Thursday, March 29, 2012

As you wish

More from me in today's Ticket in The Daily Herald!

Photo by Chad Whitlock for Desert Star Playhouse

First, I did another article about the Desert Star Playhouse. Their show "CSI: Provo - DNA Decaffeinated" finished its run, and next up is "The Princess Bridesmaid."

At first I was a little worried about writing something so similar to what I had written before, but I think it turned out to be not repetitive.

As you wish: Classic gets spoof with 'Princess Bridesmaid'

My second article was a lot of fun, because it reminded me of my New York City internship. The singers, dancers and actors from BYU go on a trip to Los Angeles and New York every year, and put on a "show" for a crowd of agents, casting directors and other professionals in the entertainment industry. It's essentially a mass audition, and the goal is to get the seniors hooked up with an agent. A ton of BYU grads have started their careers that way, including the lead roles in the "War Horse"  and the "Legally Blonde, the Musical" national tours.

Showcase offers BYU seniors opportunity to strut their stuff

And you should go to the Showcase website. There's not a lot there, but there's a cool surprise. Hint: don't actually click on anything until after the surprise.

The briefs:

Sound Hot Ticket: Get ready to rumble! (Joshua James vs. Isaac Russell at the Velour this weekend)

Perfect Date: 'Labour' gives love a good name ("Love's Labour's Lost" playing at BYU)

Sound briefs: When the saints come leaping in

Arts briefs: Come on and get flappy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On the side

Even though we decided on Iowa a little while ago, that didn't stop me from taking advantage of some cool opportunities at other law schools.

Before "The Decision," I was invited to a lunch with a few other people admitted to BYU Law School and Justice Thomas Lee from the Utah Supreme Court and his clerks and externs. Justice Lee is also an part-time professor at the law school. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him, and his clerks. A clerkship is definitely something I want to do, maybe even after getting my J.D. In the case of Justice Lee, his externs get the first crack at writing opinions, then the clerks, then he works on them. So these twentysomethings get a lot of input in the judicial process. Maybe not every judge works that way, but I think I would still like being a clerk for just about anybody.

Plus, the Matheson Courthouse is beautiful. I could get used to working in a place like that.
There were a couple more local events, after my decision, that I was invited to: a dinner with Ohio State alumni at the Holland & Hart law firm office in downtown Salt Lake, and the Admitted Students Day at the University of Utah.

I went to both even though I already knew I wasn't going to those schools. Since it would be hard to go to events at North Carolina, Iowa, or other schools, I wanted to at least get to the more convenient ones. And, I learned from lunch with Justice Lee, that I just loved talking and learning about law school in general. I figured what I learned at these events could apply to the University of Iowa, and give me ideas for questions to ask when I do visit Iowa sometime in May.

But, at the same time, I wanted to be a sneaky. I didn't want these schools discovering that I already had my heart set on Iowa and had no intention of going to their school but coming for the free food anyway. Maybe they would have been fine with it, but I still didn't want to broadcast that I was going to Iowa.

The Ohio State dinner was really fun, because I got to bring Erin and make a date out of it. We got all dressed up for a night on the town and dropped off Allisyn with Erin's grandparents. It just so happened that the dinner was the same night as the grand opening of the City Creek Center, so we strolled through there too. And, I enjoyed learning more about law school, law as a career and Ohio State. Ohio State would have been a great option, but not getting a big scholarship there kept it from being a main contender. But of course, Erin and I put on the guise of still deciding between Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio State.

The open house at the University of Utah was especially fun, because my good friend Bert was there. I saw him at breakfast, and then ate lunch with him and he gave me a tour of the campus. And with him, I didn't have to pretend I was still deciding on a law school, haha. I was able to catch up with him, and learn a lot about law school in general. And I even played a couple games of ping pong with Bert and some of his classmates.

I also really enjoyed the professor panel, who talked about some of the work they are doing with students. One professor, Erika George, and a group of students had just finished writing a recommendation for a United Nations subcommittee's Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regards to Human Rights. I would have loved being involved with that.

There was also a mock civil procedures class, taught by Amy Wildermuth, that gave a little taste as to what first year classes might be like. Professor Wildermuth was a little silly, but entertaining. And the two cases we talked about were very interesting. Some of the discussion went over my head. But, of course, when I have only law school to focus on instead of two jobs, moving from Utah, graduation, etc., I'll be better able to handle it.

