It was this year that my love of comic book characters really began to take flight. I entered first grade and discovered Superman, X-Men, Batman, and others. Sorry to not get this done before my birthday (last Saturday!--I spent most of it working on some papers and caroling/spending time with friends), but somewhere in the middle of finals I realized that I didn't have time to post adequately. I'm a "Quality over Quantity" kind of guy.

Other notable things this year included:

  • Punching Susie King in the arm in Mrs. Nann's class. She cried; I got in trouble. A lot of trouble.
  • Discovering that little Mikee, the brother from '87, liked to bite toes. And he left them bloody
  • Being enchanted by the ability of a magnifying glass to burn things--leaves, bugs, toes, whatever!
  • Most Awesomest Birthday Party Ever-- Showbiz Pizza anyone? (It's now Chuck E Cheese's)
Anyway, the rest of this post will be dedicated to the one thing that nostalgically brought me back to my days of youth only to ruin it with asseninity and tomfoolery: HEROES.

10 Reasons Chapter 2 of Heroes sucked:

1. Hiro Nakamura

What is he doing in feudal Japan? OK, at first, it was interesting-- Hiro met his childhood hero, who happened to be a drunken sot; the hero and Hiro became friends; Hiro falls for hero's girlfriend, but is too good to actually do anything about it until hero realizes he, Hiro, loves her, hero's girl. All this in the span of about 30 minutes of actual screen time, wherein Hiro turns Takenze (sp) into a noble, honor loving gentleman, only to steal his slightly attractive girlfriend and send his idol into a diabolical 400-year rage. The real tragedy of this part of the series was Takenze's un-development. The creators could have made him so much more compelling--a conflicted, loving/hating immortal, but instead recognized that they didn't have enough of Peter Patrelli's sexy super-abs lighting up the screen, so devoted very little to making him sinister, evil, interesting, etc. More on that later. Anyway, Hiro has potentially the most powerful abilities of ANY of the Heroes crew, but like everybody else doesn't even think enough to use them beyond the painfully obvious...

2. Can Anybody Actually Use the Powers They Discovered Last Season?!

Seriously, it got annoying about 3 episodes in. Couldn't Hiro stop time and walk in to White Beard's camp (PS--who the @&#$ is White Beard?!) and snatch up the missing sword maker? Couldn't Peter Petrelli, who had no problem reading anyone else's mind, have done the obvious and read Adam's mind to make sure he was/wasn't a bad guy? Couldn't Claire...well, OK, she abused her power, which was kinda cool. But really...isn't that half of why we watched this show, to see these people recognize and utilize their powers as they devoleped/matured? Isn't it really a commentary on puberty, and how we all just wish we could fit in until we discover a group of people we feel comfortable with and grow into ourselves? Or is that reading too much into the mutant-outcast paradigm? I am now solidly off-topic.

3. Death Holds no Weight

For those of you who cheered when Noah Bennet (aka "Horn-Rimmed-Glasses" man) was brought back to life within 5 minutes of being killed by the ever-idiotic Suresh, I was right there with you. He was, and continues to be, the most compelling character on the show. It would have been a huge mistake to axe the same man who simultaneously exudes compassion and caring for his family and utter hatred towards those who would harm them. I mean, this is the guy who can tell the teasingly sado-masochistic Kristen Bell (may she ever be praised) "It hurts like a Bitch, doesn't it?!" and within two minutes achingly confess to his daughter "I love you Claire-Bear." That's neither here nor there, though...the creators over at Heroes, aka the writers, somehow thought it would be a good idea to make Claire/Adam/Peter's blood cure any ailment, any time. Nathan Petrelli was cured by Adam's blood, so why not resurrect Noah with his daughter's blood? Sounds innocent, right? Well, I've got news for you--while that may seem cool, you've essentially negated the sting of death. Now that no one can die, the ultimate source of tension in any narrative goes with it. Without death, what is life? Death used to be the ultimate emotor. The threat of death is something every single person can relate to. Now? Now we've simply turned Heroes into a kiddy fantasy where the good guys will make it to the end, no matter what, because they can't die forever. Which leads us to the next point...

4. Nathan Petrelli--Awesome, and...DEAD?! What is this, "Who Shot J.R.?"

Now, Tim Kring seems desperate to have his audience ride out the Writer's Guild strike. He must be thinking that we'll spend the next nine months of our lives fretfully wringing our hands, wondering "Oh, who could have killed Nathan?" However, the writers negated any concern we should have for Nathan the moment they brought back Noah Bennett--can't we just inject Nathan with Peter's blood and bring him back to life? I mean, Noah Bennett was shot in the eyeball, and potentially dead for many hours before being ressuscitated, so why not do it for Nathan? It's just bullets, right? Anyway, either way the writers go from here will be disingenuous...either you write some stupid situation where Peter's blood won't work (but why not grab some from Claire or have Hiro teleport into the ground and snag some heroic hemoglobin from Adam in his grave?) and Nathan really dies, or you do the obvious, smart thing and have Peter ressurrect Nathan, in which case we just spent the last nine months fretfully wringing our hands about the non-killer of a guy we had just started to appreciate who really didn't die and we can get to know better. Again this presents us with the idiocy of the writing team: why kill one of the better characters?! Nathan was another terrifically conflicted creation--politician/brother/son who loves his family but can't balance that and/or come to grips with his power cravings; faltering father and husband who loves his wife and kids but can't seem to bring himself to embrace first daughter Claire or keep from cheating on his wife; pretty GQ guy who gets horribly scarred saving New York from a nuclear holocaust, who is then brought back to pretty boy status after a villain's blood reverses the scarring. But now he's either gone, even when we know he could have been ressurrected easily, or the powerful and tremendously emoting assassination that could have been has gone up in smoke. Did anyone else not cry when Nathan was shot? I know I didn't. But that's the tragedy of it all. We should have been weaping. Here's a guy who sacrificed nearly everything--his body, his political career, his family--in order to protect innocents and his brother. There is an incredible power in that kind of sacrifice, but...the power that was invested in that character has been lost to the ether...the writers have messed up the potential that was Nathan Petrelli forever. He's the embodiment of the potential that was tapped in Chapter One, only to be royally screwed up in Chapter 2.

5. What is a Press Conference Going to DO?!!!

This could only come from the warped, elitist mind of a Hollywood writer. What could be more powerful and change everything for the better than making an announcement over the local media? The pen (or in this case, the press-box) is mightier than the sword, right?! Well, Nathan Petrelli, with all due respect, I fail to see what announcing your ability to fly to the world will accomplish. Claire had the same idea--"I'll expose myself to the world, and then they'll leave us alone." Huh?! Did you get hit on the head and not heal when you said that? And then, in the very next episode, Claire's plan has suddenly changed to where, if she can just expose the Company the truth of what is going on will set her and every other mutant free. That makes as much sense as suing the mob for doing bad things. We all know they do bad things, but the brilliance of it is that they're covered by pseudo-companies and legitimate operations through which they launder their money. Now, I have a better idea--have Peter Petrelli blow up the company.


You're done! Next story arc.

6. New Orleans

Can I just say that I was rooting for New Orleans to rise above the flooded waters from Katrina, but after this convoluted/idiotic story line took us NOWHERE except to kill off Nikki (the third and final compelling character in this mess) in a gang-inflicted home explosion so that Micah could rescue his comic books and his dad's medal of honor, I wanted the Big Easy to slip back into the Gulf of Mexico and never show its soaked head again. Dumb as vegetarian gumbo.

7. !Maya!..(Spanish pouting)..!Alejandro!

I hated the wonder twins from the very beginning. First, their accents were not from Venezuela, or wherever they're supposed to be from. If anything, these two were Argentine. That's nit-picky. What really killed me though was the constant running, driving, walking, stumbling into America in order to "cure" Maya--only to have Alejandro die in a motel and Maya get killed... and then ressurrected. How do they meet up with Sylar anyway? They drive up to him in the middle of the desert where he has collapsed conveniently on the road. How do they get into America? They run into a bumbling bunch of Minute Men and force Maya to get all crazy on them and cry black death tears.

Did anyone else notice that every episode had to include Maya getting angry, losing control, crying her black tears of mass death and having Alejandro come in again and save everyone from a silly death just to again emphasize to the viewers that yes! Maya has the most non-traditional, ridiculous super powers of all time, and she can't control it?! I can just imagine the writer's brainstorming session for this storyline: "They might forget that Maya has this power, so let's hit them over the head with it as much as humanly possible." Right, because it's a cool power? No. Because at some point they thought it might be handy, and they need to fill up a few minutes of screen time that they couldn't come up with dialogue or plot points to move the story along.

8. Peter Petrelli Amnesia

This part of the Chapter was just dumb--and lasted for eight episodes or so. OK, I get the plot point that they filled in several episodes later--Peter had gone on the rampage with a super villain (Peter's kryptonite? Stupidity) and needed to be stopped by the Haitian, who took all his memories. However, that shows some lack of foresight on the Haitian's part. Set the most powerful being on the planet loose on the world without any memories of who he was to guide him morally. On a completely selfish vein, I was incredibly bored while Peter (didn't) try to figure out who and what he was. Worse, his Irish girlfriend had NO chemistry with Peter. She's cute, and heaven knows I like that accent, but Peter and her? No way. And sweet Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Peter, and who usually does better than this, showed that he has become Television's Keanu Reeves. Example:

Imagine Neo from The Matrix whispering, very powerfully "Nathan?!"

Imagine Bill from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure uttering "Nathan?!"

Imagine the good cop-dude from Speed intensely lifting an eyebrow and breathily saying "Nathan?!"

Now, you should have no problem associating Peter Petrelli with the worst actor of our time. I hope I didn't ruin anything for you.

Back to this point, I really think that this part of the storyline had its origins in the following brainstorm at NBC studios--"Man, we need something Irish in here. I've always liked Irish accents." "Yeah, and what about an amnesia story? Every good soap opera has an amnesia story line." "Good, we can save some time for us to think up a way to patch the story by sticking an amnesiac Peter in the middle of nowhere Ireland in a crate." "Oh, and don't forget to give him a girlfriend." "Nice! Ooooh, ooooh!.... we can also have him prance around without a shirt on, that ought to boost our ratings with the 18-35 female demographic! The advertisers will love it!" "Done. So let it be written, so let it be done."

9. Suresh Has a PhD in Dumb.

Like my friend RuthAnne pointed out, Suresh has a moral compass without needles. Within the half season that was Chapter 2, Suresh had

  1. Agreed to help Parkman and Noah Bennet take down the Company, no matter the costs (good guy)
  2. Agreed to help the Company take down the dangerous mutants, no matter the costs (bad guy)
  3. Tried to kill Sylar (good guy)
  4. Killed Noah Bennett (bad guy)
  5. Brought Noah Bennett back to life (good guy?)
  6. Tried to destroy the evil muto-death-cure virus (good guy!)
  7. Tried to develop the evil muto-death-cure virus (BAD guy!)
  8. Saved the Haitian's life (goodish guy)
  9. Tries to save Molly (and later Maya), only to play right into the hands of Sylar (good guy, but inept)
  10. Preens about, spouting off on such topics as ethics, morality, and the greater good, all with a very formal Indo-British accent which is a pre-requisite for the brainy guys. (bad guy)

There was not an episode where I didn't think, Man! Suresh blows! Then my friend Rebeccah came up with the solution: Kill Suresh. Easy as Chicken Vindaloo. Instead of killing off compelling characters, why doesn't the show weed out weak and idiotic characters? Well, because they've created those weak and idiotic characters, and it's a tarnish on their pride to eliminate the chaff they so lovingly raised up as wheat. So they get rid of two of the characters that had an ounce of interesting to them, and force the third to tell his family to give it up.

10. 12 Episodes got us...the Death Virus

From day one of the first season, we knew there was an imminent threat, an explosion in New York City. We knew we had heroes who were trying to cope with and develop powers of their own. We knew that they would play some part in preventing the explosion. We had villains, we had heroes and we had in-betweeners. We had character development, plot progression, splendid writing, and ambiguous morality situations. We didn't quite know who was good, evil, or misguided. We couldn't judge who would do what next, and all the surprises were pleasant and fit pristinely into the overarching storyline. This year, we had a discombobulated mess of disjointed, ill-fitting stories that tenuously led up to a final threat that we didn't even discover until midway into the season: the ultra-super-duper-98%-of-the-population-killer virus. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH. Scary. Only, we never got to see what the virus could do (except for one scene of the Haitian with a fever in Haiti and a brief trip to the future where everyone was dead) with anyone we cared about. Would it have killed us to have seen Nikki suffer a bit, or anyone else infect by the strain? Sylar seemed to do fine with it over the course of the season (sans powers of course), and Nikki seemed to be having a great time in New Orleans with her son, Captain NerdyPower. Sadly, there was never any real tension established there.

Also, our villains got neutered this season. Sylar (how did he survive a Samurai Sword through the chest?!) has lost his powers and stumbles and mumbles around Mexico half the time. Linderman's presumably dead (although you never know now, what with the miracle blood circulating throughout the show). And even Nikki's sinister half is on sabbatical when Nikki has her powers--which is rare this season. We have Bob, the gold-making villain. We have the bi-polar Suresh savant. We get Veronica Mars--Elle--halfway through the season, and she was great, but never chilling in the way a Linderman or a Sylar was, inflicting the type of damage, individually gruesome or mass-scale homicide that allowed us a glimpse into their souls. Sure, we saw some conflict within her towards the end, but it's nothing like that which we saw with the ambiguously good/bad guys Noah Bennett, Nikki, or Nathan Petrelli last season. Like them, Elle was a somewhere-in-between twilight girl, not even a real villain, and the most electricity you got from her character was that charging through her body.

Overall, the genius of Heroes last season was good writing, character development, and an organized, well-thought-out plot. All of that went MIA this year, and it makes me want to say "Game Over."

But part of me knows it's just "To Be Continued...."

Unless the writers go on strike forever, in which case the execs would be forced to hire guys like me...


High-Nerd it is...

I am nerdier than 87% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out! I knew it. What am I doing in law school?! I should be working on a PhD in physics or something. I have to admit, though, that I'm honored to be considered so nerdy.


Christmas, Finals, The Usual

Well, this is more or less a tag of sorts, thanks to my former boss/friend, Shelley Bennion. Bless you and the rest of the Bennions for this one, Shelley. http://thelifeiimagine.blogspot.com/ 1) Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? It really depends on a few things. Hot Chocolate is perfect for reading that trashy, popcorn fiction thriller you picked up for the holidays while sitting on the couch watching the fire crackle; Egg Nog goes splendidly with friends, tacky Christmas Sweaters, and exchanging five dollar white elephant presents. 2) Do you wrap your presents or not? Really, that's a question?! Ummm...wrapped. How else would you create the ecstasy of tearing apart the frustratingly thin veil that separates you from the coolest thing this side of Black Friday? 3) Colored lights or white? I'm a traditionalist when it comes to lights. I like the white lights better generally, but those darn colored lights just remind so much of Christmas mornings in the mid 80s and 90s that I can't help but get a little giddy hanging them up. 4) Do you hang mistletoe? No. I had a bad experience with mistletoe in the 11th grade. Let's just say that I was firmly entrenched in my awkward phase, and mistletoe just made it that much more awkward. 5) When do you put up your decorations? The day after Thanksgiving. However, I have to state here that the only decoration I have is a Christmas background on my Computer. I think my Mom puts up decorations around the first week of December. I remember trying very hard not to wet myself on Dec. 1st when we would make Christmas Chains, start to burn the Advent Candle and start to put up decorations at home. Man, I love Christmas traditions...! 6) What is your favorite holiday dish? Cercil, a kind of pork sausage that my Grandma made every Christmas Eve. Can't get enough of the stuff. 7) Favorite memory as a child? Sitting around the fireplace Christmas Eve listening to my sisters bear their testimonies of the reality of Santa Claus. Heidi told us that one year, in the middle of the night (10:00 pm), she had heard a bump downstairs near the fireplace. It couldn't have been Dad or Mom at that late hour, so by process of elimination, it had to be Kris Kringle! Looking back on it, though, my favorite was the year that Kirsti suggested "Santa's getting fat, let's leave him some carrot sticks, apple slices, and water." Dad, chewing his lip and looking very concerned, said "If you really want to make Santa happy, you'll leave him some Root Beer and Oreo Cookies." Man, was Dad right! The loot that year was especially impressive. 8) When and how did you learn about Santa? At home and at school. Still love the story about the jolly old elf! However, I came to the realization that Santa might be fictional when one year all the presents were numbered instead of being addressed to the recipients. We would have to pick up a gift, read a number, and Dad would then translate to whom the gift was going. It all played part in a logical system of accounting and sorting. That's what you get when your Dad is a management engineer, I guess. :D 9) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. We usually have my Dad's side of the family over on Christmas Eve (vestages of a Norwegian tradition), and we exchange gifts. Sometimes Santa will send something early via Mom and Dad. Actually--I think we were told that Mom and Dad had some kind of business partnership with Santa. That's why Santa would often send gifts and have Mom and Dad wrap them and sign them in their handwriting. That must be why I believed he was real until I was 10 or so. 10) How do you decorate your tree? With nearly every ornament we've collected over the years. Some might call it tacky, and it might look that way, but every single ornament has some personal significance to us. That's what matters most, right?! If that makes us tacky, then so be it. Everyone else is just snooty. 11) Snow...love it or dread it? Can't imagine what life would be like without it. Winter would just be cold without snow. Instead, it's fluffy, crisp, and innocent. 12) Can you ice skate? Yes, but I'm horrible. I dated a girl who was great at it and would hold my hand while we went around in circles. In order to make her happy, I pretended like I loved it, but I really just got sore shins and wondered when I could stop making a fool of myself. Later, I realized that I spend most of my life making a fool of myself anyway, so I'm OK with ice skating now. We're cool. However, things didn't quite work out so well with the girl. I'm pretty sure she cheated on me with a guy who could ice skate. 13) Do you remember your favorite gift? Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989. Days after receiving this Gift of Gifts, I began to get up at 5am in order to get all my chores done so I could get some Mario Bros. in before school. This kind of dedication baffles me, since I can't seem to wake up until after 9am, even when I have to get out of bed at 6:30am. If I were half as passionate about the law as I was about that little Japanese game system, I'd be in the Supreme Court by now. 14) What is the most important part of the holidays? Family, no doubt. Can't get enough of my parnts and siblings. Also, thinking about this, the nativity story is really a family story at its core, isn't it? Young couple trying to find a place to stay so they can pay their taxes. They have to stay at the local Motel 8, and while there, Mom goes into labor surrounded by farm animals. The first Christmas was divinely dysfunctional, and so relatable. 15) Favorite holiday dessert? Rice Pudding with Raspberry Syrup. We have rice pudding every year as dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. Grandma would make the pudding and a homemade raspberry topping: Crazy Delicious! Then she would slip an almond into one of the bowls, and the person who got the almond won a box of chocolates. It took me 22 years to win that thing, but Christmas 2004 was the year I finally won it all! What a great year. 16) Favorite tradition? Christmas Morning, having to wait for Dad to set everything up downstairs (mostly his camcorder). We'd all wait excitedly at the top of the stairs, sometimes for 20 minutes or more, depending on when we convinced everyone to get up. I think one year we got everyone to agree to 7:00 am. Nowadays, it's more like 9:00am. Anyway, visualize the kind of nubile energy that gets pent up for 364 days each year, cram it into this 20 minute span, and you can imagine the kind of electricity shooting around the stairwell. While we don't really sleep everybody upstairs anymore, it's still one of the greatest parts of the Vogeler Christmas. 17) Favorite Christmas Carol? Tie between "The First Noel" and "Still, Still, Still." Christmas music in general is awesome. My favorite part of being in choirs has always been the obligatory Christmas concert. For whatever reason, some of the most achingly beautiful melodies in western music have been tied to Christmas.


