Cliff Gardner

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The hardest job I'll ever love

Dear Thomas,

Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Ukraine for Peace Corps service.

When I read that this morning, my first thought was…Ukraine. Ukraine? UKRAINE!!!

My second thought was of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman are playing RISK on the subway. Kramer is winning and Newman valiantly declares, “I still have the Ukraine.” Then Kramer makes a snide remark about the Ukraine being weak and some big Ukrainian guy smashes the board into a thousand pieces.

My third thought was to read the rest of the packet. I leave for staging, a three-day event in D.C. for all Ukraine volunteers, in late September. Right after that, I fly to Ukraine for a really intense 12 week training program during which, I’m told, I’ll learn to speak Ukrainian. For the two years that follow, I’ll be teaching English in a high school, probably in a rural area.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about anything in my life!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Now I remember why I hated living in the dorms

I spent last night in Mathews, a residence hall at Willamette, and it brought back a lot of memories. Now I’m sure some folks enjoy the experience of dorm life but I’ve honestly never been one of them. There’s just something about having no privacy, being surrounded by obnoxious tools and showering in a stall that I find unsettling. When I lived in the dorms, I could count on a urinal being filled with vomit at least once a month and not being able to sleep because my German exchange student neighbor decided to listen to his David Hasselhoff CD at 3 in the morning, again. I’m just saying that by pretty much every standard, University Apartments and living off-campus is preferable to dorm life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Going back home

Tomorrow I'm going to Salem for the weekend to help out at a high school debate tournament. They're not paying me, aside from meals, gas and putting me up for the night, so I'm sure some of you are wondering why, given my general frustration with high school forensics, that I'm going at all. The truth is that I had nothing better going on and the prospect of hanging out with good friends who I don't see very much was too good to pass up.

Everyone have a great Memorial Day weekend! :-)

The Iceman from Top Gun was way cooler

Tiff and I went to the midnight showing of X-3. Every 14 year old in three counties showed up, making it more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. As for the movie itself, let me put it this way: ever wonder if you could be a screenwriter but don’t think you have the creativity or ability to avoid melodramatic cliché garbage and pointless profanity to make it in Hollywood? HAVE NO FEAR! Somewhere right now Brett Ratner is looking for someone to write “Little Nicky Two” and you’re perfect for the job! Now I know what you’re thinking Ashley Pinedo. You’re thinking “that’s what you get for seeing a movie based off of a comic book. Loser.” Well maybe you’re right. Still, the dialogue was terrible even for a Marvel movie—Daredevil was a Sports Night episode by comparison.

Aside from that, the part where Wolverine stabbed that dude was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My ears are still ringing

Ryan Seacrest: And the winner of American Idol is…Taylor Hicks!


*awkward silence*

I really wanted him to win.

Me: Wow, I didn’t even know John Travolta was on American Idol.

Roll the maps

I hear this kid is seriously considering dropping out of school and going pro. He's got some scouts looking at him and everything. Just think--if he got hired at, they would be UNSTOPABLE next season. I wouldn't want to hit them in the playoffs.

Why are people jerks?

A leading cause of death among gay teenagers is suicide. J.L. King argues in On the Down Low that the repeated condemnation of gay men has made many individuals refuse to identify with their sexuality and the safe sex messages directed at them, leading to a recent spike in HIV transmissions, particularly among African Americans. It’s easy to brush things like this off, but in reality, the prejudices facing GLBTQI folks in public schools and in general really are a matter of life and death.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Life imitates forensics

I'm pretty sure Sam and Tiff had something to do with this.

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's either this or sell my organs and I already sold one kidney and part of my small intestine on e-bay

I feel like I’m in a scheming mood. No wait, that’s just a hangover. No, sorry, I was right the first time, it definitely feels like I aught to be scheming. It’s kind of tingly…OK, so get-rich-quick schemes!

1) Throw myself in front of a bus and sue the United States of America! They’ll settle faster than you can say punitive! What could go wrong?

2) Adopt a highway and charge to let people dump their trash on the shoulders. You know how a small percentage of foster parents aren't as nice to their adopted children as Sam is and are clearly just in it for the money? Yea, I want to be that kind of parent to my adopted highway. I figure that by adopting it, like Kramer before me, I am allowed to do whatever I want to it, and that includes undercutting local county dumps and allowing folks to dump their crap off to the side.

3) Put dozens of cell-phone towers in my back yard and collect some serious coin from cell-phone companies. I doubt anyone will notice.

Aaaah...that there was some good schemin’.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen and it is kind of relevant to the DVC discussion we're having below.

Today I helped AshAttack move out of her apartment and into the unknown since she's gonna couch surf for a while. She is now officially like a rebel army because you never know where she is or might turn up. Also, my grandparents had their 60th wedding anniversary. G-ma put it best: "and they said it wouldn't last...HA!" Go them! I'm going to Eugene soon to celebrate E-Mac turning 21, so no updates for at least 18 hours...Try to hold on until I get back, blogging community.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Have you been reading my diary?

Da Vinci Code

I saw the Da Vinci Code today with my family. When I read the book I thought it read like a Boxcar Children novel and the movie was about on par with that. However, what stands out the most to be about the whole story is the reaction many people are having to it.

Anyone who has spent more than a few Sunday school sessions studying the Bible is aware that it shouldn’t be taken literally. It was written thousands of years ago, translated, debated and thoroughly edited. Numerous parts were omitted from the original draft for political or practical purposes and text is full of metaphors demanding interpretation. Taking the Bible literally (and this is something that Dan Brown does point out well in the book) has lead to more killing than anything else in history. The point of the Bible, and this is the Baha’i in me saying this, isn’t to cling to the text itself but to the overarching message of love it embodies.

SO WHAT if Jesus had a wife and children? That doesn’t change the power of his message, which is fundamentally the same one preached by Muhammad, Buddha, Bah'a'ullah and others. However, if my beliefs were somehow challenged by a book or movie (which they aren’t in the case of the Da Vinci Code), I would like to believe that my faith would be strong enough to withstand a little debate.

Now I can die a happy man

Tonight I had a doughnut the size of my face with Christine and Michelle. Yea, a pretty awesome evening all around!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Take care of your teeth and they'll take care of you...or waste your time, apparently

I went to the dentist recently and had the following one sided exchange with two hands in my mouth:

Dentist: Wow, you have really good oral hygiene.

Me (thinking):
Yea, I know. After years of drinking four Pepsi’s a day and getting scolded during my annual visits, I had enough. Now I’m an oral hygiene zealot.

Dentist: I’m just going to shoot this laser into this tooth back here to determine if it’s rotting from the inside or not. We should be concerned about any reading over 90….wow, you’re at 12. Nice work!

Me: Ooouuu!

Dentist: That about does it, Thomas! I’m still going to schedule an appointment for you to put a sealant on that thing, though.

Me (thinking):
God damn it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sweep, sweep, get out the brooms!

I am a huge Atlanta Braves fan and given that I was born and raised in Oregon, many people find that odd, so let me clarify. There are basically two reasons for my fanatical devotion to the Bravidos. First, my dad is a Yankee fan and in the 90’s you really only had those two choices. Second and more importantly is the TBS network which broadcasted tons of Braves games. I started out as a Braves fan because it was convenient but have remained one because they play hard and are tough.

Anyway, nothing starts my day off like waking up and turning on the TV to see an early Braves game being broadcasted on TBS against the hated Florida Marlins, then noticing that we’re up big and that this will complete a four-game sweep of our division rivals. God I love baseball and the Braves!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Board Game Flaws: Volume One

I found a critical flaw with the classic Milton-Bradley board game LIFE. Right at the beginning, you are assigned a job based on where the little spinner-thing lands. If you’re a lawyer, you’re at a huge financial advantage over most other careers and players for the rest of the game because every time you pass a “payday” spot on the board, you get a lot of money. There are several problems with this.

