Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Found Treasures V: Complementary

I had completely forgotten about writing this next piece, but when I found it on one of my old floppies [1] I immediately recognized it. I've fixed a few typos [2], but for the most part this story is in its native state. It has many of the hallmarks of my writing. It also shows some of my weaknesses as a writer—poor character development, sacrificing feasibility to progress the plot, using narration instead of dialogue, etc. Even now, ten years later, I still struggle with these flaws, but I like to think that I'm improving.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Product Review: Kettle Brand Tias! Nacho Cheddar

Since I enjoyed the salt-and-vinegar-flavored chips produced by Kettle Brand [1], when I spotted these I decided to give them a try. I was a little skeptical that a potato chip company could make good corn chips, but I could think of no reason for this other than cultural conditioning.[2]

Product Review: Takis: Salsa Brava

While I was serving an LDS mission in Monterrey, México [1], there was only one flavor of Takis (now called "crunchy fajita"), which was marketed as "¡la única TAKO botana!"[2] Since then there has been a proliferation of new flavors of Takis. The first such new flavor to appear on the scene was "Salsa Brava". These can sometimes be spotted in mainstream grocery stores, but in most cases you'll have to go to a Mexican tienda to find them.

Product Review: Bundaberg Australian Ginger Beer

I'll admit: the first thing that intrigued me about this bottle was that it was from Australia, not its contents. I spotted it at a Buy Low before going to see Rango at the dollar movies.[1] One of the undergraduates in my lab, Casey, served his mission [2] in Australia, so I asked him if it was worth trying.[3] He said it was like ginger ale, but stronger. That didn't pique my curiosity any more than it was already piqued, but it was piqued, so I bought some.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Demolition Derby

One of the things that Leann wanted to do before the baby comes [1] was see a demolition derby. I've been to once before, a few years ago, up in Logan, Utah. This last weekend there was one out in West Jordan. Leann bought tickets and invited her friend Jordan to come with us.[2]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Found Treasures IV: Skydiving

Next in the series of lost creations that I rediscovered on old floppy disks [1] is a short story that I wrote for my Creative Writing class, in my Junior year at Box Elder High School. It was handed in on October 18, 1997. Unlike some of the other files I found, I actually remembered writing this one. But since I thought that it was lost, I rewrote it and presented it to the BYU 38th Ward Book Club in 2006.[2] It is interesting to compare the two and see how my writing changed between 1997 and 2006.

The Skydiver

I originally conceived of and wrote this story in 1997, but then I was unable to find it and presumed that it was lost. So I rewrote this version in 2006 so that I could share it with the BYU 38th Ward Book Club. Later I rediscovered the original version of the story on an old floppy disk.[1] Here is the more recent version, which was essentially rewritten from scratch.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Movie Review: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People was written by Oscar Wilde and first performed in 1895.[1] It was shocking because it mocked many Victorian ideals, including education, marriage, and piety. In fact, the target of his satire, the Victorian ideal of earnestness makes an appearance in the title, as does its opposite (which itself is the prevailing attitude of the play): triviality.[2] However, the play was overshadowed by a greater controversy when John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry tried to expose the homosexual affair between his son, Lord Alfred Douglas, and Oscar Wilde. This eventually led to Wilde being charged with sodomy and gross indecency, and convicted of the latter. As a result of the ensuing public scandal, all of Wilde's plays were shut down.[3] I was generally unaware of the play until I read it with the BYU 38th Ward Book Club while I was an undergraduate at BYU. I thought it might be something that Leann would enjoy, so I queued it up in Netflix. (And I made sure to get the one that had Colin Firth in it.)

