Saturday, December 31, 2011

Project 366

I'm not one to make many New Year's resolutions, let alone keep them. Tomorrow, however, I'm going to attempt one, and I call it: Project 366.

The idea behind this project is that I will be posting (at least) one photo per day here on Disconcertingly Choppy, along with at least a brief description of each. Ideally, I will be able to look back on this blog in a year - assuming we all survive the end of the Mayan calendar in late December - and will have, well, at lot to look back on to remind me of the year 2012.

So, I will be posting my first photo tomorrow. Happy New Year, gang.

Monday, December 26, 2011

'Twas the Day after Christmas

Belated Christmas Wishes from all of us (well, me) here at Disconcertingly Choppy! Here's hoping that you enjoyed your holiday.
As for me, I gathered with my siblings, nieces, and nephews at Mom and Dad’s home for a big family dinner on Christmas Eve. While Mom and the girls prepared a delicious meal, the kids created some chalk drawings out on the driveway and sidewalk. The results were, I must say, rather impressive:
When dinner time came, we all sat down together for a scrumptious feast.
Have I got seven of the world's best-looking nieces and nephews, or what? (Answer: Yes, I do.)
Dinner was followed by the annual family Christmas pageant, which Biz once again put together, giving speaking or acting roles to most everybody. The kids arguably enjoyed taking part perhaps more than any of us. Jackson insisted on playing the role of Joseph, which he could pronounce only as Jovis, while Kira played Mary; Jenna and Kenna were angels; while Luke, Dallin, and I were the three wise men.
I gotta say that I love the mischievous looks on Luke's and Dallin's faces in the above picture.
Afterward, everyone opened the gifts given to them by those who pulled their names out of the hat. The best part of this is always watching the kids’ eyes light up when they get something they really like.
Christmas Day itself was great, as we got to spend part of the day at church, which consisted of sacrament meeting only. Mom, Dad, and I were invited over to Dave and Jessica’s for dinner, and following that, Jenna, Luke, and Kira showed off the presents that Santa Claus had brought them.

Today, Boxing Day, we had a sort of second Christmas when Scott, Claudia, and their girls joined us at Steve’s house for a Korean lunch. Korean food is still very much a taste I have yet to acquire, but it was good to get together with our cousins and also to get the latest updates from Eden, who was able to call them from Ecuador on Christmas Eve. Later that afternoon, most of the adults went over to the new Centerville Megaplex to see Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, the next film in that series, and we enjoyed it a great deal.
Happy Boxing Day, Bedford Falls.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Spirit of Giving . . . and of Receiving

This week, I've been doing some thinking about both giving and receiving. After all, it is the Christmas season, and it's a topic on most everybody's minds right now.
It was on my mind the other night when Kylee accompanied me to see the Madison Square Garden version of A Christmas Carol at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts (aka our Improvables home). Scrooge's problem, of course, is that he spends most of his life receiving and not giving. Only after the three spirits show him the errors of his ways does he learn that it's all in the giving.
Additionally, Bro. Kjar gave a rather thought-provking lesson on the subject a few days ago at our mid-singles Institute class. His conclusion was, essentially, that gifts not only have to be given but received and, as a result, both the giver is blessed for giving and the receiver blesses the giver for accepting the gift.
I think the same principle applies to dating - something that we single people tend to tussle with more often than we'd like to. At times, you seem to give a lot to someone who either doesn't want to receive the gift or who doesn't want to give anything back - at least, not at the same level you're willing to be at. It's like putting quarters into a slot machine. (Believe it or not, that's actually something I heard in a Michael McLean song.)
At any rate, what's my conclusion? I'm not 100 percent sure that I have one, although I do know this: I'm going to keep on giving. I may be a bit more cautious about whom I choose to give what and to what degree, but I will keep on doing so until there is someone who wishes to receive - and to give back a little now and then, too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Steve and Summer and the Spring

We had barely gotten over the pleasant surprise of Ben and Adi's engagement when, earlier tonight, Steve proposed to Summer (she said yes). They both came over to share the good news and to show us a videotape of Summer's reaction to receiving the ring at a party over at her parents' house.
They are planning on a wedding sometime in the spring. I am excited to be receiving not one but two new sisters-in-law in 2012.
Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chip off of the Old Block

My parents like to tell a story about my older brother, Mike, when he was just a toddler many years ago. One day, after spending some time playing at a neighbor's house, they asked him, "What did you do today, Mike?" His response: "Push!"

