Saturday, May 30, 2009

Resurrecting the Radio Star

Pop Quiz!

What was the first video played on MTV when it debuted in the early 80's?

Answer: Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles.

The songs basic message is that once the world of the music video came about, there would be no more music superstars who succeeded based solely on their musical talent, but now the music world would be ruled by looks.

The song was sadly prophetic.

Since MTV began we haven't had musicians like Mama Cass who weren't lookers but sure could sing. Looks are manufactured in the surgeons office, and music is manipulated in post production. This isn't to say there are no musicians left. But there are no ugly or plain or overweight musicians left in pop culture.

Quiz Question 2

What is the most viewed video on the internet ever?

Answer: A radio star. Chances are you've seen her video linked to below, but in case you haven't take some time to get to know Susan Boyle, single forty something women from Scotland, never been kissed.

Susan's first performance

Now tell me, is that someone you'd expect to see on MTV. But one hundred million people have watched her original performance. Her voice is so preciously exquisite it cuts deep into your soul. When she sings, she forms an instant connection with the fortunate audience, from her vocal cords to there heart.

Think she is just a one hit wonder? Check out this audio of her from 1999.

That is the hottest voice I've ever heard. She'd turn Dumbledore on. She has the gift; she is the Scottish Siren; the voice that could launch a thousand ships.

Let Susan Boyle stand as a testament that talent can be divorced from looks; that diamonds can lay hidden in the rough, and if a forty year old spinster can achieve her dream so can you.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It is Good to be Here

I love the old Mormon temples. These stately structures, built over one hundred years ago in the valleys of Utah, followed by some uniquely impressive monuments in Alberta, Idaho and Arizona have enticed me since I was a lad. Growing up I yearned to explore every room, staircase and closet in old buildings. Each building held its own story. Each was a part of the craftsman that designed and built it. Never was this truer than with the old LDS temples.

The temples were even more powerful to me as a youth than the other old structures I explored with the thoroughness of Holmes, such as the Old Faithful Inn, or Blackfoot High School. I couldn’t gain access to the temples. I remember scanning every intricate detail on the exterior of the Salt Lake temple for seeming hours. Quizzing my dad on what the different symbols meant; my obsessive mind trying to extract clues as to what went on inside from the stars, suns, moons, constellations, and the All Seeing Eye.

I knew these buildings were more than just structures by the way they were treated. Everything about the temples was cloaked in reverence. The intonation when the word temple was spoken, the special suitcases taken inside, the recommend one must hold to gain access; these were no normal buildings.

As I grew old enough to gain access to these holy buildings I gained a deeper love for them. And my love expanded to all the temples built by the Latter-Day saints. The warm glow that the temples give off at night I found was a type and shadow to the peaceful assurance that could be gained in their walls. I realized that the carved railings in the spiral stair cases, or the huge murals on the walls, or the intricately constructed ornate rooms, were just man’s best effort to build a house worthy of the intricate plan our loving Father has given his children.

As I have grown, and entered many of these temples, both ornate and subdued, one prime thought comes to mind: “It is good to be here.”

These temples hold everything necessary to have a complete and rich life on this Earth and through the epochs and ages afterwards. As a young boy I would try every door when I had a chance to, heck I still do. I love the nooks, crannies and crevices. Sometimes I’ll find a door that has always been locked before. Behind the door could be a service closest or an entire new wing to explore. The knowledge gained in the temple is much the same way. You never know what spiritual door will be opened when you go to the temple. Sometimes it’ll be some morsel that helps you get through a particularly trying time in your life. Sometimes you’ll gain access to a new floor or tower that expands your knowledge immensely. Sometimes you’ll just go sit in you’re favorite corner with a view, relearning the same doctrines that have been so important to you in the past. There are so many different ways the temple helps us on our adventure back to God, but there is one thing I am sure of. They always help.

