Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hasta Luego, 2009

Ready or not, the New Year is upon us.

In a few, short hours, 2009 will be a thing of the past, and 2010 will be here. Not only that, we will be looking at a brand-new decade as well.

(Yes, I know that it's still technically the same decade that began in the year 2001 - there was no year 0, in other words. But you don't refer to a song or a movie released in the year 1990 as something from the '80s, now do you?)

I kind of always imagined I would end up spending New Year's Eve 2010 watching the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact - a very underrated sequel to Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey - but that will not be the case tonight. I will instead be taking things quite casually, dropping in on a few friends' parties, as I'm still not feeling 100-percent great following my hospital visit last week - though I am feeling somewhat better.

I may have to watch 2010 before the week's out, however.

As I look forward to the coming year and decade and to resolutions that need to be made and kept, one thought pervades, as delivered by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in his final conference address in October 2008:

"Come what may, and love it."

Happy New Year, my friends.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Improvables on YouTube: November 13, 2009 - Part II

Here are two additional Improvables games, "Mumbling Movie Murder Mystery" and "Story Genres," that were recently posted to YouTube and which were played during the November 13 show, featuring Bryan, Johnny, Keenan, Michael, Parker, and Shannon and yours truly as the M.C.:



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve and Second Chances

For the third time in five years, I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital.

Over the past few years, I have developed this odd tradition of spending at least part of my Christmas holiday under close medical scrutiny. In 2005, I went into the E.R. with a severe rash on my arm; originally diagnosed as a spider bite, it turned out that what I had was actually shingles (which stayed with me for the next two months). Then, two years ago, I had surgery performed on my right shoulder just a few days before Christmas, and I did not react well to the anesthesia; as a result, the next week or so was a rather difficult one for me.

This year's saga begin on Monday night, when I began to experience chest pains unlike anything I had ever felt before. Things didn't get much better for me over the next couple of days; in fact, they got worse.

Initially, I went to InstaCare to get checked out. But as soon as I mentioned the term chest pains, they sent me directly to the hospital, as they claimed they were not capable of treating that. This is how I ended up in the E.R. at about 1:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.

The doctor and nurses who examined me originally thought I might have gallstones. For those of you Brian Regan fans out there, yes, they did ask me what my pain level was on a scale of one to 10, and I really was tempted to say 8 - but I didn't.

At any rate, after undergoing a series of tests, including an EKG, an ultrasound, and X-rays, it was determined that my hiatal hernia, which is caused by acid reflux - something I was initially diagnosed with in the summer of '99, over 10 years ago - had been acting up and was the cause of my chest pains. Further, I learned that several things I had lapsed on doing - not eating close to bedtime/after midnight and taking my daily Nexium/Prevacid pills - had aggravated my problem.

Additionally, the doctor mentioned that the number-one worst thing for acid reflux in anyone's diet (following drinking alcohol and smoking, which don't apply to most of us, myself included) is caffeinated soda. (Did you catch that, friends of mine who are so in love with Diet Coke?)

As we approach the New Year and the time for making resolutions, it looks like cutting out all soda - not just caffeinated soda - will again be at the top of my list. I tried it last year, and it took for only about two or three months. Well, appears that it's time to make a final break with Dr. Pepper, once and for all; no "just being friends," either.

I guess the good news about this strange pattern of events is that I can look forward to taking off Christmas 2010 before beginning to dread Christmas 2011!

In addition, I am very grateful that there wasn't something worse wrong with me. I spent many moments Monday through Thursday in terrible physical pain and often felt like I was dying. When acid reflux/esophagitis flares up as badly as it did with me, I'm told that the symptoms mimic those of a heart attack.

When I stop to consider the car accidents, prolonged illnesses, and other injuries that my family members have survived over the past few years, including my mom's stroke this past summer, I am additionally grateful that we are all still alive and kicking. I was, in fact, fortunate enough to be out of the hospital by the early evening and home with my family in time to participate in the annual family Christmas pageant, singing of Christmas hymns, and opening of presents.

In the many hours I waited in the E.R., the thought occurred to me that Christmas is, after all, a time for second chances of many kinds. As I was released from the E.R. and got to go home, the thought remained with me, and I was grateful that I was given a new lease on life, from a certain point-of-view.

For example, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, as told in A Christmas Carol, is all about taking a second look at his life and being given a second chance to live it. Such is the case with George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, my favorite Christmas movie of all time.

Indeed, the whole idea behind Christmas - the coming of a Savior to the world - is about mankind being given a second chance and being offered the opportunity to repent when we sin or make mistakes.

Maybe it's the heavy pain medication talking right now, but that's what I gathered from this experience.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, everyone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Twelve Days of Christmas," Muppets Style

I grew up listening to the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album during pretty much every holiday season. Here's the next-best thing, with Jimmy Fallon filling in for the late John Denver during a recent episode of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

Last night, several family members and I ventured down to Salt Lake City to see the Church's Savior of the World musical at the Conference Center Theater.

