Despite my incompetence the first time around, they let me drive the forklift at work again yesterday. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. I didn't hit anything this time, but I noticed that I have really lame depth perception re: telling if the forks are an inch or a foot off the floor. I obviously need to play more video games and work on that. That's the only thing I drive, so many people have stepped forward to give me rides home from work, which is really awesome of them. Sometimes they'll be like "I need to get gas real quick; is that all right?" or "I'm going to grab some food real quick; is that all right?" or something to that effect and of course it's always all right. One evening one of them was like, "I need to pick up my husband on the way; is that all right?" and I was amused because what kind of a question is that? What was I going to say, "No, it's not all right, I forbid it"? If it ever comes up again I'm going to say that just for kicks, but this time around I didn't and that was that.
So when time came to leave I got in the middle of her van and she said "You can sit in the front" and I said "We're getting your husband, aren't we? I just assumed you would rather sit next to him" and she laughed because apparently that was funny. She said she felt like a chauffeur but she seemed more like a mom, honestly, seeing as we were in a van and all. I felt like she should be taking me to soccer practice even though I've never been in soccer practice because I've never been on a soccer team. She then decided to just take me home before she got her husband, so that was whatever. But when she decided the same thing the next wing, I wondered aloud whether he knew that I existed and whether he would be upset if he did. I already have one neighbor who hates me because he thought his wife was flirting with me even though she wasn't (a story recounted here), and as hilarious as that is to me, making it a regular thing doesn't seem like a good idea. Some people are so insecure.
Jocelyn usually takes me home on Fridays and last week she mentioned she had a date right after work, which was weird because I often forget that anyone goes on dates because hardly anyone ever talks about it. Yay for not being at BYU. I inquired about it and learned that there was some institute activity that I hadn't heard about because I hadn't been to institute in a few weeks due to always being at work. In the past I would have been involved in planning and setting it up. She described it as some kind of "sports night", and I don't much care about sports but I try to go to all the institute activities even if only for a while, so I said she could just take me there and I'd slip away and do my own thing. She went and colored in the lobby while I wandered around looking at the various activities, and I saw her a couple times still in the lobby sans date, and I didn't want to get involved and create awkwardness but I figured I could ask about it later and if he'd stood her up I would hurt him.
More notably, it began to dawn on me that there were a lot of couples around. Like, a lot. In fact, in the Mario Kart room I observed that of the twenty other people present, all twenty were paired off. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn't belong. It was like prom all over again. How strange, I thought, has the institute really been stressing this sort of thing in the last couple weeks? In my peripheral vision I noticed one of the teachers approaching and looking, insofar as I could determine, not very happy. The last person who approached me like that was the security guard who kicked me out of Temple Square, so I thought something similar was about to happen, but he stopped and just stood a few feet away for a while and contributed to my discomfort. I would have liked to play Mario Kart but that would have created an odd number so I just went home.
Wandering through campus for unrelated reasons the next day, I spotted the poster for the event and noticed that it was titled "Date Night". A little detail that Jocelyn forgot to mention. Had I known that, I wouldn't have bothered going, but with the way things turned out I am rather amused at my own little accidental act of rebellion. And fortunately Jocelyn's date did show up, just fifty minutes late, so I didn't have to hurt anyone either. This story didn't take as long to tell as I thought it would, but I guess it will have to do.
Dj Mangoo - Eurodancer
I once listened to this on repeat about twenty times. Clearly I need help. This video is pretty cool too, despite its terrible quality. It makes you wonder how often this kind of stuff happens without a camera fortuitously capturing it.
International Women's Day was last week and I didn't say much about it but I did read a feminist article, because sometimes I read feminist articles and usually I agree with most of what they're saying (I'd say which parts I don't agree with but then I would be "mansplaining" and that would make me the worst person in the world), and then I read the comments and there's always some men chiming in with "But what about such-and-such issues that men face" and sometimes they're even legitimate points but that is not the place for them so they really just need to butt out and go raise them somewhere else.
"Microaggression" is one of those words that sounds really dumb and has been overused and abused by the Anti-Free Speech Police to the point where it's difficult to take seriously but nonetheless represents a legitimate concept. In particular, bits of prejudice small and large, benign and malicious, run rampant against women in American society. I probably contribute to that without realizing, but I almost certainly do a much larger part in tipping the balance the other way. I don't hate men per se, and I like my guy friends just fine and don't wish to offend any of them, but I'm just being honest when I say that I have some misandry to work through. Given the choice, I would pretty much just associate with women and ignore men. This didn't go unnoticed by one friend a few years ago who remarked, "I know you're not comfortable hanging out with guys because you don't want people to think you're gay, but really, hanging out with girls all the time is what will make people think that."
