Cliff Gardner

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why (some of) my students love me!

Today I had the following conversation with Akbar, one of my students at Pacific:

Akbar: I’m really glad you’re our coach, Thomas, even though you’re kind of an asshole sometimes. See, I really wouldn’t want someone who would hold my hand and be really nice all the time—that’s not what I or anyone else on the team needs. We need someone to be honest with us about our speeches and tell us how to make them bet—

Me: --I know what you mean, Akbar. You just need someone to tell you the truth.

Akbar: Exactl—

Me: --The horrible, awful truth.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Time after time

Remember that “Saved by the Bell” episode where Jessie Spanno got addicted to caffeine pills and shouted at Zack that “there’s NEVER ANY TIME!” Well, it turns out that she was right. From February 25 through March 1, there isn’t any time at all.

We’re in the middle of what Bahai’s call Ayyam-i-Ha, or the Intercalary Days. The Baha'i calendar is made up of 19 months of 19 days each. The period of Ayyam-i-Ha adjusts the Bahá'í year to the solar cycle. While these days are set aside for hospitality, gift giving, special acts of charity, and preparing for the Baha'i Fast, I plan on also spending them watching as many time travel movies as I can. So far, I’ll be watching Back to the Future 1-3, 12 Monkeys, Flight of the Navigator, Terminator 1-3, Planet of the Apes and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. :-) Allah'u'Abha!

Going to Florida!

The Hatfield Debate tournament and the national qualifier were this weekend. The highlights include:

--Josh straightening his hair and me calling him Lenny Kravitz.

--Sam mentioning Steve Hunt’s third eye.

--Jared and Tyler and Josh and Kyle going 3-3 at a pretty tough tournament.

--Ashley laughing so hard that she kicks her shoe off and it hits the ceiling.

--Jess, the speech assassin, winning POI with a program she threw together on Thursday. What a badass!

--Emily winning extemp, meaning that we get to hang out with old friends in Florida!

--Pacific qualifying 17 slots to nationals. To put that in perspective, we qualified 5 last year. Go Boxers!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This post is just an excuse to sooth my hyper linking habit

See, this is why I would make a great NBA General Manager. That, and this. But hey, the one thing I can say about being a Blazer fan is that at least I’m not a Knicks fan! In unrelated news, the federal government has caught up with pretty much every parli team in the country, rock on.

The Hatfield tournament is tomorrow and the day after, and then the national qualifier is on Sunday, so I might not get to update for a while. If you really need a CG fix, feel free to read some of the stuff I wrote on Online Onslaught as "Precious Panda."

Paging Dr. Freud

Last night I had this dream where I was eating dinner with Ashley, Jess and Sam. For some reason, we were eating fried chicken, and I kept asking them if they were going to eat the fatty skin part on their plates. When they kept refusing to give there’s to me, I remember getting really, really mad, flipping the table over and storming out. As my alarm woke me up, I was both very hungry and very mad at the three of them. I guess their “fatty fatty 2 x 4, can’t fit through the kitchen door" comments are starting to sink in.

I'm gonna go get some KFC.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tale as old as time

I was at Blockbuster today renting “The Weather Man” when something fairly entertaining happened. There was a man in line in front of me who looked exactly like Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast,” only with much more leather and angst about him. I believe he was renting “Domino.” Anyway, after he had paid, he started to pick up the DVD and walk around the counter, but the clerk had a hold of it and between the two of them, they dropped it on the floor during their impromptu struggle.

The funny part was that when they dropped it, Gaston let out a high pitched shriek and yelped, “my God, what have I done?” It was as if he had dropped the baby Jesus in a well. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at this big burly man getting that upset over something this trivial, but hey, *spoiler alert!* at least he didn’t lose his girl to a 400 pound human/animal creature and then impale himself on a castle rooftop.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Hampshire: It’s What’s New!

This morning I found out that I got in to Franklin Pierce Law School, or as I like to call it, the Harvard of Concord, New Hampshire. Seriously, though, this is really awesome news because Pierce is my first choice school! I really like intellectual property law a lot…patents and copyrights have always interested me and Pierce has one of the best IP specializations in the country. The only downside is that it is FREAKING COLD in Concord, but whatever, I’ll buy some mittens and deal with it. YAY!!! :-)

Bee all you can be!

Last weekend, Amy, Julia, Max and I watched “Spellbound,” the movie that inspired what I feel was my best work in Online Onslaught last summer. Seeing that movie again made me feel like posting my story on here for folks new to CG. Below is the prompt and story, enjoy!