I'm really excited to go to law school.

The same day as the open house, I heard from two more law schools.

I got into Arizona State! I wasn't interested enough for it to make me waver in my decision to go to Iowa. But it's still a great school, and I'm sure I'd get over the dry heat before too long. It also jumped way up in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, from #40 to #26.

I did not, however, get into Stanford. I didn't really think I would, I just thought I'd try since it was free to apply. And if I did get in, I'd have bragging rights forever.

So, that's the update on law school. There won't be much else to say until my visit to Iowa sometime in May.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

LDS Week

I'm two days late getting this online. I was pretty busy yesterday and away from the newsroom (a story I'll tell in another post), and the day before was Sunday so I didn't work at The Daily Herald.

The week before every General Conference, the Herald publishes an "LDS Week" section, with news articles and other features having to do with conference and the church.

I helped on four different articles, but one of them will end up in the paper later this week and isn't part of the LDS Week section.

What is your favorite part of conference weekend?

For this one, I went with Karen Hoag to find people on the street to stop and ask about conference. We went to the corner in Orem where there's a Distribution Center and a Deseret Book, where there would likely be a lot of members of the church. It's been a while since I got to talk to people out and about, which is something I've always loved with the news reporting business. (I took photos of each person we talked to, but those aren't online I guess.)

Time, talents and tech are focus of Riverton conference

This is just a brief about the annual LDSTech Conference, where tech experts in the church talk about new technology and how it can be applied in the work of the church.

Photo by Spenser Heaps of The Daily Herald

105 and counting: Emeritus general authority 'still breathing'

This one was my favorite. One of my assignments was to interview Eldred G. Smith, who is 1) the oldest living man in Utah, 2) the oldest living general authority, and 3) the last man to hold the general patriarch calling in the church. I visited him and his son Gary at his home in Salt Lake City.

For those of you who don't know, there used to be a general authority position for a presiding patriarch or general patriarch of the church. The first patriarch in modern times was Joseph Smith, Sr., and then Hyrum Smith. At Hyrum's time, the patriarch was considered second to only the prophet. But in 1979, Eldred Smith was released from his calling and no one else was called to take his place.

My original story was super long, like 70 inches. I included all these stories he told, and I also gave more details as to why the calling was done away with. Part of the reason was, with the expansion of the church, stakes had their own patriarchs and a general one wasn't as necessary. But also, it turns out there was some disagreement among church leaders. Even though there was scriptural precedence for a general patriarch, some prophets weren't comfortable with an authoritative position being hereditary. Very interesting.

Here is the "director's cut" version of my story. The parts that weren't published are italicized.

J.J. Despain
Daily Herald
Eldred Smith, 105 years old and considered the oldest living man in Utah, has some handy advice for anyone who wants to achieve similar longevity.
“Just keep breathing,” Smith said with a laugh. “Nothing special I know.”
He moves and talks slower than he used to, and has become hard of hearing. But Smith can make you chuckle just as well as he ever could.
When asked about his status as Utah’s oldest man, Smith shrugs it off.
“Well, the governor says so,” Smith said.

Besides living to 105 with his sense of humor intact, Smith also has the record for oldest general authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he was the church’s eighth and final presiding patriarch. He actively served 32 years as patriarch for the church, until the office was done away with in 1979 and Smith was granted “emeritus” status.
Smith was born in Lehi in 1907, though he has lived in Salt Lake City since becoming a patriarch in 1947. And he has lived long enough to watch five children, 24 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren grow up.
The former presiding patriarch was recently interviewed by the Daily Herald, dressed in a gray suit and sitting in his one-story but spacious 1970s-era home, part of an old neighborhood on the mountainside overlooking Salt Lake City. His home is filled with figures of Joseph Smith and Church pioneers, and he prominently displays a painted of portrait of himself above the fireplace.
Buddy Youngreen, a friend and drama teacher from Orem, said even at his age Smith and his 92-year-old wife Hortense drive to Utah Valley (yes, he still has his driver’s license) to go out to dinner with him and see his plays, as well as take in a BYU football game once in a while.
“They’ve become second parents to me,” Youngreen said. “They’re still my most avid fans and give me support whenever I need it. ...I’ve loved them dearly. There’s not two better people on the earth.”
Youngreen said the best way to recognize Smith’s warmth and kindness is through the eyes of a child.
“The way to judge his character is when he goes into a room full of people, and children gravitate to him,” Youngreen said. “They’re just drawn to him, it’s magic.”
In his elder years and with a hearing aid, Smith still finds ways to have fun with his grandchildren.
A few years ago, during a visit from his triplet grandsons, Smith heard a racket coming from the den where his grandsons were playing.
“The patriarch walked in there and said, ‘What’s going on in here?’ And the boys said, ‘Nothing, Grandpa. Nothing,’ ” Youngreen said. “And Eldred said, ‘Well, how do you know when you’re done?’ They looked puzzled and walked out.”

