Monday, June 30, 2008

Little Blue Spruce

Classic question: If a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does it make a sound? My variation: If a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does anyone care? After all…the entire freaking forest is filled with trees.

I have always had a degree of respect for people that live for a cause. Even a ridiculous cause. I can’t sympathize or empathize with a vegan, because I just don’t see how my choice to not eat meat helps save the lives of chickens and cows. Not that I haven’t tried. Last week I passed by the meat section at Harmon’s and decided not to buy the t-bone. Believe it or not, the dead hunk of meat did NOT jump out of its cellophane coffin to shake my hand and praise my humanity for saving a life. That cow is dead. If I don’t buy the t-bone, the lady behind me will. My choice to consume eggs is not killing or hurting chickens. Choosing a canvas belt over leather does not save bovine lives. I refuse to believe that my singular choice can have any effect on a multi TRILLION-dollar agricultural and farming industry.

I’ve heard the story of the couple walking down the beach watching the girl throwing beached starfish back into the ocean. They ask “what are you doing little girl?” “I’m saving the starfish.” “But you’re just one little girl, your actions here cannot possibly matter to all these starfish?” “Well, it matters to this one,” as she tosses it back into the ocean. Great story. Great sentiment. But what if the starfish were already dead and hardened? Would it matter? Look, if the pork chops at Wal-Mart were crying and beating on their packaging to get out, you’d bet your butt I would yank off that plastic and let the pork chops go. But the pork chops’ fate has been decided. Throwing them back into the wild is just going to attract flies and vultures.

I do understand that living a vegan lifestyle for the purpose of not contributing to animal cruelty can give a certain level of personal satisfaction to some people. In which case I applaud and respect you for your decision. But I won’t subscribe to the actual effectiveness of your actions to the problem as a whole.

I bring this up now because I feel a similar level of despair as a voter in Utah. Right now I’m torn. I am as moderate as you can get…I lean to the left on most issues, but far to the right on others. But I am that singular tree in a vast forest of other trees. My falling will not matter. It will not affect the future or direction of the forest. This is a forest of republican redwoods. Network television suggests a volatile time of political theory crafting. But does it matter? If I chose to break out of my typically conservative shell and vote Obama, would it really make a difference? This is a red state. Period. It always will be. I don’t necessarily attribute that to a church/state issue. I believe church and state are separate here, but I also believe that the moral fiber of our Utah society, influenced by the LDS teachings, influences our voting decisions. Which means republican. End of discussion.

I have some facebook friends that are hardcore Obama people. I applaud you for your zeal and your dedication to a cause. I even envy your tenacity. But your vote is a tiny blue spruce falling silently in a forest of mighty redwoods. It will not be heard, and nobody cares.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Sherri has expressed interest in photography. And I am interested in a hobby for Sherri. So we pulled the trigger and purchased a fantastic little digital SLR camera for her to learn with. Naturally, as with all things technology, I have hijacked the camera and have begun taking photos. Below are some of the better shots I've taken so far. Keep in mind we've only had the camera for a week or so. I realize it may be hard to believe, *cough*, but I've had no professional training... *cough*

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cas Haley

I recently reviewed the debut album of Cas Haley post-America's Got Talent. He was a shocker. Much like Clay Aiken when he first auditioned for Idol, Cas Haley had a voice and a vibe that just did not fit his body. I think he's an amazing talent, but I am quite disappointed in his album. I am posting my Amazon review below:


Cas Haley had me glued to the television set during America's Got Talent. He was magnificent. His debut song on the show, "Walking on the Moon", was absolutely brilliant. While Terry Fator was a great ventriloquist and performer, I felt that Cas deserved the win more. He came across as a sensitive, grateful musician and a loving husband and father. He was always humble and gracious and talented.

I never, however, understood why the judges were so insistent on Cas singing reggae. I felt that he really showcased his vocal ability when he went outside the genre and pushed the envelope. His performance of Sam Cooke's "Bring it on Home" was sensational, and his Stevie cover of "Sir Duke" was incredible. Yet both times the judges recommended he stick to his vibe and go back to reggae. I believe that pressure maintained after the show and followed him into the studio.

The covers we are familiar with are solid. The acoustic "Walking on the Moon" is far better than the version with full instrumentals. "Easy" is also fantastic. But beyond that the songs are far too one-dimensional! The subject matter is all the same...LOVE. And lyrically I found the album to be almost entirely insipid. Cas, my man, you've got far too much ability to pigeonhole yourself into this style of music. I love the reggae sound, but you do NOT need to fill an entire album with it. Branch out. Cover some Allmans, some Stevie, some good solid funk. I will forever support you and buy your material because you are just..that..good. But do your listeners a favor and brush off the Hollywood suits. Do your own thing.


