Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blickenstaff's Candy

The other day, Kelsey and I went to the Gateway mall in Salt Lake City for a genius bar appointment at the Apple store. We walked up to the store, only to find it boarded up. What? Turns out the Apple store moved to City Creek and now the Gateway is Apple-less. Through tears we decided to wander around Gateway anyway. Boy, I'm glad we did. We discovered, much to our delight, Blickenstaff's Toy and Candy Shoppe (this is way more classy than the American "Shop").

Blickenstaff's - World's Best Candy and Toy Shoppe
Check out their website:

Kelsey and I are giving presents to my brother's family this year - that includes two little girls under the age of 8. This place was just what we needed to decide what we should get them. They have walls full of candy, shelves full of toys, sock monkeys bigger than Kelsey, lego sets of every variety, and everything kids (and adults alike) dream of at Christmas time. Heck, I found all sorts of things I would love to get for Christmas. Huge stuffed animals hang from the ceiling along with toy planes, bicycles, and hula-hoops. Blickenstaff's is surely a place where kids (and adults) will reminisce of Christmases of yesteryear. Kelsey and I stocked up on some sour apple gummies (yes, we still eat gummy candies), sour grapefruit gummies, and some strawberry and cream gummies. They were gone before we got home.

Will we head back to Blickenstaff's? Absolutely YES. We will be going back to buy gifts for our nieces and stocking stuffers for the rest of the family.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Back in Provo

Wow. It's been awhile.

Sorry all you readers out there in the blog-o-sphere. Hope we can still be virtual friends.

Here's the rundown from the past couple of months.

I started my senior year at BYU.

Ben and Arianne came to Utah back in September and we went indoor skydiving. It was pretty dang sweet! Not quite as exciting as outdoor skydiving, but definitely a good time.

Dad, Me, Arianne, and Ben

Hover Time
Here's what else has been going on.

Went to a football game with some friends in my ward. We got to go on the field and hold the flags as the football team ran out.

Me and my friend Megan
On Halloween, I dressed up as a very convincing Edward Cullen. Interestingly enough, I had several girls come up and try to bite me. Weird.

And one more bit of exciting news. 

I got a job offer from Teach For America to go teach middle/high school in low-income communities. Specifically, they placed in me Boston to teach Science/Math. 

It's an incredible opportunity to help serve underprivileged kids. Also, it's a great way to prepare to enter graduate school. I haven't officially accepted the offer yet. There are a lot of different variables to consider and I want to make sure I make the right decision. I have until Nov. 21 to decide. 

Anyway, life is good. 

I'll post more frequently.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Book of Mormon Musical

So, I've been working on this post for about a week and a half. And by "working", I mean I wrote a paragraph the day after I saw the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway. Then I forgot to work on the blog because I was in the process of moving back to Utah (don't worry, another blog post will cover that). But now that I'm settled back in Provo, I thought I needed to finish my blog post about my experience seeing the Book of Mormon musical.

The Theatre
I saw the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway a week and a half ago.

As an active, practicing Mormon (another term for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I feel like I should write a review of the musical from a Mormon perspective.

Bear in mind this is NOT the official Church response to the musical, but rather, my personal opinion having seen the show as one who has served a mission for the Church and is still active in the faith.

I'm not going to write a full synopsis of the musical, but rather, tell you about my experience.

Due to incredibly high demand for this show (it won 9 Tony awards), it's pretty much sold out for the next six months. Occasionally you can buy a ticket the day of the musical but they normally go for around $500.

However, they do have some options for people who can't afford tickets like that. The day of the performance, they sell standing room tickets to the performances for $30. They also do a lottery drawing for each performance to buy tickets for $30 (the odds are slim for the lottery, because about 300 people show up and they only sell about 20 tickets).

I decided to show up and wait in line for the standing room only tickets. I hopped on a midnight bus from Boston to NYC. I got NYC around 4:30 a.m. and got in line around 5:00 a.m. for the 2:00 p.m. matinee performance.

