Saturday, February 27, 2010

"World in Smoke" PSA

Here is Eden's (and friends') latest filmmaking effort, a PSA for the 2010 Utah High School Film Festival, titled "World in Smoke":

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oops . . . I Did It Again

I'm not feeling too proud of myself today.

In an unfortunate exchange of words with a friend last night, I said some mean things - and I'm never mean. At least, not on purpose I'm not.

Do you ever feel like you've become the worst version of yourself? On second thought, that sounds like a line from You've Got Mail. Regardless of its origin, I feel that it applies here.

The people who I have found to be my lifelong friends over the years are not necessarily those I have always gotten along with 100 percent of the time but those whom I've learned to forgive and who have forgiven me when misunderstandings have arisen, as they are wont to do time to time.

On the contrary, I have found that fair-weather friends or the friendships that don't last are the ones that end when any kind of misunderstanding at all leads to their permanent demise, or your friendship is no longer "convenient" for them any more, or what amount to any other number of unimportant reasons.

So, thank you to all those who have cared for me enough to forgive me for my mistakes over the years - I've tried to do the same for you. I hope the friend in question will be my friend again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye, Xena

Mike and Jana's dog Xena (I'll give you three guesses as to whom she was named after, and the first two don't count) has been a part of their family for approximately the past 13 years. She's been with them through the birth of all four of their children as well as moves to Colorado, Florida, and back again to Utah.

On Sunday, she suffered a stroke. It left her with permanent damage, and she was suffering a great deal. Having already lost of most of her hearing, her problems were only compounded. Her owners made the difficult decision to have her put to sleep, which finally took place yesterday.

Before this happened, however, Ben and I traveled up to Layton to see her one last time after the conclusion of Monday's FHE. Though she was not doing very well, Xena nevertheless visited with us in her usual, friendly way. I am glad we had the chance to say goodbye.

Though she was Mike and Jana's dog, Xena was very much a part of the rest of the Plowmans' lives, as well. Whenever we came over to visit, she was most always the first one to greet us and was never less than ecstatic to do so.

I've said it before, and I may say it again: Dogs are more "human" than many people are. They may bark at the wrong times, drool, and emit unpleasant odors, but they have never said a cross word to me or hurt my feelings. They are the best of companions a person could have. Somehow, they always know when you need them there. They're never too busy to spend time with you, and all they ask in return is regular meals and an occasional scratch behind the ears or on the belly.

In the film Marley and Me, John Grogan (Owen Wilson) says: "A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if your rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart, and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?"

Like our golden retriever, Rolley, who lived to be 14 and passed away two years ago, Xena was definitely this kind of dog, and we will miss her.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Witness Protection?

Have you ever noticed that when people leave a singles ward, they always slip away so discreetly that you fear they've been the target of a mafia hit and they've entered the federal witness protection program?

No one else, huh?

Perhaps it is because I'm just not around when those conversations take place in which people announce that they're moving on to greener pastures - I'm thinking here of Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy, if you have seen that episode of "The Office" and/or know what I'm referring to - but I have been noticing a certain kind of trend when people leave my ward.

The other day, it took form in the place of my finding out that someone on my home teaching list had left our ward and started attending another about two months previously. This kind of thing is pretty typical. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there were people still on our roster who were married years ago and now have two or three kids.

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The McNuggets Challenge

Somehow - and I'm still trying to figure out just how it happened - I got roped into a McNuggets Challenge earlier today.

What is the "McNuggets Challenge"? you ask?

Dave Chabries, a former Millstreamer and a mutual friend of mine and Ryan's, came up with the idea for the McNuggets Challenge. The other day, he purchased 50 McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (their current promotion is 50 McNuggets for $9.99) and consumed all 50 within 14 minutes.

Well, following today's Improvables workshop at the theater, Ryan suggested giving the challenge a try and invited any who wanted to participate to do so. Taylor and I were the only takers. What possessed us to do this? It's all in the Y chromosome, says I - one of those dumb things that boys do because they feel the need to. As it turns out, Brian and Matt, who witnessed the event but did not participate, were wise beyond their years in choosing to abstain.

