It was this year that my love of comic book characters really began to take flight. I entered first grade and discovered Superman, X-Men, Batman, and others. Sorry to not get this done before my birthday (last Saturday!--I spent most of it working on some papers and caroling/spending time with friends), but somewhere in the middle of finals I realized that I didn't have time to post adequately. I'm a "Quality over Quantity" kind of guy.

Other notable things this year included:

  • Punching Susie King in the arm in Mrs. Nann's class. She cried; I got in trouble. A lot of trouble.
  • Discovering that little Mikee, the brother from '87, liked to bite toes. And he left them bloody
  • Being enchanted by the ability of a magnifying glass to burn things--leaves, bugs, toes, whatever!
  • Most Awesomest Birthday Party Ever-- Showbiz Pizza anyone? (It's now Chuck E Cheese's)
Anyway, the rest of this post will be dedicated to the one thing that nostalgically brought me back to my days of youth only to ruin it with asseninity and tomfoolery: HEROES.

10 Reasons Chapter 2 of Heroes sucked:

1. Hiro Nakamura

What is he doing in feudal Japan? OK, at first, it was interesting-- Hiro met his childhood hero, who happened to be a drunken sot; the hero and Hiro became friends; Hiro falls for hero's girlfriend, but is too good to actually do anything about it until hero realizes he, Hiro, loves her, hero's girl. All this in the span of about 30 minutes of actual screen time, wherein Hiro turns Takenze (sp) into a noble, honor loving gentleman, only to steal his slightly attractive girlfriend and send his idol into a diabolical 400-year rage. The real tragedy of this part of the series was Takenze's un-development. The creators could have made him so much more compelling--a conflicted, loving/hating immortal, but instead recognized that they didn't have enough of Peter Patrelli's sexy super-abs lighting up the screen, so devoted very little to making him sinister, evil, interesting, etc. More on that later. Anyway, Hiro has potentially the most powerful abilities of ANY of the Heroes crew, but like everybody else doesn't even think enough to use them beyond the painfully obvious...

2. Can Anybody Actually Use the Powers They Discovered Last Season?!

Seriously, it got annoying about 3 episodes in. Couldn't Hiro stop time and walk in to White Beard's camp (PS--who the @&#$ is White Beard?!) and snatch up the missing sword maker? Couldn't Peter Petrelli, who had no problem reading anyone else's mind, have done the obvious and read Adam's mind to make sure he was/wasn't a bad guy? Couldn't Claire...well, OK, she abused her power, which was kinda cool. But really...isn't that half of why we watched this show, to see these people recognize and utilize their powers as they devoleped/matured? Isn't it really a commentary on puberty, and how we all just wish we could fit in until we discover a group of people we feel comfortable with and grow into ourselves? Or is that reading too much into the mutant-outcast paradigm? I am now solidly off-topic.

3. Death Holds no Weight

For those of you who cheered when Noah Bennet (aka "Horn-Rimmed-Glasses" man) was brought back to life within 5 minutes of being killed by the ever-idiotic Suresh, I was right there with you. He was, and continues to be, the most compelling character on the show. It would have been a huge mistake to axe the same man who simultaneously exudes compassion and caring for his family and utter hatred towards those who would harm them. I mean, this is the guy who can tell the teasingly sado-masochistic Kristen Bell (may she ever be praised) "It hurts like a Bitch, doesn't it?!" and within two minutes achingly confess to his daughter "I love you Claire-Bear." That's neither here nor there, though...the creators over at Heroes, aka the writers, somehow thought it would be a good idea to make Claire/Adam/Peter's blood cure any ailment, any time. Nathan Petrelli was cured by Adam's blood, so why not resurrect Noah with his daughter's blood? Sounds innocent, right? Well, I've got news for you--while that may seem cool, you've essentially negated the sting of death. Now that no one can die, the ultimate source of tension in any narrative goes with it. Without death, what is life? Death used to be the ultimate emotor. The threat of death is something every single person can relate to. Now? Now we've simply turned Heroes into a kiddy fantasy where the good guys will make it to the end, no matter what, because they can't die forever. Which leads us to the next point...

4. Nathan Petrelli--Awesome, and...DEAD?! What is this, "Who Shot J.R.?"

Now, Tim Kring seems desperate to have his audience ride out the Writer's Guild strike. He must be thinking that we'll spend the next nine months of our lives fretfully wringing our hands, wondering "Oh, who could have killed Nathan?" However, the writers negated any concern we should have for Nathan the moment they brought back Noah Bennett--can't we just inject Nathan with Peter's blood and bring him back to life? I mean, Noah Bennett was shot in the eyeball, and potentially dead for many hours before being ressuscitated, so why not do it for Nathan? It's just bullets, right? Anyway, either way the writers go from here will be disingenuous...either you write some stupid situation where Peter's blood won't work (but why not grab some from Claire or have Hiro teleport into the ground and snag some heroic hemoglobin from Adam in his grave?) and Nathan really dies, or you do the obvious, smart thing and have Peter ressurrect Nathan, in which case we just spent the last nine months fretfully wringing our hands about the non-killer of a guy we had just started to appreciate who really didn't die and we can get to know better. Again this presents us with the idiocy of the writing team: why kill one of the better characters?! Nathan was another terrifically conflicted creation--politician/brother/son who loves his family but can't balance that and/or come to grips with his power cravings; faltering father and husband who loves his wife and kids but can't seem to bring himself to embrace first daughter Claire or keep from cheating on his wife; pretty GQ guy who gets horribly scarred saving New York from a nuclear holocaust, who is then brought back to pretty boy status after a villain's blood reverses the scarring. But now he's either gone, even when we know he could have been ressurrected easily, or the powerful and tremendously emoting assassination that could have been has gone up in smoke. Did anyone else not cry when Nathan was shot? I know I didn't. But that's the tragedy of it all. We should have been weaping. Here's a guy who sacrificed nearly everything--his body, his political career, his family--in order to protect innocents and his brother. There is an incredible power in that kind of sacrifice, but...the power that was invested in that character has been lost to the ether...the writers have messed up the potential that was Nathan Petrelli forever. He's the embodiment of the potential that was tapped in Chapter One, only to be royally screwed up in Chapter 2.

5. What is a Press Conference Going to DO?!!!

This could only come from the warped, elitist mind of a Hollywood writer. What could be more powerful and change everything for the better than making an announcement over the local media? The pen (or in this case, the press-box) is mightier than the sword, right?! Well, Nathan Petrelli, with all due respect, I fail to see what announcing your ability to fly to the world will accomplish. Claire had the same idea--"I'll expose myself to the world, and then they'll leave us alone." Huh?! Did you get hit on the head and not heal when you said that? And then, in the very next episode, Claire's plan has suddenly changed to where, if she can just expose the Company the truth of what is going on will set her and every other mutant free. That makes as much sense as suing the mob for doing bad things. We all know they do bad things, but the brilliance of it is that they're covered by pseudo-companies and legitimate operations through which they launder their money. Now, I have a better idea--have Peter Petrelli blow up the company.


You're done! Next story arc.

6. New Orleans

Can I just say that I was rooting for New Orleans to rise above the flooded waters from Katrina, but after this convoluted/idiotic story line took us NOWHERE except to kill off Nikki (the third and final compelling character in this mess) in a gang-inflicted home explosion so that Micah could rescue his comic books and his dad's medal of honor, I wanted the Big Easy to slip back into the Gulf of Mexico and never show its soaked head again. Dumb as vegetarian gumbo.

7. !Maya!..(Spanish pouting)..!Alejandro!

I hated the wonder twins from the very beginning. First, their accents were not from Venezuela, or wherever they're supposed to be from. If anything, these two were Argentine. That's nit-picky. What really killed me though was the constant running, driving, walking, stumbling into America in order to "cure" Maya--only to have Alejandro die in a motel and Maya get killed... and then ressurrected. How do they meet up with Sylar anyway? They drive up to him in the middle of the desert where he has collapsed conveniently on the road. How do they get into America? They run into a bumbling bunch of Minute Men and force Maya to get all crazy on them and cry black death tears.

Did anyone else notice that every episode had to include Maya getting angry, losing control, crying her black tears of mass death and having Alejandro come in again and save everyone from a silly death just to again emphasize to the viewers that yes! Maya has the most non-traditional, ridiculous super powers of all time, and she can't control it?! I can just imagine the writer's brainstorming session for this storyline: "They might forget that Maya has this power, so let's hit them over the head with it as much as humanly possible." Right, because it's a cool power? No. Because at some point they thought it might be handy, and they need to fill up a few minutes of screen time that they couldn't come up with dialogue or plot points to move the story along.

8. Peter Petrelli Amnesia

This part of the Chapter was just dumb--and lasted for eight episodes or so. OK, I get the plot point that they filled in several episodes later--Peter had gone on the rampage with a super villain (Peter's kryptonite? Stupidity) and needed to be stopped by the Haitian, who took all his memories. However, that shows some lack of foresight on the Haitian's part. Set the most powerful being on the planet loose on the world without any memories of who he was to guide him morally. On a completely selfish vein, I was incredibly bored while Peter (didn't) try to figure out who and what he was. Worse, his Irish girlfriend had NO chemistry with Peter. She's cute, and heaven knows I like that accent, but Peter and her? No way. And sweet Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Peter, and who usually does better than this, showed that he has become Television's Keanu Reeves. Example:

Imagine Neo from The Matrix whispering, very powerfully "Nathan?!"