I wasn't the first person in line. There was a guy there, Chris, who had been waiting since 2:00 in the morning. It was his sixth time seeing the musical.

Chris - a friend I made in line.
Right after I got there, about 8 more people showed up. By 6:00 a.m. there were about 25 people in line (more than enough to buy all the standing room tickets).

As we waited, people began mingling with the other people in line.

One woman, who was there with her 18 year old (roughly) daughter came up to visit with me. She asked where I was from and responded, "Utah". I could tell that she immediately wanted to ask if I was LDS, but she hesitated because I think she didn't want to offend me.

Before she could ask, I said, "Yes, I'm a Mormon".

Now, I've served an LDS mission (the greatest experience of my life thus far) and have talked to hundreds, if not thousands, of people about the Church. But I've never had a reaction quite the one I received from this woman.

This woman, as well as the other dozen people within earshot, immediately looked at me with a look of amazement, disbelief, and excitement. None of them could believe that I was actually a member of the Church.

I explain that I was a member of the Church and that I had served a mission as well. That I had worn the name tag displaying my beliefs and had knocked on strangers' doors for two years to share with them the happiness the Gospel has brought me.

They all were still a bit in shock (not the bad kind of shock) about being in the presence of a practicing Mormon. I said to them, "I'll gladly answer any questions you have about my beliefs." and they immediately began asking me questions.

"Where did you go on your mission?" "What was it like?" "Have you read the Book of Mormon?" "Why do you believe in the Book of Mormon?" "Why don't you drink alcohol?" "Can you have coffee?"

I couldn't believe it.

Everyone was treating me like a mini celebrity because of my religion! Not only that, but they all wanted to learn more about what I believed and why I believed it.

Now, I grabbed two copies of the Book of Mormon when I left Boston and thought I might have the chance to give them out while in NYC. I should have grabbed 10 copies. When I mentioned that I couple copies of the Book of Mormon, everyone wanted to see them. I gave them to two women who seemed particularly interested in it and wrote my testimony in the front of one at the request of the woman.

I met a friend, Brooke Self, in NYC who saw the musical with me. She snuck pictures of me while I was talking to people in line. She got some pretty good, candid photos of me visiting with different people. 

Everyone was so nice in line. Their questions were sincere and they were actually interested in the answers. I feel bad because I don't remember most of their names so I'll do the best I can.

Ann Stahl, Karen Stahl, Dani O'Callahan, and some more people asking questions about the Church.

 Ann Curl Stahl and her daughter, Karen, asking questions about the Book of Mormon.

Girl reading the Book of Mormon.

Explaining what the Book of Mormon is.
It was one of the most incredible missionary opportunities of my life. I taught many of the principles of the Gospel (in missionary terms, I probably taught about 5 full lessons). I explained where the musical was incorrect in what we believed and what the true doctrine was.

It was amazing.

Brooke and I were fortunate to win the lottery drawing as well! We were able to sit in a box seat on the left side of the theatre. It was fantastic!

The winning lottery ticket.
We got the tickets!
In the theatre. (Don't worry, we didn't take pictures during the performance). 

Now, as far as the show goes.

Was is crude? Yes.

Was is vulgar? Yes.

Did it make fun of our beliefs? Yes, but not nearly as much as I thought it would.

Was it mean spirited? Absolutely not. 

Was is really funny? Yes.

Before my Mom starts calling my Bishop or the Honor Code Office at BYU comes knocking on my door, let me explain why I feel this way.

I thought the show portrayed Latter-day Saints as naive, but incredibly good-hearted people that are trying to help everyone they meet. The show portrays that we are convicted in the things we believe and that conviction motivates us to share what we believe with everyone we can.

The show takes some of our beliefs out of context or exaggerates them to make them seem a little silly, but nothing I would consider anti-Mormon. I'm sure some would disagree, but I felt like the show portrays how silly religion in general can be, but as long as the religion motivates people to do good things and help others, the religion is good.

