Mission Presidents + April Fools = Bad Idea

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Fool's came and went yesterday without any major pranks directed at me. I didn't come up with anything devious either, so it was a pretty lame April Fool's Day. Perhaps this is just another sign of the faltering economy - nobody has a sense of humor anymore. If you managed to experience anything funny on April Fool's, please post a comment and share it so that the rest of us can have a much needed laugh.

While my April Fool's Day was a letdown, it did make me think back to one of the pranks that I pulled a long time ago that I still remember. And regret. In fact, I think I should apologize to the butt of the joke and he just happens to be a General Authority now. I have never apologized to a General Authority before, so I am not exactly sure how to proceed. To make the situation even more complicated, I need to ask forgiveness for something that happened thirteen years ago. So, here goes nothing:

"Elder Spencer V. Jones of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy, I am sorry. Please forgive me and my knucklehead companions for making you the target of the worst April Fool's Day prank that I have ever been involved with. It happened on April 1st, 1996 in your mission office. You know who we are. You know what we did. And I'm sorry."

Elder Jones, then President Jones, was an ideal mission president. He presided over the Chile Antofagasta mission from 1994 to 1997 and I was blessed to serve under his inspired leadership. Both he and his wife loved the Lord, loved His work, and loved the missionaries they were called to lead. I could not have asked for a better mission president. The only person who could possibly give Pres. Jones a run for his money would be Steve Wilkos if he were converted and channeled his energy into missionary work instead of berating deadbeat 19-year-old punks. (In my best Steve Wilkos voice, "What? You haven't been baptized? YOU haven't been baptized? You haven't been BAPTIZED? Well, come on, tough guy. Be a man. Be a MAN! Get baptized right here, right now. RIGHT NOW! The font is filled, macho man. Come one, tough guy. GET IN THE FONT! RIGHT NOW!)

Toward the end of my mission I was fortunate enough to serve alongside President Jones in the mission offices for several months and got to know him on a more personal level than most missionaries did. I learned invaluable lessons from Pres. Jones as I heard him pray, watched him teach, witnessed him endure 14-hour days with a smile, and saw him bless the lives of hundreds of missionaries, members, converts, and nonmembers.

But I also saw another side of Pres. Jones. A lighter side. A humorous side. In fact, Pres. Jones is a really funny person. His sense of humor was easy to see in his first General Conference talk entitled "Overcoming the Stench of Sin" in which he talked about being a youth trying to pick up on young women after being sprayed by a skunk. Even in front of an audience of millions, Pres. Jones defaulted to humor to teach an important lesson about sin and its consequences.

Perhaps it was Pres. Jones' sense of humor that led me and my two companions to believe that he would be up for an April Fool's Day prank. My two companions at that time (yes, we were in a trio companionship for a while in the office) were not only two of the best missionaries in the mission, but they were two of my best friends as well. They were both hilarious and the three of us had a great time together. We were kind of like the Three Nephites (focused, dedicated, and wanting to do good) meets the Three Stooges (immature, funny, and really immature.)

For the sake of anonymity, I will call my two companions Elder Mad Dog and Elder Dry Cow. If the three of us were the Cullen brothers from Twilight, I would have been Jasper since I was the skinniest, least manly and I live in the South (though I'm not flying any Confederate flags, Jasper.) Elder Mad Dog would have been Emmett - burly, manly and always wanting to arm wrestle somebody into submission.

Elder Dry Cow would have been Edward, no doubt about it. I think every Chilean woman between the ages of 12 and 109 years old had a massive crush on Elder Dry Cow from 1994-1996. Whenever our teaching pool was getting low, Elder Mad Dog and I would joke that all we needed to do was to send Elder Dry Cow to the local college campus and we would have about 59 new investigators.

All female.

And all very much looking forward to a return appointment from Elder Dry Cow and his twinkling blue eyes.

Elders Dry Cow, Mad Dog and I decided it would be funny to play an April Fool's Day joke on President Jones. After all, we knew him pretty well and thought we had a feel for his sense of humor. Instead of studying our scriptures and planning our teaching appointments on April 1st, 1996, we brainstormed all morning on how to play a prank on our trusting, unsuspecting mission president. This is how it played out:

-Elder Mad Dog and I walk into Pres. Jones office, "Hey, President Jones, do you have a minute?"
-Pres. Jones: "Sure, Elders, what's on your mind?"
-Us, pretending to look worried: "Um, we need to talk to you about something pretty serious."
-Pres. Jones looks concerned: "Okay, what's going on?"
-Us: "It's Elder Dry Cow. Last night the two of us (Elder Mad Dog and I) went out to teach a discussion and Elder Dry Cow went out on a split with a young Deacon in the ward. And...well...you know how popular he is with the ladies..."
-Pres. Jones' face falls and his shoulders slump: "Yes, I do. Please go on."
-Us: "Well, when we were walking home from our appointment we passed the house of an attractive young woman we are teaching. We heard what sounded like a party coming from her house and her windows were open. And, well, we saw Elder Dry Cow partying and dancing with her and her friends. His Deacon companion was nowhere to be seen."
-Pres. Jones looks like somebody just repeatedly stabbed him through the heart with a dull butter knife: "And you're sure it was Elder Dry Cow?"
-Us: "Yes. We are positive."
-Pres. Jones looks like his dog just got hit by a car: "Go get Dry Cow. Send him in. Alone."

Elder Mad Dog and I left Pres. Jones' office tyring to stifle our giggles. We grabbed Elder Dry Cow and told him that Pres. Jones was totally falling for our prank and asked him to string Pres. Jones along for as long as he could. The three of us laughed and probably did something dorky like giving each other high fives. Elder Dry Cow put on a somber face and trudged into Pres. Jones office. Elder Mad Dog and I began laughing after the door closed.