Fast-forward to yesterday's family dinner, when his three-year-old boy Jackson came running up to me and said: "Paco, you're on my team."

"Great," I responded. "What are we doing?"

"Punch!" he said, pounding his fist into his other hand.

"Punch what?" I asked.

"Kenna," he stated, matter of factly. "She's a girl." (He had, apparently, been chasing her around for some reason and wanted my help.)

Yes, the apple doesn't far that far from the tree at all.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Dinner with Luke 2011

My nephew Luke turned six years old Tuesday, and to commemorate the occasion, yesterday I took him out for lunch and to the store for his annual birthday excursion.

A kid after my own heart, he chose McDonald's for lunch and, surprisingly, actually helped eat more of my Quarter Pounder with Cheese than I was expecting he would. Not a problem, though; I was happy to share. Luke's a great conversationalist for a six-year-old and, as we ate, he told me how he's been enjoying his kindergarten class.

Following our meal, we went over Target, where Luke picked out a LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean set as his present. It was the one where Captain Jack Sparrow is on the island of the cannibals (from the second film in the series), and I found myself having to answer his "What's a cannibal?" question as delicately as possible.

Luke's a great kid, and I enjoyed spending the afternoon with him. Here's to many more birthdays.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh, the Weather Outside Is Frightful . . .

Perhaps you've heard the news by now, but in case you haven't: On the evening of November 30/morning of December 1, strong canyon winds – some gusts reaching over 100 MPH, or the equivalent of a grade 2 hurricane – swept through several parts of Davis County, including Bountiful. The power was knocked out all over town and is still out in some places (fortunately, mine was restored after about 24 hours).

Additionally, many trees, including ones older than I am, were knocked over. The neighborhood looks quite different than it did a few days ago.

Regardless, I'm grateful - because things could have been a lot worse. Overall, my second hurricane was actually not as inconvenient as that one I weathered in Puerto Rico 22 years ago.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey Day 2011

In addition to Ben and Adi's engagement, our family also celebrated Thanksgiving last week.
With the rest of the family spending the day at their current (or future) in-laws, including Steve over at Summer’s family's house, my parents and I accepted an invitation from my cousin Scott and his wife, Claudia, to join them and their kids for dinner. Claudia’s parents, two of my favorite people in the world, and brother, Alberto, were among the other attendees.
We were treated to a delicious meal, with an abundance of all of the traditional trimmings included. As you can see, I was rather underdressed for the occasion, being one of the few not getting the memo about dressing up in my favorite Native American costume.
But I definitely had the best beard at the table.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's About Time!

He liked it, so he put a ring on it.
I'm excited to be getting a new sister-in-law.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Los Villancicos of Yesteryear

Over the weekend, I ran into an old friend - one I hadn't seen since we served together in the mission field.
Naty Mendoza, a native Peruvian from Arequipa, was a sister missionary I served with in the Peru Lima Central Mission . . . well, a number of years ago. We didn't know each other that well in those days, but then again, a mission companion is a mission companion. She, now a resident of Utah, invited me to the local Peruvian restaurant in Bountiful, Rico Pollo, where her group, FLAMA, performed a number of native Latin American dances and Christmas songs in Spanish. Naty founded and directs FLAMA (Folklore and Latin American Music Academy) as a means of fellowshipping Latino immigrants to Utah and also to promote cross-cultural understanding and such.
Additionally, I got to meet Naty's husband and three kids, two of who performed in the FLAMA song-and-dance presentation. I heard at least a few Christmas ditties that I recognized and that, as a result, brought back some good memories of my two Christmases spent in my adopted homeland of Peru.
While I watched the kids' performance, I enjoyed a dinner of one of my favorite Peruvian meals: pollo a la brasa (basically roasted chicken, along with French fries and a Peruvian salad). Trust me, it's delicious and much better than it sounds.
Los buenos tiempos los disfrutaron todos.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

No "Mere Mortals"

