Sunday, December 27, 2009

for a quarter of a century

the first time i saw the royal tenenbaums, i was largely confused. the humor was so dry and subtle and offbeat that i wasn't sure what to even laugh at. when dudley walked out and looked at the gypsy taxi and profoundly declared, "that taxi cab has a dent in it," suddenly the humor clicked with me and i laughed hard. over time, it's become one of my favorite and funniest movies.

i forget what it was like for me when i first saw it, and when i introduce my friends to a wes anderson film, i need to remember that it takes some getting used to. once you understand the style and what's supposed to be funny, it can be pretty awesome. but it takes some getting used to to understand the world.

a few weeks ago, my brother and i were out driving around town. we were talking back and forth in our usual manner, tossing about comments and thoughts in keaton-esque deadpan tones. i looked over at tim and i saw the slightest bit of a smile break before he returned his comment, and that's when i understood our relationship a little better.

we appreciate wit. and often, for whatever reason, we admire the ability to volley comments and musings subtly. often it can be like watching a christopher guest film where it seems completely straight, but if you understand that there's humor and bemusement laced throughout it all, it can be a lot of fun. i'm not sure how the game got started, but that's a lot of how my brother and i get along.

there are times when we're more extrovert. when i came home for Christmas a few years ago and met him while working at barnes and noble, he strode over gave me a great big hug. when we were bowling for his birthday last year and our choices of boston and r.e.m. were loud on the jukebox, we were having a blast all around. and there are countless times where we laugh ourselves silly over a tv show or video game (even a few days ago on Christmas eve). and that's a lot of fun. but we both apprecaite the serious awesomeness of knowing you're both in on something without ever having to say it. that we can both toss around observations and opinions that are laced with irony and humor felt only to us and our closest friends.

it's this subsurface understanding that flows even under our frustrations and disagreements. because of it, actually, that we trust each other enough to get mad at one another at times. underneath it all, we're still friends, still brothers, still the same two kids who would bike down to the video store together in the summer time with the $2.12 stuff in our socks. we can disagree, argue, and annoy each other thanks to that safety net down below. and on those times that one of us has fallen, we've caught each other.

tim is the most enigmatic of us siblings, a trait which saddens me but which he protects. he loves being well-versed and well-read on all subjects he finds interesting. he eschews any sort of posed photography, prefering the charm of a spontaneous snapshot of the moment. he respects the stories and plot of a well-designed video game the same way i do with a good film. he does not care in the least for social facades and pleasantries, valuing instead openess and honesty. like a cat, the best way to persuade him is not by pulling and prying, but with a little nudge then letting him do what he wants. and in the world of hogwarts, he'd be in ravenclaw.

happy birthday, t. i love you more than either of us would ever admit.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a part of a goat

it's only Christmas eve and i've already received what i daresay will be my favorite present this season.

since our flight to minnesota was at 5:47 a.m. last thursday, tim and i spend the night at my sister's. that evening, we exchanged gifts, and becky and brady proudly handed me mine in a gift bag. a very light gift bag. i pulled out a handful of tissue paper and felt a small envlope inside.

opening the envelope, i felt like i was in a seinfeld episode: "a gift has been made in your honor!" the cardly proudly declared.
really...? i was kind of thinking more along the lines of a best buy gift card, or maybe some homemade certificate of me being a cool uncle. trying to appreciate the joke, i opening the card. if this was a joke, they went all the way with it. "to uncle jeff, from becky, brady and caleb", i had been given a share of a goat. a share of a goat.

my polite confusion elicited their explanation. becky had received a catalog in the mail from some charity called "heifer international" (yeah). she laughed at it and was about to toss it, then looked through it. the organization turned out to be legit (after some internet sleuthing) and works to provide impoverished third world families with animals for nutrution and additional income. a goat, for example, can provide several quarts of milk a day, and the excess milk can be used to make yogurt, butter or cheese. better still, goats can help fertilize a garden. : )

the more i thought about this, the more i loved it. becky and brady said they were first going to give it to me as a joke before a real present, then reconsidered on the likelihood that i would rather have a share of a goat than another dvd on my shelf. after a few moments, they were definitely right. initially, they wanted to go for part of a cow (i like cows) but cow shares were costlier; a share of a goat was a more viable option. over the next day, this whole notion of helping out with a goat kept getting more and more awesome.

"with all the money donated to help fight famine around the world, with all the grandiose plans concerived to cnquer poverty, sometimes all it takes to save a child is a goat."

sheep go to heaven. goats, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

it's the mormon tabernash!

today is tabernash. it's a mormon holiday.

as i understand it, tabernash started when my brother was in high school. a classmate had heard a rumor that mormon's don't celebrate Christmas and, curious but not wanting to show ignorance, asked one of my brother's friends. and, being that my brother ran in circles with too much creative energy, recieved the answer that no, mormons don't celebrate Christmas, but rather, "tabernash." as school was ending for the Christmas break, a student passed my brother and courteously wished him a "happy tabernash."

so it began and so it continues.

the date was randomly chosen to be december 23rd, coincidentally coinciding with joseph smith's birthday. celebration is pretty much whatever you want, though it's customary to sing "it's the mormon tabernash, tabernash tabernash" to the tune of "in the hall of the mountain king."

you can read tim's personal account of it here. it's a slightly clearer (and better) telling of the post above.

it's a takes a bit of searching, but please join the tabernash event on facebook.

happy tabernash!

as a bonus along those same lines....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

why i love 60hz

editor's note: this post is unnecessary and overly technical. however, our lead writer is a man possessed of impassioned opinions about certain subjects and, like a mississippi leghound, sometimes it's best to just let him finish.

jeff gustafson

editor-in-chief
sheep go to heaven


a few weeks ago, our layout team lead had invited us to his place to watch chungking express. we'd discovered that all of us on the layout team were fans of the movie and decided to invite other animation students come watch it with us.

shortly after the movie started, a few of the girls asked what was wrong with the picture, since it looked like a shaky camcorder home movie (granted, chungking express is a verite-style handheld movie, but that's not what they were seeing). my friend started explaining that it was because it was a on a blu-ray player and so the higher definition made it look that way and that a lot of directors disliked the blu-ray technology for that reason.

we were not watching a blu-ray movie and it had nothing to do with blu-ray.
it was because the tv was set a 120hz instead of 60hz and it drives me nuts everytime i see it.
and in the world of best buys and hd tvs, it is becoming a problem.

i am a visual guy. a few years ago, my sister's apartment borrowed my casablanca dvd from me. i stopped by the their place on night while they were watching it and had a mild coniption. their tv had the contrast turned all the way down, so that the grey scale from the darkest black to the brightest white was not very different. for my neurosis and for the beauty of rich black and white cinematography, i showed them how much better it would look with the contrast at a more normal level.
i'm not an audiophile. i had a roommate once explain to me the difference between a movie's dolby digital soundtrack and a dts track. a day later, i couldn't tell you which was which. i have surround sound speakers, but just set the somewhere behind the couch and left it at that.
but i see night and day difference between blu-rays and standard dvds.

