Monthly Archives: December 2010

interview with hannah

I met Hannah because she is the teenage daughter of my friends Joy and Jim. Hannah has become a friend of mine. She is smart and beautiful, and I can’t even begin to tell you what a creative and gentle soul she is. I have faith in the future because of her.

JM: Please tell us a little about yourself.

HS: I am currently a junior at Gilbert Classical Academy, a college prep school.  And when they say college prep, they mean it.  I can definitely say that the amount of work that is given to college students does not faze me at all, it is the idea of the adult-like maturity and responsibilities that I will need to quickly adapt to while living by myself that is scary.  As you can tell, college has probably been the number one thing on my mind recently.  (Or at least somewhere in the top five).  I do not intend to go to school in state after I graduate.  No, it is not that I have a problem with the local schools, in fact, they’re actually not bad.  I have lived in Arizona my whole life and I almost feel that if I don’t leave when I have the chance, I will be stuck.  And plus, I want some seasons other than summer.  For college, I want to either go into the field of education or global public health…anything that has to do with helping kids.  I love kids.  After I get my BA or BS (whichever it happens to be…still in the process of deciding if I want to take a more artsy or medical route), I plan to join the Peace Corps.  From there I think I will decide if I would rather get my Masters and continue on in my field on my own or stay with the Peace Corps.  And somewhere in there, there will be a marriage and babies but that’s not necessarily something that can be planned.

That’s academic/goals side of me.  I also enjoy music; listening and playing.  I have been playing the cello for seven, going on eight years now, took bass guitar lessons for a couple years because it’s similar to the cello, I am a self-taught, amateur guitarist (don’t expect me to be a prodigy – I’m not), and recently I’ve had a fascination with trying to learn piano.  The only instrument that I can read music for is the cello.  All of my musical endeavors were started due to a sort of domino effect – the cello triggered the bass, the bass led to the guitar, the guitar led me to the piano.  And none of it would have happened without my mom.  When I was going into fourth grade, my mom told me that she had always loved cello music; loved the way the cello sounded.  She wanted to play it when she was younger, but her teacher was mean, so she quit.  And that was it for me.  That year I joined the orchestra.  And my very first year, I hated it.  At first, I couldn’t understand how to read the music and I had to learn all my songs by ear, which really frustrated me.  Of course, my mom wouldn’t let me quit.  And thank God for that, because I would have quit in a heartbeat.  It seemed unfair then, but I look back now and realize what a pivotal point that was for me.  If it hadn’t been for my mom, I would never have thought to play a musical instrument.  Ever.

So…there’s a little peek into the inner-workings of Hannah.

JM: You are a creative person. Since I’ve known you, you’ve explored music, painting, and photography. What does art mean to you?

HS: For me, art is a catharsis.  It is expressing the elements about yourself that cannot be communicated through words.  It’s my stress reliever; my hobby; It’s in my genes.  It’s always on my mind.  I view my world as a photograph – I am always trying to see the image in front of me as I would through my lens.  I want to see the objects in front of me as the finished product in my head before I even pull the camera towards my eyes or put the pencil to paper.

Art is life.  It is in everything everyone does all the time.  Everyone does things in a different way…to me, that’s art.  To take something – an essay topic, a room, a pair of shoes, a piece of paper, a website, a sandwich – and put a little bit of yourself into it is art.  People are beautiful, and to take an object and make it show the elements of your unique beauty can only be defined as art.  Art’s in everything and everyone.  It is everything and everyone.

JM: You are a social activist. What drives you to care about others when so many teens are driven by popularity and the “mean girl” culture?

HS: For me, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would be motivated by the “mean girl” culture.  It might be genetics; my parents are caring people.  It could just be the way they were brought up, and likewise the way I was brought up.  My parents always told me 1. to treat others the way I would like to be treated, 2. to put others first, and 3. would you like it if I did that to you?  Of course, this all stemmed out of the “conservative Christian” way of life that they had at the time, but the lessons are still valuable and important to me.  So naturally, I grew up asking myself if I would appreciate it if so-and-so was mean to me, and acting on those thoughts versus whether or not what I was about to do would make me happy.  I can really appreciate the example my parents set for me when the church wasn’t able to.  Some of it is just being willing to acknowledge my own hypocrisy and that of others, and trying to deal with it instead of turning a blind eye.  It’s amazing to me how a church Sunday-school can teach children songs about wanting to be sheep (followers of Jesus) versus Pharisees, yet turn out the biggest batch of Pharisees I have ever seen in my life.  It’s amazing how people can claim to follow Jesus – the guy who hung out with hookers, tax collectors, thieves, murderers and the like – yet so strongly oppose those very people – the out-casts, the different ones – that he had an explicit love for.