After about only a minute the door to Pres. Jones office opened. Elder Mad Dog and I were a little upset with Dry Cow for not turning this into a longer, more elaborate prank. The three missionaries cracked up at the hilarious April Fool's Day prank we had just played, but Pres. Jones only managed to muster an uncomfortable chuckle.

Later, Elder Dry Cow told Elder Mad Dog and me that it looked like Pres. Jones was on the verge of tears when he walked into his office. Elder Dry Cow felt so bad that he immediately told Pres. Jones that it was a joke, but Pres. Jones looked really shaken up about the whole thing. Looking back, I can understand why. There is nothing funny about joking around about somebody's personal worthiness to his or her presiding authority. Maybe we should have just put a whoopie cushion on Pres. Jones' chair or have spoken Spanish with terrible Gringo accents all day.

So, Pres. Jones, I'm sorry.

Just don't be surprised if a whoopie cushion gets sent to church headquarters next year.

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My Amazing Siblings

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alright, NMH community, I am back from my SISSY support group meeting and feeling much better about my standing on my family's totem pole. Stephen Baldwin, Isha Williams and David Limbaugh really helped me work though my sibling inferiority complex and I am at a point in my recovery where I can go public about my sisters and brother.

The only bad part about the support group meeting was that Stephen Baldwin brought his deviled eggs - again - and looked at us with puppy dog eyes until we ate the whole plate. I'll probably have to rush to the bathroom a few times during this post thanks to Stephen.

On the advice of my peer counselor, Roger Clinton, Jr., I am going to go public about the accomplishments of my siblings. Roger has assured me that facing the facts will help me overcome my SISSY complex and allow me to move forward with my life. Rog seems like a pretty smart guy with a good head on his shoulders - he was the only one at the meeting who turned down Stephen Baldwin's deviled eggs - so I'll follow his advice and make the world aware of just how amazing my siblings are.

Angela Hallstrom - My sister, Angela Hallstrom, has been on a roll lately. Her debut novel, Bound on Earth, was published in 2008, which was a great accomplishment in and of itself. But did my sister just go and write any run-of-the-mill novel? That's like asking if anybody who drives a Prius voted for McCain. Of course not! Bound on Earth was recently nominated for THREE 2008 Whitney Awards - Best Novel of the Year, Best Novel by a New Author, and Best General Fiction. In her spare time she is married to a great guy (I'm at the point where I feel like dropping the whole "brother-in-..." part and just calling him my big bro), raising four cool kids, teaching creative writing at BYU's Salt Lake Center, and editing for Irreantum. Angela also enjoys curing cancer, brokering Middle East peace, and explaining how Howie Mandell somehow became the most popular person on television. She has always been a great example for me to follow. I'm very proud of my big sis and for the well-deserved accolades her book is receiving after all of her hard work.

Anthony Sweat - My little brother, Anthony Sweat (aka Tony, T-Boar, Toad, Toad Head), and I are separated in age by a mere 14 months. We are almost clones of each other in a lot of ways - we are tall, kinda goofy, wore matching Underoos as kids, former high school basketball players, RM's, and we both used to get so mad playing Street Fighter 2 as teen-agers that we punched holes in the sheet rock of his bedroom where the Nintendo console was stored. (I'm trembling with anger right now just remembering how Anthony used to use Blanca on SF2 and do that stupid chomp-on-my-head move! Revenge will be mine, one day, little bro...) Anthony has carved out a nice career with the Church Educational System as a teacher, principal, trainer, EFY attraction and BYU Education Week speaker. His recent major accomplishment is the April 2009 release of his upcoming book, Why?: Powerful Answers and Practical Reasons for Living LDS Standards. The book is published by a small, little-known outfit called Deseret Book, so look for it in their Spring mailing. Not only is my little bro going to be a new author, but he is an incredible artist and is working on his Ph.D. right now. He even manages to be a dedicated husband and father to five cute little kids. I bet he's even pretty patient when mysterious holes end up in the sheet rock from time to time. You can pre-order his book on Barnes & Noble among other websites.

Mysterious Little "Sister X" - Out of respect for her privacy I am going to simply call my little sister "Sister X". No, that's no fun. Since my brother and I both served missions in South America (Bolivia and Chile), I'm going to give her an Andean name. Let's call her Guadalupe Maria del Carmen Quispes Pacheco. After everything that Toad Head and I put her through, it's pretty amazing that Guadalupe has turned out as well-adjusted as she is. For example, instead of praising her for launching a successful "Save the Animals" campaign as a feisty elementary school student, we teased mercilessly her. For ten years. Guadalupe went on to letter in three sports in high school (basketball, tennis, softball), graduate from Utah State, marry a nice RM, coach high school basketball, teach, and then raise two kids. Just when I thought she was slowing down a little, Guadalupe decided to just start a web-based business called Room Doodles a couple of weeks ago. If Guadalupe is as successful with Room Doodles as she was saving the animals, every kids bedroom in America is going to be well decorated pretty soon. Check her out at RoomDoodles.com.

One of the most precious truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that of eternal families. What a blessing it is to know that I can be sealed to such awesome people for the rest of eternity. It also makes me happy to know that T-Boar and I can tease Guadalupe about Save the Animals forever. I wonder if they have Street Fighter 2 in heaven? If so, bring it on, little bro! I've still got a score to settle with you.

I am probably not the only one who is proud of his family members. If you have a sibling that deserves a shout out, please post a comment or two about them. It will make both you and your siblings feel pretty good.

