For reasons unclear to me, ISIS has threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who calls them "Daesh". I've about had it up to my eyeballs with Daesh. My initial reaction on hearing about yet another terrorist attack - the latest being in a soccer stadium in Baghdad - is "Holy crap, give it a rest already." I am tired of the spineless, murdering scumsuckers of Daesh committing their spineless, scumsucking murders with virtual impunity. In the recent past I referred to Daesh as a filth-borne disease, but really, that's unfair to diseases, which have no minds and are only doing what they've evolved to do. What excuse does Daesh have, other than having chosen to be monsters? Daesh, collectively, is the lowest form of life on planet Earth. I have decided this week that if God were to grant me any one desire of my soul, it would be to wipe Daesh into oblivion. But that won't happen, because part of the purpose in life is that scumsuckers like Daesh get to make their choices and create opposition for actual humans. Daesh Daesh Daesh Daesh Daesh.
Last Monday I found myself faced with a dilemma - should I go to the stake dance which would probably be, not to put too fine a point on it, lame, or to the showing of a movie that was kind of decent but kind of mediocre? The former was the scheduled home evening activity, the latter held on campus in the HPER pool and billed as a "Flick N' Float" (they should have just called it a "Dive-in Movie"). The former would possibly be attended by people I knew and cared about, the latter would more likely be a bunch of strangers. The former would probably just have cookies or something, the latter was guaranteed to have pizza. But then I remembered that I don't like the Marketplace's pizza. So the dance it was. That was the right decision because they had not only cookies but also cheese puff balls. A banner on one wall said "March Madness" so that you would know it was supposed to be March Madness themed. Apparently that's some sports term or something, but it only makes me think of hares in heat.
Then Debbie showed up, so I knew as long as I stayed near her it wouldn't be lame after all. At one point an old person with a camera gestured for her and her friends to pose for a picture, and I wasn't sure if I was included in that or if it was a ladies only thing, so I hesitated a bit before jumping in and trying to look somewhat human. Left to right: Me, Debbie, one of Debbie's friends, one of Debbie's other friends.
Me: May I post it on my blog if I blur your faces?
Debbie: Don't blur our faces unless you can't stand the sight of them, haha, then do what you must. *wink*
Me: I like your face a lot.
I talked to a girl who was sitting in the corner by herself because she had just moved here from Texas and didn't know anybody. She didn't have a Texas accent so I said, "You don't have a Texas accent" and she said "That's because I'm from the city." Then later on she said "You don't have a New York accent" and I was like "Oh" and she said "That was a counterattack" and I was like "Oh" and she said "Because you said I don't have a Texas accent" and I was like "Oh." Then a slow song came on so I asked her to dance, and she said "I haven't danced in five years" and I said "You haven't been to a dance or anything in five years?" and she said "No, I'm antisocial" and that was so attractive. But she sure seemed pretty determined to lead. "Dancing is kind of like creative writing," she said. "You're writing your story." What the heck does that mean? Then she had to go, and I was super confident and I asked for her number and she gave me one, and I Googled it to make sure it wasn't a rejection hotline and ended up at a classified ad she had taken out recently so I knew it was actually legit. I was hoping we would become really good friends so that I could play with the dog she mentioned having. But then I texted her the next day and she never responded. Insert flippant remark to pretend that didn't hurt at all.
The next day the caucuses to one or the other of which all Mormons in Utah have been exhorted to go were held. Running slightly late, I was at the crosswalk when a girl rode up on her scooter and asked if I knew how to get there. I said yes and when my directions confused her I asked if she just wanted to follow me and she said sure. I had been heading for the transit center to take the bus, but because she had slowed me down we missed the buses, and that was just fine with me because it was in that direction anyway. We talked on the way there and then we were split up because we lived in different precincts but I asked if she wanted to meet up again afterward and she said sure. Then I went and waited in line for an hour to go to a twenty-minute meeting in an obscenely hot and crowded classroom. We met up afterward and before we could really start talking again someone else came along and offered her a ride, and she accepted it because "I'm wary about the dark", which was obviously a polite way of saying "I'm concerned about getting raped", which is obviously legit albeit tragic. I got a number from her too, though I don't know whether this one was accurate, but in either case I never got a response from that one either. Insert flippant remark to pretend that didn't hurt at all.
I've never understood why unwarranted confidence is considered a virtue. If I had never tried, I would have had a much happier week. But perhaps I can help others. 22 year old Muslim police officer and Computer Science bachelors' student from Pakistan seeks American wife to facilitate his immigration to the United States. If interested, please contact him via Facebook. This is not a joke.
