Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Star crossed lovers

There's been a bunch of celebrity breakups this week. Whenever a couple splits up it's sad (especially when children are involved), but even more sad is that with celebrities it's never unexpected.

That being said...out of the big stars who I've learned are single again in the past 36 hours, here's the order I'd ask them out in:

4) Scarlett Johansson (Looks like the newly crowned "Sexiest Man Alive" finally realized Scarlett is extremely overrated as a sex symbol. She did, however, take part in what is probably my favorite SNL sketch so far this season)
3) Vanessa Hudgens (I'll be her new Wildcat)
2) Anna Friel (She'd probably get tired of me insisting that she speak in an American accent and act like Chuck from Pushing Daisies)
1) Elizabeth Hurley (I would insist that she retain her British accent, and that she do no acting whatsoever)

Clearly, I only blog about really important things these days.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And all that Jazz

I doubt anyone reads my blog that isn't also a Facebook friend and/or a Twitter follower of mine, but I figured I'd promote this here too:

I'm a "Jazzbot," an official blogger for the Utah Jazz. There's like 35 of us, plus non-bots can also post on the site, but it's still fun to write about sports and to have an official connection (however loose) to my favorite pro team.

Us Jazzbots are supposed to write two or three times a week. My fourth post, including the one I wrote to audition, just went up (some of you may notice it's adapted from a post I wrote on this blog last January). The site isn't designed that well, but you should be able to find my older posts without too much difficulty if you're interested.

As I mentioned above, I'm on Twitter! (My handle is the super-creative @jeff_hofmann.) If you're a Tweeter, let's follow each other. Then you can know when my new Jazz blogs post, and I can break the elusive 40 followers mark.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tabula Rasa

I've hit the big time at work. Sort of. For the first time in my life, I have a placard with my name on it, indicating that this is where I sit. True, said placard had a typo on it at first. And I share the desk with someone else. But it's still pretty cool.

My desk partner, Lindsey, has decorated our cube with some pretty standard items, from pictures of her family to a ceramic cowboy hat/pen holder to an autographed Sarah McLachlan poster to something that appears to be a pagan garland of sorts. There was plenty of room for her to personalize our workspace because, as usual, I put absolutely no effort into doing the same myself.

I'm typing this up in my bedroom, surrounded by four walls devoid of adornment. I don't wear jewelry of any kind except a watch occasionally. I have never entered anything in that permanent status "Write something about yourself" area on Facebook. I'm just not a decorating kind of guy. There are a number of reasons for this:

--I have no art, fancy framed pictures, or inspirational messages to put up.
--I have no interest in spending money on those kinds of things.
--I'm constantly staring at a TV or computer screen (or occasionally a book) and wouldn't notice those things if they were there.
--But most of all, I don't decorate because of the permanence of it. I'm unwilling to commit to one picture or poster because it implies that I've rejected all others. I have plenty of t-shirts and have made plenty of status updates endorsing a particular movie or toy or junk food item, but those can (and should) be changed on a regular basis. But if I put a Batman poster on my wall or become an official "fan" of Arrested Development, I must prefer those things to all others I didn't show the same consideration to.

So am I crazy? Or am I just using that reasoning as an excuse to cover up the fact that I'm indecisive, lazy, and/or cheap?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chicken buckets are the new UNICEF bag

This is probably my favorite Halloween costume I've ever had, narrowly edging out my 2003 Adam West-era Batman ensemble.

Although the wig ended up a little more Einstein-ey than Sanders-ey, you have to admit I look finger-lickin' good.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stars...they jet just like us!

Now that I no longer answer phones for JetBlue, it's likely my brushes with celebrities will drop dramatically. Here's a brief rundown of the "stars" I've associated with in some way at my job, ranked by my view of their relative fame:

(Again, my blog is not an official JetBlue site, and I am not a company spokesman. These are just my thoughts. And I'm assuming I'm not violating any confidentiality guidelines here, since JetBlue is very open about all the celebrities who fly with us, but if this post goes down that's probably why.)

(By the way, my all-time favorite JetBlue celebrity sighting? Definitely this guy!)

7) The mother of injured BYU defensive lineman Romney Fuga called to cancel her son's flight.
6) A relative of Los Angles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak (boo!) used his credit card to book her flight.
5) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (don't worry, they're not all sports related) has a production company, and I booked a flight for one of his business partners so he could attend a movie premiere.
4) I helped actress Lake Bell cancel a flight. She's the only celebrity I've spoken directly to, and I'm surprised I recognized her name, since I haven't seen anything she's been in.
3) A representative of Tony Orlando's changed the flights of his band members (apparently he's no longer with Dawn. Who knew?) so they could make a show on time.
2) A woman called me once to see if a seat upgrade was available for the former mayor of America, Rudolph Giuliani.
1) I know he's not as famous as Rudy, but the most exciting call I've ever received at work was from the personal assistant of Kyle MacLachlan (aka Agent Dale Cooper!), who booked a flight for him. And he even paid for an extra seat. Oh, to be rich and famous.

So if your DirecTV ever malfunctions on a JetBlue flight, just look around...you still may be able to see some stars!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tweet, pray, love

Today I started a new position with JetBlue. I'm a founding member of our new social media support team, which basically means I get to be a Twitter tracker Twitter tracker Twitter tracker! After a few weeks of training, it will be my job to seek to recover customers as one of the company's official tweeters.

As a result, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for my own Twitter account. You can follow me if you want, but I don't expect to be a super-active user of that platform, at least until I get a phone I can access the Internet on, which I plan to do later this year.

(I'm supposed to point out that anything I post to my blog, Twitter or Facebook is my own viewpoint and not necessarily that of JetBlue. So there you go.)

I'm really excited about this new assignment. Not only does the work itself seem interesting and relevant, I will have a much better work schedule, and I'm really glad to have a break from answering phones. At the end of each shift my ears would be sore from my headset, and my voice would have faded to the point that when I'd give my name customers would think I said Jack. Or Jim. Or, surprisingly, Chad. So I'm happy to move on from that. Although if I become too popular online, maybe I'll have to set up a Twitter account for each of those personas.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello, ladies

It's fall television premiere season, the most wonderful time of the year for a TV junkie like me. Here's my list of the top 10 women I'm excited to have back in my life on a weekly basis (with a couple of extra categories).

Lacey Schwimmer, Dancing With The Stars
Definitely would be on the list if she hadn't gone blond.
Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
Physical appearance is a huge factor on this list--I won't be doing a similar post about TV dudes--and despite Marge's recent Playboy spread, I'm not a big fan of the Olive Oyl body type.

Cerie Xerox, 30 Rock
Emma Pillsbury, Glee
Avery Jessup, 30 Rock
These shows debuted this week, but missing these regular characters. And yes, I'm ranking the characters from scripted shows. I don't know what the real people are like.

10. Quinn Fabray, Glee
Would be ranked higher if this list was 100% physical, but she can be kinda witchy and not a tremendous singer.
9. Jules Cobb, Cougar Town
The best-looking middle-aged drunk on a show full of good-looking middle-aged drunks.
8. Annie Edison, Community
7. Britta Perry, Community
Trending upward. Both could easily crack the top 5 if the show's second season is as good as the first.
6. Pam Halpert, The Office
I liked her more as a single receptionist than as a married salesperson.
5. Claire Dunphy, Modern Family
Gives an underrated, Jason-Bateman-in-Arrested-Development-esque performance as the "straight man" in the funniest show on TV.
4. Anna Trebunskaya, Dancing With The Stars
I've always had a thing for redheads. I know she's married, but I enjoy watching her. Dance. I enjoy watching her dance.
3. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Not only does Tina Fey look really good in glasses, but she looks weird without them. Keep the glasses on all season, Liz.
2. Sue Sylvester, Glee
As I said, the list is largely looks-based, but I'm not 100% shallow.
1. Gloria Pritchett-Delgado, Modern Family
Ay ay ay! Well done, Al Bundy. Well done.

[Update: A couple of big brain farts by me. Should have chosen Glee's Brittany over Quinn--nearly as attractive and way more entertaining. Also, I made my list a few days too early, forgetting that Saturday Night Live also returns this weekend. So Quinn and Jules get swapped out for Brittany and Kristen Wiig, and Abby Elliott is tied for fourth. I told you, I like redheads.]

So how chauvinistic/lame am I for doing this? And which are the best females TV characters I'm missing out on by not watching Bones, or House, or pretty much any hour-long drama or anything on CBS?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bite the bullet

Some lingering thoughts and questions after my 47th viewing of the Magic Bullet infomercial, far and away the greatest infomercial of all time...