Being friends with women at work has been really great. Most of them are married. I thought friendships with married women were lame because every time a previously single female friend has gotten married, she may as well have died for all I'd ever see or hear from her again. But this has been different, and it's been a lot of fun and not very awkward at all, because they're not worried and I'm not worried and we can all just be friendly and not hold back out of worry about other things. I did get a little too careless about the stuff I was saying to one of them, though. I had no idea anything was wrong until one day out of the blue she got a funny look on her face and asked, "Do you... actually hate me?" And I was astonished and I explained that I was only teasing her because she started teasing me first, and she said "I'm pretty sure it was the other way around", but I'm pretty sure it wasn't because I wouldn't have just started teasing her unless I thought she would be okay with it. Which she is, now that we've established that I don't actually hate her. If I actually hated her I would just not talk to her.
One of my favorite coworkers though, Malone, isn't married. She's in an open relationship. That's kind of why we met. My mp3 player was busted so instead I listened to her loudly telling people about her open relationship and I just laughed so much because open relationships are funny. They're like, I don't know, paying hundreds of dollars a month to live in a place that you'll never get to own. How silly would that be? So afterward I caught her and thanked her for the entertainment, and the next day I asked her to entertain me again, and she obliged, so that was cool. She's always smiling and acting happy and it really lifts the mood of the whole place and it didn't take me long to look up to her as a role model of that trait, happiness, that I want to emulate. I want to be that kind of person who radiates happiness and lifts the moods of places. But then it turned out she's kind of faking it because she's not particularly happy most of the time, so that's sad. One time she was gone for a few days and her friend didn't know why and I started to think maybe she had been in a fatal accident, so when she returned and said she'd been very sick I said "Oh, good."
We recently all got emails about a new/newly enforced language policy that forbids:
- Any type of slur including all racial, ethnic, religious, and gender-based insults
Unfortunately this means that the black employees will have to stop making racist jokes about themselves. And now I'm slightly paranoid that in my naivete and blindness to my own cultural upbringing I'll say something that will be construed as sexist. Probably against men, though.
- Slang including words describing sexual acts or relating to sex
I was confused by this one. I think they only meant to forbid sexual slang, but the way it's worded seems like it forbids all slang. I would be all for that if I regularly heard words like "bae" and "YOLO" at work, but since I don't it would seem a bit drastic. This one makes me a little paranoid too. Everything is sexual if people choose to take it that way. The phrase "That's what she said" still pops unbidden into my head sometimes thanks to the guys in high school for whom it made up half of their vocabularies.
- Language used to intimidate, bully, or berate an employee
Again, here's why it's important to make sure someone is okay with you teasing them before you tease them. Sometimes context is everything. Of course, I'm never as mean to anyone in Utah as my friends and I were to each other in New York. An important cultural difference there.
- Use of the "F" word
I have never ever ever used the "F" word at work, but if I had, hypothetically, it would have been under my breath in response to the computer having issues, and no one would have heard it, particularly since my normal voice is already so quiet that no one hears me half the time when I'm actually addressing them.
- String of profanities
I have never ever ever uttered a string of profanities at work, but if I had, hypothetically, it would have been under my breath in response to the computer having issues, and no one would have heard it, particularly since my normal voice is already so quiet that no one hears me half the time when I'm actually addressing them. And does this mean that one or two profanities are okay? If they're not the "F" word? I'm still slightly confused.
Anyway, this isn't going to affect me much but some people are going to really struggle with it. I feel for them.
Mr. Burns & Smithers - Look at All Those Idiots
I listened to "The Simpsons Sing the Blues" a couple times this week and this is probably my favorite song from that album. It presents a good example of language that should not be used to intimidated, bully, or berate employees, and does not reflect my views of my co-workers so much as my view of the human race as a whole, but is simply presented here because it's catchy.
In the latest of Utah's weekly embarrassments, Representative Jason Chaffetz gave considerable support to the stereotype that Republicans are jerks who hate the poor when he said "You know what, Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare." So that's why many Americans can't afford health insurance? They have plenty of money, but they just choose to spend it on stuff like iPhones instead? And also the cost of an iPhone is suddenly comparable to the cost of health insurance? Bizarre. (P.S. Not an iPhone per se, but a cell phone of some sort and regular internet access aren't really luxuries so much as they are necessary to function in the United States. Good luck finding or keeping a job without them, for example.)