I don't like being in a class called "Literary Analysis" because it makes me feel pretentious, as in, "Oh yes, I am just on my way to Literary Analysis, which is where literary analysts such as myself go to analyze literature." I just want to enjoy stories and poems. I couldn't care less if the giant insect biting down on the key represents his masculinity. Well, I'm being forced to be extremely pretentious by a very strange assignment we're doing now. Using Amanda Holzer's "Love and Other Catastrophes - A Mix Tape" as an archetype, we each had to rewrite Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis as a playlist and then write an essay about the playlist, referring to ourselves, as the authors, in third person. And then bring it to the writing center for feedback so total strangers can see how pretentious we are.
Recently someone asked, "How do you come up with character names?" Even though none of you asked, meaning that you presumably don't care, I decided to share my answer here so that all aspiring writers can benefit from it. And the answer is... I just think. I have no special process. Sorry. Many of the names I come up with are alien names, so I just make up stuff that sounds alien to me. Sometimes I toy with something a little to make it sound better. One time I named a character "Hamsor" after Homsar from Homestar Runner. Once in a while, as I'm lying in bed - I say "in bed" even though I sleep on the couch every night by choice - a name pops into my mind unbidden and I have to get up and write it down because I won't remember it in the morning. That's how I got "Deeth Gorseeta", which I think sounds cool, and if you disagree you can just keep your negativity to yourself. But there's no special process.
Picking people names is about the same thing other than the obvious fact that I don't make them up altogether. It's important to make sure that none of the major characters have similar names that could be confusing. It's often best if none of them even start with the same letter. The only time that creating a character name really involved a drawn-out process was for my major protagonist in Space Girls (working title), Jane Padgett. I knew I wanted to use the name Jane because it's so simple yet lovely, but I wasn't sure what last name I wanted to go with it. This was back in high school and literally what I did was look at the other students - not just my classmates, but all the students, since it was such a small school that everyone knew virtually everyone else's name - throughout the day and test out their last names with it. I ended up using one of my sister's best friend's last names. She still doesn't know. The name of her partner, Lillis Hawker, was just lifted wholesale from a passing acquaintance. She still doesn't know unless she happens to have read the letter I wrote her and never sent.
Recently a friend vented at me about her father being a misogynistic cretin and finished, "I figured I could vent at you since you're kind of a feminist." I instinctively bristled at that because I don't like having labels attached to me and there are a lot of prominent self-proclaimed feminists that I would be embarrassed to be associated with. I suppose it was meant as a compliment, but if so, I don't know that I deserve it. I don't seem passionate enough to wear that label. Here's me talking to a "real" feminist...
I am acutely aware that women are capable of cruelty and evil. Nonetheless, when was the last time one of them started a war or a genocide? I suppose that's because they've been oppressed and not had many leadership opportunities throughout history, but once they get a chance they'll start wars and genocides just as well as men. I suppose I shouldn't be flippant about this but I'm not really joking. And I could have explained the anti-sexiness thing better if I hadn't been in a rush to respond so she didn't think I was hesitant.
I couldn't go into more detail about what they look like and why because you're not supposed to immediately know, when reading the book, which of them are the villains in the first place, and also because in one case it would spoil a later subplot.
See, I'm not particularly good at being a feminist. But I like female villains a lot. I think that "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", for all its flaws, has the second best villain of all the movies, and not because of the "sexy" angle but because she has class and cunning and sword-fighting skills and creepy mental powers that are criminally underdeveloped in the film but fleshed out in the novelization. The only better Indiana Jones villain in my opinion is René Belloq, and he's French, so yeah. And yes, I reactivated my Facebook profile for a while but that was just so I could get the picture with me and Debbie and the others, because I knew you would like it. You're welcome.
Just one of the major problems with creationist logic is their unfounded belief that if they point out a fatal flaw in the evidence for evolution, then that evidence will all magically disappear and creationism will take evolution's place with no questions asked. So, for example, they like to point out gaps in the fossil record and conveniently ignore the fact that according to their worldview, there shouldn't even be a fossil record. The more I see it the less patience I have with it and the less respect I have for them.
The Mormon Section
Elder Mason Wells, injured in the Brussels bombing by Daesh, has now reached exponentially more people on his mission than he could have dreamed of.
I, like everyone else, am grateful that the missionaries survived the Brussels bombing by Daesh. I am grateful that the Church monitors their condition and reports it to the world to show that it cares about its missionaries. And I have shared some articles about them that the mainstream news picked up because everyone loves this story. But I hope everyone remembers that they are no more important than any of the other victims, living or dead or deprived. If you're going to pray for them then I think you should pray for all the victims.
