The All-Gadianton Robber Fantasy Football Team

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The final Book of Mormon themed end-of-season fantasy football award goes to the All-Gadianton Robbers team. In 3rd Nephi 2 we read that the Gadianton robbers, "did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land" that the people took up arms against them. We know that the Book Mormon was written for our day and may have been warning us about the behavior of modern NFL players. But instead of taking up arms against pro football players, we pay them millions of dollars and then draft them on our fantasy football teams.

The All-Gadianton Robbers team consists only of NFL players who have been arrested or convicted of crimes during their pro football careers (though not always convicted.) As I was researching NFL players who have had run-ins with Johnny Law I found a hilarious letter from the oft-arrested Adam "Pacman" Jones' lawyer to the NFL commissioner asking for leniency for his client. In short, Pacman's lawyer documented every arrest of an NFL player over the past sever years to show the Commish that Pacman should not be suspended because, well, every NFL player breaks the law. After reading the brief, I fully agree with Pacman's lawyer (read the report here.)

The All-Gadianton Robbers team features three of the best Wide Receivers in the NFL. This team would have scored 1,923 points in our 17-week fantasy football season, which would have put this team of bad boys in the playoffs. I guess it is true that nice guys finish last. Maybe in 2009 I will only draft players with a criminal history and win the Super Bowl again next year. I'm already salivating about the possibility of having Michael Vick tossing touchdowns to Matt Jones. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 All-Gadianton Robbers team:

QB1-Matt Schaub: 181 fantasy points - Assault and battery.
QB2-Jeff Garcia: 164 fantasy points - Drunken driving.

RB1-Dominic Rhodes: 186 - DUI; Domestic abuse.
RB2-Jamal Lewis: 165 - Conspiring to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute.
RB3-Ricky Williams: 143 - Expired tags on Hummer, no license, driving 126 mph, failure to appear in court, improper lane change.

WR1-Steve Smith: 262 - Assault on a teammate during a film session.
WR2-Brandon Marshall: 262 - False imprisonment; Domestic violence.
WR3-Randy Moss: 235 - Careless driving after pushing a traffic officer a half a block with his car; Marijuana possession.

TE1: Kellen Winslow: 102 - Disregarding safety.
K: Neil Rackers: 131 - Assault during a nightclub altercation.
DL: Ray Lewis: 137 - Felony murder and aggravated assault in the deaths of two men following the Super Bowl.
DB: Charles Woodson: 119 - Public drunkenness, outstanding warrants, driving on a suspended license.

I found the Pacman report so intriguing and hilarious that I have listed some of the highlights below for your reading pleasure. Some of these arrests are so funny that you may want to use the restroom before reading them. Or you can just go to your nearest closet (don't worry, it will make sense in a minute.) The correct answers are at the bottom of the post.

1. Who was charged with urinating outside a downtown club?
a) Terrence Kiel - S, San Diego
b) Anthony Henry - CB, Dallas
c) Adam Sandler in Big Daddy
2. Who was charged with interfering with pedestrian or vehicular traffic?
a) Travis Taylor - WR, Minnesota
b) Tatum Bell - RB, Denver
c) People who ride scooters down busy city streets
d) Gary Lightbody - Lead singer, Snow Patrol, during the Chasing Cars video

3. Who was arrested after a woman told police that he had broken into her university dormitory and defecated in a closet?
a) Deion Branch - WR, Seattle
b) Najeh Davenport - RB, Green Bay
c) The 2008 Detroit Lions
d) Johnny Fairplay

4. Who was charged with failure to obey a lawful command after he allegedly refused to stop dancing outside a South Beach club?
a) Dhani Jones - LB, Philadelphia
b) Nick Goings - RB, Carolina
c) Napoleon Dynamite
d) Ozone from Breaking II: Electric Boogaloo

5. Who was arrested and charged with pulling a pellet gun on two fans who approached his car while waiting in line at a McDonald's window?
a) Dwight Smith - S, Tampa Bay
b) Lance Briggs - LB, Chicago
c) Ralphie with his Red Rider BB gun
d) Clark Girzwold at Wally World in Vacation

6. Who was arrested for arriving late for a court date on traffic charges?
a) David Terrell - WR, Chicago
b) Cedric Benson - RB, Cincinnati
c) The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland
d) Mormon parents with five kids and 8:30 a.m. sacrament meeting

7. Who was charged with theft and filing a fraudulent insurance vehicle insurance claim?
a) Cletis Gordon - CB, San Diego
b) Brock Marion - S, Detroit
c) Winona Ryder
d) Homer Simpson and Moe Syzlack (see video here)

8. Who was charged with simple assault after allegedly striking a gate agent when the attendant would not allow him to board a late-night flight?
a) David Boston - WR, Miami
b) Greg Jennings - WR, Green Bay
c) The line of passengers on Airplane!
d) The Normal Mormon Husband after repeated delays trying to get in and out of Charlotte on USAir business flights

9. Who was arrested and charged with harassment and menacing for allegedly pulling a gun at a car repair shop after arguing about repairs and work done on his car?
a) Leonardo Carson - DT, Chargers
b) Anthony Gonzalez - WR, Indianapolis
c) Clark Howard, consumer advocate and syndicated radio host
d) 92% of the customers of Sears Tire & Auto Center

10. Who was arrested for allegedly assaulting his roommate with scalding water?
a) Brett Goode - C, Green Bay
b) Kenyatta Jones - OL, New England
c) Aqua Man
d) The coffee server at the McDonald's drive thru

Answers: 1-a, 2-a, 3-b, 4-a, 5-a, 6-a, 7-b, 8-a, 9-a, 10-b

What if Nephi Played in the NFL?............

Monday, December 29, 2008

(Warning: This post was rated a 94 out of 100 for "Fantasy Sports Geekiness" by the Surgeon General. If you do not care about fantasy sports, please stop reading right now. Seriously. Stop. I hope the six people who make it to the end of this post enjoy it. If nothing else, I had a good time writing it.)

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me. Bitter because the fantasy football season ended. Sweet because 


We had a good season this year in our 12-team league that consisted of me, the Normal Mormon Wife, several of my ward members, a couple of old friends and a few guys I have met over my blog. My team finished in first place in the regular season standings and then swept through the playoffs, making this by far the best fantasy season I have ever had. 

The semi finals came down to me against my friend who manages a team called Comfortable in Wranglers (I heard his employer gave him a bonus for the free publicity.) He is also our Ward Mission Leader and I had secretly vowed to never feed the missionaries again if his team beat mine. The outcome of our game was decided when Jon Kasay missed a 50-yard field goal in the Sunday night Panther-Giants game. If he makes the field goal, I lose. Fortunately for me, he missed I was Super Bowl bound. 

I squared off in the Super Bowl against my high school buddy and BYU roommate who has a team called Takes A Man to Make A Man. I thought I was going to lose when Steven Jackson rushed for 161 yards and 2 TD while also catching 4 passes for 54 yards. Fortunately for me I had picked up Seneca Wallace, Tony Scheffler and Cedric Benson for their Week 17 match-ups and they led me to a narrow 154-148 victory. 

My sincere thanks go to Brian Westbrook and Anquan Boldin who were my MVP's when they were healthy. If the NMW and I ever have another son, I am going to name him Anquan Westbrook. Steve Slaton and Lance Moore were my free agent pickups who delivered big numbers all year. Dallas Clark was my TE who I picked up off of the waver wire and had a solid season.

Braylon Edwards and Ben Roethlisburger - you stink! You guys frustrated me every week since the draft ended. I will never draft either of the two of you again. Good riddance.  

Enough about my team. I always like to hear other people's fantasy football stories, so PLEASE POST COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR TEAM AND THE PLAYERS YOU LOVED, HATED, SURPRISED YOU, ETC. 

Now that the fantasy season is over, I proudly present to you the 2008 Normal Mormon Husband fantasy awards. Since this is an LDS-themed blog, I decided to put a Book of Mormon reference in every one of the categories to help spice things up a little bit.  