"Summertime and the living is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high"-- Summertime What four images say summer to you? Relate them together in prose/poetry/whatever-suits-your-fancy.

Bee all you can be!

It was June, and for Arun Ashymana, that meant two things: it was summer, and it was time to defend his Scripps National Spelling Bee title again. As he boarded the 747 non-stop to Dulles International, alone, Arun tightened his grip on his first class boarding pass. As he massaged the paper between his fingers, he smiled, and thought to himself “one more time, one more summer.”

Since winning his third spelling bee title a year ago, Arun had become about as high profile a celebrity as a 14-year-old speller can. As he de-planed, Arun stopped to sign autographs in the jet way, his trophy an impediment to those trying to pass. In the distance, he noticed a sign that read: Arun Ashymana, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Tixas. Climbing into his limousine (L-I-M-O-U-S-I-N-E, thought Arun), the driver asked where his parents were. When Arun didn’t answer, the driver commented that he seemed quiet. “You spelled Texas wrong on the sign” Arun quipped. “I don’t expect genius from someone whose career has leveled out driving teen spellers around, but come ON. Five letters, hoss. Can I keep that sign? My parents will love it.” When the driver handed the sign back and rolled up the dividing window with distain, Arun said quietly, “one more time, one more summer.”

The Hyatt was covered in Scripps Spelling Bee paraphernalia (P-A-R-A-P-H-E-R-N-A-L-I-A, Arun whispered to himself), and while the other contestants seemed taken aback by the display, Arun wasn’t impressed. He had been professionally spelling since he was 11. Cockily, he strutted through the lobby wearing a shirt that read “I’m from the The SC: Sub-Continent,” a parody of his India heritage. Despite his confident appearance, Arun was an emotional wreck. The truth was that his parents didn’t make the trip to Washington D.C. because it all seemed boring to them at this point. Arun would win, pay for another year of college, and be home in time to compete in the annual Punt, Pass and Kick Competition, in which he placed 3rd last year. They didn’t know that Arun was very hurt by their absence, or that he vowed to take the gloves off this time around with no one to hold him back.

Arun breezed through the first four rounds, spelling quickly and confidently. After all, he had studied his first two words, “pharisaical” and “arbuscle,” just weeks before the competition, and “pruritus” was so easy he felt embarrassed spelling it. After he laughed aloud when a skinny white girl misspelled oligopsony, she started to cry even before she was ushered off the stage. Everyone around Arun was glaring at him by now, so when round five rolled around, he felt no reason to not say what was on his mind. Arun closed his eyes and smelled the microphone before asking, “does it come from a Latin word meaning, ‘I’m the best speller in the room, no one’s close?’” Then he quickly fired out “lederhosen” and sat down before anyone could respond. Feeling his chair was familiar. As he reclined in it and started to doze off on stage, Arun thought to himself, “one more time, one more summer.”

The next morning, they were dropping like flies. A girl from Connecticut went down on “edulcorate” while a Mexican boy from Arizona dropped on “glockenspiel.” Before a girl named Laura from Tennessee was about to spell, Arun said behind her, “you will NOT spell this word right…you’re going to panic and choke.” He was right. She screwed up “argillaceous” and earned 9th place. By the time Arun was one of only two spellers left, he had successfully made 15 different children cry. When he shouted at his final opponent, “You’re going to fuck this up and we both know it…just take your free t-shirt and go back to Indiana” live on ESPN-2, the judges—and the audience-- had finally had enough. Arun was disqualified and the 2005 Scripps National Spelling Bee was awarded to Kelly Margowitsky, representing the Birmingham Post-Herald, Birmingham, Alabama.

Thinking of his absent parents, Arun leapt off the stage and grabbed the trophy, sprinting out the door. “One more time, one more summer” he shrieked, laughing hysterically and knowing his summer had finally started.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Just call me Lloyd Dobler

Tonight I bought “Say Anything” and watched the commentary tra—what? Speak up, Ashley! OH, I see, you think I’m trying too hard again to be the “sensitive guy.” Well, I don’t agree. One might think that given my recent romantic history I would crawl into an emotional cave and stay there until an earthquake shattered the walls and left me to fend for myself against hungry crocodiles. BUT NO!

In spite of everything, I refuse to compromise who I am or lose faith that somewhere out there, a woman is waiting for someone who will give her roses for no apparent reason, name a star after her on their anniversary, fill up entire books of flashcards with reasons why he loves her when they’re apart, attend to her every emotional and physical need and want to snuggle lots. I’m not trying to be sensitive, it is just who I am, and I’m pretty sure that Mandy would agree with that. Plus, "Say Anything" is just a rad movie, so there.