The Russian Orthodox Church makes a big deal about Easter, and I wish that Russians had been among the converts immigrating to Utah in the nineteenth century so that we - referring both to Mormons and Americans in general - would too. If we treated Easter the way we treat Christmas, there would have been all kinds of decorations and carols and excitement leading up to this day. I didn't even know Easter was this weekend until last week, and while that is my own responsibility to keep track of, I never could have similarly forgotten about Christmas. Easter feels like almost an afterthought around here, and that's a shame. I suppose it's because we don't get as many or as big presents.
Rebecca St. James - Hope's Song
I was going to showcase "The Escapist" by Nightwish, which I've listened to about seventy times this week, but then I thought Why don't I share an Easter song so as to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem? This is my favorite Easter song ever - not that there are a lot to choose from, but still.
There will be no cartoon section this week because this post is too long already.
Perhaps it's boastful of me to share feedback that my writing receives, but this blog is basically my journal, so if it pertains to me and makes me happy then I'm going to put it here. Ta-da.
This is an expert opinion. If you don't like my writing, you're wrong. Oh, and there's nothing to be worried about because the stuff in the essay was from four years ago.
It is my humble conviction that the parties responsible for Daylight Savings' Time should be shot, run over with a truck, and shot a few more times. It doesn't even matter whether it's beginning or ending, in fact; it thoroughly throws off my circadian rhythm, causes me to lose a lot more than another hour of sleep (in addition to the hour minimum of sleep that I already lose every night of my life just because) and makes an entire week miserable either way. But who really needs sleep? It's not like I need mental clarity to focus on difficult schoolwork like Latin - oh wait. Yeah, so when I find myself awake at five thirty (aka four thirty) and unable to get back to sleep, I say a few choice words that make me a bad Mormon. I'm not proud of my swearing problem, and I've tried to wean myself off it, but then something like this happens and I erase weeks' worth of progress within a minute. It just feels so therapeutic. Sigh.
I took advantage of spring break to become reacquainted with Bionicle, one of the most popular Lego franchises of all time, which originally ran from 2000 to 2010 and was rebooted in 2015. I loved it very much as I was growing up, but around 2008 the storyline had become really complex and I guess I must have stopped getting the comics because I have no memory of the issues from that point onward. So anyway, though I retained very fond memories of the Mata Nui Online Game and even went out of my way to listen to the soundtrack, I didn't give Bionicle much more thought. And then a month or so ago I suddenly had a dream about it. In the dream, I was two people (because you know how dreams are); one of the guys in charge of the franchise, and a reporter interviewing him. The gist of our conversation was like this:
Reporter: I know some people have lamented – or, I guess "lamented" is probably too strong a word, but – how the storyline started out so simple, and then as it developed and branched out into more islands and more characters and more mythology – I mean, not that any of that was bad, but –
Reporter: – it's just been bittersweet for some people, I guess, because the simplicity of the original storyline had a certain charm that maybe isn't as prevalent in the later stuff. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Boss: Right, I mean, that was definitely something we were aware of, but it was just a price we had to pay for continuing the story. There's only so much you can do if you stay on the original island, you know, and just keep throwing wave after wave of bigger, badder villains at the heroes. At some point you have to look elsewhere to keep it fresh. And we really loved this little world we'd created and so we thought that was a price worth paying to keep creating adventures in it. But really, you can see it as a metaphor for life, you know, how things start out simple and as you grow and learn more and have to challenge your old assumptions, they get more complicated. But the foundation is still there. You can still think back to a simpler time and you can still go back to the original story; it hasn't disappeared just because we've added onto it, so I think that charm is still there if you go to look for it and I think we've gotten the best of both worlds.
Of course, the primary reason they kept advancing the story and adding new stuff was to keep selling toys, and there's nothing wrong with that. Toy makers need to make a living like anyone else, and the phenomenal popularity of Bionicle (which brought the Lego company out of some serious financial problems at the turn of the century) proved that this was a good approach. But looking at the comics and the books and the podcasts and the serials done by Greg Farshtey, who was undoubtedly the single biggest driving force behind it, it's quite obvious that he really enjoyed creating and exploring this world in its own right, and took pride in it far beyond simple commercialism - even disregarding the fact that he continued publishing Bionicle serials online for a bit after the toys had been discontinued. And why wouldn't he? It's awesome.