First, most lawyers at most law schools end up not making all that much more than a good public school teacher or construction worker so this financial advantage is highly inflated. Second, if you were to be one of the corporate lawyers making a lot of money, then the game should also take into account what the trade-offs would be. For example, around the 3rd or 4th payday spot, the box should also read “your spouse divorces you…you find out 6 weeks later because given your 85 hour/week schedule, you never see him/her. Give half your money to the banker and collect a new spouse.”

The game of life? Pfff...hardly.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

That Would Rock: Volume Nine

A CG series like this never really dies, it just goes away for a long time and shows up again like it never left…just like daddy. Anyway, I’m writing this entry while my oven is pre-heating so I can cook a delicious Totino’s Pizza for lunch. Wouldn’t it be great if electrical appliances could sense and respond to my mood? For instance, if I were REALLY hungry, the oven would pre-heat to 450 degrees in 10 seconds! If I were in a hurry, impatiently pushing the elevator button would make it come faster and escalators would resemble the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland!

I’m just saying, THAT WOULD ROCK!

Some people need to wake the hell up

Why do people settle for less in relationships? Everyone knows someone who is dating a complete asshole. I once knew this kid who treated his girlfriend like garbage. He was immature, stupid, greedy, selfish and not really fun to be around. The only way he existed was by making people around him, usually his girlfriend, feel small. Plus, he was really unattractive. Yet, the last I heard, they were still together. His girlfriend, a really sweet girl who clearly lacked good decision making skills continued to stick with him…for YEARS. Why didn’t she get that she could do MUCH BETTER?

I’m pretty sure I’m plagiarizing this from a Sports Night episode, but I will say this: I can understand why a person would choose a bad person over nothing...well not really, but still, what I can't understand is why someone would think they have nothing to begin with. Wake up, folks!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why can't I gain weight when it is cold out?

Tonight I played “Mr. Coffee” in Jess’ final directing play and I think it went really well. However, the pants from my suit, which I hadn’t worn since AFA a year ago, were, shall we say, fairly snug. I think there’s some weight, pun intended, to the idea that I’m getting a little junk in the trunk. Seriously, these things were sprayed on. Anyway, I’m glad I could help J-Po out, she rocks.

Random food for thought: why is it socially unacceptable for men to pierce their belly buttons? HUH?!

The bite marks alone...

My ideal vacation is somewhere in the Deep South. No, seriously. Come on guys, stop laughing!

Honestly, if money and time weren’t barriers, I would go to Atlanta for a few days and watch the Atlanta Braves play a three game set against the Mets. After that demolition was complete, I would swing down to Tallahassee and hang out with David and Kristen for a few days, watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs and play with their new puppy, which I’m told has the bladder of a toddler and is twice as cute. After that, I would probably go to a nice, remote cabin where I would read a lot and nap. Maybe I would even go snorkeling, hoping to avoid getting EATEN BY AN ALLIGATOR.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A day in the life

1:30 a.m.— I get back from the opera.

1:45-3:00 a.m.— I brush my teeth, blog, watch an episode of The West Wing and go to sleep.

10:45 a.m.—
my dad wakes me up and tells me that the whole family is going to a Mother’s Day brunch at 11. I say I had no idea (which is true) and he says that I can stay home and if I want (which isn’t). I quickly shower and get ready.

11:03 a.m.—
we leave for the restaurant and I realize that my mother is wearing about a gallon of perfume. I congratulate myself for remembering to bring the bottle of Tylenol.

11:15 a.m.— upon arriving at the restaurant in Cornelius, mom says that it is too crowded and complains about the service so we leave and head toward Deli in the Grove.

11:30 a.m.— Deli in the Grove is closed and mom complains more. We head back to Hillsboro and Elmers.

11:50 a.m.— after a very silent and awkward car ride during which my sister Katie and I laughed at the tricked-out Honda Civic that passed us, we arrive at the restaurant and eat and equally awkward brunch. I give her the card that Tiffanie gave me. Thanks Tiff!

12:45-4:30 p.m.— we return home and I read, watch more West Wing and take a short nap.

4:55-6:00 p.m.— I run seven miles to commemorate the seven seasons of West Wing that will come to an end tonight. However, given the heat I quickly regret not wearing sunscreen and am grateful for Vaseline. Stupid fat thighs…

6:05 p.m.— I write this entry.