I do find it almost funny, though, that Republicans are merely replacing one government healthcare program with another. Funny because for nearly seven years, so many people who believe the government has no business in healthcare trusted the Republican Party to stand up for their interests. Funny because some people were dumb enough to believe the Republican Party has anything to do with conservatism or limited government. But not quite funny because this legislation will most likely be equal to or greater than the first in terms of suckitude, and we know that according to Chaffetz and his ilk the poor can go screw themselves. Still, I personally appreciate not being forced to buy health insurance because I don't want to. I'm healthy and willing to gamble that I'll stay that way. If I'm wrong, then... sucks to be me.
International Women's Day was on Wednesday and I don't want to say too much about it because when other men expound on how much they respect women and support feminism and stuff it just comes across to me as really ingratiating, and I'm sure in most cases that isn't their intention at all but that's just how it comes across to me so I can't do it because that would make me a hypocrite. I'm also not very good at being an "official" feminist because despite the best of intentions I often say or do the "wrong" things. Mackenzie got rather annoyed at me once for calling her "outspoken" because she said that term has connotations implying that women shouldn't speak, even though she has no problem calling herself "bossy" while I would never dare to. And Mackenzie got rather annoyed at me once for walking between her and the road in case a drunk driver jumped the curb, because she can walk on whichever side she wants. And Mackenzie got rather annoyed at me once for saying she would win in a fight and I wouldn't resist, because she wants me to fight her to the death if the situation calls for it.
It turns out I was supposed to wear red for International Women's Day, and I didn't know that but I wore red anyway and Mackenzie noted it so that was a happy accident. Or maybe that was just for "A Day Without a Woman"? It was also supposed to be "A Day Without a Woman" this year, where women skipped work for political reasons, but I didn't notice at my job where it was business as usual for most of them although some, including some of my favorite people, were gone for spring break. That was rough. Almost as rough as being all excited about getting trained to drive the forklift and then bumping the shift buzzer off the wall on my first day and descending into a spiral of self-loathing for my unequaled incompetence. So this was a crappy week, but cleaning the bathrooms with my tongue for minimum wage would still be better than my call center job, so I managed.
At least we had food every day. Usually they only give us food once a week. I don't really know how they make a profit. They give us the food, they have gift card drawings every month, they have to pay us of course, they have to pay the thrift stores etc. for the books that come in, they only get to accept maybe ten to twenty percent of the books, tops, and then they have to pay Amazon to store the books and then just because they're for sale doesn't mean they'll be purchased. They do also get money from recycling the rejected books, so that must amount to a lot. I guess it works because they seem really successful. I'm no financial expert.
Frank Sinatra - From Both Sides Now
Did I mention that I get to listen to music at work? So over the last couple weeks I've listened to hour after hour of Frank Sinatra and I've got to say it's been incredibly soothing. It feels like it's filtering impurities out of my soul. I listened to this Joni Mitchell over four times in one day, entranced by the beauty of both the music and the lyrics. It's a very polarizing song that some people think is terrible because it doesn't fit Sinatra's style or isn't faithful to the original or whatever, but those people are wrong.
I'm sick of politics and I'm sure no one wants to hear more about the job that is consuming my life, so here's a change of pace. My previous disclaimers about being tired are still in effect.
"I've always been interested in animation. And, again, it's a chance to experiment with ideas and new people and Star Wars characters. The Star Wars world is much easier to deal with in animation. You can be much more flexible in development of ideas. I've put off doing it for years because I didn't have the time." - George Lucas
The Faithful Wookiee (1978)
One of the most unbelievable ironies of all time is that the mind-bendingly bad Star Wars Holiday Special introduced audiences to one of their most beloved characters of all time. In this segment, which comes right on the heels of a music video by Jefferson Starship, the Imperial officer searching Chewbacca's house for hidden Rebels orders his wife Mala to keep his son Lumpy [sic] occupied while they search his room, so in a bit of a Twilight Zone moment she puts on a cartoon that happens to be about his dad and other "real" people. In this cartoon, Han and Luke fall into danger and none other than the one and only Boba Fett, with more dialogue in ten minutes than in all of his movie appearances combined, shows up to help Chewie and the droids save them. Since George Lucas never released the Holiday Special on any home video format, there was no Holiday Special Special Edition and his voice was never dubbed over by Temuera Morrison's inferior delivery.