Imagine Bill from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure uttering "Nathan?!"

Imagine the good cop-dude from Speed intensely lifting an eyebrow and breathily saying "Nathan?!"

Now, you should have no problem associating Peter Petrelli with the worst actor of our time. I hope I didn't ruin anything for you.

Back to this point, I really think that this part of the storyline had its origins in the following brainstorm at NBC studios--"Man, we need something Irish in here. I've always liked Irish accents." "Yeah, and what about an amnesia story? Every good soap opera has an amnesia story line." "Good, we can save some time for us to think up a way to patch the story by sticking an amnesiac Peter in the middle of nowhere Ireland in a crate." "Oh, and don't forget to give him a girlfriend." "Nice! Ooooh, ooooh!.... we can also have him prance around without a shirt on, that ought to boost our ratings with the 18-35 female demographic! The advertisers will love it!" "Done. So let it be written, so let it be done."

9. Suresh Has a PhD in Dumb.

Like my friend RuthAnne pointed out, Suresh has a moral compass without needles. Within the half season that was Chapter 2, Suresh had

  1. Agreed to help Parkman and Noah Bennet take down the Company, no matter the costs (good guy)
  2. Agreed to help the Company take down the dangerous mutants, no matter the costs (bad guy)
  3. Tried to kill Sylar (good guy)
  4. Killed Noah Bennett (bad guy)
  5. Brought Noah Bennett back to life (good guy?)
  6. Tried to destroy the evil muto-death-cure virus (good guy!)
  7. Tried to develop the evil muto-death-cure virus (BAD guy!)
  8. Saved the Haitian's life (goodish guy)
  9. Tries to save Molly (and later Maya), only to play right into the hands of Sylar (good guy, but inept)
  10. Preens about, spouting off on such topics as ethics, morality, and the greater good, all with a very formal Indo-British accent which is a pre-requisite for the brainy guys. (bad guy)

There was not an episode where I didn't think, Man! Suresh blows! Then my friend Rebeccah came up with the solution: Kill Suresh. Easy as Chicken Vindaloo. Instead of killing off compelling characters, why doesn't the show weed out weak and idiotic characters? Well, because they've created those weak and idiotic characters, and it's a tarnish on their pride to eliminate the chaff they so lovingly raised up as wheat. So they get rid of two of the characters that had an ounce of interesting to them, and force the third to tell his family to give it up.

10. 12 Episodes got us...the Death Virus

From day one of the first season, we knew there was an imminent threat, an explosion in New York City. We knew we had heroes who were trying to cope with and develop powers of their own. We knew that they would play some part in preventing the explosion. We had villains, we had heroes and we had in-betweeners. We had character development, plot progression, splendid writing, and ambiguous morality situations. We didn't quite know who was good, evil, or misguided. We couldn't judge who would do what next, and all the surprises were pleasant and fit pristinely into the overarching storyline. This year, we had a discombobulated mess of disjointed, ill-fitting stories that tenuously led up to a final threat that we didn't even discover until midway into the season: the ultra-super-duper-98%-of-the-population-killer virus. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH. Scary. Only, we never got to see what the virus could do (except for one scene of the Haitian with a fever in Haiti and a brief trip to the future where everyone was dead) with anyone we cared about. Would it have killed us to have seen Nikki suffer a bit, or anyone else infect by the strain? Sylar seemed to do fine with it over the course of the season (sans powers of course), and Nikki seemed to be having a great time in New Orleans with her son, Captain NerdyPower. Sadly, there was never any real tension established there.

Also, our villains got neutered this season. Sylar (how did he survive a Samurai Sword through the chest?!) has lost his powers and stumbles and mumbles around Mexico half the time. Linderman's presumably dead (although you never know now, what with the miracle blood circulating throughout the show). And even Nikki's sinister half is on sabbatical when Nikki has her powers--which is rare this season. We have Bob, the gold-making villain. We have the bi-polar Suresh savant. We get Veronica Mars--Elle--halfway through the season, and she was great, but never chilling in the way a Linderman or a Sylar was, inflicting the type of damage, individually gruesome or mass-scale homicide that allowed us a glimpse into their souls. Sure, we saw some conflict within her towards the end, but it's nothing like that which we saw with the ambiguously good/bad guys Noah Bennett, Nikki, or Nathan Petrelli last season. Like them, Elle was a somewhere-in-between twilight girl, not even a real villain, and the most electricity you got from her character was that charging through her body.

Overall, the genius of Heroes last season was good writing, character development, and an organized, well-thought-out plot. All of that went MIA this year, and it makes me want to say "Game Over."

But part of me knows it's just "To Be Continued...."

Unless the writers go on strike forever, in which case the execs would be forced to hire guys like me...


High-Nerd it is...

I am nerdier than 87% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out! I knew it. What am I doing in law school?! I should be working on a PhD in physics or something. I have to admit, though, that I'm honored to be considered so nerdy.


Christmas, Finals, The Usual

Well, this is more or less a tag of sorts, thanks to my former boss/friend, Shelley Bennion. Bless you and the rest of the Bennions for this one, Shelley. http://thelifeiimagine.blogspot.com/ 1) Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? It really depends on a few things. Hot Chocolate is perfect for reading that trashy, popcorn fiction thriller you picked up for the holidays while sitting on the couch watching the fire crackle; Egg Nog goes splendidly with friends, tacky Christmas Sweaters, and exchanging five dollar white elephant presents. 2) Do you wrap your presents or not? Really, that's a question?! Ummm...wrapped. How else would you create the ecstasy of tearing apart the frustratingly thin veil that separates you from the coolest thing this side of Black Friday? 3) Colored lights or white? I'm a traditionalist when it comes to lights. I like the white lights better generally, but those darn colored lights just remind so much of Christmas mornings in the mid 80s and 90s that I can't help but get a little giddy hanging them up. 4) Do you hang mistletoe? No. I had a bad experience with mistletoe in the 11th grade. Let's just say that I was firmly entrenched in my awkward phase, and mistletoe just made it that much more awkward. 5) When do you put up your decorations? The day after Thanksgiving. However, I have to state here that the only decoration I have is a Christmas background on my Computer. I think my Mom puts up decorations around the first week of December. I remember trying very hard not to wet myself on Dec. 1st when we would make Christmas Chains, start to burn the Advent Candle and start to put up decorations at home. Man, I love Christmas traditions...! 6) What is your favorite holiday dish? Cercil, a kind of pork sausage that my Grandma made every Christmas Eve. Can't get enough of the stuff. 7) Favorite memory as a child? Sitting around the fireplace Christmas Eve listening to my sisters bear their testimonies of the reality of Santa Claus. Heidi told us that one year, in the middle of the night (10:00 pm), she had heard a bump downstairs near the fireplace. It couldn't have been Dad or Mom at that late hour, so by process of elimination, it had to be Kris Kringle! Looking back on it, though, my favorite was the year that Kirsti suggested "Santa's getting fat, let's leave him some carrot sticks, apple slices, and water." Dad, chewing his lip and looking very concerned, said "If you really want to make Santa happy, you'll leave him some Root Beer and Oreo Cookies." Man, was Dad right! The loot that year was especially impressive. 8) When and how did you learn about Santa? At home and at school. Still love the story about the jolly old elf! However, I came to the realization that Santa might be fictional when one year all the presents were numbered instead of being addressed to the recipients. We would have to pick up a gift, read a number, and Dad would then translate to whom the gift was going. It all played part in a logical system of accounting and sorting. That's what you get when your Dad is a management engineer, I guess. :D 9) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. We usually have my Dad's side of the family over on Christmas Eve (vestages of a Norwegian tradition), and we exchange gifts. Sometimes Santa will send something early via Mom and Dad. Actually--I think we were told that Mom and Dad had some kind of business partnership with Santa. That's why Santa would often send gifts and have Mom and Dad wrap them and sign them in their handwriting. That must be why I believed he was real until I was 10 or so. 10) How do you decorate your tree? With nearly every ornament we've collected over the years. Some might call it tacky, and it might look that way, but every single ornament has some personal significance to us. That's what matters most, right?! If that makes us tacky, then so be it. Everyone else is just snooty. 11) Snow...love it or dread it? Can't imagine what life would be like without it. Winter would just be cold without snow. Instead, it's fluffy, crisp, and innocent. 12) Can you ice skate? Yes, but I'm horrible. I dated a girl who was great at it and would hold my hand while we went around in circles. In order to make her happy, I pretended like I loved it, but I really just got sore shins and wondered when I could stop making a fool of myself. Later, I realized that I spend most of my life making a fool of myself anyway, so I'm OK with ice skating now. We're cool. However, things didn't quite work out so well with the girl. I'm pretty sure she cheated on me with a guy who could ice skate. 13) Do you remember your favorite gift? Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989. Days after receiving this Gift of Gifts, I began to get up at 5am in order to get all my chores done so I could get some Mario Bros. in before school. This kind of dedication baffles me, since I can't seem to wake up until after 9am, even when I have to get out of bed at 6:30am. If I were half as passionate about the law as I was about that little Japanese game system, I'd be in the Supreme Court by now. 14) What is the most important part of the holidays? Family, no doubt. Can't get enough of my parnts and siblings. Also, thinking about this, the nativity story is really a family story at its core, isn't it? Young couple trying to find a place to stay so they can pay their taxes. They have to stay at the local Motel 8, and while there, Mom goes into labor surrounded by farm animals. The first Christmas was divinely dysfunctional, and so relatable. 15) Favorite holiday dessert? Rice Pudding with Raspberry Syrup. We have rice pudding every year as dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. Grandma would make the pudding and a homemade raspberry topping: Crazy Delicious! Then she would slip an almond into one of the bowls, and the person who got the almond won a box of chocolates. It took me 22 years to win that thing, but Christmas 2004 was the year I finally won it all! What a great year. 16) Favorite tradition? Christmas Morning, having to wait for Dad to set everything up downstairs (mostly his camcorder). We'd all wait excitedly at the top of the stairs, sometimes for 20 minutes or more, depending on when we convinced everyone to get up. I think one year we got everyone to agree to 7:00 am. Nowadays, it's more like 9:00am. Anyway, visualize the kind of nubile energy that gets pent up for 364 days each year, cram it into this 20 minute span, and you can imagine the kind of electricity shooting around the stairwell. While we don't really sleep everybody upstairs anymore, it's still one of the greatest parts of the Vogeler Christmas. 17) Favorite Christmas Carol? Tie between "The First Noel" and "Still, Still, Still." Christmas music in general is awesome. My favorite part of being in choirs has always been the obligatory Christmas concert. For whatever reason, some of the most achingly beautiful melodies in western music have been tied to Christmas.


