Friday, February 25, 2011

Hit the Cat, Evil Ted!

While on my way to work today, I hit a cat. If that cat had any of its nine lives left, they were all used up in an instant.

I'm not saying it to brag or anything; I have actually been feeling somewhat guilty about it since the unfortunate incident occurred. I'm not a cat lover, per se - I'd probably rather own the world's ugliest dog than the world's nicest-looking cat - but I don't believe in going around running over random living creatures whenever I feel like it. (I feel this way about ex-girlfriends sometimes, but the feeling soon passes, and I can come back to reality and the Judeo/Christian "thou shalt not kill" ethic.)

The poor thing just ran out right in front of me, and I was going much too fast (in a 45 MPH zone) to really be able to do anything about it.

What's my point?

Well, be careful out there, people, for one. You never know when it might happen to you. Also, please double-check your meal if you visit Kentucky Fried Chicken within the next week or so.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I am someone who struggles to make decisions, as I'm sure we all do at one time or another. Sometimes, even the basic ones cause me grief. To those who think that "it doesn't matter what you eat for breakfast," I might beg to differ. It would, for example, matter to me greatly if I were to do something stupid like, oh, say, ingest a gallon of lead paint to start off the day. (Kids: please don't try this at home.)

At any rate, my good stake president, Pres. Ralph Mabey, addressed this very subject of making decisions at the past week's stake conference. And I think it was the very thing I, and a lot of people in my age group, needed to hear. He gave me a lot to think about, and now I present what I learned from his message and/or my thoughts:

1) Making choices is a big part of what we're here for. A war in heaven was fought over the basic idea of having free agency.

2) Sometimes, our choices are not between what is right and what is wrong; they're between a path that is right and another that is also right. The thing is, it's our choice - that free agency thing. If we are seeking guidance and are onto a path that could be dangerous, then the Spirit will intervene and warn us accordingly.

3) "It's harder for the Lord to direct our steps if we're not taking any." -Elder D. Todd Christofferson

4) If we put off or avoid making decisions when opportunities present themselves, either (a) those opportunities can be lost or (b) the decisions will be made for us by a failure to act.

The third point, for one, makes me think of "The Simpsons" episode in which Homer is forced to go back to college to study basic nuclear physics. When he is reminded that he has put off studying for the big final exam, which is the next day, he announces his strategy: "I've been working on a plan. During the exam, I'll hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out."

I know some people who would never take this cowardly approach in the classroom but who often "hide under coats" in social, spiritual, or other situations. Truth be told, I've probably done more than my share of hiding under coats at decision-making times. And I've found that it leads only to regret and failure.

Conversely, there are good people, like Rebekah of the Book of Genesis, who were wise enough to see important opportunities when they came up and who took advantage of them. When Isaac's servant visited her, she wasn't too busy or too caught up in other, less-important things to water his camels, and if she had protested that she wasn't "looking for a relationship right now," as some people are wont to say, she would have forfeited the opportunity to become a mother to the nation of Israel.

Okay, so that's an extreme example - but I believe it teaches the principle well, and she is an example nonetheless. Rebekah's courage and dedication to service are why hers is among my favorite scripture stories.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat a bowl of Captain Crunch. Or Honey Nut Cheerios. Or pancakes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winning and Losing

If you follow basketball, then you probably already know by now that the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA record last week. However, this was not the kind of record that a team would want to brag or to put up a banner about; it was for futility in not only the NBA but in all professional sports: They lost 26 consecutive games.

When you consider that each NBA team plays 82 games a year, 26 games amounts to nearly one-third of a season. Some teams that don't even lose that many games all year, let alone one after another.

Over the years, I've been part of a handful of good Church ball teams and a few more bad teams, and never in our worst losing streak did it ever get up to 26 in a row. (We came close, but never did we equal the feat. But that's not the point.) It's gotta be a pretty discouraging feeling to go out and lose, time and time again. Cleveland is also the team, keep in mind, that LeBron James infamously bailed on last summer, leaving the Cavaliers in the dust as he left for greener pastures in Miami.

Why do I bring this up? Earlier today, while perusing a copy of Sports Illustrated (no, it wasn't the swimsuit issue, smart alecks), I came across a story about the Cavaliers and a spotlight on the girl waving the sign in the above picture. This photo was taken during Cleveland's 26th and final loss of the streak - and yet she continued to cheer on the home team and yell out support throughout the game.

