Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Night at the Karaoke Cafe

Tonight, I visited my new favorite hangout, the Karaoke Cafe in Murray, for the second time, and I must admit that I enjoyed myself a great deal.

In the first place, my date and I had the place all to ourselves for the first hour or so that we were there, and, as a result, we had free reign over the microphones with our choice of songs.

Secondly, by the time other customers finally began to roll in, I found myself making some new friends. The Karaoke Cafe is great in that sense; there's no competition or showing off involved, as on, say, "American Idol," but everyone takes turns singing their favorite songs, and everybody cheers whoever's turn it currently is. It's great if you love people watching, and overall it's just a win-win situation.

Among the new friends we made were Otis and Eunice, who have been married for 27 years and who, apparently, visit the café once a week on a regular basis. (I hope that after I've been married for 27 years that I can still enjoy the same hobbies with my wife as I saw exemplified by these two good people.)

My favorite moment of the night occurred toward the latter part of the evening, when Otis took another turn singing and mentioned to the crowd of us gathered there that, just this morning, his sister had passed away after a long battle with cancer. He then dedicated his next song, the Beatles' "Let It Be," to her, and when he was finished, there weren't many dry eyes.

I suppose that's the power of music and why certain songs appeal to us; they say what we're feeling better than we can much of the time.

If any you out there reading this ever want someone to karaoke with, just hit me up, and we'll go - especially if you're treating. I will drop (almost) anything to join you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ten Chick Flicks That Don't Stink

After further consideration, I may have spoken somewhat out of turn in my previous post. That's the first time that's ever happened, right?

Anybody? (sound of crickets chirping)

For one thing, I didn't take into account a few fine adaptations of Jane Austen works. I also took a gander at the DVDs on my shelf, and I realized that I own more than one of what may certainly be termed a "chick flick."

So, I now present to you my top ten list of Chick Flicks That Don't Stink:

10. Sabrina I don't care what she did to her hair! Julia Ormond is great in the title role.

9. Enchanted An instant classic.

8. The Shop around the Corner This 1940 Jimmy Stewart film is the source material for You've Got Mail.

7. Pride & Prejudice I'll go with the 2005 version, which is worth watching not for Keira Knightley but for Rosamund Pike (Jane). If I had left this one off of the list, my credibility would have been forever lost with a few dozen females I know.

6. Anna and the King This surprisingly good Jodie Foster/Chow-Yun Fat version of the Anna Leonowens story is my favorite.

5. Charly
Admit it; you cried at the end. So did I.

4. Sense & Sensibility The Oscar-winning 1995 version gets my vote for best Jane Austen adaptation on this list.

3. The Young Victoria It's a still-relatively new favorite, but I will probably watch this one a few more times in years to come.

2. Shall We Dance? Forget the far-inferior Jennifer Lopez remake; the 1996 Japanese original is an infinitely better film.

1. The Princess Bride This choice is a no-brainer.

Honorable mention: Bright Star; Disney's Cinderella; Emma (the 2009 mini-series edges out the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow version); His Girl Friday; Return to Me; Steel Magnolias; Tangled; A Walk to Remember; You've Got Mail

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I H8 Chick Flix

Chick flicks, like French fries, are the devil.

Okay, well, not all chick flicks are evil, but I get indigestion just thinking about some of them.

Why? For one thing, they promote, ahem, rather unrealistic expectations about love for those who watch them. Take, for example, Serendipity, in which one of the main characters writes her name and contact info. inside a copy of Gabriel García Márquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Then, if she and her male love interest are "supposed" to be together, fate willing, he will someday find this book with this information, they will meet once again, and then they'll live happily ever after. Or at least until the end of the closing credits.

In real life, it just doesn't happen that way. (Does it?) Besides, I read more than one Gabriel García Márquez book in the original Spanish while in college, and his stuff tain't nothin' to write home about.

For another thing, many chick flicks tend to feature "actresses" such as Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, and Renee Zellweger, to name a few.

Speaking of whom, the latest offender in this category is the 1999 flick The Bachelor, which I finally watched the other day. The Bachelor stars Chris O'Donnell and the aforementioned Miss Zellweger, who seems pleasant enough but whose face, for one reason or another, looks like it has just been attacked and stung by a hive full of bees.

In this movie, Renee's character is deeply offended when her longtime boyfriend, played by O'Donnell, totally botches his marriage proposal due to nervousness and to not really knowing how to put his feelings for her into words. She reacts with contempt because it's not "romantic" enough or the way a proposal is "supposed" to be; you know, the kind of proposal that might be done "right" in say, a chick flick.

From there, the film just goes straight downhill.