It's pretty obvious that the whole thing is set the morning after a swinger's party. Everyone's either wearing pajamas, or the same clothes they had on the night before. They're all extremely comfortable with each other...so comfortable, in fact, that nobody questions why their hosts have huge platters of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and more, all cut or chopped into blender-ready chunks. None of them wonder why the Aussie and his wife are preparing dozens of entrees and side dishes, one after another in succession. And not one person finds it weird that the duo are schilling for this magic blender (even using catchphrases). You'd think at least one of their guests would ask what was going on, or at least why one couple would have five or six of the same blender.

Until the last time I watched it, I thought there were three couples plus Hazel (the elderly master of the long cigarette ash), which made me wonder if she were some kind of referee for the previous evening's swinging. But when I saw it again a few days ago, I finally noticed the presence of Ike the omelette eater. So now it appears that there's three couples, plus Berman and Hazel. So the numbers even out. (I'm leaping to some conclusions here about what goes on at swinger parties. I really have no idea.)

The dark-haired lady doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the group. She puts out a "Mary Steenburgen playing a Mormon housewife" type of vibe, and doesn't seem to be a crazy partier. The other seven, I can see them being up for anything.

The spokesmodels don't use very precise measurements. When they say they're adding "a little" of this or "just a squeeze" of that, you never know if you're going to end up with just a dash of curry powder, or a Bullet cup full of basil leaves. I can see this inconsistency causing some problems in other activities; hopefully their friends had their safe words ready.

If I could eat anything they made using the personal, versatile, countertop magician, I'd probably go with the chicken salad.

That's about it...just know that I own a Magic Bullet (got it as a gift, but it's the only infomercial product I've ever considered actually buying), I don't use it every day, and (as you'd probably expect) it doesn't work as well in real life as it does on TV--but it does work. And if I ever stumble across it while channel surfing, I'll always stop and watch for at least one...two...three seconds. Probably longer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Frozen food for thought

I finally got around to trying the new Hot Pockets "Sideshots" the other day. I'm normally a fan of any greasy meat-filled item I can throw in the microwave, especially if said item reminds me of Jim Gaffigan.

But I was resistant to the Sideshots...and it was all because of their commercials. We're supposed to believe that these people are outcasts because they eat a burger-shaped Hot Pocket with their hands, instead of a fork? Please. As if anyone has ever eaten a Hot Pocket, or a non-microwaveable hamburger, with utensils. It's ludicrous.

I know they ate Snickers bars with a knife and fork on Seinfeld, but that was only funny because it was so ridiculous. I've seen firsthand that British people eat pizza with utensils, but they also put sweetcorn on it, so we can't take their "behaviour" seriously.

Speaking of Mr. Hot Pocket...I'm semi-tempted to see the new Justin Long-Drew Barrymore rom-com just because Gaffigan is in it (although I successfully resisted the temptation to see The Love Guru, and that had Gaffigan AND Stephen Colbert in it). And speaking of Long, do you think the "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell" guy ever looks at him and wonders what might have been? But I digress...where was I?

Oh yeah, the Sideshots. I'd buy them again, I guess. But not if there's a sale on frozen White Castle sliders.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DJ Jazzy Jeff

Hey, remember when I used to blog? I kind of do. And I think I enjoyed it. So maybe I'll do it more often. It's time to make my presence felt again on the Interwebs.

The spell check had better not give me any problems on that last word. Interweb is official now, making its dictionary debut along with other vocabularic atrocities like bromance, chillax and wardrobe malfunction. Surprisingly, cheeseball is also a new addition to the OED. I'm guessing it's been in Merriam-Webster for a while, considering the cheeseball was a Super Bowl staple long before the first wardrobe malfunction.

So now you have some new words to be wary of when playing Hangman. But you'd have better luck saving your stickman with the newbies than with some much older words. Someone with too much time on their hands figured out the hardest Hangman word of all--it's jazz. Kind of surprising, but it makes sense when you think about it.

Speaking of jazz...the other day, out of the blue, I remembered that I had a San Antonio Spurs t-shirt when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure it was my brother's shirt first, and like so many articles of clothing before and after it, it was passed on to me. But that's no excuse. That shirt had no business in my home, let alone touching my body. I'm hoping I can successfully repress this shameful memory again. Maybe buying a Jazz jersey would help. I can't decide between Al Jefferson and Othyus Jeffers. Either way, I'd have my name on the back, and I could feel like I'm part of the team.

Word up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thanks for the Memorex

My VCR finally died. It's inexplicable that it lasted as long as it did. But I miss it already.

Back in 2005, my long-time roommate Greg moved out of our apartment. He had tons of stuff (TVs, VCRs, computers, DVDs, etc.), and was very generous in sharing it. On the day he moved out, my other roommate Hardy joined me on a trip to Wal-Mart where I bought a big TV for the living room, a small one for my bedroom, and a VCR for each.

(In case you didn't know already, I'm a television addict.)

Sometime in 2007, something weird happened to one of the VCRs. The tape refused to eject, but somehow it continued working. I could record something, watch it, rewind, and record over it again. And the tape quality never seemed to deteriorate. It was still usable, I just couldn't use that VCR to watch my other tapes or to record something I wanted to keep forever. But it kept working time after time.

Until this week. I recorded something, then tried to rewind the tape, but instead it spit the tape halfway out and shut down. I unplugged it, plugged it back in, but when I pushed play it was just static.

But we had plenty of good times, and I definitely got my money's worth. Plus I still have the other one. And hopefully it will last for a long time, because nobody really sells VCRs anymore. DVRs are great, mainly for the ability to begin watching something from the beginning while still recording the ending, but I actually prefer a VCR when it comes to precision of control. Plus I'm too poor to get a DVR right now. Long live the VCR!

Monday, July 19, 2010

But I have been to a hootenanny in Oak City

Driving home from Provo last weekend, I saw some fireworks being set off. I'm guessing they were coming from the baseball stadium, the name of which escapes me for the moment. I just know it's not Derks Field anymore.

As I watched them, I began wondering why I've never attended Stadium of Fire. Then I started thinking of some other things I've never done:

--I've never attended a General Conference session in person.

--I never went to EFY. (I didn't even know what it is until my senior year of high school. But I do own pirated cassettes of most of the '90s EFY soundtracks.)

--I've never been skiing.

--I've never hiked the "Y."

Considering I've lived all of my life as a Mormon, most of that life in Utah, and a huge chunk of that Utah time in Provo, which of these nevers is the most surprising? I've also never posted a poll on my blog's sidebar, and don't plan to now, so just leave your answers in the comments.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Joke fiend

Today is International Joke Day! It's also Canada Day. I don't know if that's coincidental, or if the two are related, and if so which spawned the other. It's one of those chicken and the egg things. Or chicken crossing the road things. Or something.

I love jokes. I especially love puns. I'm a pretty good joke teller. I have good timing and delivery, especially when it comes to deadpan. But I haven't had a lot of success creating my own jokes.

The first joke I ever made up was the classic "Why did the fisherman go fishing?," and its variant "Why didn't he go fishing?" I used to tell this "joke" to my family, changing the punchline every time so they couldn't get it right. Sometimes he had run out of worms, sometimes it was raining, sometimes he didn't like fish...hilarious.

More recently I've been making a joke that hasn't gone over as well as I thought it would. Three months ago I bought a car, a 1995 Buick Park Avenue. When telling people about my sweet ride, I've mentioned that my car is almost old enough to drive itself. I've used the line about a dozen times, never resulting in more than a chuckle. Now I'm second-guessing my plan to start joking next March about the Iraq war reaching the age of accountability.

Compounding the problem, one of the three stand up routines I've ever written is now obsolete, thanks to Domino's new and improved pizza.

Basically, I need some new jokes. So celebrate IJD by sharing some of your favorites in the comments!

Monday, June 14, 2010

One hand in the air for the big city

Back in February I got fired from my post office job. I couldn't type fast enough to meet the standard, in part because I only use two fingers on each hand when I type, and in part because I was working graveyard shifts and couldn't stay awake. It's the only time I've ever been fired, and it was kind of a bummer.

Fortunately, at that point I already had a job lined up doing reservations with jetBlue (I had been hoping to do both part-time, but now I'm a full-time airline employee). I'm getting paid much less than I was by USPS, but there are some very nice perks: I have health insurance, I get to work from my apartment, and I get to fly for free!

A couple of weeks ago I finally got enough time off to take my first free flight. Not surprisingly, I jetted off to New York. Standby travel is more stressful than I anticipated, but I don't like to complain, and I did get on the flights on the days that I wanted to, so I won't go into detail about that.

It doesn't seem like it's already been about ten months since I moved back to Utah. It felt so good to be back. As I stepped off of the plane and began walking through the terminal, the Glenn Frey song "You Belong to the City" was playing. I don't like that song, but it seemed very appropriate.

It did feel like I was coming back home, rather than just visiting. As such, I didn't really do any touristy things. My goals for the trip were to spend time with friends, eat good food, and watch TV. That's right--I had been wanting to return to New York ever since I left it, but I chose that particular weekend because of a TV show. (Is anyone actually surprised by that?)