The language, however was incredibly vulgar.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the musical and the humor is exactly the type of humor one would expect from the creators of South Park. I felt as though I should wash my ears out with soap after I saw the show. The worst of curse words and vulgarity are commonplace in the show. The interesting thing is how the language is presented in amazingly catchy song and dance. It made it hard to decide if I should be enjoying the music or be plugging my ears.

I completely understand why people don't want to see the show, however, I also think members of the Church shouldn't be too upset about it. If anything, I think members of the Church should embrace the opportunity to answer questions about the Church. Even after going back to Boston, I had the chance to talk to a co-worker of mine for 45 minutes about my mission and the musical. The Book of Mormon musical is an incredible opportunity for missionary work that we, as members of the Church, would be foolish not to act upon.

Here are couple of songs from the musical that I enjoyed (I don't consider these offensive at all).

The opening number from the musical, "Hello".

"Two by Two" - My favorite number from the show.

Oh, and to answer the question I know most of you are wondering.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New York City

One great thing about living in Boston for the summer is that New York City is only about four hours away by bus and 45 minutes away by plane.

I've had the chance to visit NYC twice since I've been here in Boston.

The first time, I rode the Boltbus down from Boston ($35 roundtrip) to visit a friend of mine, Emily Howe. She has been living in NYC for the summer and was kind enough to show me around the city and see the broadway show Memphis with me. Memphis is fantastic and I loved seeing it. We met a cast member in the subway on the way home and got to chat with him about the show. He said he recognized us from the audience. Emily wrote about it on her blog. Check it out.

Unfortunately, I didn't really take any pictures of my first trip and was only there a day or two.

Fortunately, I did go again when my friend Seth Robledo came out to visit me in Boston! We got a great deal on JetBlue and we were able to fly to NYC for $60 roundtrip. So here are some pictures from out trip!

Famous Katz's Deli

Best (and most expensive) pastrami sandwich of my life 
Seth - telling me why Jewish delis are better than the rest

Southern Skyline - from the Staten Island Ferry

Some street close to Times Square

The view of Ground Zero from out 43rd floor hotel room. The tall, unfinished building is the new world trade center. It will be 1776 feet tall and be the tallest building in North America. 

Our rush tickets to "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"!! The show (and Daniel Radcliffe) were fantastic!

Cool Panoramic from the Brooklyn Bridge

Thug Life at Coney Island

Famous Nathan's Hotdogs at Coney Island

Everything was closed at Coney Island

Seth is bitter about rainy Brooklyn.

The Manhattan Temple!
We tried to get tickets for the Book of Mormon musical (I want to see it, and yes, I am a Mormon) but were unsuccessful.

NYC is fantastic.

I definitely wouldn't mind living here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This is the only word I can think of that describes how I am feeling right now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cape Cod


How are you?

I'm good thanks. 

In fact, I'm really great. 

I had a fantastic trip to Cape Cod with Ben, Emily, and the kids.

Here are some pictures to illustrate the awesomeness of it all.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts 
The cottage where we stayed. (This picture makes it look like I'm married to Emily, Annie is our child, and this is our first house)
The beach by our cottage.
First time surfing. I was terrible.

Chillin' with Robert, Brigham, and Annie

Me, Annie, & Brigham

Panoramic Beach

Brigham grew a chocolate goatee.
Best fried clams on the Cape. Also, a cup of clam chowdah.

I sure do love the Cape. 

Sign me up for next summer.

And the summer after that.

And the summer after that.

And the summer after that....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Go Red Sox

I am not a baseball fan.

In my entire life, I've never played in any sort of baseball league (little league included). I've never been interested in the world series. I didn't have a team to follow. And I certainly never had a desire to learn about any specific player. In fact, now that I think about it, I've never watched an entire game of baseball in my life (little league, professional, community teams, or any other baseball game).

This all changed since I've been in Boston.

I watched the Red Sox play a week and a half ago and I now consider myself a Red Sox fan.

Boston vs. Seattle 

Emily and I


Though I still don't consider myself an avid fan, I now have a team to root for. 

Go Red Sox