since the introduction of sound, film has been run through a movie camera a 24 frames per second. because the film is held in front of the open shutter for 1/48th of a second, there is a slight blurring of objects moving fast enough. this motion blur isn't something we notice, but it's something our brain knows is there. more importantly, it's part of what we associate with movies. cinema.

video cameras shoot at a different frame rate (that's a mess of a topic alone) and, in the past, have projected the image 60 times a second. this produces a much crisper look as there is less motion blur. this is one reason why soap operas don't look as good as jurassic park.
in the past ten years, video cameras have advanced in quality enough that they started becoming viable options for shooting feature-length movies.
one of the biggest hurdles was getting that 24 frames per second look, that motion blur. this is a big, messy mess that actually started because someone didn't feel like making a change back in the days of radio and haunts editors to this day.

why? why so much headache and research into softening the image just a bit, to trying to capture motion blur? because movies have that. movies are shot on film. but they are also shot with big actors with great scripts and very talented cinematographers and production designers, all who work to make the whole production excellent. and that excellence has been coming to us for decades on film at 24 frames per second.

what doesn't have motion blur? what is crisp and smooth? daytime talk shows. sitcoms. telemundo. and even if you can't pinpoint it, you know there's a difference when you see it.

so, the soft motion blur of movies looks good. we like that.
and, following the great advent of the dvd, where movies were now offered in the same widescreen aspect ratios that they were shown in theaters, we are now offered wide screen tvs. blu-rays offer high definition resolution and the tvs come in 1080p to match. it's a cinephile's golden age.

the dark side is that, in the ever-escalating race to progress technology, companies have been so caught up in whether they could that they didn't stop to ask whether they should. tvs come with the option now to project their picture at either the standard 60hz or twice as fast at 120hz.

and this is what this all boils down to: a scan rate of 120hz show the image twice as often in the same amount of time. it removes the motion blur. every movement is incredibly crisp. it doesn't look like a movie anymore. up now moves like a video game. the dark knight looks as if it was shot on your neighbor's handycam.

there are even tvs that do 240hz. why? what is the point of it all? i've heard it argued for sports, and i can see that. naturally, sports are shot on video in the first place, and the crystal clarity of 120hz or even 240hz (wow) would be better for watching the cougars make a 40-yard pass.

nearly every tv in best buy, costco, wherever, is set to 120hz, advertizing the amazing clarity of hd and blu-ray. the quality of high difinition tvs and blu-ray players has nothing to do with setting the refresh rate at 120hz. they try to sell people on that, and it must be working. still, the girls sitting next to me at my friends house could soon tell that chungking express looked wrong, and i hope that they aren't the only ones.

post script: like my editor noted, this is superfluous. this has nothing to do with political reform, bringing water to africa, or proclaiming the restored gospel. please don't think that i consider it of any greater import than my pet peeve regarding the settings on television.

Monday, December 21, 2009

and i want to be a paperback writer

i've been meaning to jump on the literary fad wagon for a while. the easiest is the gothic teen romance and mummies are going to be the next big thing: beautiful but shy college freshman works as a nurse at the local hospital. she meets a quiet man who seems to be a burn victim but is actually a millennia-old mummy, possessing a kingdom's fortune but simultaneously carrying the burden of the attached curse. plus, you've got fuel to the fire as she gradually unwraps his bandages....

today at barnes and noble, i discovered an even better way to reap the literary gold: the "X and philosophy" books. no longer are founders socrates and aristotle sharing shelf space solely with with marx and sarte. pop culture from many walks (though generally those appealing to the twenty/thirty-market) is flooding the shelves.

granted, "the simpsons and philosophy" isn't exactly radical, though i hope it's better than my "simpsons and religion" book i got a few years ago that turned out to be little more than an index of religious mentionings in the show. "watchmen and philosophy" is also a no-brainer, and "buffy the vampire slayer and philosophy" is mash-up that i've been hearing about for a while.
but it doesn't stop there.

batman and philosophy
stanley kubrick and philosophy
south park and philosophy
pink floyd and philosophy
stephen colbert and philosophy

it went on and on.

tim noted that many of these are likely collections of research papers, cohesively compiled by an editor. sure, i could do that, but i'd rather write my own. a few ideas:

"tally hall and philosophy", with chapters including
  • the ruler of everything: balancing a wonderful wife and a powerful job without criticism
  • w.w.t.h.d.: carefree attitudes in white middle-class suburbia
  • the bidding: a woman's guide to choosing the best guy before they're gone
  • seconds tick like boulders: anger management during romantic separation
or "they might be giants and philosophy"
  • the blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch: needs for both a conscience and a night light in modern society
  • that's nobody's business but the turks: fostering intercultural understanding without historical prejudices
  • fingertips: breaking your life down into ten-second moments
  • triangle man fights universe man: religion and science battle for the attention of mankind
  • my dog and youth culture: canine cautions toward night life and white funk
actually, i could easilly fill a book with chapter titles from the philosophy of john and john. their work pretty much writes itself. but in case those demographics are too small (when tally hall hits it big, then random house will return my e-mails), i've got one more for the mass markets:

"chocolate chip cookies and philosophy"
  • chips: melt with your surroundings without losing your identity
  • raw eggs and flour: becoming delicious from unappealing beginnings
  • strength comes in pairs: finding your glass of milk
  • the joy of raw cookie dough: enjoying the journey before the destination
"all we are is dust in the wind, dude."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

best white elephant gift ever

a friday or two ago, i was invited to an ugly Christmas sweater party at my friend kristin's house (other kristin). this made me regret not pouncing on one of a handful of amazing Christmas sweaters i had been following on ebay early in november. for a while now, i've wanted a moderately bad Christmas sweater, preferably akin to the the knit one with reindeer that kevin costner wears during the montage of seasons in "field of dreams."

the day of the party, tim and i went to check d.i. for such a textile monstrosity. the provo d.i. is such a gamble, becuase in a town with 30,000 byu students, anything remotely amazing that shows up there will be gone almost immediately. in the 104 days we found our best disco skating clothes at savers (jack, i still have your sequined shirt, should you ever have an excuse to wear it agian). as such, this visit turned up little more than another guy and his wife also perusing the "knit sweater" rack with equal futility.

while i did not find any appropriate Christmas sweater, i did strike gold with for the other part of the party, the white elephant gift.
in the front of d.i. is where they keep most of their "valuables", anything particularly unique or interesting. it also costs more than most things in the store (i.e. above $6), but you can find some real treasures in there.
piled on a rack against the front window, still in its re-taped together box, from the 2000 world tour, was a set of five n*sync marionette dolls. strings and everything. it was incredible. and for $10. i swiped them up and proudly took them to the cashier who unsuccessfully tried to suppress confusion until we explained that they were a white elephant gift.

i was so proud of myself.

thankfully, at the party, the person who drew my gift had an equally fine sense of humor, as her friend shouted out "that's the best white elephant gift ever!" by the time i was leaving, they were using their cell phones to film their own music video on the kitchen table.