Blessings around the world
In the church, a patriarch is tasked with giving patriarchal blessings, which are personal and sacred words of comfort and counsel for worthy church members. As presiding patriarch, Smith’s assignment was to give blessings in areas where there were no organized stakes and therefore no local patriarchs.
Smith checked off a list of the parts of the world he visited to give patriarchal blessings, often accompanied by his first wife Jeanne until she died in 1977.
“I traveled in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Alaska, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, France, Belgium, all the Scandinavian countries, all four of them, and Italy,” Smith said. “I got to know Italy about as well as I knew the state of Utah. I’d go to Italy every other year.”
According to Smith’s estimation, he gave over 18,000 blessings.
Of course, with so many encounters with church members, Smith could not know every recipient well enough to provide individualized blessings completely on his own.
“I didn’t know them at all,” Smith said. “Total strangers.”
He needed some divine assistance. And so,
his method for preparing to give a blessing was as simple as his method for living to 105.
“Just get on your knees,” Smith said.
When asked if he did receive the inspiration he prayed for, Smith answered, “I hope so.”
“A lot of them tell me so,” Smith said, of the people who still thank him for his wise words.

At general conferences, he was sustained as a “prophet, seer and revelator” just like the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, and he spoke in every conference until he was granted emeritus status.
“One time, when President [David O.] McKay was the president, in a meeting before conference he read off a list of those who would be called on to speak and then a list of those who would not be called on. My name wasn’t on either list,” Smith said.
Smith asked N. Eldon Tanner, then the second counselor in the First Presidency, if that meant he wasn’t expected to speak. President Tanner checked with President McKay and returned.
“He motioned me over and said, ‘President says he’ll give you notice enough,’ ” Smith said.
No word came, but Smith prepared some notes just in case, and brought them to conference in his pocket.
“First thing I heard was my name announced over the pulpit,” Smith said. “That was the notice that I got.”

While other general authorities were chosen based on rank in the priesthood, experience serving in the church and inspiration, choosing a presiding patriarch was unique in that it also included a hereditary factor.
The church’s first patriarch was Joseph Smith, Sr., the father of the church’s first prophet, in 1833. Before his death, Joseph Sr. ordained his son Hyrum to take his place. Since Hyrum was martyred in 1842, successive patriarchs have been as close as possible to direct descendants of Joseph, Sr. and Hyrum. Eldred Smith is Hyrum’s great-great grandson.
Smith said even generations later, he still felt the influence of the prophet Joseph in his family and tried to follow his example.
“I didn’t do much good. He did it all,” Smith humbly said of his famous ancestor.
Youngreen first met Smith in the 1960s, through his interest in church history and the Smith family. He later had a desire to reunite as many living descendants of Joseph Smith, Sr., as he could, and Youngreen received the First Presidency’s blessing and hoped to receive the patriarch’s support as well.
But Smith was skeptical that Youngreen could pull off such a feat.
“I decided to requote President [David O.] McKay’s statement to him,” Youngreen said. “I said, ... ‘I can’t imagine any success in life compensating for failure with this family reunion.’ And he laughed, and gave me his support.”
Smith and his wife joined Youngreen in traveling around the country visiting Smith descendants.

