Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shangri-La? El Dorado? Sloppy Joe's?

This week's edition of The Ticket for The Daily Herald:

'Xanadu' brings roll to rock at Hale Center Theater Orem

Photo by Pete Widtfeldt, courtesy of HCTO
I had a lot of fun writing this one, especially the lead and the kicker (or, in non-journalist terms, the beginning and the end). "Xanadu" was a Broadway hit that is now coming to Orem. It's the story of a sidewalk chalk artist, down on his luck, who is inspired to open a roller disco by Greek muses who descend from Mt. Olympus disguised as Australian roller derby queens. Yeah.

The story first came as a 1980 movie, and it was a huge flop. But the Broadway version 27 years later was successful because it kept the music and made fun of the rest of the movie.

The people I interviewed from the Hale Center Theater Orem were great and loved talking about this musical and how weird and wonderful it is.

American Fork Symphony performing theme from 'Far and Away'

(This one doesn't seem to be online yet. I'll post the link when it's available.)

This one was kind of hard, because I didn't have much to go on. The American Fork Symphony was doing a concert ... and that was about it. But I'm surprised by what I was able to pull together.

Sound Hot Ticket: Dream for 'Requiem'

Perfect Date: When the curtain falls

Sound Briefs: Opera mix tape

Arts Briefs: Dance and shout, the Cougarettes are out

For next week, I'm doing an article on another Broadway hit. "Rock of Ages" is coming to Utah. Should be interesting.

*Hey, does anyone get the title of this blog post? If you do, then you win for being cool and knowing classic movies (hint, hint).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Erin Scale Redux

Anyone remember "The Erin Scale" I created in December?

Probably not, because the only audience for my dorky charts is probably Erin. And she has to smile and nod, because she's married to me.

Anyway, I came up with a "mathematical formula" to help us reconcile all the different factors in choosing a law school that are beyond the school itself. The "formula" (I use the term very loosely, hence the quotation marks) calculates things like average debt, cost of living, distance from our families in Oregon and Texas, etc.

I'm realizing that these factors are becoming more and more important. Really, every school on my list is going to provide an amazing education and opportunities. Otherwise, they wouldn't be ranked in the top 100 in the country. So it's hard to decide based on only the education. Would I rather be a part of Texas' top-notch judicial clerkship program? Or Minnesota's prestigious legal writing program? Or Iowa's research assistant program? Or UC Davis' emphasis on public interest and service? Really, wherever I end up is going to be enjoyable and take me where I want to go (wherever that may be).

In the old "formula," I ranked each school by cost of tuition,* percentage of students who receive half- to full-tuition scholarships,* percentage of students who receive grants,* average debt after graduation, distance to Mosier, OR (my hometown), distance to Tomball, TX (Erin's hometown), cost of living, and annual premiums for school health insurance.**

In the new "formula," I added two categories: average debt to average salary ratio (I know the average starting salary for law school grads is usually skewed for multiple reasons, which was addressed in this blog post and comments) and annual mean temperature. Because, hey, why not live three years somewhere where the weather is nice? And the annual mean temperature will take into account bitter cold winters that are counterbalanced by paradisaical summers.

I also custom-made the new "formula" even more by personalizing the tuition figures. For example, both Baylor and Iowa offered full-tuition scholarships, so I can edit those tuition figures to simply say $0. I wasn't sure how to alter the average debt amounts, because if I only subtracted three years' worth of tuition, sometimes that average debt would become a negative number, which doesn't make sense. Debt of course comes from more than just tuition. So instead, I just ranked the debt of schools (as well as the debt to salary ratio) where I received a scholarship separate from the schools where I don't have a scholarship.

(And for schools where I was waitlisted, I did the opposite: I changed the percentage of students who receive half- to full-tuition scholarships to 0%. I guess it's not a sure thing, but I assume that barely even getting into the school would also mean there aren't any scholarships for me.)