At the outset, it seemed like a great idea. Here is the "before" picture of me, Ryan, and Taylor:

Notice that we are smiling. Also, notice the 150 Chicken McNuggets piled up on the table as well as the various sauces and dips.

Breaking Dave's record of downing 50 McNuggets in 14 minutes not only seemed like a fun idea, it initially appeared to be rather easy. The McNuggets were served in five containers of 10 McNuggets each; getting through the first couple of boxes was, indeed, not difficult at all.

After that, things slowed down in a hurry. By the time we reached our respective third boxes, it quickly became apparent that we had little-to-no chance left of besting Dave's mark in 14 minutes. Not only that, it also became very apparent that we would be lucky to reach 50 McNuggets at all. In time, the voices around me began to turn into the nonsensical trombone notes of the adults in Charlie Brown's world. The more I ate, the harder it became and the more my head started to spin. It was the oddest feeling of being "full" I have ever had in my life - and I have four years' experience living and eating in Latin America to back that up.

In time, Taylor rushed to the McDonald's bathroom to throw up and got within three feet (by his estimate; I wasn't about to see for myself) of the bathroom sink. Ryan also later threw up when we arrived back at the Rodgers parking lot. All told, I finished 44 McNuggets, and both Ryan and Taylor were not far behind with close to 40 apiece.

Here's the "after" picture:

Notice that we are no longer smiling.

Before today, it had been at least five or six years since I had last eaten a Chicken McNugget, and I guess I had forgotten that I am not really a fan of them. After today, if I never eat another Chicken McNugget again, it'll be too soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shameless Plug: Twi-lite

A shameless plug goes out today for my Improvables collegue Bryan Dayley and the musical parody Twi-lite: I Was a Teenage Vampire, in which he has one of the starring roles. It is now playing at the Desert Star Playhouse in Murray.

A group of friends and I attended a performance of this much-anticipated show earlier tonight, and we were not disappointed. It was another fantastic and entertaining evening - the kind that we've come to expect from the good folks at Desert Star.

Twi-lite has everything that women seem to want in entertainment right now: a lot of oohing and ahhing over vampires, which, of course, don't really exist.

Also, there is something having to do with a story and plot, songs, comedy, and all of that good stuff. You catch my drift, I guess. Additionally, there is a minor character who may or may not be meant to be a parody of Pee-wee Herman; either way, he had me in stitches (the good, non-appendicitis kind) whenever he spoke.

Twi-lite runs through March 13.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Table Manners

Tonight, I learned a thing or two about etiquette - table manners, that is.

Our "surprise" FHE activity turned out to be an etiquette dinner - one of those dealy-os in which you learn how to properly fold and use your napkin, which fork gets used for which course, which direction to pass food items (it's left to right), how to butter and eat rolls, and all of that good stuff.

This was my first-ever etiquette dinner, which made me something of the anomaly at the table where I sat. (In the Young Women program, apparently, they do this sort of thing multiple times a year, or weekly, or something like that.)

If only I had learned some of this stuff when I was 16, it might have saved me a lot of embarrassment at the dinner table over the course of the years. Well, better late than never, right?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine to My Ward (and One from My Niece)

Hey! It's Valentine's (aka Singles-Awareness) Day.

I just wanted to get that out of the way.

The people in my ward are truly amazing. Many of them are among my closest friends and associates. They never cease to amaze me, to entertain me (just visit one of our fast and testimony meetings, and you will quickly see what I mean), and to inspire me to be a better person.

Last night, I attended our stake's annual Valentine's dance along with a few dozen of my fellow Millstreamers. It's the fourth year in a row that I have been to the dance, and it is always an enjoyable evening.

Every year, the people in my ward by far represent the largest portion of those in attendance. When it comes to doing the "Electric Slide," no ward is better represented (or has better moves!) on the dance floor. Add to that the fact that once the dance ended, I would have to say that easily two-thirds of those who stayed to help clean up were Millstreamers.