So I got back into it, reliving old memories and making new ones, determined to take it slowly enough to comprehend the parts that had started to go over my head. So far I'm succeeding, and Bionicle has stood the test of time and continues to be awesome. My dream was correct. Just because the Matoran are actually partially organic sentient robots created before the Great Spirit himself that live for who knows how many tens of thousands of years and don't reproduce doesn't detract from the initial charm of their simple, hard-working lifestyles on that primitive beautiful island of Mata Nui. I do think it's a good thing they stopped the story and didn't completely overdo it. Doing a reboot instead of a continuation was also a wise decision for that reason, and I like to imagine that this reboot takes place in the same universe but an alternate dimension or timeline, both of which are already known to exist there.
Perhaps my dream was a message from God. I know you don't have a social life, God said, so here's something else to kill time with that I think you'll like. Actually, I find Bionicle to be downright spiritual at times. To name just the most pervasive example, I love how the main heroes, the Toa, are elite butt-kicking machines yet at the same time they get prideful, argue with each other, make foolish mistakes, and have to learn their lesson about unity over and over again. I think it's representative of the complexity and the potential within each of us despite our flaws. In a similar vein, we learn from them that a true hero is to be judged not by his outward appearance, but by his ability to make witty banter during combat.
My friend had never seen the Indiana Jones movies. The full story is probably of little interest to anyone and would make this post too long, so suffice it to say that after nearly a year and a half and several postponements, it happened last week, sort of. I say sort of because for half of the movie his fiancée was off doing homework and he was with her, abandoning me with the others he had invited, some guy and his sister and some other girl. One of the girls was in high school and the other was a returned missionary, and the latter was more annoying by far. She wouldn't stop talking about her crush. How could she even think about other guys while Harrison freaking Ford was on the screen? Anyway, when the other two left the room for a minute she said to me "Sorry we're being so loud" and I kind of stared at her awkwardly, not knowing what to say because I couldn't say "It's okay" because that would have been a lie, and I couldn't say "If you were really sorry you would stop" because that would be rude, so I just said "Thank you" and it was awkward. I was overjoyed when she left before the movie was over.
My friend and his fiancée returned right as the Cairo marketplace fight scene began, and he was able to get up to speed even though he missed the foreshadowing about snakes, the rivalry with Belloq, the relationship with Marion, etcetera. I like watching movies I've seen a hundred times with someone who has never seen them because I just pretend to be that person and perceive it through their fresh eyes. He was really shocked and concerned when Marion died and then when the monkey died. "The monkey's just asleep, right?" he said. Yes, the ominous music, the imagery of the ceiling fan blades slowly rotating over its motionless form, and Sallah's grim understatement of "Bad dates" after he has just prevented Indy from eating one all serve to indicate that the monkey is asleep.
In writing about "Debbie", I may have forgotten to mention that she gives me rides to or from church sometimes. That's how we met. Her car always smells euphoric and she always has an index card on the dashboard with whatever scripture she's ponderizing that week. To her, ponderizing is more than just a fad that fizzled out within a month. She just offers rides whenever opportunity brings us and her car into close proximity, for example when she exits the church building right after me. One of those times she said "Want a ride?" and I just shrugged because I was sincerely torn between my desire to walk instead and my desire to be around her. She continued, "Yes you do. Get in." That would be considered kidnapping in some states. If our genders were reversed, it would be considered kidnapping in this one.
Now we've moved beyond that. Last week, I had gone less than half a block from my apartment when a car pulled up to the curb next to me, which happens more or less frequently when people offer me rides. I didn't know who it was, but it was nice out and I wasn't running late so I really just wanted to walk. In true Christian fashion I muttered under my breath, "Go away." Then I looked and saw that it was Debbie. She didn't ask, didn't order, didn't say anything, just moved some stuff off the passenger seat; and I didn't say anything either, just got in. "Your car smells nice," I said. Then we went to church and got out of the car and I prolonged the moment by asking if my collar was okay. Unexpectedly, instead of just saying that no it wasn't, she fixed it herself. Then she said, "You smell nice too." And I stupidly just said, "You can tell?" meaning, of course, that I was surprised she could discern it through her own scent, but I don't know if that context came across or not.