This was the weekend, of course, of the Lost series finale. I had watched many episodes with Erin, Jill, Tricia, and other friends, and wanted to rejoin them to say goodbye to the show. To prepare myself, my friend Laura and I went to the Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) the day before to attend a Lost party of sorts. We joined about 200 other fans in trivia contests, watching an "enhanced" version of the 2004 pilot episode, and listening to a panel discussion. I thought the panel was going to be producers and cast members from the show, but it turned out to be six TV critics. Not what I had hoped for, but still interesting.

Sunday night I joined Erin, Laura, and a few others to watch the finale. There were several emotionally satisfying moments, but I felt a little unfulfilled intellectually. I won't give any more details in case some of you haven't seen it yet, but I do have some things I want to say about TV finales in a later post.

I filled the rest of that weekend by going to church, helping sort donations for the stake tag sale, wandering around midtown and Union Square, and hanging out with friends. Oh, and as I mentioned, eating. Here's a list of most of the places I ate:

--A Salt and Battery (an authentic British fish and chip place. Yes, I had a fried Mars bar)

--Nuts4Nuts (but not Nuts5Nuts; that's just too many nuts)

--Gray's Papaya

--I got a piece of chocolate from Max Brenner but didn't have time to stay for a whole dessert

--Dinosaur BBQ (I had heard of it but never been there; it's outstanding)

--I also got a slice of pizza from the dumpy deli I used to frequent when working at Columbia. Sadly, the nearby church is still not selling burritos.

That's about it. It was a super fun, super fast trip. I only spent about $100 total, including subway passes. A big shout out to Joel for letting me sleep on his couch. Thanks Joel! Hopefully I'll be back for another visit soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long in the tooth

I have a friend named Spencer. We met in high school. We have many shared media experiences from those days, mainly from our time as staff members on the school paper. In fact, Spencer was heavily involved in an incident that pushed my interests fully away from "journalism" per se and towards writing to entertain. But that's a story for another time.

Spencer and I have hardly seen each other since high school, but we're still sharing media adventures. He works for a local health insurer, and was heavily involved in creating some promotional videos for their dental plan.

But they weren't the first ones to come up with a tooth mascot named, well, Toothy. My younger sister works with Spencer's wife at the public library, and I had her drop off a video of a class project my family helped me make in 4th grade. Ashamed of his inadvertent intellectual property theft, Spencer posted part of the video online.

This was the first script I ever wrote, and the first time I was involved in any kind of video project. Not a bad debut, eh? There's so much to love about this video:

--just the fact that Spencer set up his camera to record the tape playing on his TV. So old school.

--my awesome family stepping up at the last minute. A bunch of my friends had volunteered to help out, but all bailed.

--our old school TV, one where you could say "don't touch that dial" and it would actually make sense.

--my sister's big hair underneath her chef's hat.

--my brother seeming WAY too happy when he hears that "Toothy's in trouble."

--the funky positioning of my arms and hands during my brief cameo.

--my mom's great camera work and truly amazing costumes.

--most of all, my dad's tour de force performance as Mr. Cavity. For one thing, after his double knee replacement surgery last year, it would take him at least five minutes now to get up from a fall like that. And his acting was deliciously over the top. I had no idea my dad was a fan of Paul Lynde.

This was only a small portion of the entire video. I think the whole thing is about four minutes long, featuring an extended scene with the chef developing the secret Cavity Busters recipe, and me promoting the stores that sell it with a very crudely drawn poster.

Perhaps someday the entire production will find its way to the Interwebs, where it can be come back to haunt me if I ever become really famous. Thanks for posting, Spencer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogger Brawl: The Lost Entries, Vol. 2

Missing out on a chance to have a paid weekly blog on MormonTimes.com was bad enough, but now, it seems if I had reached the finals I could've participated in a super-cheesy Rocky-esque photoshoot. I'm so bummed out.

But at least the contest generated some new content for this blog. Here is the piece I had ready to turn in if I had reached the finals. All links and italicized comments would have been left out of the "real" entry.

Thank you to everyone who has voted so far and helped me reach this point of the competition. It’s been a lot of fun.

A few years ago, while an undergrad at BYU, my roommate Will and I watched a VH1 show ranking the 200 greatest pop culture icons of all-time. While some of the rankings were dubious (JFK was ranked 32nd, but JFK Jr. was #24), the show inspired us to make our own list of the top 200 Mormon pop culture icons. Should I emerge victorious from this Blogger Brawl, and should that list be expanded to one thousand names, I’d like to think I’d have a spot on it. [It's tempting for me to attack that list in the same manner as the top 500 songs list that dominated my blog last year, but I'll try to refrain.]

Around the time we were making our list, I saw an article in the BYU newspaper about Andrea Finch, who had recently been crowned as America’s Junior Miss, and would be enrolling at BYU that fall. I found her address in the online directory and sent her an e-mail, introducing myself and explaining our list.

I told her we hoped to turn it into a show on BYUTV (which was true, but there was basically zero chance of that ever happening) and invited her to be the host, figuring she would be good at it but mainly trying to figure out a way to get a date with a Miss America-type.

Amazingly, she responded, saying she’d be interested if it fit in with her busy public appearance schedule. I replied that the show was still in pre-production and might not make it to air, but I would keep her updated. We had no further contact.

This was not the only time I attempted an elaborate, far-fetched scheme to get a date. I once found a cute game show contestant on MySpace (how did people ever stalk each other before the Internet?) and sent her a message letting her know how much I enjoyed her performance. [I chronicled this in much more detail here.]

Another time, while working as a reporter for the aforementioned BYU newspaper, I was interviewing a really cute girl about her recent victory in a Dancesport competition. I asked her “off the record” if she had a boyfriend, and if she would mind if I asked her out. This was certainly a more realistic scenario, but I chickened out and never called her again. [This was actually a girl I knew, the first one I had a crush on after my mission. I didn't get a date out of it, but to my knowledge the resulting article was the only one I ever wrote to be picked up on UWIRE, which is the college equivalent of the Associated Press.]

Why am I sharing all these stories? To make sure it’s clear that when it comes to dating, I really have no clue what I’m doing. I don’t know any more about dating and relationships than the next guy or girl; chances are I know much less.

So if I’m fortunate enough to get my own column here at MormonTimes, rest assured I won’t make huge generalities, I won’t try to dispense advice, and I won’t get preachy or super-serious. Instead, I’ll just share my experiences as a guy involved in the dating process (while regularly mixing in pop culture references, of course).

I think a lot of people will find what I have to say relatable. I hope some people will find it funny. I know I’ll have a great time doing it. Thanks again for reading and voting.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blogger Brawl: The Lost Entries

If you didn't already know it by now, you probably guessed it: I lost in the quarterfinals of the MormonTimes Blogger Brawl. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It was a pretty fun experience.

Due to the deadlines set by the contest's editor, I had already submitted my semifinal entry and nearly completed my final blog before I was eliminated. They won't go to waste, though. Here's the marvelous piece of prose you would've had the chance to vote for if I had reached the semis.

I am a long-time student of television—literally while in high school and college, but unofficially since I was very young. I watch a lot of TV, and appreciate it for its entertainment value. But I’m also fascinated by the industry itself, and pay close attention to all the little things that go into getting a show on the air.

For example: my mom likes to tell a story that happened when I was five years old. I was in the hospital, and had patiently endured days of tests, needles, and the like, without crying or complaining. But one day I just started bawling uncontrollably.

The event that sent me over the edge? Someone had misplaced the remote, and by the time we found it and turned the hospital TV on, He-Man had already started. It was only a minute or two into the show, but that was late enough to miss the title of the episode, and what’s the point of watching if you don’t know the title? I was inconsolable.

I don't actually recall this event, but I don't doubt its veracity, because my mother is an honest person, and because He-Man was a really great show.

I often think about He-Man when I'm trying to get a date, mainly because I retire to my bedroom so I can have some privacy to call the girl, and once there I see my He-Man pillowcase. I missed the show opening that one time, but I've seen it enough to know that “fabulous secret powers were revealed” to cowardly Prince Adam, transforming him into the fearless hero.

Oh, how I wish I could channel some of those powers when I'm asking someone out (I also wish I had his smile; with just one long tooth in each part of my jaw, I'd never need to floss again). I'm rarely nervous while on a date, but the process of calling a girl to invite her on one terrifies me. When you're on a date, it’s easy to relax because she's set aside that time to spend with you; when you're talking to someone on the phone, there's no way of knowing if you're bothering them—unless they tell you that, which is even more awkward and unpleasant.

