Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Improvables' Halloween Extravaganza

This week's Halloween festivities continued with last night's first-ever Improvables Halloween show, which took place in our usual venue at Rodgers Memorial Theatre in Centerville. I got to perform alongside seven talented people, including Biz, Bryan, Ian, Michael, and Parker, with Grant accompanying us on the keyboard and Steve as the evening's M.C.

We kicked off the show with all of the members of the troupe in attendance coming out on the stage to dance to a portion of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Under the red lights, and without red-eye reduction, I think we looked rather creepy indeed:

It was fun to learn the "Thriller" dance; it also required a lot of work and a lot of rehearsing.

As for the show itself, I think it was one of the better and more enjoyable ones I have been lucky enough to take part in. The place was packed with many enthusiastic and regular attendees as well as a few new faces.

We introduced three new games, including "Campfire Tale," "Movie Pitch Meeting" (an Improvables original!), and "Oxygen Deprivation," which has long been one of my favorite Improv games.

Ian, Parker, and I were soaked after playing "Oxygen Deprivation," as was the stage, but that is the price you pay for Improv at its finest.

Among the other games, we also played another one of my favorites, "Greatest Hits," during which we make up songs on the spot. The theme for this "Greatest Hits" was trick-or-treating.

A handful of those in attendance dressed up for the costume contest. The audience favorite was the guy in the white shirt, wearing the fanny pack:

After the show, several members of the Improvables dressed up in their own Halloween costumes: Scott (Arthur Dent, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, including the Babel Fish in his ear); Parker (Little Mac, from Nintendo's Punch-Out); Bryan (the Riddler); Johnny (King Leonidas, from 300); Keenan (the creepy-looking one with the bag on his head, a costume which he claims is based on some Cartoon Network program); and easily my favorite costume of the evening, Ryan (Hello Kitty Darth Vader).

And it ain't over yet! Today is Halloween, the Big Day itself. I am looking forward to even-more festivities here in the next little while.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FHE Halloween Partizzle

The ward Family Home Evening Committee threw a Halloween party for last night's FHE activity. They had my attention with the mere mention of the word Halloween.

We were encouraged to wear costumes, so I decided to dress up as Pacha from The Emperor's New Groove. It was not too difficult to assemble a costume, as I essentially had all of the parts already from souvenirs that I acquired in Peru.

Disney movies, in fact, seemed to be the theme of many costumes, including Pepe (Robin Hood); MaryAnne (Giselle, from Enchanted); Mike and Krissy (Mickey and Minnie Mouse, I presume); Kristy (Cruella DeVil), who ironically is a dog groomer, alongside Nadine (Miss Smarty Pants); and Eric (Captain Jack Sparrow):

There were many creative costumes among the rest, including Melissa (a cluster of grapes), Ryan (professional bowler), Mollie ('70s dancing queen), and Cecily (hunchback):

Pumpkin decorating, Bingo, and a raffle were among the many activities. One of the highlights of the party was the pie-eating contest, as you can see in the following pictures of people snarfing down:

Surprisingly, my brother Steve (dressed up as, he claims, "Mr. Rogers with a beard") was the winner.

It was the kind of the activity that got me well into the holiday mood. I am looking forward to the other Halloween-related festivities this week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Web Site Story"

Earlier this week, I returned to my alma mater, Bountiful High School, to see West Side Story, one of my all-time favorite musicals. It starred no fewer than four of my Improvables colleagues: Jake (Tony), Grant (Riff), Devin (Bernardo), and Taylor (Action). The kids put on an entertaining and enthusiastic performance.

Also this week, someone shared the link to "Web Site Story," a short and clever Web parody of West Side Story, with me. I enjoyed it immensely.

For some reason, I'm not allowed to embed this video. But here is the link:


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Musical Journey to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Star Wars, the movie franchise and the galaxy far, far away that we all love, didn't seem so far away for a few hours Friday night. My good friend Pepe gave me a ticket to "Star Wars in Concert" as a birthday gift, retroactive to earlier this month, and I must say that it was truly an excellent gift from a thoughtful friend.