After church, someone else offered me a ride, but as I was on the other side of the road, he just stopped in the middle of it. A well-dressed Mormon family of three was stuck behind him for a minute, and then drove around, one of them extending a middle finger as far out the window as they could to make sure he noticed it. I'm the last person who should judge other Mormons for behaving badly, and he did deserve it, but come on, don't teach that kind of behavior to your kid in the backseat. Anyway, I didn't see an easy way out of it so I ran across the road and got in. Then he said, "We're going to have a little talk with these people," and accelerated to catch up with them. As we drew closer and closer and he showed no sign of slowing down, I realized that I just might be about to die. At least I hoped I would die in the event of an impact, because in my book that would be preferable to being painfully and perhaps permanently mangled. He did slow down, perhaps because of my hesitant warning to do so, and then tailgated them for a bit. We came near my apartment, I told him where it was, and he said "But we're going to take a little trip first", went past it and continued to follow them.
The next time we hit a stop sign I figured I should just jump out of the car. Fortunately, for the grace of God or whatever reason, he gave up shortly afterward but craned his neck to look after them as they drove off. "Sunday suits? Sunday suits? Ehh!" He shook his head and muttered, "Pricks."
The Mormon Section
I deactivated my Facebook profile so I could break my addiction to it and study Latin. In order to continue running my page, however, I had to create another profile, add it as a friend to the first one, and make it an admin. I didn't intend to use this profile for anything else. That was eight days ago, and in that time this profile has received 4 friend requests from people I know and 189 friend requests from people I don't, overwhelmingly located in Latin America and the Philippines. I thought that was really weird. I've always gotten random requests like that once in a while, but never in such a deluge. Of course I accepted all of them so I could invite them to like my page. Then I realized that most of them were open and proud LDS. Even the guy in Pakistan was LDS. And I realized they must have been drawn by the photograph of the Salt Lake Temple that I chose as a profile picture. I feel like there's a beautiful message in that somewhere.
A couple of them messaged me. One of the Filipinas messaged me in a mixture of English and Tagalog. Where did she get the idea that I speak Tagalog? And another Filipina was confused by an anti-anti-vaxxer post that I shared on my page. First she didn't understand that it was sarcastic, because sarcasm doesn't exist in all cultures and I guess the Philippines are one of them. I had one institute teacher who was like "I heard an Apostle say that sarcasm is the language of the devil" and another one who was like "I'm so proud of my Mexican daughter-in-law for learning sarcasm. We made her cry. We had to explain, 'No no, we're being mean to you because we like you!'" Anyway, I said that it was sarcasm, but didn't explain what sarcasm is for fear of being too patronizing, and she still seemed confused, and I realized she probably didn't even know what an anti-vaxxer is. How do you explain to someone in a third world country that people exist who think vaccines are bad? I can't even believe it myself when I look at it from that angle. I can only wish it were just an unfunny joke. And another one of the Filipinas just wished me a happy Sabbath because that's what it is there.
I think I'm going to do one "scripture taken out of context and inserted into a conversation" thing per week, at least for two weeks, since I've only thought of two decent ones so far.
Them: This clickbait article will restore your faith in humanity.
Me: And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?
Hammerfall - Last Man Standing
Indiana Jones brought me to this song which I love for its lyrics as much as its tempo. Video is rated PG-13 for violence; song is rated G for message, unless it has some kind of subtext that went over my head because I'm so innocent. That happens sometimes.
Porky Pig - Ali Baba Bound
Not sure how long or consistently I'm going to do this part, but here it is again. This cartoon from 1940 is kind of outrageous in today's political climate. When I was little I watched it on one of those cheapo VHS cartoon compilations from the library, and loved it for the music. At one time I even had the entire thing memorized and played it in my head to alleviate the tedium of school. But not until I revisited it at an older age did I understand that it has a suicide bomber in it, portrayed as a screwball and presumably played for laughs. Awkward.
I've grown rather tired of doing this every week, and I feel that the quality of my posts has declined sharply as a result (insert your own quip about not being able to tell the difference here), but I can't stop now, can I? When I migrated here from Webs, which is an impossibly incompetent and terrible company, I decided to post every week because consistency would be more likely to get readers than doing it just whenever I felt like it, as was my previous strategy. Then around the time I wanted to give it up, at least for a while, Bracelets came into my life and discovered it and loved it and I felt that I could not disappoint her. I really wish I had come up with a better nickname for her. I could have just called her Emily. Emily could even be her real name, and you still wouldn't be able to find her among the other fifty Emilys (Emilies?) that I know.
My favorite Emily doesn't even know that I exist, and probably never will. I admire her from a distance, listening to her speak and hanging onto every word. She's my favorite Kool 103.9 DJ because she always has her own little commentary on the news stories and doesn't hold it back, and because she often announces the name and artist of the upcoming song so that if I've never heard it before and I like it I don't have to pay really close attention to the lyrics so I can look it up later. And unlike Dave Denton and Benji Wood (the latter who feels the need to announce his name every five minutes), she has opted not to divulge her last name, retaining a certain aura of mystery.