That’s why the thought “its good to be here” comes to my mind as I sit in the temple, whether by comfort, instruction, revelation, correction, exhortation, strengthening, or a litany of other ways the temple helps me. Every time. And I implore you to let it help you. If you don’t have the paper that lets you in, get one. Go to the temple, ornate or plain, and learn of the masterful plan our God has built for you. The spiritual journey of your life will become more intricate, complete and beautiful as you do.


Note: This isn't one of my best articles, but its the only one that was actually published thus far.


By: Jake Packer

For many teams, there is one game that is more important then any other. One game, which can make or break an entire season. If you go 1 and 8 but you win this game, you can look back on the season as a sort of success. On the other hand no season is complete without a victory in this game. The game is the one you play against your arch rivals

Rivalries are as important, if not more so, to the fans that attend. To a true athletic supporter they can be all encompassing. I still remember the traitor who dared to go on a date with a member from our rival. He was ridiculed, and disowned. When a rivalry is cross town it can be particularly strong. Even mature adults will bare a grudge when they run into a member from the “other school.”

East Idaho has some of the best, most heated rivalries in sports. Most games feel like a rivalry because you have been playing this teams in little league for years, but there strong rivalries that are there year after year, sometimes for generations, we call these arch rivals. Here are a few:

Black and Blue Bowl

Who: Pocatello Indians and Highland Rams

Where to Watch: Holt Arena, Pocatello

When: October 5

Classic cross town rivalry. With an attendance of about to 10,000, this game gets more fans then some of the college football games. Both Pocatello and Highland are traditional football powerhouses, and the games are always intense and fun to watch. Especially since Coach Harrison’s arrival at Pocatello. What makes this game great is the high level these teams play at. Pocatello is the 4A defending state champions, and Highland is coming of being the 5A runners-up.

Of coarse this rivalry extends to all sports. The following story comes from the book Nash and Zullo's Believe it or Else!!

"The all-female cheerleading and pep squads from Pocatello High decided to get even with a rival basketball team - by holding it's players hostage! In 1972, Pocatello's football team lost to cross-town rival Highland High. So the Pocatello cheerleaders sought revenge. Early one morning, soon after basketball season opened, all 16 Highland players received telephone calls inviting them to a surprise "come as you are breakfast" for city athletes. They were told to arrive at a local church within the hour. The site of the breakfast allayed any suspicions over the mysterious dawn phone calls. Obligingly, all 16 sleepy-eyed Highlanders showed up for the breakfast, which turned out to be a hoax. Once inside the basement, the 30 Pocatello High girls barred the doors and kept the players hostage while serenading them with Pocatello's school songs and cheers. The embarrassed cagers were finally released two hours later."

The Civil War

Who: Bonneville Bees and the Hillcrest Knights

Where to Watch: Thunder Stadium, Iona Idaho

When: September 7

The Civil War came about in 1992 when The Bonneville school district built their second high school, Hillcrest High. While this is one of the newer rivalries in East Idaho, it doesn't lessen its intensity. One of the great elements of this, and other rivalries is the shared football field these teams have. Both want to call it home but only the winning team gets to paint the goal posts in their team colors.

Blackfoot Broncos Vs. Snake River Panthers

In my house growing up there was no greater contest in all of sports then the annual Blackfoot vs Snake River football game. This game was the end all of game. Victory, we owned the town; a loss kept the family up all night rehashing the contest. This rivalry was so ingrained in my family that we developed an aversion to the color purple. I still remember the day my little brother came home from kindergarten in trouble for telling all his classmates to break their purple crayons. One of the only things I remember from art class is that green and purple are opposites. It just felt right.

The football game seemed to bring out half the county. The bleachers would fill up, and the standing spots along the fence would be several people deep. The game was a common bond that city and country folk shared. So many families had cousins living in the other school district it was always a source of pride for the team that won, even if they had no kin playing in the contest. In my day, for a kid growing up in Blackfoot beating Snake River, was just about all that mattered. The floats at the fair parade would have the final score on them, while the losing team would make promises to get them next time.