The Nephi Award (MVP) - Nephi is one of the stalwarts in the Book of Mormon who does whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether he is being asked to return to Jerusalem, get the brass plates, build a ship, kill dinner, cross the ocean, build a temple or lead his people, Nephi never lets you down. Week after week, Nephi just delivers. Nephi is an MVP. 
  • Winner - Drew Brees. Led our league in total points with 360. Every time you faced the Irritable Bowels team with Brees as its QB you were terrified that he would go for 400 yards and 4 TD's. 
  • Runners Up - Andre Johnson (323 points), DeAngelo Williams (309).
The Corianton Award (Biggest Disappointment)
Corianton is the son of the prophet Alma who boasts in his own strength and wisdom, forsakes his ministry and chases after a woman of ill repute (as do most NFL players, but anyway....) Alma probably experienced many frustrating weeks where he was deeply disappointed in the behavior of his wayward son. Fantasy owners can relate to being disappointed after having huge expectations for a high draft pick. While Corianton eventually turned his life around, some people never get it right. For instance...
  • Winner (Loser?) - Joseph Addai. The Colts RB had rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and scored 15 TD's in 2007. Addai was set to have a big season in 2008 and was drafted 7th overall in our league draft. No Go Joe played in only 12 games and contributed a measly 140 points on 544 yards (3.5 ypc) and 5 touchdowns. Boy am I glad I picked sixth in our draft...
  • Runners Up - Ryan Grant (drafted 17th -173 points), Braylon Edwards (19th-168).
City of Gid Award (Biggest Surprise)
In Alma 55 we read about the Lamanites taking control of the City of Gid and taking the city's inhabitants as prisoners. During the night time the Lamanite guards get wasted (as do most NFL players, but anyway...) and Moroni casts weapons over the city walls to arm the captive prisoners. When the Lamanites wake up the following morning they find Gid surrounded by Moroni's army on the outside and - SURPRISE! - all of the prisoners inside the city are armed. Kind of like Plaxico Burress. Needless to say, the Lamanite soldiers surrendered. Kind of like the Detroit Lions. Surprises happened this year in fantasy football as well.  
  • Winner - Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had completed a total of 26 passes in two years as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay.  Nobody really knew how well Rodgers would do as a starter and he was ultimately selected in the 14th round of our league's draft. Rodgers surprised everybody by finishing the season 5th overall with 314 points. 
  • Runners Up - DeAngelo Williams was an 11th round pick and finished 7th overall with 309 points. Kurt Warner was drafted in our 10th round and finished 10th overall with 295 points. 
Curelom and Cumom Award (Never Heard Of Him Before)
I had never heard of a curelom or a cumom before reading the Book of Ether. (Does anybody know what type of animals those are? Do they have horns? Can they fly? Breathe fire? Grant wishes? If anybody knows, please enlighten me.) A number of players rose from obscurity in 2008 to deliver solid fantasy numbers to their owners. 
  • Winner: Steve Breaston. As a rookie WR in 2007 for the Arizona Cardinals, Steve Breaston had a total of 8 catches for 92 yards. This year he went for 77 receptions, 1,006 and 3 TD's plus 900 return yards. Breaston finished 32nd overall with 243 points. 
  • Runners up: Matt Cassell (241), Lance Moore (236)
Faith of Ammaron Award (Best Rookie)
Toward the end of the Book of Mormon Ammaron gives the records to a 10-year-old boy named Mormon because he was "sober child" and "quick to observe." Sometimes we have to trust in young, unproven people to get the job done. In fantasy football we call them rookies. 
  • Winner - Matt Forte. The Bears rookie RB finished the year with 307 points, placing him in the top-10 overall for the season. Like Mormon, Forte was "quick", but I'm not so sure about "sober."
  • Runners Up - Steve Slaton - 17th overall, Eddie Royal (20th)
King Lamoni Award (Did He Stink or Not Stink?)
After King Lamoni had been caught up in the Spirit for two days and two night, many people in the kingdom believed he had died and had begun to....well...reek. His wife, however, said, "Others say that he is dead and that he stinketh...but as for myself, to me he doth not stink." There are a number of NFL players who either stunk or did not stink this year depending upon how you see things. PLEASE VOTE ON THESE FOUR PLAYERS because I need your help sorting out which ones stunk and which ones did not.
  • LaDanian Tomlinson. LDT has been a fantasy juggernaut over the past several years and went 1st overall in our league draft. In 2006 LDT was 1st overall with an amazing 485 points and then finished 4th overall in 2007 with 371 points. LaDanian finished this year 13th overall with 278 points, which for most players is an outstanding year but rather lame for LDT. Stink? Didn't stink? You tell me. 
  • Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD finished 9th overall with 298 points but had too many horrible games (e.g. being held to 50 or fewer total yards in five games) to be a consistent performer. 
  • Adrian Peterson. He led the league with 1760 rushing yards, but finished as the 9th overall RB with 266 points. Again, 266 points are great, but AP was supposed to be the most dominant RB this year.
  • Randy Moss. Expectations for Moss were huge after last year's offensive explosion, but Brady's injury in Week 1 killed any hopes for a monster season. Moss finished the season with over 1,000 yards and 11 TD's, placing him 14th among receivers in fantasy points. But between weeks 2-11 he only topped 100 yards twice and scored only four TD's.  
Well, my thoroughly enjoyable 2008 fantasy football season has come to an end. Now begins the long, boring stretch of the year we call the NFL off season. 

Post your comments about the highs and lows of your fantasy season. Hopefully next year I will have has many highs as I had in 2008. And who knows, maybe ten years from now I will be telling my son, Anquan Westbrook, every detail about the glorious year when I won the Super Bowl. 

(P.S. - There is one additional Book of Mormon themed category called "The All-Gadianton Robbers Team" that consists only of players who have had brushes with the law. This post was already too long so I will come out with the AGRT in a few days.)

Christmas and Angels

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Every year my family reenacts the Christmas story by donning bath robes, fastening towels to our heads and acting out the parts of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and the donkey. When I play the donkey he tends to have an Eddie Murphy in Shrek attitude, but this year the part went to my eight-year-old niece who is much less experienced playing a mule than I am. She didn't even say, "You know what everybody likes? Parfaits..." Oh well, she'll learn.

My daughter played the part of one of the angels. Angels and Christmas go hand-in-hand like Santa and chimneys, stockings and oranges, Ralphie and BB guns, and rich kids and four wheelers. Angels visited Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Angels visited the shepherds in the field, proclaimed peace on earth and goodwill to men, and then sang out in joy to announce the birth of the Savior. Angels have always been an important part of Christmas.

But this year, angels were an important part of my Christmas.

Some of you know that I have been battling pretty severe back problems for about a year and a half now. Last week my back went out completely on me and I was bedridden and in constant pain for five days in a row. To make matters worse, the Normal Mormon wife had flown out of town early for Christmas with our two daughters and left me home alone with the seven-year-old Normal Mormon Boy. The only way I could get around the house at some points was to crawl on all fours (which was also good practice to play the donkey part - maybe next year.) Since I spent about 23 hours a day laying flat on my back I ended up watching a lot of daytime courtroom TV shows and doing a lot of reading and learned two valuable lessons:

Valuable Lesson #1) From Judge Mathis: If you lend $1,200 dollars to your cousin named Shantiniqua, get her to sign a contract stating that the money is a loan that needs to be repaid and not a "gift" from a "caring relative".

Valuable Lesson #2) From Reading The Ensign: Angels still exist today.

And what better time for angels to spring into action than the week before Christmas? The talk in the Ensign that I read during my time of trial was Elder Holland's October 2008 General Conference message called, "The Ministry of Angels." The part that nearly overwhelmed me goes as follows, "I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

Thank you to all of the angelic friends and family who went out of their way to bless my life when I was alone, in pain and nearly helpless. You know who you are. You were the ones who let the Normal Mormon Boy come over to your house after school so that I could get a little more rest before trying to take care of him. You came over to my house late at night to give me a blessing and spoke the words I needed to hear (and that was after you fed the missionaries and had your home teachers visit you.) You called me on the phone to make me laugh by telling me that I was a wimp who needed to get better before the Stake basketball season starts. You drove me to my doctor's office and waited in the lobby for an hour while he examined me and gave me enough prescriptions to sedate a herd of wildebeests.

You guys were my Christmas angels.

Elder Holland makes reference to his angelic wife. I am in the same boat. My back problems have made it hard at times for me to do simple things like hold our six-month-old daughter or carry in the groceries from the van. The NMW never complains, never gets visibly frustrated. She just keeps on making life fun and exciting, even when she is on the other side of the country and can only lift my spirits over the phone and by kicking my rear end on Pathwords on Facebook. She's angelic. (Except for on Pathwords. She's a demon!)

I am grateful that this year I was able to be the recipient of service and goodness and love and compassion and caring and everything else that Christmas is supposed to be about. This was my Christmas where angels became a little more real to me.

Maybe in next year's family Christmas play I can be an angel.

I bet they even like parfaits...

NMH at NFL's MNF in NC

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, yes, Hank Williams, Jr. - I AM READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

Monday, December 8th, 2008 was a watershed moment in my career as a die-hard sports fan. A few weeks ago I blogged about a pair of tickets to the Panthers-Buccaneers Monday Night Football game in Charlotte that the Normal Mormon Wife gave me as a gift on my 34th birthday. Few things in life get me giddy anymore, but the anticipation I felt leading up to that game was like the last day of school, Stake Lagoon Day, Christmas Eve and finishing the last chapter of Alma all wrapped up into one.

