Friday, July 31, 2009

right here, right now

at church last week, a speaker mentioned how we spend so much time texting. we all know i'm a texter, being grateful for the "unlimited texts" option on my monthly plan. the speaker noted how often we are consumed in texting a friend in another place that we ignore those friends we're with at the moment.

i thought about that. i've made light efforts to curb my rabid texting around others, but something about that chimed with me, and i decided to be much more conscious about giving my time and attention to those i'm with. plus, it's just polite.

Monday, July 27, 2009

makbule the puma

some friends and i went to lagoon on saturday. it was a perfect day for it, and we had a blast (the same can also be said for the oquirrh mountain temple open house i went to early that morning). leaving our never-to-be-used water park clothing at the oversized locker, we walked into the park and i decided i was going to win myself a jumbo prize at one of the games. i saw a two and a half foot pikachu that looked like a good prize, but soon found a better one.

down by the new wicked rollercoaster was game offering either a tiger or a jet black puma, each about five feet in length. i vowed to the group and to myself that i would that puma. after mark and i met a very nice turkish girl named "makbule" working the old mill lunch counter, i decided that makbule would be an excellent name for a five-foot jet black stuffed puma living on my couch.

as i didn't want to have to carry makbule around the park all day, i waited until near the end to play the game. the premise was simple and possible: toss a quarter onto a 15" glass plate situated atop a glass jar. the glass on glass makes it extremely elastic, easily bouncing a quarter off it. but when each try cost only a quarter, it seemed wiser than throwing a softball into a giant milk jug at a $1 a toss. mark gave me some advice on how to aim and throw: go at a high angle, so that the coin essentially drops directly on to the plate.

i attacked it with all the focus and determination of, well, a puma stalking its prize. i wasn't mindlessly wasting money, but had set aside a certain amount with which i was going to win makbule. i became friends with the lady working the counter, who affirmed that my strategy was the right one, and was soon saying she wanted me to win it as much as i did (probably not quite, but i don't doubt her intentions).

my friends were around me, watching and cheering, groaning with me on the few tosses that were so close. eventually, most of them left to go ride wicked one last time, expecting, as i was, for all of us to meet up afterwards, with me stuffing a giant plush animal into my honda.

the money i had set aside was spent. the lady behind the counter charitably handed me a few of my tossed quarters that had fallen short and landed on the floor. rocio gave me a dollar.

i didn't win makbule.

i was really disappointed. i was so sure i was going to win the puma. i imagined how cool it would be, to drive home with him shoved in my back seat, of people being able to curl up with him at movie night.
this was not the blog post i envisioned writing.

so i don't have a big ol' puma named makbule on my couch. as reality was starting to creep in during my tosses, as i started to wonder if maybe i didn't get a quarter on the plate, if maybe the lady would just give me one anyway, for trying so hard. i really didn't want that. just as much as i wanted the stuffed animal, i wanted the story that came with it. i wanted the achievement that won the prize.

i set my goal, i was determined to win, i gave it my all, and it still didn't work out.
but i'll try again next time. it will be mine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

reasons why "up" is awesome

flabbergasted editor's note: this morning i checked the recent headlines on the blog-o-tubes and was shocked. a writer for sparkplug in the sea had posted an article that left me looking at the title like a winded rhinoceros: 11 lessons learned from "UP". what was so incredulous about the situation was that we had a very similar article slated for publication today on sheep go to heaven. the improbability of the situation was so perplexing that i immediately contacted the doppelganger blog's editor, if for no other reason than to share the uncanny moment.
i have decided to continue with today's publication schedule as planned, as our writer has not yet read the other post; maybe it's about the glories of the spacial direction.
last night i was speculating that my life and actions may be, in fact, governed by the phases of the new moon. this is adding evidence to the theory...

last week, mark and i went to see up again. you have do that with pixar films; they're too rich to appreciate fully the first time over. i didn't realize the profundity of nemo, ratatouille, or wall-e until the second, third, or seventh viewings. so, when i saw up on opening day and wasn't completely astounded, i was ok with that and knew i'd be back again.
pete docter and co. do not disappoint.