Sadly, for some never explained reason, the Blackfoot/Snake River game is no longer played. The kid who broke the purple crayons will never get to meet his rivals on Hartkopf Stadium or Harrison Field. But just because the game is gone, doesn't mean the rivalry is dead. All you have to do is go to a little league game, or a summer jamboree, to realize this rivalry will never die.

The Buck Bowl

Who: Blackfoot Broncos and Madison Bobcats

Where to Watch:Hartkopf Field, Blackfoot Idaho

When: August 31

This year the Buck Bowl is the season opener for Blackfoot. The Brothers Buck coach the two football teams, Stan for the Broncos, and Mitch, for the Bobcats, and that makes for great drama. The towns may be separated by sixty miles, but that doesn't stop large crowds from coming to the game and rooting for their team. Blackfoot won this year's game 35 to 14.

The Emotion Bowl

Who: Idaho Falls Tigers and Skyline Grizzlies


Where to Watch: Ravesten Stadium, Idaho Falls

When: October 12

The battle for supremacy of Idaho Falls has it all. A shared stadium, split school district, and multi-generational fans who have been there since the beginning. Aptly named, this game is all about emotion. It doesn’t matter the records of the teams going into the game, either team can win, and they do. In the last seven years, no game has been decided by more then 11 points, and while Skyline leads the series 24-17, in the last 30 years the record is virtually split. The game is so big ESPN has even covered it. With great support from the students, community, and administration, this is the standard for a great rivalry. If you are a fan of high school sports, you owe it to yourself to check this game out. (

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old Blue

Here's a little video I made about my old truck. Click on the full screen view for the best effect.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Grove

The old cottonwoods stood as patriarchs to the grove. Through their years they had reached a height almost unimaginable. Their trunks and branches stretched upward until they appeared to reach the sun. They gave a sense of permanence. The cottonwoods seemed to say, “I’ve seen a lot in my days, and I have survived. Things will be ok.” The old trees were the grove, without them the grove would not exist. Then the burning came.

The fire took what disease, windstorms, and harsh winters had been unable to scathe. It took the patriarchs, and with them it desired to take the grove. Its flames ravenously ate the thick bark that had stood through the floods of spring, the droughts of summer and the frigid bite of winter for years. Maybe their time had come, but the grove, it seemed, was forever changed.

Gone were the paths that lovebirds had meandered down. Gone were the forts of childhood. Gone was the campsite, where the generations of man had met, where the wisdom of the ages had been imparted. All that was left, was a charred landscape, still smoldering days later, whose blackness seemed to chase away the rays of the sun, on even the most pleasant of days. The bodies of the patriarchs still remained, stripped, and disfigured. The grotesque forms mocking the memories of the grove. So man left.

He left the grove, because of the pain. The pain of what was lost, seemingly never to return. He left because he couldn’t walk the paths. He couldn’t crawl through the tunnels of the briar patch and he couldn’t listen to his ancestors anymore, for they were gone, and to enter the grove meant to be covered with the darkness that enshrouded the grove. But the grove was not lost.

Later, in the silence of solitude, a miracle occurred. Feeding on the very darkness that had tried to destroy it, the grove began to return. From the ashes of the patriarchs came hope. It stared as a small green twig, pushing through the darkness. Soon thousands joined it. And, in time, the darkness was destroyed and replace with hope, as a new generation of cottonwoods began to grow, reaching for the sun. But the grove grew alone, for man was gone. And the grove waited.

Years later, man returned. To his joy, the grove was there, though it was not as tall as he remembered. The paths returned and man’s children made new forts, while man remembered the grove of yore. Lovebirds meandered through the grove, and the trees shaded them. The darkness was gone and the sun could bee seen all through the grove. Time passed and man built a campsite. For the grove had returned.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Two Poems

You were my worthy steed,

Bareing me on noble journey,
and valiant quest across our native land,
without complaint or hesitation.

When a knight looses his mount,
more is lost than mail, armor or even sword.
For the mount is not weapon, but comrade.

And while our common enemy
has ended your service for before mine,

I shall not forget you.