Thought You'd Like This

See earlier post for context. Whoever snapped this photo must have been doing the right things on and off the field.



Pre-School and Kindergarten! Because this was the year I first learned to read and recite my alphabet, I've decided to make this an alphabetic post: Apples. I didn't like apples much. Still don't. Unless they're involved in a crumbly crusted pie. Or of the Fuji variety. Or a really crisp, green granny apple. OK, ok. I like apples. BYU. Mom and Dad raised us Cougar Blue. Why? I cannot begin to tell you. It could very well be that Dad, a proud Utah grad, was a fair-weather fan. I mean, who wouldn't want to root for the very first BCS Busters? The boys who took on the likes of UTEP, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Colorado State to win their first National Championship were as popular as facebook or fantasy football in the confines of the Rocky Mountains. This Cougar affiliation would cause quite the ruckus at school where about 99.9% of everyone was a University of Utah fan. I was true blue, through and through. That allegiance has dimmed somewhat over the years (see last post). Co-dependency. I remember being very frustrated at this age because of my inability to act on my own. The toilet was still an intimidating, nuanced project. I couldn't cross the street alone, mostly because beyond my yard lay the unknown. Food? I didn't even know where it came from. For all I knew, plastic wrappers around the string cheese were as natural and organic as the peels around the banana: you didn't want to eat either. Really, though, I don't think my desire to achieve independence surfaced until late into my teenage years. My mom was just too wonderful and good to me at this age to make me want to drop the co-dependence. Only hormones could later confuse and retard my mental capacities enough to make me think otherwise. I have since recovered.

Donatello. This was the dawning of the age of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My childhood would not have been complete without these bodacious, pizza-eating, martial arts-fighting reptiles. Donatello was perhaps the most passive of the Turtles, but man, he could wield a wicked bo staff in his Nintendo Games. Two years later, the Vogeler Brothers would all get matching Turtle pajamas. Guess who got to be Michaelangelo--the "goofy one?" You got it.

Eric is a good name. I'm fairly certain that I could write my name this year. Bless my parents for endowing me with an easy-to-spell, four-letter name. Unfortunately, through most of my years at Bonneville Elementary, my name was a four-letter word as well.

Freedom! Well, not really, but close to it. This year marked my entrance into the world of literature. Hop on Pop, Are You my Mother?, and Goodnight Moon ranked high on the list of greats. In fact, they still haven't left the Eric cannonical shelf. They've just had their ranks joined by the likes of Shakespeare, Dunne, Wilde, Tolkien, Martin, and Brooks. If you don't understand why reading is freedom, you need to pick up a good book and immerse yourself in it. Christmas time is a perfect time to do this. Start with The Cat in the Hat and work up from there.

Great food = McDonalds. The chosen treat of the occasional time that we could convince Mom to take us to get Happy Meals, usually after swimming lessons on Fridays. I LOVED this stuff. Mostly the fries. Mom would have to make me finish the burger. Looking back, McDonalds is more of a nostalgic food than it is a quality food. It represents my childhood--days in the pool, watching Smurfs, playing games, running around half-dressed, making mischief. Maybe that explains why I cried every time I ate McDonalds in Brazil.

Heaven & Hell. The Mormon concept of eternal families was a litle bit daunting at the age of five. The thought of having to spend the rest of eternity with my immediate family could sometimes make me shudder. Especially if I had to put up with my annoying little brothers for the rest of forever. Also, I didn't consider myself a great candidate for eternal life in heaven, as I was sure I had messed up at some point along the road. The concept of forgiveness, as you could probably imagine, was AMAZING to me! I didn't really know how to do it, but I thought that being able to have the slate wiped clean was pretty incredible. I still do. And I'm still really bad at it. Oh well, one learns, right?

Itchy Bombs. These were the lethal, appropriately named seeds from the huge trees which towered over Bonneville Elementary when I first started Kindergarten. Stuffed down an unsuspecting child's shirt, they literally exploded with dry plant matter that sent you scratching to the secretary's office. We loved them. Still do. (Forgiveness was in the back of my mind when these were deployed. Still is).

Jason, Jonathon, Joshua, J.P., (Ben and Chad, too). Growing up I had a plethora of male cousins, many of whom had names beginning with "J." I referred to them as "the Boys." It's kind of funny now, since at the time, there were three Vogeler Boys--plenty to refer to ourselves as "the Boys." But these guys served as my surrogate older brothers. They probably didn't know it, but I looked up to, respected, and loved them more than they could ever know. Still do. Which is probably to what I owe my allegiance to potty humor, obnoxiousness and/or sarcastic self-deprication.

Kirsti and Heidi. My older sisters. I have pictures of them dressing me up in pink pajamas. I have fond memories playing My Little Pony, Rainbow Bright, and Care Bears with them. It is, therefore, very fortunate that I had older boy cousins, and later, younger brothers with whom to express my deep-rooted man-nature. Attempted emasculation aside, my sisters are two of the greatest girls I've ever met. Ever.

Legs. At this age, most adults were better represented by their legs than any other distinguishing characteristic. My dad was the pair of legs that I got to hug when the low-voice came home in the late afternoon. Mom was the pair of legs that I got to sit on in church. Mama and Papa were the legs that took me to the zoo or had me over for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Grandma was the pair of legs with a thick Norwegian accent who came over often to babysit. Everyone else was a pair of legs with a voice. This mode of identification often proved problematic when in large crowds. Mikee. My youngest and dumbest brother was born this year, effectively solidifying my position in the middle of the family, dooming me to a future of trying to be louder/funnier/more charismatic than everyone else in hopes of getting attention and/or food at the dinner table. After my experience with Timmy, Mikee came as a welcome respite. I remember having to spend the night at Mama and Papa's house while mom went to the hospital. This was especially exciting because I got to leave church early. Mikee started life on the right foot.

Nepotism. Dad always selected me for the "best" jobs--ie, those jobs that required small hands to complete. Later in life, this would be upgraded to "those jobs that Dad didn't want/have time to do." My favorite? Knocking old mortar chips off of used cinder blocks. That 2.00 dollars an hour was non-negotiable, and some of the best money I'd ever seen. It mostly went towards Star Wars trading cards. I still have a Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, and Darth Vader somewhere.

Orange Soda. Loved the stuff. Still love the stuff. Back in the day, it was Orange Crush. Now it's mostly just Orange Fanta. All I knew was that it was good stuff.

Painting. With fingers. This is the stereotypical pre-school/kindergarten activity. I don't remember ever doing it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that any teacher with the courage to set little Eric Vogeler loose with finger paints while wearing clothes and surrounded by 20 other little kids should have been working the Westside beat or locked up somewhere near Draper.

Quintessential. Again, a word far too large for my 5-year-old vocabulary, but it describes my Kindergarten experience perfectly: I went to Bonneville Elementary for PM Kindergarten with Mrs. Waterworth. We sang songs, had nap time, drank milk and ate cookies, listened to stories on the magic carpet, learned letters and numbers, and played tag at recess. We dressed up for Halloween, sang Christmas and Hanukkah songs in December, made Valentine's cards in February, wore green in March, and had an Easter Egg hunt in April. I think I enjoyed it. Looking back, I wish I could do it right now. I know people who would pay thousands of dollars for these kinds of activities on a cruise boat in the middle of the Caribbean.