Finally, I added weight to some categories. In categories that weren't as significant, I added to the rankings. For example, I added five to every score in the "distance to Mosier, OR" category, so instead of giving Oregon a score of 1 it got a 6. Still the best in that category among the other schools, but not as high in importance as Iowa or Baylor which got a 1 in cost of tuition.

Oh, and I also added Stanford, Duke and Northwestern, since they weren't on my list back when I made the old "formula."

(If any of this is confusing, and you care enough to ask me to explain more, just let me know.)

Anyway, want to see what we came up with?

1. Baylor (score: 95)
2. North Carolina (score: 111)
3. Texas (score: 115)
4. Minnesota (score: 116)
5. BYU (score: 117)
6. Iowa (score: 121)
7. Ohio State (score: 145)
8. Stanford (score: 147)
9. Utah (score: 149)
10. Arizona State (score: 150)
11. Duke (score: 151)
11. UC Davis (score: 151)
13. Notre Dame (score: 155)
13. Washington (score: 155)
15. Oregon (score: 156)
16. Virginia (score: 167)
17. Northwestern (score: 173)

Interesting? Ridiculous? Just a mess of numbers and words that don't make sense? What do you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Acceptance number nine came in the mail today, from Oregon.

It's the lowest ranked school (#79) that I applied to, so I expected a substantial scholarship. But I only got about about a third of tuition, compared to full tuition from #27 Iowa and #56 Baylor, and either 75% or 100% from #30 North Carolina.

So I've heard back from 11 schools now, which means I have six left. But really, I'm only anxious to hear from Stanford, Virginia and Duke, especially Duke. The other ones left are UC Davis, Washington and Arizona State.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

North by Northwestern (and other law school news)

Another tap on the brakes of my Getting Into Law Schools Locomotive: I was waitlisted by Northwestern.

It's not that big of a disappointment, because Northwestern wasn't a school I had on my list from the get-go. I don't have any special inclination toward Northwestern or the Chicago area. The school showed up on my radar because they offered me an application fee waiver way back when I had a 161 on my LSAT. For such a high-ranked school to let me apply for free with only a 161, I was curious. So then when I had a 167, I thought I might as well try.

Oh well. I'm not too down about it. I was more disappointed by being waitlisted by Notre Dame, but even then it's not a big deal. Notre Dame would have been cool for a lot of reasons: a unique education with a Catholic perspective to add to my expertise; Erin, Allisyn and I have been to South Bend; and Notre Dame football. Notre Dame would have been cool, but it was only one among a few cool schools.

And, I might still fill out the paperwork for them to keep me on their list and reconsider me. Notre Dame and Northwestern couldn't tell me anything until May, which is past the deadlines for deposits at other schools. So I would probably decide on one of the schools that accepted me first. But, still, it's not like I was rejected by either Notre Dame or Northwestern.

More than the disappointment, I think, is actually a little bit of relief to still have only eight factors so far in this decision-making process.

That makes the score 8-2, or 8-2-0 if you count the waitlisting as a tie. :)

Well, enough about the schools I didn't get into! You're probably more curious about our final decision.

We are still a long ways off before we know for sure. We've set a deadline for ourselves of April 1, since that's the earliest of the schools' deadlines for paying deposits. And I think we are going to use as much of our time until then as we can.

But I will let you know that the schools I think about the most are Iowa and North Carolina. Iowa has really done a lot to "woo" me: I've received emails from at least five different students who also happen to be members of the Church, all telling me how great Iowa is. I also got a call from a dean who came to the law school fair, who remembered me and my family. The school is also a full-tuition scholarship. And, it's the school Erin is the most excited about.

At North Carolina though, I was not only accepted and offered a scholarship, but selected as a finalist for the Chancellors' Scholars. Which is about as fancy as it sounds. I think of it as a sort of "National Honor Society" at UNC Law. Plus, just for being a finalist I get at least a 75%-tuition scholarship, and if I become one of the top 10 finalists after an interview-by-Skype, I can get full tuition and get into the club.