I'm not being sarcastic when I say that this cartoon, though nothing phenomenal, is pretty decent considering the context and not at all painful to watch. Even if it were, its introduction of Boba Fett would still provide a beautiful lesson on how sometimes great things have to be born from terrible ones. I also find the unnecessary formality and wordiness of the line "Princess, we're in mortal danger from our own forces!" more amusing than I should.
Lucasfilm was so impressed with Nelvana's work on "The Faithful Wookiee" that they were recruited again for two full cartoon series. George Lucas still didn't know what he was going to do with the prequels, so he gave them characters to work with that he didn't think would interfere much with that era; hence one of the series follows the misadventures of everyone's favorite droids fifteen years before "A New Hope". From the very first moment of the theme song by Stewart Copeland of The Police, you realize that these cartoons lack the timelessness of the movies and are instead forever and irrevocably trapped in the eighties. Stuff like the rest of the musical score, R2-D2 breakdancing, and another droid (in what is consistently referred to as a "harem" despite only one of the droids being a "girl" and their actual purpose being as "food" for a giant robot to recharge - never mind, forget I said anything) listening to a cassette player all serve to remind you of that. But that doesn't make them any less enjoyable in my book.
Like in "The Faithful Wookiee", some big liberties are taken with the animation of the droids. Threepio can blink and is consistently faster and more flexible than he ever was in the movies. R2-D2 may as well be made of Jell-O, sometimes moves his swivel dome head thing almost off his body (like during the aforementioned breakdancing), and sports an absurd range of gadgets including but not limited to confetti, an air mattress, red gloop, and a squirting flower (the latter being rendered even more ridiculous when the big bad droid that he squirts with it produces a larger flower and squirts him back with enough water to knock him over). Because of regulations at the time, they weren't allowed to show blasters that looked like guns, so the bad guys chase them with an array of weapons that look like magnets, police radars, joy buzzers, and royal scepters. And they usually have execrable aims that stormtroopers would laugh at. A few elements, like the Boonta Race and the four-armed chef and the wheel bike, were drawn on for inspiration in the prequels.
In essence it's just for fun and very difficult to take seriously, but it was actually canon until Disney took over. Even when "Revenge of the Sith" came out and showed Artoo and Threepio given to the same masters on the same ship they started with in the next movie, someone came up with an official story explaining how they got separated and found their way back and thus were able to have a bunch of different adventures with different masters in between. Wow. The series was canceled after only one season and has never been released on home video in its entirety, though some of the episodes have been edited together into movies with different soundtracks. The cartoons in their original form are all available on YouTube and elsewhere. I don't know how and I don't care. Most awkward inappropriate moment: Threepio telling an amorous giant elephant-type creature that has him in its embrace, "It would never work out between us." Does that go over the kids' heads? What do they think it has in mind, dinner and a movie?
Not to be confused with the mediocre live-action Ewoks movies. Same animation company, even more ridiculous but no less enjoyable. It's really more fantasy than sci-fi, taking much of its inspiration from Earth mythology and "The Lord of the Rings". It turns out the Ewoks have magic up the wazoo and share their forest moon with an absurd number of other sentient species that each seem to have just one tribe. Many of them pop up in one episode and are never seen again, but some are recurring, especially the grouchy and unsanitary Duloks who make it their mission in life to harass and torment the Ewoks. It just seems like the Battle of Endor should have been joined by a lot more parties and Master Logray should have been able to magic the Death Star right out of orbit. Oh well.
This series isn't as dated as "Droids" and lasted twice as long, but has suffered the same fate re: home video releases. In the second season it underwent some revamping with a different theme song, different voice actors, most episodes split into two stories, and a shifted focus to a core group of Wicket W. Warrick, Teebo, Princess Kneesa, and Latara. I found the latter's transformation particularly jarring. The writers decided to overhaul her personality; specifically, by giving her one. They made her greedy and narcissistic, which at times is endearing but at other times is a bit much. For example, when she hatches a plot to get rid of her old wooden flute in exchange for a new golden one, Teebo protests, "But Latara, we gave that to you!" and Wicket adds, "I carved most of it myself!" and she disdainfully responds, "I noticed." In the first season she had a crush on Teebo, but now that status quo is reversed and she consistently snubs him until she needs to exploit him for something. Despite the continuity problem this creates I believe it was a good move that lends some much-needed realism to the cartoons.