Thought You'd Like This

See earlier post for context. Whoever snapped this photo must have been doing the right things on and off the field.



Pre-School and Kindergarten! Because this was the year I first learned to read and recite my alphabet, I've decided to make this an alphabetic post: Apples. I didn't like apples much. Still don't. Unless they're involved in a crumbly crusted pie. Or of the Fuji variety. Or a really crisp, green granny apple. OK, ok. I like apples. BYU. Mom and Dad raised us Cougar Blue. Why? I cannot begin to tell you. It could very well be that Dad, a proud Utah grad, was a fair-weather fan. I mean, who wouldn't want to root for the very first BCS Busters? The boys who took on the likes of UTEP, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Colorado State to win their first National Championship were as popular as facebook or fantasy football in the confines of the Rocky Mountains. This Cougar affiliation would cause quite the ruckus at school where about 99.9% of everyone was a University of Utah fan. I was true blue, through and through. That allegiance has dimmed somewhat over the years (see last post). Co-dependency. I remember being very frustrated at this age because of my inability to act on my own. The toilet was still an intimidating, nuanced project. I couldn't cross the street alone, mostly because beyond my yard lay the unknown. Food? I didn't even know where it came from. For all I knew, plastic wrappers around the string cheese were as natural and organic as the peels around the banana: you didn't want to eat either. Really, though, I don't think my desire to achieve independence surfaced until late into my teenage years. My mom was just too wonderful and good to me at this age to make me want to drop the co-dependence. Only hormones could later confuse and retard my mental capacities enough to make me think otherwise. I have since recovered.