But there was one downside to the whole evening - the NMW could not come with me. Our lovely six-month-old daughter unilaterally decided two days before the game that it was a good time for her to quit nursing. Cold turkey. No warning. She ambushed us with as much surprise as when the machine-gun laden Cuban-Russian paratroopers begin landing in the empty field behind the high school in Red Dawn. Needless to say, this caused much travail for both mother and daughter, so I ended up taking the 7-year-old Normal Mormon Boy to the game with me. (Hey, sweetie, just remember that there are NFL games on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Feel free to get me the same gift next year if the Panthers play on a non-Sabbath-Day-breaking evening so that we can go to a game together. I'll act totally surprised. I promise.)

So what do you get when you send the NMH and the NMB to an NFL MNF NFC South game? I decided to keep a running diary to chronicle one of the most enjoyable sporting events of my life.

5:30 p.m. - Get dressed in my Panthers shirt and hat. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and will not end until close to midnight, so I tell the NMB to dress in layers, including two pairs of socks. I ask the NMW, "Hon, do you know where my earmuffs are?" I then punch myself in the face for even considering wearing earmuffs to an NFL game. But I will go on the record and say that I like earmuffs. They are my preferred method of keeping my ears warm. The problem is that they make you look like a pansy. Pansies do not go to pro football games. The earmuffs are staying home tonight. This is exactly what it means to "Cowboy Up!"

7:00 - Quick dinner at McDonald's in Charlotte. The NMB goes pee. I splurge and we each get a $1 hot fudge Sunday. No earmuffs and dessert at Mickie D's? I'm a wild man tonight.

7:40 - Pull into a parking lot three blocks from the stadium. There is no visible price posted anywhere. I ask the guy who is directing us into the lot how much is costs to park and he replies, "Twenty." Twenty bucks to park! Don't they know I just dropped two extra George Washington's at McD's? After throwing up in my mouth, I park my car and we join the throng of Panther faithful walking toward the stadium.

7:42 - Nobody took my $20 and I don't see any parking lot attendants. Odd.

7:43 - The NMB tell me he has to pee again. It will take us at least 15 minutes to reach the stadium and we are currently smack dab in the middle of Booneyville. I ask him how bad he needs to go and he emphatically tells me that internal organs will explode like liquid yellow pipe bombs if he does not immediately relieve himself. Using my outstanding parenting skills, I direct my son to go to the bathroom in a vacant lot. Somehow I doubt this would have happened if the NMW would have accompanied me tonight.

7:46 - As we are walking to the stadium, I look down and notice that instead of wearing shoes the NMB decided to wear his crocs to the game! Those things have more holes in them than Plaxico Burress' legs. When I told him at home that he should wear two pairs of socks I assumed he would also understand that shoes would be a good idea. Oh well, I've heard frostbite can be an effective teacher.

8:09 - We take our seats way, way, way, way up in the top section. The atmosphere is already electric. The Panthers and Bucs are both 8-3 and battling for first place in the division. It feels like the playoffs. Or a Stake Championship men's basketball game. It's about the same.

8:11 - Hey, there are a few guys wearing earmuffs. Dang it!

8:14 - A pastor gives a pre-game prayer. I had no idea that pre-game prayers happened before NFL games. What is this, BYU? And what do the pastors say in the prayer before a 1:00 p.m. Sunday kick off? "And please forgive us for gluttoning ourselves on bratwurst and beer for the past four hours while tailgating in the bed of Jimbo's pickup instead of attending church on this Thy holy day?" The prayer helps me to remember that this is just a game, it does not matter who wins or loses, and hopefully nobody will get hurt tonight. I vow to remember these words of wisdom for the rest of the game.

8:16 - Oh, man, I hope the Panthers kill the Bucs!!!!! I will be so mad for the rest of the week if we lose!!!! I hope Julius Peppers tears Jeff Garcia's head off in the first quarter!!!!! Send him to the ER, Peppers!!!!!!! Kill!!!! Kill!!!!

8:18 - Player introductions begin. One by one the Panthers starters run out through a tunnel amid fireworks, smoke machines, and flames being shot into the air while their names are hollered over the PA system. I have goose bumps. Thousands of people are cheering these guys for coming to work tonight. This is their job, after all. I wish this was how my day at work started off every morning. Instead of just opening my office door and booting up my laptop, I would run through a smoke-filled tunnel with a PA announcer yelling, "A 6'6", 215-pound MBA from the University of Arizona. Your Regional HR Manager - The Normal. Mormon. Huuuuussssbaaaaaaand!" I would then slap fives with my plant manager, fist bump my controller, and chest bump my IT Manager. That would be cool.

8:25 - Is it possible to get a second-hand contact beer buzz from people sitting around you? If so, I'm in trouble tonight. You know the scene in Strange Brew when Rick Moranis goes swimming in a vat of Elsinore beer? I'm pretty sure he ended up smelling like the guy seated directly behind me.

8:30 - Kick off. Yeeeeeeeeee Haaawwwww! I'm at Monday Night Football. Surreal.

8:43 - A public service message comes over the Jumbo tron. It features five little kids who essentially say, "Please enjoy yourselves tonight, but don't get too drunk and belligerent because a number of reckless parents are keeping their kids up until midnight on a school night to come to the game. Please don't swear, kids can hear you." They even give us a text message number we can use to report (read: snitch) on people sitting near us who are being too profane and/or drunk. I think there will be nine of us left in the stadium by the end of the third quarter.

8:45 - I am sooooo tempted right now to send a text message to the snitch line to report an unruly, belligerent, inebriated fan sitting next to me. He is white, wearing crocs, is between the ages of six and eight, and looks kind of Mormon-ish.

9:09 - Another commercial comes on the Jumbo tron during a timeout. It is from a heating and cooling company and they give us an easy quiz that asks, "Is it most cost efficient to seal your windows with plastic? Raise two fingers for yes and one finger for no." Most people are voting for "No" by displaying one finger. Take a wild guess at which finger most of them are waving.

9:19 - The NMB has to go to the bathroom for the third time tonight.

10:00 - The halftime show begins. To this point the NMB has been mildly interested in the game but has spent more time reading the "freaky facts" in his game program than watching the action on the field. This changes immediately with the halftime show which consists of six-on-six full-contact football between local pro mascots (Panthers, Bobcats, etc.) and college mascots (UNC, NC State, etc.) These mascots are just KILLING each other out there. The Panthers mascot, Sir Purr, breaks loose for a 50-yard touchdown run and the NMB is screaming louder now than at any point during the real game. At the end of halftime the NMB looks over at me with a smile beaming on his face and says, "I wish we could watch mascot football for the rest of the game. That was awwwwwwwwwesome!"

10:01 - Wait, the Panthers mascot is named Sir Purr? What is he, a pampered, snooty, British housecat from a Barbie movie? That has to be the most sissy mascot name I have ever heard. Why not call him something manly, like "Pan-Thor" and let him wield the hammer of doom? Or Pan-Thunder? Or Panic the Panther? I could think of a million better names than Sir Purr. Pansy! I bet he wears earmuffs when it gets too cold. What a girly-man.

10:02 - It is the random parenting moments like watching your kid's face light up during a mascot football game that make being a dad so much fun. I love this kid. I am so glad to be here with him tonight and make this memory with him.

10:19 - The PA announcer just reminded everybody that alcohol will not be sold after the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, 2,389 people are killed in the stampede to the concession stands.

10:27 - Touchdown, Steve Smith! The Panthers are pulling away. While all of us sitting in the stands are complete strangers, we begin high fiving each other in a display of spontaneous jubilation. I turn around and attempt to high five the drunk guy sitting behind me, but we fail to connect. It is always dangerous to have white guys high five, especially when you are strangers. And one of you is drunk. The "High Five" would be a cool field sobriety test for police to use. Instead of making people count backwards or walk a straight line, the cop could just hold up his hand and say, "High five me." You miss, you're spending the night locked up.

10:38 - The NMB goes to the restroom for the fourth time tonight. He is in world-record form right now. I think he has surpassed his previous record of three bathroom emergencies during Stake Conference.

10:55 - The NMB points up to the sky and says, "Look, dad, you can see the spotlights from outside the stadium hitting the bottoms of the clouds." Well, it's either spotlights or the alien invasion is beginning. I am going to be so mad if the aliens decided to blow up the earth right in the middle of my first NFL game! At least let us finish the fourth quarter. Maybe I've just seen too many commercials for "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and have been reading too much of the Ender's Game series.

11:07 - Touchdown, Panthers! We are up 31-17 late in the game and will overtake Tampa for first in the NFC South. Yesss!

11:28 - We begin walking back to the car when the NMB says, "Dad, I've got to go really, really bad." He is hopping up and down like he's jumping on an invisible pogo stick. Once again we are in the middle of Booneyville so I instruct the boy to urinate in a different vacant lot. I am now convinced that my son is actually part jackal and is instinctively marking his territory.

11:46 - Pull out of the parking lot, and once again, there are no parking attendants to collect my $20. Score! I just had a great evening bonding with my son, I saw my first NFL game, the Panthers won a crucial divisional match up, and aliens did not blow up the earth. And now I don't even have to pay for parking! Life does not get any better than this.

Man, twenty bucks. Do you realize how many earmuffs I can buy with that kind of money?

Breaking News: Twilight Actors Replaced in New Moon!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Earlier this week I broke into the Summit Entertainment studios and managed to sneak a peek at some of the top secret filming of the New Moon movie, so I am going to be the first person to break the news about some of the HUGE casting changes they have decided to make. But before dishing out the biggest scoop in the entertainment world, I just wanted to clarify one thing:

I enjoyed the Twilight movie.

This sentiment did not come across in my last post because I did not want to write a movie review since that had already been done at a billion other websites. Most of these reviews said something to the effect of, "IMO, Edward wuz 2 hot 4 me to handle! He can suck my blood 24/7, LOL!", and how could I top that level of professional analysis? My approach in my last post was to simply point out some of the more humorous thoughts that raced through my mind while snuggling up to the NMW in a nearly deserted theater during our hot date.

The main reason for my enjoyment of Twilight was primarily due to what the movie lacked (e.g. profanity, gratuitous sexuality, harsh violence, famous actors who despise the U.S. of A., etc.) - not for anything special the movie had. If I had not read Twilight before seeing the movie, I would not have cared about the characters or understood why Bella and Edward were so attracted to one another. There was so much character development to cram into 90 minutes that the plot was rushed and the characters were shallow, but I still liked seeing how my mental image of the book compared to the movie. However, because I read the book I fully understood the deep, passionate reasons behind the love that Bella and Edward shared, namely that Bella is lustful and Edward cannot resist her smell. If love cannot survive when founded upon those two principles, then no relationships can endure. Heck, those are precisely the two factors that have kept the Normal Mormon Wife and me happily married for 11 years now.

Anyway, back to the big news about casting for New Moon. Apparently some of the Twilight actors demanded outrageous salaries to shoot New Moon and refused to begin working until their salary requirements were honored. Summit Entertainment is a small company and could not meet the salary demands of some of the actors, so they decided to simply replace them with capable backups. Replacing the stars from the first film with other actors in the sequel happens all of the time and the sequels still do great. For example, Jason Bateman replaced Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf Too and Cuba Gooding Jr. replaced Eddie Murphy in Daddy Day Camp and both sequels did great! In fact, I think Jason Bateman won an Oscar for his performance and Daddy Day Camp moved past Titanic for the highest grossing film of all time. Or at least I think that's true, but I'm too lazy to research it.

Let's hope New Moon can pull off the new cast as seamlessly as other sequels have done in the past. I risked jail time to find this stuff out, so I hope you appreciate it. Feel free to vote for the best replacement.

Lisa Ling to Play Eric: The actor who played Eric was demanding $1.9 million because his New Moon contract called for him to, "Begin aggressive estrogen hormone treatments to increase character femininity. Watch Ellen and Oprah on a daily basis. Stop playing fantasy football, unless you are a cheerleader. Shop at Tuesday Mornings." Eric was not willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to play such an effeminate role, so Summit just cast a woman instead.

Michelin Man to Play Carlisle:It took 6 1/2 hours to apply all of the white face makeup to get the actor in character to play Carlisle. The total cost of makeup application was $16.3 million, so Summit is just going straight to the always-pale Michelin Man. He even looks dashing in a scarf, which is a requirement for playing Carlisle.

Feather Duster to Play Alice: There were three criteria for the Alice replacement:
1) Rail-thin physique
2) Perky black hair
3) No dialogue required
A feather duster costs $4.99 at Home Depot and is non-union. Why not?

Mannequin with Squirrel on Head to Play Edward: Casting a new Edward was a fairly simple process. Summit Entertainment went out looking for an actor with washboard abs, pale skin, unchanging dramatic facial expression and really poofy hair. Fortunately for the casting department, the Summit lot shares a dumpster with a Macy's department store that had just discarded a bunch of old mannequins. Or maybe they were retired employees. Oh well, that's beside the point. A squirrel and perched itself atop one of the mannequin heads and - BOOM! - the search for Edward ended.

Teen Wolf to Play Emmett: A number of you pointed out in your comments on my last post that Emmett was always standing up in the jeep or convertible he was driving in. Now that you mention it, this was the most important part of the Emmett character. We all know that "van surfing" was first popularized by Teen Wolf, so Summit decided to go old school and find the only person who could one-up Emmett when it came to standing on moving vehicles. There will also be some emotionally wrenching scenes as Emmett struggles with his self-loathing for being a vampire and a werewolf at the same time.

Headless Horseman to Play James: The casting call for James (who makes a surprising cameo in New Moon) went like this: "Wanted: Immortal, terrifying white male with no head. Must be comfortable around vampires, werewolves, giddy teen-aged girls and escapist LDS housewives." The casting crew nearly selected the guy who got his noggin blown off in Glory, but went with the Headless Horseman instead.

Whoopi Goldberg to Play Laurent: It is creepy how much these two look alike. Seriously. I've been having nightmares that Whoopi Goldberg is interviewing me on The View when I suddenly notice that her eyes are blood red! Just as she bears her fangs and darts for my neck, Elizabeth Hasselbeck comes from out of nowhere to save my life. As we dismember Whoopi's corpse and burn the remains, we also try to burn a DVD of the movie Eddie but the movie never dies....(wake up shivering in a cold sweat.)

Edward Scissorhands to Play Jasper: This one is courtesy of a comment made by Violetsareblue in my last post. Spot on, Violets, spot on. Both of these characters have the same creepy, nervous, frail, quivering, pale, socially awkward qualities about them. Summit Entertainment learned that Johnny Depp had a huge fan base from his 21 Jump Street days, so they went after him. He apparently made some pirate movies too, but I haven't heard much about those.

Tow Mater to Play Bella's Truck: Okay, I know I mentioned this one in my last post, but when you see the side-by-side comparison you have to laugh. I honestly think that Summit Entertainment stole the real Tow Mater truck, removed the eyes, smile and wench and plugged it into the film. I wonder if Pixar is going to come save Tow Mater from Summit's production facility by sending in the Dynoco helipcopter for a covert resuce mission...

In the end it really will not matter who plays the supporting roles in New Moon. The movie will be 3 hours long and 2 1/2 of those hours will feature Bella crying about losing Edward and listening to emo music.

Oh well, at least the 30 minutes featuring Edward will be entertaining.

After all, everybody loves squirrels!

17 Twilight Highlights

Monday, December 01, 2008

In honor of everybody's favorite 17-year-old couple, here are 17 random thoughts that passed through my head while watching the Twilight movie. Please feel free to vote for your favorite:

1. "...but I pictured a real-life Homer Simpson!" After reading the Twilight books I had developed a perfect mental picture of Charlie. He was supposed to be balding, 50 pounds overweight, insecure and constantly shoving Little Debbie's down his pie hole. The guy they cast to play Charlie actually looked like a competent, rugged law enforcement professional cut from the Magnum P.I. cloth. Tall, thin, athletic, gratuitous cop mustache....Not at all what I pictured Charlie to be.

2. "...It's Friday, I'm in love!" Is it just me, or could Alice pass for Robert Smith, lead singer of The Cure? Between the chalk-white faces, red lipstick and perky black hair, they are nearly indistinguishable.

3. "...and don't forget your 50-pound tube of lip gloss, either." Did anybody else notice that the canister of mace that Charlie gave to Bella was the approximate size of an oxygen tank used by scuba divers? Seriously, that thing was enormous! Charlie must have thought Bella was going on a date with a frisky Jolly Green Giant or a lonely Paul Bunyon and may need to dispense 25-40 pounds of mace if her date crossed the line.

4. "...and they really like to gamble, too." Not to perpetuate the stereotype or anything, but the first time a Native American appeared in the movie he was carrying two six-packs of beer. If his legs worked he would have probably had a keg strapped to his back. The Director should re-shoot Billy's first scene to show him full of dignity imparting traditional Native American wisdom to a school auditorium full of ignorant, rich white kids...and then getting plastered by the tether ball pole afterward!

5. "...and Christie Brinkley has chubby cheeks." Christie Brinkley was the spokes model for NuSkin Enterprises while I was employed there. She toured our corporate headquarters and ended up standing about five feet away from me while I processed an order. Christie Brinkley was stunning in person. Absolutely stunning. But despite her otherworldly beauty, I could not get over how chubby her cheeks looked. She kind of looked like a squirrel during her return trip to deposit a few acorns into the winter food supply. The actress who played Rosalie had a similar impact on me. She is probably more attractive than 99.37% of the female population, but she could never live up to the image of Rosalie that I had created in my mind. (Okay, I just pictured Rosalie to look exactly like Jessica Simpson. Call me shallow. I don't care.)

6. "...blame it on his Native American drinking buddies!" After Twilight ended the Normal Mormon Wife leaned over to me and said, "So is Charlie a drunk, or what? I think he had a beer in his hand in every scene." Yes, in fact, he was chugging a Rainier beer in every scene. Maybe the Charlie/Homer parallels can work after all.

7. "...her secret is the Pantene Pro-V Ice Shine shampoo and conditioner." Where in the world did the wind come from that caused Bella's hair to dance like she was in a shampoo commercial when she walked toward Edward on their first day of science class? They must have either been doing a science experiment on aerodynamics and Bella accidentally walked into the wind tunnel or somebody opened a window and a tornado touched down ten feet from the school. How does that happen to a person's hair in the middle of school? Is this one of Bella's special untapped supernatural powers?

8. "...he drank a Red Bull and it gave him wings." After Bella's hair settled down and she took her seat for her first day of science class, I noticed that Edward has mysteriously grown a short, stubby pair of white wings! Did I miss something in the book? Was Edward really a winged cherubic angel and not a blood-thirsty vampire? Oh, wait, he's just sitting in front of a stuffed white owl. Weird cinematography, if you ask me. Edward kinda looked liked John Travolta in the movie Michael for a moment there.

9. "...if somebody robbed the Rainier Beer truck, then maybe I'd work some overtime." Shortly after the murder takes place in Forks, Bella and Charlie are seen having lunch together in a diner full of completely freaked-out townsfolk who are depending on the Chief of Police to restore peace to their community by apprehending the killer. There are no leads, no suspects, and the murderer is still on the loose. Charlie, however, tells Bella something along the lines of, "You should go out with your friends tonight. I'm just going to watch the Mariners game and then turn in early." Whew! For a moment there I thought Charlie might have to put in more than his standard 32-hour work week. Glad to see that something trivial like an unsolved murder isn't going to affect Charlie's ability to watch baseball and get drunk with Billy.

10. "...and a $20 dollar bill makes me a millionaire!" When Bella enters Edward's bedroom she takes a quick inventory of all of his stuff and says, "Wow! You've got a ton of CD's!" The camera angles that I saw showed a stack of about 19 CD's in his collection. Maybe this is just a generational thing since Bella is 17 and has been raised in the digital music era where you no longer have to buy CD's. I have friends who were in high school in the 1990's who have hundreds of CD's sitting in CD racks that take up entire walls in their rooms. Take that, Bella!

11. "...I bet The Little Mermaid would eat Flounder if she was a vampire." When I read the books I pictured Victoria to have deep, dark, FLAMING red hair. Like Pippie Longstocking, The Little Mermaid, Carrot Top, or Wendy from the Wendy's logo. The actress who played Victoria had a reddish tint to her hair, but come on, people! I wanted a blood-thirsty Ariel for crying out loud! (Now there's a movie with some potential. I'm totally going to write a screenplay for the Ariel-is-a-vampire idea for the upcoming Little Mermaid IV: Ariel's Revenge. That's gold, Jerry, GOLD!)

12. "...and he color coordinates all by himself!" Speaking of flaming...what was the deal with Erik? When the self-appointed welcome committee welcomes Bella to school I could have sworn that he had just returned from a "No on 8" rally. Either that or tryouts for the Vienna Boys Choir. Every one of Erik's appearances was just awkward. What was that all about?

13. "...can I get some more cream pie over here, please?" I know the Cullens are supposed to have pale skin and all, but Carlisle looks like he just finished getting a cream pie to the face.

14. "...and she can crack walnuts in her bare hands, too." HOLY COW! ALICE JUST RIPPED JAMES' HEAD OFF! That was totally unexpected. Forget Rosalie. It's team Alice for me, baby!

15. "...and I'm not dazzled by my son's Lite Brite, either!" Perhaps the most anticlimactic moment of the movie was when Edward takes Bella into the forest, bears his chest, and then dramatically steps into the sunlight. When I read the book I envisioned the sunlight blazing off of Edward like he was a human lighthouse or something. In the movie it looked like he accidentally spilled some glitter paint on him while making Christmas decorations.

16. "...and the second worst wardrobe malfunction of all time goes to..." Everybody raise your hand if you wear actual baseball uniforms at your family's 4th of July softball game. Okay, it looks like nobody is raising their hands except for the few members of the Cullen family who read this blog. What was up with the cheesy baseball unis? Those were the second-worst family outfits in movie history, placing just behind the Griswold family for wearing matching berets in European Vacation. I can just see the following conversation taking place at the Cullen house:

Carlisle: "Edward, you will wear that baseball uniform, and that's final!"
Edward: "Aw, but dad, I look stupid."
Carlisle: "Edward, your mother worked really hard to make these for us. Now put on your jersey and let's go."
Edward: "But I look like a dork, dad! Bella's coming with us and we all look stupid!"
Carlisle: "Grow up, Edward. Stop acting like an 86-year-old!"
Edward: "I hate you!" (leaves in tears.)

17. "...and Edward drives Lightning McQueen." Hey, I think Charlie just bought Tow Mater for Bella to drive to school. I would not be surprised if halfway through the movie Bella's truck said something like, "Sheee-oooot! How's abouts us drivin' backwards and then doin' some tractor tippin'? Sound good, Bella?"

Well, I hope everybody enjoyed Twilight. I'm already mentally preparing myself to endure two hours of Bella doing nothing but crying when the New Moon movie comes out. Ugh.

The Little Mermaid IV is sounding better and better by the minute.

Somebody call my agent!

5 Things 4 Which W3 Are 2 Be Thankfu1

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Last night I loaded up the kids and made a quick Wendy's run while the Normal Mormon Wife pulled her best Cinderella impersonation and cleaned the house in preparation for the arrival of our Thanksgiving house guests. I was a little disturbed that when I left the NMW was dressed in rags and having a conversation with two mice about riding away in a pumpkin chariot, but hey, she likes to keep it real.

During the ride I turned down Radio Disney (I think it was hour 9,379 of a 10,000 hour straight HSM3 marathon) and asked the kids what they were thankful for. Both kids immediately said, "My family!" It was a heartwarming moment, but then they both tried to hit me up for $10 because they could sense my guard was down. After I forked over the cash they both listed "The Gospel" and "School" to round out the top three things for which they are thankful. If I am being serious for a moment, I would also have the family-gospel-work trifecta at the top of my thankful list. Okay, now that the serious moment has passed, here are five random things that I am extremely grateful for:

1. My Garmin GPS Device. My sense of direction is similar to that of an intoxicated, blindfolded homeless person who is let loose in a mall, spun until he is dizzy, and then asked to find the Abercrombie store. (Just follow the smell of immorality, it'll lead you right to it.) I have lived in North Carolina for 5 1/2 years and can still only find my way to work, home and church without getting lost. The reason for my lack of directional fortitude is simple - I was born in Utah and learned how to find addresses based on the grid system (e.g. 11000 S., 1780 W.) If you ever get turned around in Utah, just locate the big mountains and that is east. Or you can smell the air for dead brine shrimp and that direction would be west. The federal government should pass legislation mandating that all cities must use the address grid system to bail out those of us who are directionally underprivileged. After all, the government is doing its darndest to insert itself into every other nook and cranny of our lives, why stop now?!

North Carolina roads are incredibly confusing. Roads change their names willy-nilly and without notice. Kind of like He Hate Me and Chad Ocho Cinco. For example, within a three mile stretch the same major road goes from Piedmont Pkwy to Hilltop Rd to Groomtown Rd to Neener-Neerer Your Lost Now, Huh? Ave. I think the NMW was tired of me calling her on my cellphone from the car and saying things like, "I'm a little turned around right now. Can you pull up Mapquest and tell me how to get to the YMCA? I just passed a big sign that said, 'Welcome to Alabama!'"I think we were both thrilled when she bought me a Garmin GPS device to help me get around town.

I have really bonded with my GPS over the past several months. It has even been given a name. Our last name starts with S., so I named her Gretchen Pumpernickel S. (note the clever GPS initials.) The name Gretchen has always been a favorite of mine because I think you could have all sorts of cheezy Saturday afternoon shows hosted by a Gretchen. For example, a yoga video could be called "Stretchin' with Gretchen." A dog obedience program could be called, "Fetchin' with Gretchen." You want a craft show? "Etchin' with Gretchen." An infomercial about stomach problems could be called, "Retchin' wi......" Never mind.

