25 used to seem like an adult age. Years ago I made one protagonist in my novel 25 and the other 26 because those seemed like respectable adult ages. Now I understand that adulthood doesn't start until 30. And then, assuming you live a respectably long life without any serious accidents, you get about five years of being in your prime before your body starts deteriorating over the next several decades. If you live to be ninety you spend the vast majority of your life in decline. That's really messed up. If I were in charge, you would stay "young" until you were about seventy and only start deteriorating then. That seems like a far more reasonable ratio to me. Anyway, that's why I have no particular desire to live past my early forties, and considering my eating habits and the unconscionable amount of stress my heart has been through, I probably won't. But today I'm still alive and I'm 25.
I don't mean to be dark, I just have no fear of death and think of my mortality all the time, especially as every year goes by faster than the previous one. I obsess over the passage of time almost every day. I'm in a permanent state of midlife crisis, except it's not usually a crisis so much as it just blows my mind every time I think about it. Although most of my goals remain out of reach I'm happy with where I'm at right now and patient enough to wait for the rest if it ever comes, and I could blather on about that and be pretentious but I don't feel like it. Happy birthday to me. I mean, it's over now, but it was happy.
Real Fake News from This Week
Trump Calls for American Domination of Space with Creation of a "Space Force" Military Branch; Martians and Venusians Panic
Trump Signs Executive Order Ending Forced Separation of Undocumented Families; Thousands of His Supporters Continue Posting on Social Media that They Think Forced Separation of Undocumented Families is Okay
White Americans who Gained US Citizenship by Being Born Self-Righteously Assert that Undocumented Immigrants Should Gain US Citizenship "the Right Way" by Enduring Who Knows How Many Years of Red Tape Before They Can Seek Better Lives for Their Families (This one is a little wordy. Try to condense it a bit. - ed.)
Canada Becomes Second Nation in the World to Legalize Recreational Marijuana; Winnipeg Native Tal Bachmann Celebrates by Re-recording His One-Hit Wonder "She's So High" with New Lyrics
"The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia" Published in English; Local Blogger and Legend of Zelda Fan Experiences Strange Combination of Covetousness and Lust
The Best Birthday Song Ever
Yes, even better than Weird Al's. Forgive me for saying that, Weird Al.
Many years ago, on one of our three working television channels, I saw a rerun of some show featuring the lead voice actor from "The Emperor's New Groove" and a special guest star. Just recently I looked it up again, thanks to the guest star having a list on their website of everything they've ever appeared in. I discovered that the show in question is called "Just Shoot Me", a title I had never heard of, and that it actually featured two voice actors from "The Emperor's New Groove". Anyway, I don't know that I'll bother watching any other episodes but I think this one is brilliant. If you wish, skip to 3:13 to get to the good part and miss the inappropriate jokes, and stick around to the end.
Recorded for posterity more so than the people of today who already know this stuff.
Trigger warning: suicide
As much as I want to, I don't like recent Star Wars addition Rose Tico. I know I'm far from alone in that sentiment. In theory, the concept of a character who's not this glamorous action hero but just a regular mook who fangirls over her celebrity crush and then gets sucked into the action alongside him is a great one, but mostly I don't like her because I'm pissed at her for [spoiler alert that shouldn't be necessary because if you haven't seen "The Last Jedi" by now that's your own problem] stopping Finn from making a heroic sacrifice and telling him they'll win "not by destroying what we hate - but by saving what we love." Um, what? a.) Saving what he loves is literally exactly what you just stopped him from doing. b.) 99.9% of wars on Earth and, I presume, in a galaxy far, far away, have been and are and always will be won by killing the other side until they give up. So she's annoying that way.
But I have nothing against her actress Kelly Mary Tran, and even if I did, I would have been disgusted to learn that sexist and racist trolls have driven her to delete all her Instagram posts and leave the status "Afraid, but doing it anyway." Of course, it's not as if she's the first Star Wars actor to be severely harassed - young white male Jake Lloyd was bullied so severely that he quit acting, destroyed all his Star Wars memorabilia, and became mentally ill - but the bigotry in this case adds a particularly vile dimension. But what can we expect in an era when self-proclaimed Nazis fearlessly march in American streets without being shot? Disgusting people are no longer afraid to show the world how disgusting they are, because the most powerful man in the world has shown them that disgusting words and behavior carry no meaningful consequences. It's not going to get better anytime soon.
