Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Filling My Passion Bucket with Song

As of today, I am officially one of the Passion Buckets.

What in the heck is a passion bucket? you ask? Sure beats me! I know that they have something to do with passion, buckets, and something that Dan Patrick talks about on his sports talk radio show for the unemployable and angry loners.

Passion Buckets is also, apparently, the name of the double-quartet barbershop group to which I now belong. Huzzah!

It all began last week, when my brother Steve sent me an e-mail (this is how we communicate in the Plowman family) asking if I would be interested in forming a group to try out for singing the national anthem at a Utah Jazz home game this season.

Steve and a handful of his friends successfully accomplished this feat back when he was a senior in high school, so he felt that our chances were good of being able to do the same.

True story: Steve and his friends chose the name Morbidly Obese for their group. Dan Roberts, Jazz P.A. announcer, refused to repeat this name over his microphone and instead introduced the gang as the generic (albeit more respectful) Steve Plowman's Group.

Well, to make a long story even longer, Steve; our other three brothers, Mike, Dave, and Ben; my brother-in-law, Jeff; Steve's friends Dallin and John; and I assembled Sunday evening to rehearse our arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner." We felt that it sounded nice enough, so last night we went down to the Platinum Recordings studio to put it onto CD.

This was my first time ever in a real recording studio. Can I just say that this experience was awesome? 'Cause it was. I was amazed at how the microphones picked up every little sound any one of us made, even small movements. Something I have sung is actually now on a CD. If you treat me extra nice, I might even make or send you a copy of it.

The one thing left that our CD needed was a group name. We didn't want anything as scandalous as Morbidly Obese nor as ho-hum as Steve Plowman's Group. Well, I suggested Beck Street Boys, as we are (sort of) a boy band and mostly all live near or use Beck Street frequently. Naturally, I was shot down.

Collectively, we discussed several other options. Finally, Steve played the dictator card and chose Passion Buckets. So be it.

Our tryout is this Friday morning at EnergySolutions Arena. Wish us luck! Or, at least, bring us brownies to snack on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2012: Change We Can Count On!

Lately, I've been seeing several TV commercials for the upcoming disaster flick 2012.

Admit it: So have you. You can't escape these commercials. Like the rash that ensues when one is exposed to poison ivy and Julia Roberts movies, they're everywhere, they're annoying, and they're unavoidable.

Though I can only surmise what the film is about, I have gathered one inscrutable fact from these ads: John Cusack is, apparently, the only person on the planet who will survive the Apocalypse.

The thought has also occurred to me: The year 2012 will be the fourth and final year of President Obama's term in office.

Well! Now it all makes sense!

Whether or not Obama can be blamed for the Apocalypse, one thing is for sure: His chances of reelection will totally have been shot.

Well, it's just a thought.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brother Yoda's Air

At church this past Sunday, I joined with the ward choir in singing a number titled "Brother James' Air."

This tune is based on the text of Psalm 23 in the Old Testament - the same psalm upon which the hymn "The Lord Is My Shepherd" is based. I'm not really sure who wrote "Brother James' Air," though I would venture to guess that it was someone named "James." However, a few conspiracy theorists in the choir and I agreed that it must have been written by Yoda.

Yes, that Yoda - the wise old green Jedi master and Muppet from the Star Wars movies.

The reason? The lyrics are filled with the type of backwards-speak so prevalent in Yoda's dialogue. Consider, for example, phrases such as "He makes me down to lie in pastures green," "And me to walk doth make," and "My head thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows."

Am I complaining? Not at all. In fact, I'm lobbying for us to make the Ewoks' victory song from Return of the Jedi our next number. Several Primary songs have been based on less than that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Epistle Turns One

For those of you who have been keeping track at home, I made my first post on The Epistle of Jon exactly one year ago today - September 22, 2008.

Yes, it's time to break out the whistles and bells, the streamers and banners, the piƱatas, and (most importantly) the cash donations; your Friendly Neighborhood Blog is one year old.

A year ago, I held the church calling as one of my ward's Family History consultants. The idea for starting a blog came from a class discussion on starting or maintaining personal histories, and I feel that blogging has, indeed, been a great way to do this. A couple of friends who were already blogging also nudged me in the right direction. You know who you are, and I thank you for it.

Just think of all of the great times we've shared together over the course of the past year: discovering the secret of cold fusion; figuring out equations that have puzzled mathematicians for centuries; and, most importantly, bringing warmth and joy to millions upon millions of readers.

Okay, well, not exactly. The thing about blogging is that only a handful of people will ever read anything that you write. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. But The Epistle has been a positive experience for me, and that alone, I feel, has made it worthwhile.

I have had an enjoyable time writing this blog, and I look forward to another year (and more) of doing so.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

Until this summer, it had been about 10 years since I had last filled a prescription for new glasses. I liked my old frames, but they were starting to fall apart in places. I was definitely overdue for some new specs.

So, I went to my optometrist and picked out a frame that I liked. The order was filled, and my new pair arrived in about two weeks.

But Jon, you're thinking. You're handsome. Why don't you wear contact lenses and let the ladies see those gorgeous hazel eyes of yours?