UNC is on the East Coast and closer to Washington, D.C. and New York City, where a part of me wants to live or at least have another law internship or clerkship or something. Not that I couldn't go to New York or D.C. from Iowa or somewhere else, but it would probably be easier from UNC. Also, I think there are more opportunities at UNC for going into immigration law, which is one of my many ideas for a career. And, the weather is better in Chapel Hill. Plus, UNC basketball.

But whenever I think to myself, "Okay, so it's between Iowa or North Carolina," then I remember, "Wait! I also got excepted to Texas and Minnesota! And Ohio State!" I'm still waiting to find out if I got a scholarship at Ohio State. Minnesota offered half-tuition, and as far as I know I wouldn't get one at Texas. But maybe it would be worth going to Texas, I don't know. And, I shouldn't automatically rule out BYU, Utah or Baylor.

Anyway, that's the thought process we're going through. What do you guys think?

Dallyn in the Lion's Den

My big story in today's Ticket for The Daily Herald was an interview with Dallyn Vail Bayles.

Courtesy of Dallyn Vail Bayles
He's toured with Broadway productions of "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables," but a lot of you might know him better as Hyrum Smith in "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration," the recent Church movie, or his albums sold through Deseret Book.

The interview was really great. Dallyn Bayles was so upbeat and gracious, I think to every one of my questions he responded with, "That's a really good question." And even though he made a living in the entertainment industry, particularly an industry that rewards a musical like "The Book of Mormon," he kept his standards and his dignity. And he shows it is possible for someone to be a faithful Latter-day Saint and still make it big on Broadway.

Dallyn Vail Bayles to perform standards at SCERA concert

For my second story, I wrote about another SCERA production. This one is a kid's play about American tall tales like Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed. I didn't know how the story would turn out, but the actor playing Paul Bunyan gave some funny quotes. I think the story turned out to be one of my best for the Herald.

SCERA pampers children with 'Tremendously Tall Tales'

(To get the "pampers" joke, you'll have to read the opening of the article.)

And, the briefs:

Arts briefs: Viva el baile!

Sound briefs: From sea to shining sea

Sound Hot Ticket: Pour some Philharmonic on me (I love this headline)

Perfect Date: Unlock the 'Secret' (A recap of the same "Secret Garden" play I wrote about before)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The Daily Herald has a column every Wednesday they call "The Skinny," not because it has to do with diet or exercise but because it actually is skinny. About 17 tiny letters wide.

Reporters take turns writing about pretty much anything they want. And even though I'm just an intern, they assigned this week to me!

I wasn't sure what to write about for a long time. But I felt like writing something political and reliving my days at the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. Immigration is a fairly easy topic for me to write about. But then the challenge came from limiting it to less than 320 words.

Here it is:

The Skinny: Yearning to breathe free

There was one phrase that was taken out, probably for space, that I thought was clever. Instead of just saying "But when the Mississippi state legislature actually proposes renaming the Gulf of Mexico to the 'Gulf of America,' the current crop of politicians don't appear to have any answers," I originally wrote, "But when the Mississippi state legislature actually proposes giving the 'freedom fries' treatment to the Gulf of Mexico by renaming it the 'Gulf of America,' the current crop of politicians don't appear to have any answers."

And look tomorrow for my stuff in The Ticket!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Alas, I am no longer invincibile.

I got my letter from Notre Dame today. And I've been waitlisted.

So I'm not definitely out. But I probably won't keep pursuing Notre Dame. I wouldn't find out if I got in until the spring or summer, and by then it will past deposit deadlines at other schools. And I'm guessing that if I barely got into the school in the first place, then I probably shouldn't be expecting any scholarship.

I'm a little bummed about it, but in a way it helps. One less factor in this decision-making process.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Please turn your cell phones ON

Another week, another selection of stories in The Daily Herald.

Why wi-fi? Because theatre is hot spot for 'Rings of the Tree'

This play is doing I've never heard of before: it actually encourages you to keep your cell phone on. The play utilizes QR codes and links and online videos to give audiences a whole new level of interactivity. Pretty cool.