In addition to this, one other note: My parents were recently called to be in charge of the stake's volunteer tutoring program at Hannah Holbrook (my alma mater) and Meadowbrook elementary schools, and they have been enlisting the aid of people in the stake to help out. Today, I glanced at the list of all those who have signed up to assist, and of the 48 names collected from the stake, 21 were from the Millstream Ward alone. That's 21 names just from my ward, and 27 names from the eight other wards.

These are the kind of people I associate with on a weekly and basis, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

By the way, since that Valentine's word came up earlier, I should state for the record that I did receive a Valentine today, and it came in a great package.

I was sitting at home when a tiny pair of six-year-old arms threw themselves around the back of my neck and kissed me on the cheek.

I turned around to see my niece McKenna standing there, along with a Valentine's card and a package of Sweettarts.

All in all, I'd say today was a great day. Happy S.A.D. to all, and to all a good night.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Curling?

As of tonight, and for the next 16 days, the Winter Games are back, Canadian style.

Yes, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are set to begin in Vancouver, British Columbia. Let's all give a big cheer for Canada:


Like many Utahns, I didn't really know that the Winter Games actually existed until Salt Lake City, a mere stone's throw from my hometown of Bountiful, landed the 2002 Games back in the mid-'90s. Once the Games actually arrived here eight years ago, and I had front-row tickets for the luge in Park City, I became hooked on the Winter Games.

I say this in all seriousness: Curling is one of my favorite Winter sports. Yes, really. I watched a lot of the Turin, Italy, Winter Games four years ago because I had shingles at the time, and when you have shingles, there really isn't a whole lot that you can do except eat, sleep, and watch TV. Whenever I turned on the Games, curling always seemed to be on - and it grew on me. Or maybe it was the large doses of Oxycodone. Either way, curling is really quite the interesting sport once you get into it.

So, here's to the next two weeks! Go, my favorite sports team! Go!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind

I do not think that I would not be overstating things if I said that tonight I attended the Greatest FHE in the History of My Ward, if not the greatest FHE in the history of singles wards in general. If you had been there, you most likely would agree.

We made, for lack of a better term, UFOs and sent them flying high into the nighttime sky.

Following a spiritual thought by Bro. Galloway, we divided up into teams of two. Using X-Acto knives, balsa wood, glue guns, candles, thread, and plastic bags, we proceeded to construct our aircrafts. They were essentially micro-versions of hot-air balloons, powered by candles - really. Bro. Galloway had previously taught his Scouts how do to this, and we were no less enthusiastic than they were about the idea.

Here's how Amanda's and my UFO ended up looking:

Upon completing construction, we ventured out into the cold February air to light our UFOs and to send them up into the air.

This brought out the nerd, pyromaniac, and especially little kid in us all. And I wouldn't have it any other way. It was amazing how far and high some of the vessels traveled before crashing back down to the Earth, Hindenburg style. This one, in particular, went (we estimated) 300 or more feet in height:

Good times were had by all.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Spilled Milk!"

This is my award-winning cousin Eden's latest film, "Spilled Milk!":

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Groundhog Day, Again!

Today is Groundhog Day, one of my and my family's favorite holidays of the year, and once again we celebrated February 2 by getting together with a small group of friends to watch the 1993 Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, to play several rounds of the game Scene It? (during which Ryan basically schooled us all), and to eat various Groundhog Day-related foods, including Steve's custom recipe of sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist.

Steve's version of sweet vermouth is, of course, non-alcoholic! It consists simply of a mixture of Sprite and grape juice.

Biz and Jeff hosted this year's party at their new condo in Centerville, so we weren't able to squeeze as many friends into one room as we have been able to in years past. But together with the 18 or 20 or so who were assembled, we again enjoyed watching a perennial favorite, which never seems to age nor to lack entertainment value in spite of the many times we have seen it over the years.

On a personal note, I reviewed the movie Groundhog Day for my high school newspaper when it was originally released in theaters in 1993, and it has held a special place in my heart ever since.

Good times were had by all.