July 30th, 2016
No, but for real though, I don't feel like writing a post today. I'm only doing this to continue my streak of writing a post every single week. It feels like cheating. I suppose it is. But maybe it's short enough that people will actually read it.
Linda Ronstadt - The Charros Song
For some reason, this got stuck in my head yesterday even though I haven't seen/heard it in years, so here it is.
The Return of Mackenzie + The Continuance of Debbie (aka I'm Really Not a Stalker)
Both of my long-term readers will remember that I used to occasionally write about a person named Mackenzie, and will have noticed that I have not written about her for a while, and may have wondered why. One reason is that she's been gone for like a month. Another reason, prior to that one, is best explained with the relevant anecdote. One day Bob was giving me a ride to a thing and we were discussing career aspirations. He mentioned having read a couple of my blog posts and enjoyed them. I had no idea how he would have found my blog, since he hadn't liked the page where I share it, and I assumed someone must have shown it to him. “Did someone show it to you?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
Then there was only one mutual acquaintance I could think of who knew about it and might have shown it to him. “Who, Seth?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “actually it was Mackenzie.”
Well, I am not unaware that the Internet is connected with the real world and can have consequences in that realm, and if I had been I would have been cured of that when this same sort of thing happened to me last year. I don't write anything here that I care if the whole world knows, and in fact I hold back on writing some things that the whole world really doesn't want to know. So it was not a total disaster that Mackenzie had discovered my blog and, as Bob further explained, read everything I wrote about her and recognized herself despite my clever use of a pseudonym, but it was highly unexpected because I didn't think she would ever bother to look at it. I thought her perceived apathy would offer a level of protection in that regard.
Then Bob told her that he had told me, and she got mad at him, and then he told me that he had told her that he had told me, and I got mad at him too, but I kept it to myself because she was already mad at him and I didn't want to totally ruin his day. But this ruined everything because now that she knew that I knew that she knew, she would be unable to trust that my writings were pure and unbiased. So I laid off them for a while. Then, as mentioned, she left for a while more.
Now, as you may have already guessed, she has returned. At home evening this past week she bounded over to me with a big grin on her face and announced, “I've discovered my new favorite activity.” I wanted to make a witty guess as to what this may be, but the only thing that came to mind was “killing cats” and that wasn't really witty, just sick. She continued, “When guys come and talk to me, I casually mention having a boyfriend and see how long it takes them to leave. That guy over there just set the record; thirty seconds.” Around this exact time it began to dawn on me how blessed I am for not having done that.
We had a lot of time to talk that evening, and finally I broached the topic of her having read about herself on my blog. Neither of us had ever mentioned it, and I had been holding onto a ridiculous hope that she would forget that I knew that she knew so that she could trust me to be unbiased. Now she explained, “I didn't mind it, but I told my sister, and she told my mom, and she thought you were a stalker.”
Then she asked, “Does 'Debbie' know that you write about her too?”
Yes, she does, because I asked permission to post that picture of her and me that one time, but to my knowledge she never bothered to actually read that post even though I shared it with her afterward. I think that in this case her apathy really does provide a level of protection. But as of this week, she and her mom both already think I'm a stalker anyway.
As Debbie and I walked home from volleyball, we passed by some attractive trees and flowers. She said, “These plants are linda [“beautiful” in Spanish]”. That's one of like five Spanish words that she knows.
She has a fondness for dismissing compliments by redirecting them to my mom, so I decided to emulate her. “Tu madre es linda,” I said.
She stared at me. “Your mom?”
“How do you know that?” she said, and started to laugh. “Been spending some time on Bookface [sic], have you?”
Playing along with this silly notion that I had been admiring her mom's Facebook pictures, I pretended to be embarrassed and try to change the subject. "This is the best time of day, isn't it?" I said. "It's finally cooled off, after being hot all day, but it isn't dark yet..."
This made her laugh harder. “Do you know my dad's name too?” She laughed and laughed and laughed.
