Monday, June 23, 2008

My Prodigal Stuff

This is the full story of how I got a bunch of musical gear stolen from me, only to later recover most of it. A lot of my friends only know the first half of the story, so I felt it necessary to tie the saga together in all its irony in the form of a blog.


This is a blog I wrote on myspace on September 2, 2007, just a day after the said thievery:

So, I got some stuff stolen yesterday from my van, musical stuff, about $800 worth of it to be exact.Among this was my electric guitar, an Ibanez Talman:

and a case of 4 pedals (Boss Chromatic Tuner, Boss Blues Driver Distortion, Boss DD3 Digital Delay, and DOD Chorus) w/ miscellaneous cables:

If by chance you see them, call the police. No wait, actually, don't. Their lazy asses took like 3 hours to get to the crime scene to file a police report as they were too busy observing slow moving, peaceful traffic at the BYU game. Just call me and Dan Leach, we'll execute some vigilante justice ourselves.

Actually, it's not likely that I'll see my stuff again. So I guess what I'm really fishing for is a small donation so I can repurchase my gear (Hint: my paypal address is

Hey, it could be a lot worse, they could've taken my left arm, rendering me useless to play guitar;

Or they could've stolen a song that I wrote, by far a more priceless possession than any musical instrument.

So, to the thief of my stuff, I know your intentions must've been good. You must have no doubt have been jaded by the oversaturation of mediocre music in our world today via the internet, and so I am assured that your theft of my stuff was purely an act of civil disobedience, and not an attempt to further your own financial interests. If my assumption is correct, then I hail your nobility and simply lament the fact that I was the unlucky target of your anonymous protest.


So after posting this, I was bombarded with a flood of support from friends. I got about $100 in donations, which I used to buy 2 of the 4 pedals I had lost. A good friend and musician, Joe Gibbs, who was as attached to my stolen guitar as I was, took pity on me and loaned me one of his Fender Telecasters. I would later buy this guitar from him, and he was very patient in awaiting my last of several payments.

As stated earlier, I was rather complacent in any attempt to track down my stuff, although I did check at a local shop, AAA Pawn Shop, for my guitar, but to no avail.

So I basically let the rhythms of the universe run their natural course, going on with my life, playing music, forgetting about the whole ordeal, and assuming that the thief of my stuff would get what he had coming to him via karma. That was, until one January afternoon, when I got a phone call from one Joe Gibbs.

"I'm at the pawn shop, and I'm looking at your guitar right now," he said.

"Are you sure?!" I asked.

"Yes. It's yours" he replied.

"I'll be right over"

Well, "right over," ended up being the same AAA Pawn Shop in Provo (who inaccurately told me that they DIDN'T have my guitar back in September), and in 5 minutes, I was there, looking at
not only my long lost Ibanez Talman but also 2 of my 4 pedals and all of my miscellanous cables.

Now, since I had failed to fill out a police report back in September when my gear was stolen, I had to walk across the street to the police station and fill one out then. One report-filling-out later, Officer Moore accompanied me back across the street to AAA Pawn to retrieve my stuff. I had to pay $80 to get it all back, which is how much the thief got for it all, but considering I never planned on seeing it again, $80 was a steal (no pun intended, seriously).

After describing the salient features of my guitar and pedal board to Officer Moore, I was reunited with my stuff. As I hefted my Ibanez Talman once again, Officer Moore remarked that he knew that I was in fact the rightful owner of the guitar by the sentimental attachment I seemed to have with the instrument.

At this point, it was up to me if I wanted to take legal action against the lowlife who stole my stuff. Despite all of my friends' advice to the contrary, my apathetic/charitable side kicked in (still haven't figured out which) and I decided that it wasn't worth the time, money, and effort to go after this windburnt meth-head, especially since I got most of my stuff back anyway.