Monday, December 07, 2009

jeffrey and the long, crazy, cold, tiring, hard-working, hard-rocking, ploxiest and awesome day

editor's note: those of you familiar with our writer's long-winded style will not be surprised at the length of this post. years of writing for "sheep go to heaven" have not been entirely sufficient to teach him brevity. our staff regrets this and apologizes. if you are one who has far more better ways to spend your time, i would like to offer you the highlights of the following epic prose:
worked in fake snow, it was cold.
left after sun went down and concert started.
missed show, found friends.
took pictures with band, awesomeness all around.
hello good day.

jeff gustafson
editor-in-chief
sheep go to heaven

i used up all of my karmic fortune not getting any calls for work on the day of the they might be giants concert. thus, the sinister planets aligned and left me crestfallen the day when i was offered work on a honda commercial for friday, december 4th (see two posts previous if you the backstory).
i was crushed. we would be shooting outside, so i could still likely make the evening concert. but i would miss the elementary school concert. the one that i helped organize. the once in a lifetime one. blast.

after being crushed, there wasn't much else i could do about it, so i was glad to have work (and held a secret hope that the commercial would be rescheduled). i got a call from the production at 10:30 on thursday night while everyone was downstairs watching the pixar shorts. call time was at 6 a.m. at someplace called "wolf creek pass", which, according to google maps, meant i would need to be waking up in about five and a half hours. i loaded my gear into my car that night and, as an afterthought once the lights were out, grabbed by tally hall shirt and ticket, just in case.

work hard, play hard; that was my plan. the concert started (strangely early) at 6:30. by 4:30 the sun should be down in the mountains and we'd be wrapping. a 45 minute drive down to provo to pick up brooke and kristin+friend, 45 rocking in the car as we drove to salt lake, and we'd be there in time to see our five favorite guys in ties. cool.

wolf creek pass is not 45 minutes from provo. it makes kamas look conveniently located and took about an hour and a half to get to. around 5:52 a.m., i was certain i was going in the wrong direction, that i had missed a sign or a turnoff or something. i was driving down a lonely forested mountain road, with no sign or signal that i was even close to the location. for all i knew, i had missed a turn 20 minutes ago. i pulled over, checked my map again, which unfortunately looked like i was on the right path. less than a minute later on the road i came to the base camp. that's a story i'll probably use as an analogy in a sunday school lesson sometime.

we had a great camera crew, which, like any job, pretty much makes all the difference (mario's breakfast burritos are also packed with awesomeness). i loaded up plenty of film in the back of the production motor home then loaded all of my gear into a van and was shuttled to set half a mile away.

the title of the spot was "honda minnesota", and the first shot of the day had a guy helping his family and their cross-country ski gear into their suv then addressing the camera: "i love my [whatever car this was] because i live in minnesota!"

ok.

my guess is that utah is closer to california than minnesota and that we seem to have a stronger film community. they were lucky to have me there, because a few shots later we'd moved to another angle of the family cross-country skiing and i was able to counsel them that those mountains in the background were "not minnesota" and that they were pushing their luck with those hills in the midground. we ended up having to have the camera pretty much on the ground to get away with the shot.

with four layers of pants and five upper layers, i managed to keep warm. carrying cases through shin-deep snow helped, too, although the 9,500' air was counter-productive in all of that. the snow was actually "snow", created by shoving 5'x8'x1' blocks of ice through what looked like a mutant cotton gin. i later found out that the original plan was to shoot in soldier hollow, but there's no snow anywhere. that would have been more convenient for me.

we worked hard and it was a good day. soon, the sun began to set (not that it ever got very high in the sky). and that meant we started moving like crazy. two cameras getting different shots, pulling sleds of lens cases and really big lens cases through the snow, trying to get another take before the sun goes away completely; that's my day at work. soon it became a blur, me working to make sure that the camera had enough of the right kind of film ready and then unloading the rest of the magazines so that when they did call wrap, we could all get out of there as fast as we could.

the sun went down and the big lights came up. all of the insert shots in the car were saved for the end, when a 12,000 watt light could look light daylight. my gloveless hands were numb as i worked as fast possible, in and out of my little changing tent, hoping to stay one step ahead.

in the back of my mind, i wondered what would happen. if i could call kristin and brooke, i'd tell them to go up to salt lake and i'd meet them there. tragically, neither of them had the other's number or even knew each other. i had no idea what time it was, only that it was pretty much dark outside and that the 90 minute drive to provo would destroy our timetable. there was no phone reception anywhere near here for me to coordinate anything with anyone. if i missed the concert, well, i could live with that. but i hated thinking that my friends would miss it, too.
still, there was nothing i could do about this then, so i set it all in the back and focused on work.

they called wrapped. i worked as fast as my lifeless hands could, trying to warm myself beside the propane heater that was as close as i dared put it without harming the film. it felt like it must be 10:00. kindly, my car told me it was just after 7:00.
at around 7:30, i got phone reception as i was flooded with texts and voice mails. i was wasted from the day already and sorted through them, looking for any information about what had happened about the concert.
through a miracle of miracles, brooke and kristin had somehow gotten in touch with one another and had gone up to salt lake. i'm still not sure how that happened, but that was precisely what i had dreamed would happen and was a great relief! i came to find out that tally hall had not yet come on stage and that i should most certainly get myself there. i wanted to go home and collapse and be done with this day, but went at the admonition of the text.

i didn't know where i was or what was the best way to take, but around the time i was passing cars through parley's canyon, i got a call from kristin. i almost said "hello?", then realized what happens when one of us is at a concert: i held the phone to my ear and heard the entirety of "spring and a storm", my favorite tally hall song. it was bittersweet that i missing it, but a much-needed warm fuzzy that i still got to hear it. (i'm also grateful that i safely drove with one hand).

i parked in the same spot as i did when we first saw them there two years ago, changed into my blue tally hall shirt in the car and ran nonstop down the block to the venue. i got in just a minute after they'd finished their set, but found kristin, brooke, and allison and exchanged elated hugs all around. the stress of day, coupled with sitting in a car for 70 minutes then a desperate sprint left my legs shaking uncontrollably but i was just happy to be there. kristin said that she'd recorded all of their new songs on her camera for me. it's so nice to go to concerts with like-minded friends....