You can't see her, so there's no body language cues to pick up on. Plus, I never know how to end the conversation (or begin it, for that matter). Do I get right to the point and ask her out? Do I make small talk first? For how long? After asking, do I make more small talk, or if she said yes do I make my escape as quickly as possible before she can change her mind? I long for the days of high school dances, where the norm was incredibly elaborate methods of asking that allowed me to show off my creativity and avoid any awkward conversations or immediate rejection.

Another of my TV heroes, Batman (the Adam West version), once told Catwoman that "a wife, no matter how beauteous or affectionate, would severely impair my crime fighting." I don't have that excuse. Plus, I know that I need a wife if I ever want to become a "master of the universe." So I'll continue stretching my comfort zone and keep calling girls for dates, using my childhood idols to psych myself up if necessary. And if my dates are ever a little late, I'll do my best not to cry.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rock the vote...again

It's time to shamelessly beg for votes again. My quarterfinal matchup is live, and the poll will stay open until Friday at midnight. So vote for me, and spread the word to all your friends! Thanks, you're great!

I'm more nervous about this round than I was for the first two. Unsurprisingly, my competition keeps getting better, and the format of my new post will certainly stand out, but maybe not in a good way depending on people's tastes. Plus, as my friend Tamara pointed out, the song I'm parodying is not exactly current (though I'm confident most of the target audience for this contest will recognize it). I can't coast on talent anymore; at this point it's more about the campaigning. So please vote!

(Some of you probably noticed that I have already used that song as a blog post, about 18 months ago. You may rest assured that my writing is not so much lazy as it is procrastinate-y. I was working on a different blog, but wouldn't have finished it in time for my deadline. So I adapted that old post and sent it in. If I make the semis you'll get to read something even better.)

Monday, May 3, 2010


I forgot to add a title to my last post. That's weird.

This is my 200th post! To celebrate, I finally made some changes to my blog.

It still looks pretty boring, but considering it's the first time I've changed anything since my blog debuted about 28 months ago, this is pretty significant. Here's what's new:

--I have a new picture! You have to admit, I'm looking pretty good there.

--The banner is no longer misleading (it said I was living in New York, but I've been back in Utah for nine months now).

--I've added a number of blogs I follow to the sidebar. See Marlene, I told you you were forgiven!

--Right above that, I've added a button you can click and become an official follower of Amateur Blog at the Apollo! Go ahead, stroke my ego.

--If you want to leave a comment, you'll now do so in a pop-up window, and fill in one of those word-verification thingies. Now I won't have to reject all the weird spam comments full of weird links and Wingdings. Mmmm....wingdings....

That's it for now. Maybe when I get to post number 400 I'll consider changing the color scheme.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Since posting on here has become somewhat abnormal for me lately, I figured I'd deviate from the norm even more, and write something serious.

Today is my ordinance anniversary, and this particular anniversary is pretty symmetrical. I was baptized 22 years ago today, and I received my endowment 11 years ago today. As usual, I marked the occasion with a temple visit, this time performing washings and anointings for the dead at the Jordan River Temple.

I don't remember much about my baptism day, but I do remember coming up from the water and asking if I could do it again. Since I can't swim and don't really like water, I'm guessing I wanted to go back under because of the good feeling it produced.

When I received my initiatory ordinances and endowment, I also felt good after, but it was so much to take in that again I don't remember a lot of specifics. I've repeated each covenant that I've made, each ordinance that I've participated in, numerous times for those who died before they could do them for themselves. It's always a pleasant, peaceful experience at worst, and at best a significantly spiritual experience.

But what has been most meaningful to me has been the opportunities I've had to facilitate these experiences for others, whether they're receiving their own ordinances or performing them for the dead. I've been asked by my youngest sister and by a few people I taught on my mission to baptize them, a tremendous honor for me each time. More recently, I also had the privilege of serving as a set apart ordinance worker, for six months in the Manhattan Temple and six months at Jordan River.

Over that year I learned so much more about the temple ordinances and the gospel than I did in ten years as a patron. Each week, my shift had a highly calming, restorative effect on me. It also provided opportunities for meditation, something I almost never make time for in any other situation. Due to my long stretch of unemployment, there were also many weeks when my temple shift seemed like the only worthwhile thing I did. I hope I get a chance to serve as an ordinance worker again at some point.

The temple means a lot to me. It's one of the few things I actually treat with reverence. As the children's song says, I love to see the temple.

(On the off chance that anyone who reads my blog is not a Mormon, to find out more about the terminology and doctrines relating to temples, go here or here, or leave a comment and I'll contact you.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tale of two cities

My 2nd round matchup in the MormonTimes Blogger Brawl is finally up. Check it out and vote for me! The poll closes Sunday at midnight.

I moved out of my parents' house two weeks ago and am finally living independently again. I loved having free room and board and spending a lot of time with my family, but for the last eight months my life kind of felt like it was on pause. So I'm enjoying my transition back to "normal" adult life.

I think most people who read my blog know that I loved living in New York, and were it not for my financial duress I would still be there now. But Utah is also a good place to live, and even beats NYC in a few areas. Just a few that I've noticed in these past two weeks:

--I bought a gallon of milk for $1.66 at WalMart. $1.66! And the expiration date was more than three days past the purchase date.

--My rent payment is less than half of what I paid in New York. And I have my own room, with a bigger closet than the one I shared in Harlem.

--Free laundry, with machines in my own apartment! (I know I technically have to pay for the water and such, but no direct costs.) Doing laundry was probably my least favorite part of living in New York.

--We've finally had a few warm days, and I was reminded how unhumid Utah is.

--There are WAY more people here, in Utah generally and in the singles scene particularly, that are into sports, especially basketball. I might even be able to play my as-yet unused ESPN Scene It game with my new roommates.

Again, let the record show, if an opportunity arose, I would happily return to the East Coast. But Utah is also a very good place to live. And let the record also show that I now have good Internet access, so now the only thing keeping me from blogging more is inertia. So expect more posts soon.

And don't forget to vote!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bracket Buster Parfait

Most, if not all, of you who read this already know, but I'll post it here anyway: I won! Well, I won my first round match. I still have to win four more times to be declared the champion of the MormonTimes "Blogger Brawl." But thank you so much for voting for me!

I will next need your help on April 14--and it seems I'll need a LOT of help. They run a Blogger Brawl recap in the weekly print version of MT, and this week it mentioned that my second-round opponent "racked up more votes in his first day of competition than most bloggers get in three days." Yikes.

So I'm doing well in one bracket...but that's about it. My NCAA Tournament picks this year are worse than they've ever been, and that's saying something. I had hoped to run my own personal March Madness in this space like I did last year with sitcoms (this year's theme is still a secret), but I've been pretty busy with work and with looking for an apartment, plus I wouldn't be able to add all the clips and links I want, so it will have to be an April Madness event instead (come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I waited until April for last year's as well).

But I will be able to do it in April, because I finally found the place I want, and will be living on my own again starting April 1 (not an April Fool's joke)! Well, living with roommates. But definitely living in a separate place from my parents. A place with high speed Internet. Which means I'll have no excuse not to blog. Except I'll probably spend the first three weeks watching the episodes of Stewart and Colbert that I missed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Polls are open

It's up! Voting for my first round matchup runs through Sunday night. Feel free to visit your local library and vote for me on each of their computers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rock the vote

I made it. I'm one of the finalists for this contest. The article says there will be 16 bloggers brawling for the title, but they've actually expanded it to 32.

The tourney gets under way Wednesday, but my first round match up doesn't start until March 12, a week from Friday. (I'll send out a reminder next week.) At that point, voting will be open for three days, so I'll need your help to advance.

I know the name of the person I'll be competing against, and I'm pretty sure I found her blog. I won't link to it, because I could be wrong, and because I have nothing against her, and I don't want you leaving harassing comments on her poorly spellchecked posts (you know you would).

She's only 20 years old, which means she likely has better access to the demographic that votes for American Idol and in online polls and such. So we need to get the word out--hence the early heads up. Keep checking this space for updates.

(Oh, and I'm aware that I'll be having a birthday before this 20-something contest ends--but I had already planned with just matching my new age up with the year. Twenty-ten is the number that comes after twenty-nine, right?)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My horn, tooted

I submitted some blogs for a contest earlier this week, and was pleasantly surprised at the feedback I received yesterday.

In his e-mail, the editor said my writing samples "were excellent. You're a great writer and, so far, they don't need too much editing. It's refreshing.

"I don't know if you read a lot of columns or what but your writing already has a quasi-seasoned columnist tone to 'em. Good work."

Oh, and he described the picture I submitted (from last year's hot dog eating contest) as "epic."

Not bad, eh? I should know by the end of the week if I'm a finalist in the contest, and if I win, I could end up being paid to write a weekly blog! I'll definitely keep you all updated.

Thanks for reading my blog--if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be nearly so quasi-seasoned.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Now I'm stepping out this old brown shoe

Here are more recollections from my internship in New York City in 2003 (check the last post if you're curious what prompted this burst of nostalgia). The previous batch of memories were all directly related to my internship, but this group will be about stuff I did when I wasn't working.