My other frustration with this blog is how it's evolved into just a random jumble of stuff with no rhyme or reason. I didn't set out to make it that way. In the days when I just wrote whenever I felt like it, sometimes I could devote a whole post to a single topic like a normal person. But no more. I just feel like it's gotten out of hand. And as a corollary to that, these topics often include items of Mormon news or culture so in-depth that 99% of everyone else would neither understand nor give a rat's tail about them. That's kind of disruptive and unfair to non-Mormon readers, if in fact I even have any, who may give up and not keep reading afterward when the topic shifts again. So I've decided upon a solution so childishly simple I should have done it to begin with. I will save that stuff for the end and give it a label so those who don't understand or care about it can skip it.
I would like to think that I have grown more tolerant of people mixing up "you're" and "your", "their", "they're" and "there", "too" and "to", "whose" and "who's", etcetera. I used to consider this a sign of low intelligence but changed my mind a while ago when an intelligent person who does that proved me wrong. However, I draw the line at "her's", because "her's" is not a freaking word in any context whatsoever. There is literally no conceivable situation in which you could say "her is" as a coherent grammatical unit (as opposed to something like "The only way to defeat her is to aim for her soft underbelly") and be correct. Why is it so difficult for people to not insert nonexistent apostrophes everywhere?
Responding to an open invitation, I ended up at a campfire at Second Dam with some people from the ward and some other people. Providentially, it was two days after someone randomly gave me a bag of marshmallows that I never would have finished on my own. The highlight of this event was listening to ghost stories which were particularly riveting because they were first or second hand, and in such an instance I tossed all skepticism aside and chose to believe because of the coolness factor. Jit said that back in India there was this grove of mangoes (I think) where eighty percent of the people who went in at night got sick, and people reported seeing a strange white light or something. The large feral cats who could decapitate me with one swipe of a paw would be sufficient motivation for me to stay out of any wooded areas in India at night anyway. He then mentioned waking up one night as a child and seeing a man next to his bed, and when he called for his mother and she turned on the light he wasn't there. I would have never slept again. Not that I do much anyway.
Then this girl had so many stories about her own house, from herself and her parents and siblings, that we felt constrained to ask many times, "Your family still lives there why exactly?" The one that intrigued me the most was of her seeing some kind of tall, skinny figure looking through her open bedroom door at night. It was a long time ago and she didn't even know if it was a dream or not, but she has closed her door every night since then. Other people who stayed at her house mentioned something similar so that was enough evidence for my coolness-factor-biased self. What made it so intriguing for me was that she said it didn't seem human to her. I wanted more details. I wanted her to draw a picture or at least describe it more, but she didn't want to.
I've never seen a ghost, sadly, but hearing these stories did remind me of some of my childhood fears. I had more than one nightmare about a man with a computer monitor for a head. It was one of those big bulky ones, antique now but contemporary at the time. And its screen was always black and he never said a word and he never chased me, but he just stood there or sat there looking like the creepiest thing ever, and I hated it. I also got scared because the lamp on my desk looked like it was rotating in the dark, and my mom had to move it. I was a pansy. Then there were the movie villains like Ursula from "The Little Mermaid" and Hexxus from "Fern Gully" and Yzma from "The Emperor's New Groove". That movie came out when I was seven, and there was a life-size cardboard cutout of the main characters at Wal-Mart. I saw it in my peripheral vision and thought something along the lines of, "There was a woman there. I wonder if she's hot." So I took a closer look. Hello, sleepless nights. Then one Family Home Evening my dad was like "I just rented The Emperor's New Groove and we should watch it" and I decided to face my fear and not be a pansy, and I got over it. Yay!
Some readers may be uncomfortable about the following story, but it's true, so I can't help it.
In ninth grade there was a new Global Studies teacher named Mr. Twyman. (Mr. Twyman met a pieman going to the fair. Said Mr. Twyman to the pieman, "Let me taste your wares." etc.) I heard the backstory of the story later from one of the other teachers, Mr. Morrison. Basically, Mr. Twyman came to Mr. Morrison one day and said, "Can I borrow one of your videos about Africa?" And Mr. Morrison was kind of busy so without really looking up he just said "Sure, go ahead." So Mr. Twyman grabbed one and showed it to the class. I don't remember how long it was or what it was about exactly, but there was some kind of ceremony involving topless women dancing. That was the first time I remember seeing topless women outside of old paintings and statues, and my reaction was, That's it? That's what all the fuss since first grade has been about? You have got to be joking. I've since realized that things like that are non-sexual contexts anyway and therefore not a big deal, which I suppose is why Mr. Twyman didn't stop the video even though he was starting to look uncomfortable.