I know this post was therapeutic for me. Thanks to the NMH community, Stephen Baldwin, Isha Williams, David Limbaugh and Roger Clinton, Jr. for helping me reach a point where I can officially declare-

I am now 100% SISSY free!

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E-Vite: SISSY Support Group Meeting

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From: The Normal Mormon Husband

To: Stephen Baldwin; Isha Williams; David Limbaugh

Re: SUPPORT GROUP FOR INFERIOR SIBLINGS

Meeting Date: Sat. March 28th, 2009


Hey, guys, it’s time for our quarterly support group meeting for those of us who suffer from Severe Inferior Sibling Syndrome (SISSY). The past couple of months have been hard for each of us as we keep seeing our siblings accomplish incredible things that seem impossible to us slack-jaws who somehow share the same genetic makeup as our overachieving brothers and sisters.

Those of you in my support group know that I have three incredibly awesome siblings. Since our last SISSY meeting they have managed to get a book published by Deseret Book, earn a 2008 Whitney Award Finalist nomination for Best Novel of the Year, and launch a new business. But I'll get into that in more detail on Saturday, okay? Enough about me. Let's talk about you guys.

I mean, look you, Stephen. I really hoped that you would have gained some ground on Alec since our last SISSY group meeting. You placed a respectable 5th place in last year's Celebrity Apprentice and then Sarah Palin called you her, "favorite Baldwin brother" during the campaign. While all of this was going on, your paparazzi stealing brother Alec was going through a terrible divorce and got busted calling his daughter a “fat pig.” But instead of you supplanting Alec as king of the Baldwins your glory hog brother lands the character of Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock and turns him into one of the most entertaining figures on television. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alec channeled his inner Jack Donaghey’s corporate shrewdness and somehow manipulated The Donald into firing you from The Apprentice. Alec knew that any more success from you and he would no longer be CEO on the Baldwin family organizational chart.

And Isha - yeesh-ah! Last time our group met it looked like Serena and Venus were going to hang up the tennis rackets for good. That would have largely removed them from the public eye and you would no longer have to be called, “The Williams Sister Who Never Practiced Tennis and Gave Up $100 Million in Potential Earnings and Endorsements.” Then, suddenly, Serena and Venus decided to start caring about tennis again and won the 2009 Australian Open doubles title. Venus followed that up by winning the Barclay's Championship. Does anybody even care that you went to Georgetown Law School? Nope. You're just the sister who hasn't won any grand slams.

And David, you just can’t seem to win either. Heck, you are a successful lawyer, columnist and New York Times best selling author, not just Rush's brother. Your star was supposed to rise against your brother when the 2008 presidential election frenzy finally ended and Rush’s ratings were supposed to go down. Then, instead of you stealing a little bit of Rush’s spotlight, President Obama had to go and pick a fight with him! The Talkmeister (Rush) vs. The Teleprompter (uh…umm…you know…Obama) has boosted your brother’s ratings higher than they have ever been. Why couldn’t Obama just go and pick a fight with somebody less interesting and less powerful than Rush? You know, maybe with somebody like Iran.

While I know each of you is struggling with your own SISSY issues, I am really going to need your support now more than ever in overcoming my SISSY-ness. I will tell you more about my incredible sisters and brother on Saturday. So for now I am just going to remind myself that I am the tallest of the four kids in my family and there is nothing that my super-achiever siblings can do about that! Plus, I have the craziest eyebrows, the largest 1980’s baseball card collection and I could wax the floor with any of them in a Madden tournament. I’m not sure if I should be proud about any of those claims to superiority, but it’s about all I’ve got.

I know this E-vite is getting too long already, so I'll stop typing for now and just tell you on Saturday about what my amazing siblings have been up to. It's pretty impressive.

In the mean time I am going to spend the rest of the week championing the causes of less successful siblings everywhere. I’m going to buy an autographed Billy Ripken baseball card on e-Bay. I am going to trade for Marc Gasol to be on my fantasy basketball team. Then I’m going to email Cooper Manning and ask if he would like me to send him a copy of the new Ashlee Simpson album.

I will end my evening by reading the autobiography of Malcolm X’s less famous brother, Malcolm Y.

Stay tuned until Saturday. I will really need your help with my SISSY complex after I tell you about my sisters and little brother.

Well, gotta jet. A re-run of the 30 Rock episode where Alec Baldwin plays his regular Jack character plus a HILARIOUS Mexican Telenovela bad guy is coming on right now...

Oops, my bad, Stephen. My bad.

See you guys on Saturday.

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Check Out The New NMH Daily Updates

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When I first signed up for Facebook last November I was afraid that it was going to completely destroy my lfe (read about it here.) Over the past few months I have been able to overcome my Path Words addiction and am no longer worried about ignoring friend requests from people who spent most of our high school days locked up in juvie.

While I no longer spend much time on Facebook, I still like reading the status updates from my friends. You know, the quick updates that say things like, "Brian is queasy after eating three Taco Bell chalupas" or "Debbie has HAD IT with the kids today!!! Hey - get that fork out of the light socket!!! Somebody call Super Nanny for me please!!!!"

In that same spirit I am going to start using the "Daily Updates" box on the right as a way to give quick 2-3 sentence update on my thoughts, adventures, and musings on a more regular basis. My normal blog posts are pretty long and I can only crank out one or two of those bad boys every week. This "Daily Update" will give me the chance to just shoot off a quick thought now and then without spending an hour or two trying to make it into a long blog post.

What do you think? Will you like this? Not care about it? Do you have any suggestions? Post a comment and let me know.