--I (along with the 30+ other interns in my group) lived in a place called International House, I-House for short (although I don't recall ever eating pancakes there). It's located on the fringe of the Morningside Heights neighborhood, and I had to walk into Harlem to get to the nearest train station--125th St. and Broadway, on the 1/9 line (the 9 was still running then), one of the few above-ground stops in Manhattan.

There was a security detail in the station at all times. I'm not talking police--there were heavily armed soldiers there around the clock. It was only about 18 months after 9/11, but I don't know if that's why they were there (they certainly didn't have troops in every station). I could never decide if their presence at 125th made me feel more or less safe.

--It's funny to look back at how nervous I was about setting foot in Harlem, since I ended up living there without fear for a year and a half. My friend Natalie and I checked out Amateur Night at the Apollo one Wednesday, and were both pretty anxious as we walked along 125th back to I-House. So young and naive.

--Speaking of Natalie...she and I worked together at BYU Broadcasting and were very good friends, and we did a lot of fun stuff together in the city. We felt lucky to see Les Miserables on Broadway about two weeks before it closed (I felt a little betrayed when it was brought back just a few years later), we got to sit on the front row at a Letterman taping, and we also went to see the new Blues Brothers (Dan Akroyd and Jim Belushi) at the China Club. I won tickets to that show from the radio station I listened to out there--yes, the same station that produced the top 500 list that monopolized my blog last year.

--A few of us tried to get into a Daily Show taping on standby one afternoon. We would've made it, but one of our group was late, and we waited for them rather than going in. Instead, we were invited to attend a taping of Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn. You probably haven't heard of that show. There's a good reason for that.

--I also saw The Lion King, Aida, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. The Disney productions were my least favorite, but still very good (I probably would've liked Lion King more if I had an actual seat instead of a standing room ticket).

--I've never officially chosen a favorite movie, but circumstantial evidence indicates it's probably A Mighty Wind. It was the first movie I ever purchased on DVD, and it's the only movie I've ever seen more than once in a theater--both times during my internship. If you've never seen the movie, I urge you to do so.

--Those were my first experiences paying $10 or more for a movie, but not everything in new York is overpriced. I caught a number of free performances, most notably a James Brown concert (it was his 70th birthday party).

--Almost everyone's internship started a day or two after we got to New York. But a few of us had an extra day to hang out in the city before we went to work. One of them, a fine arts intern, seemed to be flirting with me fairly heavily that day. And I was definitely cool with that. I was pretty surprised when, a few weeks later, her husband (whose name, as you would expect, is Rocco) flew out to visit her! Though it's not surprising if I was deluding myself about the flirting (it's happened before), she definitely wasn't wearing a wedding ring at the time.

--Mostly, though, my experiences with my fellow interns were fantastic. It was during this time that I met my friend and faithful blog reader Larissa. We did lots of stuff in big groups. I have fond memories of taking the long train ride out for my first Coney Island experience, or of nine of us crowding into a medium-sized limo and paying about $6 each to be driven to dinner in style.

--We had so much fun together that, as spring term drew to a close and we prepared to go our separate ways, I came up with a way to pay tribute to all of the good times we shared. I distributed high school yearbook-style ballots throughout the I-House and prepared trophies (cheap souvenir shop postcards) for our end of internship awards.

There were the standard "Most Likely to Succeed"s and "Most Popular"s and "Best Dressed"s (I won Best Sense of Humor--I promise I didn't rig the voting, there just weren't many funny people out there), but we also had some NY-centric categories.

We voted on who was most likely to get lost on the subway, who was most likely to never leave New York, and who was most likely to become the I-House pub DJ (way to go, Randall Jeppeson!). Larissa was the runaway winner in the Most Likely to Appear on Broadway category. Amazingly, our faculty advisor Kevin Stoker beat me out for Most Likely to Get Booed Off the Stage at the Apollo. I guess we didn't have a very informed electorate.

Jeff Mulcock was voted most likely to win a "Mormy" (awards at the singles wards' film festival that have since been renamed "Lingos"). Jeff stayed in New York, and I'm pretty sure he did win a few. Here's a Lingo from last year that I'm in. The jokes I make were staged, because Garrett the filmmaker kept hearing me make funny comments and then making me repeat them while the camera was rolling. Kind of lame. Here's a classic 2008 Lingo starring my then-roommate Ryan.

That ought to be enough to make my point. That point being, of course, that I love those brown shoes. Oh, and that New York is an amazing place to visit and to live. Hopefully I'll be able to do both again someday.

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now, I'm telling you

A few posts back I mentioned that I got a new wallet for Christmas, allowing me to throw out the one I'd been using since my junior high days. As a result of that change, these brown shoes are now my longest-tenured accessory.

I bought them from Payless for $19.99 to take with me on my internship to New York--almost seven years ago! I thought they looked really nice, especially for the price, but was surprised when I started getting compliments on them. Everyone loved them! A friend commented positively on them as recently as last fall, until I had her look closely to see all of the scuff marks and scratches. I've checked many times to see if I could get another pair like them, but sadly, it seems they are no more. Payless still carries the brand but not this model. So I'll probably keep wearing these as long as I can. If I replace the laces, they might have a few more good years left in them.

Every time I put them on, I remember that first trip to New York and the great memories I made. Here, in no particular order, are a few of them that, while not deserving of their own post, certainly warrant at least a mention in list format:

--My other favorite physical reminder of my internship is my copy of this article, which ran in YM Magazine (which I think no longer exists). I interned at Today In New York (TINY) on WNBC, a local morning show that ran right before the Today Show. We subscribed to dozens of magazines, which we skimmed through searching for segment ideas. One of the other interns found the article and shared it, and everyone asked me a bunch of questions about the church--the only decent missionary opportunity that arose in the seven weeks I was there.

On the first pages of the article there was a photo illustration showing a girl from the neck down. She was wearing an Avril Lavigne-style tank top (I don't like calling them wife beaters, especially when girls are wearing them. Can we all agree to just call them "Avrils?"), with a "Finding Faith in Christ" pass-along card tucked into her studded leather belt. It was awesome.

--The TINY studio was on the same floor as Conan O'Brien's. I worked two floors above, but sometimes I would need to go downstairs, and more than once I walked past a green room where Conan was lounging, chatting with show staffers.

--A few floors up were the SNL studios. I didn't get into a taping, but I did get to watch a rehearsal for about half an hour one day. Original cast member Dan Akroyd was hosting, and I got to see him work on a Donatella Versace sketch with Maya Rudolph, and I also saw several takes of a Tracy Morgan "Astronaut Jones" sketch.

--There was one glorious day when I was granted respite from the monotony of my usual tasks (searching magazines and the Web for story ideas and logging tapes for pieces on spray tans and eyebrow threading, mostly). We did the show on location at the Belmont race track, just a few hours before local horse Funny Cide attempted (unsuccessfully) to complete the Triple Crown. I was basically the assistant producer for the weather segments, hanging out with the weatherman, a cameraman and sound guy at our spot on the opposite side of the track from the anchor desk, keeping in touch with the executive producer with one of those cool Nextel walkie-talkies.

--We got tons of stuff every day from PR people who wanted us to promote their product on the show: books, movie press kits, candy, makeup, whatever. Once we were done with the item (if we used it at all), it went on the "free stuff counter," and anyone could take it. I got a lot of free books that way, including a weird one called "The Dogs of Babel" about a man who tries to teach his dog English to help him solve his wife's death, and "How To Lose Friends and Alienate People," which was turned into a really crappy movie a couple years ago. (I'm really surprised at how much I disliked the movie, considering I enjoyed the book, and the movie starred Simon Pegg, who I love, Kirsten Dunst, who I loved in everything she did through Spiderman 2, and Megan Fox, whose acting skills are marginal but is very attractive.)

I gave most of the books away to others from my internship group (there were about 35 Comms and Fine Arts students from BYU all living in the same place). "The Devil Wears Prada" went to Hillary Connelly, one of my shoe complimenters and a gorgeous PR intern that I had a crush on.

This is already getting long, so I think I'll do a part two with the rest of my treasured memories.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pie heaven

The new seasons of 24 and LOST started within the last few weeks. They're two of the only hour-long scripted shows that I've ever followed, and I highly recommend both of them, including past seasons if you haven't watched them before.

As I've written before, I much prefer watching a show from week-to-week instead of in huge chunks on DVD. I love being able to discuss the most recent episode with fellow fans, and build up anticipation and make predictions about what will happen next. But if a show is already a few years old and you don't have that option, plowing through an entire season of a show in four days also has its charms. That's how I saw the first four seasons of LOST, and the format and pace of 24 particularly lends itself to that kind of viewing.