So there you have it. In hindsight, I probably should have done more for my case after my stuff got stolen. But this whole experience has only reaffirmed my belief that if you set your expectations low, you'll never be disappointed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Like A Hadouken to the Soul

A new Weezer record came out this month, and as such, it is a time for nerds everywhere to take a step back and re-evaluate our nerdness. Not nerdiness, which is a measure of the adjective nerdy, but nerdness, or the state of being a nerd. I personally love The Red Album, but that is not what this blog is about.

At this time of introspection, I reflected on one of my biggest pet peeves. I am of course referring to people who believe that there are irrevocably two kinds of people in the world: people with "book smarts" and people with "street smarts", with absolutely no grey area blurring the two.

To me, the mere existence of these people refutes their claim, as those who live in such a black and white world generally lack "smarts" of both variety.

I, of course, am a "book smarts" guy to these people, and to this day I'm still not really sure what that means. I think it means that I do things like use calculus when lining up my pool shot, not unlike Donald Duck's friend as seen in this educational Disney video that my brainy ass remembers from elementary school:

This video illustrates how most street smart people (i.e. Donald) view book smart people (Donald's boring, not-animated friend). They are socially awkward, get things right the first time (thus missing out on life-shaping misadventures) and are a total buzzkill, bringing "charts and graphs" into billiards, which should apparently have nothing to do with math.

Street smarts, by default, I assume to include any kind of smarts that can't be learned from a book. I mostly interpret this to mean the ability to pull off some sort of scam or swindle. Some of the most stereotypically street smart people in pop culture are also notorious cheaters: Bart Simpson, Bugs Bunny, Bill Clinton, you get the idea.

Now in a world where you are either one or the other, brainy or street savvy, we are taught that we need never venture toward the middle ground, and that to try and possess both traits is futile. This leads me to believe that the concept of "street smarts" was invented by and is propagated by ignorant people to justify not reading books. Street smart people are always trying to discourage book smart people from doing street smart things, because then street smart people will, (1) be forced to learn (presumably from books), and/or, 2) become obsolete.

To refer back to The Simpsons, Lisa probably possesses more "street smarts" than Bart, but "braininess" (and conscience) prevent her from executing schemes that she is probably way more qualified to pull off than her brother. Bart's street smarts come from his "nothing to lose" attitude, and in his case the "nothing" in question is intelligence.

Now, I surely don't deny the existence of "book smarts" and "street smarts", however vague their meaning. I have known people at every end of the spectrum. The real tragedy, though, is when these people believe that if they are one, they cannot be the other.

Some people I know contain neither street smarts nor book smarts. This is even more tragic, because upon realizing at an early age that they aren't book smart, they assume themselves to be street smart, and often go their entire lives under this false assumption (most police officers fall into this category).

And finally, I have known some amazing people who possess both "street smarts" and "book smarts". They think with their mind and their heart. These people prove that there can and should be a grey area between these two kinds of people. Which leads me to my final point: Tina Fey, will you marry me?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pump It Up

"Pump it up, when you don't really need it
Pump it up, until you can feel it"

-Elvis Costello

Well, it's summertime again, and you know what that means: everybody's freaking out about gas prices again! Plus, it's an election year, so times all that hype by, like 4, and you have enough talking heads making talking points on the subject to create a nauseating montage.

In talking about an issue like gas prices, I'm always fascinated how people are always so quick to talk about these big, outlandish schemes they have little to no control over to lower fuel prices, while ignoring the little things that we could each do every day to ween ourselves off of our addiction to oil. Simply driving our cars less is literally the only thing we could do right this second to both save money and decrease the demand for oil, but it seems to be the last thing on anyone's mind.

Domestic drilling and alternative fuel sources are great ideas, but they are logistically complex solutions that no one can seem to agree on and will take a long time to execute. In a perfect world, yes, we would all drive Hybrids. But realistically, about 27 baby steps stand between that and the gas guzzling van I just ditched. Plus these are all only temporary solutions to a greater problem, like the guy you know who hasn't showered for days so lathers himself in cologne: it doesn't work.

Now, admittedly, I don't know a lot about politics, or the economy, or the environment, all important factors in determining the price of gas. I'm probably not even qualified to be writing a blog about this. I do, however, know a little bit about day-to-day life, and the tedious minutiae that goes along with it.