Smith was close to who he called “uncle George” Albert Smith and “cousin Joseph” Fielding Smith, who both served as prophets for the Church.
But not all members of the Smith family were as exemplary as George Albert and Joseph Fielding. William Smith, the church’s third patriarch, attempted to take over the Church in 1845 in the wake of Joseph’s and Hyrum’s martyrdom. And the fifth patriarch, John Smith, was publicly reprimanded by President Wilford Woodruff for not obeying the Church’s Word of Wisdom.
Such problems caused many church prophets and leaders to be uncomfortable with a general authority position being passed from father to son, and they deliberated and disagreed for years on the patriarch’s role in church government. Though Eldred’s father Hyrum G. Smith died in 1932, the church waited 15 years before naming Eldred to take his place.
Eldred’s son, E. Gary Smith, has done research on the history of the patriarchal office, and has written articles and a co-wrote a book with Irene Bates, “Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch.”
“It is not surprising that the office of Church Patriarch was retired,” Bates and Smith wrote in their book. “In fact, its elimination was probably inevitable.”
Bates and Smith said the Weberian theory, that “familial charisma” and “office charisma” cannot coexist in any institution for long, applied to the church’s organization as well.
In any case,
in 1979 the role of a presiding patriarch was determined by President Spencer W. Kimball and his counselors to be outdated, because the church was quickly establishing more and more stakes — and more and more stake patriarchs. Smith was officially relieved of his duties that year.
“Because of the large increase in the number of stake patriarchs and the availability of patriarchal service throughout the world, we now designate Elder Eldred G. Smith as a patriarch emeritus, which means that he is honorably relieved of all duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of Patriarch to the Church,” President Tanner announced over the pulpit in the October 1979 general conference.
The church did not respond to requests by the Daily Herald to comment for this article.
Youngreen said Smith described to him good-naturedly what the emeritus designation meant.
“He told me he’s obtained the terminal disease of general authorities,” Youngreen said. “He said it’s pronounced ‘em-er-I-tus,’ and there’s no known cause and there’s no known cure.”