it's awesome before it even begins. partly cloudy is, perhaps, the best pixar short to date, second only to the sublime geri's game. in five minutes, you're touched, laughing, heart-breaking, then holding back tears of happiness. already worth your ticket price.

the opening montage of carl and ellie's life is lyrical storytelling at its best. in preparation for the first act of wall-e, the team said they watched every buster keaton movie on dvd (another reason why i love the film?) to learn how to tell stories without words. that cinematic skill has carried over into up, helping us empathize with why carl is a grumpy old man and to love him just the same. their entire married life in five minutes, and you know the whole story. darn near perfect.

sub-reason: look at all the other trailers for animated movies: cool, funny-looking, exciting hero characters. who stars in up? a curmudgeonly old man with a cane (and not a "cool" cane, but one of those with four legs) and an overweight asian kid (yet neither adjective is ever discussed, noted, or alluded to). i love those pixar guys....

instead of being shipped off to a retirement community some time after the passing of his dear wife, carl decides to live out his dreams.
on my desk is a 4x6 note card with the sharpied words, "it's not too late". no matter how old you are, no matter what's happened, it's not too late to follow your dreams, wishes, and hopes. even if it takes a lot of helium balloons.
at the core, that's why this movie is great.
if you never try, you'll never know...

talking about his father, russell laments that his dad isn't around much, not making time for him. maybe his dad buys him a new four-wheeler for Christmas to make up for it, who knows? but walking through south america, talking to carl, russell remembers how he and his dad would go out for ice cream after scouts.
"i know that sounds boring," he says, "but i guess it's the 'boring' stuff that i remember most."
best lesson in any movie this year.

another sub-reason: a standard movie would have resolved this sub-plot with russell's father appearing at the end, sealing the movie with sugar. bless pixar for being bold and wise.


finally, carl gets what he came for, to live in peace and quiet in his house next to the place he and ellie dreamed of. it's peaceful. it's quiet. it's boring. it's lonely.
he's sitting around doing nothing while the people whom he does care about are out doing (and chasing) things, and he decides to go after them. the balloons are losing buoyancy and his house is too heavy. so he starts throwing things out. everything. this was, perhaps, the most profound statement i noticed on the first time.
the story established how much these things mean to carl. they are his life, his remembrances of his time with his wife. but they're just things, and they're holding him back now. he is able to hold on to the memories without holding on to the actual things. he lets them go (without a second thought) and his life takes off again.

dang, i need to go see it again. anyone up for up?

(p.s. today is a tally hall day)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

one small step for ghost armadillos... giant leap for me!

this is the final shot of our movie, my first shot i've lit.

after this, the (forthcoming at some point) "teapot" post may seem rather underwhelming, but i'm pretty excited about this and wanted to show it off.

it was only thursday that i wandered into the weekly dailies meeting and said that i'd like to help with the lighting, and now i'm, well, i'm bonified.
and digging it.
seriously digging it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

if you believe....

it was only a few weeks ago that i realized i was born just ten years after the moon landing. i guess anything before your lifetime may as well have been forever ago.

today is the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, and i'm happy to see that google had a commemoration graphic. i did my best to celebrate by wearing my r.e.m. shirt ("man on the moon": it was the closest thing i had), listening to the orb's adventures beyond the ultraworld (highly recommended), and watching the recently re-released for all mankind.

i've heard the movie frustrates some who are very familiar with the history of the space program because it combines all the apollo missions into one story (i'm curious what my dad will think). rather than being a historical look the progress of the program, it is lyrical look at the accomplishment and the wonder surrounding it all. it's marvelous.

a few days ago, i was skimming through mtv's schedule, looking to see if michael jackson's funeral would be rebroadcast. seeing the titles of the shows on mtv made me ashamed to be a human being. watching the poetry of the space program, of the work and dedication and devotion, the majesty of being on the moon, it made be proud of humanity.
like walt whitman's "the learn'd astronomer", looking up into the sky surpasses the mind and touches the heart.

