RE: Rolling Blackouts

I realize in retrospect that my last post, although it made perfect sense to me, may have been slightly confusing without some context.

It was in fact a record review of sorts of the album Rolling Blackouts by Brighton, UK band The Go! Team.  However, I’m a little tired of/uninterested in writing traditional record reviews (see A Change in Focus), so instead I opted for a sort of extreme-reader-response criticism/fan fiction type of record review. I hope to do more such non-traditional record reviews in the future because they are a lot more fun for me than regular record reviews.  Besides, you can find good regular reviews all over the place, so why do I need to bother with them, too?

I also would like to state for the record that Rolling Blackouts isn’t anything like my favorite album of 2011 or anything; it’s just a record I had a quick desire to write about in this method.  I hope to add more “reviews” to the site, including those written about albums that actually are my most favorites, but we know I have a poor track record of providing steady content and publishing all the things I intend to publish. So, I still have to add this disclaimer about Rolling Blackouts in case I never getting around to posting about any other albums and in their absence it appears as if it is my ultimate all-time-favorite album because it’s the only one I’ve written and published about.

That is all.  Thank you for your time.  We now return to our regular Froz-T-Freez programming, still in progress.

A Change in Focus

A few weeks ago I had a realization: I haven’t been writing. To most people, this probably does not sound like a bad thing. But I’ve always felt like I have a talent for writing and a potential to do good things with it, and not following through on that is a kind of self-betrayal. This knowledge of my failure to write is always in the back of my mind, but my new realization/kick-in-the-pants came in part as I attended the BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers and gained knowledge from the fabulous authors and illustrators that spoke there. Then, that Sunday in church the cognizance of my dereliction was again brought forward when my Primary co-teacher in our class of 10-11-year-old boys gave this lesson. The time had come to think seriously about writing again, and develop a plan.

As an undergraduate in college, I was somewhat sure that I would go forward to obtain an MFA and PhD in Creative Writing, and become a poet and college professor on some fine campus somewhere. Although I did well in creative writing in college, after graduating I failed to follow through on this goal. I didn’t make the networking connections I needed to make, and I didn’t say the right things politically that I needed to say, and I didn’t apply to enough schools, but far more essentially, I failed to follow through and continue writing poetry after graduation.

Later, while working as a substitute teacher in public education, I wrote myself halfway through a novel meant for middle grade readers, became frustrated and unsure of where I was going with it, and put it aside. I stopped writing again. In intervening years I’ve made a couple of abortive, guilt-ridden attempts to participate in NaNoWriMo that led only to stress and failure.

But I discovered blogging. I never was that great at it, from a standpoint of consistency, popularity, or monetization, but I did it occasionally. A couple of my blogs have come and gone before the establishment of this site, Josh’s Froz-T-Freez. One of my reasons for having this site is to provide myself a motivator to continue writing as well as a venue to share that writing. As it turns out, it only sort of works to these purposes. Although I don’t post regularly on this site (and although I do occasionally make these grand bogus claims that I am finally going to commence doing so), I still think about what I might post on here or hope to post on here a great deal. It takes up a significant piece of my mental life, even if it never converts to actual posts. My mind is filled with albums I feel I need to review, restaurants I want to visit or visit again and write about, mixtapes I want to put together, pictures to take, random ideas I would like to explore through essays, etc. All of this stuff, even if it’s only half-baked, half-finished, and never posted, still takes up a lot of time. It is also crippling in its failed ambition. Self-expectations that my site be filled with reviews that are thorough and comprehensive have prevented me from even posting so much as a list of my so-far-favorite albums of 2011. My idea of what would constitute a “written blog post” has become in my mind somewhat overblown and unwieldy to do on a regular basis, and because of that high expectation I rarely follow through.

As I considered my desires to write and my failures to do so, I began to question the amount of mental energy I devote to this oft-times derelict site, and to social media in general. If I truly think about my aspirations in writing they have little to do with the content of this site. I have the aforementioned half-finished novel that I set aside four or five years ago, ideas for other novels, and a desire to try writing picture books and maybe get back into writing poetry, which I haven’t done for years but used to love the most. I’d maybe like to try my hand at some well-crafted personal essays. These are far different projects than writing lots of reviews, regardless of whether I am reviewing drive-ins, middle grade children’s novels, or rock albums that I like. There are plenty of people out there writing book and album reviews, most of them better at it and/or more successful or persistent at it than me. My true aspirations are not necessarily to become a great record reviewer, but to write some things that no one else in the world would write.