First Day of My Life

My friend Jess burnt me a CD with emo/good music for me. It is filled with bands that I’ve never heard of but are nonetheless really good, like Bright Eyes, Cursive, Postal Service and others. My Ricky Martin album is going back in the drawer for a while because this music kicks ass!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Three cheers for poverty!

So, two good things happened to me financially in the last 36 hours. First, I found out that I’m going to be getting a boat load of money back on my taxes this year, almost enough to finish my time machine. Don’t worry, soon that Dennis Rodman movie won’t even be a memory. Second, we finished my FAFSA, and my EFC is $0.00, meaning that I’ll hopefully get a lot of financial aid for law school, THANK GOD. Insect trespassing law here I come! Roaches beware!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Honestly, is anyone really surprised?

Well it looks like one of the three important questions has been answered. The Sputnik Monkey would win. :-)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Today is a great day!

By joining the national rolls a few hours ago, I officially became a Baha’i! I’m really, really happy about what this means in my life. The Baha’i community is so warm and loving that I just know this is going to be awesome!

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard

I just started my day with a five mile run listening to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The sun was shining and the wind was blowing hard enough to almost knock me over—that’s ok, though, wind is just God saying hello. Today is gonna rock! :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Sir Anthony Hopkins is a much better actor than I am, and believe it or not, I have proof. See, when I was a sophomore at Willamette, my friend Kate McNally and I qualified a duo to nationals called “Proof” about a genius mathematician battling mental health problems and his equally brilliant daughter who looks after him. They made a movie based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning play and I just got around to watching it tonight. It was cool to already have most of the lines memorized before I watched the move, but at the same time, it did demonstrate how I really interpreted that play all wrong and that a career as an actor just isn’t in the cards. Few people ever have an Oscar-winning actor one-up them to illustrate that fact, however, so I guess I should be grateful. My advice? Keep an eye on this Anthony Hopkins kid, I think he's got a bright future ahead of him!

Wellness Matters

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need money to go to law school, and with that in mind, I’ve been trying to get another job in addition to my awesome coaching gig at Pacific. In truth, however, I haven’t been trying very hard and have only applied to one place, a local health-club type establishment called “Wellness Matters.” When I was driving by a few weeks ago, I noticed a “help wanted” sign in the window and thought that Wellness is something that I can get behind, so I applied.

There are two parts about this that I find funny. First, I don’t really know what I applied to do, and I’m not sure what services this club/place/building provides, either. I could have actually applied to work at some sort of new-age massage parlor/strip club and based on how little I know about this place, that is just as feasible a job as any other. But hey, as long as it is Wellness-related, I’m sure I’m their man! Secondly, I’ve dropped by at least ten times in the last two weeks to “check in” and see if they need any more information from me. In other words, I just keep showing up and asking for a job. At this point, I’m fairly certain that they’re not going to hire me because they would have done it already, so I’m just trying to make this whole situation as awkward, uncomfortable and hilarious as possible. On the plus side, my comedic Wellness is tip-fucking-top!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life Inventory

--I’m currently reading four books: The Da Vinci Code, Spiritual Strength for Men (a Baha’i book), The Baha’i Faith: The Emerging Global Religion (another Baha’i book) and Corporate Warriors (a book about private military firms).

--I’m training for a 15K next month that I’m running with Zayne and her super cool roomie who I'm sure I'm going to be instant friends with. It’s gonna rock!

--I’ve decided that I am Baha’i. I didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly, but after a few months of reading and soul searching, I’m more Baha’i than anything else at this point and really like what the Faith has to offer. Next month, I’ll be observing a fast between sunrise and sunset, and I’m really excited about it bringing me closer to God.

--I still have eight law schools to hear from and am working on the financial aid from the schools that I’ve been accepted by (UDC and Vermont). I really need to finish my FAFSA soon because deadlines for that stuff are in early March. This is stressing me out.

--This weekend I’m going to hang out with Amy and I’m really excited about it! Friends are fun, especially when they're rockstars like Amy!

--I’m doing…ok…emotionally. In fact, I only think about the breakup about half a dozen times a day now, which is a pretty big improvement.

--Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not to put off going to law school for another year. My dad and I had a long talk about it last night and he’s really against it, with good reason. The longer I wait, the less likely it is that I’ll ever go back, plus I’m just putting off the rest of my life longer since I don’t want to be a director of forensics. Still, working another year would allow me to save money for school and stay in a place that I love, with people I love. I’ve still got a lot of thinking to do on this one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cupid was a fucker but that's ok because I have friends

I got whacked in the face with a basketball pretty good last night, so I went to bed with a headache and a bad mood. This morning, when I realized that my glasses were bent, I was even more annoyed and decided that I was going to write a long post about why it really sucks to be alone on Valentine’s Day for the first time in three years.

When I got to my office, there were several Valentine’s Day cards taped to my door by some of my students. They were entertaining little gifts that I’m not sure I deserved, but there they were. I might not have someone to kiss goodnight, but to say that I don’t have love in my life just isn’t true. Thanks for making me see that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Your Cliff Gardner Horoscope!

Aries: Don’t get discouraged, everyone gets a speeding ticket every so often. The chronic bedwetting, on the other hand, you can get discouraged about.

Taurus: Your obsession with Olympic curling is completely healthy.

Gemini: Dressing up as Andrew Jackson on every day except President’s Day is the best idea you’ve ever had.

Cancer: No, I won’t sign your yearbook. Or your boobs.

Leo: You’re right, the Tomato kid who won the half pipe in Torino does look like the Sherminator from “American Pie.” Now put down the megaphone and go back into Sears.

Virgo: I know it was you who farted in contracts.

Libra: I can squat five hundred pounds, or your mom, but not both. OH SNAP!

Scorpio: It really is ok; I couldn’t have eaten all those Red Vines either. Still, you should have at least pulled over.

Sagittarius: Cheney was aiming at you.

Capricorn: In spite of the court order, I really think there’s a chance that you and Hugo Weaving can work things out.

Aquarius: Well, a porn career is now certainly out of the question, but at least showering will be faster.

Pisces: Give yourself a nickname! I recommend “the stapler,” or perhaps “the staple remover.”

Sunday, February 12, 2006


The Oregon State Tournament was this weekend. The highlights include:

--watching the latest episode of “The Office” Sam had taped in the bus (the only VCR we had access too).

--Jared and Tyler go 5-1 (Jared earning 6th speaker in open) and break again, and Michelle and Bree break to quarters in their first tournament ever (Michelle gets fourth speaker in junior)! !!!!!!!!

--I hang out with my sister Katie, who rules. I rule more because we're related, supposedly.

--Truax rips a massive hole in his pants during impromptu sales finals. I find that fitting (HA! GET IT?).

--Haylie qualifies her prose, Tiffanie qualifies her ADS, and the speech assassins Jess and Ashley qualify their duo (they needed a 1st to qualify and they got it…seriously, what badasses).

--Michelle Kwan (who sucks) pulls out of the Olympics and everyone laughs a lot.

--Sam has a six pack of Mike's waiting for me on ice when we get back to the hotel. Classy!

--Tiffanie does a speech on killing cats and Haylie does some random poetry and butterflies getting it on, and earn 3rd and 2nd respectively in “bad interp.” Congratulations?

--The team gets third overall and kicks a hell of a lot of ass. So much so, in fact, that I COULD NOT JUDGE AN INDIVIDUAL EVENT FINAL ROUND BECAUSE WE HAD STUDENTS IN EVERY SINGLE PANEL.

I love this team so much.

Friday, February 10, 2006

But Shan won't turn informer

Snow, if you're reading this, I was the one who bought that "Informer" single on Amazon. Just thought you should know.

On the road again

Another weekend, another tournament--this time it is at Oregon State. I'll try to update if I can while I'm down there.

OH--and Capote kicked ass. I liked it MORE than Brokeback, and I didn't think that was possible. GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW if you haven't.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

It could be like this, just like this, always

I think "Brokeback Mountain" is the best movie of the year. Of course, that might change later tonight when I see “Capote” with my team, but for now, it is on top. I just hope they don’t ruin it by making a sequel. I can picture some adventurous young film student hatching a screenplay called “Brokeback Sputnik” about homosexual space cowboys, starring Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones. You laugh, but hey, if they are making a sixth Rocky movie, nothing is safe.

You're killing me Smalls!

Most of my posts about my family discuss how my mom is crazy, but I really love her in spite of all of it. Here’s an example that illustrates that. Last Friday, my phone rang at 7:20 in the morning. While it’s normally a bad idea to call me before 10, this call was a really bad idea in particular because it was one of the rare days when I was getting 8 hours of sleep at a speech and debate tournament. So, I just silenced my phone and rolled over, trying to think of a reason why my mom would be calling me at all; my birthday wasn’t until Saturday and I had called home the night before to let my folks know I was in San Diego safe and sound.