when i heard the learn’d astronomer;
when the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
when i was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
when i, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
how soon, unaccountable, i became tired and sick;
till rising and gliding out, i wander’d off by myself,
in the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

i just realized, i should have worn my tmbg "apollo 18" shirt.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

my dinner with dane

excluding my very first semester at byu, i was like a very high percentage of byu guys, rooming with a mission buddy. dane and i decorated our room with Christmas lights, went to a fireside where elder uchtdorf of the second quorum of the seventy told us that he was a harry potterfan, and we bore our testimonies to each other at a lamp post on 9th east coming home from school one night. dane was a computer science major who later switched to modern dance, attempted to live the life of a homeless person in salt lake during the olympics, and moved out of our apartment to hike across russia and asia, stopping in mongolia to spend some time with the nomadic yak herders.

since his eastern hemisphere trek, i haven't seen dane much. the last i saw him was in the ice cream aisle at macey's, where he and his new wife were soon moving to oregon, where he was going to open a dance studio. occasionally i've gotten e-mails from him, like the trivia contest asking which u.s. state has declared war on a foreign nation (it was maine).

last week he e-mailed me, saying he was in town to present a paper at a dance symposium at byu, in defense of how the dance department justifies the mission goals of the university, i believe.

we met up at the creamery on ninth. it was the most convenient place at the moment, but it was also where we would often go as exuberant freshmen. just walking back in there amidst long lines of parents and swarms of children in the ice cream line made it seem as if our past was only last year.

we laughed as we happily discovered were we still both dabbling with m:tg (if you don't know, i'm not telling), and briefly summed each other up on our hopes and dreams.

"do you still have anyone to have philosophical discussions with?" he asked.

i thought about it, and realized that i don't. from jon in high school, through dane, the chris, and even the dingus, i would have long discussions into the night, letting our minds sprawl as we talked. i remembered how, with dane and chris, my room-roommates, we would lie awake in our bunk beds, talking until one of us would fall asleep. i miss that dearly.

while i wasn't too concerned about it, i conscious of my car being in the creamery's "30 minute parking" and suggested we go to my place. he was very impressed, declaring it to have "good mojo", and we sat down with glasses of wheat tea (it's a japan-thing).

we talked of how we've changed since we knew each other, learning to apply gospel principles and understanding in a gray scale world. how we've tightened in some ways, relaxed in other matters of understanding. and he shared a thought-provoking story about learning what the prompting of the Spirit isn't.

the time came, and i dropped him off at campus. our visit was barely two hours, but as i drove home, i looked at the ever-changing byu campus (surrounded by cumbersome construction projects our freshman year, he noted that he was glad to be a school that could continually update itself). it was strange to remember so much that i had forgotten; some things were casual memories. others i wanted to hold onto, to see what i could do with them again.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

wait for it...

in the ensign this month is an article titled, "a scripture that changed my life", a brief anthology that pretty much describes itself. reading through some of them, i wondered what i would have shared. and, until the editors solicit a sequel, i'd like to share my eponymous scripture.

habakkuk 2:3

habakkuk is one of those lovely little books in the rarely-visited back of the old testament. we don't know much about him: there are no stories of him calling fire down upon people, getting eaten by a leviathon, or talking with a donkey. he's only got three chapters; there's not much to draw from. his name never really caught on the way that daniel or jeremiah did. in short, it's pretty easy to overlook habakkuk.

one night i was flipping through scriptures, cross-referencing something (quite possibly by bruce r. mcconkie) and i ended up in habakkuk. glancing around to find my verse, i happened to read verse three in chapter two:

for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

i don't know the specific context of the chapter, but i know what it has meant to me over the years. we are on the Lord's time table. answers, ideas, pathways and people often don't come when we want them. there are moments and days when it feels like things may not work out. but the Lord is watching over us and sees what is ahead, what is waiting for us.

though it tarry, it will surely come.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


a chevron "supreme" car wash does not get egg off of your car hood.
but some gas station paper towels, windshield cleaner, and some effort does a pretty good job.