Though he was stunned, Smith said he was grateful to have a break from his global excursions.
“Traveling a month, two months at a time was hard work,” Smith said. “It takes something out of you.”
He may have been relieved of duties, but that didn’t mean Smith got a vacation.
“Patriarch Smith’s emeritus status is totally different from any other emeriti,” Smith’s son Gary wrote in a 2006 article. “He was being ‘relieved,’ not ‘released.’ ... Thus, the office was being emeritized, but the holder of the office was not.”
Smith continued to occupy an office at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and to renew his temple recommend directly from the prophet like other active general authorities do. And, since he still held the rank of patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood, he also gave a few hundred more patriarchal blessings at his downtown office.
“Before they built all these temples, out-of-town people would come to Salt Lake for the temple,” Smith said, and their trip would include coming to Smith for a patriarchal blessing. “So that would keep me busy.”
One of the main roles that developed for Smith was to share his collection of Smith family artifacts. Eldred and Hortense gave firesides and displayed items like a trunk Hyrum Smith loaned to his brother Joseph to hide the golden plates that were translated into the Book of Mormon, the watch Hyrum was wearing when he was killed (mashed and dented from a bullet that struck him) and the clothes Hyrum wore when he died.
“We made a full lecture out of them,” Smith said. “We put them all together and made a full-time talk out of them.”
The talks became so popular, the Smiths were making two stops a week on their circuit. Youngreen, as a friend and a fellow Smith family history enthusiast, often joined them.
“We went from Massachusetts to California,” Youngreen said.
Now as a centenarian, Smith no longer gives patriarchal blessings or firesides. But, in another distinction among emeriti, he still comes to a monthly meeting at the Salt Lake City Temple with President Thomas S. Monson and the rest of the current general authorities.
“They’re gone on Sundays all the time, so they never get the sacrament,” Smith said. “So this is their fast and testimony meeting, where they bear testimonies and serve the sacrament, same as they would in a ward. The general authorities become deacons, teachers and priests.”
With more than a century in the church, Smith has seen plenty of changes.
“The biggest change was to start building temples,” Smith said. Membership in the church has “just ballooned. Just exploded.”
In 1907, when Smith was born, there were almost 358,000 members of the Church. When he became the patriarch in 1947, the church finally hit the million-member mark. Now, the church is rapidly approaching 15 million.
Smith’s son Gary points out the expansion was predicted by his father decades ago.
“In the 1972 general conference talk that he gave, he predicted that the time will come when temples will be found all over the earth and many nations,” Smith said.
At the time of that talk, there were only 15 temples, and 11 of them were in the United States. Now, there are 136 temples and counting, less than half in the U.S.
“Patriarch Smith is indeed a prophet, seer and revelator,” Youngreen said.
Smith was born in Lehi on January 9, 1907. Soon after, his father Hyrum G. Smith took his family to the University of Southern California where he studied dentistry.
But two months after his 1911 graduation, church headquarters came calling. The office of presiding patriarch became vacant when Hyrum G.’s grandfather had died, and Hyrum G.’s father was not worthy to take his place. So the mantle fell on him, and he and his family were summoned to Salt Lake City.
“Of course we had no place to go in Salt Lake,” Eldred Smith said. “So we moved into [then Apostle] George Albert Smith’s home on West Temple, across the street from the Tabernacle. George Albert Smith was in England at that time.”
They later bought a home east of the state capitol, on Ninth Avenue. Hyrum G. brought in his dental equipment from California, borrowed electricity from the LDS Hospital across the street, and opened up a practice and laboratory.
Eldred was a typical, active boy around the neighborhood.
“I grew up on a bicycle,” Smith said.
Smith had a great curiosity when it came to the laboratory, but the actual dentistry not so much. His father asked him one day if he wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“And I said, ‘Well, I don’t mind dentistry, but I don’t like prying into somebody else’s dirty mouth,’ ” Smith said. “But I like the laboratory work, I like the mechanics.”
That love of mechanics and engineering motivated Smith to a career in drafting and engineering.
At age 19 he spent 33 months as a missionary in the Swiss-German Mission (two of those months were spent traveling across North America and the Atlantic Ocean) and at age 25 he married Jeanne and the two eventually had five children.
He worked at a service station, but then put his skills to good use in helping to paint the ceiling of the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1935. He was helping the main painter, Mack, on the scaffold one day when the paint spray gun jammed.
“I was not an official painter, I never used a spray gun to paint with,” Smith said. “And it kept sticking on him. So I said, ‘Let me try.’ So I picked up the gun, took it apart, I had cleaning fluid right on the scaffold, so I cleaned the gun, put it back together and said, ‘Now, try it out.’ ”
The boss saw what Smith had done and called him over. Smith said he thought he was in trouble.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Do you see what I see?’ I said, ‘Well, I think so,’ ” Smith said. “He said, ‘From now on you take the gun.’ Mack didn’t want to be my helper, so he quit on the job. And I manned the scaffold alone. ... I painted the entire ceiling of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.”
When World War II broke, Smith got a job with an arms company which eventually led him to Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Manhattan Project. In the research and experiments with uranium and the atom bomb, Smith contributed a few inventions.
“I got my name in the patent office, designing special valves,” Smith said.
When Smith was called to be the patriarch, he gave up his job but continued his life as an engineer by building his family’s first home in Salt Lake City.
Youngreen said he also tinkered around Church Headquarters.
“He has incredible hands,” Youngreen said. “He can fix a small watch or a giant clock ... I’ve seen him many times in his coveralls in the lobby of the high-rise church office building, fixing their clocks. And people walk by and have no idea that that’s a general authority.”
Smith’s fascination with engineering also gives him a perspective on how the world has changed in his 105 years. He described with a hint of sarcasm the modern conveniences he didn’t have when he was younger.

“We have such a hard time today. We live in an automatically heated home, we don’t have to shovel the coal and tend to the furnace anymore,” Smith said. “It’s all automatic. You just set a gauge with your fingers, and push a button to open the garage door. ... It’s a tough life to have to push a button to open the door and push a button to close the door.”
Even with all the good and bad that comes with the progress of history, Smith said he wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“It’s a wonderful world to live in,” Smith said.
And at age 105, he should know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Elvis has entered the building

For The Ticket this week, I wrote an article about "Bye Bye Birdie" playing at the SCERA Center. Even though it's not a high school production, all the actors are local high school kids. Since they are in class while I'm at the newsroom, I did most of the interviews by email and I wasn't sure how that would turn out. But everyone emailed me back, and I got some great stuff.

'Bye Bye Birdie' to greet SCERA patrons

The story I tell at the beginning of the article comes from Erin's, Allisyn's and my trip to Washington, D.C., last summer. You can see the letter I quoted here.

Maren Wilson as Kim McAfee and Christian Wawro as Conrad Birdie, photo by Mark A. Philbrick
My second article was about Rags & Ribbons, another Portland-based band and another band on their way back from SXSW.

Portland-based band Rags and Ribbons to rock Provo

You can listen to their music here.

Photo courtesy of XO Publicity

And, the briefs:

Perfect Date: Color her world

Sound Hot Ticket: Legend status

Arts briefs: Fill out your poetry brackets

Sound briefs: Music to serve to

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This week, it was my turn again to write "The Skinny" column.