Writing regularly requires dedication and planning, so I recognized that I needed to refocus and re-prioritize some areas in my life, and let some things go that are less important to me. So in my mind I tried on the idea of killing this site and pulling away from social media in general. I told my wife that I might do it, so as to instead make a plan to devote consistent time every day to this other writing I have been neglecting – the extended, laborious process of writing novels, stories and poems that must occur off the grid. Unlike writing on a blog, this writing has no easy payoff from hitting the “publish” button, sometimes receiving one or two comments from family or other nice people. Instead it is a commitment to work in total darkness and obscurity for months and years, only then to undertake the stressful endeavor of convincing someone to read and hopefully buy and publish your manuscript. Scary.

But the day after I had this discussion and declared I might unplug, I went bonkers on Twitter. I wrote mini-drafts of record reviews. I made threats that I would blow up the Internet if I could not figure out a way to publish my every idle thought easily, stylishly, instantaneously, and simultaneously to all the various social media networks in current or future usage. I thought of all the other intended items I had yet to post on this site. I did not dig out my old novel. I did not write a poem. And furthermore I didn’t feel that badly about it.

My conclusion from this experience of the past week or so is that I’m definitely not ready to give up on social media, and particularly on this site. I’m just finally ready to simplify it and streamline it in my own mind, so that I can share the things I would like to share easily without a lot of pressure or expectations for myself, writing-wise. I will devote most of my writing energies to those other types of writings, and leave this as a casual sharing of interests when I have time.

For example, it turns out I don’t need to feel bad that I never wrote that exhaustive and now hopelessly untimely review of the Springville Art Museum’s Spring Salon that I had intended to write; I can simply throw up a picture from the show every now again with a quick shout-out to the artist, and that will probably be more fun and interesting for everyone anyway. I don’t need to write an exhaustive review of every restaurant I like – I can just throw up a picture or two and write a simple paragraph or sentence highlighting the place. “If you’re interested you go try it yourself.” Basically what I am saying is that the Froz-T-Freez is going into more of a curation mode. There may still be longer written pieces from time to time, but this will now morph into a place for me to quickly highlight and share things I like and that I think other people might benefit from.


The Froz-T-Freez staff is growing! We are currenly on-site at the Intermountain Medical Center, recruiting and training our newest member. Due to contractual restrictions, we cannot yet reveal his or her identity. However, I am prepared to admit that he is but a young, little lad.

For some time I’ve been debating whether to write about or show images of my new child publicly on the Internet. I know a lot of other people publicly post photos and anecdotes of their children, including numerous of my own relatives and friends, and I don’t know that there is anything wrong with it. At the same time, I am very cognizant of the fact that he currently has no say on whether I make any and every facet of his young life public or not, and yet it will potentially remain available and accessible for his entire life. Fourth grade bullies, potential employers, and future authoritarian dictators alike will all potentially be able to judge him not only on his own thoughts and merits but also by what I may write about his potty training experiences.

And yet, at not quite a week into this whole parenthood thing, I already have the urge to share some things. So, inspired by some comments I heard once from an unremembered celebrity guest on a talk show, I have arrived at a compromise. (Indeed, I make most of my major life decisions based on advice from celebrities on talk shows, so this one should be no exception.) This is the compromise I offer to the world:

I shall at times mention or write about my child in the text of this website, which does indeed constitute a public forum, with the following exemptions:

  1. I will not be sharing his true name, but shall create a pseudonym for him.
  2. I will not show pictures of his face.

The picture part will be the hardest to remain true to, because he’s a cute little baby, but it will also be a fun challenge.

So, without further ado, I present to the world the name of Roosevelt FitzWallace, affectionately referred to as Fitz, and perhaps occasionally as Little Lord Fitz.

Josh’s Froz-T-Freez Explained, Briefly

As we begin a new year here at the Freez (hopefully a year of consistent content), I thought it would be an opportune time to explain both to myself and to everyone else what exactly the Froz-T-Freez is.  This is the closest we will get to a mission statement.

As you might have noticed, the Froz-T-Freez isn’t an actual drive-in; it’s only a blog.  I’m not a soda jerk, line cook, or a small business owner.  We don’t offer any food here, except perhaps the occasional recipe.

