30 June 2013

Curse you, tiny songstress!

Curse you, Karen!
According to research as revealed in the font of all things true on the interwebs, about 98% of us have suffered from  an earworm. Say what now? But you bathe regularly and avoid lice-infested schoolyards, you loudly protest. Protest all you like, compulsive ear cleaner. No amount of Q-Tips will protect you against the invasive earworm.

You see, an earworm is, and I'm quoting the aforementioned truthsayer, "a piece of music that sticks in one's mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it is not being played." See, I told you that you've had earworms. So relax. I seem to have a heightened version of this because I can't seem to get certain scenes, quotes, and music from movies or TV shows out of my head. Typically, these are not quality movies or TV shows, making all the more of a curse. I give you this weekend's earworm, thanks to heavy rotation on the movie channels, as Exhibit A:

From the 2012 craptastic remake of a 1970s campy, no, no highly campy soap opera, "Dark Shadows," the scene in which a vampire, played by Johnny Depp, demands that the late Karen Carpenter, as she belts "Top of the World" emerge from the period perfect console TV set, by bellowing:

Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!

Now because I seem to suffer madly from this earworm thing, that scene has been replaying in my head non-stop since Friday night. This has been exacerbated by the weird need I have to replay that Carpenters song time and again on my iPod. Yes, I have some Carpenters stuff on my iPod. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, when my full playlist is discovered in a thousand years, one of two things will be said: "This person was a musical savant!" or "By all that's holy, what was wrong with this guy?" I suspect it will be the latter, but for now, it is neither here nor there.

For now, I am find myself being oddly amused by the stupid "songstress" line and pretty much haunted by the  song. I mean let's face it, for a musical act that started charting in 1969, the Carpenters could not have been more square peg in a round hole. To say they were a little different than the other acts of the day is like saying the Kardashians are only mildly repulsive. Which they aren't. They are hideous.

Say what you will about the Carpenters, but there was a lot of talent in that 'tiny songstress.' And while this current earworm is driving me nuts, it is to me at least, a reminder of the power of music. It's just so funny how just hearing a note or two of a song will take you back 30 years, or however many years, and will recall  the exact moment you were struck by that song. Our minds are an amazing thing. I'm grateful mine is still working the way that it is.

That said, I've got to go hammer this earworm out! Wish me luck.

25 June 2013


This past Sunday, many of my fellow Mormons and I gathered to watch a broadcast from Church leaders. The purpose of the broadcast was missionary work. The Church, of late, has been on a bit of a tear in terms of its missionary focus, and depending on your perspective, the tear continued. See the headlines below:

Mormons to Do Less Door-to-Door - hails ABC News
Mormon Missions:Door-to-Door approach is out; internet is in - cried the Salt Lake Tribune

In short, there is going to be a change in how missionary work is done, as it appears there will be far less focus on knocking doors, or tracting, as we called it when I served. The focus will be on working with members and using more of the interwebs. There's certainly far more too it but it's the doing less door-to-door that's gaining a bit of attention.

Nobody's home
So it sounds like what's pictured at the left will become a thing of the past. Now I don't think it will go away entirely. I mean how many people in the Amazon are surfing Facebook? As we watched the broadcast and took in this announcement, I couldn't help but think of my own experience, knocking doors for hours upon hours for two years in the wilderness known as Miami in the mid-1980's. If there was no tracting then, then there would be no game of "Gambling for Doors." Since it was an interesting time to be living in Miami, we'd bet on what might be behind the next door. Was it a gun? Yep, I had a couple of dark run-ins with people toting guns. A naked guy? Check. Check. A Trekkie? You'd be surprised how many Trekkies seemed to be taking refuge in South Florida nearly 30 years ago. Would it be yet another woman telling us she couldn't unlock the door because her husband had locked her in? Yeah, we got a lot of that. Or would it be someone that really seemed interested in what we had to share?

Most of the time it was all the other things than someone interested. We were far more successful in working with members. But I learned a lot, A LOT, tracting. I grew up as we knocked on those doors. I heard so many stories from those people that would open their doors and talk to us. Stories of bravery, heartbreak, adventure, kindness and tragedy to name but a few. I learned that for the most part, the world is full of good people who are trying to get by and do the right thing. I saw people who barely had a place to call their own be willing to give someone with even less the shirt off their back. In many ways, I grew up. I am grateful for those lessons to this day.

With The Boy eligible to serve in less than a year, I know his experiences will be far different than mine were. Is a part of me sad that may not be knocking as many doors as I did? Maybe, but not really. He'll do far greater things than I ever did. Isn't that how it should be, anyway?