Monday, July 06, 2009

where's my two dollars?

i'm a fan of redbox, particularly for using the free rental codes they text me to try out movies on my clearplay.
the past two times that i've rented, though, i've mistakenly hit the wrong button and not realized that i skipped the part to enter the rental code and ended up paying for the movie i went to get for free.

it's only a dollar. well, it's been two dollars, now.
but it's the loss of the joy of getting a free rental.
at least the movies have been good. (well, i'm trying to get the filter for gran torino to load as i type this....)

Friday, July 03, 2009

kimmy and the goblet of fire

i always liked kimmy (her name has not been changed, because she's so darn cool about the following story). she was hip and cute, dressed cool and had a great sense of humor, liked good music and was fun to be with. we made a bet at the ward sledding activity and she ended up introducing me to wait until dark (i forget what the bet was or which of us won). she went with me to the radiohead concert. and i invited her to be my date to see harry potter and the goblet of fire.

as has become tradition, we had tickets to the midnight showing at the scera theater; the combination of big-a screen and overly enthusiastic fans makes it the best place to see the premieres. kimmy and i and our group all went out to eat at ihop that evening before the show started, which was the style at the time. i probably got the colorado omelet. i don't remember what kimmy got, but there's a good chance she does.

we were at the scera a few hours early, with enough time to get a decent spot in the fanatic line. kimmy noted that she wasn't feeling very good, so she and i took it easy seated by a wall. by the time we got into the theater, the best available seats were the rows near the back (we said hi to jaime and her boy, who were at the very back). being this close to the exit proved to be advantageous. during the previews, kimmy wasn't feeling any better, and as it got worse, we sent jack (or becky?) running to the concession stand for an empty popcorn bucket.
sadly, it came a little too late, as i looked over at my date and she was doubled over, holding her open purse to her mouth.

i walked with her to the ladies restroom and waited outside the door, unsure of what i could do in a situation like this. when she emerged, she seemed to be feeling better. i asked about her purse.
"jeff, i threw that purse away...." she said faintly.

we went back in and watched a bit of the movie, but she had already called her roommate to pick her up, as she was still weak. i felt bad about staying while her roommate came to get her, but she told me to stay, and i obliged, knowing she'd feel worse if i also missed the movie (even voluntarily) because of her.
the movie was good.

when i went to a party at her apartment a few months later, as soon as i walked in, she shouted across the room, "hey jeff- remember that time i got sick and threw up in my purse at harry potter??"
just one of the reasons why kimmy is awesome.

i bought my tickets for harry potter 6 this morning; the 12:01 a.m. showing at the scera. maybe we'll go to ihop.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


i rented 2001: a space odyssey shortly after i saw the "100 years, 100 movies" special in the summer of 1998, determined to educate myself in the field of film. 2001 was nothing like i expected, leaving with the same "okay.....?" that most people experience. it has since climbed to the top of my lists, one of the best movies ever. period.

i had heard so much about amelie that, by the time i saw it, it couldn't possibly live up to it's accolades. i remember watching it, thinking, "i should be loving this, but i can't force myself to." over time, it has become one of my favorites, continuing to reaffirm it's amazingness.

i rented the royal tenenbaums because i had heard it was off-beat humor that i might appreciate. our apartment sat watching it, confused at what was supposed to be funny about it (though i laughed hard at dudley's observation, "that car has a dent in it.") despite having only seen the movie once, the quotes were repeated again and again in our apartment, becoming funnier and funnier until i had to own the movie. it's now one of my most beloved.

i went into fanny and alexander curious to see what i had heard so much about, but thinking that it couldn't be better than the seventh seal. i walked out of the theater three hours later, so astounded that i was literally speechless, only able to say "i don't know what i just saw, but it was amazing!" i knew it was in my top 5. now it's my #1.

i wasn't sure what to expect with wall-e, a movie about a robot of some sorts. after the first time i saw it, i thought i was pretty neat. i liked the love story between two robots, but the "green" message was a little heavy, especially in the second half. yet i kept seeing it again and again, and, well, now i have the conceptual art book, desktop wallpaper, plush toy, and bed sheets.

"and if we don't try too hard...."