The middle name of Pumpernickel is necessary for the times when Gretchen gives me bad advice on which roads to take. During my High School days my friends and I used to call each other "Pumpernickel" as an insult. And yes, we were definitely the walking-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff Mormon kids. I think the word "fetch!" and "dang!" occasionally slipped from our lips as well. Pumpernickel is a perfect middle name to use when I get upset and say, "Awwww, come on, Pumpernickel! You've led me straight into the ghetto!" Fortunately for both Gretchen and me I rarely have to use the P-word because of the faithful friend she has become. I am thankful for Gretchen.

2. Monday Night Football. As an avid sports fan I love attending professional and college games whenever I can. I was there and rushed the field when the Ty Detmer-led BYU football team beat #1 Miami in Provo. I was at the Salt Palace in the late 80's when Magic, Kareem, Worthy and company came to town and put on Showtime. I went to a couple of Arizona Diamondbacks game the year they won the World Series. (I watched the game. The NMW spent three hours staring her boyfriend, Ken Griffey Jr., through her binoculars. I think I detected drool on the front of her shirt by the third inning.) But I am not a complete sports fan yet because I have never attended the most important game of them all - the WNBA!

Just kidding. It's the NFL, of course.

The whole "keep the Sabbath Day holy" thing has prevented me from ever going to an NFL game. You know how people get up and bear their testimonies about crazy things that happen to them when they break the Sabbath? I think I've heard at least six people say, " we decided to go boating instead of going to church and my boat ended up sinking and I've obeyed the Sabbath ever since!" Well, I am positive something freakish would happen to me if I ever went to an NFL game on Sunday as punishment for my disobedience. I would not be surprised if I got attacked by a rabid fox and had to run a mile to my car and then drive myself to the ER with the fox still attached to my arm.

But all of this will change on Monday, December 8th, 2008 when the Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Charlotte for a game that may decide the NFC South. The two tickets were a gift from the NMW for my birthday a few weeks ago. It ranks right up there with my mini-Ms. Pac-Man arcade game that I got as a kid as the best gift I have ever received. Thank you, NMW. Thank you, Monday Night Football. I am truly grateful.

3. The Flavor of the Holidays - In a way I am thankful that egg nog, peppermint ice cream and pumpkin pie are only available during the holidays. I long for them ten months a year and once they hit the shelves - BAM! - I'm all over them like Oprah on a hot ham! Wait, isn't it hypocritical for me to make fun of Oprah's eating habits when I'm confessing to gorging myself on artery-clogging junk food?

Anyway, as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I do not drink alcohol, but can I somewhat understand why people who do like to wind down with a drink at the end of the day. I just experienced this with egg nog when I got home from work before my family arrived from running an errand. In those few moments of solitude I poured myself a glass of egg nog, sat on the couch, forgot all of the stresses of life, and just sipped the thick, delicious drink until it was gone. Every sip was savored. Then the NMW and three kids arrived home and our house returned to the zaniness of a den of wild badgers trapped together in a small cardboard box. Egg nog, peppermint ice cream and pumpkin pie - I am grateful for you.

4. Alan Devine. Okay, this one just illustrates what most of you already know - I'm a total nerd. Alan Devine is my Madden franchise quarterback. I drafted him in the 1st round in 2010 because of his strong arm and Michael Vick-like speed rating of 90 and acceleration of 87. Unlike Vick, however, Devine will not have his career cut short by going to prison for dog fighting. The one drawback about Madden is that it whitewashes the terrible off-the-field stuff that takes place in any given NFL season. If I were the game developer I would immediately install circumstances were players are notified that, "Your WR was arrested for posession of cocaine and is currently suspended pending NFL review" or "Your All-Pro MLB was has been charged with murder". The NFL will never, ever, ever allow this, but it would be awesome.

Between Alan Devine's 65-yard touchdown bombs and 40-yard scrambles, my Madden franchise cannot be stopped. I have won the Super Bowl on the All-Madden level for each of the past three seasons, going 57-0 during that stretch. Take that, 1972 Dolphins! Yes, I'm a dork. But I'm thankful for my dorkiness.

5. You, My Readers. Okay, this one may sound like I'm pandering a bit here, but I am honestly thankful for the thousands of people around the world whom I have never met who read my blog. My blog's small following has has been a completely unexpected surprise this year. I went from getting 10 visits a day from family and friends to hundreds of visitors a day. With encouragement and appreciation from my readers, blogging has turned out to be one of the more enjoyable creative outlets that I have. Heck, I've even earned a little money through advertising. (Thank you, Husband Hero. Go visit their site. Now. Go ahead. This post isn't going anywhere.)

Knowing that there are a few people out there who like my writing style has even prompted me to take a stab at writing a novel. I already have the concept in mind and have dipped my big toe in the water by writing a few pages and scoping out several of the chapters. I am hoping that by mentioning it here that it will motivate me to keep chugging along in my spare time and see if I can write a semi-compelling story. Anybody know a publisher who is willing to take a chance on a completely unproven Madden addict?

And if that fails, I can always go back to blogging about Twilight.

Now if I can only work out the logistics of leaving three small kids at home (one is still nursing) so that the NMW and I can escape for three hours and see the Twilight movie......

Getting away for a hot night out with the NMW? Now that's something I would be really thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Your Face(book)!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Uh-oh. What have I gotten myself into? I just joined Facebook and after one week I have an ominous feeling of doom in my gut.

I've had this sensation of impending self-inflicted destruction before. It is the same feeling that I had when I bought a pet tarantula in high school and then had to feed it hairless baby mice. I think the spider's name was Izzy. I wonder what ever happened to good ol' Izzy? Another time was when I bought a used Kia Sephia and arrived home from the dealership only to find several recall noticed already waiting in my mailbox. In both instances I knew right away I had made a mistake.

In retrospect, I wish I would have immediately taken Izzy back to Petsmart instead of keeping him in my windowsill where he just stared at me year after year devouring "pinkies" and plotting ways to escape from his aquarium and bite into my jugular. Similarly, I should have taken the Kia back under the Lemon Law and purchased something more reliable. Like a Honda. Or a blind, infirm, three-legged mule.

I am afraid that I have made a similar mistake by venturing into world of Facebook.

Quite simply, I could waste my entire evening trolling through Facebook profiles of my old high school and college friends that I have managed to reconnect with. Rediscovering my friends has been wonderful since I am a notoriously poor keep-in-toucher. Despite having vowed to keep in touch with about four thousand people whom I have met in previous wards, high school, college, work and my mission, I have only remained in contact with two of them. That's right - two. My friend retention rate rivals that of Ben from Lost. The time commitment required to being a good Facebooker is more than I had bargained for and I am wondering if I should jump off this train before it gets too far.

Also, my sister recently canceled her Facebook account because of a few nasty political conversations where flying around and there was little she could do to stop it. The lack of control over what gets posted also has me nervous. For all I know somebody could post something terrible on my page without my consent. Like swearword acronyms. Or pro-global warming sentiments. Gasp!

But Facebook is not all bad. In addition to the whole "How in the heck are you doing?" emails, I really enjoy looking at the photos of people I have not seen since 1993 to see who has gained weight, lost hair, or went from "geek to chic" (and then debating what percentage of that transformation was natural versus paid for on an installment plan.) Yes, I'm shallow that way.

While it has been wonderful to trade some emails with long lost friends, I just don't know if I have the time to keep up with everybody now. It was hard enough to keep in touch with two people to begin with. Between work, family, church, sleeping, blogging, fantasy sports, Madden, and TV, I think being a good Facebooker will eventually wear me out. I mean, where am I going to find the time to be Facebook friends with 47 more people?

Since many of you are probably already experienced Facebookers, please give me some advice on what I should do. Do I go for it, or get out before I let 47 people down? If you are too lazy to comment, you can vote as well.

Wait, now it's 48 friends!

Izzy the Tarantula found me! We are Facebook buddies now! You can be his friend as well. Just search for "Izzy Tarantula" on Facebook to see what my old pal is up to.

Just don't be surprised when I fail to reply to his email.

(Updated 11/20)

Amx - My tarantula's name was BUTCHER!!!! Of course! Thank you so much for reminding me about that. How could I have ever forgot the name of the spider who wanted to kill me? Thanks for jogging my memory. And, yes, are you an incredibly awesome sister for taking care of that hideous beast when I took off for my mission. I won't mention whether he was dead or alive when I got home (ahem, ahem), but you were a champ for doing that for me.

Butcher (aka Izzy) Facebook Update - Butcher now has 5 Facebook friends. Thank you to the adventerous people who have decided to take a neglected, ugly spider into their circle of friends. Butcher even has a complete Bio and some photos uploaded. He's still taking friend requests, if anybody else is interested (and hopelessely, depressingly lonely.)

A Tribute to Primary Music Leaders Everywhere

Friday, November 14, 2008

Two Sundays. Two Sacrament meetings. Two different wards. Two Primary Programs. One revelation:

Primary Music Leaders rock!