--Pennegree's Lament

Oh stead, You are gone,

taken from me by the unconcerned hand of fate,

never again shall I ride you to quests, mundane or epic,

I shall miss your faithfulness,

I shall miss your strength.

--The Cavalryman's Song

Monday, May 11, 2009

Last Game

Since 1985 he has coached his and other men's sons in the games of basketball and football. Last Saturday, May 9th 2009, his legacy ended.

You might think such an accomplishment would be heralded in newspapers, this man who has coached scores of young men, five of his own sons, and his only daughter; you might expect a video montage, a gift of a plaque or some other token marking the feat; at least you'd expect the announcer to mention the end of an era; but his journey ended the same way it happened, in the Auxiliary gymnasium of Minico High School, no announcer, just players family members as fans, a pair of local yokels officiating. No newspaper covered the event. As usual he recieved no salary for his work.

The game started poorly for the boys from Blackfoot. Worn out from 4 games in two days, the urgency wasn't there. The star player, his son, was out with an injury leaving him with only six players against an opposing team with ten. A call was made, and a younger player from another team came to bring it up to seven.

The team was comatose on the court. It appeared no amount of cajoling would ignite the fire. Would it end this way; in an ugly blowout? Would the coach who preached hustle, rebounding, defense, and leaving it all on the court, end his tenure unable to coax one more game out of these young men?

Down ten points in the first half he pulled his best two players who were the most unresponsive. Put in the end of the bench and left them in. He called "black" their full court press daring the players to fight. He spoke as a coach of experience, drawing out strength from places his team didn't know existed. And they fought back.

The fans, who until this point had been considering getting an early start on the trip home, woke up, and called encouragement to the team. The whole atmosphere changed on both ends. No longer what this just one more game to get through before heading home, no this was a contest of the wills. The younger inexperienced players didn't know not to try, they dove on the floor, they stole passes, they snatched rebounds they shouldn't have gotten, the the tide started to change. As they tied the game up, the entire gym knew: this was basketball they way it was meant to be played. The venue didn't matter, they players' skill level didn't matter, each player on the court was a convert to Coach's religion of Hustle. Each fan riveted as wills clashed in an struggle for supremacy. The opposing team was also converted and it was a battle.

Two halves weren't enough to decide the clash and so an overtime was played. Eventually the older players caught the vision and were allowed to play. Coach paced the sidelines, making adjustments, funneling years of experience into the players, making adjustments, giving encouragement. He was in his element. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master at something and coach had put that in several times over.

Down five points in overtime things didn't look good, suddenly a player hit a clutch three, tieing the game with mere seconds left. A second overtime was called for.

Overtimes are a thing of passion; a contest of the wills; playing chicken with fatigue. Who will break first? Who will listen to the lungs screaming for air, their legs begging for rest, their mind's desire to unfocus?

Or who will listen to their heart, yearning to win? The teams have proven they are evenly matched, and now it comes down to who wants it the most. Our Coach's team did. They jumped out to a five point lead and never looked back. The other team fought, but with less desire, less precision.

Coach stood, victor one last time. Fate had blessed him with a fitting send off, a contest of method and motivation. You have to wonder if he felt as Captain Kirk did as he died alone, on a strange alien world, his final utterance, "it was fun."

And so what of a memorial to this unassuming shaper of boys. This man who has donated mornings, weekends, and vacations, to help his sons, and those of other men, achieve something. To instill in them more than just proper post technique; to instill in them a passion for challenges and for life. Perhaps the most fitting tribute is what he already has, for it was never about personal glory, the gyms he coached in never even had reporters, but when those young men meet him after years have passed, they still honor him with that title that he has earned so well. That title that symbolizes his unselfish dedication to helping these boys realize their potential. When he meets those he has taught, broken down and built back up, the still call him "Coach." And that might be memorial enough.

As Coach left the gym that Saturday afternoon, he forgot his clipboard. It sits on a bench, in Minico, waiting for someone else to take the mantle.