I didn't fully understand the source of her mirth until the next day when we walked to institute with her neighbor and she related a garbled version of the story to him. “...And then he said something like 'Your mom's name is Linda,'” she explained, laughing again.
I explained what I had actually meant by it and how I was just kidding around. Fortunately she believed me, which she indicated by smiling and saying “Uh-huh, sure.”
The Mormon Section
I don't feel like writing this section this week. Actually, I didn't feel like writing a post at all this week. Be grateful that you got one anyway.
Yaz - State Farm (Extended Version)
I like this song. That's all I have to say about it.
Anniversary, Debbie, and Stuff
A rough draft of "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars" is now posted here. It is a very rough draft. It needs a lot of criticism to point out its weaknesses and omissions so it can be fixed. In my defense, the source material I had to work with was not the greatest. I took that as a welcome challenge.
As of July 11th, I have lived in Utah for five years, and because I have five fingers on each hand, this erroneously feels like a more special number than four or six. Of course more has happened in that five years than can possibly be recounted here, and a great deal of it I would just as soon permanently forget anyway. It seems sometimes that not enough has happened, since I'm still not a college graduate, a returned missionary*, or a famous author. But my music collection is much larger than it was back then, and I have a bit more money, and my life is no longer on the brink of irreparable collapse, so there has been some growth and development and yadda yadda yadda that's enough of that.
*This is the proper spelling because it's the one that makes any sense. When people say "return missionary" I want to say "Return him where?"
By now I've forgotten most of what I learned my freshman year, other than a few of the life lessons that I learned such as classes, such as this: most stereotypes exist because they're true. If you see a scrawny pale guy with glasses, for example, you can safely assume that he probably likes Star Wars, and not just because liking Star Wars is suddenly cool again. (People are upset about how the same people who used to make fun of them for liking Pokémon are now obsessed with Pokémon Go. I had a similar experience many years ago when my classmates took a break from bullying me for liking Star Wars to get excited about "Revenge of the Sith".) This was borne out again at a recent game night when five of six players made that assumption during a game of Imaginiff, and were correct. Debbie was the sixth, and she was like "Well I didn't know, I don't know him" and I was like "You can't tell just by looking at him?" and he wasn't even offended. He nodded.
I've found it very difficult to trust Debbie, even though she's earned it by demonstrating that she isn't like other people, at least with me, at least in Utah. When other people say maybe they'll do something, they never give it another thought. When Debbie says that maybe she'll do something, she's tries her best to fit it into her busy schedule and usually succeeds. When other people say they will do something, they tentatively put it on the bottom of their priorities list and bump it off the moment anything else comes up. When Debbie says she will do something, she does it, and if something else comes up she tells them she already has plans. Naturally I'm astonished beyond measure by this unprecedented behavior and have a hard time believing that it isn't a temporary fluke. But I owe her that much trust because she has given me far more. While walking last weekend, she made us change direction or cross the street whenever we came near anyone of the male species, and that prompted this conversation that should have been awkward but wasn't.
Me: You don't trust me to protect you?
Her: I trust that you would try, but if he has a gun, we're both out of luck.
Me: Do you not trust any of these guys, or just the sketchy-looking ones?
Her: No, but it depends on the time of day too, like if it were midday it wouldn't be an issue.
Me: Do you trust me?
Her: I'm with you, aren't I?
Me: This feels like a huge responsibility.
Her: To not turn and attack me?
Me: I just mean – I know I'm trustworthy, but you don't know that. You're taking a leap of faith. And what if you take that leap of faith with someone else who isn't trustworthy? So I feel like, even though I'm trustworthy, maybe you shouldn't trust me because you just shouldn't trust people.
Her: And I'm more likely to be assaulted by someone I know well.
Days later, she flinched very hard when I reached over her to pick something up.