having missed the guys, i sauntered over to the merch table and looked around. there was a nice dark blue "tally hall" shirt that i dug, and i thought about it as i bought three "tally hall" stickers. kristin joined me and we looked through the band's guest book. i signed it then kristin produced an extra set of the wallet-sized pictures of us and them that were to be used later. being that we are the self-appointed tally hall fan (ed. note: "fanatic") presidents of the utah chapter, we borrowed some tape and attached our pictures to the insides of the front and back covers and somewhere in the middle, writing short memories alongside about each concert.
referring to the nice blue shirt, kristin asked if i would like an early Christmas present. let me just say it's pretty much my favorite tally hall shirt.

the main band at this show was a band called "rooney." i'd never heard of them, but after seeing enough bland bands open for tally hall, i knew that these guys were actually pretty good. i stood in the crowd with my girls and danced for a bit, but noticed that i was right in front of a couple of shorter girls and that they probably couldn't see very well. and as it was likely they were here to see these guys, i stepped out for a bit. plus, i needed a break from it all.
i was hanging back by the bar when i looked over and saw jared, whom i haven't seen in years. i walked over to him and he moved to let me by, then recognized me and gave me a big hug. it was nearly impossible to talk in there, but i asked him who he was here to see. he said that jason schwartzman had told him to come, since his brother was the lead singer in the band.
so there you go.
kristin came over and jared introduced himself, then we stepped out to get some water.

rooney ended the show and some of the tally hall guys were already appearing by the merchandise table in the back. we talked with andrew (green tie) for a while, then ross (slick grey) joined us. i had forgotten that kristin had gone to the elementary school concert that afternoon and had lunch with them (so so very lucky...), which explained why they all seemed to know her so well. we irritated the staff members by being in their way as they put away equipment from the concert and tried to ready the place to open as a club in twenty minutes. joe (red tie), rob (heterophonic yellow) and zubin (blue) looked to be pretty solidly trapped by a gaggle of girls as we tried to stall while the staff yelled for us to leave.

i took this time and had andrew and ross sign my shirt and managed to grab joe, too, who had managed to sneak away and was looking much more mellow than when we'd first met them two years ago. the big scary club workers shooed out the groupies and stared at us (also groupies) as we were finally getting to talk with rob and zubin about taking our traditional picture.
at the first concert, me, kristin, allison, and her friend steve took a picture with rob. it was awesome. next time, steve was gone, so rob wrote "steve-o" on his hand and zubin joined in. after that, allison was replaced with a sharpied palm and ross was in, too. we had to continue the tradition (perhaps the most important reason that i came), but it looked like we would be doing it outside (after accidentally walked into the bathroom).

in the orange light of the sodium-vapor streetlights, we arranged ourselves and took the picture. and then several more. i talked with rob about the concert that day and introduced everyone in our group. at the end of the kristin-and-the-guys (except for the mysteriously absent joe) picture, andrew hung up his phone and in polite seriousness said, "we have to go."

i sang through their cd on the way home as i reflected on the day. sitting at a freezing table with my hands in the middle of the changing tent in that dark and open snow field seemed days ago.
there's another lesson here, too. when the shoot had wrapped, it had been a long and full day. i was on very little sleep. it would have been so nice to go home and be done. but, with a little enthusiastic encouragement, i added another five hours on to my day. and that extra helping turned it from a banal day into a seriously great time.

and before the girls got back to my place, i snuck a tally hall magnet sticker on the back of kristin's van.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

how to be like darth vader

editor's note: the story of our writer's self-ascribed "craziest day of 2009" is scheduled to be posted tomorrow, monday, dec. 7. that is, if he gets his act together.

today was my last time teaching the doctrine and covenants this year and it was a great way to end.
the lesson in the manual is entitled "put upon you the whole armor of God" (or something like that). reading over it last sunday, i started thinking about darth vader. i wrote to my mom and asked her to send out my 12" darth vader doll that i got for Christmas many years ago. if i couldn't get it in time, i had a little 4' action figure on my desk, but this 12" one is very cool: essentially a ken doll with a sweet mask for a head, all of his armor is removable, a good visual for the contrast being in and out of the armor.
vader arrived friday. thanks, mom. : )

because of numerous mix-ups before class, i had less than 30 minutes to teach my lesson that had almost twice as many notes as usual. thankfully, when you write "how to be like darth vader" on a sunday school white board, it grabs people's attention pretty well.
pretty much everyone in class had seen "return of the jedi" (except for a small group of girls), and i talked about how cool darth vader is. when he's fully suited up, he's just about the toughest guy in the galaxy. from head to toe, he is armored completely. and for good reason, too: outside of his armor, he doesn't stand a chance; he will die pretty quickly. at the end of "jedi", when luke takes off his mask, he's a weak and crippled man.

so are we. it's a very rough world out there. we read from D&C 76:25-28 and Moses 4:4 about the fall of lucifer. darth vader is my favorite movie villain and a pretty mean guy, but satan is much, much meaner. and he's out there with his fiery darts to take us down (1Ne 15:24). he's got millions of them and he's watching us for any opening in our armor.

at this point, my friend in the back raised his hand and asked, "but doesn't his power come from the dark side of the force?"
yes, yes it does. we're going to ignore that part for the analogy. parables are such that you cannot get too detailed with them, but need to look at the facets of the story that are used to teach, and i fully intended to adopt that license here.

D&C 27:15-18 the whole armor of God. most video game boxes and fantasy art show male and female warriors wearing not very much. sometimes the guy is in mostly full armor, but usually the girl is wearing little more than a steel swimsuit. that may sell games, but i would never want to be dressed like that in battle.
so, too, do we need to wear the whole armor of God:
  • loins girt about with truth
  • breastplate of righteousness
  • feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  • shield of faith (in darth's case, it was the "cape of faith")
  • helmet of salvation
  • sword (lightsabre) of God's Spirit and His word through revelation
"you are unwise to lower your defenses!"
so says vader during his final battle with luke. and he's right. satan is watching us for any weakness, any moment that we take off a glove or a boot. darth vader has no part of him exposed.

in my centennial ward many years ago, our hometeaching supervisor asked us to ask our hometeachees five questions when we visited them, and i've done it ever since. i think these are an excellent checklist for us to see if we are wearing the armor:
  • are you reading your scriptures every day?
  • are you saying your prayers, morning and evening?
  • are you attending all three of your church meetings?
  • do you do your home/visiting teaching?
  • do you attend the temple as often as you should (being a personal question, we don't ask them to answer)
these won't directly solve all of the problems in our life, but they will help us stay strong, able to defend and avoid the fiery darts and fight the good fights in our life.
and i heard john bytheway reference elder maxwell in two ways that we can gauge where we are, to test the strength of our armor, and i think these are good questions:
  • what do you think about during the sacrament?
  • how do you keep the sabbath?
the rest of the lesson was about three ways that satan attacks us, hoping to find gaps in our armor: chastity, honesty, and language.
i won't recite everything here, and we had to skip over a lot of it (honesty was touched on for about one sentence), but we had great comments and a meaningful lesson.