Reality Bites. This lesson was first driven home when I tried to climb up the slippery part of the slide at Davis Park. Living up to its billing, I slipped on the slippery part, cracked my jaw on the steel (they don't make steel slides much any more) and damaged my inner ear. I remember very clearly that it hurt. A lot. Other bits of reality that I came to recognize this year: Mud makes you dirty; kids can be mean to each other; pulling out teeth--even baby teeth--is a bad idea when your tooth is attached by a string to a doorknob; asphalt was designed to provide traction for cars and business for kid-sized tweezer makers; hot metal burns you; cold metal burns you; snow is soft unless thrown at your head at a great velocity; water is fun to play in; mud is fun to play in; mud often leads to water, and water to mud; the kids you want to be your friends are the ones with the coolest toys or the ones that live closest to you; girls are weird; Nintendo is synonymous with both "fun" and "killer of time" in Japanese; money requires work, unless your parents are trying to teach you a listen or just think you're cute; Halloween is the GREATEST HOLIDAY OF ALL TIME!!!; Reading is difficult until you get good at it, and even then, is only fun with a good book; the Berenstein Bears are way too perfect; there is nothing better in this world than watching a movie with popcorn and people you love all around you.

Superman. Best. Superhero. Ever. Full. Stop.

Transformers. They're more than meets the eye. Sadly, the original cartoon outshined the late big screen adaptation in terms of dialogue, script, storyline, and quality. To add insult to autobot, the original toys were freaking DIE-CAST METAL. My Optimus Prime weighed like 5 pounds. Now, Transformers break if you look at them cock-eyed. I know. I just tried.

Utah Mormons. I remember being asked by Dave Johnson what religion I was. I didn't know what he was talking about. He said what Church do you go to? I said "The Red One." He said, no, no...are you Mormon or Lutheran? I thought about it for a moment, and assuming that everyone went to the same church on Sundays and sat through the same boring meetings that I did, figured that the cooler sounding name was probably the best choice to go with. "Lutheran" I proudly declared. Cool, said Dave, I'm Mormon. Let's go play.

Vogeler! Best. Last. Name. Ever. Full. Stop.

Winter. This was, by far, the best of the four seasons, mostly because the two best holidays of the year fell at this time: My Birthday and Jesus' Birthday. Both entailed gift giving. Both happened at about the same time. Both involved very important people. Coming in at a close second, third, and fourth, respectively: Summer, Spring, and Fall.

X-Rays. Every young boy dreamed of having the chance to take x-rays of some broken part of his body. It was cool. It was manly. We never thought you'd have to go through a lot of pain to partake in X-rays. But the eventual cast and the attention it garnered you was well worth it. Still is.

You. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you were at least alive or being thought of in 1987. If not, I'm flattered. Now, get to bed!

Zelda. Best. Nintendo. Game. Ever. Full. Stop.


God, Magic, Football, and Collie

For those of who living outside of Utah or may have had your collective heads under a rock for the past week, I couldn't help but talk about this little nugget that has been rubbing between the state's fore-finger and thumb.
Here's the background: BYU beat Utah last week in a hard-fought, mostly mediocre football game, 17-10. In order to defeat the Utes, BYU needed a miracle 4th and 18 throw from Max Hall to wide receiver Austin Collie, which led to the final touchdown scored by BYU with only seconds left in the game.
When asked about the divine reception, Collie gave AM 1320 reporter Patrick Kinahan the following gem, which destroys any faith I had in the ability of football players to think:
"I wouldn't say [the catch] was lucky. We executed the play well. We should have had another [TD]. Obviously, if you do what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part. Magic Happens."
(As reported by the Deseret News, at http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695231106,00.html)
This has been replayed, rehashed, and ridiculed for the past week or so. Upset Utes and rational people are generally stupefied, wondering "Why is another Cougar citing their affiliation with God as the reason for succeeding/winning?"
On the Cougar side, arguments in Collie's defense have been as follows:
1. Collie's comments were taken out of context
2. He didn't mean what he said
3. Collie was only talking about his individual ability to make magic happen with the Lord's help.
4. Austin Collie even defended himself later, saying "I just think it's absolutely ridiculous that people take something like that and blow it up. I really think it's because I'm a Mormon white kid from Brigham Young University. Anybody else says that from any other team and it's just 'how spiritual that guy is.'"
He continued, stating his belief that God blesses all his children, all the time:
"You can see that around the world, God cares about his children and that he's going to bless them whether it's on the football field or or any other area of their lives. I think if you're doing the things you should do on and off the field, things are going to come together for you. To tell you I got here on my own and that the Lord hasn't had a hand in my success and our team's success and every other athlete's success in this world is just B.S., because he's had a hand in every person's life."
In a final show of the charity and altruism that his faith has taught him, Collie blessed his allies and enemies by explaining that those people who criticized his comments "need to get a life. It's just ridiculous. People have to get a life. That's all."
Thank you, Austin. We obviously need to get a life. This from the person who is convinced that the Almighty is so concerned with sporting events that He will actually choose to favor one of His children over another. Thank that's not what Collie said? Let me show you why that's EXACTLY what he said.
Unfortunately, Collie can't escape the logic of his statement like he did the Utah secondary on 4th and 18.
Essentially, Collie formulated the following logical statements:
1. If you do what's right on and off the field, the Lord is with you.
2. If the Lord is with you, magic happens.
So, if you combine the two statements, you can make a third, which is:
3. If you do what is right on and off the field, magic happens.
I don't think anyone really cares about someone giving thanks to a supreme being for helping them to do their best. The trouble that Collie has run into is when you take the flipside of his logic (which is just as true as his outright statements).
The "flipside" of any logical statement is what philosophers call the "contra-positive." It essentially looks like this:
Original Statement:
If X, then Y
If you're in New York, then you're also in the US
If not Y, then not X
If you're not in the US, then you're not in New York
Thus, if you take the contra-positive of those three original Collie statements, you get the following:
1. If the Lord is not with you, then you aren't doing what's right on and off the field.
2. If Magic doesn't happen, then the Lord is not with you.
3. If Magic doesn't happen, then you aren't doing what's right on and off the field.
Herein lies the problem-- according to Collie's logic, if the "magic" doesn't happen, then the Lord isn't with that person or team. And if the Lord isn't with that person or team, then they aren't doing what's right on and off the field.
Therefore, any team that loses to BYU for lack of magic (read--Utah) has done so because the Lord is not with them, and the Lord is not with them because they don't do what's right on and off the field.
So, when fans get upset that Collie is saying that their team is not as righteous as his, they are SPOT ON. Logically, that is perfect contra-positive formulation of his argument. Now, the question being begged is "Does that mean that Tulsa was doing more right on and off the field, and therefore had more of the Lord's help, which in turn led to more magic in their defeat of the righteous Cougars?"
What about those years when BYU lost so many games under Gary Crowton?
Don't you think he was praying to do a good job?
Weren't the players?
Honestly, let's stop second-guessing the Lord. I'm sure that if He is involved with sporting events, it's more like a father watching two sons compete against each other. No matter how involved He is, though, I'm certain that the heartache, grief, suffering, and other pains that plague His children throughout this war-torn earth occupy His attention and priorities much more than whether one kid on one football field made one play to help win one game.
Is God involved in our daily lives? You bet. But to the extent that he'll favor one child to the detriment of others? Never.
I'd love to hear your opinions on the matter.



I figured it was time to get on with the countdown. I'm running out of days within which I can get these through. If I'm not careful, I'm going to have to lump years of my life together in some kind of epoch-based sequence (ie--"The Bonneville Elementary Years" or "The Awkward Phase"). Anyway, here were some significant events from my life and the world in 1986: While I celebrated my 4th birthday this year, I was mostly 3. I don't really remember much beyond the backyard swingset, my older sister's care-bear collection and Thundercats. Needless to say, I was cute when I wasn't angry. Also in 1986: --"Captain Midnight" interrupted HBO's late-night feed (let your imagination soar with that one) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Midnight_%28HBO%29 --Roger Clemens strikes out 20 in a game, April 29. Nicknamed the Rocket, he echoed his US Military-esque namesake and would go on to play way too long for way too much money. --September: A tour bus carrying the heavy metal band Metallica while touring in Sweden hits a patch of black ice and turns over. Their bassist does not survive the ordeal. 20 years later, the band would hit a patch of programming software called Napster, leading to the demise of the rest of the band. --December 15, My Birthday: As I turned four, TIME Magazine also published an edition of its magazine featuring Neil Simon on the cover. To the right of the accomplished playwright are the words "Laughter and Tears." Once again, life imitates art and another theme of my childhood is established. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601861215,00.html


Tag-- I'm IT!

For the first time in my life, I'm "It." I'm very grateful to Sam Sorensen for the opportunity to talk about my favorite person: me. You can see his thought-provoking blog, Bear Cave, at http://www.sjsorensen.blogspot.com/.

Here are the rules of the game.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random - some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names - link to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

I shall now begin:

Fact 1: I have broken both of my pinky fingers on several occasions. Dislocation, sprain, break, etc. This has not hampered my Nintendo skills, even though my pinkies are now both thicker than my index fingers.