I attended a mid-singles Institute talent show last night. If you were there, too, then you were one of the few who showed up. It wasn't the greatest showcase of talent I've ever seen - after all, I, too, took part - but I woke up today with this quote of C.S. Lewis on my mind:
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses. . .
. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and
the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with
one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no
'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures,
arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life
of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and
exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that
we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that
kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who
have, from the outset, taken each other seriously -- no flippancy, no
superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love."
Last night, I saw one of my friends, who is confined to a wheelchair, perform what he called the first "sit-down comic" routine. I saw another friend, also confined to a wheelchair, dance - yes, dance - performing several routines in his wheelchair to the tune of Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone."
Truly, these are no "mere mortals," indeed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

TMBG and JoCo in Concert

I finally checked a big item off of my “Bucket List” last night as Ben, Pepe, and I went to see They Might Be Giants live in concert at The Depot in Salt Lake City. I have been a big TMBG fan for years and had always missed them when they were in town – but not this time!
The Depot is a rather small venue for this type of show and was uncomfortably crowded at times, but it was nevertheless good to hear some familiar tunes, including "Birdhouse in Your Soul," "Particle Man," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight/The Guitar," and "Fingertips," played live for the first time.
In addition, They Might Be Giants were joined by a talented musician named Jonathan Coulton, who opened the show for them. He played an enjoyable 45-minute set that included the very catchy "Mr. Fancy Pants," which may be stuck in my head for weeks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Improvables Strike Back

After months of negotiations, bargaining, and everything else that goes into getting an Improv troupe settled into a new theater, the Improvables made their triumphant return to the stage and grand debut at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts last night. It also marked our third annual Halloween show, and a near-capacity crowd turned out to help us celebrate the occasion.
Yes, you read that right. Steve was the evening's M.C., with Biz, Guy, and Scott facing off against Ian, Parker, and yours truly; Michael provided the music on guitar. We got to play some of the seasonal favorites, including “Oxygen Deprivation,” “Tombstone,” and “Campfire Tale,” as well as old classics like “Greatest Hits” and “Film Noir.”
If last night's show was any indication of what is to come at our new home at the Connie Leishman Performance Hall/black box theater, we hope to enjoy many, many more performances of the sort in the years to come.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Spooky

Halloween will soon be upon us, as you're probably already aware, and I enjoyed getting into the spirit of the season tonight by taking part in the South Davis Recreation Center’s annual “Spooktacular” event. This year’s shindig was, apparently, the fifth straight year that it has taken place; who knew that it would be so well attended or so much fun?
Members of the Improvables, in anticipation of our upcoming return to the stage at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts, were asked to volunteer at this event, and Ryan I ended up representing the troupe and helping to pass out candy to the many trick-or-treaters who visited Trick-or-Treat Lane.
We were there for three hours, and it was busy the entire time – far busier than any of the Trunk-or-Treats with which I have assisted. By the end of the evening, we were pretty pooped.
I dressed up - or intended to dress up - as Stoick the Vast from How to Train Your Dragon. Many of the people who came by told me they thought I was Thor, which is someone I'm more than okay with being misidentified as.
As an added bonus, Ryan reprised his Hello Kitty Darth Vader costume from a few years ago. The picture says it all:
Good times were had by all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Steve's 30th

October is a great month for birthdays in our family, and earlier tonight, it was Steve's turn for a birthday party. Summer organized a surprise gathering for him at the Foxboro clubhouse, just a few blocks from his house, and a good number of his family and friends showed up to participate.
There was a good deal of delicious food as we waited . . . and waited . . . for Steve and Summer's arrival. But with my seven nieces and nephews around, there's never a dull moment.
Fortunately, the birthday boy eventually showed up, and he seemed genuinely surprised.
. . . and there was much rejoicing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Party Down!

I had another birthday yesterday. Try as I might, I have been unsuccessful at finding a way to stop them from happening since I turned, oh, probably 21.
At any rate, I arranged for a party of sorts at the Karaoke Café, my new favorite hangout, last night, and Ben and Adi, Steve and Summer, Biz, and Pepe were good enough to join me to celebrate the occasion. This night also marked Steve and Summer's first time returning to the spot of their first date six months earlier.
Some of the highlights from the evening included my getting to sing "Weird Al" Yankovic's "One More Minute," an old family favorite, with my three siblings on backup:
The girls collaborating together on the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces":
Singing N*SYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" along with the other boys (actions included):
As well as the Soggy Bottom Boys' "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow":
Good times were had by all.
Sorry you missed out on things? Join us for the next birthday party, won't ya?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011: An Improv Travesty

Saturday night, the Improvables sent a team to compete at the Third Annual Utah Battle of the Improvs. Brittney, Bryan, and Steve represented the troupe and, I must say, made me proud, really giving it their all. They played “Replay at Bernie’s” in the first round, getting the first perfect 10 score of the evening and collecting the highest composite score of the first half.