Two weeks ago I was able to watch my seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter participate in our ward's Primary Program. I sat and beamed with satisfaction as they spoke their parts and sang the songs they have been rehearsing since the Sunday after the 2007 Primary Program ended. Last Sunday we were in Georgia spending time with family and were able to see their ward's Primary sacrament meeting as well. After witnessing the back-to-back junior versions of Music and the Spoken Word, I came to better appreciate Primary Music Leaders everywhere. These two Sisters leading the songs were on fire! But before I get into that, a little background may be helpful.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Primary Music Leaders. You see, when I was a kid in Primary I used to purposefully change the lyrics to the songs in an attempt to be funny. Take the song "Love One Another", for example. The correct lyrics at the end of the song are, "By this shall men know, Ye are my disciples, If ye have love, One to anooooooooooother." My version of the song went like this: "By this shall men know, Ye are motorcycles, If ye have love, One two three foooooooooooour five." I always thought it would be ironic to get the Primary Music Leader to flip out on me after singing "Love One Another", but those good Sisters never took the bait.

I was also one of the kids who yelled, "Eee-Eee!" after every line in "Book of Mormon Stories", but I can hardly be solely blamed for that one. You did it too. Admit it! You did. Does this sound familiar? "Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me (Eee-Eee!), Are about the Lamanites in ancient history (Eee-Eee!) Aaaahhh, memories (Eee-Eee's!) Again, those patient Sisters never yelled at me, they just kept on magnifying their callings.

While I did everything humanly possible to be an annoying little twerp in Primary, the music that I learned was very important in my spiritual progression as a child. I always felt the Spirit when we sang the boy/girl "Mine Is a Home....." and "I See My Mother Kneeling..." song (Love is Spoken Here?) I used to try to drop my voice an octave or two when I sang about the priesthood and it helped me to appreciate having parents who lived the gospel and loved their family. While I do not remember many of my actual childhood Primary lessons, the music has stuck with me throughout my adult life and I still to this day find myself occasionally humming a Primary tune. Well, either a Primary song or something from Sing Star Pop Version 2, but it's all good.

Now, back to the reasons I was left so impressed with the Primary Music Leaders that I just witnessed in action. After watching these Sisters lead the music, I realized that a good Primary Music Leader must have four important qualities (you can vote on which is most important):

1) Drill Sargent
2) Saturday Night Live Cast Member (Minus the coarse debauchery)
3) Multilingual Interpreter
4) Warshack Test Administrator

The Drill Sargent - It is a minor miracle that a Primary Music Leader can look at fifty kids and get them to stand up and sit down on cue with just a raise of her hands. How do they do this? Seriously. It sometimes takes us seven minutes to get our two kids to sit down at the dinner table, and that's even after we threaten to withhold dessert. Yet somehow the PML can control their every move as if they were programmable robots, like Vicki from the TV show Small Wonder. Or Dakota Fanning. They can also get the kids to sing louder or softer and smile bigger by simply gesturing. Amazing.

SNL Cast Member - The pressure to perform is on every single Sunday for the PML to do something fresh and innovative. She has to devise creative games, prizes, contests, props and pictures to keep things new and exciting during music time. As soon as she starts recycling material, she will lose her audience. Once a week for 48 weeks it's lights! Camera! Singing Time!

Multilingual Interpreter - Between the two Primary Programs we watched I think we heard or saw the children sing in nineteen languages, including English, Spanish, Spanglish, French, Sign Language, Chinese, Latin, Sweedish, Vulcan, Ebonics, Panguitchian and Mental Telpathy. How does one woman pull this off? From one song to the next she may be saying, "Erin - you're stressing the wrong syllable in 'bautismo' - it's bow-TEEEES-mo, not BOW-tees-mo." Then, "Mike, you need to bring your left hand higher when you are making the ASL sign for love!" Talk about the gift of tongues in action.

Warshack Test Administrator - One of the keys to being a successful PML is having the ability to make signs that represent the words that need to be sung. This is a particularly important skill since most kids in the United States between the ages of 3-12 cannot read anything beyond the controls of their iPods. I am always sitting behind the PML and cannot see the pictures that get held up to prompt the kids, but it has to be hard drawing images that represents song lyrics like, "...down in the River Jordan....." How do you draw that? Here is what I would be holding up:
Okay, the kids today might not get the River Phoenix reference, but it goes to show how much creativity the PML's must have to come up with enough of these things to last an entire 45-minute program.

So, for all of you Primary Music Leaders out there, thank you! Thank you for the energy. Thank you for the creativity. Thank you for the patience. Thank you for inviting the Spirit. Thank you for drilling uplifting songs into our heads. Thank you for teaching my kids. Thank you for surviving one difficult Sunday every October or November. Thank you for magnifying your callings.

You are all an inspiration to me.


South Carolina, Hobos, & Doggie Doo

Thursday, November 06, 2008

South Carolina does not do itself many favors when it comes to public relations. Far too many people think South Carolina is a backward hillbilly state that just got plummin' and electricity dern near ten years back. I oversee a plant in SC and I quite like the state, so I decided to take my camera with me when the Normal Mormon Family drove south of the border last week to set the record straight for those of you who have misconceptions about the Palmetto State.

Why does South Carolina have such a bad rap? First off, the Confederate flag flew over the state capitol building until 2000. This poor decision is as subtle as if the state of Missouri decided to fly the Mormon Extermination Order over its courthouses or wait until 1976 to repeal the order. As if anything that crazy could ever happen! While the Confederate flag has come down, there are still window decals on all SC state government buildings depicting the mischievous character from Calvin and Hobbes relieving himself on a map of all of the "Yankee" states. I'm shooting for 2095 for those to come off.

Another self-inflicted public relations wound was the decision to select the Gamecock as the mascot for the University of South Carolina. I can just imagine the Board of Trustees having the following conversation:

-"We need a dignified mascot. Something regal."
-"You mean, like a varmint of some sorts? Maybe a dingo?"
-"Perhaps. But I'm envisioning something just a little more noble. More valiant."
-"What about a mole. Or maybe a chicken?"
-"Yes! Perfect! A chicken! But there needs to be a hook. An angle. Something that says this chicken is special."
-"How's abouts an egg-layin' chicken."
-"Naw. I want something more backwoods. Perhaps something illegal and blood-lusty."
-"A gamecock?"
-"Somebody get this man another helpin' of turnips!"

Just to show that South Carolina has come a long way over the years, here are some of the images that caught my attention during our quick trip a few days back.

If you are passing through the state and need to get some fresh veggies, I highly encourage you to stop by and visit the kind folks at Hobo Hollar Produce. I do not want to speak for the rest of you, but when I have a hankerin' for some squash or cucumbers I definitely think of homeless people yelling at the tops of their lungs. I heard that the owners just opened a second store in downtown Charleston called Hobo HOLLA! Produce.

One of the most popular items on the menu at Hobo Hollar are the hot boiled P-Nuts. I have heard of peanuts before, but am not quite sure just which"P-" nut they are referring to. Pinenuts? Pistachios? Does anybody know what to expect here?

If you look closely at this picture you will notice two key elements: 1) The trendy, classy "Hobo Hollar" font that is now available on Microsoft Word. This font takes random letters and decides to willy-nilly capitalize some of them in order to form words like HoT BoiLED P-NuTS. 2) The sign in the lower left hand corner that expressly forbids dogs from using Hobo Hollar as their personal Port-a-Potty. I bet this "No Going" policy was as difficult to implement as a an Indoor Clean Air Act in Winson-Salem. Just for fun, here is the close up:

This sign underscores the point that South Carolina is actually much more progressive than most other states. For example, in most other states we see signs that say things like, "Shoplifters will be prosecuted" and "No shirt, no shoes, no service." While businesses in the rest of the country have to focus no preventing bare chested thieves from stealing VCR's and Slim Jims, South Carolina businesses are only worried animals not defiling their premises. Now that's a state that has its house in order!

So take that, every other state!

Oh, yeah, anybody up for some cockfighting?

More Anne Geddes Photos For Men: Featuring Chuck Norris!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello. This is Chuck Norris.

If you read my introduction and are still alive, it is simply because I have not yet chosen to emerge from your computer monitor and pummel you. When Anne Geddes approached me about being the host for her "Man" series, she said that I would "get caught up in the moment" being around all of these cute babies. I immediately corrected her by saying, "Chuck Norris does not get caught up in the moment. The moment gets caught up in Chuck Norris."

Anne told me that after working with the babies that I would see how there is nothing more beautiful in the world than a precious, innocent child. I corrected this misconception by flexing my pecks. Now Anne understands what the world "beautiful" truly means. Unfortunately, she will never go back to photographing children.

Chuck Norris is a man of action. Let's do this thing.

