get brownies, the guy on the other side of his chair looked at me disdainfully and said "Those take a little more than the allotted space, don't they?" I told him that "my husband felt bad about it." I couldn't think of anything more to do or say. If we closed up the chairs, we still would have had to find space to store them and there wasn't any.
I know the lady next to me suffered but her husband was taking a fair-sized chunk of space on the other side of her so he could have moved over a bit.
Instead she kept whispering to him and kind of rubbing her thigh.
I tried to just ignore it but it's amazing how much you can hear when people are thinking unkind thoughts.
I tried to ignore the people behind me kicking the backs as well.
If the stadium didn't try to squish too many people into the space, it would help AND if R.C. Willey would have checked to see if their chairs met stadium seat standards, that would've helped.
In any event, we just sort of hunkered down and weathered through.
At least, our designated space was guaranteed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie stars

Marc and I might not get another chance to be in the movies.
The 6-year-old director of the one we just finished isn't happy with our work.
She says we made too much noise and we didn't follow her directions very well.
How were we to know we were messing up?
When Adell told us we were making Part 3 of Barbie's Magical Fairytale, we didn't get a lot of notice.
Adell Spielberg
She came in the door beaming and carrying her the video camera she got for Christmas with her Sunday and told us we were filming.
She didn't tell us where to stand or what our character motivation was.
We barely had time to get into our places, much less rehearse our lines.
"Here, Grandma," Adell said, "You hold the signs," she said.
I held them up, switching places between the main title and the scene number and smiling at the camera.
"No, no," Adell said, a little exasperated. "You went too fast. I'm supposed to read the signs and then you change them."
Take 2.
This time I tried to wait until she read the first sign but then the wind blew and I muffed my scene again.
I pushed the Barbie dolls down the slide and into the water but the camera missed the action that came after they hit the water.
The monster roared and tried to scare the Barbies but all we could see on film was Marc's head as he dove (now he was Superman) to intercept the monster and carry him off to the sandbox.
He successfully buried the monster (Marc's hand) in the sand so the tiny movie has a happy ending.
I liked it. Marc liked it.
Adell thinks we need to reshoot.