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Pres. Monson Loves H.R. - Take That! (Smack!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

After reading through your comments and looking at the poll results thus far, it appears that people have very mixed views about Human Resources. Some people hold HR in very high regard. Others, however, think HR is full of pompous, exploitative, manipulative killjoys. Maybe HR is the office equivalent of lemon-flavored candies. Some people love them. Some people hate them.

Oh, wait. Bad example. Everybody hates lemon candies. When you buy a big bag of 100 Jolly Ranchers, for example, the last remaining 16 pieces are always lemon. Or when you buy a new tropical mix of Mike & Ikes or Gummy Life Savers and pull out a yellow candy, the first thought that goes through your head is, "Oh please, please, please be pineapple, not lemon..." Knowing that it might be a sour lemon flavor you then slowly, cautiously touch it to the tip of your tongue as if it were a 9-volt batter that may or may not be dead. And when the taste is lemon, you recoil your tongue in the exact same manner as when the 9-volt battery gives you an electric jolt. I challenge anybody to name an assorted mix of fruit flavored candies in which lemon is not the hands-down worse flavor of the bunch.

The whole lemon candy industry is in such financial trouble right now that Congress has pledged $49 billion in bailout money to support it during this time of trial. There is no time to think this thing through! The lemon candy industry is just too big to fail! Its downfall would be a catastrophic crisis that would be a bazillion times worse than the Great Depression, the potato famine, the plague, and the Bratz Dollz fad combined! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Don't read the bill, guys, just sign it! Sign! Sign! Now! Now!

Just wait until the public finds out about Mr. Lemon Head's $6.3 million retention bonus. Oh boy, the citrus is going to hit the fan!

Wait, this is supposed to be about HR. Why am I talking about lemon candy?

Anyway, back to the point. Whether you love HR or hate it, your reasons are most likely justified. In fact, there are two HR-related items that I recently came across that sum up the polar extremes of the HR world. One of them came from the 3/9/2009 This American Life podcast called "Human Resources." Ironically, I just subscribed to this podcast yesterday and listened to it on my way home from work today. Below is the word-for-word transcript of how the podcast about HR starts:

Narrator: "So how many years were you an executioner in your job?"
Unnamed Guest: "That period lasted for, oh, maybe five or six years."
Narrator: "That's a really long time."
Unnamed Guest: "Oh, a very long time. It was, I mean, very, very depressing."
Narrator: "Chris is a mild-mannered decent guy who was an executioner in the sense that he fired over 1,500 people...."

If you haven't guessed, Chris, the executioner, is an HR guy. With that as the backdrop, let's name the list of the most infamous executioners in recent memory:

-Charles Henri-Sanson - Sent 300 people to the guillotine in 3 days, including Marie Antionette
-Sayid from Lost
-Old Sparky - 361 Texans "rode the lightning" between 1924 and 1946.
-Texas A&M - They kill BYU every year in the first round. (Dang it!)
-Chris, the mild-mannered decent HR guy!

Gee, thanks, NPR. Where do we nominate you for a 2009 SHRM award for improving public perception of our profession? (Actually, the executioner bit hits very close to home. In 2006 we were laying off a lot of people in my plant. The Plant Manager and I earned the combined nickname of the "execution squad." I wore a long, black robe with a hood to work every day and carried a scythe with me everywhere I went, so I may have contributed to that perception a little.) You can read about my most recent layoff experience here, if you wish.

On the flip side, check out President Thomas S. Monson's First Presidency Message for March 2009. I know that today is only the 19th of the month so most of you will hurry and read Pres. Monson's article nine days from now as you drive to your Home Teaching appointment, so pay close attention to this part when you do:

"We live in troubled times...Human resource administrators in government and industry work long hours in an effort to assist people with their problems."

"One human resource officer assigned to handle petty grievances concluded an unusually hectic day by placing facetiously a little sign on his desk for those with unsolved problems. It read, 'Have you tried prayer?'"

For those of you who dislike HR I hate to play the In-Your-Face-Becaue-I'm-Taking-The-Prophet's-Words-Out-Of-Context-To-Prove-My-Point card, but, hey, the prophet has spoken! When the prophet gives props to HR, you know you are doing something right.

When it all comes down to it, HR people are really no different than any other group of employees who go to work every day and try to do their best. Or not. Depends on the person. As with most large groups of people, there will be varying opinions on how much you like HR people or dislike them.

I'm just glad that we can all agree that people who like lemon candies are weird. Nothing like a common enemy to bring us all together!

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A Normal Mormon HR Guy?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are Human Resources people different than the rest of the "normal" people?

I need your help in answering this question because I'm really self-conscious about the general perception of my profession right now.

You see, last week I spent an entire day cooped up in a conference room with nine other managers who are all involved in a large-scale consolidation of two of our US-based manufacturing plants. I know all of the other managers very well, but a consultant was brought in from the outside to facilitate the meeting. As you can probably gather from my blog, I like to try to keep things light and exploit the funny moments that happen in life. I do the same thing at work. Everybody on the team already knew this about me except for the outside consultant, who blended in as seamlessly as cute little Sam McKinney on Diff'rent Strokes.

Even though this team is dealing with very serious issues and making major decisions (e.g. union negotiations, eliminating jobs, moving large equipment across the country, whether we should use the sharpie that smells like grape or licorice, etc.) I found a few times during our meeting to crack a joke that had the whole group laughing. After one particularly humorous quip I almost just got up and left the meeting for good, a la George Constanza with the Yankees. Despite my better judgment, I stayed for the rest of the day and ended up having a conversation that has troubled me ever since.

At the conclusion of the meeting the outside consultant came up to me and we chatted for a minute. It was my exchange with him that has me paranoid about the perception of HR people:

Consultant: "We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we really made some progress today and accomplished the main goals we had set as a group."