the next time i teach, it'll be the old testament. : D

Sunday, November 29, 2009

through being cool

driving down eighth street on our way to the dairy queen in moorhead one fall night a few months ago, i was talking with my sister about facebook. about how it seems like a good thing, about how i sometimes feel left out, and about how i like not being on it.
really, it all stemmed from a comment she made a few years back about not being on it and not seeing the point, and i liked that outlook. i liked not riding yet another technological wave, but keeping a little piece of "walden", so to speak.

but facebook has moved from a funsy fad (like myspace was) to something you were presumed to have, akin to an e-mail address. essentially the seventh largest nation in the world, it is not just another website to text message your friends. networking in my business happens there. my high school reunion (the official, lame one) was organized there. i'm currently coordinating work for the sundance film festival there as i type this.

and that night on the street, talking with my sister, i realized that, yes, there was something cool about not being on facebook. but it had gotten to the point where i wasn't on it solely because i liked being different for not being on it, which was as impractical as jumping on it just to be part of the crowd. so, as becky and i ate our soft serve ice cream in the cool autumn air in one of the best parts of moorhead, i decided i'd get me a facebook page when i had some time back in utah.

what i didn't plan on was a) school getting extremely busy and b) my friends setting me up a facebook page, anyway. so, the hard work was already done for me. and now that i have 102 friends, i'm commandeering my name.

as some astute friends have noted, yes, that is me writing on there now.

my one question is, what's so great about it? i'm not really sure what i'm supposed to do....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

welcome to skinner hall

those of you who know cheryl know that she doesn't do anything halfway, and her job as a teacher is not excluded in that. her classroom is decorated in a theme that permeates the lessons for the coming year and is so thorough that the design stays for a few years. a couple of summers ago, she asked me for suggestions on a new theme. i suggested "pirates", since her adoration of captain jack sparrow was already evident throughout the room. "or tally hall," i said as a throwaway comment.
she picked that one up and ran with it.

the room colors became yellow, red, grey, green, and blue (corresponding to the guys' ties, for those of you not in the know). banana tokens were given for good behavior. the tables were arranged into colored "tie" groups. the room's entrance greeted you with "i'd like to say 'hello' and welcome you, good day." the by the games, a sign read, "we like to play it all." leaving, you saw, "miss skinner would like to say, 'there's no one better than you." and so it went, throughout the room. there was even a small "shrine" to the band itself in the back corner of the room.
it was perhaps more eccentric than most classrooms in the school, but it was fun. and that year's fifth graders became tally hall fans.

i don't go to their website or myspace page very much, except to find concert information when someone tips me off, but i once noticed an unusual announcement: tally hall would play at your school if your principal was cool with the idea. this seemed a little strange to me until i realized that they probably meant high schools, since that would be a good chunk of their fan base.
yet it didn't explicitly say high schools, or "only high schools" or "no elementary schools."
so i pitched to cheryl the idea of having tally hall come to her elementary school. she loved it and pitched it to her principal who also loved it, thereby winning him the "coolest principal of the year award." we decided we should take pictures of her classroom and send those along with our idea to the guys.
then we didn't do anything for months. occasionally cheryl would remind me and i'd shrug it off. finally, she got me in and we took pictures of everything. and they sat in my iphoto library for some more months.

about a month ago, i decided that it would take roughly seven minutes at most to send an email to rob, joe, ross, andrew and zubin and see what they thought of playing a concert to an elementary.
to my surprise, they wrote back very quickly and very excitedly. and by "they" i mean whatever management company they were with. tally hall was scheduled to be in salt lake on dec. 4 (yea!!) and they could come by that afternoon. regardless of who answered the "events@tallyhall.com" emails, they dug the idea and soon asked me to fill out a form with information about my venue.
seating capacity? cheryl said the gym held about 900 kids.
private or public event? it's at an public school for the kids only. ....?
advertising? um, tell the teachers to come at 1:00 over the p.a.?
ticket pricing? yeah, about that....

i put them in touch with the principal and waited. they were willing to come for the lowest end of their rate, which was still more than a public elementary school had to spend on an afternoon activity. the principal took the matter before the p.t.a. (coolest principal ever, second year in a row) and raised some money, but still far short of what was needed.

cheryl told me this, and unless we could come up with some more money, this was pretty much it. i wondered if we could have each student in the school bring $2, or maybe i could just go door to door; if i was just asking a dollar, people would be willing to give, right? a few weeks of that and we'd be there.

mostly, it looked like the idea was dead. but it was pretty cool that we'd gotten this far.

a week or so ago, the (world's coolest) principal emailed them, saying that they hadn't been able to raise the funds, but that if the band was coming by again next year, to let him know, and maybe the school would have gathered some more by then (so cool).
the planning people wrote back, saying that the boys loved the idea so much that they were willing to do it for what the school had.

that's right: tally hall is playing a concert for the elementary school kids.
(and then another one for us big kids in salt lake that night)
seriously dang.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

be like the squirrel


when problems overwhelm us and sadness smothers us, where do we find the will and the courage to continue?
well the answer may come in the caring voice of a friend, a chance encounter with a book, or from a personal faith.


for janet, help came from her faith, but it also came from a squirrel.
shortly after her divorce, janet lost her father, then she lost her job.
she had mounting money problems.
but janet not only survived, she worked her way out despondency, and now, she says, life is good again.

how could this happen? she told me that, late one autumn day, when she was at her lowest, she watched a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter. one at a time, he'd take them to the nest. and she thought, "if that squirrel can take care of himself for the harsh winter coming on, so can i. one i broke my problems in small pieces, i was able to carry them, just like those acorns, one at a time."

take all your problems and rip 'em apart...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the bidding

i was part of a tri-ward date auction last night. using canned foods as currency that would be given to a food bank, each ward offered up five guys and five girls to the highest bidder. in what i took be a compliment, i was one of the eligible bachelors from the 89th. along with our stellar selves, we had to supply the date activity so that the winning bidder wouldn't get stuck with some aimless evening. i went with dinner (either thai, chinese, or japanese, to make things a little more interesting) and country swing dancing, something that gives us a chance to talk but doesn't rely entirely on conversation.
i was excited and nervous, 2:1.

overall, it went well, along with a few "kinks", as my friend daniel noted at church this morning.

i arrived with my bag of cans from my recent trip to macey's, and saw that i had more than most people seemed to have brought. according to the exchange rate based on the size of the cans, i had 33 and a good chance of winning a date. there was a "menu" printed up of all the people up for bid and their activities. tragically, several of the guys' dates were more interesting than most of the girls'. our cute relief society president was offering a horseback riding date. i decided to save my cans for her.