Pepe; his brother Joe and sister-in-law Maren; our mutual friends Kent, Zadok, and Hannah; and I traveled together down to EnergySolutions Arena for the show, featuring the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra (yes, the same orchestra that played John Williams's music for all six Star Wars episodes) and many of the themes prevalent in those movies. Narrating this musical journey was actor Anthony Daniels, who played or provided the voice of C3PO in the films.

Here is a shot of the EnergySolutions floor - normally featuring basketball hoops and seven-foot-tall millionaires - taken during intermission:

Everything you might expect, from the Star Wars opening music and "Duel of the Fates" to "The Imperial March" and "The Cantina Band," was played in almost-chronological (i.e. Episodes I through VI) order, accompanied at times by lasers and footage from the films on a very large screen. It was fantastic.

Might I add that, as you would also expect, the Star Wars nerds certainly dressed up for this event. I looked rather tame in my "Vader Was Framed" t-shirt when compared to some of the others who attended. But I was more than happy to mingle with them, because I am one of them.

Among those I got my picture taken with were a group of Sith lords, including Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (aka my friend Isaac Lauritzen), Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, and Asajj Ventress:

Emperor Palpatine really liked my t-shirt and high-fived me over it. Important rule of thumb: When a Sith lord tries to high-five you, you do not leave him hanging.

Pepe and I had this photo taken alongside C3PO:

They are the two most robotic people I know. (Just kidding, Pepe.)

Though a bit short for a Stormtrooper, Pepe had this picture taken with one:

All told, it was an enjoyable evening spent with great people and great music. Classical music was never this fun!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Real, Good Time

A few weeks ago, my brother Mike finagled, haggled, or lucked his way into a rather sweet deal on Real Salt Lake soccer tickets, buying a large chunk of $60 seats near midfield for a mere $8 apiece and then selling them off to family members and friends. As a soccer fan - and as a former RSL ticket office employee - I jumped at the chance to attend this game, in which Real faced off against the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

This was my first time setting foot in Rio Tinto, and I must say that I was very impressed with the place. Nowhere in the stadium is there a bad or obstructed view. It is a locale much better suited than Rice-Eccles Stadium, RSL's former home, for soccer.

Just before the game began, a handful of local soccer teams were honored on the field for various accomplishments. One of those teams was that of Mike's older daughter, my 11-year-old niece Kylee. I may be biased here, but Kylee is easily the star player of her team.

As you can see in these pictures, she led the pack onto the field and was, in her grandfather's words, "hot dogging it" out there. That's her on the far right.

The game itself was very entertaining, ending in a 2-0 victory for the home team. Both goals were scored in the final 15 minutes of the match. RSL fans, I may add, are quite enthusiastic and vocal - especially the lady sitting behind us who kept shouting at the players in Portuguese - and it was fun to cheer alongside them.

This soccer season is nearing its end, but I hope to make more trips out to Rio Tinto next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Love Poetry for Dummies: "Have I Had Any Dates?"

All I can preface this with is that is has been a very long week, and my thoughts have wandered considerably while I have been under the weather. Also, before you send me hate mail, please note that I am picking on both the men and the women. So, there you have it.

"Have I Had Any Dates?"*
(To the tune of the hymn "Have I Done Any Good?")

Verse 1 (Women Only)
Have I had any dates in the ward today?
Have I flirted or dropped any hints?
Did I respond to a guy
Who came up and said "Hi"?
Or were my signals mixed and my words minced?
Has any guy’s Franklin been fuller today
Because I dared answer him
To bowling or dinner? Maybe a nice play?
Or did he hang up the phone, sad, depressed?

Then go out, and do something more
Than dream of some vampire in Forks.
A real guy would be better
Than a wimpy bed-header;
Vampires are pasty-white dorks!

Verse 2 (Men Only)
There are chances for dates all around the ward;
Opportunities right in your face.
Do not let them pass on;
Soon she just might be gone!
Try to get Mom and Dad off your case.
’Tis noble of young men to give, buy, and spend;
Love's labor comes with a price tag.
He with deep pockets is not alone in the end;
All others are stuck going stag.