Movie Review: Rango

I first became aware of Rango when I was getting ready to watch a DVD at our old apartment [1], though now I don't remember which movie, exactly. I put the DVD in our XBox 360 and waited for the disc to load. I usually skip past the teaser trailers that pop up first. But the trailer for Rango immediately had me riveted. It had the look and feel of a spaghetti western. My fascination with this genre has partly to do with the fact that I spent two years in northern México as a missionary for the LDS Church.[2]

Movie Review: Snow White and the Three Stooges

Pretty much everyone in the U.S. is aware of the Three Stooges—they're the three buffoons who like to poke each other in the eyes. Since I'd never seen more than short clips of their performances, I decided to try one of their full-length features. After watching it and doing a little research, I now realize that I picked what was probably their least comedic film. Sure there is some comedy, but it functions as icing rather than cake. The movie is generally dramatic, though with a merry tone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spode to Ooner

167 years ago today, William Archibald Spooner was born at 17 Chapel Street, Grosvenor Place, London.[1] Although he was a man of many accomplishments (including holding many positions at New College, Oxford), what he is best known for is his the way he habitually mixed up consonants, vowels, or entire syllables while he was speaking. He was so notorious for it that that particular form of wordplay bears his name to this day: a spoonerism. A few years ago I thought it would be fun to write a poem that utilized spoonerisms. Initially my intentions for the poem were a little too lofty: I imagined that I could find enough spoonerisms that made sense in both readings that I could essentially write two poems that said different things based on whether you read it with or without the spoonerisms. I quickly saw the folly in such an attempt. So, instead, I mixed up the events in the poem—a fact which is only clear once you fix all the spoonerisms.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Television Review: Bones, Season 6.5

I think many (and with good reason) are disturbed by the often graphic images of bodies which show evidence of violence and/or decay. Though reality is rarely as fantastic as the plotlines of Bones, it is saddening to know that such acts really do occur in our world, and frequently.[1] I'm not always sure that the fact that the main characters are bringing the guilty to justice mitigates the gruesome things they depict on-screen.

Television Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 3.5

At our new place we don't have cable television [1], so I haven't been able to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network. And I didn't do very well at watching them online, so I often had to scramble to watch new episodes before they became unavailable.[2] Even given my great appreciation for the story of Star Wars and the fact that the episodes are only about 20 minutes long, I still had trouble keeping up. I just let other things occupy my time (though rarely less important things).

Product Review: Twix Coconut

I actually bought this candy bar at Smith and Edwards a while back.[1] However, I chose not to include it in the review of all the other candy that I bought since it wasn't really an object of nostalgia or long-standing curiosity as a result of the summer that I worked there. Thus I am reviewing it on its own.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Weekend

I was recently asked to teach a class in my department. In order to have time to prepare the lectures and labs, I haven't been taking a lot of person time over the last few days. But I did take a little time off here and there. One of those little breaks was for Father's Day, and this is my first as a real father.[1]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Found Treasures III: Anti-Valentine's Day Party Invitation

Very few of the parties I threw while living in The Colony Apartments in Provo, Utah garnered much attention from the local flora and fauna. The runner-up was a showing of the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers using my projector [1], the day after it was released on DVD. But the sleeper hit was the anti-Valentine's Day Party I threw one year. To make things even more delicious, the Relief Society [2] was having an activity that evening for all the girls that didn't have Valentine's Day plans, but most of them came to my party instead. The Relief Society president at the time, Ashley, expressed her consternation to me the following Sunday in Ward Council.[3] Here is the text of the invitation, which I recently recovered from an old floppy disk [4]:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Product Review: Nances

Nances (a Spanish word [1], which is pronounced NAHN-sayce, mouseover for IPA) are small yellow fruits that grow in Central America. I never had them while I was in México, but several people I've talked to who served their missions [2] in southern México or Central America remember eating these. They contribute to the local cuisine of those areas in various ways.[3] I found them in the frozen section of a Mexican tienda in Orem.

Product Review: 3 Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate

There are two candy bars which are given to me semi-regularly, yet which are something of a disappointment to me: Milky Way bars and 3 Musketeers bars.[1] They're not gross, or anything like that. They're just not all they could be. Instead of the nougat they're touted for, I'd rather have caramel and nuts, like in a Snickers or a Baby Ruth. However, I love mint, so I decided to give the mint-flavored 3 Musketeers a chance.