Me: "I agree. I never thought we would finish the 12-foot sub we ordered, but we really came together as a team and pulled it off."

Consultant: Laughing, "You're pretty funny -- "

Me: "Thanks."

Consultant: "--for an HR guy."

Me: "Uh, ummmm, uhhhh. I'm going home now."

I've been rattled ever since. What does that mean, exactly - "for an HR guy?" Are we so different from the mainstream that we need to be singled out like that. Saying "--for an HR guy--" is kind of like saying, "Hey, you're pretty skinny...for a fat person," or "you make really smart decisions...for somebody who bought an adjustable rate mortgage."

Um, thanks? I guess.

A few days passed and the stench of the "--for an HR guy--" comment was beginning to fade. Just as I was about to convince myself that not all HR people are as dopey as Toby in The Office or as evil as Dilbert's Catbert, I made the mistake of visiting SHRM.org last Friday. SHRM is the acronym for our national HR association and it stands for Suckers who Harass Rotten Managers. Just kidding. It really stands for the Society for Human Resource Management, but I think my alternative is just as valid. To my horror, two of the lead articles at SHRM made me understand why a lot of people need to make a qualifier like "--for an HR guy--" (the key points are highlighted in red):


Yes, that's right. With everything else the HR community should be focusing on right now our national organization decides to dedicate two of its lead articles to decrying the risks of March Madness tournaments (gambling addictions, lost productivity, inexplicable attractions to Gonzaga as a Cinderella pick) and whining about employees who blog and/or express their minds on social networking sites.

This criticism of social networking makes me so mad that I just updated my Facebook status to, "The NMH is EXASPERATED!!! Aarrrrghhhh!!!!"

Let's see. March Madness = Nightmare? Employee blogs = Headache? No wonder so many people think HR is made up of a bunch of worrisome, killjoy wet blankets. For the record, I love March Madness (see previous post and JOIN THE LEAGUE TODAY!) and blogging/Facebooking. Don't be surprised if I show up as Public Enemy #1 on SHRM.org tomorrow. To quote from Pee-Wee Herman: "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel."

So, please help me out by posting comments on the following topic:

Describe the typical HR person in ten words or less.

I set up a poll on the right hand side as well, so please take a sec to share your opinion. Your insights will be very helpful. It will be very interesting to see what words people use. Not to sound too much like Michael Scott, but I'm expecting the words "studly", "beefcake", "genius", and "dashing" to be used pretty frequently.

But then again, maybe I'm just overly optimistic -- for an HR guy.

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Play the NMH March Madness Challenge! (Battle of the Sexes plus Giveaway)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bring it on, NMH community. That's right.

Bring.

It.

On!

The glorious season of March Madness is upon us. One of my favorite annual traditions is making my March Madness picks, watching games all day with the NMW, refreshing my browser 49,408 times a day at work to track my teams during the early rounds, watching last second buzzer beaters, rooting for Cinderellas, talking junk with friends in my March Madness league...I could go on and on, so I'll just stop there.

Now that there is a decent little NMH community, I though I would share the love of the season and create an NMH March Madness league for everybody to join. Please, everybody, join the league! If you have never filled out a bracket before, do it this year. You'll be hooked. I promise. Registration is free through Yahoo! and only takes about a minute to register. Just do the following:

1. Click here -> Normal Mormon Husbands league (Yahoo Group ID is 69079)
2. Password: NMH

As if March Madness leagues are not wonderful enough on their own, I am going to put two little twists to the NMH league:

1) I will offer giveaway prizes for the first time in the history of this blog.

2) It will be a Battle of the Sexes and the gender with the highest average score will win the title of King/Queen of Hoops for the rest of 2009. Please put an "M" for male or an "F" for female at the end of your team's name if you want your picks to count, e.g. Fat Billy's All-Stars (M), or I Love My Three Cute Kids!!!!! (F)

Giveaway Prizes
First Place: 1997 Upper Deck - Michael Jordan Catch 23: Championship Drive Card.
Since Michael Jordan's UNC Tar Heels beat Georgetown in one of the most memorable NCAA Championships in recent memory, I figured this card had to go to the winner of our league. I'm not sure if this Jordan fellow ended up winning any more championships in college or the NBA after that, so I hope he is a good representation of a winner. Can somebody Google him for me?

Runner Up: 1991 Fleer - John Stockton "League Leader" Card.
Growing up as a Lakers fan in Salt Lake City in the 1980's-1990's, I hated the Jazz. I mean, really, really, really hated the Jazz. The Lakers-Jazz rivalry was too passionate to feel any other way. But as much as I rooted against the Jazz, I always respected Stockton. Class act. Made his teammates better. Always worked hard. Never "made it rain" outside a gentleman's establishment at 3:15 a.m. But no matter how good Stockton was, the Jazz always finished runner up, and so will the person who gets this prize.

Worst Bracket: 1991 Fleer - Isiah Thomas Card.
Indiana Pacers. Toronto Raptors. Continental Basketball Association. New York Knicks. Anucha Brown Sanders (read my post on her and Isiah.) Stephon Marbury. The mysterious "a" that is missing in the spelling of his name - Isaiah vs. Isiah. 'Nuf said. The loser gets the Isiah card as consolation for an otherwise pointless and disappointing March Madness bracket.