The truth is, contact lenses do not jive well with me. I did wear contact lenses from age 11 until about age 15. But then I started to get frequent eye infections because of the lenses and had to stop wearing them. Also, they just became too high maintenance to take care of all of the time.

Meanwhile, I am biding my time until I can save up for laser surgery or the Resurrection takes place - whichever comes first.

At any rate, I picked up my new glasses about a month ago. I was advised to start wearing them when I woke up the next day, which would help me get used to them faster.

The only problem was that I couldn't see very well at all when I put the glasses on - which was my first sign of trouble. I wore them for about five minutes, bumping into random walls and stepping on Legoes and such, and then went back to my old pair. I tried to wear the new pair again the next day, with only the same result taking place.

I was puzzled as to why my new glasses weren't helping me to see. I brought them back to the optometrist and explained my dilemma. They examined the glasses and concluded that not only had the right lens been put where the left lens should have been, and vice versa, but that the wrong prescription had been filled anyway.

Well, to make a long story even longer, they sent the glasses back and fixed the problem, and I picked up my new glasses yesterday. So far, they are working great. It's nice to see things a bit clearer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Improvables on YouTube: August 7

Here are some more recently posted YouTube clips of the Improvables, taken from our August 7 performance and featuring Biz, Bryan, Ian, Ryan, Shannon, Steve, and Travis:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9-11-01

Today being Patriot Day, I'm sure that many of you are remembering where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news about the terrorist attack on our country on that fateful day eight years ago. Personally, I sat in a waiting room at a doctor's office, watching the footage unfold on TV along with several other interested people.

There's little-to-nothing I could write that would do any kind of justice to the people who were caught in the middle of all of the hullabaloo on that day. But I think that the following video is a nice tribute to them, and I post it here in case you haven't already seen it:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here Comes the Sun!

It was only a few years ago when I really discovered the music of the Beatles. But ever since then, they have become one of my all-time favorite rock bands.

Of course, that's a claim that many people can make.

Anyhoo, given my affinity for both the Rock Band video game series and the music of the Beatles, I was excited when it was announced last year that a Rock Band: Beatles would be released.

Well, that day came was today. Being the big nerd that I am, I went and out and bought my copy this afternoon.

So far, I am loving the game. It includes 45 original Beatles songs, and apparently there will be many more available to download over the next few months.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Not that anyone was keeping track of the time or anything (ahem), but the closing prayer at my ward's sacrament meeting today went on for six full minutes. That's the same as 360 seconds, or what feels like a couple of hours when you're trying to sit reverently and be good for that long.

It may be the ADD-riddled side of me that is saying this, but that's what it felt like.

How did I know that it lasted for six minutes? The answer: I began to time my fellow ward member, a notoriously long-winded speaker, just before he opened his mouth, and I looked at my watch again when he concluded. (This is the same person who, just minutes prior to his prayer, had given the last testimony of the meeting and had already pushed our meeting to five minutes past closing time.)

The longer he spoke, the less attention I found myself paying to what he was saying and the more attention I paid to how long it was taking him to say it. I started to notice the breathing of people next to me on the bench and thought for a moment that I could actually hear the hair growing on their heads and faces. Soon, the voice speaking turned into that of Charlie Brown's schoolteacher.

Do any you ever feel distracted like this in church? Do you ever feel like, depsite your best efforts and intentions, it's hard to concentrate in church the way that you would like to? Further, did we set some kind of record for the length of a prayer in an LDS meeting? I'm convinced that it at least made the top 10.

We sure don't need to look for things to keep us distracted, because they seem to abound - at least, they do in my ward. Of late, the ward program has included both crossword and Sudoku puzzles. I have seen others laboring on all-out pieces of artwork or scrapbooking on their benches. And then there are those who simply cannot keep their hands off of their significant others and spend the entire meeting displaying physical affection that would make their grandmothers blush.

Perhaps it is the Primary student in all of us, still looking for that bag of Cheerios or coloring book to get us to the end of the meeting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsor

Today, I would like to offer just a word from our sponsor (i.e. yours truly) about, well, blogging.

By now, those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time may have noticed that I will often share my opinions on a wide variety of subjects. If, in the process of doing so, I have offended anyone at any time, I hope that you will forgive me.

It has never been my intention to offend anyone on The Epistle; rather, my intention has always been (1) to tell you what's really going on in my life, without a lot of the sugar coating; (2) to share things that I have learned; (3) to share things that I am involved in creatively; (3) or to foster further reflection and/or discussion.

There are many types of blogs floating around cyberspace, and each serves a different purpose. I follow many of my family's and friend's blogs in addition to running one of my own, and I have learned many things from them all. There are also some blogs that come across as being like cotton candy to me - they look and "taste" good, but there is little real substance to them.

I don't want The Epistle to be like cotton candy; I want it to show all of the sides of my personality, including my joys, my successes, my hobbies, my likes, and the things that make me happy as well as the things that sadden, frustrate, annoy, and challenge me. In other words: warts and all.

What it all boils down to, I suppose, is that I don't like doing things half-heartedly. If I commit myself to doing something, I try to give 100 percent of my efforts and abilities to it.