The only other 60-minute shows I can think of which I've seen every episode of are Glee (which is still in its first season and barely counts), Brisco County (which my dad got for his birthday last week--I'm excited to rewatch it), and two that I watched last year (for one, it was my second time) that I wish to recommend to all my readers.

Twin Peaks and Pushing Daisies (hereafter TP and PD) are pretty different thematically. TP is a serious drama (albeit a drama with frequent funny and quirky moments) centering around a murder investigation, and PD is a comedy about a man with the ability to raise the dead for one minute. However, they have an eerie number of similarities. They're like the Lincoln and Kennedy of underappreciated TV shows.

Both ran for two seasons (TP from 1990-1991, PD from 2007-2009). There were only 30 episodes of TP, and 22 of PD. So if you choose to watch these shows (and you definitely should), it won't be a huge time commitment.

Both shows are set in small towns that have unusually high crime and murder rates, and investigators who solve crimes with a combination of quick wits and supernatural powers.

Both have a very distinct feel, owing to the fantastic music, sets, and costumes used. These aren't your typical small screen shows. The attention to detail, as well as the budget, is high, and as a result each episode almost feels more like a movie than TV show. And every so often a character will break out into song. When it happens on PD, it's usually Olive Snook (played by Kristin Chenoweth), and it's delightful. When it happens on TP, it's usually Leland Palmer or James Hurley, and it's a little creepy, but no less memorable.

There's also a very distinct sense of humor in each show. There's rapid-fire dialogue in PD that just makes you smile. TP is filled with dozens of weird, bizarre moments, as well as a number of sight gags that go on so long, that they start off as strange, move on to agonizing, and eventually loop all the way around to funny.

The casting is excellent on both shows. The lead performers (Kyle MacLachlan in TP and Lee Pace in PD) were relatively unknown before their respective shows, play extremely likable and quirky characters, and will probably both have less impressive careers than I think they ought to (there's still time for Pace to end up with more impressive credits than MacLachlan's roles in The Flinstones, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and, of course, Showgirls).

Each show features a strong ensemble cast--Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene (from my favorite musical Little Shop of Horrors) in PD; Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, Ray Wise, Peggy Lipton, Miguel Ferrer, Piper Laurie, Russ Tamblyn and others in TP (feel free to consult IMDB if you need to remind yourself who these people are; chances are you know them).

There are also plenty of well-knowns in smaller roles on each show. Those on TP usually had extended, multi-episode cameos, while on PD it was usually one-and-done guest stars.

The likes of Fred Willard, David Arquette, Joel McHale, Paul Reubens, Stephen Root, Mike White, French Stewart, David Koechner, Nora Dunn, Mo Collins and Rachael Harris all show up on PD. David Duchovny, Heather Graham, and Billy Zane were all on TP before becoming super-famous, and David Lander and show creator David Lynch also steal a number of scenes.

Several actors who have made splashes in new sitcoms this year (Jayma Mays on Glee, Eric Stonestreet on Modern Family, and Cougartown's Josh Hopkins) got their feet wet on PD.

You like Seinfeld? Look for Banya on PD, and on TP you'll see both of Susan Ross's parents, Mrs. Choate (the old bag Jerry steals the marble rye from), and Sue Ellen Mischke (the bra-less Oh Henry! candy bar heiress).

Oh, and Willie Garson and the great Molly Shannon were each in an episode of both shows.

Both shows also feature an important unseen character: MacLachlan's Agent Dale Cooper is constantly leaving messages for "Diane" on a personal tape recorder on TP, and Jim Dale's narration on PD is at least as important to and enjoyable on the show as Ron Howard's work on Arrested Development.

My two favorite, bizarre connections between the two shows: both feature a middle-aged, potentially unstable redheaded woman who wears an eye patch; and pie is a crucial element of both programs (nothing like waiting until the 17th paragraph to explain a post's title).

The main character in PD owns and operates a restaurant called The Pie Hole, and a good chunk of each show takes place there. On TP, many of the characters are constantly eating, and they're usually eating pastries. The local diner is legendary for its cherry pie. Sometimes, characters are shown eating four or more slices in one sitting. It's easy to get hungry watching either of these shows.

One final, unhappy similarity: both were cancelled well before they should have been, and it seems that both shows were caught off-guard: each finale was kind of a let-down, with several key story arcs resolved (or left unresolved) in unsatisfying ways.

But I hope that last part won't sour you on the idea of Netflixing these shows. Or borrowing TP from me. Or buying me PD for my birthday. While the final destination for both programs was a little disappointing for me, the ride was so worth it. Just get the first disc of season 1, get yourself a slice of pie and a tall glass of milk, get a friend to watch with you (especially TP--it's probably too scary to watch alone), and enjoy. You can thank me later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm a hungry man, but I don't want pizza

I'm a bit of a packrat. I never throw anything away. (I'm still only a bit of a packrat because I really don't have that much stuff.) A few weeks ago I was going through some old things, getting them ready to take to my storage unit. I found some notebooks from my college years. There were very few actual class notes in them, a result of my amazing memory and my easy classes.

Instead, they were full of rough drafts of the fliers I made for my Simpsons parties, brackets for Nerf basketball tournaments, and similarly important items. There were also a number of song lyrics, mostly for parodies I never finished.

I was surprised to find a nearly completed original song. Surprised because 1) I never write original lyrics because I have no musical abilities; 2) it actually is pretty good--even though I can't write music, I can hear in my head exactly how it would sound, including a key change; and 3) I wrote it for a girl I had a crush on. This is weird because I have never done this for any other girl, and this wasn't even a major crush. In fact, I wrote the song during a spring term, and during summer term a new girl moved in with this other girl, and I had a much bigger crush on the new girl--even went out with her a few times. But I never wrote her a song.

The notebook also contained one completed parody. As a freshman at BYU, I turned Alice Cooper's "Feed My Frankenstein" (prominently featured in Wayne's World) into a Valentine's Day song and performed it for the girls who came over during visiting hours. But I don't believe I saved the lyrics. A few years later, I tried to do it again. Some parts are pretty similar (as far as I can remember), but the second half of the new version surprisingly became rather dark and stalker-y.

My parodies sometimes do things like that. They're at most semi-autobiographical. I get an idea for a theme, or maybe come up with a line, and then just let the rest develop organically. And sometimes the result is a little creepy.

Anyway, here are the lyrics for the updated (2003) version of "Be My Valentine." Feel free to compare to the original if you're not familiar with it (they're a little PG-13, so be wary).


Yes, yes, I know you're hungry...ahh, here comes dinner
Be my Valentine!
I've got a fever, my body's cookin'
Burning with desire, 'cause you're so good lookin'
I'm a lucky man'
Cause I got to meet ya
I'll come to your house
And then I'm gonna treat ya

Take you out to dinner
Wine and dine
Can't believe you're single
Because you're so fine

Be my Valentine
Please stroke my ego
(I'm not psycho)
Be my Valentine
Hungry for love
Won't you please be mine

You don't want me to stalk (you)
Well, baby, what's up
With that? You sent signs with your flirty stuff
Who sent you candy, are you a cheat?
Guess I'll have to stop being sweet
So when you're not ready, when you're home all alone
I'll call and harass you on the telephone

Be my Valentine
Please stroke my ego
(I'm not psycho)
Be my Valentine
Hungry for love
Won't you please be mine

Baby chow down
Hungry for love and it's crunch time

[Repeat chorus]

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is it iced tea? Then I have no idea

It's that time of year again. Time for me to get my hopes up and take another shot at fulfilling a lifelong goal. It's time for the what-now-seems-to-be-annual Jeopardy! online contestant search. Everything you need to know about taking the test is on their website. So let's all sign up and take the test together! Unless you're smarter than me...I'd hate it if you passed and I didn't and I had to pretend to be happy for you, like those annoying girls on Idol last night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A new season of The Bachelor started up last week. I read in the newspaper that only one of the 18 Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons has resulted in a marriage. This was viewed as a pitiful success rate, but I'm actually surprised that any of the couples stayed together, since I bet you can count on one hand the contestants whose top priority was finding love, and not just being on TV and becoming G-list celebrities.

These people certainly aren't television's first serial daters. I was watching a Seinfeld rerun the other night, and for some reason got the urge to see how many of Jerry's girlfriends I could think of in ten minutes, and then I took another ten on George, Elaine and Kramer. In just 20 minutes, I came up with 99 romantic interests for the four (43 of them Jerry's).

After the time expired I came up with even more. Some of my most embarrassing omissions from the original list: for Kramer, I forgot the librarian (LOVE the library cop's monologue in that one) and the girl he buys a faulty wheelchair for; I left off Elaine's older boyfriend who has a stroke, and the guy who thinks she smells after she rides in Jerry's B.O. car; I somehow forgot George's piano playing girlfriend (the Pez dispenser episode) and the one he accompanied to the funeral (he double-dipped the chip!), not to mention his flings with the cleaning lady at work and an old man's Senegalese housekeeper; and, worst of all, I somehow failed to come up with Jerry's girlfriend with the talking belly (Helllloooooooo!!) and the woman Jerry drugged in order to play with her toy collection (it's only my all-time favorite episode).