Here is his version of The Police's Walking on the Moon (right click and select "open in a new window") that he sang for his first America's Got Talent audition.

I am an admitted prolific downloader and cyber-pirate, but I encourage everyone to support guys like this by buying their work. We need more musicians like Cas Haley in the world.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rotisserie Chickens and The Lost Ark

The MTC is a wondrous place.

In the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dr. Jones' quest is to recover the ark of the covenant. A treasure chest of sorts that carried the original ten commandments that was carried by the Hebrews. In the film the ark is discovered and retrieved by Nazi Germany and a French archaeologist named Beloch who plan to used the power of the ark to lay waste to enemies of the SS. In one particular scene, Beloch dresses up in ceremonial Hebrew gear and performs some kind of ritual to open the ark. Initially Beloch is bewildered at the contents of the ark. Sand. Nothing but sand. But slowly he sees something stirring in the sand...a mysterious blue light. It begins to swirl and grow and eventually dozens of small angelic looking apparitions exit the ark and start to float and flit among the nazis. "It's beeeauuutifulllll", says Beloch. One particular vision approaches Beloch, gently considering his face, then instantly turns into a terrible specter of terror and death. At which point Beloch's head catches fire and explodes just as the nazi leaders' faces melt off of their skulls. The destruction lasts about 10 seconds, afterwhich the angels return to the ark along with the melted carcases of the evil nazis.

The MTC is not unlike Spielberg's vision of the ark of the covenant. If you have prepared your spirit, body, and attitude, you will look upon the MTC and see nothing but beautiful angelic spirits. If you are not prepared? Your face will melt. There were several elders and sisters around me with their heads on fire, but I personally saw nothing but angels. I had a riot in the MTC.

Sheldon recently had a funny experience happen involving a young lass and a rotisserie chicken. Sheldon, if you read this, I am formally giving you two weeks notice. Either you blog that story or I will. It is $$$ and belongs on the interweb for all to read. It must be documented. And I'd like to do it. In any case, your story reminded me of one of my classic embarassing moments. Which I shall now share.

The MTC is largely a community of sweaty dirty dudes that need to shower. Being a communal type place, the showers are also communal. With a limited supply of hot water, it was a classic example of "the early bird gets the worm." He who showers first showers warm. Everyone else showered cold. The only other way to guarantee yourself a hot shower was to do it at night. This was not ideal for me; I liked that squeaky clean early morning feeling. But hey...I went through my whole high school experience without caring about hygiene, so this can't be too bad. So I started showering at night.

One particular night I had showered and was shaving at the long multi-sinked counter. I was completely alone in that huge bathroom. Just as I'd started applying the shaving cream, I saw out of the corner of my eye an elder that was bouncing his way into the bathroom. I recognized him as one of the guys headed to Brazil. But instead of walking he was bouncing, like he was in a sack race or something. I was concentrating heavily on shaving so I didn't pay much mind to it. He bounced over to the hangers, hung up his towel, and bounced into the showers. 90 seconds later he bounced back out, dried off, and bounced over to the urinal. At this point I was heavily involved in my razor work. I hated shaving. I only did it once every 3 days but it always resulted in a neck that looked like I'd dragged barbed wire down the front of it. No matter how carefully I shaved it always hurt. But I still tried hard. And concentrated. After the bouncer finished at the urinal he bounced over to the sink next to me and started washing his hands.

I've always had a gift for sarcasm. It was a way of life in my family. Instead of my mother telling me my clothes looked grungy or weird she'd say, "what, is there a hobo convention in town?" The MTC experience was great for me because it allowed me to fine tune my sarcasm craft. There were a few elders in my district that were dry and witty so I had to be on top of my game. This particular night I was feeling extra sarcastic so I turned my eyes to look at the Brazillian elder through the mirror and said, "so is there any particular reason we're hopping around tonight?" His reaction was odd. He just turned his head and stared. Like a manaquin. Or like Arnie in The Terminator. No words, no emotions. Just a cold hard stare that could have burned holes in my cranium with its intensity. Bewildered I turned my head and looked him in the face. Then my eyes fell. To his amputated leg.

I had lived in the same building as this kid for the better part of 5 weeks. I had seen him multiple times every day. His room was three doors down from mine. I even saw him out on P-day during recreation time playing volleyball. He had no limp. He didn't even have a slight hitch in his step. He was as skilled a walker as anyone else on campus. Yet he had a prosthetic leg.

After considering his fleshy stump for what seemed like 11 days my eyes slowly returned to his face. No smile. No frown. Just that stare. What was he, a vulcan? I knew I had nothing to say that would work. No apology sufficient. No dry witty remark that would lighten the mood or fake happy compliment that would stroke his pride. I had nothing. And that's exactly what I said. Nothing. I shrugged my shoulders, shook my head, and returned to my shaving.

And he bounced out of the bathroom into the night.