I wrote about why I think it's fine for President Obama to fill out an NCAA bracket. He gets a lot of criticism for it, but it's one of the things I like about him. And it has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. If President George W. Bush had talked to Buster Olney on ESPN about the World Series, I would have liked that too.

Anyway, before I just repeat myself, here's my article:

The Skinny: Bracketologist in chief

Photo from

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just Imagine

Here are today's additions to my Daily Herald clip collection.

Courtesy of IGA Publicity

Imagine Dragons is the latest up-and-coming band with Provo roots, and they're starting to make it big. They're on a national tour, including stops at SXSW, and will release an album with Interscope Records later this year. On their tour they stopped in Provo, and the show sold out so quickly they planned another show later in the month - which also sold out.

One thing that's cool is that I actually know their lead singer, sort of. Dan Reynolds was in my ward at The Colony apartments. He doesn't remember me, but I remember him playing "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers at the ward talent show. That was before forming this band. His cousin, Joe Meservy, was also in the ward and used to do publicity for Imagine Dragons. And now, Joe is married to a friend of Erin's from Texas. So all kinds of crazy connections.

The band is really good too. I could listen to "It's Time" all day.

So it was a lot of fun to write this story.

One-time Provo band can Imagine big breakthrough

My second story was about "Anne of Green Gables" at the Covey Center for the Arts. The timing was perfect on this, because Erin just checked out the movies from the Provo Library and I watched the first half of the first movie with her.

Canadian rhapsody: Know escape from reality in 'Anne'

Great headline.

And, the briefs:

Sound Hot Ticket: All's well that ends in Wells

Perfect Date: Enter the Echo chamber

Sound Briefs: Ticking the ivories

Arts Briefs: None shall pass - without a ticket

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Decision

We held a special press conference to announce our decision of where I will attend law school. Here is some some exclusive footage:


We know what you're thinking. "Iowa?! Isn't that just corn fields and pig farmers?"

Well, yes. But:
  • It's ranked 27th in the nation.
  • I got a full tuition scholarship.
  • During my 2L and 3L years, I can be paid as a part-time professor's research assistant, which will qualify me for in-state tuition and subsidized health insurance.
  • The cost of living in Iowa City is lower than in Provo. One of the grad students there I talked to is renting a three-bedroom house for cheaper than our two-bedroom apartment here.
  • A dean we met at the law school fair remembered us and personally called me after he found out I was admitted. Then he recruited several students who were BYU grads and members of the church to call me and email me, and talk about the law school and answer any questions. A couple of the students' wives even emailed and called Erin. I know that's not reason enough to go to Iowa, but one of the wives told Erin that the dean had told her to work really hard to get me to do there, because my credentials were really good and they really wanted me there.
  • Because of that, I think I could be a "big fish in a little pond" there, and at a #27 law school to boot.
  • I was a little worried about it being a regional school, meaning I would be most likely to end up working somewhere near Iowa. Not that we don't want to settle down and raise our family in the Midwest, maybe we do. We're just not ready to decide that now. But, I learned that students from Iowa have worked at jobs and internships in New York City, Washington D.C., London - so we won't be stuck in Iowa if we don't want to be. It might take some extra effort in the job search, but if I do well at Iowa then I should be able to find a job wherever we want to live in three years. And, who knows, maybe we'll want to stay in the Midwest anyway.
  • Every law school brags about their professors, but Iowa's professors seem especially accessible. They make it a point that most of their professors' offices are located at the same floor as the student center. Maybe that isn't some magic solution to make the professors amazing, but I like the philosophy that it symbolizes.
  • Iowa City seems like a really great town. It's a small, family-friendly town. And because it's a college town there are museums, plays, cool restaurants and other cultural attractions.
  • Big 10 Conference sports will be cool. Iowa football finished in the top half of the conference or division every year since 2007. And I've heard from a lot of sources that Iowa basketball is going to be really good next season and beyond, so it will be exciting to be there for that. And, even if Iowa loses, it will still be cool to see Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, etc., and experience what it's like to be in a BCS/Power Six conference. 
  • We'll be fairly close to some big cities that we've never been to or don't know very well, like Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
  • And, we'll be two hours away from Nauvoo, and we'll be in the Nauvoo Temple district.
  • We fasted and prayed a lot and felt like going to Iowa made the most sense and was the best decision for our family.
The only downsides I could think of are cold winters and humid summers (nothing we can't handle), and that the state of Iowa isn't "cool" according to stereotypes and pop culture, like California or New York. But if Iowa not being "cool" was the only thing holding us back, it seemed like a silly reason to cross it off our list. Besides, it probably is cool. And if it isn't, we'll make it cool. :)

(And, like my mom said, "Anyone who doesn't think Iowa is cool has never seen Field of Dreams!")