Speaking of which, I got a fortune cookie the other day that told me this: "He who waits to do everything all at once, does nothing."

Me riding my bike a quarter mile to work every day isn't going to solve the world's oil crisis, but it's going to solve my oil crisis. And besides, to me life isn't about quick fixes. It's about everybody doing a bunch of little things that seem insignificant at first, but add up, and, in the end, create this great collective piece of art that we can all look back on later and be proud of having been a part in.

And when you think of all of the things we waste our money on now, gas to me still seems relatively cheap, if you live in a central location, like I do. I have friends who pay $8 to see new releases in the movie theater every single weekend, who shudder to drive 5 miles from Orem to Provo (at an average of 20 mpg, even at a record high $4 a gallon that's still only $2 for a round trip). I'll gladly take the trip and wait for the Redbox.

All of this having been said, I'm almost to the point where I'm ready for gas prices to REALLY skyrocket. And at this point, I almost wish they would. Let it ride, that's what I say. I know that I'd be more prepared than most people.

With more people forced to use public transportation, we'd for sure have more local bus routes, and I'll bet they'd run more efficiently than the one 811 route that you can catch maybe once an hour in Provo if you're lucky. All of my friends who got suckered into buying cheap houses in Eagle Mountain would be totally screwed, and I'd be relatively unphased in my cheap old downtown Provo housing.

A little walking never hurt anybody. I have friends who spend over $100 a year on gym memberships but drive to get there. That's 25 gallons of gas. That's about 500 miles. Meanwhile how many opportunities do this miss out on to get free exercise by walking somewhere?

You always hear everyone complaining how we live in such a cold, impersonal world, and how "text messaging is killing us all!" That may or may not be true, but if everyone walked to where they were going, or rode the bus, it would be a lot easier for us to get to know our neighbors. Maybe becoming a first world country with a third world culture is just what we need. Or maybe we just need to start living our lives entirely online. That'll teach those damned oil companies...

Friday, June 6, 2008

IT'S A....BOX!

On April 1st, 2008, Chance Clift, son of Michael and Grace Clift, welcomed a healthy baby (sized) Post Office Box into his world.

The box weighed in at...well, pretty small, barely big enough to fit a couple magazines and pieces of junk mail in. I just basically got sick of changing my address every time I move, which is pretty often. So it's totally worth the couple bucks a month to maintain.

Plus, when people ask for my address now, I get to sound like some kind of badass and rattle this canned line off:

Chance Clift
P.O. Box 403
Provo, UT 84603

With an address like this I sound like I'm either a celebrity or a guy who runs an infomercial. Or a homeless guy that still expects to get mail.

I have been disappointed a couple times already, though, when I've given this address, only to hear the follow-up question: "What is your physical address?"

I don't know how to answer this!

Where do you live? I live by the pool at university villa! Why would I know my exact address if I don't get mail there?

Where do you physically exist? Right here! I'm standing in front of you as you ask me the question!

Where do you get mail? I just told you!

Plus, there's always something to be said about the classic feeling of physically going to the post office, which far outweighs the small inconvenience of taking 10 minutes from your hectic day. It's a pleasant bike ride. But what could I say about that topic that Vonnegut hasn't already said.

So there you have it, my new address. So keep that mail coming. Wedding announcements. Birth announcements (hopefully YOU have more than a box!). My birthday is August 15th (hint, hint). Ah who am I kidding, I'll see you all on facebook.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My month as a homeless guy

First of all, I should clarify the title of this, lest you get the impression that I was that guy living in my van for 30 days, which is what most people thought when I told them about this. For the entire month of April, there was a lapse between moving out of my previous residence and moving into my new apartment. Incidentally, the two places are about 2 blocks away from each other, so I successfully executed the longest, most expensive 200 yard move in modern history.