Keep in mind that there were only 180 episodes. That's a pretty impressive track record, especially by the guys. I can understand Elaine not having trouble scoring dates, since she's attractive, fun, and, uh, easy. But George and Jerry...sure, Jerry's character is moderately wealthy and famous, but I don't see many women considering them handsome, and neither of them have very attractive personalities. And it's not like they were dating the riffraff of New York...Jerry went out with a bevy of ladies which included a star from seemingly every show of the '90s (Courtney Cox, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Lori Loughlin, Debra Messing, Jane Leeves, Jami Gertz, Tawny Kitaen, etc.). More power to them, I guess.

This seems to be the time of year for people to date lots of people at once. At this time last year, my friend Tamara was starting her "31 dates in 31 days" project. Happily, she will be marrying the guy who won the second date this weekend! Congrats, Tamara and Evan! My friend Larissa also set me up with her friend Shayla, who's involved in a similar dating experiment. You can read about our date and, if you want, vote for me to win a second date here.

As far as my dating life goes, I have a few other irons in the fire, kind of. I plan to start attending sacrament meeting in a singles ward. There's also a chance that I could meet someone at work, though that seems unlikely. When I was working evenings while in training, it seemed like there were a lot of weirdos who worked there. But on the overnight shift, there are actually a LOT of good-looking girls. However, talking is basically not allowed on the work floor, and besides my lunch break, the breaks we get are too short to have a decent conversation with anyone. Plus, one of the cute girls seems to try hard to avoid me, which makes me worried that I inadvertently did something to creep her out (I can't be expected to act normally at 3AM, although I know I've never talked to her).

And then there's the temple...since I started working there in October, almost every week one of the older ordinance workers has mentioned to me, knowing that I'm single, that they have a granddaughter or a niece or a neighbor who is single...and that's it. No follow up comments--they just stare at me. How do they expect me to respond? "I'm not picky. Just have her here next week and we'll get married when my shift is over," or maybe "bring in a picture and I'll tell you if she's pretty enough for me"?

But then, last week, the shift coordinator (a quirky old man who looks like David O. McKay and has personal space issues) grabbed my arm and paraded me around in front of the sister workers, and explained that if I am still single when I turn 30 in April I can no longer be an ordinance worker (a relatively new policy). These are mostly all grandmothers, so he wasn't trying to fix me up with them, just helping me network. I already got a name and number from one of them, and may have several more waiting for me this Saturday.

So who knows what will happen. My body isn't hot-tub ready, so I'll likely never be on The Bachelor, but my dating track record and the effort I've put into getting my own dates through most of my adult life indicates I may need some kind of gimmick if I'm ever going to find "the one." That's the good thing, though--whether it takes 18 seasons, or 43 Hollywood starlets, or a different date every day for a month, or just the traditional years and years of swingin' and missin'--you only need to be successful once.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


[Most of this post was written in early November; however, for some reason it wouldn't past from Word into Blogger, and I waited until now to retype it, finishing off the basketball section and adding some links and the Max Hall part.]

Warning: this post is about sports, and will likely be very long. Proceed with caution.

The Yankees won the World Series this week, the 27th championship for arguably the most storied and polarizing franchise in all of sports, at least all of American sports. If you like sports, you have an opinion about the Yankees. You either love them or hate them. For a long time, I have fallen on the "hate" side. However, it's been a down decade, relatively speaking, for the Bronx Bombers. Their last title was in 2000, and I hadn't been in the U.S. when they won the Series since 1998. This lack of recent success, combined with their spectacular collapse in the 2004 playoffs, had softened my dislike of them.

Now, it's back, and it feels great. It's important to have villains in sports, people and teams to cheer against. It's sometimes more fun to cheer against certain teams than it is to cheer on your own--especially when your teams aren't that great. Right now, I'm experiencing the ultimate in sports supervillainy. For the first time ever, the reigning champs in the three major sports I follow are teams I actively dislike. I'm going to break it down sport by sport, explaining why I love certain teams and love to hate others.


Current Villainous Champion: New York Yankees

Why They're Evil: They win all the time, and it's no fun jumping on a bandwagon, except maybe if they're your hometown team. They spend way more money than everyone else, so it feels like they buy championships more than they earn them by stealing away other teams' best players (by the way, probably every argument I make against the Yanks and the other teams that follow can be refuted, at least to some extent, but being a sports fan involves--at least occasionally--thinking and believing in illogical and irrational ways). With their resources, they're expected to win. Being a Yankee fan seems like it wouldn't bring much more satisfaction than being a Harlem Globetrotters fan. The organization seems to have a smug sense of superiority (and their fans, collectively, do too), from the no-facial-hair policy to keeping the old stadium name on each new version to the "God Bless America" 7th inning stretch. Baseball games are always slow-paced, but Yankee games are interminably long. Their egotistical owner George Steinbrenner is a convicted criminal, and he employs admitted cheaters Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte. Plus, A-Rod thinks he's a centaur.

I should point out that my first and all-time favorite player is Yankee legend Don Mattingly. However, when I began following his career I was too young to be aware of the NYY legacy and Steinbrenner's villainous ways. Plus, he starred in the least successful Yankee era since before Babe Ruth donned the pinstripes, so in a way cheering for Mattingly is like cheering for Yankee futility.

Fellow Evildoers: The Atlanta Braves are the only other MLB team I've ever actively disliked (although the Red Sox adopt more and more unlikeable, Yankee-like characteristics every year). Similar to the Yankees, I just got tired of seeing them in the playoffs every year. The dislike has always been mild, though, because they almost always stunk in the playoffs, and now they don't even reach the postseason.

The Good Guys: The Detroit Tigers are my favorite team, which has resulted in a lot of frustration (a trend amongst all the teams I support, as you'll see). They won the World Series in 1984, a few years before I knew about the game, and made the playoffs in '87 (where I first became a fan), but didn't make it back to postseason play until 2006. In between, they had five or six years when their best player was the immortal Bobby Higginson, followed by a season when they came dangerously close to achieving the worst won-loss record of all time. They also had an epic collapse down the stretch this year and missed the playoffs after losing a tiebreaker to the Twins. [And since I wrote this, they've traded Curtis Granderson, perhaps their most popular player, to--d'oh!--the Yankees!]

In the National League, the Dodgers have been my favorite team since 1988, when they acquired Kirk Gibson, who I had enjoyed watching on the Tigers the previous year. His home run off Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series that year is the coolest and most memorable sports moment I've ever seen live on TV (followed by John Stockton's 3-pointer against Houston that sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals for the first time, Ron Artest charging into the stands in Detroit, the 2004 ALCS, David Tyree's helmet catch in the Super Bowl, and the time Karl Malone knocked David Robinson out with his elbow--oh, and Harline is still open!). Orel Hershiser was phenomenal throughout that year's playoffs, helping him become my all-time favorite pitcher.


Current Villainous Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers [although, since I wrote this, their season fell apart and they missed this year's playoffs!]

Why They're Evil: I'm not sure why I started to dislike the Steelers, or the other teams listed below, although it might have been the prevalence of people wearing those teams' Starter jackets in junior high (although I've never disliked the Dolphins). It might, like the Yankees, have something to do with how historically successful they are, especially in comparison to my favorite teams.

But there are definitely other reasons...wide receiver Hines Ward is probably the dirtiest player in the league, and I can't really put my finger on why, but I don't like Ben Roethlisberger. I also find the Pittsburgh accent to be the most grating of all American accents.

And, of course, there's Super Bowl XL, where the Steelers beat my beloved Seahawks, thanks in large part to incredibly shoddy officiating. I lost a bet with Becky Whitnah on that game, and had to wear a Terrible Towel to ward prayer, which dampened the ensuing open house we hosted (featuring our legendary tater tot pyramid and red velvet Twinkie-Henge).

Fellow Evildoers: I've never liked the Cowboys, Chiefs or Raiders (again, it's the Starter jacket thing). More recently, I've disliked the Ravens, mainly because of my distaste for their arrogant former coach, Brian Billick, and Ray Lewis, who loves to jump on the pile after three teammates have already made the tackle and then celebrate like he just scored the winning touchdown.

Compared to baseball and basketball, though, my dislike of these NFL teams--including the Steelers--is pretty mild.

The Good Guys: When I was a kid I used to copy my older brother in any way that I could. This bothered him, and so when he inexplicably became a Mariners fan, I started rooting for the Seahawks as a covert form of imitation (since both teams are based in Seattle). At the time I knew that Steve Largent was the best wide receiver in the league, and he became my favorite player, even though I had virtually no understanding of the game of football at the time.