When I checked my voicemail a few hours later, I was even more annoyed than I had been previously. My mom had called to wish me happy birthday, not realizing she was a day early. Her voicemail was so nice, too; my mom is the only person I know who can frustrate the beJesus out of you with her love.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Polly want a post

I have this theory that everything would improve dramatically with a parrot involved. Pretend you’re at a really long stoplight and when it finally turns green, the ass hat in front of you doesn’t move. You’re about to lay on the horn when your parrot chirps, “raaa…silly rrrrabbit, tricks are for kids! Raaa!” There. See how mellowed out you are? Your parrot just averted road rage.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re watching Bambi with your niece for the fifteenth time in a row and you’re about to lose it. Then your parrot chimes in, “raaaa…Bambi’s father is an emotionally unstable deadbeat! Raaaa!” See? Your parrot just said what you were thinking and prevented you from flying off the handle and scaring your niece for life.

All I’m saying is that parrots don’t get enough credit for being as badass as they are, AND I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE PIRATE REFERENCES.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Three important questions

Are there groupies at Christian Rock Concerts? Honestly, are there 19 year old girls getting all hot over “Third Day” someplace? If so, what do they do to get the attention of the lead singer? What happens if they get invited backstage?

What does one put on a NASCAR driver application? One foot is bigger than the other? Loved “2 Fast, 2 Furious” and other racing movies? No tickets? Lots of tickets? Would a hit and run conviction actually be an asset?

Who would win in a fight between that really smart ape that Jane Goodall taught sign language and the Sputnik monkey? Would Coco just talk a lot of trash and walk away? Would Muttnik just do physics in the dirt then shit in her hands and throw it against the wall?

Great tournament moment

When we landed in San Diego this weekend, everyone was excited and several folks were tossing out ideas about what to do if we had any down time while in So Cal. Haylie (an absolute sweetheart who works really hard and has been doing great all year) and Ashley (a total rockstar and someone who you can tell is laughing three towns over, seriously, her laughs are so awesome) have the following exchange that I think pretty well sums up the many aspects of Pacific Forensics as well as their wonderful personalities:

Haylie: Let's go to the zoo!

For the record, we compromised by watching several episodes of "The Office," and everyone was happy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nope, I’m not dead, just in San Diego

Many of you have asked if I’m dead since I haven’t update in a while, but I was just in San Diego at over the weekend at a speech and debate tournament. The highlights include:

--Me turning 23 and my team throwing me a party. The northwest contingent sings me happy birthday at dinner. I feel loved. :-)

--We watch the entire first season of “The Office” at the tournament. PAM PAM!

--Jared qualifies extemp and Josh qualifies his poetry, Ashley clears 3/4ths of her events, Jess clears at both tournaments, both of our duo’s are in finals at the 2nd tournament, and we get third place in our division at the 1st tournament. Booya, grandma!

--Tyler finally feels comfortable enough with his sexuality to be honest with us all. I’m really proud of him.

--I get to hang out with friends I don’t see that often, including Ian and Caroline, Brendan and the super cool Kiyomi.

--I get a little tipsy after one Mike’s Hard Lemonade. That’s how I roll.

--My Willamette friends Sean and Sam win the Round Robin. Basically, they could mess everything else up for the rest of the year and still fall back on that, so rock on!

--I carry our massive overall trophy through various airports and tell those who inquire about it that I won it in an “ass modeling competition” over the weekend. Hey, that’s not a complete lie.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Let's compare things!

This edition is: Sebastian Telfair vs. Puppies Behind Bars

Round One: Contribution(s) to society

PBB: Being cuddly, finding drugs and bombs, rehabilitating felons

Telfair: Being the shoot-first point guard on a team with a 16-27 record

Winner: Puppies

Round Two: Haircut

PBB: Short and brown, shed it everywhere you go

Telfair: The short, classy buzz

Winner: Telfair

Round Three: Relationship to the printed word

PBB: Shit on ripped up library book pages in prison

Telfair: Indirectly produce what the puppies shit on

Winner: Draw

Round Four: Popular opinion at first glance

PBB: Awwww! You're just the cutest little puppy ever! Come here, I'll scratch your belly!

Telfair: What the hell is Jaleel White doing playing for the Blazers?

Winner: Puppies

Your winner, on a 2-1 decision, PUPPIES BEHIND BARS!