Video Game Review: LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is based on the first two seasons of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which airs on the Cartoon Network.[1][2] It is, for the most part, about the adventures of Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, and his Padawan learner, Asohka Tano [3], during the Clone Wars (22 BBY–19 BBY [4]). However, there are also episodes about Anakin's secret wife, Senator Padmé Amidala; R2-D2 and C-3PO; clone troopers; Anakin's former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi; other Jedi; and even a few about the villainess, Asajj Ventress.[5] To choose the different levels, you are presented with a map of the Star Wars galaxy with the appropriate planets or moons highlighted.[6]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hiking (Near) the Y

East of the Brigham Young University campus, in Provo, Utah, is a giant Y on the mountain.[1] It was originally intended to have all three letters, but it took so long to survey for the Y that they stopped at that.[2] Hiking up to the Y is an activity that many Utah Valley residents engage in during the snow-free months of the year. Last week Leann's friend April asked if we wanted to hike up with her one evening. We went, but I decided that I wanted to get a picture of the Y from one of the side mountains, instead. So I did a little trailblazing. Here are a few of the pictures I snapped along the way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Galactic Cluster

Just before we moved to our new apartment [1], I was driving past Pioneer Book (which is on State Street in Orem, now) and noticed that they were having a book sale. Specifically, for $25 you could purchase as many paperback books as you could fit into the brown paper bag they provided you (this excluded certain high-demand authors). I took the bait. I had a harder time finding books I wanted than I expected. So I began considering authors whom I was unfamiliar with, but who were well represented on the shelves. One of these was James Blish. Since I've never read anything of his before, I only selected one of his books. As it turns out, it wasn't actually a novel, but a collection of short stories he published in the 1950s.

Book Review: The Awakening

I was given the first book in this series, My Name Is John, by my neighbor, Thom Mower [1], when I received my Eagle Scout award. I don't remember much about it except that it's about John the Beloved, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. According to both ancient and modern revelations [2][3] John the Beloved will not taste of death until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These books are about his efforts to spread the Gospel on the earth in the modern age.

Book Review: The Mote in God's Eye

I first became interested in this book when I learned that it was what inspired Tom Clancy to become a writer.[1] But even with that, I was a little concerned about the title. It sounds like a sacrilegious allusion to two passages in the Bible.[2] However, the title had very little to do with Christianity.[3] The title refers to a nebula, called the Coal Sack, which has the appearance of a human head. However, the inhabitants of the closest planet think of it as the face of God. In that nebula is a red giant star which looks like an eye in that face. And nearby is a yellow dwarf, much like our sun, which they call the Mote. The book concerns the discovery that a sentient race other than humankind exists in the Mote planetary system and the subsequent first contact with that alien species.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Found Treasures II: Tubing

As I've mentioned previously [1], I recently pulled a bunch of files off of my old floppy disks since that type of storage device is obsolete. I was surprised by many of the files that I recovered—I thought they were lost forever. I was even more surprised that I actually recognized most of them. This one is a personal essay I wrote for my Accelerated [Sophomore] English class at Box Elder High School. According to the header, I turned this in to the teacher, Mr. Yates, on 18, 1996.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Product Review: Candy from Smith and Edwards

Last month, when I was up to my parents' house for Mother's Day, I remembered that Leann had lost the lens cleaner for her binoculars. So I popped over to Smith and Edwards [1] to buy her another one. Before I left on my mission to México [2], I worked at Smith and Edwards in the candy department. Walking through the candy aisles again stirred some old memories. I decided to buy a few old favorites as well as try a few of those candies that tickled the imagination but I never got around to trying.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rock Island Waterfowl Management Area

This last weekend Leann and I went down to the Rock Island Waterfowl Management Area, at the south end of Utah Lake, to do some birding. We've actually tried to go once before, but due to faulty instructions from one of Leann's friends, we couldn't find it. This time I used Google Maps and we were able to arrive.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Product Review: Country Castle Limburger cheese

If you've ever played the Steven Jackson game Munchkin, you probably know that a character who is a Halfling can get a bonus from the "Limburger and Anchovy Sandwich" card. The card depicts a large sandwich with anchovies poking out the sides and the wavy cartoon lines which are characteristic of strong odors ("wafterons" [1]). So, even knowing that this was probably going to be a bad experience, when I spotted some Limburger at the store, I decided to try it. Limburger was originally developed in Limburg, a region shared by Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Only one company in the U.S. produces Limburger cheese, though at one point the state of Wisconsin produced more Limburger than it did Swiss cheese.[2]

Product Review: Ilchester Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries

If you've ever seen any of the Wallace and Gromit films [1], then you've probably heard of Wensleydale cheese. In fact, if you've ever eaten Wensleydale cheese since the mid-1990s, then you have Wallace and Gromit to thank for it. The company which produces Wensleydale cheese, Wensleydale Dairy Products, was about to suspend production of Wensleydale cheese. But the popularity of the Wallace and Gromit films, which make special mention of Wensleydale cheese, rescued sales and now the business is thriving.[2] The first time I recall hearing about Wensleydale cheese was in a Monty Python skit that my friend Markham showed me.[3] We ate this cheese with some sesame seed crackers and apple slices.