Just as in the other sports, I had stumbled into a frustrating fandom. The 'Hawks were awful throughout most of the '90s, then underachieved through much of the next decade, until finally reaching the Super Bowl in '06, only to have their dreams shattered by Willie Parker and some shady/incompetent refs.

My other favorite teams are equally jinxed: I attached myself to the Bills in 1990 (admittedly a bandwagon jump), a season which ended with the first of four straight Super Bowl losses. I also liked the Oilers, who finally reached the big game in 1999...exactly two years after moving from Houston to Tennessee, and one year after ditching the Oilers moniker. Oh, and they fell one yard short of sending that game into overtime. I also was a Barry Sanders fan, but thankfully had stopped considering myself a Lions supporter long before last year's squad went 0-16.


Current Villainous Champion: Los Angeles Lakers

Why They're Evil: Once again, the main reason for the hate is their success. I probably wouldn't care about the Lakers if they weren't a perennial title contender. But their roster is and has been stocked with plenty of villains: Kobe Bryant, like Michael Jordan is unbelievably talented but completely unlikable; coach Phil Jackson is one of the most condescending figures in all of sports; James Worthy is considered one of the 50 greatest players ever, because he was lucky enough to play with Magic Johnson; Doug Christie's wife got in fights with other players; they kept Karl Malone from finishing his career in Utah and didn't even win him a title; and Jack Nicholson won't take his dang sunglasses off indoors.

There's also Shaq, of course. I used to defend him as a good player, even after he punched Greg Ostertag right before the season opener one year. I used to think he got a bad rap (and derived much enjoyment from his actual bad rapping), and enjoyed his sense of humor. Shaq is funny--when things are going his way. When they're not he's just a big, surly guy who has proven he's not above stabbing teammates and organizations in the back. He puts no effort into conditioning, and the fact that he's never improved his free throw shooting, even a little, speaks volumes about his skill level and work ethic.

Special mention here for Derek Fisher. He's a good guy, someone I kind of liked during his first tour with the Lakers. But then he ended up traded to the Jazz, and made it clear from the beginning that he wasn't happy about playing in Utah (he certainly wasn't the first to express that sentiment, but that's no excuse). But Fisher's a pro, and he played hard and played great for the Jazz, helping them get to the conference finals. But his daughter got sick, which he obviously didn't want to happen, but he was happy to exploit her condition as an excuse to get out of his contract (a very magnanimous move by the Jazz).

He claimed that he wanted to be closer to better hospitals so he could take care of his family. The hospitals in Salt Lake City might not be considered the best, but they're very good. And if he was serious about the care of his daughter being his primary motivation for leaving Utah, why didn't he take the next year off of basketball? Why did he sign with the Lakers, and then proceed to play every game--meaning he was on the road away from his family for about half the season? Couldn't he have done the same thing while playing for Utah? Of course, I probably wouldn't be annoyed by this at all, except that year, the Lakers beat the Jazz in the second round of the playoffs, while if you took Fisher's contributions away from the Lakers and added them to Utah, the opposite result would have been likely.

Fellow Evildoers: As much as I dislike the Lakers, they're still a long way off being my least-favorite team in basketball and all of sports. That distinction belongs to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been the biggest rival/thorn-in-the-side for the Jazz over the years. And over the last decade or so, it would be hard to even call it a rivalry, as the matchup was pretty one-sided in San Antonio's favor. (Grrr!) To make matters worse, the team is run by Gregg Popovich, one of the grumpiest and most boring coaches/executives I've ever seen, and he's filled his squad over the years with some of basketball's most detestable players.

They've had more than their fair share of floppers: Manu Ginobili is perhaps the worst flopper of all time, but don't forget about Fabricio Oberto and Beno Udrih, who once flopped into Andrei Kirilenko's knee, effectively ruining Utah's season. There's Bruce Bowen, a marginally talented thug, and Mario Elie and Robert Horry, two guys who also seemed to possess limited skills, but always ended up hitting clutch 3-pointers and winning championships. Don't forget Avery Johnson's annoying voice or the one-dimensional games of Sean Elliott and Tony Parker. Last but not least is superduperstar Tim Duncan, a guy I'm sure I'd love if he played for my team, but since he's a Spur I always feel like punching his weird face with its weird beard, especially when he's whistled for a foul and he adopts this incredulous look, as if he's saying, "I'm Tim Duncan. You couldn't possibly be calling a foul on me." He does that EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I also had a hearty dislike for the Bulls during the Jordan era, but MJ, Pippen, Rodman and Jackson all left at the same time, and it was a brand new squad almost instantly.

The Good Guys: I love the Jazz, the one local major league franchise. Like my other favorites, they've never been able to win the big game, but they've been very good for most of my life. I really wish they had been able to knock off the Bulls; I'm convinced they had a more talented team, but Jordan just wanted it more (it's a tired sports cliche, but I really believe it's true in this case). Now I really wish they would stop giving contract extensions to Jerry Sloan. He stopped being an effective coach three or four years ago.

For some reason, I also adopted the Knicks as my second-favorite team and Patrick Ewing as my favorite player. I realize now that those early- and mid-nineties Knicks squads were a bunch of bullies who actively tried to make basketball less fun to watch. I would love to cheer for them as a New York resident, though, if given the chance.

I really do believe sports is more enjoyable when you have heated rivalries and villains to cheer against. Which is why I couldn't understand the fallout from Max Hall's "classless" comments after the BYU-Utah football game.

Um, hasn't it been billed as the "Holy War" since before Max was born? If we're going to hold sporting events where there are winners and losers, how can we get angry when someone gets caught up in the competition, and decides he doesn't like his opponent?

I wish his apology had been something more along the lines of "I'm sorry that I showed myself to be classless by sharing in public the feelings I've had in private for years," or "I'm sorry I used the word 'all' instead of 'many' or 'most' or 'generally speaking' when labelling Ute fans and players as classless. I'm sure there are some good people involved with the University of Utah program, but overall I don't like them." Even though he apologized, I doubt his feelings have actually changed.

By the way, across the pantheon of all sports, I'm a BYU fan, more so than I am for any of the teams mentioned above. Go Cougars! Beat those villainous Utes every chance you get!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Zippity-ay and hidey-ho

My blog turned 2 about a fortnight ago! With a birthday so close to Christmas, it's easy to overlook it. But happy 2nd, ABATA!

I don't think this space will be immune from the terrible twos, if that means my blog will be running around, making noise and getting into all kind of mischief. But the writing and the jokes will be as "good" as ever.

I reluctantly admit that it's grown out of its baby clothes, so I promise to change the picture at least once this year, and to update my blog roll by the beginning of spring. And, if I'm still in Utah when birthday #3 rolls around, there's a good chance I'll change the name too.

Oh, and the best gifts you can give are comments on the posts. That, and anything from Hot Topic. He loves that stuff.

Live from the yellow carpet

Because when your favorite TV show of all time celebrates its 20th anniversary, you kinda have to dress up. (Hmm, looks like I should cut back on Homer's patented, out-of-this-world space-age moon waffles. Aye caramba!)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Family ties

Remember the talk given by Bishop Burton at the last General Conference? The one where he described a Primary teacher who helped him learn the 13th Article of Faith? And later on in his life was his neighbor?

Well, I just learned today that that teacher and neighbor was my great aunt, Nelly Clark! How cool is that?

Unfortunately, I learned this at Aunt Nelly's funeral. As far as funerals go, it wasn't too bad for me--I got all of the non-potato benefits (contemplating the plan of salvation, feeling the Spirit, hearing tributes to a woman who lived a good life, and most of all, being with family, including cousin Rachel--Nelly's granddaughter--who sang and was amazing) and not really any of the sadness, since I didn't know her well (I probably hadn't spoken to her since I was 9 or 10, back when we were still attending the extended family Christmas parties).

When I think or talk about my ancestors and extended family, the first name that comes up, understandably, is Mark Hofmann. Not many people, especially in the LDS church, have relatives as fascinating or notorious as him.

But he's the black sheep. It's nice to know that I come from a family line that includes people who were faithful to the Lord and raised good families, and even taught and inspired future General Authorities.

I only know a little about my ancestors, but what I know I like. For example, my great-grandfather Hofmann was the first on my dad's side to join the church. The bits of his journal I've read include him being arrested for preaching the gospel, teaching the gospel in the hospital after being wounded while fighting (for Germany) in World War I, and treating his marriage proposal as if he were extending a mission call (which I guess would make it harder to turn down; I'll have to remember that one).

All this, combined with the extra time I've been able to spend at the temple as an ordinance worker, has given me a stronger desire to get more involved in family history work than I've ever had. I probably won't do anything about it, but it's comforting to know that, at least briefly, I wanted to.