The Miss America pageant is doing away with its swimsuit and evening gown competitions. I have no stake in the matter, since the only beauty pageants I've ever seen are "Miss Congeniality" and "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous", but I do idly wonder, not for the first time, why we consider it less shallow to judge someone for their mind than their appearance. People don't choose how smart they are any more than they choose what they look like, do they? In either case, they're born with something and then they can augment it to some limited extent. If anything, people have more control over their looks because plastic surgery is a thing while brain boosting isn't. These are the things I speculate about instead of sleeping.
The Supreme Court made a rather vague ruling in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony on religious grounds, finding that Colorado failed to respect his religious rights, while not clarifying how similar situations should be decided. As unpopular as it is, I agree with this ruling because the Constitution protects religious freedom and does not protect getting a wedding cake from whichever business you want. Whether you consider someone's beliefs to be bigoted or invalid is entirely irrelevant. I believe that generally if you have a problem with a business's practices, unless they include putting human flesh on pizza or something like that, you should just exercise your right to not patronize that business rather than whining to the government to make it do what you want. Of course there are nuances and exceptions and a need for compromise and yadda yadda yadda, and the Court conveniently didn't bother to outline any of those in any sort of detail at this time.
A couple more celebrities died by suicide this week, giving thousands of Americans the opportunity to glean their coveted likes and retweets by pretending to suddenly care about depression and mental health. Most of them have responded with deafening silence to the 123-ish less important people who've been dying by suicide every day, but progress is progress, I suppose. I don't mean to be dismissive of Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain, but I don't know why we need them as wake-up calls for a problem that is not new. It's just too bad that this administration has cut hundreds of millions of dollars of mental health funding and has perpetuated the stigma against mental illness by trying to pretend it's responsible for the United States' exclusive mass shooting problem. It seems like these are exactly the wrong things to do and say in an era when suicide rates are skyrocketing, but nobody asked me.
I think I know why suicide rates are skyrocketing. I think it's because we've created an incredibly shallow, fake, moronic, greedy, self-absorbed, polarized, annoying, unnecessarily and gratuitously stressful society and people, even celebrities who are supposed to be happy because they have lots of money, don't want to be in it anymore. I sure as hell don't. Sometimes the only reason I put up with it is that a new Star Wars movie is coming out every year. Maybe our society could grow up and stop being crappy and see if that helps. But I won't hold my breath. To end on a more pleasant note, here's a soothing song I've listened to a lot this year.
If someone had told me three years ago that I would one day be in church talking to a liberal and agreeing with everything she said, I would have laughed. But it happened. I may have inadvertently misled her to think that I'm a liberal too. Whether she would classify as one surely depends on how liberal she is herself. We had this discussion in whispers in the family history room, where I followed her with permission and vowed to talk to her so she couldn't get anything done, and I don't know if anyone was eavesdropping but I hope so because I felt so rebellious and edgy saying these things in Utah. It was well-deserved revenge for every time someone who thinks the Republican Party platform is scripture has inserted their political views into a sacrament meeting talk or Sunday School lesson. There are still people who think you can't be a liberal and a good Mormon, and talking to those people makes me want to tear my own face off.
She's a middle school science teacher, which obviously can get interesting in a state dominated by a political party that openly mocks science and makes the United States a laughingstock. She's often frustrated by students who assert that climate change is a lie, because they think their parents without college educations are more reliable sources on science than actual scientists or science teachers, because reasons. Of course I brought up evolution, my pet topic. She said evolution is beyond the scope of her class but she would teach it if she could. But that would only bring her additional headaches. As far as I'm aware, there are still some parents and politicians in Utah wanting to get "intelligent design" taught in schools. And both climate change and evolution, facts and theories about the way the world is, have been made political issues because reasons.
Recently she went to New Zealand and met a group of children about the same age as her students. She told them she's a teacher in the US. Naturally, the first thing they asked was if she's scared of getting shot. This is how other countries see the United States now. Not as the land of the free or the home of the brave, but as the country that refuses to do anything about its children being slaughtered. Of course, our humiliating reputation is hardly deserved, because our violence problem has nothing to do with guns. It's all because of mental illness, violent video games, and atheism, which don't exist in New Zealand or every other civilized country that doesn't have mass shootings on a regular basis. Right. There's a special place in hell for the people in our society and our government who are deliberately blocking any and all potential solutions to our unique and thoroughly unnecessary problem. She didn't say, but I imagine the next thing the kids wanted to know was why the United States spends hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars a year on its education system and still has one of the worst education systems in the world.