Product Review: Ilchester Sage Derby Cheese

In the seventeenth century English cheesemakers began adding sage to their Derby cheese. This is because sage was believed to have medicinal properties and aide in digestion.[1] In fact, both the common name (sage) and the scientific name of the genus (Salvia) are both derived from the Latin word salvus, which means "healthy".[2] The species name (officinalis) refers to the medicine cabinet (officina) used by Medieval monks.[3] Medieval uses for sage included [4]: warding off evil, as a styptic, as a diuretic, to treat snakebites, as an anesthetic, to increase womens' fertility, as an emmenagogue, and even in a concoction, called Four Thieves Vinegar, which was used to ward off the Black Plague.[5] In modern times it is used simply as a savory spice for flavoring stuffing and fatty meats, such as pork (especially sausage).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Free Fishing Day

Last Saturday was Free Fishing Day in Utah and Wyoming. For the last several years I've gone with my Dad, my brother, and my brothers-in-law up to Star Valley Wyoming to do some fishing in the Salt River and in the Grand Palisades Reservoir. And for the most part we've been skunked. This year we opted out of going to Wyoming and chose to stay in Utah, instead.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Found Treasures I: Obsolete Story Idea

In addition to watching Tangled for the first time [1], while I was at my parents' house for Mother's Day, I brought up a bunch of old 3.5" floppy disks that I found while preparing to move to our new apartment.[2] I was only mildly surprised to discover that my new laptop [3] doesn't have a floppy drive on it, but a little astonished that none of the computers on BYU campus have floppy drives anymore, either. Luckily, my Dad had an external floppy drive that I was able to use.[4] Most of the disks had files that I already had copies of, or were earlier drafts of files I had copies of. But a few turned out to be files that would've been lost forever had I not first checked the disks. Other disks had such files but were damaged beyond repair. Alas, those gems are lost.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Review: Godzilla

The original Japanese film Gojira (ゴジラ [1]), known in English as Godzilla, was a manifestation of the fear and unease that the Japanese people felt about atomic weaponry following the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end World War II and nuclear fallout from subsequent nuclear testing in the Pacific.[2] The 1998 film was a manifestation that Roland Emmerich needed another disaster movie to direct.[3][4]

Movie Review: Sanshiro Sugata, Part II

As I've mentioned previously [1], I tried watching Sanshiro Sugata, Part I at BYU, but fell asleep. I put it in my Netflix queue but never bothered putting it at the top of the list. You could look up Part II, but it was unavailable, so I put it in my "saved videos". Suddenly Sanshiro Sugata Part II (Japanese: 續姿三四郎) became available. Since I've seen videos which appeal to a narrow audience, such as these, disappear again from Netflix in a very short time, I wasted no time in queuing them both up.

Movie Review: Sanshiro Sugata, Part I

Sanshiro Sugata (Japanese: 姿三四郎) was the first film made by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and was also his first collaboration with actor Takashi Shimura. It was filmed at the height of World War II and was released in 1943. At that time the Japanese wartime government had strict rules about films that were released in Japan—they had to be about Japanese subjects and in particular they had to present the nation of Japan and its government in a favorable light. Kurosawa did his best to comply with these restrictions, but as it was 17 minutes of the film were removed by government censors. That footage has since been lost.[1] I first tried watching this movie in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) at BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library, but I fell asleep and missed the middle of the movie.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

As I've mentioned previously, Leann and I went to the Hogle Zoo on Saturday with our friends Ben and Carolyn.[1] But the fun didn't stop there. After the zoo, we drove up to northern Utah and did a few more things.