the auctioneer was an extrovert from our ward who did an excellent job, keeping things fun and lively, avoiding any potential awkwardness that can arise from humans being sold for canned goods. the bidding followed numerically from the list and i was #21 out of 27, which i wasn't sure was an advantage or not. most people seemed to be waiting for "big ticket items", namely the guys with the byu football tickets and the jazz tickets. bidding generally started at 10 cans, and if you broke 20, you could consider yourself a success.

i fought for the horseback riding, so much that our executive secretary was going around to affluent others and procuring additional funding for me. she ended up being the most popular of the girls, and i was competing with daniel, whose roommate gave him all of his cans and surpassed me around the 40s. then, some guy in the back yelled out "100 cans!", and we found out who owned those boxes stacked by the wall. i wished i could have ran to macey's for a moment....

taken too seriously, the flaw in the event is that it's all superficial. pretty girls and cool guys with exciting activities went for a lot. those with less flair went for less. no master's hand here. the biggest fiasco of the night was over the byu football tickets, with two girls bidding over 100 cans. the catch was that one girl, who passionately wanted to go because she'd never been before, didn't really have that many cans, too busy with winning the bidding to care. people kept passing cans to her table, but no one really knew how much she had. eventually, the bidding had to be called and the matter was settled between the two of them. i was up on stage, seated on the waiting couch next to daniel but it sounded it like got a little intense down there.
in the end, i think the girl who legitimately had the cans won it.

watching this from the auction line on the stage, daniel and i were talking about how much we might go for. i would be happy to break 20, i said. he noted how much he was spending on his date, a homemade five-course gourmet meal and seemed pretty excited for the whole thing. by this point, the auction had been going on for a while and people were a little worn from the football incident. he was called in to the hot seat and bidding opened.
he got one bid.

i about died inside for him, and we exchanged looks as he went off stage. before me were a few girls, and i bid for the girl who was taking us shooting. again, daniel and i were competing, and he bested me. still, i held nothing against him. after his disappointment, he deserved it all the way. i bid on a few other girls, but was beat every time, often by a guy who must have filled his car with cans, as he won about five dates.

what am i worth? in the muppets Christmas carol, scrooge sings that, if you want to know the measure of a man, you simply count his friends. my brother then noted that i was worth 15 people. i'm cool with that. but, up on stage, in front of everyone, i sold for 18 cans, which i deemed respectable and worthwhile. and, strangely, was only one can less than the guy with the jazz tickets.

our horseback riding relief society president texted me afterward, saying she had to leave but asking how much i went for. she said she would have made sure i went for at least 20.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

someone else but me

i wasn't feeling so hot late last night and couldn't sleep. and while i'm not one to fall asleep to a movie, watching wall-e was the only thing that sounded good.


and it was. the first 30 minutes were all i needed.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

power to save

we all know that the saving power of the scriptures is infinite in matters of our soul and salvation. but what is their saving power in regards to seating?

last night was our evening session of stake conference. elder m. russell ballard of the twelve was coming, so mark and i arrive about 40 minutes early, hoping to get a good seat and not a folding chair. we walked into the chapel and were happy to see a plethora of open seating.
or so it seemed. walking up to the rows, it became evident that all of these empty pews were reserved. not through official signage, but through customary mormon means: jackets, church binders, scriptures. i'm all about saving a seat or two or three for your friends if you get there early, but to see most of a chapel blocked out only through evidences that you were once there, that's on the lower end of mormon culture for me. we could have pushed some things aside and sat down and, likely, no one would have stopped us. still, society runs not just on rule of law, but acceptance of customs as well.

disheartened but not defeated, we walked to the front and looked around. there had to be some part of a row that could share with us. about a third the way back we noticed a row of reservations that terminated in a scripture case about three to four feet from the end of the seat.

what is the range of a set of scriptures?, we wondered. a one foot radius? two? do they reach all the way to the end, or did they have space for an outsider on the end? if they could fit one of us, they could fit two, right?
we decided to risk it. for two guys being the only people in the row we were sitting rather close together, and i was just barely touching the scriptures (so i scooted them down a touch, hoping that they didn't belong to someone practicing in the choir, watching me this whole time).

it seemed that most of these row items belonged to bishopric members and their families. i suspect the people whose row we had joined were slightly miffed with us, as we were all sitting a little closer together than we normally would, but they courteously handed me a hymnbook, so they were trying.

who knows, maybe they didn't mind at all?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

this one's for you, joel

when they might be giants came to salt lake two years ago, joel hilton somehow got ahold of some v.i.p. passes while we were all waiting in line. he and his group were invited in, leaving the rest of us standing in the queue, still hoping to get in. i texted him a "cold prickly" text in jealousy. an hour later, as nathan and i were standing delightfully close to the stage, waiting for the show to start, joel appeared beside me holding a large foam "#1" hand, the sort usually seen at sporting events and not alt. rock shows. not only did it say "they might be giants" on it, but it was signed by all of them. he handed it to me, smiled, and walked off. my heart melted.

last night, the johns were in town again and joel couldn't go. in asking if there was anything i could do to repay his gracious favor from last time, he asked me to 1) have double the fun and 2) write a very detailed blog post.

i certainly fulfilled the first request. this is my attempt at the second.

if you aren't a huge tmbg fan who wants a play-by-play recounting, then let me just say, it was the best. thing. ever. i could not have asked for a better concert from them.
and you're done with the post.

the full version:

two years ago, the venue had a very long line outside before the show, and, as i was determined to get as close to the stage as possible again, i wanted to get there an hour before the doors opened. I-15 traffic was horrendous, and we up at the depot after people had gone in. excitedly, we ran up the stairs and i made it to the very front, essentially one person away from the stage, standing with similar people who are evidence that "fan" is short for "fanatic". apparently the masses aren't so eager when the radio station isn't giving away all of the tickets. talking with the fellow tmbg die-hards, i learned that tonight was a "flood show", meaning that they would be performing the entire album of flood in honor of them recording it 20 years ago on this date.

in case you've decided to read this far but aren't a devoted tmbg fan, let me explain what flood is. most people who have heard of they might be giants know up to three songs: "istanbul", "birdhouse in your soul", and "particle man." all three of those come from flood. it's the album that people usually suggest when a friend asks where to start with them. it was not only the first tmbg cd i owned, i think it was very well the first cd i owned. to see them perform the whole cd would be like seeing pink floyd do all of dark side of the moon.
in short, it's seriously dang.

the opening band was a pair of irish folk guys called guggenheim grotto. they were very nice and played very good music. my brother bought a shirt from them after the show, while brooke picked up both of their cds. supporting cool struggling bands on tours is cool. what else is cool is that they came out early and were finished before 9:00. anyone at the last show will remember that we waited forever for everything to start. as such, i was expecting the main event to begin sometime around 10. while the roadies were setting up the stage, we did our best to dance along to the music being played, ranging from "the ballroom blitz" to some 70s funk song about a bucket with a hole in it.

