Sunday, August 31, 2008

in other news...

i suppose i should mention that my sister had a baby a few weeks ago.  on august 13, 2008, 1:59 p.m., my little sister becky, with whom i've ridden elephants and tapped danced on temple square, became a mom to a little boy named caleb.  he's got the greatest mom and bestest dad i can imagine, and not only does he look less like a lizard every time i see him, i think he's wonderful.

as an honorable mention, jack and natalie also how have a son, appropriately named "jackson."  i've only met him once; he's great.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

let's hear it for the boyz

i was asked a few weeks ago if i wanted to go see "boyz II men" perform at the scera shell in orem and declined; though a mission companion in japan was a big fan of theirs and helped me appreciate their talent, i was never really a fan and didn't feel like handing over $15 for an evening. i hadn't even really heard from them since high school; evidently they were still around, but had moved from playing sold out arenas to outdoor parks in suburban utah.
but when i was offered a free ticket this afternoon, i figured what the heck.

the evening started off with what was almost a minor "tally hall" moment. as an opening act, we were treated to the finalists of another variant of "utah idol star search" or whatever it was called this time. a couple of moderately talented late teenage guys were followed by a girl who looked no more than 14 and gave a strong performance of a country song with great attitude. and i forget the others that came after, until a little girl who looked like she was twelve walked out to sing "i will always love you." at her first note, we were all amazed. she was actually 11, but sang like she was 25. she was incredible, holding everyone in the grassy arena in awe from start to finish, politely leaving to a standing ovation. in fact, i felt bad for the 30-looking guy who came last; after an 11-year old girl like that, only david archuletta could have topped it for that crowd.
as the judges tallied their votes, i started gathering a posse to help me riot if little kalli jackson didn't win. not only did i not need to riot, but it turned out her family was sitting a few people down from us. when she returned to her mom as winner of the competition, i congratulated her and asked for a personalize autograph. and a high five.

among the six of us, we could only name about three of their songs anyway; we figured they'd start with "motownphilly" and end with "end of the road," the staple slow song of any dance in the nineties. the little girl was so good that, like the guster concert nigh unto a year ago, i would have preferred to hear more from the opening instead of boyz II men.

at least, that was my presupposition. the main event began with a video montage reminding us that these guys used to be big, until the venues got small.
but the beats of "motownphilly" sounded forth, and boyz II men burst on the stage with all the funk, fire, and power of the most successful male r&b group of all time.

the whole place went crazy, and those three on stage (yeah, there's only three now) were in complete control. in fact, i hardly danced--i was in mild shock. appearing in sleek, classy suits, they were as good as i ever would have imagined them at their worldwide peak; their harmonies were as smooth, solid, and intermingled as ever, they danced with equal joy and skill. the crowd loved it.
yet what was cooler still was how much they seemed to enjoy it. this was not a "we-haven't-had-a-#1-in-a-while-and-need-to-tour" tour. or maybe it was, which is what made this so great, because they did not seem to expect this much love and appreciation. they burst onto the stage and gave their all, and, immediately, utah valley gave their all right back: a symbiotic love that circulated all night.

it turned out we knew more songs that we remembered, and they also sang some good ol' motown songs, complete with wonderful choreography. amidst all the trends of hip hop, the boys have scrupulously maintained their clean-cut gentleman personas, which is very cool (and certainly helps with their long-lasting appeal around here). except for "motownphilly", all of their songs are slow and soulful ballads, which is great for dances and the like, but i was wishing i had been less "startled" and more "dancing" at the thumping start of the concert. they closed with "end of the road", to which everyone sang along and swayed.
evidently, the crowd's enthusiasm left them also realizing that you can't end a concert like that. (who knows-- in reality, they probably had the encore planned out. still, i like to think they were inspired; it's the romantic in me) they came back out and declared that you can't end on a low note like that; that you need to end on a high note. as such, we were treated to the opening song once again, with even more fervor, no doubt due to their delight at orem's perpetual love of boyz II men. whatever it was, the thousands in the park danced with pure joy. never in my entire life did i think i would have that much fun dancing to "motownphilly."

for what it's worth: boyz II men's "end of the road" spent 13 weeks at number one on the charts, beating elvis's 1956 "hound dog/ don't be cruel." their record was later beat that year by whitney houston's "i will always love you."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

wishing this was more creative

on wednesday, i was beginning to wonder if this was a dumb idea: i was going down to texas for allison's wedding and reception.  
perhaps not "dumb", but maybe "overzealous".  

i have two personal faults that gnaw at me, and one is my general non-participation in wedding receptions.  (the other fault is that i borrow things from people and keep them for far too long; i don't forget i have them, i just don't return them.  phil, if you're reading this, i have your seasons of "24" for you).  my fridge has been decorated numerous times with invitations from friends whom i like and love, yet the day comes and the day goes, and i don't go.  so, if i've missed so many, both far (the scort) and near (countless), why was i flying to texas?  (texas, of all states!)

i first met allison when she moved into the ward a year and a half ago.  she was a tiny little 17-year old who was one of four people in our "gospel essentials" class, and i kind of took it upon myself to watch out for her in this new ward.  we went on a date to the premiere of "turnaround," which was a heck of a lot of fun, albeit a little odd when i realized that she remembered the 90s like i remember the 80s, and that she never saw "fellowship of the ring" in theaters because she was too young.  being her hometeacher and good friend was a much better fit.  she was also one of the original tally hall fans.  
i took her engagement pictures and also her bridals (jaime, thank you for your help, both during and afterward).  as she was getting ready to go home for the summer, i mentioned that i would probably have some money saved and some time off, and maybe i could come down for her wedding.  characteristically, she got very excited at the whole idea, and a few months later, i had an announcement with a second invitation to the temple ceremony itself.