22 June 2013

Tats and Tenements:A Summer's Day in the City

In spite of a nearly empty nest, rare is the Saturday where the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I find that we have absolutely nothing on tap. Today was one of those Saturdays, and with the Boy shilling shirts for the day at the Old Gravy, it only seemed reasonable that we should make a day of it. And we made a day of it in New York City. As did about 1,000,000 other people. The City was a madhouse in the best sense of the word.

Our destination was the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. What an amazing place to get your history freak on! But before we did that, since it is physically impossible for me to go the City without several food stops, we got off the train and went to Katz's Deli, that famed temple of pastrami on rye. Although  the guys slicing the pastrami and corned beef first language is Spanish, not Yiddish, they know what they are doing. See the evidence below:
Pastrami like this needs to be loved and I, for one, I love it.

After satisfying our stomachs, we descended on 103 Orchard Street, to satisfy our minds. The museum, through its various tours, affords visitors the opportunity to step back in time and get a sense of what immigrant life was like (by and large, it was rough). We took a tour into two apartments of families from the 1860's and 1930's and it was fascinating to get a sense of the lives they lived. They were not easy by any stretch and it was compelling to see, how on the whole, how the immigrant experience today isn't all that different.

Anyway, with the history freak fed, it was time to explore as we made our way uptown. I was loath to take this far too touristy selfie, this happened:
Where King Kong did his thing in the background 

It was a glorious summer's day and it allowed for an observation. The warmer temps mean all kinds of poor clothing choices that revealed the scourge of really bad tattoos. I'm talking sleeves, legs, faces, capped with bad weaves in a lot of cases. At every turn, we saw worse art covering far too much physical real estate. It's just got to stop. 

New York City is a glorious train wreck, tats and all. It was great to be in the City with someone who has made my life better for nearly twenty five years now. Yeah, it's been a good day.

16 June 2013

Being a Dad:A Retrospective

Today we celebrate Father's Day. It was a day, originated in the United States as a complement to Mother's Day, to celebrate fatherhood and male parenting. For a host of reasons, including the general downplay of the role of fathers in society and media in particular (ahem, Disney and your ceaseless pursuit of parental destruction), Father's Day is not as excessively promoted as other such days by Hallmark and its ilk. That is fine by me. I need no corporate overlord trying to sell me card that will say all that's unsaid in any given relationship. Nope, I've been surrounded by examples of great fatherhood throughout my life and I've tried to emulate them.

As I ponder being a father, I realize that for me, it all started here, with my late father:
My sister said it best about my Dad today in a post on BookFace, when she said that she'd never known a more honest, hard-working, supportive man in her life. She's right. He was all that and more. He may not have been the dad to rough house, but I knew he supported me, and each of his children, in all sorts of ways. I knew I mattered. I knew I was loved. That's a good thing to know. His is an example I strive to follow each and every day.

Me and Our Lady
My own adventure in fatherhood began more than 23 years ago with the arrival of Our Lady of Awesome. At left, you can see me holding her. I think I was afraid her head was going to fall off, hence the near chokehold I've got her in. Frankly, I should have been more concerned about the heinous choice of acid-washed jeans. Seriously. If you can ignore the terrifyingly poor choice in jeans, you can see that I look a little unsure. Given that this was my first-born and I was sans a clue, it makes sense. But what you don't see is my amazing wife, who has done more to make me the father that I am today than anyone. All I had to do was look over to her in those first few hours and days with our new baby, and I got the sense that maybe I could do this father thing.

Me and CAL
Then, feeling like I was getting this father thing down, we added to the Den. CAL brought an added measure of joy to our family. Now I had two children depending on me as their dad. Having two daughters was especially daunting, as I knew I needed to be a good example of manhood. I didn't want to be a bad example to them as they formulated their ideas of what a man should be for later in life. I wasn't always perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm still not. As a matter of fact, I think CAL is crying about my choice of eyeware in the picture at left. Frankly, I don't blame her. I'm so proud of my girls and the paths they are walking in this life. They amaze me each and every day.

Me and The Boy
The fatherhood fiesta came to an end with the arrival of The Boy. By that I simply mean that he was the last of the children that would inhabit the Den. Like his sisters before him, his arrival added to the joy in our home. It also increased our insurance premiums to this day and the reasons for that are posts for another day. Having a son also meant being a good example of manhood but for some different reasons than those for my daughters. I hope he will some day find someone as amazing as his mother and that he will look back on the example of his dad and think that the old man was all right. What I hope for even more for my son is that he will do it so much better than I did. Don't get me wrong...I don't think I've been a mess of a dad. I just want him to be even better.