In one episode, the Snow King's evil wife freezes his heart so that he wants to make it winter forever, and his siblings who each rule over one of the seasons get together with the Ewoks to figure out how to stop him. One of them is the Sun King. His head is shaped like a sun and he wears a Hawaiian T-shirt and talks like a California surfer dude. There's also a direct Wizard of Oz parody as the Snow Queen's guards, who are shaped like hockey pucks, march outsider her fortress chanting "Snow-oh! Snow-ee-oh!" I mention this episode because it's probably the most absurd thing ever released through an official channel under the name "Star Wars". And remember, it was canon for nearly thirty years. But I love it anyway. My favorite line from another episode: "You shouldn't spy on anyone, Latara. Unless, of course, they're doing something very interesting." - Wicket W. Warrick
Clone Wars (2003-5)
This series of ten minute shorts aired on Cartoon Network and bridges the gap between "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith", with the final episode seguing into the opening space battle/rescue mission of the latter film with no more than a few seconds to spare. Asajj Ventress and General Grievous make their debut. The animation, the storylines, the dialogue, the music, all just really, really great. They elicit a lot of emotion in me and prove that my heart isn't completely dead after all. There's an air of mythology about this one, as if it's a story that's been retold and embellished over the years, as some of the Jedi antics are larger-than-life and hard to swallow even by their standards - most notably Mace Windu demolishing an entire droid army with his bare hands (and yeah, the Force, but still) - but if you can get over that and just enjoy it, it's really freaking awesome. I give it eleven out of ten stars.
The Clone Wars (2008-14)
This series rendered the previous one non-canon, though it fits snugly in between that one's two main arcs with just a few discrepancies. I didn't have high hopes for it because the CG movie that kicked it off was rather lame, but it turned out to be amazing - which is strange because the movie was cobbled together from what were supposed to be its first few episodes. And it's annoying and confusing that several of them were aired out of order for no good reason, but whatever. Everything I said about the previous series applies to this one as well. Though I'd hesitate to say this animation style is superior because that's apples to oranges, it is astounding how the characters strike a balance between phenomenally real facial expressions and being clearly stylized cartoons, seeming "real" without being really creepy like CG people usually are when they actually look real but, you know, not really. And the ship battles and droid battles and lightsaber duels - the lightsaber duels! - though also cartoony, seem to have as much effort put into them as their counterparts in the live action moves. General Grievous practically looks the same.
This series (and the previous one, though not to such an extent simply because it's much shorter) does something that the movies spectacularly fail at - it makes Anakin Skywalker likeable. It makes him a witty, charming, kind-hearted soul who struggles with some flaws and personal demons. None of this whining about Obi-Wan and sexually harassing Padme and slaughtering a bunch of innocent women and children nonsense. And Ahsoka Tano, who was annoying in the movie ("Artooie"? Seriously?) literally became my crush after just a few episodes. She's smart, funny, beautiful, and a force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with in combat. The way she uses two lightsabers and holds them backwards was an inspired design choice. But she's no Mary Sue, as she shows weakness and vulnerability too. When she had infatuation and jealousy and heartache that were all beautifully communicated to the audience without words (are you taking notes, George?) I just wanted to give her a great big hug, and not with any ulterior motives, mind you, but just because I care about her and wanted to take the hurt away.
The series is far more realistic and serious than anything that came before, but still doesn't take itself too seriously, with plenty of humor and sometimes entire episodes devoted to comic relief as a break from the fighting and intrigue and stuff. It doesn't consider itself above eye-rolling jokes either, as when Ahsoka Tano says of the criminal who stole her lightsaber, "He was from an aquatic planet. You know, one of the water worlds." and Jedi Master Tera Sinube responds, quite pleased with himself, "So you're saying there was something... fishy about him." Ba-dum-tsh.
After Disney took over "The Clone Wars" and saw it through to the end, this was their first attempt at something all new, and while I don't fancy the smoother animation style quite as much and didn't find the writing quite as clever at first, it really drew me in and I enjoy it now as a worthy addition to the universe. I just don't understand why protagonist Ezra Bridger and his parents Ephraim and Miriam have names more suited to settling the Western United States than fighting a galactic empire. I'm sure there's a very deliberate reason for that which I could look up if I wanted to, but I don't want to risk any spoilers. Ahsoka Tano returns, of course, though not as one of the main characters, and she's older and wiser with longer head-tails but frankly I don't find her as attractive when she's more realistic and her head is no longer disproportionately large for her body. I suppose when this series is over, with the benefit of hindsight, I'll have more to say about it. But it's off for a great start.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
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C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual.