Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Memoriam

I don't have any smarmy comments today; I won't even post a picture. I just want to write a few words about a good friend of mine who died unexpectedly this past Sunday night.

On Sunday, I saw him at church. My brother sat next to him during elders quorum. He even passed the sacrament to the members of the congregation. And within just a few hours after that, he was gone.

At Monday night's FHE, the bishop broke the news to us. It hit me like a ton of bricks, for lack of a better term, and I have been trying to make sense of it throughout the week. I have asked myself the question "What could I have done to help my friend?" numerous times.

Depression is a dark, difficult, scary, painful, and bewildering thing. It's one of those things some people have to struggle with that, I think, will never be fully understood in this life. It affects not only those who suffer from it but their loved ones, as well. You can know how hard it is only if you or someone close to you goes through it personally, and I speak from experience. My friend fought this battle his entire life, which came to a close in this mortal sphere at the much-too-young age of (I believe) only 29.

My own struggle with depression has taught me some valuable lessons about life, and a few of these have resurfaced the past few days as I have reflected on the loss of my friend. Among them: Forget even the slightest inclination to judge, and leave it in the hands of God; He will make all things right in the end. Simply love others. Always give others the benefit of the doubt, for you've no idea what demons they fight against. The Atonement is available not just to sinners but to heal all of our wounds, no matter the size or the scope.

We miss you, Joe.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

National Kiss a Mormon Day

Today was, according to many people, "National Kiss a Mormon Day." Or it might actually be tomorrow. There's some dispute on this matter, in fact.

On Facebook - which is never wrong, except for those occasions when it is - I was invited to attend and/or participate in this holiday, if that's what it can be called. Then, I had a handful of people comment on this fact and tell me that it is actually tomorrow, April 26.

Well, whenever "National Kiss a Mormon Day" is or actually may be, it was observed, in some small part, by myself and a handful of people I came in contact with:

- I was busy helping photocopy and fold the sacrament meeting program in the library at church this morning when a girl in my ward came up from behind me and kissed me on the cheek. She was immediately followed by another girl who did the same thing. Not to brag or anything, but neener, neener.

- Later in the day, at family dinner, I got another kiss on the cheek, courtesy of my niece.

Well, you won't find me complaining. Happy "Kiss a Mormon Day," everybody.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Twinkle Toes Does It Again

Over the past year, my toes have apparently become magnets for all sorts of bizarre accidents - specifically, my big toes. For some reason, performing Improv always seems to cause these "owies."

About 10 months ago, it appeared that I stubbed my left big toe on stage near the end of an Improv performance. The injury was worse than I initially believed, as the toe began to get more swollen and uglier over the next week, and the nail eventually fell off.

A few months later, I was taking the stage for our Halloween performance when one of the doors backstage smashed into my right big toe. Following suit, that toenail also became more swollen and uglier and soon fell off.

I thought my big toe injuries were over for a while, but then during today's workshop, I banged my nearly fully grown-back left big toenail on the stage again, and, well, it's apparently going to get ugly and gross and fall off - again.

What's the moral of this story? I am a bigger klutz than I might like to admit. Also, Improv can be hazardous to your health, or at least to your toes.

Yes, of course you needed to know all this. Don't second-guess yourself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flaking Out

Earlier today, I auditioned to be in a new TV commercial. I have been in TV commercials before as an extra (the links to some of which I have posted here on the Epistle in the past) but never as a featured actor, and I have never had to audition for a part until now. This was an all-new experience for me.

Incidentally, from what I could gather, the role up for grabs was a spot as a snowflake in an all-new TV commercial made by the same people who produced this 2008 ad for Utah tourism:

For the audition, I had to go into a room full of directors, producers, and other filmmakers and read a few lines from a script. They had us read the lines in a few different ways to see our range as both Improvisers and actors, after which they would frown and write things down on their clipboards.

No, really, they actually laughed quite a bit and were enjoyable people to work with. Those of us who showed up had to read our lines in partnerships of two, and I was fortunate enough to be placed into a duo with my talented and funny ComedySportz colleague and friend Mark Holt.

Not long after trying out, I was reminded of the old adage that those who do not try will fail 100 percent of the time. Well, whatever comes of this experience, I had fun trying out, and I hope to have the opportunity to do so again in the future.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jack-Jack Discovers Tetherball

I got to spend some time with Mike and Jana's kids Friday evening while they attended the temple. We took them over to "the park," AKA the playground at Hannah Holbrook Elementary School, to play. Among the many hijinks that ensued over the course of the evening, I captured this video of two-year-old Jackson playing - or attempting to play - tetherball:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Four Little Soldiers"

For the second time in just under a week, Eden has just posted another entertaining filmmaking effort to YouTube. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Friendly Reminder from the IRS

Just a friendly reminder tonight from the IRS that your taxes are due within the next 10 minutes. Yours truly waited about as long as he could and filed two days ago . . . and there was much rejoicing.

A moment of silence, if you please.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"From the Vault of Eanimation"

Here is my cousin Eden's latest filmmaking endeavor, featuring (I believe) deleted and extended scenes from some of his other projects:


Monday, April 12, 2010

What Men Want

Today's topic is: What Men Want. Why? For one, I don't really have anything left to lose when talking about these kinds of things. For another, yours truly decides the content of this blog, so there you have it.