Having her neighbor around much of the time that we hang out hasn't turned out to be an unbearable nuisance as I thought it would be, either, since she makes a visibly conscious effort to be equally inclusive of us both. If anything, I am the guilty party for paying more attention to her than him, but still he has graduated in my mind from “friend-in-law” to actual friend. So I started inviting them both to stuff instead of just her, and when she couldn't make it to something and it was just me and him I didn't even mind. We bonded over our shared love of Homestar Runner and our shared ambivalence toward the latest Star Wars movie.
The Mormon Section
Richard Dawkins has written, "The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
From this I came to wonder if Jesus experienced all of this pain during the Atonement. It seems self-evident that the Atonement covers animals because they will be resurrected. And they are no more deserving of pain, and less so in many cases, than humans. So did Jesus take their burdens upon Himself too? Did He intimately feel, for example, what it's like to be a rabbit experiencing sheer terror and adrenaline as it runs from a fox, only to be overtaken and torn apart? My answer is yes, but like, that's just my opinion, man. And I think there is a self-evident parallel between the necessity of suffering to create species and ecosystems and the necessity of suffering to create gods.
Star Wars Call Me Maybe + Fred Huggins - I Like You
A little over four years ago (so not as ostensibly significant as five but at least it's something), this cover of "Call Me Maybe" was released, and I heard it before I heard the original in its entirety, and it's still my preferred version even though it's just a catchy song in general.
Bonus: The song that goes "I really really really really really really like you" is even catchier, but it reminds me of the Fred Huggins show, which Carly Rae Jepsen presumably watched as a preteen.
Post for Today, July 9, 2016
Last Sunday afternoon I was in the kitchen eating macaroni and cheese, listening to Enya, and re-reading "Seeking a 'Second Harvest': Controlling the Costs of LDS Membership in Europe" by Armand Mauss, and I spontaneously thought, "Life can't get any better than this. Why would I ever want to start a family?" This thought sprang from the realization that having anyone else nearby, be it roommate, spouse, or child, would only have detracted from the moment, though I suppose a dog sitting quietly nearby as I scratched him with a free hand would have enhanced it. So I'm selfish. If only I felt bad about that.
I have taken the second-largest step thus far toward the eventual publication of "Space Girls" (the first, of course, was getting a manuscript completed from start to finish) by sending it to two of my professors asking if they would like to tear it apart. They are busy, and it's long, but I don't feel that I'm selfishly taking advantage of them because they've both praised my writing enough that I imagine they would enjoy the process. Neither of them has responded to acknowledge receipt of the file, so hopefully that just means they didn't think it necessary, as opposed to being a passive-aggressive way of saying screw you. Also, a draft of "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars" should be posted on the site soon.
As fate would have it, I was standing near Phil while he was talking to a couple of girls at a fireworks-watching activity and they said they should get a group and go down to one of their homes in Star Valley to ride horses, so I ended up getting invited to that, though I won't hold my breath for it to actually happen or for them to remember to mention to me if it does. I've never ridden a horse. I'm wary about it because I know that even if you have a well-behaved horse and do everything right, there's still a teensy chance that it will throw you off and break your spine. Still, I'd rather be maimed by an intelligent creature than a mindless machine, or more likely a mindless Utahan driving a machine.
The Mormon Section
Afterward, I got a ride back with Phil and he asked if we could just drive and talk for a bit. He asked if I've been to the temple. I've figured out then when Mormons ask if you've been to the temple, they're really asking if you've been endowed. I had gone to the temple earlier that day, as I do every Tuesday, but only to do baptisms so it doesn't count. Anyway, I said no and he started counseling me about the importance of the endowment. He said we often treat as an afterthought to be taken care of just so we can go on a mission, when in actuality it's far more important than that. He asked about my concerns and suggested meeting with the bishop and making that something to work toward. I used to be really squeamish about getting endowed because it's weird and I don't want to wear temple garments, but now I'm just like whatever. If everyone else can do it so can I.