Fact 2: I am addicted to Cafe Rio. I am therefore considering a class-action lawsuit against the restaurant for including highly addictive, habit-forming substances to their recipes. Whether this be a case of cocaine, heroine, or other drug, I feel they have both added to my personal enjoyment of life and taken a bit of my personal freedom. I'm considering advertising for the class action suit with the following tag line: "Have you eaten a sweet pork barbacoa burrito in the last seven months? Tired of dreaming of steak salads with cilantro and the house dressing smothering a fresh-grilled, hand-tossed tortilla? Contact Vogeler, Vogeler, Vogeler, & Associates now for your chance at a billion dollar slice of the jalapeno."

Fact 3: I baptized my Teddy Bear in the Toilet at age 4. He needed forgiveness!

Fact 4: I love good books, but hate the people that write them. Every time I read an interview with one of them, I think "Holy Hell! If this schmuck could write the next great American novel, I CAN!!" And then I swiftly realize that I can't even hold together a relevant social life, let alone write a book.

Fact 5: I miss the University of Utah like an old man misses his prunes: life was so much smoother and more regular with the U in my life.

Fact 6: I can't wait for my little brother to get home from Mexico in July for two reasons:

1) I love Mikee a ton

2) We need to take a picture of the three Vogeler brothers posing seductively in front of The Van. See http://ebv.blogspot.com/2007/07/magical-evening.html.

Fact 7: Irony is often an integral part of my relationships. Examples:

1. One of my exes decided that we needed to "talk" about our relationship. That is always a bad
sign that most guys misread. I was one of those guys who misread it. While we were talking about our relationship, Ben Folds' "The Luckiest" was playing softly in the background. I remember thinking "Man, this song is so right on...I am the luckiest!" She followed up my thought by breaking up with me. I then remember distinctly thinking "That sucks. This is not lucky."

2. I was dating a girl in the summer of 2005, and we often stayed up late since she worked night shifts at a restaurant and I worked late at Kaplan. Most nights I would come home around 2:00 to 3:00 am. Realizing this was problematic for the beginning of school, we decided we needed to get to say goodbye earlier so we could get some sleep and be functional human beings. One night, remembering our plan, I told her that I needed to be up early, and that she needed to sleep, so I left her place at 12:00 midnight (early for a summer evening). On the way home I blacked out/fell asleep at the wheel and totalled the car. I woke up with an airbag in my face, a shattered windshield all around me, and a text message on my phone that said: "I'm so proud of you for saying goodbye early. Have a great night!"

3. I am now married to lovely Lady Law. Iroically, though, she has yet to provide with Life, Liberty, or the Pursuit of Happiness. However, she has stuck with through the best times and the worse, through sickness and in health, etc. Most of the time, though, I wish she'd go away.

Well, that's it. Here goes, in no particular order of tagging:

Scott and Courtney, http://shjacobsen.blogspot.com/

Cody and Madelyn, http://mcaustintx.blogspot.com/

Dave and Kristin, http://dpattenj.blogspot.com/

Matt, http://jackenpox.blogspot.com/

Whitney, http://whitlin.blogspot.com/

Andrew, http://sosaidmybrain.blogspot.com/

Melanie and Riley. http://alittlebloggoesalongway.blogspot.com/

Enjoy all!



A year to remember.
First, and in honor of the Reader's Choice for Most Passion-Inspiring Nintendo Character, 1985 saw the beginning of:
Whether he was revelling in your accomplishments as a dead-eye duck hunter,
or chuckling in your face as the ducks made their way safely out of your 8-bit screen,
we all know we tried to shoot the dog.
And if we could right now, we'd do it again. Gladly.

And, in fact, you can do just that here-- http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/duckhunt/.

Also in 1985:

-The highly ranked BYU football team, coming off their National Championship, and with their eye on another couple of weeks sans Honor Code, loses to the mighty Miners of UTEP--their only win of the season. A mighty cheer erupts from the hill in Salt Lake City, while wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of clothes combine to cause Provo's collective ego to...well...stay about where it was.

-Mike Tyson makes his professional debut in Albany, NY, launching a storied, high-pitched, low-punched, nail/ear/girl-biting career. Somewhere, somehow a Japanese programmer begins to develop the Anti-Mike: Little Mick, the 8-bit wunderkind. Next post will outline Little Mick's much more storied and happier-ending career.

-The Disney World monorail catches fire due to the friction from a flat tire. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Unfortunately, monorails continue to be built nation-wide as the "greatest innovation in public transportation since the bus." Yeah, ask Seattle how that went.

-Norm Bangerter begins his first term in office as Utah governor. His greatest achievement--the highway bearing his name--is completed shortly thereafter (well, OK, 1998). Other potential names for the stretch of road:

a. The Mormon Motorway

b. The Salt Lake Sheet Street

c. The Westside Highway (REALLY!) http://members.aol.com/utahhwys/rte154.htm

-Eric Vogeler begins to have memories. His first: Asking his mother mid-June when his birthday would be, as this promised cake, presents, and finally some attention. Her response "Not for another six months." So begins Eric's preoccupation with birthday countdowns.

1985 Present: Optimus Prime. My Parents Loved Me.


1984--Orwell Had it SOOOO Wrong

The totalitarian state where media, history,war, and human emotion were controlled by the amorphous Big Brother wouldn't come around for another 20 years when it would be realized by CBS. Oh well, it could have been worse. He could have predicted flying cars in 2010 (Back to the Future 2 anyone?)

Meanwhile, 1984 saw such advents as:

Timmy Vogeler--or as he's more commonly known: Little Brother, Big Lover.
Timmy was born this year and immediately began to steal affection away from his older, wiser, bigger brother. Needless to say, Eric was jealous in the way that only a two-year old can be of a squirming little newborn babe. Eric distinctly remembers nothing of this era, but can only assume that Timmy was cute and dribbly where Eric was argumentative and talkative. Eric's jealousy was well-founded as he was quickly discarded by both his older sisters and parents in favor of the cute one. Left to fend for himself as he hunted and gathered food, sought out water, and created his own shelters (OK--Twinkies, drinkies, and blanket forts, but you get the idea). While this bolstered Eric's inner resolve and physical strength, Timmy quickly became the favored one and Eric's ego wilted. Timmy would become the Ender Wiggin to Eric's Peter (minus the mutilated squirrels and Bugger Wars). And so it was, that on October 24, Little Timmy was born and a lifelong rivalry and brotherly love affair began.

(NOTE: Timmy and I have since patched things up.)

Also in 1984:

--TaB's original formula, developed in 1963 to help people keep tabs on their dietary intake (get it?), is tweaked on May 16 to mix saccharin with a small amount of aspartame. Thousands of famous athletes, politicians, and movie stars weep at the loss of their pure saccharin TaB and wonder whether they'll live long enough to find another common link so deceptively sweet as their favored drink.

--BYU wins the National Championship in Football. Provo river spills over its banks as does Provo's collective ego. The Honor Code is lifted for two weeks as a carnival-esque state of Mormon Mardi Gras descends upon Happy Valley. Coca-Cola is consumed without shame, lovers hold hands in broad daylight, and thigh-high shorts pepper the campus in the middle of January. BYU administration holds its breath for two weeks so that the color of the mighty Cougars might be reflected in their countenance. Angels sing "Rise and Shout" and the words "Because of you our faith is strong" are added to the school song to remind students to where they might look for football redemption. Hours after the re-establishment of the Honor Code, things in Happy Valley return to normal. --Crack Cocaine begins to sweep the nation. Famous athletes, politicians, and movie stars cry tears of joy and sniffle uncontrollably at the thought that they finally have a common link to replace TaB.



Disclaimer: I hold this entry with the highest amount of respect and reverence that I (typically) afford this blog. To all those who read this passage, please take off your plumber hats, power down your bio-mechanically attached plasma weapon, and let the magic seep back into your soul. (Hushed Tones) In the summer of 1983, the first Nintendo Entertainment System was first sold in Japan.

It wasn't until 1985 that Nintendo would be released in North America and subsequently marketed to little boys who would soon become addicted to such classics as Contra, Super Mario Bros., Mike Tyson's Punchout, Metroid, Zelda, Duck Hunt, and Battletoads. However, I thought it only appropo to address the NES's birthdate in a countdown of my own birthday--I mean, we practically grew up together, cried together, loved together, spent countless hours together trying to save the Princess, the World, or the Heavyweight Championship (?). In short, to borrow a line from Sir Paul McCartney: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Thanks Nintendo. For the old times, and the new. Here's to another 24 years. Mazeltoff.

Also important in 1983:

-Ronald Reagan dubs 1983 "The Year of the Bible..." and the Jelly Belly

-February 28: "M*A*S*H" finally ends. Alan Alda begins life as a Guest Star on other shows

-"Star Wars" moves from realm of fantasy to...realm of politics...which is circular at best.

-BYU wins the Holiday Bowl, Steve Young announces his intent to enter the AFL draft, and Provo's ego expands to the point of unreality. An ego they maintain to this day.

-"Pioneer 10" becomes first man-made object to leave solar system. Pioneer 10 also becomes the first in a long line of interstellar trash we can only hope will be picked up by interstellar prisoners cleaning up the interstellar highways in bright interstellar orange space suits.