So no, that wasn't a big deal, not really. But that wasn't the only surprise this video had in store for us. I don't think it was a minute later that some guys brought out a goat, bleating and struggling and obviously not pleased with whatever was about to happen. Now the students' murmurs of titillation shifted to murmurs of concern and Mr. Twyman looked even more uncomfortable, but he assured us, "It's okay, kids, the goat doesn't get hurt." Bzzt! Wrong! One knife plus one copious spurt of blood equals one very dead goat. When this day was discussed among the students years later, it was not the topless dancers but the goat sacrifice that they went on about. I always wondered if this was why Mr. Twyman didn't come back to teach the next year.
The Mormon Section
The Face2Face event with Elder Holland and those others was good, as I'm sure everyone anticipated. I was grateful for the last question because it was reflective of the one I had asked regarding an issue that I've lost sleep over for years. I would have been rather peeved if, after devoting three questions and approximately an hour to marriage, they never got around to that topic. The event went on for nearly twice as long as I expected and I wonder if that was intentional or if they were just having such a good time they let it keep going. To what extent are these things scripted? And how old are Whatshisname and Maddy? I'm pretty sure they were the moderators for the last Face2Face event too, the one for youths. So are they youths or YSAs? Just curious.
Well, I don't have as much to put in this section today, but I'm just setting a precedent that will hopefully serve me well in the future.
Golden Films - Peter Rabbit's Hippity Hop
This is the song that gets stuck in my head every time in tae kwon do when we have to jump over and between and around the pads. I suspect that no one listens to the songs that I post here anyway, so I don't feel too embarrassed about posting this one.
Inki and the Minah Bird (Because Why Not?)
This is one of the strangest cartoons I've ever seen, but I like it. The Minah Bird is an underrated and unjustly forgotten character. Inki is an offensive racial stereotype but honestly isn't half as goofy as Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam so whatever.
From my news feed. Comparing everyone you don't like to Hitler never gets old, does it?
I already have to apologize again. I have been very, very foolish. Last week I said that Bernie is obviously going to be the Democratic nominee, shortly before realizing that in fact Hillary might obviously be the Democratic nominee. I hadn't been paying enough attention to see that coming because I had fallen victim to the echo chamber in which I live. Shame on me. The thing is, between two thirds and three quarters of the people I follow on social media who say anything about politics are all "hashtagfeelthebern this" and "hashtagfeelthebern that". Not only have I never seen even one of them say something positive about Hillary, but some of my die-hard liberal friends are among her most vocal detractors because they want Bernie to win instead. But I know about echo chambers and so I should have known better than to assume this small sample was representative of Americans as a whole, particularly when it's so sharply biased toward the 18-30 year old demographic. So... Hillary. The only candidate that I like less than Trump. Also, to my knowledge, the only candidate under investigation by the FBI. But that's none of my business.
Since all my predictions are failing, here's another. There is absolutely one hundred percent no conceivable way that Mitt Romney will swoop in, having learned from his mistakes the last go-round, and blow Trump out of the proverbial water before winning the general election.
I've been emailing a missionary in England. I didn't expect it to become a weekly thing because after asking about retention rates, reactivation efforts, prospects for the British Pageant to ever happen again, ratio of native to immigrant converts, and the like, it's hard to think of interesting topics that are within missionary guidelines. We started talking about politics and she became very outspoken and I was afraid I had induced her to break a rule, but I think it's all right for missionaries abroad to complain about politics in their native country, just not in the country where they are graciously being allowed as a guest. Maybe I shouldn't have then gone on to ask her what she thinks of socialism. I was curious because I know socialism has been a standard player in British politics for a long time even though it's been a dirty word in the U.S. until approximately last year when everyone was suddenly like "What's wrong with socialism? We like socialism." I hope I don't get her in trouble.
I guess it's prom season for those still in high school. I went to senior prom alone. I wouldn't have gone at all, except that this girl was like "My cousin from another school wants to go so you should take her" so I was like "Okay" but then her cousin had to cancel and I had already rented the stupid tux so yeah. But that's not important anymore. What's important is that I see a lot of kids saying, "I need ideas to ask this girl to prom!" Or, if they're progressive, "I need ideas to ask this guy to prom!" Now I realize that, given what I've just described, I might not seem like the best person to offer advice on this matter, but I have an idea that in all modesty I think is really amazing.