We were also well represented in the audience, with several troupe members and loyal fans in attendance.

Colten and Brittney helped collect votes for us at halftime.

Advancing to the top four in the second half of the show, they played “Accents” and were rated even higher, getting two 10s from two of the three judges and a 9 from the third, resulting in a 29 out of a possible 30 points – higher than any other troupe who took part – as well as a strong audience reaction and applause.

However, we were all flabbergasted when the two finalists were announced, and our troupe wasn’t one of them. In addition, we were also somewhat collectively offended by Toy Soup, the troupe that ended up winning the competition as well as the Audience Favorite Award, who put on what I thought were a very vulgar set of games that broke many of the basic rules of Improv. Not that we are bitter. Or in the least bit biased. It was rather frustrating.

On the bright side, Brittney did take home the Miss Congeniality Award.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Alpocalypse" Comes to Salt Lake City

My next birthday is still a few weeks away, but earlier tonight, I was given an early birthday present by my good friend Pepe: tickets to the "Weird Al" Yankovic concert at the Utah State Fair.

If you know me - I'm assuming that you do if you're reading this, but you never know - you know that I'm a huge "Weird Al" fan and that I had already been to the last four of his previous concerts in Utah, as well as one in southern Georgia in 2003 (another birthday present; thanks, Clayton). They've all been hugely entertaining, and tonight's show was no exception.

Al is currently on a cross-country tour to promote his latest album, "Alpocalypse," and he performed six or seven songs from that record, including his Lady Gaga parody "Perform This Way," for which he dressed up as a peacock.

I guess the picture speaks for itself; I couldn't make this stuff up. Of course, it's really pretty tame when you think about some of Lady Gaga's outlandish wardrobe choices.

Additionally, "Weird Al" sang several of his older favorites, such as "Amish Paradise," "Canadian Idiot," "Fat," and "Smells like Nirvana." The evening's encore performance was a medley of his two Star Wars-themed songs, "Yoda" and "The Saga Begins."

Good times were had by all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today

We're all very familiar with all that went down on that infamous day, ten years ago today. I don't need to go over the details.

I was not in New York City; western Pennsylvania; or Washington, D.C., on that day, but like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was when I found out about it. I had a doctor's appointment that morning to have my wrist checked out, and while I sat in the waiting room, I watched speechlessly along with a handful of other patients as the events unfolded on the TV set in the corner.

Something that few people know about me is that while I was not a witness to the events on 9-11, I have been a witness - an earwitness, anyway - to a terrorist attack. On a warm December night in 1996, my companion and I were in the San Isidro borough of Lima, Peru, trying to hail a taxi on the side of the road, when we heard an extremely loud explosion. The taxi driver who pulled up shortly afterward said that it had come from less than a mile away. How grateful we were that we were not any closer.

Through the news and such, we learned that the explosion had taken place at the Japanese embassy and that it was caused by a terrorist group that went on to hold most of the people inside, who were attending a Christmas party that night, as hostages for the next several months.

Well, that's another story. But it will suffice me to say that I'm glad I live in a country where we don't have to worry about those kinds of things happening. I'm grateful for those who are abroad defending those freedoms and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One of These Things Is Not like the Other . . .

After a few months of ward hopping and wandering like a stranger in a strange land, I have finally come to a decision. I'm going back to the home ward. At least for now.

During the aforementioned time period, I spent several Sundays visiting two of Salt Lake's mid-singles wards. Joining one of these wards is one of two options I faced upon forcibly "graduating" from the Millstream Ward in May. I met some good people in both of these wards and enjoyed visiting them. However, in the end, I could not justify the 45-mile round-trip commute just to attend church, not to mention the additional commutes for going to FHEs, temple nights, firesides, etc. If I were to join a ward like that, I would want to be as involved as I could be. In addition, both of these wards are currently being overrun - think of ants at a picnic - by hundreds of other people who find themselves in the same boat as myself. It's just too many people, in my humble opinion. I have friends who have joined both of these wards, and I wish them the best; it's just not for me.