I'm not sure where this came from. He is the Elders' Quorum president of the ward I've been attending and maybe he's forgotten that I don't actually belong to that ward, even though he did know and told me to just not tell anyone. Nearly four years ago, I attended the wrong ward for a while and then they made me go to the right one, telling me that I needed to be with my own bishop because he had stewardship over my geographical area, and that if people just went to whatever ward they wanted they would all just go wherever the cutest girls were. Since then, I've seen the bishops in this stake ignore that rule for over a dozen other people. When I was ward clerk, to name the most extreme example, I discovered that a girl in my ward was 37 years old. She just didn't feel comfortable in a family ward so they let her come to this one instead and that was that. It was just really weird because my aunt was 38 and I saw her as a "grown-up" while I saw this girl as a peer.
Now, of course, leadership in both wards know that I'm going to the wrong ward and none of them care. "Just go wherever the cutest girls are," our assigned high councilman told me. "That's what I would do."
My bishop did caution that it could cause problems if I wasn't around to perform my calling, but I hadn't done anything there for months and months anyway because the ward mission leader – I don't even remember who it was last – hadn't arranged anything for months and months. The new one is super gung-ho about it so we'll probably go visit people every week now. He didn't call ahead so nobody we were supposed to visit this week was home, but at one of the houses the door was answered by a guy with tattoos all down his arms and a T-shirt of a skeleton flipping the bird. He was very friendly and courteous and told us a bit about how he's agnostic and believes in a benevolent higher power but nothing super specific. That was far more interesting than visiting someone who's already an active member and pretending to care about the town in Idaho where she grew up.
Earlier in the week, for the second time, the Chinese missionaries stopped me and asked me if I know any Chinese people for them to teach. They don't ask first if I'm even LDS, and the other missionaries never stop me at all, so apparently I just have that glow. I don't currently know any Chinese people, but three competing responses popped into my head simultaneously: "Sorry, I only know Americans." "Sorry, I only know white people." "Sorry, I only know English speakers." And all three of them would have made sense. Isn't that weird? I guess the last one would have made the most sense in this context, though. I used to have two Chinese roommates, and one of them couldn't put more than two English words together, so we didn't talk much but he was one of the nicest guys in the world. He was already meeting with missionaries but I don't think he got baptized before he went back to China because he was still smoking. But I hope things worked out for him when he got there.
Debs & Errol - If I Were an Undead Crawler
Debs & Errol were a short-lived duo from Toronto who made geek music, by which I mean music about video games and various fandoms, sometimes parodies and sometimes original. Perhaps their biggest claim to fame is that "Weird Al" Yankovic considered doing a Star Trek parody of "Let it Go" called "Make it So" on his latest album, but didn't because they beat him to it. Since everyone with a pulse has heard that tune more than enough times already, instead I am sharing this parody of Barenaked Ladies' "If I had $1000000000". It is the final track from their parody EP "CTRL + ALT + DUETS".
Again, I don't feel like writing much, and I don't even want to make a post today and very few people would care if I didn't, but I would be disappointed in myself for failing to endure.
Last night I went to Freedom Fire, the annual Independence Day concert/fireworks show, with Debbie. This was made possible by me double pinky promising that it wouldn't be a date. Some time ago, when she suspected that I was interested in her, she started acting cold and aloof to try and dissuade me. But she was still giving me rides and doing other nice things, so I became very confused as to why she seemed schizophrenic. After we clarified that issue and I promised never to ask her out, she became much warmer and more open and willing to spend time with me. As it turns out, when she "just wants to be friends", she doesn't really mean "I'm going to ghost you out of my life altogether and refuse to spare you two minutes unless it's an emergency". How unusual.