So what is the Froz-T-Freez?  The idea of the Froz-T-Freez grew out of an obsession with drive-ins, but the content you will find here encompasses many other personal obsessions: music, books, photography, art, nature, pop culture, religion, and other randomly selected cultural and natural ephemora.

The Freez is a simply a place on the web for an aspiring writer, foodie, librarian, music nerd, art appreciator, and faithful person (and to clarify, “aspiring” goes in front of all the terms on that list) to practice his writing, explore and think through things, and champion things he thinks are cool or worthwhile:  It is my personally curated library/museum/advertisement/menu of the world as I see it at the moment.

Enjoy your meal.  And please don’t mention our secret menu.  It’s not real.

For an older version of “The Froz-T-Freez Story,” in which I go off about how I wanted to run a combo record store/soda fountain, click here.

Cheeseburger Chill Smoothie

Yesterday I came to you extolling the potential wonders of the Thai burrito.  Indeed, the Thai burrito is for me a palpable and inspirational symbol of hope for the cross-culinary fast food fusion that will occur through the delicious menu of the theoretical Froz-T-Freez Drive-In.  However, something came to my awareness that has made me step back and re-evaluate whether this fusion I so dearly long for is an unqualified good, desirable and beneficial in all situations.  Even as I gloried once again yesterday in the potentials of deep-fried cross-polination, even as I went to lunch today with the intention of getting a black raspberry shake from the local burger drive-through and a carnitas burrito from the local Mexican drive-through and eating them together as if part of the same meal from the same place, I was unaware that my utopian dreams of fusion could be turned to more sinister, diabolical ends.  But this commercial changes everything.

As you can imagine, this commercial brought up many challenging questions to the proprietor of a theoretical drive-in.  Is this product real or are we being tricked?  Do I dare to eat one?  Will it make me vomit?  Will it be a delicious new taste sensation?  Are they going to start frying up burgers at this place just to blend them up, or will they outsource burger production, and if so where will the burgers come from?  What will the long-term ramifications of this new product be for my Platonic drive-in?  Should I try to make one myself?

I haven’t yet worked my way entirely through all of these questions yet, but I will recommend a place where you can begin to find the answers:

Thai Burrito

The last experience I had with Guru’s was eight or nine years ago. I had just returned to Salt Lake City after having spent two years in Ohio, and everywhere I looked there was this new restaurant; it seemed to have proliferated the entire Salt Lake Valley, popping up particularly in hip neighborhoods like 9th and 9th and the Avenues. It appeared very much the cool place to go, almost as cool as Cafe Rio at the time, and their menu looked like Noodles & Company, Cafe Rio and Rumbi all fused together (this was back when there was only the Skyline Cafe Rio in Salt Lake, and Rumbi was only one tiny place called Rumbi’s in a strip mall on 400 South). If I remember correctly Guru’s had metal covered tables, concrete floors, and open rafters exposing the building guts above you, much like Chipotle (a favorite establishment of mine that had been flourishing as the only decent Mexican food place in Ohio, but that had at that point not yet made the jump into the Utah market). Besides everything being so of the moment, Guru’s had a great gimmick: these cheesy faux-Eastern inspirational quotes about being at one with the universe because you ate some tofu or vegetables or something were revealed on the bottom of your plate as you finished your meal.

Guru’s wanted to be everything to everyone, and I really wanted to like them, but there was one little problem: their food sucked. I gave them several tries (their menu was so promising and diverse), but when they gave me a bad fish burrito that made me sick, that was the end of my long-suffering. I never went back. Within six months or so, all the locations of Guru’s had closed, and I felt quite vindicated. Feel good sayings and promising menus couldn’t compensate for lousy food forever.

Imagine my surprise when, eight years later, I discover there is a fully alive and operating Guru’s Cafe right on Center Street in downtown Provo, Utah. Imagine my further surprise when the menu looks similar to and even expanded upon that of the ghastly Guru’s of old, and when I see that it is a popular and thriving establishment, alive to the point of advertising of poetry readings and live music nights. So strange. I lived for a year and a half in the general Provo area, but I never brought myself to the place, although I readily admit that if not for my knowledge of their former franchise empire in Salt Lake it would have been high on my list of local places to try.