Donatello. This was the dawning of the age of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My childhood would not have been complete without these bodacious, pizza-eating, martial arts-fighting reptiles. Donatello was perhaps the most passive of the Turtles, but man, he could wield a wicked bo staff in his Nintendo Games. Two years later, the Vogeler Brothers would all get matching Turtle pajamas. Guess who got to be Michaelangelo--the "goofy one?" You got it.

Eric is a good name. I'm fairly certain that I could write my name this year. Bless my parents for endowing me with an easy-to-spell, four-letter name. Unfortunately, through most of my years at Bonneville Elementary, my name was a four-letter word as well.

Freedom! Well, not really, but close to it. This year marked my entrance into the world of literature. Hop on Pop, Are You my Mother?, and Goodnight Moon ranked high on the list of greats. In fact, they still haven't left the Eric cannonical shelf. They've just had their ranks joined by the likes of Shakespeare, Dunne, Wilde, Tolkien, Martin, and Brooks. If you don't understand why reading is freedom, you need to pick up a good book and immerse yourself in it. Christmas time is a perfect time to do this. Start with The Cat in the Hat and work up from there.

Great food = McDonalds. The chosen treat of the occasional time that we could convince Mom to take us to get Happy Meals, usually after swimming lessons on Fridays. I LOVED this stuff. Mostly the fries. Mom would have to make me finish the burger. Looking back, McDonalds is more of a nostalgic food than it is a quality food. It represents my childhood--days in the pool, watching Smurfs, playing games, running around half-dressed, making mischief. Maybe that explains why I cried every time I ate McDonalds in Brazil.

Heaven & Hell. The Mormon concept of eternal families was a litle bit daunting at the age of five. The thought of having to spend the rest of eternity with my immediate family could sometimes make me shudder. Especially if I had to put up with my annoying little brothers for the rest of forever. Also, I didn't consider myself a great candidate for eternal life in heaven, as I was sure I had messed up at some point along the road. The concept of forgiveness, as you could probably imagine, was AMAZING to me! I didn't really know how to do it, but I thought that being able to have the slate wiped clean was pretty incredible. I still do. And I'm still really bad at it. Oh well, one learns, right?

Itchy Bombs. These were the lethal, appropriately named seeds from the huge trees which towered over Bonneville Elementary when I first started Kindergarten. Stuffed down an unsuspecting child's shirt, they literally exploded with dry plant matter that sent you scratching to the secretary's office. We loved them. Still do. (Forgiveness was in the back of my mind when these were deployed. Still is).

Jason, Jonathon, Joshua, J.P., (Ben and Chad, too). Growing up I had a plethora of male cousins, many of whom had names beginning with "J." I referred to them as "the Boys." It's kind of funny now, since at the time, there were three Vogeler Boys--plenty to refer to ourselves as "the Boys." But these guys served as my surrogate older brothers. They probably didn't know it, but I looked up to, respected, and loved them more than they could ever know. Still do. Which is probably to what I owe my allegiance to potty humor, obnoxiousness and/or sarcastic self-deprication.

Kirsti and Heidi. My older sisters. I have pictures of them dressing me up in pink pajamas. I have fond memories playing My Little Pony, Rainbow Bright, and Care Bears with them. It is, therefore, very fortunate that I had older boy cousins, and later, younger brothers with whom to express my deep-rooted man-nature. Attempted emasculation aside, my sisters are two of the greatest girls I've ever met. Ever.

Legs. At this age, most adults were better represented by their legs than any other distinguishing characteristic. My dad was the pair of legs that I got to hug when the low-voice came home in the late afternoon. Mom was the pair of legs that I got to sit on in church. Mama and Papa were the legs that took me to the zoo or had me over for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Grandma was the pair of legs with a thick Norwegian accent who came over often to babysit. Everyone else was a pair of legs with a voice. This mode of identification often proved problematic when in large crowds. Mikee. My youngest and dumbest brother was born this year, effectively solidifying my position in the middle of the family, dooming me to a future of trying to be louder/funnier/more charismatic than everyone else in hopes of getting attention and/or food at the dinner table. After my experience with Timmy, Mikee came as a welcome respite. I remember having to spend the night at Mama and Papa's house while mom went to the hospital. This was especially exciting because I got to leave church early. Mikee started life on the right foot.