Oh, wait, there is one more thing that I love about March Madness that I have to mention - I always print my bracket on the first day of the tournament and then carry it around with me for three weeks like Linus and his blanket. Or Plaxico Burres and his pistol. Whatever. Anyway, when my teams win I gleefully circle those picks. When they lose, I angrily "x" them out. By the end of the tournament my bracket has been folded, crumpled, scribbled upon, stained with pizza grease, and generally abused so badly that it looks like a treasure map that Nicolas Cage would use in National Treasure 14: The Search for Bernie Madoff's Millions. I need to start collecting these old brackets and putting them into a scrapbook - er, Manbook - every year. This way the Normal Mormon Wife could pull out her beautiful scrapbooks to show our friends the pictures from our summer vacations. I could then show them how I correctly picked a 13-seed upsetting a 4-seed seven years ago. I like where this is heading...

When the 2009 tournament is concluded, hopefully I will have a 1997 Upper Deck Michael Jordan first-place card in my Manbook alongside the battered and abused bracket.

I just hope I don't end up with Isiah.

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The NMH Academy Awards - Acceptance Speeches

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(The house lights dim.)

Announcer's voice over the PA: "Live from the Nu Skin studios in glamorous Provo, Utah, it's the 2009 NMH Academy Awards acceptance speech extravaganza! Please welcome your host, the Normal. Mormon. Huzzzzzz-buuuhhhhhnnnddd!"

(Audience applause.)

(The NMH, donning a rented tuxedo, emerges from behind the curtain and takes his place behind the microphone.)

NMH: "Good evening, brothers and sisters, and welcome. Tonight we will be privileged to hear from the winners of the 2009 NMH Academy Awards. Before we begin, please give a round of applause to our house band - The Jets!"

(Audience applause.)

NMH: "We are definitely in for a treat tonight as we recognize the best and brightest men and women who create family-oriented entertainment. And when I say we are in for a treat, I don't mean the type of 'treat' the Bishopric member describes when he announces that a member of the High Council will be speaking in sacrament meeting!"

(Mild laughter.)

NMH: "Oh, pardon me. Did I say the High Council? I meant the Dry Council!"

(No laughter, followed by an awkward silence. A loud cough can be heard coming from the back of the auditorium.)

NMH: "So anyway, I wanted to start the evening off with a joke, but I only knew one joke and it is not appropriate to tell in a family-friendly stetting. My Stake President is a pretty funny guy so I asked him for a good joke to share tonight. Well, brothers and sisters, I now know TWO jokes that I can't tell in a family-friendly setting!"

(Crickets chirping. Audience members lighting themselves on fire.)

NMH: "Hey, cut me some slack. I'm still funnier than Letterman."

(Audience cheers wildly in agreement.)

NHM: "Without further ado, I present to you the winner of the 2009 NMH Oscar for Best Actor. Brothers and sisters, please welcome Po from Kung Fu Panda!"

(Audience cheers for seven minutes as Po lugs his fat body to the podium.)

Po (as written by Janet): "Oh, man! This is such a bodacious honor! How awesome is this? It's a dream come true for me to be standing here today. When I was starting out as a child actor I was just happy to come to work in a red suit with my friends, especially Dipsy, that green dude was hilarious! I didn't have any clear speaking parts, but the role could be pretty physically demanding, I had to dodge a lot of Tubby Toast, so I felt ready when I went for a part in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Of course, that role went to Chow Yun Fat, and he did all right, I guess. Doesn't matter though, because the role of a lifetime came along in Kung Fu Panda. I mean, I am a panda and I do a little kung fu when I'm hungry. We all had a great time filming, although Tigress was always so serious... It's just a part, Tigress! I got to keep my burlap shorts and the recipe for Secret Ingredient Soup, which is awesome! Oh man, the music's starting... I'm running out of time... oh, there are just so many people to thank ... um ... so ... thanks everybody! Keep kung fu fighting!"

NMH: "Po, we promise to keep on kung fu fighting as long as you promise to lay off the kung pow chicken!"

(Most audience members stand up and begin leaving while Letterman fans laugh hysterically at the funniest joke they have heard since 2003.)

NMH: "And now, brothers and sisters, it is my honor to present to you the winner of the 2009 Best Female Actress Oscar. Eve from WALL-E!"

(Eve darts behind the podium before the audience can begin clapping, creaming the NMH in the process.)

Eve (as written by Jolyn): "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so honored. Where do I begin? Well, while you are probably stunned that I can give a speech because it requires speaking, you should recall that just as Sean Penn isn't really mentally disabled like his character in I Am Sam, I am not really a mute. After all, I can say 'WALL-E' and 'directive' in several languages, including Huttese derived from Jabba the Hutt. It's just a role I play. Now that that is out of the way I want to first thank the wonderful Normal Mormon Family for the nomination. Secondly I'd like to thank all the kids who begged, bribed and blackmailed their parents into taking them to see WALL-E. I would cry, but I can't, which is good because I would probably short out my motherboard or rust my parts together. Also, for those of you who didn't vote for me, I just have this to say: my plasma cannon is just a bit sensitive these days and it could go off randomly at any time. Thank you!"

(Audience members applaud until their hands begin to bleed rather than face the wrath of Eve's plasma cannon.)

NMH: "Thank you Eve. I would make a joke about what you said regarding Sean Penn not really being mentally disabled, but I'm a little bit scared of offending y..."

(Eve vaporizes the NMH with a single shot of her plasma cannon.)

(Audience cheers like a crowd that just witnessed a March Madness buzzer beater. Confetti rains down. Strangers kiss in the aisles.)

(Eve takes the mic.)

Eve: "And now for the moment we have all been waiting for. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present the Oscar for Best Picture. Please welcome the cast of Kung Fu Panda!"

Announcer's voice over the PA: "Accepting tonight's award on behalf of the cast is Po."

(Po nervously takes the mic as Eve aims her plasma cannon squarely at his face.)

Po (as written by Jennifer): "Wow, us? You picked us? Over all these other totally awesome movies? I can't believe it! I mean, all these other movies are so great. I mean, there's WALL-E with the whole outer space thing. (Eve nods in approval). Oh and that Horton movie with the elephant and the tiny people. I mean, it's such an honor just to be in the same category! And Madagascar with the animals and the dancing, and Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler. THE Adam Sandler. It's just so awesome to be picked. But it's Kung Fu, you know? Everybody loves Kung Fu. Ooh, so um, I should... stop talking?"

(Eve nods her head.)

Eve: "We hope you enjoyed tonight's program. And next year - get the voting right! Best picture to Kung Fu Panda? Are you kidding me! You will pay for this! All of you!"

(Audience members flee for the exits amidst the sounds of a plasma cannon being fired by an angry, angry, angry little robot.)

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And The Envelope, Please...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The results of the NMH Oscars are in. And like a roundhouse kick to the face, Kung Fu Panda smizz-acked the competition. KFP received 41% of the vote for Best Picture and Po ran away (er, lugged his chubby, out-of-shape, doughy body along as he wheezed and gasped for air) with Best Actor by garnering 37% of the votes. Best Actress went to Eve from WALL-E and her 39% of all votes, though I think most people voted for her out of fear that she would blast off their domes with a precision laser shot if they voted for anybody else. Those of you who voted for Miggery Sow, be afraid. Be very afraid. Eve is jealous and vindictive and connected 24/7 to the internet. She knows who you voted for and where you live. If I were you I would take Metallica's advice and "sleep with one eye open, gripping your pillow tight..." tonight.

(Great, now I have "Enter Sandman" going through my head..."Exit light, enter night, take my hand..." STOP IT! FOCUS! FOCUS! When is this, anyway? My senior year of high school?)

I have contacted the people who will be writing the acceptance speeches (Jen-Kung Fu Panda, Janet-Po, Jolyn-Eve) and will get those non-political remarks posted next week.

A few of you left some excellent comments that I wanted to touch on real quick, so here it goes.

("...Off to never, never land...duh-duh-DUH-DUH-DUH-duh-duh-DUH-DUH-DUH...PLEASE STOP, BRAIN!")

Carmar76 - You were excited that Bedtime Stories had Adam Sandler in it. I was too. When the NMH and I started dating in 1996, Adam Sandler was one of my favorite actors. In fact, our first date was watching Happy Gilmore together in her apartment, so some of the credit for my eternal happiness goes to Adam Sandler. Between 1995 and 1998 he starred in Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy and some of the funniest SNL spots ever produced. The next few years were so-so (Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds) and from 2002 on I had not seen a single Adam Sandler movie. I missed him. Most of his PG-13 stuff became too vulgar for my tastes, so it was good to see Opera Man back in action on the big screen.

("...Something's wrong, shut the light, Heavy thoughts tonight, And they aren't of Snow White..." I'm trying to hum a Primary song in my head right now, but James Hetfield is winning.)

Megan - You said, "Miggery Sow is the night's biggest winner. Just like the real Academy Awards, I haven't seen the movie. So, she must win!" Classic. Just classic. I know how you feel.

Sheryl with an S - Your comment was, "The best line my family quotes, 'In my world everyone's a pony, eats rainbows and poops butterflies' from Horton Here's a Who." Well, I guess you guys don't need to scrub your toilets every Saturday like we do. But what does that do to your ceilings? Anyway, you may have just inspired a future blog post of the movie quotes that somehow, someway "stick" and get repeated over and over again in our families. For example, the NMW and I always use a quote from David Putty from Seinfeld when he said, "I'm not a grease monkey. You're the grease monkey! Grease monkey!" Everybody please post a comment and let me know if you would like this to be a future post.

Amy Btw-M, Meredith, Admiral Lily and Rachel - Ah, the Troy fan club. When the Normal Mormon Family watched HSM 3 the first thing I said to the NMW was, "Dude, Zac Efron has got to be on 'roids. I mean, look at the size of his biceps compared to HSM 2! It's like looking at Barry Bonds on the Pirates versus Barry Bonds on the Giants. The circumference of the vein running down the middle of his arm is wider than a McDonald's straw." But hey, the guy makes family friendly Disney movies, so I wish him nothing but success.

("...Dreams of wars, Dreams of liars, Dreams of dragon's fire, And of things that will bite..." Ugh! STOP ALREADY!...)

Joh-Michael - You admitted that, "WALL-E was so unique and unexpectedly heartwarming. My nearly 4 year-old son has watched that movie 50 times since Christmas." I was going to criticize you for using a movie as your son's babysitter, but it is 5:30 p.m. right now and I just put on a Disney DVD for my daughter so that I could crank out a quick blog post while the NMW is at a baby shower. Yes, I have a mote in my eye. Or is it a beam? Whichever it is, you will receive no criticism from me.

Melanie - When referring to WALL-E you said, "I have to admit that the environmental undertones in WALL-E kind of get on my nerves. . . . but since we're not going all political on here I'll shut up now." Thank you for not going "all political" but still bringing up a subject that touches a nerve with me as well. Most every person or organization that lectures the rest of us on the environment has a beam in their eye (or mote, whatever) when they do. Just today, for example, the Normal Mormon Family went to the Natural Science Center. This massive complex is spread out over several acres that used to be pristine, untouched woodland. It then took a bunch of animals captive (tigers, wolves, monkeys, etc.), uses tons of energy and leaves a larger carbon footprint (or whatever the new buzzword is) which contributes to more global warming (or whatever it's called now - climate change?) in one day than I will in my lifetime. Yet they still have the gall to lecture me through signs and videos about treating the environment and animals with care and respect. I blogged about the environmental hypocrisy of Disney before (click here and go to 12:32 p.m.) and still feel the same way today. Look, I love the earth. It is the Lord's creation and we are its stewards. I will do my part to take care of it, so please stop lecturing me. Ugh. It's tiresome.