But back to teens…I’ll be honest, teenagers are selfish.  Possibly the MOST selfish people on the face of the earth.  American teens, that is.  Or teens from any other country as privileged as America.  And we’ll try to deny it, but it’s so obvious that the only person on our minds is ourselves.  We’ve never had to work for anything, thus automatically assuming we deserve everything, and never appreciating that which we do have.  And I think this goes for a lot of adults too.  To me…something seems amiss with this whole mentality.

Some people see activism as a negative thing, which is something that I all together do not understand.  How can the desire to help people be bad?  I may be a “bleeding heart”, but at least I have a heart to bleed from.  I don’t know…sometimes it seems that it should be common sense and common decency to treat others the way we want to be treated, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to care about people.  I know for a fact that if I was a little girl in Africa who had contracted HIV and I knew there was someone out there rich enough to pay for my vaccination, I would want them to do so.  I think we all need to go back to Kindergarten when we were taught to share with others, to be kind, to use our inside voices (notice how many people that get air-time are extremists?), to treat others with respect, and to be kind.  Obviously, we didn’t get it the first time.

JM: can you attach a drawing or a photo that you’ve created?

HS: Sure can!

JM: Would you like to share an internet link with us?

HS: How about…5 million links?  Just kidding, I don’t have THAT many, but I will have to narrow it down quite a bit…how about my top five?
Funny story about the first link.  I was just perusing photo bucket, looking for pictures of Africa for a school project/presentation type thing when I came across a picture that said children are born with these arms (picture of arms) not these (picture of guns).  This really piqued my interest, so I typed in the web address that was in the corner ( and read all about it…it’s incredible, really.  As an American, it’s so hard to imagine that people live like that…anyways.  You just have to check it out.  Educate yourselves…the websites for those organizations are EXPONENTIALLY cooler than Facebook can ever dream to be.

I want to thank Hannah for taking the time to answer my questions and be so open and honest. Please feel free to ask her any questions in the comments below.

interview: travis

Travis is someone that I’ve worked with at Liberty Market for quite awhile although we didn’t really become friends until I started expediting, and he began working the sandwich station. We bonded over the similarities of labor in Starbucks and In-N-Out Burger; only to discover we have the same immature, name-calling, “that’s what she said” sense of humor. Keep your eye on this one because he’s going to run a sweet restaurant someday soon.

JM: Tell us a little about yourself.

TT: I’ve just completed my third year at Arizona State University. My degree will be in Design Management and a minor in Urban Planning. I had always wanted to be an architect since I was in eighth grade. I took that passion through high school and completed drafting and design courses to prep myself for architecture in college. I went through my first year at ASU as an architecture student, and I dreaded it. It was no what I had anticipated; however, I still loved design. I quickly switched my major to Design Management which allowed me to stay in the design field and was essentially going to allow me to oversee a lot of design aspects without focusing on one particular area of study. I decided to minor in Urban Planning to fill up my elective hours because I think the layout and planning of a city is fascinating.

I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life; I’m a fourth generation native. My family has held farm land in Glendale, and I’ve grown up in the area and in north Phoenix. I am the oldest child in my family with one younger brother, Luke, who is seven years younger. We’re definitely not the same. People say we look the same, but I am definitely a first born and he is clearly the second child haha. I love him to death though. My parents are awesome and have been supportive and encouraging in everything I have ever pursued or worked towards. This you don’t find often: I’ve lived with the same two roommates for over two years (this coming June will be three years). These guys are my best friends and brothers; I don’t know where I’d be without companions and godly men to grow with. They’ve been a blessing to me, and I value our friendships.

Ehhh, why not, let’s give a little plug to the girl that means so much to me: Taylor Sossaman. She’s awesome and definitely pushes me to be a better man, while encouraging me and being right by my side in what I hope to accomplish. She’s great.

