Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Final Bash for Chihuahua Comics

Yep, it's true.  Summer is coming to an end and so are Chihuahua Comics.  They'll be back again for another full run Summer 2013.  And if you're good, they might just come back for a special Christmas run in December.  But that's only if you're good.  Santa doesn't make any promises.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

LONDON 2012 Opening Ceremony of the Olympics

Back on July 15th a friend of mine named Ryan made a status asking when the Olympics started this year.  It brought on a slew of comments informing him of the date, and also arguing over which Olympics were better: summer or winter?  Then I joined the conversation.

Jack:  Just to shake things up, I don't care for the Olympics at all. Period. All the TV shows disappear so we can watch a track meet.

Ryan:  Where is your patriotism, Jack? What you get is to watch Uncle Sam kick trash in a track meet.  

Jack:  Ha ha ha! I know... My lack of interest in sporting events makes me a terrorist. :(

Ryan:  I have zero interest in sports either, but the Olympics go beyond sports. At least you realize the seriousness of your situation. Someone should alert the Department of Homeland Security and TSA.

And just like that my cynical sports-hating views of the Olympics were soundly reprimanded by an amazing patriot, Ryan Wall, who oddly enough is living in Sao Paulo, Brazil (at least that's what his Facebook profile says).  Now who's the terrorist, Ryan?  At least I live in the U.S.A.!

So last night I put forth good effort and sat and watched the Opening Ceremony in London.  Well, I actually watched it here in Orem, Utah with Brian and his parents, just to be clear.  But they were indeed being broadcast from across the pond.  So there I was last night watching all 40-million hours worth of Olympic hoopla and fanfare.  And I gotta say, it was kinda strange.  Parts were fantastic and indeed showed me that the Olympics "go beyond sports" as Ryan said.  There was definitely an aspect of world unity and a celebration of the human spirit.  However, I wasn't expecting "beyond sports" to also mean pop music, Mary Poppins, and a parachuting Queen of England.

What I Liked:

  • I thought the transformation of England from a pastoral green to an industrialized gray was pretty fascinating.  And when the workers began to form the ring from fire right before my very eyes I was indeed impressed.  Watching the ring float up to the sky and join with four other rings to form the Olympic symbol was pretty gosh-darn impressive.
  • Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) had a funny part in the ceremony doing a parody of Chariots of Fire and I quite enjoyed it.  He's a funny guy.
  • The parade of countries, while dreadfully dull, was still pretty neat to see.  I have never heard of half the smaller nations represented there!  Some only have a handful of athletes competing, while we of course have hundreds.  Waiting through the entire alphabet clear to the U's was hard to do but definitely worth it to see our American athletes smiling and waving to the crowd.  Well, smiling and waving and taking pictures of themselves.  And sure they looked a little like Frenchmen in their made-in-China berets, but it still gave me a sense of pride in my nation.  Go Team USA!
  • The Lighting of the Torch was truly spectacular.  The final stretch featured seven young athletes who got the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of bringing their torches to the end destination.  They each lit a copper leaf (one representing each country), which lit more, before rising in the air to form a beautiful Torch Bowl.  This of course launched us into a glorious fireworks display as we all oohed and awed.

 What I Didn't Like:
  • Danny Boyle's stupid video at the beginning.  It was just a crazy, spinning journey around London.  I was dizzy.  And confused.
  • The middle section of the ceremony featuring dancing nurses and sick children on trampoline beds was kind of cute I guess, but it got a little bizarre when giant Voldemort came and spewed fire along with other baddies like Cruella DeVil, The Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook.  Seriously though, Voldemort scared the crap out of me.  But then it went from scary to ridiculous when a million Mary Poppins came from the sky to beat the bad guys up.  And what was with the giant, creepy baby?  It reminded me of the baby Voldemort thing that Harry sees when he dies and goes to King's Cross in the last book...
  • Then it got really dumb with a stupid love story between a boy and a girl which was supposed to represent the digital age and celebrate the World Wide Web creator who was a Brit.  Mostly it was like an MTV music video on steroids and I just wasn't into it.  Sure the music was all of London's best, but still...  it somehow lacked the dignity I wanted from the Olympics.  Besides, that boy was not cute.
  • The American announcers were annoying.  They kept talking over everything and nothing they said was interesting.  And why did they keep cutting away to Ryan Seacrest interviews?
  • I guess it was kinda fun to see the "Queen" parachute out of a helicopter, but I thought the video leading up to it was very long and boring.  James Bond walks down a hallway, she comes with him, they walk back down the hallway, and get into a helicopter all without words or even a smile from the Queen.
  • Which brings me to the last point.  Why was the Queen so unhappy the whole time?  Maybe she was embarrassed of the opening ceremony too.  Or maybe she just wasn't a Paul McCarthy fan, who feebly crooned us out after the fireworks finale to a rendition of "Hey Jude."
 But hey, at least you can't say I'm a terrorist anymore.  Bring on the Olympic games! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

To Idaho, Yellowstone and Wyoming and Back!

Last year Brian's family took us on a fantastic vacation to Disneyland in sunny Anaheim, California!  We rode fun rides, saw Aladdin and soaked up all the magic that is Disney!  This year, our exciting destination was Rexburg, Idaho...

Wait, what?

Yup.  Rexburg, Idaho.  Brian's mom Katherine grew up there and the Barrus family decided to have a family reunion (because who knows how much longer grandparents will stay alive).  A few years ago I drove up to Rexburg with the family, so it wasn't my first time meeting most of the family members there.  We stayed at Katherine's sister Connie's house with her husband Bruce.  Fun people.  Connie is a female body builder and Bruce enjoys photography.  He likes to photograph nature scenes.  And his muscly wife.  This probably sounds pretty ridiculous but it's all true.

Tons of other aunts, uncles, and cousins were there as well, including Brian's cousin Liz and her kids Aimee and Parker.  Parker is a fun little five-year-old who had me chasing him up and down the stairs all day or playing Hide and Seek.

"I'll count and you hide," he said.  "What number should I count to?"

"Count to ten," I said.

"Do you know what number I can count to?  I can count to one thousand!"

"Yeah... just count to ten."

He also took my phone and played Draw Something with it, so if you got a screen filled entirely in green scribbles the word was "polkadot."

As far as reunion activities went, the day was pretty low-key.  In the morning we gathered for a surprise birthday breakfast in honor of Brian's grandpa LaMar Barrus.  Brian's mom put together an awesome gift basket for him and each gift represented a moment in his long life.  It was really interesting to hear about his time growing up on a farm, living and studying music in Europe, and conducting an orchestra for years.

We ate lunch at the family favorite Big Jud's, the girls did their traditional activity of fighting over their grandmother's purses, shoes and jewelry, and we played a few family games.  It was nice to be included and fun to interact with the Barrus clan... even if it meant going to church with everyone on Sunday morning.  It's okay though, because I looked dang good in my suit and it's always fun to see Brian squirm uncomfortably in a pew.

Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to everyone in Idaho and headed to West Yellowstone with Brian's immediate family.  We stopped and explored Island Park and whatnot before staying in a hotel somewhere in Montana.  The next morning we ventured further into Yellowstone and saw lots of beautiful scenery including mountains and waterfalls and geysers.  We even saw some wildlife including several buffalo, adorable little chipmunks and squirrels, a mama deer and her two babies who crossed the street right behind us, seagulls, swans, a fox that we chased through the trees and the best part of all--an American Bald Eagle!

Oh, and there was also that one creepy-looking bug that flew into Brian's shirt.

Of course we had to go to Old Faithful.  The weather took a turn for the worse at that point and began to rain so we watched it from the safety of the porch.  Here's a video I took of the eruption, which is sideways.  I don't mean the eruption was sideways.  It was vertical.  But the video is sideways.  Not on purpose.  Ugh... just don't watch it.  In fact, I'm not even going to put it in here.

Anyway, the rain stopped and the sky turned blue again and we went out on the boardwalk to explore all of the many different geysers that surround Old Faithful.  It was a lot of fun, even if the geysers smell like dog farts.  The best part was when we took a dirt trail through the mountains to see Morning Glory and the Mirror Pool and some of the other sights off the main boardwalk.  There weren't any other people besides us out there and it sure felt good to be hiking in the wilderness.  I think that was my favorite part of the whole trip.

That night we drove out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and had dinner at Snake River Brewing.  We were with Brian's family so of course nobody ordered any beer, which the waitress thought was pretty weird:  "No beer at the brewery??"  The food was delicious though.  I had a chorizo peach pizza which I loved.  A little family argument broke out at dinner involving Brian and some foul language in a show tune which led to Brian's mom storming off into the night.  We all had to go out and find her.  That's when I knew it was a true family vacation.  I mean, without family drama it would just be a regular vacation, and who wants that?

On Tuesday morning we explored Jackson Hole a little bit, did some shopping (we came home with some Huckleberry jam, taffies and chocolate) and even rode in a stagecoach.  Those poor horses had to work extra hard to pull Brian and I around... given that we seem to get fatter every day that we're together.  At the rate we're expanding, by the time we get married next November we'll be roughly the size of baby buffalo and bursting out of our tuxedos.  I decided then and there to make some healthier choices, and had my very last Coke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

We're home now.  Let's see how long that resolution lasts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stadium of Fire

Last night Brian and I went to Stadium of Fire held at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.  Stadium of Fire is a huge 4th of July celebration that features musical performers and some amazing pyrotechnics.  It's even broadcasted live to the American troops overseas.  Cool, huh?  Brian's family goes pretty much every year, but this was the first time since I've been dating Brian that we've gone with them.  And the best part is we didn't even have to buy our own tickets!  Thanks, future father-in-law!

Now, this event is so steeped in Americana that Boy Scouts handled the parking.  That's right.  Once we were parked and seated in the stadium, the show began in true Utah style with an opening prayer.  The host for the evening was Alex Boye, a popular LDS singer and member of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  The Girl Scouts led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of our National Anthem.  When the crowd sang "the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air," red fireworks went off accompanied by booming canons.  Very epic.  The finale of the song brought a flyover of a Hill Air Force Base 388th Fighter Wing.  The planes were so loud and I loved it!  Then the Stadium of Fire Dancers did a number to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and the featured musical performances began.

Scotty McCreery, winner of American Idol's 10th season, got the night started with several of his hits including "I Love You This Big."  Brian and I aren't huge country fans so we took the opportunity to sneak off to buy some food.  There was a stand selling New Orleans cuisine so we got some shrimp Po' Boy sandwiches.  Very yummy.  We also got some snow cones and headed back to our seats just as the Stadium of Fire Talent Search was going on.

After the winner was decided, the headline performers entered the stage:  The Beach Boys!  Yep, as part of their 50th anniversary tour they hit up Provo, Utah!  Apparently they performed Stadium of Fire once before in 1992 and the crowds went wild. You might think that The Beach Boys are way too old now to put on a good show, but that is far from the truth!  As America's oldest and most successful boy band--a true American classic--they kept the energy up with poppy, beachy tunes one right after the other:  "Surfin' U.S.A.", "Barbara Ann", "Don't Worry Baby", "California Girls," "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "I Get Around", "Good Vibrations" and "Fun, Fun, Fun".... just to name a few.  Their harmonies are still spot on and everyone of all ages knew the words to the songs and couldn't help but sing along.  Brian's mom and sister Amy got up and started dancing even! 

After The Beach Boys, the fireworks began!  First they did a firework show choreographed to James Bond music and then a choir led by Alex Boye sang "America the Beautiful."  The Patriotic Pyrotechnic Finale was phenomenal and I almost went deaf from the booming explosions of color in the night sky.  Such a fun night!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


by Brian Kesler

On July 4th, 1826, two men died, a few hours apart: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican who believed in the common man. He thought the nation should build itself on agriculture rather than industry. He favored a limited Federal Government and stressed States’ rights. He called for a “Wall of Separation” between Church and State. John Adams, on the other hand, was a Federalist. He believed in the power of centralized government, believed in a large and powerful Navy, and even made it a crime to criticize the government. Jefferson and Adams were known for their bitter rivalry, but they also came together at one point in their lives to create the most important document in the history of the United States of America: The Declaration of Independence. What a remarkable coincidence that their famous document was signed on July 4th 1776, fifty years – to the day! – before both their deaths.

You see, on such a historic day, politicians and politically minded people on all sides will try to sway you into thinking that the “Founding Fathers” believed such and such, or that the “Founding Fathers” obviously intended whatnot. The truth is that our Founding Fathers were not sustained on a collective heartbeat, but were individuals with vastly different ideas about the role of government. George Washington believed in a strong Federal Government; Benjamin Franklin opposed strong Federal Government and proposed we have three sitting Presidents at one time; Alexander Hamilton believed that intellectuals should rule the nation and created the National Bank, calling national debt a “blessing.”; George Mason opposed the Constitution; Morris believed Senators should be chosen for life and that only a select few citizens should elect the President; Roger Sherman opposed the Bill of Rights; James Wilson believed in Central Government and strongly supported Congress’ power to tax; Edmond Randolph was a supporter of States’ rights and refused to sign the Constitution, seeing it as a vast overreach of the Federal Government. In fact, the Constitution was known, at the time, as a bundle of compromises.

At a time when the political atmosphere has become so divisive, it’s easy for one party or the other to try to say they have a monopoly on American ideals, when the very nature of American Ideals have been fought over since the formation of our country. We are all Americans and we all deserve a say in how our country is governed. That is part of the reason the Declaration of Independence was written in the first place. Happy Independence Day!

Chihuahua Comics 2012:10

Happy 4th of July!

"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence..." - John Adams

Happy 4th of July, everyone!  Last night Brian and I got into a patriotic spirit by inviting his family over for dinner and a movie.  We ate fried chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and a delicious cherry cobbler... all made by my terrifically talented chef of a man.  What's more American than fried chicken?  So good!

The movie choice was the '72 film adaptation of the musical 1776 starring William Daniels as John Adams (you might know Daniels as Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World).  If you haven't seen the movie, it's pretty fantastic.  It's funny in all the right ways and then really serious when it needs to be.  A bit of musical camp and a lot of political drama.  The movie centers around John Adams and his fight for American independence.  Being a rather opinionated man, he wasn't much liked in congress, except for his pals Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva) and Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) who Adams eventually coerced into penning the Declaration of Independence.  

The film shows how hard it was to convince all of the delegates that independence was necessary and achievable.  In fact, it's amazing to see how our nation's birth might never have come to pass if Adams wasn't so passionately invested in the revolution.  It's a fairly long movie (almost three hours), but so worth it at the end when they all sign the declaration on July 4th, 1776.  What a momentous occasion!

So today, as we all go out and have our backyard barbecues and shoot our fireworks, let's take a moment to recognize the men who laid the foundation for this great nation of ours.  I hope that we can continue to move forward as a society to ensure that every American citizen can have "liberty and justice for all."

Sunday, July 1, 2012


When Brian left for work yesterday, he kissed me goodbye and said, "I'll probably be home around 2:00 or so."  I put some blankets in the washer, swept the kitchen floor and washed some dishes.  I was about to pull the vacuum out when I heard the key in the lock.  "Brian?"

"I'm home!" he called out cheerily.

I looked at the clock on the microwave.  "It's not even 11:00," I said.  "You're home early."

"Yep!  And we're going to a surprise place, so get ready!"

I just sort of stood there like a dumbfounded fool.  He went into the bathroom, turned on the shower, undressed and then poked his head out.  "Come on!  Get moving!"

So I did.  We both got ready for the day as quickly as we could and before long we were sitting in the car on the freeway headed north.  I didn't know right away where we were going, but eventually I got an idea.  He had said to wear shorts so I knew we would be outside... We were driving in the right direction...  I had mentioned to him that I've never been there before...

Sure enough, we were headed to Lagoon!

For those who may not know, Lagoon is an amusement park in Farmington, Utah which is just north of Salt Lake City.  To be more specific, it's part amusement park, part water park, part carnival, part zoo and part museum.  I never knew that there was so much variety.  We started out the day playing some arcade games where we won over 4,000 tickets which of course amounts to nothing when it comes time to cash them in for prizes.  We got a lot of random stuff like stuffed toys, playing cards, whoopie cushions, and glow-in-the-dark friendship bracelets (because Brian and I are besties, ya know).

After the arcade, we decided to ride on some rides.  My favorites were probably Wicked, The Spider and Colossus.  Brian said when he was a kid he would make his dad go with him on Colossus over and over again.  I thought that was pretty cute.  We probably would have ridden on more rides than we did, but sometimes roller coasters combined with junk food like Icees and hamburgers make my tummy feel a little funny. 

So we spent some time losing at carnival games (except for the Lucky Duck game which is beyond easy) and then roamed around the Pioneer Village side of the park.  That's where Lagoon becomes a sort of museum/zoo.  There are lots of different buildings like an old-fashioned pharmacy, print shop, dentist's office, that sort of thing with various artifacts.  There was also a little museum about the telephone and one about circuses.  They even had some animals, like deer and stuff, that would get right up next to the fence and nuzzle your hand.  It was pretty cool.

We ended our day with an aerial ride over the park in what's basically a ski lift.  Pretty neat to see the park from above and feel like you're flying through the tree tops.  We never did do any water stuff, but we didn't bring swimsuits and let's face it, we're much too fat to be running around shirtless.  Perhaps someday.  Lagoon offers this bounceback program and if we bring our validated tickets back within ten days we can get in for a discounted rate.  Brian says next week is kind of slow for him, so we just might do it on one of my days off.

I asked Brian why he decided to surprise me like this, and he said the idea just came to him while he was at work.  He thought about me, sitting at home all weekend with nothing exciting to do, and he thought, "Hey, he's never been to Lagoon in all these years he's lived in Utah."  So he skipped out on work and took me out.  I am very grateful for the gesture and I had a very enjoyable time with my sweet, spontaneous man.


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