We can't wait to start our new adventure. And we can't wait for you to come visit us in Iowa City!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

There's an echo in here

I'm a little bit late getting this online. But here are my stories in today's Ticket in The Daily Herald.

Say it again: Echo Theatre debuts with 'Woman in Black'

A newly married couple opened up a new theater in Provo this week. In fact, the couple were getting married and renovating the theater at the same time. Which gave me a nice angle for my story.

Springville museum highlights best work by high school artists

It's the 40th Annual All-State High School Show at the Springville Museum of Art, and this week we finally fit in a story about it. I was a little worried that this one wouldn't turn out very well, because I was waiting a long time for interviews. Because they're high school kids, I couldn't just get their contact info directly. Nicole Valencia at the museum could only give them my contact info, and I had to wait for them to get back to me. But, luckily, I was able to talk to a boy and a girl from Utah Valley, and an extra kid from near Logan. So it turned out all right.

"Ocean Voyage," by Sam Furner from American Leadership Academy

And, the briefs:

Sound Hot Ticket: Wherefore art noir? - This band's sound is like the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" but still unique. They call their sound "junkerdash."

Sound Briefs: Past meets present - What do Jethro Tull and Nickelodeon have in common? Click here to find out.

Arts Briefs: Laundry love - Stuff going on at the library, plus Alpine Community Theater is doing "Annie" in July.

Instead of Perfect Date this week, I did the Arts Hot Ticket.

Arts Hot Ticket: We've got spirit... - Dance show at UVU

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I got word from Duke University: waitlisted.

I'd say that's still an accomplishment.

Monday, March 5, 2012

So Cavalier

I got my first law school rejection today, from Virginia.

Not a waitlist, just a plain old "no."

That's okay though. I wasn't thinking too seriously about Virginia because I wasn't sure if I could get in. I was mostly just taking advantage of the application fee waiver they offered.

And we did get a little teddy bear from them at the BYU Law School Fair. So I got my swag, I'm good.

That means I still have yet to hear from Stanford, Duke, UC Davis and Arizona State.

We're getting close to crunch time on deciding a school. I know it's a self-imposed deadline, and that I could pay a deposit at more than one school and buy myself more time. But Erin and I want to have a firm decision soon, and keep the waffling time to a minimum. It would help us plan the rest of our summer better, we can have more time to find an apartment at wherever we go, etc.

I made some cool pros and cons charts that we're going to fill out tonight. A fun family home evening activity!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Endure to the end" = "Rock on!"

I have two really fun articles in today's Daily Herald.

The Broadway musical "Rock of Ages" is coming to Salt Lake this weekend. I remember the posters and ads for it while we were living in New York, and the movie looks completely epic according to the trailer. So it was fun to learn more about it and look at it from Utah's angle.

Revved up 'Rock of Ages' to revive '80s hits at Kingsbury Hall

It was fun to write, too. Here's my lead:

"What if Brigham Young had followed his famous 'This is the place' declaration with, 'And we shall build this city on rock and roll'?"

And the kicker:

While Brigham Young would say perhaps, 'Let us press forward,' Lonny, Regina and the rest of the 'Rock of Ages' cast know what he really meant to say: 'Rock on!' "

That's a cartoon waiting to happen.

Photo courtesy of Scott Schuman/'Rock of Ages' national tour
For my second article, I got to interview Peter Murray and Jennie Wayne from John Heart Jackie. I had heard of them, but hadn't heard their music. But I found some of their songs online and really liked them. And the interview was great, we talked for like 40 minutes. At the end, they invited me to their show, not like a PR move but like they really wanted to meet me in person. Super cool, down-to-earth people. I hope they make it big (not only because they're awesome but also so I can say I knew them before they were big, haha).