Janet - You said, "I say Po for best actor simply because I have a thang for Jack Black." Every short, chubby, funny man in America just felt a little more optimistic about the future prospects of finding love in his life.

Snakeriverwalton - Your comment was, "I voted for Kung-fu Panda because of it's wide and varied use of the word 'awesome' in it's many forms. In short, it was awesome." Awesome comment, snakeriverwalton. Just awesome.

The Oregonians - Grandpa! How could I flub your age and call you an 85-year-old when you are actually a young, spry 84-year-old? My bad, grandpa, my bad. If it makes you feel any better, you don't look a day over 81.

("...Hush little baby don't say a word, And never mind that noise you heard, It's just the beast under your bed, In your closet in your head...")

All right, guys, thanks for the votes and the comments on the NMH Oscars. Now I'm just going to give in to Enter Sandman, headbang for a few minutes, and then get back to you in a few days.

("...Exit light, Enter night...")

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The NMH Academy Awards (Vote Now!)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Raise your hand if you have a grandparent in their mid-eighties who regularly updates their own blog.

(Raising my hand.)

Keep your hand up if your grandparent's blog is full of interesting, insightful, informative posts and not rambling entries about Matlock or the Denny's Early Bird Dinner Special.

(Still raising my hand.)

Now keep raising your hand if the octogenarian in your life also rides a Harley, enjoys BASE jumping, went to a Kid Rock concert last summer and is planning to hike Kilimanjaro next year.

(Okay, my hand came down on that one. Even though my 85-year-old grandpa isn't into death sports, he is still pretty dang cool for having a great blog.)

Last year my grandpa started his own blog. His posts have helped me to learn more about my family history (including an English sea captain), his love for vintage automobiles (1936 Ford Coupe) and what that word "piker" means. While I normally enjoy my grandpa's blog posts, his last entry made me sad. You see, my grandpa is a hard-core movie buff. He spent his professional career as a college theater professor and director of a number of plays. Given his artistic background, it is not surprising to learn that he looks forward to the Academy Awards like guys with hairy backs look forward to Friday night tractor pulls. The Oscars have been his Super Bowl since 1946.

While I have watched the Academy Awards in my adult life as many times as I have seen An Inconvenient Truth (read: never), I get excited for grandpa every year when Oscar season rolls around. So imagine my disappointment when I read on his blog that he nearly turned off his TV twice during the Oscars because of the political rants some of the award winners gave. Grandpa also admitted that he had not seen any of the films that were nominated for Best Picture this year, either. He is now contemplating giving up on the Academy Awards all together. My grandpa giving up the Oscars would be as shocking as me quitting fantasy sports or the Cincinnati Bengals signing a free agent who has never spent time in solitary at the Youngstown maximum security prison.

My grandpa is probably not alone in his frustration with the current state of the types of movies and actors that receive the praises of the Hollywood establishment. Take me, for example. I like a good movie as much as the next guy and I have not seen a single Best Picture nominee since 2004, making me 0 for 25 in this category. It appears that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and I significantly disagree on what constitutes a quality film. In my humble opinion, the Academy jumped the shark in 1995 when it awarded Best Picture to Braveheart instead of Tommy Boy. The Academy and I have been on the outs since then.

I nearly broke my oh-fer streak this year by seeing Best Picture nominee Milk. Since I did not hear much about the movie's plot, I assumed that it must be a biopic about Louis Pasteur's quest to make milk safer to drink. Both the Normal Mormon Wife and I love historical science dramas so we were pretty bummed out when Milk got slapped with an "R" rating and we had to nix seeing it. I guess Louis Pasteur must have sworn a lot after repeated failures during the trial-and-error process of pasteurizing milk. Flip dang it!

While most of the movies that receive the Academy's praise are far too violent, sexual and vulgar for me to see, there are a number of movies that come out every year that I enjoy a great deal. Since the Academy failed to include any of my 2008 favorites in the Best Picture and Actor/Actress in a Leading Role, I am going to hold my own NMH Oscars. I replaced the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences with the Normal Mormon Family (me, the NMW, and our two kids ages seven and four) to nominate the 2008 films and actors who delighted the types of people who visit this blog. The criteria that we used were pretty simple - the Normal Mormon Family had to see the movie and it needed to be rated G or PG. After discussing this topic at length during our 20-minute drive to the Natural Science Center, here are our nominations:

Best Picture:
Bedtime Stories
Horton Hears a Who
Kung Fu Panda
Madagascar 2
WALL-E

Best Actor:
Po (Kung Fu Panda)
Shifu (Kung Fu Panda)
The Cockroach (WALL-E)
Troy (High School Muscial 3)
WALL-E

Best Actress:
Eve (WALL-E)
Gabriella (HSM3)
Miggery Sow (The Tale of Despereaux)
Sharpay (HSM3)
Tigress (Kung Fu Panda)

Please vote in the polls on the right and let's try to correct what the Academy messed up this year. Also, please post comments explaining the reasons for your votes. To keep things fun and interactive I will select the people who leave the best comments to write the acceptance speeches for the eventual winners. For example, if you vote for Troy from HSM3 to win Best Actor and you leave a comment that says something like, "Did you see the dude's biceps? He's gotta be juicin'?" and then Troy gets the most votes, I would ask you to then write Troy's acceptance speech that will be posted at the end of the week.

Just keep politics out of the acceptance speeches, okay?

Somewhere there is an 85-year-old cool grandpa with a blog who will be grateful that you did.

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