At any rate, that's just one point-of-view. If The Bachelor happens to be a favorite film of yours - or, heaven forbid, the TV show of the same name, to mention another offender - and you can cite examples for me of why it doesn't stink to high heaven, then I'm all ears. Prove me wrong, children; prove me wrong.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Keep Moving Forward"

As I watched a new favorite, Disney's Meet the Robinsons, last night, something stood out to me that I I hadn't necessarily noticed before: the phrase "Keep Moving Forward."

In the film, "Keep Moving Forward" is the main character Cornelius's/Lewis's personal motto. In real life, however, it was first uttered by Walt Disney himself. He said: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

When he said this, Mr. Disney was talking about the creative process. I feel that the "keep moving forward" part can be applied to our personal lives, as well.

We are a people who believe in eternal progression, with the ultimate goal that if we are faithful and strive earnestly to attain it, someday, somewhere down the line - definitely not in this lifetime - we can become like our Creator. Nevertheless, even though that ultimate goal is still a long way off, one of the reasons we're here on Earth is to progress as much as we can and to overcome our challenges.

I bring this up because I know more than a few people who have suffered terrible things such as the death of a loved one; a prolonged illness, be it mental, physical, or spiritual; the end of a romantic relationship; money problems; and other challenges and, as a result, have just stopped living. I can understand having difficulty with these things when it's been a few weeks or months, but when those months turn into years, it can be a real hindrance to our progression. And I honestly believe that one of the tests in this life is how we will respond to those blows and then choosing to move on with our lives, in spite of our sorrow. The Atonement was provided for us, in part, to help us do so.

As a wise person once said, "He who is obsessed with the past will wake up one day and find that he has a thousand yesterdays and no tomorrow."

Lehi also taught that we are here "to act for (ourselves) and not to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:26).

To my friends and acquaintances who are struggling, I say, don't give up! Keep moving forward. If you take two steps forward and one step backward today, you're still moving forward.

Also, I have a big head but small hands.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fourteen Things I've Learned in 14 Years

A couple of weeks ago, just prior to the dissolving of the Millstream Ward, I attended my final Ward Prayer meeting. I had signed up to give the thought for the evening, not knowing when I did so that it was going to be one of my last meetings with that good group of people.

At any rate, in preparing my thought, I did a lot of reflecting upon the many ward activities I had attended over the years and the things I had both observed and learned personally from those experiences. These 14 items are what I came up with, and I'm reposting them here after a few people requested copies. (No, I wasn't in the Millstream Ward for 14 years, but I have been home from my mission for that long; so there ya go.)

1. Moses 7:18: "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." I share this scripture because it pretty well reflects what my experience has been like in this ward. Fortunately, it's an environment we can help to create any and/or everywhere we go.

2. Be of the ward as well as in the ward. In other words, go to as many activities as you can. Why? Because even what appears to be the dullest activity can turn into something great; because there is something to be gained and there are friendships to be made. It's never ceased to amaze when I've witnessed a guy and a girl who have known each other for some time, perhaps years, and then they hit it off at a particular activity, and the rest of their story, as they say, is history. There are some who, for whatever reason, come to church every week but exit the building as soon as "amen" is said on the closing prayer, and they are never to be seen at the other activities during the week. As a result, they get nowhere near the same benefit from the ward and from the relationships to be gained as those who do attend everything they can.

3. An
ything worth doing is worth doing well. This is a lesson that, fortunately, I learned early on. I cite the example of Bishop Lake, whom I first knew as Bro. Lake, a counselor in the bishopric, when I joined the ward. He was part of my first bishopric, and I remember the looks on his and Bro. Ohlson's faces when that bishopric was released and a new one called - how they could not hold back the tears and really feeling the love that they had for each of us. I have tried to serve others with the same spirit over the years through all of the callings and assignments I've been given. My experience in the ward came full circle, in fact, when last year, Bro. Lake was called to be Bishop Lake.

4. You never know who’s watching you, so be the best you can be. When I was still in college, I took an Institute class at the U., and it wasn't until the semester was half over that I learned one of my classmates was not a member of the Church. Fortunately, the other members of the class and I had been pretty good examples to her, and at the end of the semester, she ended up getting baptized.

5. Make your goal the temple, or bust. One of my U. of U. Institute teachers, Bro. Forsyth, once taught a lesson on this subject, and he spoke of the differences between having goals of "getting married by age 30" or of "being worthy to be married in the temple by age 30." Over the years, I've seen people get married out of spite toward someone who has wronged them, out of desperation, or for other reasons, and I've seen others who have given up on waiting for a temple marriage and have settled for much less than that. But I've also seen those who have made marriage in the temple their goal, no matter what, be rewarded with that blessing, even when they've had to wait for the right person until age 28, 29, or 30 - or beyond.