It had been a number of years since I had last been to see SOTW, which originally debuted eight or nine years ago when the Conference Center was completed. It was the same fantastic production I remember seeing once before, though I noted that a few minor changes to the score and such had been made.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Savior of the World, it is esentially the story of Christ's birth in Act I and His Resurrection in Act II, as well as the faith and sacrifices of those who knew Him personally and who believed in Him. Maybe that's why it is always performed around Christmas and Easter.

Without a doubt, it is the best Christmas pageant I have ever seen. If you haven't been to see it yet, I hope that you take the opportunity to do so.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"What Shall We Give?"

I particularly enjoyed this latest Mormon Message by Pres. Monson and the video that accompanies it. I hope you take a look at it if you haven't already done so:

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Extremity"

Here is the latest and greatest project from my cousin Eden, a Lego film titled "Extremity":

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Two weeks ago, as we were about to take the stage for another Improvables performance, Parker came back to the green room and told us that his brother Keenan had suffered an accident while riding an ATV and, as a result, had broken both of his legs.

This has to be some kind of joke, I remember thinking. Keenan had, ironically, recently played the character "Legless Larry" on stage during a show, moving himself around using only his arms.

But this was no joke. Keenan had indeed broken both of his legs and was undergoing surgery to have a metal rod inserted into one of those legs as we were taking the stage. This would have been a painful and tragic occurrence in anyone's life, but add to that the additional fact that Keenan was scheduled to enter the MTC just under three weeks after this accident. Many of us, myself included, feared that his missionary service would end up being postponed for several months.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case at all. Keenan was a quick healer in the hospital, being discharged after only a couple of days of recovery. He continued to make further progress after that and began to walk with a cane.

Two nights ago, he again took the stage for his final Improvables performance for two years, a mere two weeks after his devastating accident. Though he needed to use his cane to get around, he put in another fantastic performance. Then, this morning, Keenan delivered his scheduled farewell talk at his ward in Centerville, with his plans for heading into the MTC this Wednesday and then going on to serve in the mission field in New Zealand still intact.

As I sat through today's meeting, the thought occurred to me more than once that I had witnessed some sort of miraculous event in Keenan's quick healing over these past two weeks. The Lord truly does watch over His work and those who labor in it. The sacrifices made and the blessings received by past, present, and future missionaries are nothing short of "a marvelous work and a wonder" to me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Yes, it's quite cold out there. In fact, my brain and my fingers are currently frozen to the point that I can't think of what to type beyond the phrase "It's Cold Outside."

Weather wise, it's still technically the autumn. But as I write this, the temperature is 21 degrees, with a predicted low of 9 degrees tonight.


Thank you, Al Gore, for warning us about this.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Returns!

I am officially feeling the Christmas spirit now. A most enjoyable weekend, one full of holiday-themed festivities, has helped me to get into the holiday mood.

I was assigned to M.C. Friday night's Improvables show, for which we played our first game of the Christmas season, called "Deck the Halls." Then yesterday afternoon, it was our Improvables Christmas party. Somehow, I walked away with a brand-new Snuggie from the white elephant gift exchange.

Some guys have all the luck!

Last night, Biz and traveled down to Provo for our monthly performances with the crew at ComedySportz. Even more Christmas-themed games were on the docket.

Thanks to my good friend Pepe, still going strongly as a devoted member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I was again given tickets to attend this evening's First Presidency Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake. Pres. Monson, Pres. Eyring, and Pres. Uchtdorf, in their respective unique ways, each delivered inspiring holiday messages. The music by the MoTabs was, likewise, most inspiring.

Following the conclusion of the devotional, we strolled around Temple Square to gawk, "ooh," and "ahh" and at the holiday lights. No matter how many times I have seen them, they never cease to amaze me - especially the orange ones surrounding the Assembly Hall.

And we're just getting started! More Christmas-related festivities, including performing Improv at various Christmas parties, the ward Christmas party, and seeing Scrooge at Rodgers Memorial Theatre, are directly ahead.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"If You Give a Vampire a Cookie, Part 2"

Here is the second part of Bryan, Keenan, and Parker's award-winning film:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"If You Give a Vampire a Cookie, Part 1"

Here is the first part of a very funny film starring my Improvables colleagues Bryan Dayley and Parker Abegg. Apparently, it won an award as part of a filmmaking contest at Salt Lake Community College.

Parker's brother Keenan also mentioned to me that he wrote some of the dialogue and did some camera work, to boot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Movin' In

This week, Steve moved into his brand-new house, located in Foxboro area of North Salt Lake.

I ventured down to take my first look at the place last night along with Mike, Jana, and their four rambunctious-but-lovable kids. I must say that I was very impressed with the house, and I'm sure that Steve will be quite cozy in his bachelor pad.

The kids kept us entertained throughout the evening, running all over the place and causing the usual amount of havoc. In particular, Jackson, who couldn't seem to keep his pants from falling down, and McKenna, who got caught inside the couch that she tried to take apart, did their best to break in the new digs:

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Good times were had by all.