Portland duo throws heart into music, plays at Velour tonight

Photo courtesy of Ben Moon/John Heart Jackie

And, the briefs:

Perfect date: Nobody do, like 'Xanadu'

Sound Hot Ticket: The sound of 'Continued Silence' (I hadn't heard any Imagine Dragons music before this, and I really liked it.)

Sound briefs: Bringing Dixie to Provo

Arts briefs: Echo! (Echo... Echo... ) (One of these briefs is a preview of a story I'll be writing for next week.)


It's been a long time since I've heard from a new law school, but after 11 days I finally got news about another one.

I got a congratulatory email from Washington!

So that's acceptance #10. Washington would be cool, because it would be cool to live in Seattle. But, to be honest, I'm not sure how good of a fit it would be for me. None of its curriculum strengths are anything I have a particular affinity for. And I know wherever I go to law school will probably be more liberal than where I got my bachelor's degree, and generally I welcome that (if nothing else to come into contact with more variety of opinions, which is always worthwhile). But when even part of the school's application is a bit of a culture shock to me ... I mean, I still applied, and I'm sure I would love going to school there. When I have 10 schools and counting to choose from, however, I pay attention to any advantage or disadvantage I can.

Washington and Oregon made it on my list because I thought it would be a good idea to include some Pacific Northwest schools -- at the very least to balance the two Texas schools on my list, haha. I find myself increasingly rarer a breed, because I really have no geographic preference for where to go to law school. People talk about wanting to go to a school because it's where they're from or they  have family there ... I almost want to rule out a place because I'm from there or I have family there. Erin leans more toward staying near family than I do, but she also would prefer a new adventure in a new place to call our own, that no one claimed before we did. Call us crazy if you want to.

Anyway, I'm still waiting to hear from five others. But I think the only one that has a potential to shake things up is Duke. It would be cool to get into Stanford or Virginia for the bragging rights, but even if I got in it would be out of our price range. (I doubt I would get scholarships at either one, if I was waitlisted at lower-ranked schools. Plus, it takes a fortune just to live in Palo Alto.) And then there's UC Davis and Arizona State.

I also had some news this week about the other 30th-ranked school I applied to: North Carolina. I mentioned before that not only was I offered a scholarship, but a chance for membership in the Chancellors' Scholars. From what I can tell, the Chancellors' Scholars is like a "National Honor Society" for UNC Law and a ready-made alumni network. And, if I become a Chancellors' Scholar, I get a full tuition scholarship too. (Here's a page that gives a little more information on what the Chancellors' Scholars are.)

They pick 20 finalists out of each class (who at the very least get a 75%-tuition scholarship), and then interview them and select 10 to become Chancellors' Scholars. They had a special weekend for the 20 finalists at Chapel Hill, but I didn't travel out there and instead decided to do the interview through Skype.

This is where Erin really saved the day. A UNC admissions dean and I were emailing back and forth about the Chancellors' Scholars weekend, doing my interview via Skype, etc. When I first told him I wouldn't be able to make it to Chapel Hill, but still wanted to be interviewed, I did remind him that I lived in the Mountain Time Zone and that would need to be taken into account whenever my interview was scheduled. The dean responded to that, and after a few more emails told me my interview was scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m.

I assumed that meant 11 a.m. Mountain time. But the night before, Erin told me I should check what the email said. Even though I was sure enough that I didn't think it was necessary to check, I did anyway, because I'm a dutiful husband. And, after looking at the emails I realized that the dean and I talked about the Mountain Time Zone, and about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but not at the same time. So Erin told me I should be ready and waiting on Skype at 9 a.m. our time, just to be safe.

Sure enough, the moment I logged into Skype at 8:59 a.m., Mountain time, there was a Skype call from the dean.

Erin, I don't know what I'd do without you.

The interview went well, I think. They asked me about my mission experience and my journalism experience, which are probably the two things that jump out the most from my resume and personal statement. They also asked me about bringing a family with me to law school. And then I asked them a little about UNC.

It was really cool to talk "live" with people at UNC. There was a 3L student, a 2008 graduate and a dean on the panel, who gave great perspectives. And I really enjoyed just talking about law school with other law school people.

It got me excited about North Carolina, but I'm waiting before I move any schools up or down any notches until I find out whether or not I'm a Chancellors' Scholar. If I'm not, I might still go to North Carolina. If I am, I might still go somewhere else. But I think if that perk is available, it will help me make a decision.

Fortunately, they should let me know their decision by the end of the week.

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