I’ve been working at Liberty Market in Gilbert, Arizona for a little over a year now. It’s a fabulous place to work. There’s an incredible staff built by amazing owners: David & Kiersten Traina and Joe & Cindy Johnston. This is a place you can go and hang out, have a great cup of coffee and a fabulous meal, all while getting to know the staff on a different level than anyone else. Chef and Joe have both been instrumental in mentoring me and teaching me ways of the restaurant business that are invaluable and I could learn nowhere else. Liberty Market is a hidden (well, not so much anymore) gem in the Valley and all things aside, I think they deserve a lot more credit than they seem to get.

JM: You want to open a restaurant someday. How did you make that decision?

TT: Yes, I definitely want to open my own restaurant someday. I have a few different concepts in mind, and I am working through those right now. It’s such an exciting and scary adventure to be an entrepreneur, especially in this economy haha. How did I make that decision… well it was about a year and a half ago that I thought I’d start down this scary path. Through some turn of events I spent an entire summer finding local hot spots and cool restaurants throughout the Valley, with one of my roommates. Liberty Market was one of the places that intrigued me, along with The Vig and Postino’s, and even the then-new St. Francis. As I frequented these places something drew me in, it was the people and sense of community within these restaurants. The staff was nice and knowledgeable, engaging with customers, and there was also great food and drink being served. I got very inspired and thought it would be great to have one of these own “community hangouts” of my own. I’ve always loved food and cooking and I figured, “Hey, I’m young, why not?” So since then I have been plugging away at creating what I hope to achieve.

JM: Would you like to share any details about the type of restaurant you want to open?

TT: I have ideas for multiple restaurants-all being different concepts throughout the Valley. The concept I am currently working on could be defined as a gastro pub, but with a little more emphasis on food. I’d also like to do a boutique wine bar, maybe something with simple fare such as burgers, and maybe an old-school bar concept.

JM: What is your earliest memory about food?

TT: My earliest memory of food… To be honest, it’s making homemade ice-cream on the floor of my grandma’s house on Fourth of July. Simply the best, pure bliss for a young boy. However, food became prevalent in the house when Saturday night was “guy’s night” in the kitchen. This was the night of the week when Dad and I would cook dinner and do the dishes for mom. It started with steak and sautéed mushrooms at a young age and grew from there.

JM: Can you describe a foochebag? Are you friends with any?

TT: Foochebag by definition can be found here.

“Portamanteau of ‘foodie’ and ‘douchebag,’ typically referring to foodies who are categorized by attention-seeking, elitism, and superficiality. Basically, arrogant food bloggers and Twitter users.”

To me, a foochebag is someone who is pretentious and pretends to know more than they do about food in an attempt to gain recognition. They don’t even necessarily need to be in the food-service industry, but just someone who frequents the establishments. Am I friends with any… Sure. I think I am, and at the very least I have to admit that I am acquaintances to a handful of Valley foochebags. I also have to admit that I have been called a foochebag before, and there is definitely a hint of validity to it. It’s something I have had to realize, the fact that I don’t know anything or even close to what I think I know. It’s a humbling thing to be called such especially when I know I have much to learn. My goal has been to become a listener and learner and not a corrector of people in the food area. I used to be legitimate friends with some foochebags, and I came to that realization and decided to call them out on it. And as I’m sure you can imagine, they don’t talk to me anymore, but I don’t want to be known for that. I’d like to be a person who has a passion for great food and creating such dishes, but without the pretention as to think that I am better than anyone else in the industry or even a customer. I’ve come to the point where I would rather work on my craft, skill and knowledge of food than to show anyone how great I think I am in the kitchen.

JM: What would be your last meal?

TT: My last meal would be the twenty-nine course tasting menu that I had the pleasure of enjoying at Binkley’s in Cave Creek. This meal was hands down, the most amazing food experience I have ever had. The only reason I would be okay with this being my last meal is because of the food hangover I had the following morning haha. Here’s a link to a blog (Jess Harter) on our meal. Thanks to Ty Largo for the invitation to the dinner.

JM: That‘s a clever answer, a bit in the vein of “I’d wish for more wishes” though. Let’s pretend you were only allowed to have one last dish. What would it be?

TT: Okay that’s fair enough.