-The death of the first feminist movement is commemorated at the grand opening of the first Hooters in Florida, October 4. Silicone sales go up 200%.

-Microsoft Word is published October 25, 9:00 am ET.

-October 25, 9:30 am: first Word document to be lost because of an undefined error

-October 25, 9:31 am: first copy of Word to be used as a doggy chew toy. Bill Gates' brain turns red, and a shiver runs up his spine. He can't help but smile.

-Baby Eric learns to smile, eat, drink, and poop--habits he maintains to this day.


Best Things of Their Respective Years...1982

Well, my Quarter Century Mark is swiftly approaching (only six more weeks to get me that awesome present you've been thinking about), and in preparation for that, I've decided to start a "Best of..." countdown of the years of my life. I'll take it one year at a time, which should provide quite a few posts up until the actual Ides of December. So, to begin...I give you
Five of the Best Things to Happen This Year
1. Best Album that Would Inspire Thousands of Misguided 80s Teens to Buy Red Leather, Grab their Groins, Point to the Sky and Yell "Ooooop! Ahh!" In Really High Pitched, Poppy Voices:
2. Best TV Show to Feature Marty McFly Before He Helped Doc Brown Test the Flux Capacitor and Finally Prove That 1.21 Gigowatts of Electricity Can Be Safely Channeled Directly Into a Dolorian Traveling at 88 MPH:Family Ties
3. Best Anti-Trust Violating Monopoly to Be Broken Up Only To Form Up Later In The Next Millenium and Provide Crappy, Expensive Phone Service Only to Throw Their Hat In With Apple and Delight Customers With Fancy Gadgetry and New Fangled Touchy Screeny Stuff:
4. Best New Product To Launch an Infuriating Packaging System Consisting of Unbreakable Shrinkwrap, Incredibly Fragile Plastic, and A Contract With Satan Himself to Ensure That Thousands Would Lose Themselves To Him Through the Cursing and Gnashing of Their Teeth on Its Shiny Plastic Wrap:
5. Best Non-Human to Win Time's "Man of the Year" in the Same Month That Marcia Vogeler's Man of the Year is Born in Holy Cross Hospital:


Politics, Puppets, & PC Paint

In line with TIME Magazine's recent comparison of Presidential Candidate Forerunners, I thought I'd hop on the political bandwagon and do my own side-by-side comparison of the candidates--with their appropriate Puppet counterparts. (My apologies to Jim Henson, who will be lightly rotating in his grave as you read this). Here they are, in no particular order:

Pictured: Sen. Barack Obama (D) & Franklin Delano Bluth, Puppet
While I thought they had similar skin tones, I think the pairing works for several reasons:
1. Wish they had “street cred”
2. Seem to have a magician's hand up...well, somewhere inside of them
3. Franklin Delano was named after a democratic president; Obama wants to be a democratic president; neither is appropriately realistic

Pictured: Rudy Giuliani (R) & Gollum, CGI Puppet
This one should be obvious:
1. Bald, squinty-eyed, violently confrontational, checkered relationship past
2. Both are so tricksy—I don’t know who I’d trust in the path of Kirith Ungol
3. Try to claim credit for things they didn’t do: Giuliani for cleaning up NY, Gollum for finding the ring; surprisingly, everyone seems to believe and pity them…until someone gets their finger bit off

Pictured: Sen. John Edwards (D) & Sen. John McCain (R)
What?! Where are the Puppet Counterparts? Hmmm….so many puns, so little space. It’s still an interesting comparison:
1. One looks too good to be true, the other sounds too good to be true
2. Both passionate about things they shouldn’t be—the rich one about poverty, the old, cold one about global warming
3. With their forces combined they are…..Al Gore.

Pictured: Sen. Fred Thompson (R) & Sam the Eagle, Muppet
I don’t even need to explain this one, but I will:
1. Official symbols of Law & Order
2. Bear a frightening resemblance to Richard Milhaus Nixon when on TV
3. Famous for saying “Why am I here?”—one at the Muppet Family Christmas, the other at the latest Republican Presidential Candidate Debate

Pictured: TV Personality Stephen Colbert (R/D) & Woody, Toy
The resemblance is striking, and their personal philosophies bear striking similarities; all in all, very striking:
1. You’ve got a friend in both of them
2. View life with the optimism born of truth, freedom, and the American way
3. Fictitious, funny, and a wee bit fruity

Pictured: Gov. Mitt Romney (R) & Guy Smiley, Muppet
Mostly, it’s the hair, the smile, the chin, the suits…OK, these guys could have grown up on the shores of lake Superior together!
1. Famous for hosting seminal American events—the Olympic Games and Sesame Street’s “Here is Your Life”
2. Appreciate the value of a power tie and a solid hair part
3. Skilled in their respective management areas—venture capitalism and muppetism

Pictured: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) & Ms. Piggy, Muppet
Perhaps the most obvious of all comparisons.
1. Sense of entitlement for being…piggish
2. Spotlight hog
3. Married to a slimy amphibian

1:44 AM

missing Her.


Our Feet in Our Mouths: How the Honor Code Fails to Protect Academics In Football