Be kind to everyone, no matter what. You don't know what demons they’re fighting. This point was reemphasized to me twice, following the suicide of two friends over the course of three years' time. That's two times too many. Everyone out there is having a hard time, in one way or another.

7. You can talk to the bishop about anything. I've never had a burden or problem, be it spiritual, mental, emotional, or social, that hasn't been relieved a good deal by going to talk to him. I have a testimony of the mantle that the bishop carries to lead us at this time. The same goes for his counselors and the others who have been called as advisors to the ward.

8. Everyone is nervous about dating and forming relationships; the ones who get over it are the ones who do something about it. If feel that you're too shy to talk to members of the opposite sex, then learn the art of conversation; practice with family members or close friends, and learn to listen. Or simply learn how to smile and say hello. It's all downhill from there.

9. If you don't want to go out with someone, it's okay to say no. Making up lame excuses and ignoring/avoiding that person wastes the time of both of you and is far more hurtful to that person. 'Nuff said.

10. You can't make friends with everyone. There will always be people who, for whatever reason, refuse to get along with you, no matter what you do. Even so, smile when you pass them in the hallway and say hi.

11. There are two types of regret: chances not taken and failure. Of the two, the former is far worse. Any basketball player knows that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

12. Try new things. If there's a hobby you've always wanted to learn, take a class. If there's someone you've known for years and are dying to ask her out, then do it. If there's a place you've always wanted to visit, then pick up the phone and call your travel agent.

13. Wear sunscreen.

14. The time goes by pretty fast; remember this: “Come what may, and love it.” –Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin I have enjoyed most every minute of it, and my only regret is that it couldn't last longer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Can't Spell Sprain without Pain!

When we last left off here on the Epistle, yours truly was going out in search of mid-singles wards. Or that was my intention, at any rate.

This past Sunday afternoon, Gary, John, Jon, and I (we John/Jons have to stick together, you know?) agreed to carpool out to Salt Lake to visit one of these wards. When we pulled up to Gary's house, he didn't come outside when we honked - as he usually does. So, I went to the door to retrieve him, and on our way back out to John's car, yours truly slipped and tumbled while leaving the curb, and I ended up spraining my right ankle.

I've sprained an ankle, my left one, only once before, and I suppose that in the years since then I'd forgotten how painful a sprained ankle can be. John then took me back home to rest, to elevate it, and to ice it, and over the past few days I've watched it balloon into strange shapes and turn purple and all of that good stuff. If anyone wishes to bring me cookies, brownies, or the like as I recuperate, you're more than welcome to do so (wink, wink).

So, I'm 0-for-1 at this point. Perhaps I'll have better luck next week.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Moving On

Well, the “skinny” on the changes to the Millstream Ward, as well as to the other singles wards in Davis County, was delivered to us at a meeting at the Conference Center Thursday night and again today at a reorganization meeting in the Viewmont High School assembly hall. Major changes included: (1) dissolving of all student wards; (2) the formation of new singles ward boundaries, as well as the formation of singles stakes; (3) and the aforementioned reinforcing of the rules, including the age and boundary factors. A Bountiful YSA stake was created, consisting of 12 YSA wards from North Salt Lake to Farmington.

The old
Millstream Ward was split two ways: the Central and South stakes became the new Bountiful YSA Ward, and the Heights stake portion of the ward was combined with the YSA of the Bountiful and North stakes to become the new (and improved?) Millstream YSA Ward. Bishop Lake was retained and assigned as bishop of the Bountiful YSA Ward, which will meet at a chapel across the street from the Bountiful cemetery; and the Millstream YSA Ward will meet at a chapel just off of Pages Lane and 400 East.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at Thursday night's meeting and also spoke to us about the reasons for these changes. It's regarding his comments that I now wish to focus. I gleaned three important concepts from his message (which aren't necessarily the words he spoke but the impressions I had):

1) Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, and singles wards have been designed to help assist us in achieving our part of the plan by providing us opportunities to make lasting friendships, to serve others, and - most importantly - to find someone to take to the temple to be sealed to.

2) We are a people who believe in eternal progression, and these changes allow us yet another opportunity to progress and to move ahead into the next stage of our lives.

3) Elder Ballard issued each of us an assignment to reach out to and to invite at least one of our peers back into the fold of activity in the Church, according to our age group and/or situations. As my group is no longer the singles ward bracket, I'm going to invite as many of those 31 and older as I can to take part in the Davis County-based mid-singles Institute group that I've recently joined. It's been a great way to stay active socially with those in relatively the same situation and a good way to meet many new people so far.

So, that's it, Mouseketeers; out with the old, and in with the new.