My last meal would probably a dish my dad makes: Moroccan Rack of Lamb. He roasts a rack of lamb with a Moroccan rub which consists of spices such as cinnamon and cumin. When it’s roasted there’s a crust/shell of spices that will melt in your mouth. It’s to die for. I’ve always admired my dad, and really he’s the one who got me into cooking, so it’s only fair that my last meal come from him.

JM: Would you like to share an internet link?

Please feel free to ask Travis more questions in the comments!

Thanks again to Travis for participating in my interview!


i’ve found that the fashion industry now refers to rubber boots as “rain boots” instead of galoshes.

either way, i’ve finally found my pair.

you may wonder why i’d need them in arizona, but i do garden a significant amount.

and it gets pretty muddy out there.

the best part about this pair is that they were on sale, then there was a store wide 40% off sale as well.

and they are even lined on the inside.


another lesson in patience for me.

interview with erin

Erin and I met in high school. We were in some of the same classes; we also both hung around the drama room. (She was much more into the debate scene though). We shared many of the same friends, but I don’t think we actually became good friends until college. She ended up leaving the state, and returning to her southern roots to attend some random Oklahoma university. I still have no idea how she ended up back there-maybe that should’ve been an interview question, eh? We’d always make a point to hang out when she was in town, and she eventually moved back .  She hosts an annual party involving the Salt River and karaoke; she makes all her friends come and bring her presents. This year’s party was held at the most podunk bar I’ve ever been to. No really. When I walked in, there was an old man with no teeth trying to sing and dance with Erin.

JM: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

EM: I am sort of a non-interesting, interesting person….like I believe most of us are at heart. I am judgmental and curse like a sailor. I used to be a card-carrying member of the NRA as well as the ACLU. I reflect on the past far more than I ought to. I read every book I can get my hands on, as well as watch far too much television. I love political discourse but deplore name-calling. I think I am kind while being not at all selfless. I believe that civility is a lost art form that may never make it’s return. Assimilation has always made me fearful. I fall down a lot (literally and figuratively speaking). I would make a horrible crime scene detective but an awesome motivational speaker. I love the Counting Crows and hate Creed. I coulda been a contender….

JM: You love movies and television but also books. Talk to us about what draws you to both.

EM: I love a good story, even going back years and years to when I was a child. I like to hear stories. I often thought I would make a good biographer. I have a tendency to lose myself in fiction . I love the written word because when someone writes a story, most often, the author comes out in the pages, even if the book is a new subject matter that the author has never experienced. I love the investigation of people – whether it be the character or author — I love the nasty bits I feel like I wasn’t supposed to know, like I have uncovered a great secret that deliciously is mine to keep or tell. I also love reading a writer’s interpretation of emotion — easily the hardest thing to convey on the page. TV and movies are different…everything is in front of you, sometimes just a few feet from you on the screen. I become the voyeur.  This is a much more intimate place, watching the actors . The writing has to be succinct (unlike my ramblings), as the emotions and feelings aren’t described for the audience — this is why solid acting is key – it has to be believable. I have to immediately be invested in the outcome. In books I can imagine anyone I want to. On the screen it is already there. The page offers the starting point for imagination. The screen, if done correctly, allows you to be part of the drama. And, I love good drama.

JM: Are books always better than the movies?

EM: Oh God, yes! Well, no…well, most of the time. OK, yes, with the following notable exceptions:

– Fight Club – Book by Chuck Palahniuk

– Children of Men – Book by P.D. James

– Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

JM: Recommend one movie every adult should see.

EM: I hate this question. I have 25 movies that every person should see. But to name one? One? Ugh. I won’t give you my favorite movie as the answer (which is The English Patient) nor will I give you my favorite movies as a child/teen (Reality Bites, Dazed and Confused, and Pump up the Volume). I also won’t share my favorite TV shows of all time (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The West Wing). Oh wait…i just did….oh well, deal with it. Here are 3 (sorry, best I could do).

– Way of the Gun – stylized, gritty, great story. Just a great film for everyone — who doesn’t love a little sex and violence and Violent Femmes, plus I don’t think most people have seen it, and I am always happy to have someone discover it.

– BBC Pride and Prejudice  — I am actually surprised at how many people have not seen this adaptation from the 90’s. Men, if you want to know what women want, watch this film, get a morning coat, and speak with a British accent.

– Lonesome Dove – this is the greatest mini-series of all time – back when mini-series were actually a “waited-for” event. It has everything and everyone in it, and I find it to be a good adaptation of the classic McMurtry novel. This will tear you up.