Then go out; don't sit there at home,
Rock Band or Halo all night.
Your Wii will be waiting
When you get back from dating,
Only those who cast lines get a bite!

*Any inferred sacrilege is completely unintentional and is the sole responsiblity of the reader.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Club Caveman Preview - Pride TV 2009"

Here is my cousin Eden's latest live-action filmmaking effort - a sort of tribute to the musical Stomp - which he made together with a handful of his Lehi High School classmates. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shameless Plug: Evita

A shameless plug goes out today for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita, currently being performed six nights a week at your Friendly Neighborhood Theatre, Rodgers Memorial, in Centerville.

Yes, it's Evita, the incredible rags-to-riches, warts-and-all, true story of a young Argentine girl who rose up from poverty and abject squalor to become the country's first lady and spiritual leader at the young age of 26. It also recounts the tumultuous years that followed, up until her untimely death from cancer at the young age of 33.

Among the many talented cast members and RMT associates of mine who are featured in this production is my brother Ben, who plays the role of Augustín Magaldi on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday nights as well as various other characters in the ensemble.

I caught my own first glimpse of the show earlier tonight. Personally, I loved it. There are many catchy tunes that will stay in your head for some time. It was way better than Cats.

Evita runs through October 30. Tickets can be obtained by calling the RMT box office at (801) 298-1302.

If you like the show, might I suggest that you may also enjoy RMT's Friday night Improv troupe, the Improvables.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kira Turns One

October is essentially Birthday Month in my family. Over the course of the month, we celebrate no fewer than six birthdays, with a possible seventh one looming somewhere on the horizon. (As long as he doesn't read this blog, I suppose, what he doesn't know won't hurt him. But that's an issue to be addressed at a later date!)

Today, it was my niece Kira's turn. Kira is now one year old.

Most of Kira's Plowman and Woodbury family, except for the ones who couldn't make it, gathered for a birthday party in Woods Cross earlier this evening. We showered her with attention and gifts, including this . . . thing - whatever you call it - pictured below, which her older siblings, Jenna and Luke, and her cousins promptly took control of.

No matter. Kira was plenty content to crawl around, smear birthday cake all over her face, and play with the wrapping paper.

Good times were had by all who attended.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"An Escalade of Paint"

Here is the latest Lego film from my cousin Eden:

Friday, October 2, 2009

While You're Busy Making Other Plans . . .

I'm sick today. This is definitely not something that I planned on happening nor, for that matter, really needed to happen today.

Because I spent quite a bit of time last night worshipping the toilet gods, so to speak, I ended up missing out on this morning's Passion Buckets audition at EnergySolutions Arena. Dallin's wife gave birth to a baby boy yesterday, so he did not make it, either, and John was absent because of work. The five remaining members of Passion Buckets, I'm told, went ahead with the audition regardless and gave the best performance that they could under the circumstances. Thank goodness we recorded our version of the anthem on CD.

Because I'm sick, I'm also currently missing out on the BYU vs. USU football game in Provo as I write this. As a birthday present, Biz and Jeff graciously gave me one of their tickets so that I could go to the game. I should be there right now along with my dad, Steve, and Becky. Instead, I'm watching the game at home on TV.

More than once today, the words from John Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy" have gone through my mind; specifically, the line that states, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

I was first introduced to this song when Richard Dreyfuss sang it with that less-than-perfect voice of his in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. Mr. Holland's has since become one of my favorite films, while "Beautiful Boy" has become one of my favorite songs.

John Lennon said a few dumb things during his career and lifetime, but he also said and wrote some amazing stuff as well. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" is truly, from my experience, what much of life is about.

Such has certainly been the case for me today. I had people depending on me to be places, and there were places I wanted to go, but I could do neither. Yet somehow it's okay.

I also write this on the eve of another birthday - yet another cause for reflection today. The years just don't slow down at all once they speed up. It is also the eve of another general conference of the Church and another opportunity to be instructed at the feet of men and women of God.

Whatever plans I may make, I am looking forward to the future and whatever it is that life may have to offer me.