Me and the Baby Awesome
And now, I've entered to an amazing phase of fatherhood - being a grandfather. It's funny when you look at this picture. I'm not so fearful as I was when I looked at this boy's mother. No, not afraid at all. What I am is in awe. My first-born is a parent. My wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, and I are grandparents. It is an incredible place to be. In spite of being a grandfather, my fathering is not over. There is still much to do with The Boy still left at home. My girls will always be my girls. I will always be there for all three of my children. Once I signed up for the dad thing, it was a forever assignment. I'm good with that.

President Obama said, "Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father." I'll admit there have been moments where I've wanted to cower in terror as a father, but I'm grateful for the example of amazing fathers all around me that made me take courage. I'm glad to be a father. Best. Title. Ever.

08 June 2013

Benson - in photos

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is the case, then what follows is several thousand words. Please indulge me as I share a few pictures of our visit with our newborn grandson. 

Meeting Benson for the first time

Proof! We are grandparents,

Guess what's going on here? 

He was done with the photo session
Another loyal Cougar fan - as if he had a choice 
Apparently Benson will be attending BYU
This is Benson's great-grandfather, the Chief Pilot. It was his 75th birthday. Pretty sweet way to celebrate.

Today we'll soak him in as we head home tomorrow. The plan is to enjoy every minute of it.

Thanks for indulging me as I share this incredible experience. I'll return to my normal pattern here in the Den pronto.

07 June 2013

Full Circle

I met my grandson for the first time yesterday. Words fail me (finally is what more than a few of you are saying) in describing the moment I first held him. It's pretty fantastic, but then so is he.
Its been an incredible thing to watch my daughter mother her son and to see how actively involved my son-in-law is. He's more than living up to his 'awesome' moniker. What's been even more fun is to watch the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML in action as a grandmother. After nearly 25 years of marriage to me, you recognize that nothing throws her and she's taking everything this new little man does in and is so patient in sharing motherly wisdom with Our Lady of Awesome. Mothering is coming full circle for her.

Before we got over to see young Mr. Benson this morning, we had a chance to head over to our alma mater, BYU, to buy the appropriate baby gear. It's never too early to lay the groundwork for his choice of university. The campus was pretty quiet but as we walked around, I realized we had come full circle too. It was here where the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I met all those years ago. It was here where we spent our first eighteen months or so of marred life. It was here (not on campus, mind you) that our first child was born. Now she is a mother. 
With Brother Brigham looming large in the background, we look a little different then we did when we strolled the campus hand in hand twenty five years ago.

Twenty five years later, we still strolled hand in hand with the acute sense that things had come full circle for us. Here's the thing about circles - they don't end. They just keep going. With the first of our next generation now here, the circle keeps going. And that is more than a little cool.

01 June 2013

Introducing Our First Grandchild - The Baby Awesome

It is with a tremendous sense of excitement that I present to you our first grandchild, our grandson:
Benson Adelbert Asay
Benson entered the world in Provo, UT (interesting note - he was born in the same hospital where his mother, Our Lady of Awesome, was born), on Friday, May 31st, at 11:41PM. He was a little late - he'd been scheduled to be delivered by induction this Sunday. He opted to do things his way and showed up on his own on Friday. He rolled into the world weighing 9 lbs., 4 oz., and measured 21 inches. For a family that's always had little babies, he's a bit of a bruiser. Who knows where that's coming from? Maybe from his maternal grandfather's line. Or maybe it's from the muddled mystery swamp that is my gene pool since, as a 1960's adoptee, who knows what I've got swimming in my DNA.

The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML was able to be there to see him enter the world. And thanks to the glory of texting, I got plenty of updates a continent away. From the minute I got the call that things were underway, and once I stopped crying (!), it was 'game on' for baby watch. It made for a fun Friday afternoon at the office, can I just tell you/

Now, I won't give a blow-by-blow of the birth because A) I wasn't there and 2) the Awesomes will most likely tell their story on their blog at some point. But I will say this - I am awestruck at what women go through in order to bring life. It is something that we men will never, ever, ever understand. Ever. I can't effectively put into words my admiration for what women go through as they deliver a baby. And I don't think I could ever express enough gratitude that I'm not going though it. I think Our Lady of Awesome summed up the experience nicely when I talked to her about 90 minutes after she'd delivered the Baby Awesome. She said, "Yeah, don't be expecting another one of these anytime soon."

Suffice to say, we are out of our minds excited about Benson's arrival. It's been so great to see all the great comments from friends far and wide on BookFace. The opinions are pretty unanimous that being a grandparent rules and that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML looks absolutely amazing. I won't argue with that.

I'm just beginning to wrap my mind around the fact that I have a grandson and that I am a grandfather. I cannot wait to meet him. Thursday can't get here soon enough!

Welcome to the world, Benson! You are going to do amazing things. I can't wait to watch you do those things!

This needs no caption
Benson at rest