My musical renaissance continues!

Tonight I saw “Don Giovanni” in Portland with Andrew, Logan, Sean and Lin. It was interesting…I’ve decided that opera isn’t really my cup of tea. I feel that way because it (at least this one) is too music-heavy in the ratio of acting to singing and I really prefer dialogue. Still, I think that it is worth going to an opera every now and again just to remind myself how amazingly talented some folks are.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Everybody's Got The Right

Tonight I saw "Assassins" in Portland with Jess, Matt and Kirsten. In short, it was really, really good. It was funny and dramatic and moving. Moreover, I really liked the overarching social commentary that we created these people and continue to allow folks like Booth and Oswald to exist. Wow. Anyway, if you ever get a chance to see this show I HIGHLY recommend it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

People are just people

Tonight I attended a Regina Spektor concert in Portland and it was AWESOME! Thanks to Amy, Jess, Matt and Kirsten for making my first concert ever really fun!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The mortality of cats

Dad: You know that cat from the neighborhood that’s always hanging around?

Me: Yea, I see it all the time.

Dad: Well it’s dead. I found in lying next to my truck this morning.

Me: Oh God, you didn’t run it over did you?

: No, I don’t think so. I’m gonna go bury it in the backyard.

Me: Wait, aren’t you going to at least attempt to find the owner?

Dad: No, what for?

Me: Because this isn’t some fucked up civil war where family members disappear and are never heard from again, that’s why! Some poor kid is going to forever wonder what happened to fluffy...put a sign up on the corner or something.

Dad: Uh, no. Sorry, no.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I prefer Web MD

Mom: How did you doctors appointment go?

Me: Fine…I got poked with a bunch of needles and weig—

Mom:--Who did you see?

Me: Oh, which doctor? I have no idea; I don’t know they’re names.

Mom: Well that’s rude.

Me: I wasn’t rude, I was perfectly nice! Besides, why is it important that I have a good relationship with these people? What, they’ll only give me the real medicine if I’m chatty while a needle is sticking out of my arm?

Mom: I just think it’s good to be friends with your doctors.

Me: Look, if I were friends with everyone who made me turn my head and cough then……I would have a lot more friends…..WAIT A MINUTE, maybe you’re on to something!

This was part three of my three-part series entitled “getting medically cleared for the Peace Corps.” I was going to do a part two about my trip the eye doctor but nothing blog-worthy really happened except for me getting charged $75. It should take a few days to get the lab results back and mail all this stuff to the national headquarters in DC, but assuming all is well, I could find out when/where I'm going in 6-8 weeks. Keep on praying for me folks!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cliff Gardner Mission Statement

You know that kid in class who talks all the time whether she/he has something to say or not? Sometimes they’re kind of funny and what they have to say is sort of intelligent but other times you get the impression they’re just talking because they don’t know what else to do? Oh, and whenever you have a conversation with them, they say stuff that would seem to indicate that they weren’t really listening to what you were saying at all?

I’ve decided that Cliff Gardner has become the blogging equivalent of that obnoxious kid. Two posts a day has become the norm and aside from my recent commentary on race relations, pretty much everything is silly crap designed to get a laugh. I find myself straining to think of things to blog about. My comments on other blogs are usually shallow. Well, to quote Kevin Costner in the cinematic gem Wyatt Earp, it all ends now.

From now on, I will only blog when I have something to say. I won’t feel obligated to update or be funny when I do. My posts might tackle political issues that I think need to be addressed or short stories that I’ve been thinking about writing or just what’s going on in my life. I will only comment on your blog when I feel that what I have to say will add to the discussion.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Waitlisted at Howard

I often struggle with my role in diversity. As a White man, I don’t really feel like I have a culture at all, or worse, that my racial identity is defined more by not being other races and cultures than with something unique. That may be one of the reasons why “white power” has become synonymous with hate and violence. Frankly it doesn’t bother me that I have to retreat to Riverdance and Guinness to get any sort of pride out of who I am; I am more concerned with trying to understand other cultures than with my own.