so, what the heck.  am i crazy?  perhaps a little.
mostly,  i wondered, would i be in the way?  would i be awkwardly out of place?  it was possible, but i had the ticket, and they were expecting me, so wednesday was not the time to ponder this.

my flight was delayed out of salt lake, which i a) minded, because i only had a ninety-minute layover in denver, and an hour and forty-five minute delay causes problems, and b) didn't mind, because i had borrowed tim's gameboy and was overjoyed to rediscover "dragon warrior 3."
still, i've flown on enough planes to know that nothing is for naught, and soon a helpful lady had me on another flight.   ...that was also delayed.  i further considered taking the "bump" plea concerning our full flight and getting a free ticket, but the family in texas had enough stress without me messing up their schedule.
so far, i remembered why i loved "dragon warrior 3" and why i didn't fly united much anymore.

in texas, everything was great.  i had always connoted a barren land of dusty oil derricks and cattle skulls, which i'm sure are just beyond the city limits.  in town, it looks more like the midwest than the southwest, with open grassy plains, and a wide variety of big and spacious church.  a lot of them.
pulling into the parking lot, everyone came out to greet us, with allison squealing and jumping onto me.  the house was like being at the weasley's "burrow," with all sorts of people going every which way, yet everyone getting along and having their place.  all the beds and cots were full, so much that her brother had been sleeping on an office floor for a while, and any more guests would require us to build bunk beds in the broom closet.
i'd met allison's mom before, and her grandparents (seeing as she lived with them in provo), thus reducing the mild xenophobia that came and went.  in a whirlwind, i was introduced to all sorts of other relatives and friends, during which was suffixed as "the hometeacher."  this introduction would continue through the following day's wedding itself and into the reception, and would always bring a look of dawning comprehension from to whomever i was being introduced.  apparently, the talk of "allison's hometeacher" coming to texas circulated amongst friends and family thoroughly.  sometimes i would explain that i wasn't "just" her hometeacher, that we were also very good friends, and that i don't do this for all my hometeachees.  and, other times, i'd let it go, content with them thinking i was some seriously stellar guy.

the dallas temple looks similar to the chicago and las vegas temples, with a slanted look and the six spires being placed close to the temple and not directly on it.  the ceremony went wonderfully and smoothly, as did the picture-taking afterward.  allison bought me a red bow-tie, to match everyone else.  and, despite forgetting my cuff links, i looked sharp.  the lunch (or is it a "luncheon"?) at olive garden allowed me to make some more friends there, and by the evening's reception, i felt like i fit in down there.

despite my above confession about having missed a great many wedding receptions, i've also been to a lot over the years, and have learned a few things.  if you are at a reception for the duration of the event (for a family member, lifelong best friend, hometeachee in another state, etc.), it's best to get yourself a job.  me, i made myself useful in the kitchen.  (the "oh, the hometeacher!" exclamations continued in abundance here) 

 as evidence of allison's lifelong knack for planning elaborate events, the reception looked more like a senior prom of black, white, and red.  another trait of hers is to be exaggerated and grandiose without being over the top; i've been to a few wedding receptions that seem more like mtv parties than a way to remember the sacredness of being married in the temple.  there was a dj and a dance, but it was classy music and a big band jazz dance.  and i do regret not taking the opportunity to ask a nice girl or two for dance, as i do like to dance.
however, i did get to dance with the bride herself.  a nice slow dance was what i was expecting, but rather than setting aside a song for me, she said "well join in!" in the middle of some song i don't remember, and before i knew it, there was a circle of people around us as she and i danced like a couple of wild pioneers.

until just over a year ago, i had never caught a garter. since then, i have caught the pinata-garter at jack and natalie's reception (love the idea), as well as the one that brady threw at me. in texas i fought off a decent crowd (including mildly yanking it from her brother's hands amidst the frenzy of it all) to win allison's, which i wore proudly on my arm like an old timey saloon owner (it looked pretty cool on my black and grey shirt, if i may say).

despite having enough leftover croissants to supply most of texas in event of a food shortage, we caught our breath from the day and had the house looking presentable again.  allison's mom noted that nothing really went wrong that day, though she related a near-disasterous scheduling conflict at the temple earlier in the week.  as the last of us were going to bed, i genuinely felt like one of the gang down there.  which was nice, because in order to make it to aaron's wedding the next morning, my flight left at 6 a.m.  there aren't a lot of people i'd feel comfortable asking to for a ride to the airport at 4 a.m. the morning after their oldest daughter's wedding, but i had two in texas, now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

my new favorite music video

when it feels real good
like a feeling should
when it's understood
gotta *unh unh* pass it on!
--the fraggles

my mom just e-mailed this one on to me.  
happy day to you all.
(make sure the sound is on)

i think the plural of moose should be "moosen."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

remember that one time?

i pruned this from the jamhall, as i thought it was a rather fun idea. it's also a quick way to get a post up, seeing as none of the topics on my "to write" list are feeling particularly generative this sabbath afternoon.

1.  as a blog comment, post one memory that you and i have together.  be there multitudes to choose from, or only one at all, please share it.

2.  do the same on your blog.  i'll write.  

3. good times had by all.