Step 1: Go up to the person.
Step 2: Ask "Will you go to prom with me?"
Step 3: There is no Step 3.
The other day I was going up the hill to campus with a very specific plan in mind for where I was going to go and what I was going to do when I got there, when someone came up from another angle and intercepted me. A vague twinge of fuzzy familiarity crossed my mind when I saw her, but I paid it no heed. I thought I saw recognition in her eyes as well but, knowing from experience that I don't actually have the capacity to pick up on subtle things like that, I paid that no heed either.And then she said, "You're Bracelets' friend, aren't you?"
And then it dawned on me. "Yes," I said. And you're her jealous, passive-aggressive coworker who doesn't like me. Why aren't you at work and why are you being nice to me?
It wasn't just in my head that she didn't like me. Bracelets said she didn't. It was like this -
Me: Is that why she doesn't like me, because ______?
Bracelets: No, the reason why she doesn't like you is because ______.
But she denied that, and I got trapped walking alongside her and having a conversation, and by "trapped" I don't mean that it was unpleasant, not at all in fact, but simply that it was just kind of happening like a river carrying me away. She kept asking questions about stuff and I kept having even more trouble than usual finding verbs and nouns and putting them together. And I was totally steered away from the place I was going to go and the thing I was going to do when I got there. I didn't really want to break free, actually, but I did have to eventually in order to go do the other thing that I was going to do after that because the other thing wasn't optional. After she had gone I noticed that my armpits were soaked for some reason.
The Adventures of Me in Stats Recitation
I think, "My friend Chloe has an amazing jacket on today."
I say, "I like your jacket."
She says, "Thank you."
I think, "That is not my friend Chloe. That is a total stranger. I am so embarrassed."
Intermission. I so badly want this to be real.
People (e.g. critics of the LDS Church's recent same-sex policy change) who use suicides as clubs to beat their opponents with in furtherance of their agendas disgust me. To go around proclaiming "You horrible piece(s) of scum are making people kill themselves!" is to completely misrepresent the complexity of factors behind any suicide. Furthermore, it is a choice, but one that is more often than not made during a lapse of rationality. How do we know this, you may ask? From the survivors, for one thing, and also because suicides can be and have been drastically reduced by such simple measures as increasing the height of railings on bridges. If people are really determined to go through with it they won't let little things like that stop them, but if they're just having a lapse, the added inconvenience gives them time to come to their senses.
No one "makes" someone kill themselves and no one can be expected to infallibly know how to avoid triggering it. We should be loving toward everyone. We should not bully anyone. But that doesn't mean we control their actions. I tried to jump out a fifth story window once, years ago, during a brief lapse of rationality shortly after finding out that a girl I had known for just a couple days had a boyfriend. Was that the actual reason? Of course not. Was she responsible? Of course not. And the window wouldn't open more than a few inches - probably for exactly that reason - so after struggling with it for a few seconds I came to my senses and gave up, and what had happened seemed so surreal that I hardly gave it another thought. So anyway, people need to stop cheapening and misrepresenting suicides just to make an ideological point.
I love it when an Apostle explains something in terms that a first grader could understand, yet fringe Mormons and the media still insist on putting words in his mouth and feigning righteous indignation over something he didn't say. But let's not talk about that. Let's talk instead about these words from Elder M. Russell Ballard that brought me pure unadulterated joy. Recently he told church educators, "Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and the teacher responded, 'Don’t worry about it.' Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the church." (If I may put a word in edgewise, the first two of those items are huge pet peeves of mine and among the most alienating things anyone could do to someone struggling with their faith. Bearing testimony to them does have its place, but doing that in lieu of facts and logic just creates the impression that your faith has to avoid scrutiny to survive.)
"It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly our young people lived a sheltered life. Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today, a day when students have instant access to virtually everything about the church from every possible point of view. To name a few such topics that are less known or controversial, I’m talking about polygamy. Of seer stones. Different accounts of the First Vision. The process of translation of the Book of Mormon. Of the Book of Abraham. Gender issues. Race and the priesthood. Or a Heavenly Mother. The efforts to inoculate our young people will often fall to you CES teachers. With those thoughts in mind, find time to think about your opportunities and your responsibilities.
"It is perfectly all right to say, 'I do not know.' However, once that is said, you have the responsibility to find the best answers to the thoughtful questions your students ask. In teaching your students and in responding to their questions, let me warn you not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors, or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past."
Now, in closing, a beautiful German love ballad.
Rammstein - Du Hast
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.