Some of you will recall that a little over eight months ago, I posted on the topic "What Women Want":

This was a post that generated many thought-provoking and heartfelt comments by you, my loyal readers and friends. Some of you pointed out that "the heart wants what it wants," as the old saying goes, and that can be both for good or for ill.

Kirsten said that "the truth is that very few people get everything they want in a mate (the current divorce rate speaks to that). At the end of the day, what you need is a quality person who loves God and values you (hey, aren't these like the first and second commandments or something?). Nothing else matters."

Sara added: "No one can accept love from another person until they love themselves first."

Jill's comment included the ideas "I don't think we know what we want until we find it" and "everyone has to find their own definitions of what we put on the list."

These ideas are all very true, and I am grateful for the feedback that was shared. Looking now at the other side of the equation - what men want - well, I obviously can't speak for all of the boys, but only for myself. Everybody wants different things.

However, if I were to write a wish list of what I'm looking for, it would definitely include someone who:

- Pursues and/or honors "faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue." Yes, these are the Young Women values (and yes, I had to look them up). But they're rather attractive traits, don't you think?

- Will "open up to me, like she does to her girlfriends," to paraphrase Rob Thomas - a rather rare quality indeed, I have discovered.

- Makes spending time with me a priority and something that she wants to do, not as an obligation or a backup plan.

- Doesn't "want clever conversation," to now paraphrase Billy Joel, and is simply "someone who I can talk to."

- Can play "ping-pong" - a phrase my mission president often used. This does not refer to the sport but to social interaction, meaning that she will both give and take in the relationship and not be like a slot machine, taking all of my attention and time and giving back nothing in return.

- Values and respects my family. Someone who fails to do this becomes an automatic deal breaker.

- Doesn't have to love all of the same hobbies as I do but can at least respect and tolerate the things I am passionate about pursuing. (On a side note: writing the Epistle is one of them. I was once interested in a girl in my ward until she mentioned that she had "heard" - not read nor looked at - my blog was full of "extremely long posts." She then laughed about it, and walked away, and to this day I don't think she realizes how badly she hurt my feelings. Needless to say, that was the end of my interest in her.)

- Loves me both for who I am and what I can become.

- Is cute. Let's face it; who wants to wake up next to a "testimony"?

Are these qualities impossible to find and/or unrealistic? Perhaps. Each year that passes by, the dating pool grows smaller, and it feels like I have to do even more detective work. But keep in mind that finding a vampire with these qualities is even-less realistic.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Lesson from the Liberty Tax Dude

Most every time I drive past the intersection at 500 South and 500 West in Bountiful, I see the Liberty Tax Dude on the corner. If you've driven through there or have seen one of his many clones along another street corner somewhere else in America, then you know whom I'm talking about.

The guy may arguably have one of the worst or least-desired jobs out there, and I consider fast food work to be among them. (I speak from experience here.) I can't imagine that the pay is anything great, plus he has to wear a Statue of Liberty costume, hold a Liberty Tax sign, and dance and wave to people on the street corner all day long, no matter what the weather might be like.

Still, the guy at 5th and 5th has earned my respect. The man is always cheerful and happy and always waves at me. If I wave, he waves back; or if I flash the "peace" sign, then he flashes the "peace" sign back at me.

I am a firm believer in the mantra that "anything worth doing is worth doing well." I think that credo certainly applies to the Liberty Tax Dude, who always seems to do his job - whatever your perception of what that entails - to the best of his ability.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday with the Plowmans

It's Easter Sunday! To help us celebrate the holiday, the General Authorities of the Church who spoke at yet another amazing general conference over the weekend have given us plenty of good reminders as to why we honor this day.

Following the conclusion of conference, my parents, my siblings, their spouses, my seven nieces and nephews, and I gathered this afternoon to participate in family dinner and an Easter egg hunt. The kids had a great time searching for hidden treasure all over the backyard.

This was really the first year that toddlers Jackson and Kira could do any of the hunting on their own, although many of us nevertheless aided them in their searching.

Once the hunt was over, they posed for a group picture:

Yes, I am definitely related to this motley crew.

Today also marked Jackson's second birthday, and we held a party for both him and Jenna, whose seventh birthday fell on Friday.

Good times were had by all. Happy Easter, everyone.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rear Ended!

I was involved in my first car accident in six years Thursday when I was rear ended in traffic on my way home from work.

It all happened quite fast, but in a nutshell: We were waiting for a red light to change at an intersection when the light finally turned green. The car in front of me began to accelerate and then suddenly slammed on its brakes, causing me to slam on my brakes. The driver behind me didn't react as quickly, however, and hit my rear bumper.

Fortunately, nobody in either vehicle was hurt. And fortunately, my car sustained minimal damage - the rear license plate was curled under slightly, and only a small crack formed in the bumper. It did not look anything like the car in the accompanying picture.

The man who hit me was very apologetic, surveyed the damage with me, and exchanged all necessary insurance information before leaving. He mentioned that my infamous LDSJEDI license plate had actually distracted him and contributed to the accident.

Whether or not that was true, I thanked him for his integrity, considering the fact that I have been shafted by dishonest people in the past. After my last car accident six years ago, in which a lady breezed right past a Yield sign and ran into me, she then lied about what happened - actually claiming that I had hit her! - and weaseled her way out of $500 in repairs and what would undoubtedly have been a higher insurance cost.

It's good to know that there are still honest, albeit imperfect, people out there on the road.