When I was a conservative, the websites and books I frequented literally treated the United States as above criticism. If some celebrity like Bruce Springsteen criticized some aspect of American society, internet pundits jumped on him with ad hominem attacks about how his singing sounds horrible anyway. I wonder if he ever read those comments. If he did, I'm sure he thought something to the effect of "You don't like my singing? I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of all the money I made from it." But now, I realize that patriotism doesn't mean ignoring your country's problems or pretending that it's de facto the greatest country in the world because we said so. It's not the most free, smartest, safest, wealthiest, healthiest, or happiest country in the world, so I'm not aware of any objective measure that would make it the "greatest". And what's with "America the Beautiful" claiming that American cities are "undimmed by human tears"? Is it seriously making the audacious claim that American cities are free of suffering - in which case Katherine Lee Bates makes Trump look like Honest Abe - or just admitting that most people don't give a crap about it?
On a tangent, it's been bothering me lately that conservatives as a whole, not speaking of individuals, are either more gullible or more dishonest than liberals as a whole, because their obsession with garbage chain emails and memes is sickening. Why am I still seeing easily-disproven lies about Obama being born in Kenya and Bill Clinton assassinating interns? Trump regularly spouts audacious lies in his speeches and no matter how many times he gets called out on it, his followers don't care and he suffers no consequences whatsoever. Post-truth indeed.
The teacher leaned in and lowered her voice even further and whisper-shouted, "I just can't stand Trump!" In that moment I felt like
We enthusiasically listed off a few reasons we both can't stand Trump. Lesser of two evils is one thing, and spineless enough in my opinion, but it makes me sick watching people try to pretend that Trump is this dignified, sophisticated, righteous politician endorsed by God and deserving our full respect and support. From a certain angle and with the right lighting, I could maybe pretend he kind of looks like a president when he's not making words with his mouth or his Twitter account. He's vulgar, moronic, immature, bigoted, inexperienced, dishonest, arrogant, horny, and a disgrace to this country, his party, and the human race. But yeah, let's pretend people hate him because of fake news. I didn't ask if she voted for Hillary. I can't stand Hillary either and voted third party. But she said both sides are corrupt and vile, so she had that going for her. I'm planning to criticize liberals in the near future. I would do it more often if they were running the government. All I'll say right now is that despite the GOP's repeated failures to get rid of Obamacare like they promised, I am grateful to them for getting rid of the stupid individual mandate.
In less political news, I went to an activity that got canceled because it was Memorial Day and five people showed up, and I persuaded someone to take me home and let me watch a movie with her. She said she's lived alone for four years and I became insanely jealous. I've lived alone for about five months at one time and a year at another, and it was exquisite. I am currently blessed with quiet easy-going roommates and I like them just fine except for the fact that they're humans and I don't want to live with humans. What can you do? Anyway, she said I could pick the movie and when I saw that she had the 1997 animated "Anastasia", it was a no-brainer.
Eighteen years or so ago, my sister borrowed a tape of "Anastasia" from the neighbors and watched it so often that I said she would wear it out and they said that was okay. I liked it all right myself. Anastasia was one of my cartoon crushes, along with Ariel, Ariel's lesser-known daughter Melody, Officer Jenny, Nurse Joy, and Colleen from the 1945 cartoon "Duck Pimples". And I thought her line "A dog wants me to go to St. Petersburg" was comic gold. So I should have had the whole thing memorized, but only a few lines and the basic plot remained with me over the years. Then my mom got the soundtrack for Christmas one year and I listened to that and it brought back a few more memories but I remembered little of the context of the songs. Watching the movie now was familiar and completely new at the same time. I remembered some other lines and scenes as I heard them, while others I didn't at all. (How did I forget the part where pieces of Rasputin's face fall off while he's talking? I thought the song line about "a corpse falling to bits" was metaphorical.) I understood now the political background that went completely over my head as a child.
I realized that this movie would totally be PG-13 if it were live-action. And it would be awesome. I want it to happen, except with a few more explanatory scenes, especially at the beginning. This movie that plays fast and loose with history could have helped its own cause with some actual historical facts, like by including more backstory on Rasputin. We never see him in the movie when he's "good", so his betrayal and motivation for revenge have very little impact. In real life, he was loved and trusted by the royal family and had such a close relationship with all the little girls, including Anastasia, that some other employees thought it was creepy and got fired for saying so. If we saw him showering young Anastasia with affection at the beginning of the movie, him trying to kill her as an adult would resonate a lot more. But that's just my opinion. And also, why did Dimitri and Anastasia fall in love besides the fact that he's a man and she's a woman and it's a movie? What did they have in common? What did they see in each other? He claimed to hate it when women speak their minds.
In real life, of course, Anastasia was shot by the revolutionaries in 1918 along with the rest of her immediate family. And that's why movies and other forms of entertainment exist. Because the real world sucks.
Jonathan Young - In the Dark of the Night
A metal cover of one of the songs from the movie that I stumbled upon.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.