But last week, while at the BYU Books for Young Readers conference at the Provo City Library a few blocks away, I was convinced by a friend to go to Guru’s for lunch. I consoled myself, thinking that if this Guru’s was still alive and bustling eight years after the demise of all their other locations, there must be something different about it, something good. I decided to trust the good people of Provo for keeping the business alive.

We walked in; there was a significant ordering line, and the girl at the cashier was chatty with everyone and taking her time. As we slowly approached the counter, there, written in chalk on their specials board, was one of the most mythical of foods on the mythical menu of the mythical Froz-T-Freez Drive-In Diner: the THAI BURRITO. I was filled with wonder, horror, all-around shock. It was not without trepidation that I ordered this mystical burrito of my dreams from the very restaurant that long ago had become my nemesis.

So, what was it? Grilled tofu, green beans, squash, edamame, tomatoes, onions, brown rice, and peanut sauce all rolled in a whole wheat tortilla.

How was it? Not bad. Not bad at all. I maybe would have preferred some chicken to the tofu, and it could have used more of the peanut sauce, but it was quite edible.

A long-maligned business establishment had been redeemed in my eyes, but far more importantly, another Froz-T-Freez menu item has become a reality. At the ‘Freez of course we would experiment with various currys, sauces and other ingredients, but a workable prototype is in place. My dream of the burrito as a food vehicle that crosses all cultural and culinary boundaries can and will indeed become a reality.

How’s that for inspiration? I was so distracted I didn’t even read the saying displayed on the bottom of my plate, but know that I forgive you, Guru’s Cafe, and I am at one with you. Oh, and your sweet potato fries with spicy fry sauce are pretty good, too. But everybody’s doing the sweet potato fry thing now.

My Continuing Commitment, or, Excuses

For the next month or so, what you can mainly expect to find here are random photos I take with my iPhone.

A couple of weeks ago, when I decided to post the Beehive book award nominees, I knew that move would bring some renewed traffic to this site. At that time I made a new commitment to post here regularly, tweet frequently, and generally engage in all those other good social media activities. I fully intended to commence writing and posting numerous reviews and commentary on literature, music and whatever else I might happen to be doing or thinking about. This wasn’t the first time I made such a commitment to myself, nor shall it be the last.

However, the sudden immediate necessity to enroll in an adolescent literature course, the need to study for a serious test in a month, my taking of a little second job as a software tester, and preparations to sell our house in Vivian Park have all combined to thwart my recreational writing. Believe me, I am going to be doing a lot writing for that literature course, but I will be sending it all to a teacher, rather than out here to bloggie land. (Watch out after my class is done, though; I may have a truckload of reviews and pieces that I can re-appropriate for the purposes of this site.)

So, enjoy the photos. I hope they bring you as much small satisfaction as they bring me. Happy springtime.

State of the Froz-T-Freez Address

Here follows a bunch of random comments I wanted to make concerning this fine establishment, all compiled and relegated into one (hopefully concise) post.

  • Updates to the sidebar! I have added links to blogs of family and friends that I read. Dear reader, if you are a family or friend and you have a blog that I don’t know about, please let me know about it! Thank you. I won’t list it if you don’t want me to, but I still want to read it. Other recent additions to the sidebar: a tag cloud for this blog, a link to my flickr photos, a “recently listened” widget and “album quilt” from my recent obsession, and a widget of books I have recently read courtesy of LibraryThing. Boy, are these exciting times here at the Freez, or what?
  • A note about the feed for this blog: From time to time, I revise posts after they have posted. I revise posts seconds, minutes, days, weeks, even months after they were first posted, in some cases. Sometimes I completely remove posts, and other times I post something that hasn’t shown up before at a date or time in the past. What I’ve discovered is that this has led to a great disparity between the feed for the blog and the blog proper. The bottom line is, you’re just not getting the completely renovated Froz-T-Freez experience if you are reading this through a feed. You are missing stuff. So stop on by once in a while. I have all these exciting new sidebar widgets, after all.
  • Catch-Up: I’m not very good at posting about current events (and by these I mean personal life events) in a timely manner. I have some pictures/things I still need to post concerning things that have long since passed. So, if you think it is weird that I am suddenly putting up posts about going to Boise in May, or pictures of people visiting Salt Lake in June, or springtime empty tree pictures when it is now July, this is the reason.

I think that is everything. If I’ve forgotten something, I guess I’ll just come back in and revise it. Have a good evening.