Despite being raised in a mostly white suburb in Oregon, or probably because of it, I’ve tried hard to find folks different than I am. Traveling to Eastern Europe to debate, volunteering in a literacy program for immigrants and writing my senior thesis on why drug laws in America are fundamentally racist are all things I’ve done in attempting to connect with different identities. I even applied to Howard Law School back when I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. When I was waitlisted I thought it was a perfect microcosm for my attempts to relate with other people and ultimately feeling not quite successful.

However, aside from whether or not I’m doing enough to appreciate and understand other cultures, I wonder if that even matters. No matter what I do, I’ll never really understand what it means to be a Black woman like Lilia or Latina like Dre and AshAttack. I don’t know the first thing about who they are and I probably never will. Does that mean that my efforts will ultimately be pointless and if that’s true then shouldn’t I just stop caring about respecting racial and cultural differences entirely? I don’t think that’s the answer, but I’m still at a loss for what my role in diversity should be. Where do I go from here?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Well I feel secure

Quote of the day from my dentist:

“Well, I don’t think it’s technically a disorder, per se…but ummm…well, good luck!”

This was part one of my three-part series entitled “getting medically cleared for the Peace Corps.”

I know some smart people

Jess and I have been having a discussion for the past week or so via e-mail about whether or not Oleana, and David Mamet, help feminism. However, when we finally got to talk to each other about it in person tonight, a few things became abundantly clear. First, Jess knows a lot more about theatre than I do and is very persuasive. Second, it’s ok to defer to people who are smarter than you are on a given subject because you’ll learn more that way and be better off in the long run. In that vein, I promise to listen to AshAttack on films (by the way, thanks for the tip on “Do the Right Thing,” Ash, it ROCKED!), to Sam on being a good dad and to Christine on…well, anything, really.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I’ve been called by quite a few nicknames but the most common are “T-Mac” and “T.” Ashley earned “AshAttack” because it’s just an awesome name and she’s awesome too so it worked. Jess got “The Assassin” after needing a 1st at a tournament to qualify an event to nationals and winning it…then winning the qual in another event she picked up that week. Oh, and I call her “J-Po” sometimes because her last name is Portney and because I’m clever. I’ve called Sam “Sam-I-Am” and “Sam, Sam, thank you mam” but nothing has really stuck.

What’s your nickname?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Going grey...dark grey...charcoal...

Today I noticed my first gray hair. I thought this was unusual given that I’m only 23, but I’m not overly concerned. In fact, I’m even going to name the newest member of my increasingly diverse hair family. I shall call him Forrester.

No he was man, it was a really great move. He was inverted.

There is no greater tragedy in American cinema than the death of Goose in Top Gun. Forget Jack in Titanic or Barbara Hershey in Beaches, Goose is who we should really be squirting some tears over. Seriously, he was awesome! Just look at the facts: he was married to Meg Ryan (pre-botox disasters), was a loving father, a talented piano player and a potential truck driver before Ashton made trucker hats cool. Finally, he put up with Tom Cruise almost derailing his career with repeated fly-bys (what, was L. Rob Hubbard in the control tower, ghostrider?). Just remember--there's two "O's" in Goose, boys.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Life Assessment

Things I am good at:

--Running for a long time without getting tired.

--Eating a diet consisting solely of ravioli, pizza, cheeseburgers and cookies…I hope my metabolism can hold on for a few more years!

--Cuddling…although at this point that’s like Pete Rose saying he’s great at baseball.

Things I am bad at:

--Being patient when I discover that the space I thought was empty in the kick ass faculty parking lot is actually filled with a tiny car not visable from the street, forcing me to turn around in a tight space. Assholes with their tiny piece of shit cars that have no business being on the road! May the fleas of 1,000 camels invade their armpits!

--Returning a racquetball serve from Sam with my backhand.

Things I want to be good at:

--Teaching…I hope I don’t mess these kids up too badly this summer.

--Staying in touch with friends…I’m looking in the direction of Florida and Eugene.

--Having a good taste in music…says the guy who is listening to three doors down as he types this.