PHOTO ABOVE: What I can only surmise is a fight, brawl, or worse, these scenes of violence and cheating will only worsen unless we stop the tide of football tomfoolery... Therefore, it's time for more Honor Code Revision Committee Comments!!
This past Saturday, as I drank in the sugar-free athletic kool-aid that was BYU v EWU (THE MIGHTY EAGLES!!!), I wondered out loud to my friends Spencer and Dan whether, in fact, the Honor Code applies to sports feats performed on the football field. It's an interesting conundrum: should football players be held to a lower standard on the field than off it? Does sports cheating constitute a violation of the Honor Code? Would a holding penalty constitute improper touching and/or a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy?
In order to better illustrate my point, I present a close reading of some of the pertinent clauses of the Honor Code and how they may relate in a football context. (Note: the scope of this analysis is strictly limited to the football field; no off-the-field "action," if you know what I mean).
Student Academic Honesty Policy
From the home of the Honor Code, http://www.honorcode.byu.edu/, I will first look at the Academic Honesty Policy:
1. The Purpose of the Academic Honesty Policy
"The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to "be honest." Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work but also to build character. "
a. The first "injunction?" My first reaction to that word was "a legal remedy whereby a judge orders an individual or group to refrain from acting in a certain manner." However, Princeton defines an injunction as "a formal command or admonition." OK, so BYU students are commanded to be, above all other things, honest. I'm alright with that.
b. Let's take a look at that second sentence: "Students come to the university...to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work." First, and let's be honest with ourselves, about 95% of football players are convinced that, 1) they have a sure career in football--either pros or coaching, or 2) their sociology degrees will take them far. While both convictions are probably farfetched for 95% of that 95%, let's just keep in mind that, in their minds, the "skills" they learn for football--tackling, throwing, running, catching, etc.--are intended to "assit them in their life's work."
Assuming, then, that in the lives of football players, practicing and playing football is an essential step--taken in a University atmosphere--towards their life's work. It is, essentially, an academic pursuit. With that established, let's look at...
Also in the preamble to Academic Honesty, the Honor Code states that "President David O. McKay taught that 'character is the highest aim of education.' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p.6.) It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim."
a. With "character [as] the highest aim of education," we're now ready to really draw the line between the pursuit of sports perfection and the same in academics. See subsection (b).
b. Bronco Mendenhall, head coach of the mighty Cougars, has adopted the philosophy of recruiting, instilling, establishing, and building character in his players. He has instructed those players to "Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price for a worthy goal."
Both BYU Football and BYU academics set character as a principle goal, one to be achieved and encouraged at all costs. Therefore, whether football and academics are substantively the same or categorically different, their relationship is not one of "apples to oranges" but of "jots and tittles." Even by analogy, where academics is a mental pursuit and football a physical pursuit, because they both seek to develop skills and character essential in the lives of those who participate in them, in a University setting, standards set for one should be consistent with the other.
Thus, the Honor Code, and all its policies and rules, should apply to a football/sports context. (Note: don't even try arguing against that logic).
With that in mind, a series of questions must be answered in order to examine the practical effects of the Honor Code on football, and therefore determine what must be implemented immediately into the Athletics Department to stay consistent with BYU's mission to build character.
3. A Series of Questions:
What are the pragmatic effects of the Academic Honesty Policy on Football?
I. The Rules
BYU Football players, as academians, should "avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms." The Honor Code further defines dishonesty and misconduct as "including plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating...."
1. Dishonesty. Ever seen a false start in football or an offsides penalty? Both seek to claim an unfair advantage over the other team. Dishonesty at its core.
2. Misconduct. Roughing the Passer or Personal Fouls of any kind? Misconduct in the extreme.
3. Hybrids. Holding and Pass Interference? BOTH dishonest attempts to gain advantages and misconduct.
4. Fabrication or Falsification. Ever seen an offending player hold up his hands with a look of pure innocence on his face? "Wasn't me, coach!" Well, because of the beauty of instant replay, we know it was that guy! Fabrication and falsification of a story.
5. Cheating. Come on. This one's too easy! Any penalty committed in football is obviously cheating at some level.
OK, that was really the only question I had so far as academic policy goes. But what about respecting others? What about observing dress and grooming standards? (Volleyball anyone?!) And what about the improper touching of another individual? Doesn't that speak to the law of chastity? These are all important questions that, without answers, may spell the ultimate downfall of BYU athletics.
II. Enforcing the Rules
The Honor Code Office (HCO) is ultimately responsible for tracking and establishing the appropriate punishment for offenders of the academic honesty policy. I don't envy their job now that it is about to grow substantially every Saturday in the fall, but I feel it our duty to enforce these rules, even on the football field. Perfection of the players is all we ask. The relevant statutory language of the Honor Code states a three part approach to violations of the Academic Honesty Policy:
1. "The HCO will maintain a record of all violations of the Academic Honesty Policy reported to it by the faculty."
Ouch. This one might take a lot of work, seeing as how the Cougars average approximate 35 penalties per game. I feel bad for the offensive linemen and the defensive secondary, as they're often the so-called "victims" of fouls and penalties. Actually, this brings up another key point--a paradigm shift. We need to stop thinking of penalized teams and players as victims. They are, simply put, the perpetrators of these horrendous actions. That they suffer from these actions is besides the point. Do we consider prisoners victims of the crimes they committed?! NO!
2. "If the occurrence is sufficiently egregious or if a pattern of dishonesty or misconduct is discovered, the HCO may take additional action on behalf of the university based upon the nature of the infraction(s)."
This one begs a couple of questions, the first being: What is "sufficiently egregious?" This one's easy to implement. NCAA Football has already devised a scheme to determine the level of harm and punishment associated with penalties. Five-, ten-, and fifteen-yard penalties all have their associated penalties because, presumably, some are more harmful or prejudicial than others. I'd recommend a full expulsion for fifteen-yard penalties.
What might be more time-consuming is determining whether a "pattern of dishonesty or misconduct" can be established. Thankfully, we have all the games on film and can analyze them after the fact.
3. "The HCO, in consultation with the involved academic personnel, may determine to place a student on probation or to suspend or dismiss a student for academic dishonesty and other forms of academic misconduct."
Wow. This clause seems pretty sharp. Probation, suspension, or dismissal. BYU should simply implement these penalties on perpetrating players in the following manner:
Five-yard penalties: Immediate probation. More than three, suspension. Establish a pattern: dismissal.
Ten-yard penalties: Immediate Suspension. More than three, dismissal.
Fifteen-yard penalties: Dismissal.
III. Policy Arguments For Strict Enforcement
BYU fans, coaches, and administrators alike have expressed their disdain for the inordinate amount of penalties committed by BYU. But just imagine if the students at the school were held to such a low standard for their own penalties committed off the field? Some practical examples:
Jonny is caught cheating on his Biology exam. He has anticipated the beginning of the exam by a full five minutes before the rest of the class may begin, and has time to carefully think out the essay before everyone else.
That kind of behavior wouldn't be tolerated in a classroom. But a similar football penalty, offsides (where the defender comes across the line of scrimmage before the snap of the ball) is met with only a cursory five-yard penalty: hardly the kind of punishment that rises to the level of dishonesty displayed.
Another example. On her way to class, Kim sees one of the top students who's always bragging that he's "the top of the top and will remain at the top of the top." Seizing her opportunity to finally do something for the greater good, Kim runs up behind the top student, trips him and shoves him down a set of stairs. Just to make sure he's down for the count, and for good measure, Kim waits for the top student to stop rolling, and launching herself from the top of the stairs, body slams him.
Not only would Kim's actions earn her at least a dismissal from the school, it would probably result in both civil and criminal penalties in the courts. But every Saturday, quarterbacks are subjected to this kind of treatment by 300 lb giants who aren't even taken out of the game. Often, in fact, they are smacked on the butt with a salutory "good game" or "nice job!"
Therefore, the same standards imposed on traditional "academic" students should be imposed on non-traditional "football" students. Penalize the athletic penalty perpetrator as you would the academically dishonest, for they are one-in-the-same. This approach would simultaneously encourage sportsmanship and character and discourage the shameful behavior that has, for far too long, been accepted as part of the norm. The football status quo cannot be accepted at BYU. We have been, and must coninue to maintain our status above the bar set for other schools. To do less is to settle for what the world accepts--and while we may play football against the world, we are not of the world.
This type of egregious behavior must stop. In order to protect the academic and spiritual integrity of this fine institution, football players must be held accountable for their actions both off and on the field. A double standard can no longer be held between the classroom and the stadium. We must take action immediately. Stand up and demand a more fully invested football team. Require that they raise a bar. Insist that, like the rest of us, football players are accountable for their own character building.
And to those doubters, or to those who may encourage the status quo, or who may ask "What's the big deal? It's just a game." Yeah, well, when you come down to it, isn't life just one big game? It has a beginning, an end, and winners and losers. In my book: Game.
Finally, to those who ask "Why did you write this?" I give you a turn on a John Donne classic--Don't ask for whom the whistle blows. It blows for you.



Just remembered a story about hunger. As a young man of about 16, I had to visit the dentist and get some work done. (Why do we call it dental work? Shouldn't it be something appropriate like "Dental Pain Which Costs Me a Lot of Money and Makes my Mouth Sensitive to Tin Foil, Ice Cream, and Radio Waves?") Dr. Theurer was my dentist at that point (and continues to be, thank you). He was, and continues to be, very careful to make sure that I didn't feel any of the hellish pitchforks of pain that can often be associated with Dental Work. He shot me up with that enormous novacaine needle that should only feel like "a small prick," but really feels like an enormous novacaine needle being shoved sharply into the back of your jaw. Just to be sure, I'm pretty sure he shot me up twice. In a matter of minutes, I was slack-jawed and slobbery: Eric: I sheenk we've Ogay to GOah Dr. Theurer: Alright, let me just jam these instruments into your now-numbed chasmous mouth. Normally, this procedure would cause you to pass out with pain, but thanks to the miracle of novacaine, you don't feel a thing! Eric: Tha'sh grayd, doktor, can we jusd do thish theengh? Dr. Theurer: Ok, but before I stick this drill bit down your throat, have you ever heard that Bill Cosby sketch? Eric: YESH!! "Thair'sh shmoak cumeengh aut auf ma mouf!!!" (Laughs) Dr. Theurer: Exactly. It's not funny though. This is going to be like a calcium and flouride barbeque. With that ominous warning in mind, my body inevitably latched onto the keyword of the pseudo-verbal exchange: barbeque. As was usual every 30 minutes or so at that age, my stomach attacked me with a quick, rather sharp pang of hunger. You haven't filled me for at least 45 minutes! it seemed to say. I heartily agreed with my stomach, as is the usual case even now, and resolved to remedy the situation as soon as I got my Dental Pain done. Dr. Theurer's office was located right on 1300 East and 2100 South. VERY CLOSE TO WENDY'S IN SUGARHOUSE PARK. I have to admit that then (and now) I was a sucker for the quarter pound combo meal with a Frosty in place of a drink. So, I made my way out of the office towards my teenage holy grail: the Number Two Meal. Slavering, either at the thought of the succulent burger or because of my novacaine-induce lack of salivary control, I made my way over to Sugarhouse and the promise of ground beef goodness. Rolling up to the drive-through intercom, I smoothly queried "Kahn ah-ee git ah Numbor Toooo, pleash, and kahn ah-ee git a Froshtee in shted av ah dweenk?" Amazingly, the clerk's response was "You sure can. Your total will be 4.59 at the Second Window. Have a good day!" For the first time in my life, both the teller and myself had understood each other, and were together edified. It was a joy that would not long last, I'm afraid. After getting home with my prize, two horrible things occurred: I dropped my Frosty (which made a very self-satisfied "Shplunk!" sound as it shplunked all over the kitchen floor) and, to my horror, I realized that my mouth was still incredibly numb. Totally, incapacitatingly numb. I nearly sobbed. By this time, my stomach was rebelling and had begun to devour itself slowly. My survival instincts were beginning to kick in and take over. I had to do something, and quickly, otherwise I was going to starve to death in the middle of our kitchen. I often informed my mom that one day she was going to come home late from work and find her eldest son passed out--or worse--from hunger in the middle of the kitchen. She always thought I was kidding, laughed, and said something about me "being a big boy" and I how I "deserved it" if I couldn't fix myself some food. Now, with my food half in front of me and half around me on the floor, and with no way to eat it, I couldn't believe how cruel my mother was. Cold, insensitive, uncaringly cruel. How could she laugh at me?! This is an emergency! I thought. Panic stricken, I resolved to do the only thing I could do: BRAVE THE BURGER. I slowly brought the juicy thing to my lips and, to my horror, couldn't even take a bite. It was like a wall had been erected in front of my teeth. I tried again...with no success. I decided I needed a mirror to make sure I was doing this right. In the bathroom, then, I quickly discovered from the mustard marks on my face that I had unsuccessfully tried to feed my chin. With a mirror in front of me, my burger in hand, I thought I had it made. Carefully, watching my reflection raise the foil-wrapped wonder to my mouth, I took a reverse bite and wondered if my taste buds would be numbed as well. Oh, sweet world! Don't take this last joy from me! The world didn't take that last joy. To my eternal relief, I could taste the burger! How the sweetness of the tomatoes mixed with the sharp onions! The briney pickles with the hearty beef! Oh, but the crispness of the lettuce only accented the grainy, sesame seed bread. Nothing could have been sweeter. Nothing could have brought more joy to my juvenile mind and/or stomach. Except.... except, it seemed like I was chewing a bit more than I had taken off. Watching my jaw work in the mirror, there was definitely more substance to what was being mastigated. Intrigued, I poked around and prodded the inner depths of my mouth a bit with a forefinger and, mortified, discovered that I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew--I had chewed up a bit of my tongue. This might disturb some readers. Frankly, it kind of disturbs me right now. But by that point, this seemed the easiest problem I had to encounter that day. No problem! I thought. This is something I can remedy. Eric's not dying today! So with the resolve of a starved Peruvian man stuck high in the Andes with no other source of sustenance than his since-passed-on friends, I grabbed the burger in my right hand, held my tongue in place with my left index and middle fingers, and proceeded to heartily inhale my Wendy's meal in the bathroom, watching the intricate fast food ballet in the mirror. So, I guess the moral of the story is, when I hear about people chewing their arms off or calmly breaking their own bones to escape some horrible situation in order to survive, I just think to myself: I've been there, man. I know their pain. I know their pain. And that's why I'm in law school.