Nepotism. Dad always selected me for the "best" jobs--ie, those jobs that required small hands to complete. Later in life, this would be upgraded to "those jobs that Dad didn't want/have time to do." My favorite? Knocking old mortar chips off of used cinder blocks. That 2.00 dollars an hour was non-negotiable, and some of the best money I'd ever seen. It mostly went towards Star Wars trading cards. I still have a Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, and Darth Vader somewhere.

Orange Soda. Loved the stuff. Still love the stuff. Back in the day, it was Orange Crush. Now it's mostly just Orange Fanta. All I knew was that it was good stuff.

Painting. With fingers. This is the stereotypical pre-school/kindergarten activity. I don't remember ever doing it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that any teacher with the courage to set little Eric Vogeler loose with finger paints while wearing clothes and surrounded by 20 other little kids should have been working the Westside beat or locked up somewhere near Draper.

Quintessential. Again, a word far too large for my 5-year-old vocabulary, but it describes my Kindergarten experience perfectly: I went to Bonneville Elementary for PM Kindergarten with Mrs. Waterworth. We sang songs, had nap time, drank milk and ate cookies, listened to stories on the magic carpet, learned letters and numbers, and played tag at recess. We dressed up for Halloween, sang Christmas and Hanukkah songs in December, made Valentine's cards in February, wore green in March, and had an Easter Egg hunt in April. I think I enjoyed it. Looking back, I wish I could do it right now. I know people who would pay thousands of dollars for these kinds of activities on a cruise boat in the middle of the Caribbean.

Reality Bites. This lesson was first driven home when I tried to climb up the slippery part of the slide at Davis Park. Living up to its billing, I slipped on the slippery part, cracked my jaw on the steel (they don't make steel slides much any more) and damaged my inner ear. I remember very clearly that it hurt. A lot. Other bits of reality that I came to recognize this year: Mud makes you dirty; kids can be mean to each other; pulling out teeth--even baby teeth--is a bad idea when your tooth is attached by a string to a doorknob; asphalt was designed to provide traction for cars and business for kid-sized tweezer makers; hot metal burns you; cold metal burns you; snow is soft unless thrown at your head at a great velocity; water is fun to play in; mud is fun to play in; mud often leads to water, and water to mud; the kids you want to be your friends are the ones with the coolest toys or the ones that live closest to you; girls are weird; Nintendo is synonymous with both "fun" and "killer of time" in Japanese; money requires work, unless your parents are trying to teach you a listen or just think you're cute; Halloween is the GREATEST HOLIDAY OF ALL TIME!!!; Reading is difficult until you get good at it, and even then, is only fun with a good book; the Berenstein Bears are way too perfect; there is nothing better in this world than watching a movie with popcorn and people you love all around you.

Superman. Best. Superhero. Ever. Full. Stop.

Transformers. They're more than meets the eye. Sadly, the original cartoon outshined the late big screen adaptation in terms of dialogue, script, storyline, and quality. To add insult to autobot, the original toys were freaking DIE-CAST METAL. My Optimus Prime weighed like 5 pounds. Now, Transformers break if you look at them cock-eyed. I know. I just tried.

Utah Mormons. I remember being asked by Dave Johnson what religion I was. I didn't know what he was talking about. He said what Church do you go to? I said "The Red One." He said, no, no...are you Mormon or Lutheran? I thought about it for a moment, and assuming that everyone went to the same church on Sundays and sat through the same boring meetings that I did, figured that the cooler sounding name was probably the best choice to go with. "Lutheran" I proudly declared. Cool, said Dave, I'm Mormon. Let's go play.

Vogeler! Best. Last. Name. Ever. Full. Stop.

Winter. This was, by far, the best of the four seasons, mostly because the two best holidays of the year fell at this time: My Birthday and Jesus' Birthday. Both entailed gift giving. Both happened at about the same time. Both involved very important people. Coming in at a close second, third, and fourth, respectively: Summer, Spring, and Fall.

X-Rays. Every young boy dreamed of having the chance to take x-rays of some broken part of his body. It was cool. It was manly. We never thought you'd have to go through a lot of pain to partake in X-rays. But the eventual cast and the attention it garnered you was well worth it. Still is.

You. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you were at least alive or being thought of in 1987. If not, I'm flattered. Now, get to bed!

Zelda. Best. Nintendo. Game. Ever. Full. Stop.