It's also interesting that all this cutting-edge technology is being used with a story set in the Victorian era. But, the playwright and one of the producers hinted that the technology may have more to do with the story than you might think...

Courtesy of Imminent Catharsis Media

'Big Band Night' explores music and war themes of the 1940s

It's Big Band Night again at BYU. I've never been, but it seems like a really fun and important event.

And, the briefs:

Arts Briefs: Windmills and pirouettes

Sound Briefs: Calling all singers

Perfect Date: For you and your tweet-heart

And the Sound Hot Ticket isn't online, but it's a brief about the Oak Ridge Boys.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tar Heels and other Law School News

North Carolina emailed me today with yet another acceptance!

That's #8!

In other law school news, my envelope from Minnesota came today. They are offering a scholarship that amounts to about half-tuition!

Then, I got an email from an associate dean from Iowa who came to the BYU Law School Fair. In his email he said, "I was very pleased to see that you’ve been admitted to the Iowa Law School – and been offered a full merit scholarship."

Whoa, full scholarship? I wasn't aware of that!

So not only have I been accepted into eight schools, I so far have scholarships at four of them.

You can say things are going pretty well these days.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seventh Heaven

My hot streak of law school acceptances increased to seven today.

I got a call from the University of Utah telling me I got in!

Whoops, I meant this logo:


I would feel like I'm behind enemy lines for the first few days, probably. But I know it's a good school, and I already have a lot of friends there. It wouldn't be quite as adventurous as leaving the state of Utah, but it would still be a change in scenery after living in Provo for 3 1/2 years.

Just another factor thrown into this huge decision we have to make!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A cheer from the hometown team

I got an email earlier this week from a woman at the BYU Law School admissions, asking me to come in for an appointment with Dean Carl Hernandez. And that was all the information she gave me.

I made an appointment, not really sure what it was for. I guessed that maybe it was part of the admissions process, that BYU liked to interview any of its candidates who happened to live nearby. Maybe it was to tell me in person what the committee's decision was, but I didn't know for sure.

Well, it turns out it was to tell me the decision. I was accepted! And with a scholarship!

The interview was great. Dean Hernandez had some great wisdom, and he shared it in a way that seemed like he knew me pretty well. One thing that I liked was toward the end of the interview, he said something like, "Ultimately, you should go to wherever is best for you." He knew that BYU Law School is great for some people, but for others who have already "entered to learn" should then "go forth to serve."

I'm not ruling out BYU yet. Leaving Provo would be a great adventure, but BYU has a lot of benefits. Thanks to the "Mormon Club," it has a wider influence and unique network that makes the school more advantageous than a lot of higher-ranked schools. And, even without the scholarship, you can't beat the price.

If we did stay in Provo, we would probably still progress in that we would move from our apartment and maybe rent a house. And we would maybe move to a regular, family ward. So we would still have a new adventure.

So, even though I thought of BYU as a "backup school," we're still keeping our options open.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Country Jamboree!

Photo courtesy of the Oak Ridge Boys

Today my article on The Oak Ridge Boys appeared in The Daily Herald!

Oak Ridge Boys banking on big show at Covey Center

And, because my interview with Richard Sterban was so great, we posted online the transcript of the Q&A:

Questions and answers with Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys

He gave a very generous interview and had all kinds of great stories and quotes, I couldn't fit it all in the article. I'm glad we were able to share the whole thing with the readers.

I also wrote about another fun performance going on at The Covey Center. It's four short plays, all with the title "Blind Date" but each is interpreted differently.

Sight unseen: Take a chance on 'Blind Date' at Covey Center

And, the rest of my stuff in today's Herald:

Perfect Date: Round and round

Arts briefs: Get a taste of 'Eurydice'

Sound Hot Ticket: Remembered carols

And I also did the sound briefs, but that doesn't seem to be online.

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