I also bring it up because I feel like I've been on a sort of losing streak of my own lately, and I've been somewhat discouraged by a few happenings in spite of my best efforts. I met someone recently about whom I initially had the thought, "This is either going to be a great relationship, or it's going to hurt a lot" - and when things suddenly went sour, it ended up hurting a lot, as I had feared. I also have family members and friends who feel discouraged, too, for one reason or another - be it health, stress, work issues, and the like.

My point - and I do have one - is that I'm going to keep on trying, even in spite of the current losing streak. I'm still going to put on the uniform and lace up the shoes for the next game and give things my best effort, because it just might be my 27th game - who knows?

Incidentally, Cleveland's 27th game, the one that broke the streak, was a thing of beauty. Watching it live on TV, I gained a lot of respect for the Cavaliers and their fans. It was a overtime win at home, and the way that the crowd cheered, you'd have thought it was game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Do the Scarn"

"The Office" has been somewhat hit-and-miss the last few years, but tonight's episode, in which Michael shows off his film Threat Level Midnight to the Dunder Mifflin staff, was absolutely hilarious. It honestly kind of reminded me of some of my own filmmaking efforts over the years.

cough cough Software Wars cough cough anyone? (It can still be viewed on YouTube, wink wink.)

The dance sequence "Do the Scarn," which I hope to take part in the next time I go out line dancing, was hands down my favorite moment. If you didn't see it, here it is:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Valentine's Greeting from Mola Ram

You know the part in Indiana Jones and the Temple Doom when Mola Ram, leader of the Thuggee cult, reaches into the chest of a sacrificial victim and rips out his heart, laughing as it bursts into flames in his hand while the poor young man meets a horrible, painful, fiery death?

Dating is a lot like that, except in real life, you don't go unwillingly but instead give Mola Ram permission to do it.

Happy Valentine's Day, folks. May your flowers wilt, may you choke on your chocolate candy, and may you get paper cuts from the card(s) anyone sends you.

Just kidding - partially.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Improv Documentary"

This video, which I finally located on YouTube after weeks of searching, is a documentary, hosted by my Improvables colleague Johnny Call, about Improv in Utah. Additionally, it features footage and interviews from last September's Second Annual Utah Battle of the Improvs, which my troupe, the Improvables, competed in. My sister, Biz, also appears briefly, as do Ian and a handful of the people who perform in the Off the Wall troupe. I hope y'all enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Sunday at Mike and Jana's

Over the weekend, most of the Plowmans gathered up at Mike and Jana's home in Layton to watch a football game that is usually broadcast on TV at about this same time each year - one that rhymes with Cooper Goal.

Dave and Kira showed up to root for the Green Bay Packers, a bandwagon onto which most of us also jumped:

If you missed out on this year's broadcast, then you honestly didn't miss all that much. The music, which began with Christina Aguilera's overdone maiming of "The Star-Spangled Banner," did not get any better at halftime, during which the Black Eyed Peas seemed to be doing their best impersonation of screaming like medieval knights having boiling oil poured onto their heads. The commercials were not all that great, either.

Far more fascinating than the game, though, at least for me, was spending time with the kids, and that included witnessing the amazing gaming skills of my two-year-old nephew, Jackson, who absolutely schooled me in a few games of "Angry Birds" and who spent much of the afternoon occupied with his parents' iTouch, lying in this position:

Green Bay, incidentally, beat Pittsburgh 31-25, winning the NFL title.

Good times were had by all . . . except for Steelers fans.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Woodchuck-Chuckers Unite!

Though it came a few days after February 2, the Plowmans' annual Groundhog Day party was held over the weekend, and several friends showed up at Steve, Ben, and Ryan's bachelor pad in North Salt Lake to help us celebrate one of our favorite holidays of the year.

This particular shindig marked the return of the pastry-eating contest, which had been absent for a handful of years. It was won in grand style by Biz - also the only female contestant. Here, you can see those of us who participated chowing down:

Another favorite yearly contest is the throwing-playing-cards-into-the-hat competition, done expertly by Bill Murray in the Groundhog Day movie. Here, Adria gives it a go:

The central event of the evening, as it always is, was sitting down together to watch the aforementioned 1993 cult favorite film Groundhog Day - naturally. At Steve's house, we were a little more cramped for space (i.e., "cozier") than in years past, but still we got by just fine and once again enjoyed a comedy classic together.

Of course, you know that good times were had by all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Limited Offer!

Starting the moment this post goes online, the next five people who reply/post a comment to this Epistle post will be sent a crisp $20 bill, courtesy of yours truly.*

*Offer not valid after February 3.