Best of New Play Project

When I heard that New Play Project was putting on a Best of New Play Project show, I got all giddy inside. I love New Play Project. I started out as an audience member but pretty quickly got involved with writing plays (I’ve had six produced through NPP), directing them, and putting on shows (running auditions, making posters, typesetting scripts, running box office, etc.). I haven’t done anything with NPP in over a year now, but man, I look back on those days with fondness. Those were good times. Incidentally, my experience with New Play Project was a strong impetus behind my starting Mormon Artist, which is how I met Meridith, so I have to give indirect credit to NPP for getting me hitched.

Mer and I just got back from tonight’s performance and mmm, it was good. Yes, I’m biased — I was there when all of these were first produced by NPP, and all of the playwrights are my friends — but really, these are some great short religious plays. If you’re in the Provo area, go see the show. And if you want to know more about New Play Project, we featured them in Issue 1 of Mormon Artist.

The plays

“Adam & Eve,” by Davey Morrison Dillard. Funny and touching. And now that I’m married, it makes even more sense. We awarded it first place in our Mormon Artist Young Writers Contest last year.

“Foxgloves,” by Matthew Greene. Honest opinion: it’s not my favorite, but now that I’ve seen it six or seven times, it’s opening up to me and I’m starting to like it more. I don’t think it’s a bad play — I think it’s just not one of those kinds of plays that I immediately like.

“Gaia,” by Eric Samuelsen. I like this one more every time I see it. Lots of thought-provoking material along with a disturbingly convincing Lucifer, which is exactly how it should be. (For the people who might get uncomfortable with parts of the play: it’s a story, not a statement on doctrine. Nor is it trying to be.) (Is that controversial enough to get you to go see it? I hope so.)

“A Burning in the Bosom,” by Melissa Leilani Larson. Like “Gaia,” it grows on me every time I see it. It’s an honest and compelling and real portrayal of seeking after confirmations from the Spirit. And did I mention that it’s funny?

“Prodigal Son,” by James Goldberg. Love love love it. I’m even more biased with this one, since I assistant directed it the first time we produced it and sort of became the Thailand consultant for the mission parts, but bias aside, it’s a very, very good play. It won a well-deserved AML award back in 2008. And I wish I’d written it. (Which holds true for most of these other plays, actually.)

NYT mention

Google Alerts sent me an email today saying that the New York Times linked to my magazine, Mormon Artist. Here’s what they said:

Plenty of the MagCloud efforts are vanity projects or high-end brochures, but many others are surprisingly interesting, gorgeous, niche magazines — Mormon Artist, San Louie, Stranded, to name a few — that would not look out of place at Barnes & Noble.

Somebody pinch me. (I should add that this is our second mention in the NYT — the first was in March 2009 — and TIME also mentioned us just over a year ago.)

Quitting the cult of busy

First, go read Scott Berkun’s The Cult of Busy. It’s good.

Being busy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I, for one, spent many years subscribing to the (false) philosophy that busier = better. And I’ve spent the last couple years unlearning that lie.

One of my favorite lines in scripture is from 2 Nephi 9:51, where Jacob is paraphrasing Isaiah. Here’s the first sentence:

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.

Translation of that last phrase: Don’t waste your time doing stuff that doesn’t matter. Say no to the trivial and unimportant things that try to clog your life. Say no to the not-so-trivial things that sound good but aren’t as central to your goals. (Those are the hardest.) If you want to live a good life, you really, really, really have to learn how to say no and say it often. Live simpler.

It’s not just saying no, though. You have to say yes to the things that do matter. For me, that means spending time with my wife (and, come March, with our baby). It means leaving blocks of empty time in my schedule to think and ponder and meditate. It means going on walks and enjoying nature. It means being creative and reading and learning new things. It means making books. It means serving in my calling at church and generally trying to make the world a better place.

What it doesn’t mean (again, this is for me): taking on lots of external projects, especially big ones. It also doesn’t mean spending hours surfing the web or playing Angry Birds on my iPhone or watching back-to-back TV episodes courtesy of Netflix or Hulu. They’re all very addicting (at least for me) and my time is too precious to waste on things that leave me feeling yucky and dry. I’d rather spend my life doing things that make me feel good (visiting family or reading or doing family history or learning German or what have you).

There’s no award in heaven for having the busiest schedule. Pull back, do less, and spend more time on the things that really matter. Then life is awesome.

Javascript entity conversion

For future reference: if you’re using Javascript and want to convert a decimal entity in HTML (“Đ”, for example) to the Unicode character it represents (“Đ”), this works:

// converts "fiancé" to "fiancé", etc.

newstr = oldstr.replace(/&#([0-9]*);/,
            function(full, charcode) {
                return String.fromCharCode(charcode);
            });

The full parameter is ignored; we want the second one, charcode, which is the first backreferenced match in the regex (the character code).

Yesterday, but clearer

Yesterday’s post was a bit on the obscure side, as we found out the hard way when not even our family members knew what we were talking about (and they already knew!). Here, then, is the translation:

We’re pregnant, due March 17. :)