JM: Recommend one movie every child should see.

EM: Labyrinth – I think we all need to go back and watch a movie that has perfectly respectable CGI for its time, music that everyone loved, and an obscure love story — it’s like Glee, Avatar, and Harold and Maude all rolled into one, right? Perfect for your children. I am not kidding.

JM: you also love politics, tell us how a true third party would change things.  what would the ideal third party look like to you?

EM: Well, call me a pessimist, but I don’t think a third party would change very much. For a multi-party system to really work the current aim of politics (at least in the current state) would have to be redefined. We spend so much time berating and charging others with accusations based on their sound byte-belief system that we rarely discuss the problems of our society. We discuss hot-button issues that have replaced true ideals and passionate party politics. I am all for political parties. I really am. But the “issue of the day” is a product of 4th Estate. The free press has never been free — at least not in a mainstream way.

We all have our agendas. I don’t want your candidates in office so I will do whatever is necessary  to prevent that from happening. Even if it doesn’t work, i am going to do everything in my power to make sure you can’t get anything done once in office (no matter the office). i won’t try to find a way to work on the problems, I am just going to make sure that the problem of “you” goes away as soon as possible. This happens on both sides of mainstream politics, but also agenda/issue-based 3rd parties, no matter the size.

I think for a third party (or, a real multi-party system of actionable people who represent more than one thought and don’t run on the, “I am a former porn-star platform”) to be effective you have to start at the local level. that is where most of the actual work happens. There isn’t as much grandstanding or hands to shake. That is the place to penetrate with multi-parties, but, more importantly, multi-ideas. It isn’t “one size fits all” politics. Politics should be about the generation of ideas to better the community and respectfully debating the ideas and deciding whose ideas seem to better benefit the community. Then supporting each other, even while respectfully disagreeing with it.

JM: What is the 4th estate?

EM: The 4th estate is really any non-elected institution that has power or clout but isn’t really recognized as part of the political process — ie, the media, especially the 24hr news cycle that has made “hot issues” the main story, instead of a byproduct of the real issues. Sound byte edutainment from pseudo-experts who wear too much makeup (speaking about the men here) and rehearse their stories for greater impactful sighs and head nods. These are not my political teachers. These are not well-intentioned patriots. These people not only serve the lowest common denominator, they wallow in it. These are puppet masters…with too much makeup. I detest this type of greedia, er, I mean media.

JM: It’s interesting that you say all the actual work gets done at the local level because no matter who’s president, they seem to get blamed for all that goes wrong. I heard this idea on West Wing, but I kind of liked it: what about a Regent? Someone to be the face of the country while someone else is the President who does the work.
EM: I don’t know if a Regent would be much better in this celeb-u-tant society that has been created. Where did the Regent eat? Who is she sleeping with? Did she get fat? Is he gay? Is he bi? Does he have hair plugs? I keep having this picture of a Kardashian or a Snooki with a sceptor and cape. Shiver. I don’t know if a figure head is the right idea — I think the President, in a lot of ways, is already like that. A mouthpiece. So, the idea is to separate them…and in a perfect world it just may work. However, we then have an elected Regent — who kisses babies (not Snooki, gross) and acts as the glorified Supreme Wal-Mart greeter, and an elected President that does the work. We wouldn’t be able to leave him/her alone to work. We would start looking at them the same way…then the Regent would overstep their boundaries and attend a budget meeting and before you know it “GTL” is the national slogan of the US of A!!! OK, maybe not that extreme, but I don’t see how a separation of duties would really be beneficial. I don’t see American being able to really make that transition. Sigh.

JM: What if the regent was not an elected office but an appointment?

EM: Who appoints? The President? The Congress? It becomes a pissing contest of whose appointment goes through, like the Supreme Court. It is political, even if it is a baby-kissing position. My fear is who is behind the promoting of the appointment. What spin do they want? What is their endgame? Do we start on the role of palace intrigue by having a monarchy? I think not!

JM: Would you like to share an internet link?

EM: For all your bacon needs:

I want to thank Erin for being an interview volunteer! You’d make her a very happy woman if you asked her a million questions in the comments below!

And by the way, here’s a link to her blog. Maybe the pressure will get her to blog more often!