When she texted me the day of it, first off I immediately knew it was her because nobody else texts me, and second off I naturally assumed she was canceling on me, but she was just asking if I cared if her neighbor happened to come along. Again, I didn't want that because the dynamic of a trio where two people know one person but not each other always results in me becoming invisible, but since it wasn't a date I didn't feel in any position to be too insistent about that, so I just dodged the question and asked if I would become a third wheel and she laughed and said they aren't dating but we could just go alone anyway. That was just fine with me so I left it at that and didn't respond. I don't feel bad for him because this event has been publicized for months, so it's not like he needed us to invite him anyway.
When she texted me again an hour and forty-five minutes before we were supposed to meet, I thought for sure she was canceling this time, but she was just asking if I wanted to come over for dinner first. That was surprising, but I realized that because I promised not to pursue her, I'm like a dog that has earned the privilege of playing in the yard without a leash because I can be trusted not to run across the street. She just refers to toasted cheese sandwiches as cheese sandwiches and still puts mayonnaise on them, but she pronounces it “mannaise”. Then when we got there she insisted on buying me concessions as reimbursement for her ticket. She loves doing nice things for people but selfishly wants to deny them that same pleasure, and tries to prevent them from doing nice things for her. At my birthday party, the other guys had to block her out of the kitchen so they could wash her dishes. And this time around we were supposed to share the Kettle Corn - the wonderful, wonderful Kettle Corn - but she only ate one handful.
The event itself was very nice as well. The Journey Tribute Band sounded spot-on. When Ryan Innes sang, he was the blackest white guy I'd ever heard, and I said as much, and Debbie said she would put it on her quote wall. Finally. And the fireworks were good and the laser show was good and the patriotic farmer accolades were good, but I'm sure no one is interested in a point-by-point recap and I'm not interested in writing one either.
The Mormon Section
From the Deseret News: "A 29-year-old mother of two died Monday, June 20, during a Church trek re-enacting the Mormon pioneer exodus west. Meaghan Lee Querry Blair of Rogers, Arkansas, began to experience problems near the end of a seven-mile hike through 95-degree heat on the first day of the trek." At the risk of sounding insensitive, this just confirms my opinion that Trek is stupid and I'm grateful I was never forced to participate in it. I learned in Primary that "You don't have to pull a handcart, leave your fam'ly dear, or walk a thousand miles or more, to be a pioneer!" So I see no need to re-enact past pioneering instead of doing some real pioneering of one kind or another in the present.
The Music Section
I know it's hard to discern the lyrics, but after the invention of the internet there's really no excuse for people to still think that "Born in the USA" is a patriotic song. The actual lyrics of the verses are as follows:
Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up
Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man
Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man said "son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said "son, don't you understand"
I had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now
Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go
News flash: "Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp is not a patriotic song either. But by all means, play them both every 4th of July and make a fool of yourself, see if I care. Make no mistake, I'm not saying they're bad songs, because I don't actually worship this country or consider it to be above criticism. Among other things, it was founded on the freedom to criticize it, and the use of that freedom is sometimes merited. I've always hated the part of "America the Beautiful" that says "Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!" Is it suggesting that no one in the cities ever cries? Of course that would be absurd. But the only other interpretation I can think of is that there are human tears but the cities just don't give a crap. Because America is the greatest country in the world, so who cares about the suffering that goes on in it.
Anyway, the independence of the United States from Great Britain is sort of parallel to the independence of the Star Wars galaxy from the Empire. Not really, because the British weren't nearly that bad, but the antagonists had similar accents and both conflicts ended in celebrations with fireworks. The original Ewok celebration song from "Return of the Jedi", known as "Yub Nub", was replaced in the Special Edition by a more New Age-y sounding one that I prefer, but it has a charm of its own. A disco version was created by Meco Monardo, who sadly has faded into obscurity even though his disco version of the Star Wars theme and cantina band reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1977. There was an actual fan-made video to this song that I intended to share, but it has disappeared, so you just get the album art. That disappoints me greatly. (EDIT: That one has disappeared too, so you don't even get the album art. Geez.)
Meco - Ewok Celebration
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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.