So on March 31st, I packed all of my stuff into my 1990 Chevy Van, Hector, who, according to my calculations, had at least another month left in him. Granted, my calculations consisted of basically always hoping Hector will get me to point B before dying, and in this case, point B was May 1st. My basic game plan was to rely on the hospitality of several friends, crashing on the couch of each on a sort of rotation-like fashion. My hope was that by being the first courteous, somewhat invisible couch crasher in the history of the sport, I could defy the stereotype of the guy on the couch, a precedent set by the character of that name in Half Baked.

So that's what I did. The weird thing is, even when I had my own place, I've crashed on friends' couches for the night many times for whatever reason, but in the month of April, there was one main difference in my stay: the morning shower. Merely sleeping on a friend's floor because of a late party and going home the next morning is only half the battle.

And this bring me to my point, if I even had one: Homelessness isn't so much about not having a home; it's about not having a bathroom.

Anyway, I went on with my normal life for the most part. I went to work, hit up a local show at night, ran errands, I even went to a friend's wedding. I ate all my meals off of dollar menus, which really isn't any different than any other month for me. It was like being on tour, except without playing shows, or leaving your town.

At the end of the month, I went on a little road trip with my friend, Jason. The purposes for this road trip were twofold: 1) to crash on the couches of friends who lived out of town so as to give my Provo friends a break (Jason is also an avid couch crasher) and 2) to play some small all-ages shows (Jason also happens to be a drummer).

After our little road trip to Idaho, Logan, and Vernal, Utah, we returned to Provo. Oh yeah, and somewhere on this trip half the exhaust system of my van apparently fell off, which I guess is a big deal. I've never professed to know a lot about cars anyway, but in hindsight, that probably explains why my van is now, like, twice as loud as it was before. I had showered in many showers, big and small, with water pressures high and low, and I was ready for a bathroom to call my own. On May 1st, 2008, I moved into apartment 31 at University Villa apartments in Provo, Utah, and nothing short of my April experience could have produced the emotion I felt that day to be in this low budget student housing: gratitude.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Provo: It Was Like That When I Got Here

This is something I wrote last year, just thought I'd repost it here for your reading enjoyment. This is the town I live in:

What an interesting town it is that I live in: A dumping ground for Mormon families all over the nation and world who wanted to straighten out their misled kids by throwing them onto a veritable G-rated breeding ground with a bunch of other kids who are in the exact same situation. Yeah that's a GREAT plan, or one with disaster written all over it, I forget which.

So Provo (and when I say Provo, I mean Provo/Orem as a college town, not the cities themselves with their native residents) is a melting pot of sorts (albeit with what appears to be the same ingredients). It is a town with more than a few Texas-flag-adorned apartment windows, a town with enough regional American dialects that it's a wonder we can all understand each other, even a town with one aggregate craving for In-And-Out Burger big enough to almost make us all collectively drive to Vegas this very second.

Along with this narrow individualism and home-state-pride, however, comes a mentality of blamelessness. Example: how many times have you heard someone complain about "those gosh dang utah drivers"? The ironic thing is, most of the time those very drivers that are being complained about probably just traded in their Washington plates for Utah ones last week. My point is that for anyone currently living here to criticize all things Utah is to criticize themselves, for we all are "THOSE people".

If we are all outsiders looking in, are we not staring at nothing? Let us instead embrace our fate, that we're not in Kansas anymore (figuratively, unless you moved here from Kansas, then literally), that we are in fact residents of the places we are now living. This way, if something sucks here, we're all to blame. This way, you need not go TOO far out of your way to mention the disclaimer on your myspace profile that while it SAYS you live in Provo, you're always a (insert home state here) girl at heart. This way, when you go to California this summer to sell Pest Control or return to your hometown to rekindle the dwindling flame with that old high school sweetheart, you will know that if all else fails, there's always a place for you in the social orphanage for twenty somethings that is Provo.

My very 1st bolg!!1!

Well, not really, but I feel that with how behind the curve I am, it was about time I started my very own blog. Besides, I feel like I kinda outgrew myspace blogging, and let's face it, facebook "notes" just aren't the same. So with that said, this is my new medium for rants, stories, and pop culture minutiae.