Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I Am Green Acres

Originally Published on 6/7/10, 2:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time

The saying goes, you never really know a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. My grandfather and other ancestors wore work boots and did most of their walking on a dairy farm.

Ah yes, the old farm, where every day was filled with chores, fresh air, and E-I-E-I-O. Or so I thought. A few years back, I traveled to Wheeler Historic Farm in Murray, Utah to get a “grip” on the “udderly” demanding job of my ancestors—a dairy farmer.

The first myth I busted when I walked onto the farm was that of “fresh air.” “Ripe” would be a more accurate descriptor. And just when you got used to the smell, the wind would change direction and bring a whole new array of scents. I learned from my father that this smell was commonly referred to as “the smell of money” on the old farm.

The second thing I noticed was the noise. My old See ‘n Say toy told me that farm animals made noises. What it didn’t warn me about was how startlingly loud and frightening these animal noises could be.

I took a tour of the old farmhouse, barn, and chicken coup, where I learned about the daily life of the farmer, early mornings, backbreaking labor, and the overall lack of hygiene.

Finally, my tour group was led into a warm brick shack with a cement floor. The floor had a trench about 8-inches deep that ran right through the middle of it.

Suddenly, two large sliding doors opened, letting in the natural light. Silhouetted in the light was a man in a grungy baseball cap. Behind him, being led by a leash, was a lumbering black and white spotted cow. Ripples shook through its plump body with each step that it took.

The man in the cap led the cow to a trough, plopped a tin bucket under the udders, positioned a short stool next to the beast, pointed at me and said, “you first.” I nervously sat onto the stool and was soon face-to-gut with what looked like a fat horse. I started to contemplate about my grandfather and wondered how many times he had taken in a similar view.

After some brief instruction, I reached under the cow and began to milk it. After a few tries I heard a long “ting” sound echo from the tin bucket. I immediately felt a sense of family pride and accomplishment. My pride was validated when the man in the ball cap told me that I was “a natural.” I then heard a gurgling sound coming from one of the cow’s four stomachs, shocking me out of my genealogical moment. The cow lifted its tail and I realized what the trench in the floor was for.

So, in the end, I got to connect with my family history in a physical and emotional way, and although I understand the appeal of life on the farm, I prefer the city life.

On an upcoming episode of The Generations Project, college professor, Andrea, retraces her ancestry back to her Irish homeland. While in Ireland, Andrea visits a period-style potato farm to experience, firsthand, what life would have been like for Andrea’s strong-willed great grandmother.

How well do you think you could perform the labors of your ancestors? Did you take over the family business or did you make your own way in the world? Leave us a comment and let us know.

It's Good to Be the King

Originally Published on 5/6/10, 2:51 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Sometimes when people research their family history they discover that they are descendants of royalty. It makes sense. I mean, if one bloodline were to be preserved over the ages, it would likely be a kingly one. Which raises the question, what would you do if you found out that you had royal ancestry?

First things first—get a crown. Nothing says “king” like a big jewel-encrusted crown made of solid gold. Of course, wearing a crown around town would make me look ridiculous—which is why I’d need a floor-length red cape with white-fur trim to go with it. A scepter would be cool, but I have no idea what I’d use it for other than pointing it at people that I’m addressing:

“You! Fetch me a goblet of root beer.” (As king, I would drink everything from a goblet.)

Finally, I’d commission a sculpture to capture my kingliness in immortal marble.

In all seriousness, what a discovery that would be! To learn that you have ancestors who bore a demanding mantle and who could have shaped the course of a people, a country, or even history. I imagine it would bolster one’s confidence to know that bearing responsibility is in one’s (royal) blood.

In an upcoming episode of The Generations Project, Hawaiian native Boyd tries to find truth in the family myth of his royal lineage. See what he discovers and what it means for him and his family.

What would it mean to you if you discovered you were the descendant of kings, chiefs, etc.? Leave your comments below.

And then bring me a root beer.

What’s Your Name? (Who’s your Daddy?)

Originally posted on 4/23/10, 12:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time:

Almost immediately after something is created or discovered it is given a designation, a title—a name. The only exception to this would be the brooding artist who doesn’t want to name their artwork. (Ironically, their piece ends up being titled “Untitled,” so the joke is on them.)

But nowhere are names more important then when they are assigned to people. Some parents name their children after relatives as a way to honor or continue a legacy. Others choose names based on what has a nice “ring” to it. Then there are those who are named because their number is up. I fall into this third category.

My parents named me Dallas. That’s right, Dallas, as in ‘Texas,” “The Cowboys,” and the popular, prime-time soap from the 1980s. I got my name a few hours after I was born. Up until that time, my parents couldn’t decide on a name. They threw around “Adam” for a while but they weren’t sold on it. While still in the hospital, my mother, in frustration decided to go for a walk. Before she left, she threatened my father to “find a name for this boy or so help me!” My father frantically went through the book of baby names but found nothing. His anxiety grew as he heard footsteps coming down the hall and a shadow creep under the doorway. He knew that behind that door was a tired and hormonal woman ready to pounce. In desperation, he plopped the book down and let the pages fall open. He drew his finger and blindly pointed at the page. “Dallas” is where it landed (It could be worse, he could have landed on “Jeeves.” If so, I would have an entirely different career path).

Despite all the quips that come with a geographical name, I am happy that I have it. It is unique, and having a unique name has its benefits. For one, I have top pick of usernames when I create an email address. Best of all, the pressure is off. I have no namesake to live up to! On the contrary, I have the opportunity to create a namesake and legacy for my descendants. I have a responsibility to live in such a way that my descendants will be forced to consider “Dallas” as a possible option to name their kids (and I get to laugh from the sidelines as my progeny’s classmates learn that “Dallas” spelled backwards is “salad” with an extra “L”).

On an upcoming episode of The Generations Project, middle-school teacher John Searcy embarks on a journey into his family history to discover his namesake and legacy. Watch his episode to see what interesting things he finds out about the power of a name.

And speaking of the power of a name, how does your name influence your life? Or do you subscribe to Juliet’s observation that, "That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet"?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Celebrity Voice Impersonated

Last year, the radio station Classical 89 celebrated its 50th anniversary. Below are some TV commercials to announce this landmark achievement in broadcasting. See if you can recognize any of the voices.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Third Annual Arby's Day (2010)

It's that time of year again when I start thinkin' Arby's. Watch this year's video:

What is Arby's Day? Click here to find out.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cheesy Blasters

You take a hot dog,
Stuff it with some jack cheese,
Fold it in a pizza.
You got Cheesy Blasters!
Thanks, Meat Cat!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Christmas, more than any other holiday, is steeped in tradition and when those traditions aren’t observed, they seem to detract from the season. Though we may share some traditions on a national, cultural and religious level, I have my own personal traditions that make my Christmas a little more joyous. And like most traditions some originated in my childhood and here they are:

Thanksgiving - Nothing kicks off the holidays like eating ham, turkey, and roast beef in one sitting.


Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time - This tradition has some stipulations. I need to hear this awesomely-bad song by the former Beatle on the radio, all the way through.

Fruity Pebbles Commercial
- “Tis the season to be sharing, Fred.” It was always a delight to see Barney finally get some Fruity Pebbles. This commercial has been off the air for a while now and I had to make due with an old VHS (square DVD) copy I had. But thanks to YouTube, it is something we can all enjoy.

John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together - I need to listen to the best Christmas album ever recorded. As a kid, my family and I listened to the record (Big Black CD) so much that we wore it out and had to get another one.
NyQuil - When I was younger, I was so anxious on Christmas Eve that I couldn’t sleep. My mom would give me some NyQuil to knock me out. Even though I no longer have trouble getting to sleep on December 24th, I still take a shot of the green stuff.

Die Hard
- The best Christmas movie ever made. "Yippie-ki-yay and Merry Christmas!"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Second Annual Arby's Day (2009)

"America's Roast Beef? Yes, sir!" As long as it is October 29, that is. Last year on that date, my younger brother and I discovered that we crave Arby's about once a year. After we ate some, we immediately remembered why we only crave it once a year. And so, an annual tradition was born.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Princess and the Frog Trailer

I love animation. Most of my Blu-ray/DVD collection consists of it–Disney full-length features, PIXAR masterpieces, Warner Brothers’ hilarious shorts, the list goes on. The animated feature is the only medium that can constantly move me to tears (not SOBBING but there have been some waterworks). When Toy Story came out in 1995 and 3-D animation entered the scene, a lot of studios began dumping their animation programs and vowed to never do 2-D animation again. Disney has since realized their idiocy and is returning to its roots with their first traditionally animated feature since 2004.

I don’t know about you but that trailer produced mixed emotions. It has two very different moods. The beginning gives me chills. The music is dramatic setting the mood as the pencil slowly recreates the familiar characters and scenes from Disney’s short lived “Second Golden Age.” You watch that montage and feel “magical” then... They show footage from the movie and they lose me. Don’t get me wrong, the animation looks fantastic and it’s great to see 2-D characters brought to life but the scenes they show–that slap-sticky, gassy humor–simply reminds me of the crapfest that Disney has been chumming out for the last 15 years:

, 1995

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
, 1996

, 1997

, 1998

, 1999

Fantasia 2000
, 1999

, 2000

The Emperor's New Groove
, 2000

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
, 2001

Lilo & Stitch
, 2002

Treasure Planet
, 2002

Brother Bear
, 2003

Home on the Range
, 2004

Chicken Little
, 2005

Now they weren’t ALL bad, but they weren’t exactly up to snuff either. When you look at this list and add it to the list of the direct-to-DVD garbage they’ve put out (Cinderella IV: Getting a Key Made), it brings up some doubts that Disney can actually pull this off. Can they bring the “magic?” Sure, Disney has started to pull its head out since Lasseter took over but the trailer for The Princess and the Frog didn’t make me think, “Alright! Disney is back!” Right now, all I am thinking is, “I hope they are back and that these doubts can be attributed to whoever cut the trailer together. Maybe these are the only completed shots they had to work with.
Or it was a rush job Or Chunk got the police Or one of Willy's booby traps.”