before too long, the blessed moment arrived. they might be giants took the stage, opening with"meet the elements", one of the strongest songs (and videos) from their new here comes science album. it was awesome, i danced. and that was pretty much the way things would go for the next hour and a half. after the song, flansburgh announced that this was, indeed, a very special episode of they might be giants, one in which they would be performing the entire album of flood in sequence*. they fully meant it, too, starting with "the theme from flood." so, three songs into the show and we were already getting "birdhouse in your soul." they shot off the confetti cannons during "lucky ball and chain", and opened "istanbul" with an awesome clarinet solo from their horn player in the back. you've got to love a rock band that has a platform on the back of the stage with three different kind of saxophones. after the song, mark leaned to me and said that, after that, he was good to go. i told him that "particle man" was coming up in three songs.

police lights started flashing as a siren went off, announcing "escape from flood!" instead: sock puppets. the "they might be giants avatars" sang "what is a shooting star" then "shoehorn with teeth", during which the percussionist stood completely focused by the mic, successfully dinging the bell three times during the song. we cheered for him. and we also got a song about the eleventh president of the united states (from an early flood single), with the horn guy playing a giant split reed, changing the pitch by varying how much he pressed together. so cool.

they came back to flood with "we want a rock", leaving me wondering if my memory of the track order was off. *it turned out they decided to move around a chunk of the cd, since most of the rocking songs seem to come in the front of the cd. laurie jayne, i tried to call you during the song, but it ended before i got to your voice mail. but the thought was there.
we got to hear so many songs that are probably rarely played in concert: "minimum wage", "hearing aid", "letterbox" (which was so cool), everything.

"new york city", "cowtown" (which i went nuts for)(and for which kristin showed up just in time). they told a story of playing an early show and having to come up with new songs, taking the words from a science textbook and coupling them with an irish folk tune. it was the first time i had ever heard "why does the sun shine" in it's original style performed live. they then noted that 60 years of science has confirmed that most of the song is true except for it's actual premise, and began singing "why does the sun really shine."

"your racist friend", "particle man", and "twisting" came, along with the rest of flood. i'd never thought of "twisting" as being a particularly rocking song, but doing the twist with mary joy was one of my favorite parts of the show. after the melancholy "road movie to berlin", flansburgh said "thank you" and they left the stage.

the first song of the encore was the first (and only) song i didn't know. they did the band introductions (at the end of the show), had us sing along with "drink!" and the oh-so-wonderful "mesopotamians." the second encore included "the famous polka," one of their most obscure songs and leaving me wishing there had been enough room to actually polka . they ended the eclectic show appropriately with "fingertips." yes, all of "fingertips", delighting the fans and leaving the rest of the crowd to wonder what the heck was going on.

and they gave out bumper stickers afterward.

i could easily name another show's worth of songs i would have also liked to hear, yet i wouldn't have changed a thing about last night.
wish you were there.

i'm still walking on sunshine, that same elated feeling that comes the day after an awesome date.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

i am the otter

in junior high, my friends were all about "totem" animals: what animal embodies your characteristics. jon was a weasel, jaime was a something, and they christened me an otter.
"because you like to play and have fun," they said.
hey, that sounded good to me, and it seemed to hold through high school and beyond (my fascination with cows was a separate matter).

cut to last week. while i haven't taken the time to calculate it, saying that we spent 40 hours in the lab seems to little. i'll speculate somewhere in the range of 50+? it was enough devotion that i did not attend my uvu class at all that week, that i was there until past midnight most nights (sometimes much past), missed two of the movies i most wanted to see all semester at the international cinema (as well as missing "the nightmare before Christmas" in 3-D for the first time in four years), and did not do a thing for halloween.

but i did make it to one i.c. movie with a group of friends, hosted movie night, came home one evening in time to let everyone in and watch "the office", spent a few hours with the harry potter book club, took time to visit with my sister and her family, squeezed an hour to go costume shopping with my brother, and stumbled home after midnight one night and stayed up to watch "transformers 2" with some friends (and riff trax).

and today i realized it: john lennon may be the walrus, but i am still the otter.

Monday, November 02, 2009

new life

we worked really, really hard last week. sacrificed a lot. and, miraculously, got all of act two laid out with animatic motion (animation was one of many things i learned through force over the past few days). we had the strongest presentation today, and the important people liked it.

it feels good to have accomplished that.
and it feels really good to turn things down from "11" and to breathe. to begin work on that three-foot pile of clothes on my couch. to go shopping for food. to remember that i have a uvu class, too. to watch a criterion movie.

and that's not all that feels good.

there is some odd cosmic link between the names i give my computer drives and the fates that are thrust upon them. behold:
on my original mac G4 hard drive, the icon was that of hal 9000, the malevolent computer from 2001. we watched the movie for movie night and within a week, that drive went bad, taking everything with it.
my new drive was christened wall-e, in an attempt to entreat the gods for better prosperity. further, i learned my lesson and backed things up. my back-up drive is called plant, that which brought rebirth to the world in "wall-e".
as you know, wall-e died earlier this week, but i still have the plant. i was sad that my wall-e was gone (it wasn't totally complete back-up, plus that was a perfectly good 500gb hard drive), but i was coming to acceptance that me and the plant were going to have to carry on.

at the simply mac store in orem is an employee who looks like rob "yellow tie" cantor from tally hall. so much so that i tend to gravitate toward him, and if he were paying any more attention, he might get a little weirded out. i took wall-e in to see if there was any lingering chance.
in a combination of hope beyond hope and a poorly designed external hard drive case, my surrogate rob (and surrogate e.v.e.) brought wall-e back to life.

in celebration, please enjoy this cartoon. feel free to sing along at the end, substituting "the cheat" with "the hard drive".

and if that weren't good enough, they might be giants are coming to salt lake on friday.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

there are places i remember...

i've pretty much lived in the animation lab this week, and have listened to a quilinod of music, and have decided that both the white album and abbey road have edged out sgt. pepper as my favorite beatles album.

i'm frustrated with this animation project. i'm sad that my "wall-e" hard drive is dead, and sadder still that i accidentally killed it, like a little boy who didn't know to "be gentle." and i was going to add the meager state of my fridge and cupboards, but when i hosted ward prayer tonight, everyone was so impressed with the awesomeness of my place that knot in my tail has kind of evaporated.

in the midst of these aforementioned knots, i took some time during church today to think about happy things:
  • the blue fleece blanket, folded and stacked by my couch, that my mom got me for Christmas when i was in high school. she thought i could take it with me on the cold morning buses to knowledge bowl meets. until that time, blankets and thing like that were things that your family owned, not you personally, and i've always felt like that pushed me a little further into adulthood.
  • reading the harry potter series again. not only is it a blast to go through it with my friends, but i remember when i was first reading the series, my sister borrowing the books for herself then loaning them out to her friends, us talking about them so intently that people thought we were talking about real people. we were sophomores at byu and Christmastime was intertwined with the magic of hogwarts.
  • the ps2, and how tim and i would laugh and laugh as we'd play tekken together when i'd go back to minnesota for Christmas.
  • the small wallet-size framed picture of the salt lake temple that i have on my desk, and the remembrance that i have some pretty stellar friends through thick and thin.
on monday night, the last night that my wall-e drive was seen alive, i decided to take the opportunity to back it all up to my second drive, prophetically named "plant."