The other option left to my disposal, of course, was going to the home (family) ward where I reside. It was an option that became, for me, the lesser of two awkward choices. Sure, I'm an orange among a room full of apples - including some "apples" I went to school with who are, for example, now married and have four kids. But it's the best option. For now.

Anyway, as I prepare to climb down off of my soapbox, let me add one last thing: If there are any other mid-singles out there who happen to read this and who are not currently involved in the mid-singles Institute in Centerville, may I politely urge you to get involved? For me, it has been an excellent social supplement - providing FHEs, activities, firesides, etc. in addition to the Institute classes - with people in my own age range that I no longer get for three hours on Sundays. If you're worried about feeling out of place if you show up to any of the activities, please don't worry; the people I've met have been welcoming and friendly. If you're worried about not knowing anybody, well, you know me.

Just come one time, and if you have a horrible experience, then you can go back to staying home Wednesday nights, staring out the window and wishing Edward from Twilight would appear at your door and command you to elope with him. Because we all know that's gonna happen.

But you won't have a horrible time, because it's been great. Who knows? You might even meet some real people of the opposite gender. It's my personal guarantee.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peter and Pals in the Park

The Davis County mid-singles' latest extracurricular adventure took place this past Saturday night, when we were treated to a free concert at North Canyon Park. The featured musician was none other than Peter Breinholt, who is also one of the instructors of our Wednesday night Institute class.

Previously, I had seen Bro. Breinholt perform live once before, plus he often sings or shares some sort of music when he teaches, so I was looking forward to this night's shindig. The weather almost didn't cooperate for an outdoor concert, with an overcast sky threatening rain for the early part of the evening. Fortunately, it never did rain on the Big Parade.

We were treated to favorite songs such as "Jerusalem" and "You Wear Flowers," and during the latter song, Peter told us that his lyric "That's when it occurred to me; I like spontaneity" is often misheard as "That's when it occurred to me; I like Frosted Mini-Wheats." Well, that's good to know.
One of the other highlights was the medley of '80s songs, including "Sweet Child o' Mine" and A-ha's "Take On Me" (yes, he did reach the very high notes).

Good times were had by all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Experiencing "RiffTrax Live!"

On the evening of the 17th, I got to experience something new: "RiffTrax Live!"

For those not "in the know," the "RiffTrax" series is the successor to one of my favorite all-time TV shows, "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Featuring the same cast - Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Mike Nelson - as the last three seasons of the program, the RiffTrax guys now "riff" on, or make sarcastic and humorous comments, about popular movies of today. The Twilight "Saga is an excellent example of ridiculous films that watching with RiffTrax has made a lot more bearable.

At any rate, on Wednesday night, there was a live "RiffTrax" broadcast - 6 p.m. in our time zone - to movie theaters across the nation, and Bountiful's Gateway Theater was one of the places that participated. A good group of friends and I helped fill the theater for this event, which was every bit as funny as we hoped. The "RiffTrax" guys first tackled a short, "What Is Nothing?", that was correctly described as coming from the writers of "the last two seasons of 'Lost.'" That was followed by a riff of Jack the Giant Killer, a hokey, full-length adventure movie from the '60s cut from the same cloth as the Sinbad movies or Jason and the Argonauts.

Good times were had by all! I hope that they do another one soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'll Be Papa, Paparazzi

Last night's mid-singles FHE activity was a photo scavenger hunt - suggested by *ahem* yours truly - that sent our mini-groups of four or five each all over Centerville to do embarrassing things.

My group, consisting of Jake, Pyper, Vaughn, and myself, got most of the items crossed off our list, and we managed to have a fun time while doing so.

Among my favorite pictures:

The group stands on top of a manhole:

A shot of the whole group hitchhiking:

The group in Vaughn's car:

The guys make "manly poses in front of a "manly" business (that's the Heisman Trophy pose I'm attempting):

The group makes ninja poses as a stranger joins in on the fun:

The only downside to our enjoyable evening was that only 16 people (out of more than 1,000 who are registered with the group on Facebook) showed up. That's a batting average of . . . carry the one . . . well, it's not that good. The upside to that, however, was that there were five Costco cheesecakes awaiting us upon our return and not that many people with whom to share them.