Piece #5: Baby's First Steps, Baby's First Kill

Piece #6: Growing Up at 100 MPH

Piece #7: The Baby Basket
Piece #8: Building the Future

Piece #9: Pushing My Buttons...You had better be smiling right now. If you aren't, just remember I know a man who could rearrange your face before your next heartbeat. You had better also vote for your favorite new photo. If you don't exercise your right to vote, I know a man who will exercise his right to put you in traction.

I am that man.

I am Chuck Norris!


Charlotte - THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You said, "if you haven't ever done so, google 'find chuck norris' and hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' button. Worth a chuckle." Maybe I just like the random Chuck Norris quotes that float around the web, but I chortled - nay - snickered out loud at what happens when you do that Google search. I am still proud of myself for coming up with the whole, "Chuck Norris doesn't get caught up in the moment..." comment. Creating witty Chuck Norris quotes is harder than you might think it is. But then again, you're not Chuck Norris. Nothing is hard for him.

Anne Geddes - For Men

Monday, October 27, 2008

We own an enormous coffee table book called "Miracle - A Celebration of New Life." And no, guys, it's not "Miracle" as in the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that shocked the sporting world by beating the Russians in Lake Placid. Our book is quite the opposite, in fact, as it is one of those 200-page Anne Geddes photo books. You know, the ones where babies are dressed up like rutabagas, cabbages and baby wolverines in an effort to be cute.

Our Anne Geddes book is a "special" edition. By special I mean it took an otherwise successful forumla (e.g. babies dressed up as catapillar larvae fighting to the death inside of their coccoon) and made it worse. We happen to own the edition in which Anne Geddes decided to team up with Celine Dion and feature the Canadian drama queen on every single page. The simple act of leafing through this book has made me 47% less manly. I'm also now strangely, inexplicably attracted to Celine Dion and I have an uncontrollable desire to eat a head of cabbage.

Just kidding. I don't feel like cabbage.

(Pause for awkward Celine Dion-related silence)

While I was looking at page after page of Celine Dion making serious faces at sleeping babies who are dressed as miniature asps, I asked myself, "What type of pictures would Anne Geddes take if she were a man?" Well, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was doing my best to take a stab at it with Microsoft Paint. Without further ado, I present the Male Anne Geddes Collection.

Actually, I like Manne Geddes better. Enjoy!

Piece #1: The Birth of a Champion:

Piece #2: Parental Fumbles Not Allowed

Piece #3: Stanley, the Manly

Piece #4: You're Wife Got You Hook, Line, and Sinker on Having a Fourth Kid, Didn't She?

Feel free to vote on which picture you liked the best. Also, please leave some comments with other manly types of settings where Manne Geddes would take pictures. The Deer Hunt? A mechanic's garage? With a female college sports team? You tell me.

Also, instead of Celine Dion, who would be the "special" male guest? Clint Eastwood? Jack La Lane?

Enough typing. I wonder if there's a rutabaga in the fridge to snack on....

Final Blueprints: The Ultimate Man Cave

Friday, October 17, 2008

Behold, the Ultimate Man Cave! (Vote on the right for the best new feature).

There were too many great comments to fit them all in, but here are the ones that stuck:

1) Replaced the mini-fridge/freezer with a soft serve ice cream dispenser. Thanks to J-Peter for the suggestion. Since the mini-fridge garnered a whopping 3% of the "Best Feature" vote, it could definitely be axed. I love soft serve ice cream. When the NMW and I went on our 10th Anniversary cruise last summer there was a dispenser on the Lito deck. I created a policy that every time we walked by that wonderful machine that I had to get myself a cone. By the end of the week I had probably wolfed down nearly 100 cones. And don't get me started on our visits to Golden Corral. I think the next time we go I am just going to stop all of the pretenses and just eat ice cream sundaes and nothing else until my gall bladder explodes and my blood turns to a thick, delicious, white cream.

2) Got rid of the game table in favor of a Foosball table and double Pop-a-Shot game. What was I thinking with the game table? With 2% of the "Best Feature" vote, you could call it the "lame table" instead. (Say it like Adam Sandler says, "Chlorophyll? More like Borophyll!" and it's quite a bit more amusing.) Big thanks to Big Tex and Capt Naykid for talking some sense into me. The Pop-a-Shots are the best. We had one in our basement growing up and spent many an hour down there. Every time we take the kids to Chuckie Cheese I manage to slip away and drop a few tokens into the Pop-a-Shot and make a run at the record. In my Man Cave there would be an abundance of mini basketballs as well. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for balls to roll to you when you are in a groove on Pop-a-Shot.

3) Bathroom with TV. Anonymous, whomever you are, can take credit for this one. This would also be convenient for the guy who is pretending to watch Monday Night Football but really wants to see the season finale to ER or Ugly Betty but is afraid to admit it. He could claim that the window well chicken and ice cream upset his stomach, which would explain the long, frequent visits to the john. As soon as he leaves the bathroom after visibly crying and says, "Marua Tierny just left ER!", he will be forever banned from the Cave.

4) Video Game Room. Had to replace the lame/game table with something. BTW - I will accept any and all challenges for a one-and-done Double Dribble tournament. Puberty was jump started for me the first time I saw the close-up slow motion dunk sequence. Classic.

5) Sound-proof Kids Play Room. This is not only great for "watching the kids" at the same time you are watching the game, but it would be good for general use as well. You know, like the days when you get home from Church completely exhausted and you give the kids "quiet time" in their rooms so that you can take a nap? (Does everybody else do this as well?) Well, this will give them somewhere to go while you rest from the strenuous efforts on your day of rest.

6) The Theme. Isaac, you were dead on. The Man Cave needs a theme. Instead of doing a complete Lakers, BYU, or Carolina Panthers theme, I would find old photos showing my most memorable sporting moments and hang them on all of the walls. Every one of them would be a conversation starter and provide me with sports-related warm fuzzies. Here are a few of those moments off the top of my head:

1-Magic Johnson's "Baby Hook" to beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Greatest play in NBA history.
2-Marcus Allen's 74-yard cut-back touchdown run against Washington in the 1982 Super Bowl. I loved the Raiders as a kid. This was before you had to worry about getting shot for gang-related reasons for wearing Raiders apparel.
Ty Detmer leading BYU to a win over #1 Miami in Provo. I was there, stormed the field, and snatched a handfull of turf for posterity's sake.
4-A picture of Marty Haws and Andy Toolson from BYU's basketball team. These guys were my idols as a kid. I used to pretend that I was Marty Haws when I shot around in my front yard. When I was playing hoops in High School I was invited to play in a pretty selective pick-up league for good HS players and pros who were playing in Europe and needed to stay in shape. Well, both Haws and Toolson played in this league. I will never forget one sequence where I stripped Andy Toolson and outletted the ball to Marty Haws. Marty and I had a 2-on-1 fastbreak and he gave me a perfect feed. I took the pass and threw down a monster two-handed dunk. As I parachuted down from the rim, Marty slapped my backside and yelled, "Way to finish!" That is one of most single exciting moments in my sporting life.
5-A D-League picture of Randy Livingston. This is just to be a reminder that you can take nothing in life for granted. When I was playing in the national HS All-Star circuit my Senior year, Randy Livingston was hands-down the best player in the nation. He was going to be the next MJ. Well, he got hurt, had some troubles, and ended up spending a lot of time in the D-League. This still leaves me both flummoxed and perplexed to this day.
6-Nolan Ryan holding Robin Ventura in a headlock and giving him a nuggie after Ventura charged the mound. This is both funny and instructive. Funny because Nolan Ryan is like 48 years old at the time and whipping a young punk. Instructive because it serves as a good reminder to never start a fight with an old cowboy type like Nolan Ryan, no matter how old he is or how many barbed-wire-on-the-bicep tattoos you may have.
7-Joe Carter's walk-off home run to win the World Series. I was on the deer hunt and listened to this on the radio. My brother, two cousins and I were all hormonally imbalanced teen-agers at the time and were sitting around the campfire listening to the game. As the announcer yelled, "It's going...going..going...", my grandfather turned the radio off and asked, "Do you boys know what happened to David after he slaid Goliath?" Well, I never heard the rest of the radio announcer describing one of the most dramatic World Series moments in baseball history. On the good side, I never forgot what happened to David, either.

Okay, enough typing. I'm going to bed.

I just wish I had a Man Cave so that I could squeeze in a game of Pop-a-Shot before hitting the hay. Oh well, at least I will have something to dream about tonight.

And for the rest of my life...


Collin - A urinal! of course! How could I have forgotten the urinal???!!! I read an article several years ago about Rasheed Wallace installing urinals in his mansion. While Rasheed can be a bonehead on the court at times, he is a genius interior decorator. I vowed to my self that day that if I ever had the money that I would install urinals in the bathroom. And then I blew it with the Man Cave design! Thanks for the reminder. When and if I ever build a Man Cave I will call the urinal "The Collin Memorial Serenity Wall" in honor of your insight.