Friday, October 23, 2009

don't eat at joe's

mark prefaced this by saying, "we can never, ever, ever go to joe's again."
i was speechless as he told me.

food like that really was too good to be true.

at least in-n-out burger is almost here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

balance

two (or three or four) animation projects at two universities, a group of excellent friends, a ward and stake calling, working lay the foundation for future goals and dreams, continuing to be awesome, and a great schedule of movies at the international cinema, to name a few.

(i don't believe it! just yesterday, this video was up on youtube, and today it's gone--it's 20 years old, so how they chose today to remove it is beyond me. the only version i could find has dude's added score, which is unfortunate, because it's stronger with the silence.)

nevertheless, it's things like this that make me love the "short" categories at the oscars. we saw this in my history of film class, and i've loved it since. it's a few minutes long, but worth seeing (and it may not be up here much longer...)

Monday, October 19, 2009

mark your calendars

yes, it's getting to be that time already!

the annual muppets and egg nog party will be monday, december 14.

who knows what will turn up in the couches this year.

start practicing your sing-along songs.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

two-face

i went to montana this weekend to work on a subaru commercial for a japanese ad campaign. i'm inherently somewhat fond of long car trips, even by myself, and my love for radio programs like this american life (and their blessed podcast) have only heightened that appreciation for time in the car. while i have not read my horoscope lately, but i suspect that the planets are alligning against me, because this trip would be an excellent opportunity to whittle down the growing pile of said podcasts. tragically, since my mac is dead, those hours of programming are sealed away on my nomadic hard drive. such is a telestial world.

up through salt lake, i listened to the morning show on the radio, then switched to a cd of general conference. from then on (a little north of ogden), i went to they might be giants. with my trusty ipod, i had 192 they might be giants songs, and, over the next six and a half hours, got through 154 of them. no repeats, no skips, singing my heart out, knowing the words to all but a handful. the trip was pure bliss, and i'm all the more excited to see the stellar johns in a few weeks.

coming home, i went through another conference cd, half an audio book, and tried r.e.m., but they have too many slow songs, and after about 12, went back to tmbg, who again took me all the way. i passed a semi that, on the back left of its trailer said "el passo" and on the right said "el smasho."

something else happened while i was in montana.

a few weeks ago, some certain friends decided that, if i was not going to sign myself up for facebook, they would. over the past few days, my inbox has been flooded with facebook friend requests. at last count, i'm up to 40 friends without ever having logged on myself.
so, if you want to have the privelege of being my facebook friend, hey, cool by me, but it's strictly ornamental. that's not me responding to comments. i didn't even choose my profile picture (although i approve of what's been chosen). i've looked at my page only once and very briefly. if you want to be my friend, you'll get added. but i prefer real-life friends.

as one astute facebook friend noted, the responses use capitalization.... : )

Sunday, October 11, 2009

warm fuzzies at general conference

i remember the first time i got to be in the conference center for general conference. it was my first fall in utah, and it was as exciting as going backstage at a rock concert (well, same same but different). in the years since, i've had the privilege to be in there many more times, and it's still just as awesome. this year, i got to attend the saturday morning, priesthood, and sunday morning sessions. a lot of driving to salt lake, but the cost of a tank of gas is certainly worth it all.

the saturday morning session was, once again, my favorite. elder scott's talk on learning to hear the Holy Ghost was a message that, for me, reverberated through the weekend. it seemed that i heard, again and again, the importance of taking time to listen for those delicate promptings and to follow them.

as i've worked on my sunday school lesson this week, elder bednar's talk on the importance of consistancy in our efforts has come to my mind agian and again. the principle that being diligent in doing those things we ought to is more enduring that the seemingly meager immediate results.

brother osguthorpe's talk on teaching was like a fountain; i couldn't write fast enough.

looking through my notes, there was so much good said last weekend. i'm not going to post a review of my notes this time, but will let you to go back through your own. it's so wonderful to have this sort of council available to us. and that we can hear them speak in so many different ways (this was my first time watching a session over the internet) is fantastic.
and i'm looking forward to the conference cds.

saturday morning concluded with us finding an excellent asian restaurant, as is tradition. priesthood was followed by ice cream, as was tradition in our ward at home (and seems to be pretty ubiquitous through mormon culture). and sunday morning was followed by a text that made me smork and dinner at my sister's. feasting of all sorts all weekend long.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

eat at joe's

a brief update: i'm taking an animation class at uvu and working on the student animation project at byu. it's a litte odd, since i don't feel fully at home at either place, and it's also odd to get back into the "student" mentality again. but it feels good to have a direction.

my blessed mac died (again) last week. this time it was the power supply, and my precious (and backed-up) hard drive is safe. i went to the mac store to get a lovely new mac mini and they said that they were out of stock, and that apple has withhelp shipping new ones, a very strong sign of a harder, better, faster, stronger (lower-priced) model coming soon. in the interim, i'm living off of my futurustic cell phone and my decade-old laptop.

bu the important news is this: last monday evening, mark and i went out to applebee's. i prefer cool local joints over franchises, but in suburbia there's not much of that. however, a tiny green plant has sprouted forth in a overly-congested world.
on state street in orem, between the arby's sign shaped like a cowboy hat and the yamato japanese restraurnt, is a small little plaza of shops. the sign post out front says "plaza 1100" and one of those store's in joe's cafe.

mark has been raving non-stop about it, and i finally went with him for breakfast on wednesday morning. i walked inside and joe, a black man from "h-town" (that's houston) with the self-ascribed "gift of gab" asked me what i wanted. when i halted for half a moment, he said "i'll tell you what you want, you want the biscuits and gravy!", then proceeded to show me the freshly made pot of gravy and the fresh biscuits. i had no choice.
and they were the best biscuits and gravy i've ever had. yesterday i got the "joe's omlet", and it was possibly the best omlet i've ever had. and i'm sure that if he made tacos, they'd be the best tacos i've ever had. when tim tried his burger, all he said was "wow" repeatedly for the next minute and a half.

he's been featured on x96's morning show, mark's been directly responsible for at least 14 meals there (he's brought people, although i'm sure he'll pretty soon have had 14 meals himself there), and joe takes a picture with you and puts it up on the wall.

in short, it's the best place to eat in town.
monday-saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.