Sunday, March 25, 2012

#52: Salt Lake City Creek Center.

This week was the grand opening of the brand spankin' new "City Creek Center" shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City. City Creek Center was a $2 billion dollar project built and funded by the Church's for-profit development entity City Creek Reserve, Inc (no tithing money was used to fund the project). Presidents Monson, Eyring, and Uchtdorf participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday morning. The mall is located directly south of Temple Square, and I imagine it will be packed next week during General Conference.
Some of the great views of City Creek Center.
Image from Taubman.com.
Check out the size of that ribbon!
Image from LDS Church News.
Sunny day for a grand opening!
Image from LDS Church News.
President Monson greets visitors at the grand opening.
Image from LDS Church News
Although we didn't get to attend the mall's grand opening on Thursday morning, Diane and I did check out City Creek Center on Friday night, and I thought the mall was really fantastic. It has a giant retractable roof that is left open when the weather is nice, tasty restaurants (we went to Cheesecake Factory), some high-end stores like Tiffany's (reminds me of a song about breakfast), some mid-end stores like Foot Locker and the Disney Store (although, sadly, no Star Wars Store), live music, a water fountain show (similar to something you would see at the Bellagio in Las Vegas), and a beautiful man-made creek running down the center of the mall underneath the open walkway.
 This cute little girl had some fun in one of the fountains.
Mmmmm, Cheesecake Factory. I was in the mood for breakfast, so I got an omelet with hash browns.
Of course, I also ordered a delicious Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake for dessert.
This lady was dressed up as a giant plant.
It made me grateful for my day job.
A couple of other great things about the mall is the fact that it is closed on Sundays and that there is no Victoria's Secret or any other kind of store with advertisements of scantily clad women. The mall had a great family-friendly feel to it, and I am grateful that the Church upholds its standards even in the for-profit realm. Next time you are in downtown Salt Lake City, make sure to come check out the new City Creek Center!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

#51: My 6'7 "little" brother, Matt.

As you may know, I love basketball. I love to watch it (Go Jazz!), I love to play it (although I am terrible), and I especially love to cheer on my 6'7 younger brother, Matt.
This is what Matt looked like BEFORE he was 6'7.
This is what Matt looks like now that he is 6'7.
Matt is currently a senior at West Jordan High School. During the last two years, he played for both the Sophomore and Junior Varsity teams, but he was cut from the Varsity team this year (unfortunately, Matt played backup to the Deseret News' 2012 "Mr. Basketball", Jordan Loveridge). It was a pretty devastating experience for Matt to not make the Varsity team, especially after he had worked so hard over the summer to improve his skills. 

However, even after getting cut from the team, Matt did not give up. He continued to work on his game. He also met former college coach John Scott ("The Basketball Doctor"), who believed in Matt's potential. With the help of coach Scott, Matt prepared a video demo of his basketball skills (see video below), which was sent out to college coaches and recruiters across the United States. Since that time, Matt had been contacted by 30 different college coaches about having him come play for their teams! Needless to say, I am extremely proud of my little bro.

But there is something else that makes me even more proud of Matt. He has told the coaches who call him that he will not be able to play college basketball until after he goes on a two-year mission for his church. This may turn some of them away, but he knows it is the right thing to do. I really admire my little brother and his willingness to put the Lord first in His life. I may not be able to beat him at basketball anymore (or for the past six years, for that matter), but I sure do love him. Congratulations and good luck, little bro!

video

Sunday, March 11, 2012

#50: Mormonism 101.

A couple of days ago, the Church released a fantastic article titled Mormonism 101. I loved the article, because it came at a perfect time in response to the "Mormon Moment" with Mitt Romney's presidential run, the recent spotlight on baptisms for the dead, and the "Book of Mormon Musical" from last year.

As mentioned in the article, "As an institution, the Church has the responsibility to publicly and clearly articulate its official teachings. In turn, reporters can help inform the public by accurately reporting on these doctrines. But in doing so journalists should be aware of some common pitfalls. For instance, reporters pressed for time tend to take peripheral aspects of the faith and place them front and center as if they were vital tenets of belief.... Unfortunately, as many members attest, this kind of journalism paints a distorted picture of the Church and continues to confuse the public."

The article discusses some of the Church's core beliefs, answers 19 "frequently asked questions", and presents a great infographic that visually presents these beliefs (which would actually make for a sweet poster or even a T-shirt!). Rock on!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

#49: DreamGiver and the Rabid Milkman.

I would like to introduce you to my best friend since 4th grade, Aaron Roy Ludwig. Aaron is one of the funniest people I know (right up there with my dad and Bill Cosby...okay, I don't really know Bill Cosby). Aaron designed the logo for Mormon Wookiee, and he is actually the reason I started to like Star Wars back in 5th Grade. If it weren't for Aaron, my blog might have been called "Mormon CPA" instead (booooooooring!!!)
A picture of Aaron and I when we competed in the Mr. Universe competition.
In elementary school, Aaron and I used to draw our own made-up comic books together, such as "The Incredible Hairballs", "The Super Seven" (with awesome characters like Gyro Josh, Lightning Layne, Electro Brandon, and Vinnie), and "The Neighbors From Across the Street". Whereas I became an accountant, Aaron continued to improve his drawing talents, and he is currently in his last semester as an animation major at BYU. You can see some of his work at his blog The Rabid Milkman. Last year, Aaron was a key part of the animation team that won two "Student Emmys" for the animated short film "DreamGiver", directed by Tyler Carter. Since its debut, DreamGiver has won a number of additional awards and has been featured at the Cannes Film Festival, Comic Con (a.k.a. Nerd Paradise), and the Adobe Design Competition. I am extremely proud of Aaron and his work on the film.
The DreamGiver Team. Aaron is second to the left (with a little less hair than the picture above, but with even more manly muscles).
Mixing both 3D and 2D animation, DreamGiver tells the story of a winged, bald fairy who gives dreams to sleeping children. When he accidentally turns one dream into a nightmare, the story follows his efforts to fix his mistakes.

Oh, and as Aaron likes to say, "Yes, the DreamGiver looks like me. And no, that wasn't intentional". Enjoy!