A Day in the Life of...

Here's a minute-by-minute snapshot of today's action: 12:01 am: realize, to my chagrin, that I still have a few hours to go on my 20 page brief which will be due this evening at 8:00pm sharp. Wonder where the Mountain Dew is. 12:03 am: find the Mountain Dew and my source of caffeine. Wonder simultaneously to myself "Ah! This should do the trick" and "Hmmm...it's been a long time since I've had caffeine coursing through my capilaries." 12:05 am: Return to the computer, stare blankly at the screen... 12:15 am: Discover myself still staring at the screen; check my email, my blog, my facebook account, my bank account, my old email, and the news... 12:25 am: Return to my Word document. Stare deeply into the nether regions of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and wonder "why did the Founding Fathers make so many promises?! WHY?!" 12:26 am: Check my email, my blog, my facebook account, my bank account, my old email, and the news...just in case something important has come in recently. 12:30 am: Wonder "WHY ISN'T THIS PAPER GETTING DONE?!" Force myself to take responsibility for my actions and begin to type... 1:00 am: After a full paragraph of "All work and no play make Eric a dull boy," decide that law school was a bad idea, moving somewhere far away would be good for me, and debate between whether I should write a novel and/or run for election in the far away Senate. 1:05 am: Remember that reality bites and say a little prayer for Dana Carvey 2:00 am: Think "Thank heaven for Mtn. Dew! I'm awake, alert, and typing away!" 2:05 am: Wonder why 18-year-old neighbors are blowing one of those annoying football horns. Turn volume on music up. 2:10 am: Think, MAN, the Doobie Brothers really had something goin', didn't they? 2:30 am: Realize that somehow my paper has finished itself. Say a prayer for both Mtn. Dew and the 18-year-old neighbors. 2:35 am: Check the email, the blog, the facebook, the bank, the old email, 'cause you never know, right? 2:40 am: Still not feeling tired, decide to learn a new song on the guitar. 2:45 am: Realize that for every song I learn on the guitar, a BYU girl gets her ring. 2:50 am: Realize that I have to be up at 7:45 am. Lay me down to sleep. 2:53 am: Toss 2:54 am: Turn 2:55 am: Dedicate the remaining waking time I have until I fall asleep to composing a letter to Mtn. Dew promising to never buy, use, or recommend their product again. 3:15 am: Still stuck on whether "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern" is the best way to begin the letter 3:17 am: Can't imagine how the 18-year-old neighbors have the energy to continue tooting their horn. 3:30 am: Say another prayer for Mtn. Dew, caffeine in general, and my idiot self for leaving so much to do for so late at night. Promise myself to never do it again. 3:31 am: Come to grips with the fact that it will happen again. 3:32 am: Sleep. I think. 7:45 am: Alarm goes off. Groggily imagine that someone is calling me. 7:47 am: Wonder why they don't hang up. Somehow manage to take battery out of alarm with three fingers of one hand so as to allow the maximum amount of skin to stay under the covers. 8:45 am: Wake up with a start and think "Damn that Mtn. Dew! Vile Caffeine!!" 8:50 am: Shower. Thank the Romans for interior plumbing and heated water. 9:00 am: Realize that I'm hungry, but no time for food. Brush teeth and run out door. 9:10 am: Arrive at the J. Reuben Clark School of Law. Remember what it was like and visualize an imaginary trashcan so that I can imaginarily vomit into it. 9:20 am: Walk past the trashcan dedicated to and sponsored by a former student; briefly flirt with vomiting into it, but remember that I haven't eaten today. 9:21 am: Reaffirm my promise to one day sponsor a golden urinal at the J. Reuben Clark which reads: "Law School--Please be Courteous and Remember to Flush Dreams Away." 9:30 am: See friends from law school, remember that even in the worst situations, nice people can sometimes make up for some of the crap. Remember that I still have to read for Evidence. 9:40 am: Decide I need to check my email, blog, facebook, news, bank account, old emails, and new email again instead of reading for Evidence. 9:50 am: Once again, promise myself to stay on top of my reading. 9:51 am: Overhearing my whispered promise, a friend tells me to come to grips with the fact that it will happen again on Wednesday. 9:53 am: Swear I overhear the BYU girl get her ring. 9:53:05 am: Swear I overhear the BYU boy who gave the BYU girl her ring hit the floor with his forehead. 9:53:07 am: Swear I overhear a voice on the wind whispering "If you buy it, she will come..."; consider whether it could be cubic zirconia... 9:59 am: Decide that my email needs to be checked one last time... 10:00 am: Begin a four-hour marathon of class. Promise myself that today will be different, today will be unique, today will be a day to beat all days in the world of legal academia... 10:01 am: Dimly aware that my brain has turned off. Somewhere, somehow, a part of my soul weeps. 2:00 pm: Stomach informs brain that it hasn't been filled recently; brain, annoyed at being turned back on again, tries to silence stomach. However, stomach reminds brain that gastro-intestinal system, of which stomach is a member, can make brain rue the day it first thought. Brain backs down and tells legs to make way to Creamery, forces hands to pull out wallet, and induces mouth to speak to cash register person. Stomach is appeased, body returns to state of Defcon 2. 2:45 pm: Now that the threat has been quashed, brain reminds Eric that paper must still be edited and proof-read before turn-in. 2:50 pm: Not used to brain's instructions, I hastily check email, blog, facebook, bank account, old email, old news, and purportedly new news before finally agreeing with brain. 3:00 pm: Try to finish paper. 3:25 pm: Come to sudden, unexpected realization that grammar is finally cool. 3:26 pm: Sob into my hands for making that realization. 4:00 pm: Remember that I have another class at 5:00 pm. Imagine what life must be like outside the concrete walls of the J. Reuben Clark. 4:02 pm: Walk over to a window and see what life is like outside the walls of the J. Reuben Clark. 4:03 pm: As life goes by outside the walls of the J. Reuben Clark, another BYU girl gets her ring. Promise self to never propose on a sidewalk in the middle of the day. 4:04 pm: Come to sudden, unexpected realization that any proposal that elicits a "yes" is better than an elaborate or creative one that ends with a "no." Say a prayer for Sauce girl from Tomasito's last year. http://ebv.blogspot.com/2006/11/byu-law-we-stay-as-far-away-from-campus.html 4:15 pm: Get ready for the next class. Attempt to convince myself that my paper will get finished between 6:30 and 7. 5:00 pm: Begin to bite nails and wonder about my paper. 5:01 pm: Run out of nails to bite and consign myself to mediocrity. 5:45 pm: Class gets let out early. Reaffirm faith in a higher power and run back to desk via the stairs. 5:46 pm: Have to slow down, put hands on knees, and catch breath. 5:48 pm: Still trying to catch breath and curse my sedentary lifestyle of books, study, and intermittant, caffeine-interrupted sleep. 5:50 pm: Stagger over to desk and start up laptop. 5:51 pm: Check email, in case someone else has written my paper for me. 5:53 pm: Disappointed that no one has finished my paper for me. 6:00 pm: Begin the proofing and editing process. 7:00 pm: Amazed at what I can do in an hour when I have to. Print out five copies of the brief, hand them in appropriately, try to make brain accept the fact that paper is done, and realize that brain has been powered down since 5:01 pm. 8:45 pm: Wake up brain to watch the TiVo'd episode of Heroes. 8:47 pm: Brain releases endorphins. Now: Thankful to finally write on the blog instead of just checking it. Wondering if Brain has been powered down the whole time. Promise myself to check email less and work more, because I have to. Tomorrow: Realize that my "Now" me is much more idealistic with "Tomorrow" me's time than "Now" me's own. Promise to remedy that. Tomorrow