I always thought family history was less fun than watching paint dry, but now that I've actually stumbled on a part of my FamilySearch tree where there are people missing that are actually possible to find and put in, it isn't so bad. I'll resist the temptation to go into detail about it because I know nobody cares and I don't blame them. But I'm finding a lot of cool seventeenth-century Dutch names to give my daughters if I ever have daughters. Stijntie Pieters Nicholson, Tryntje Thyssen Nicholson, Giertje Egberts Nicholson. They have nice rings to them, don't they? Of course, the problem with naming daughters is that some man will probably come along and change their last name, ruining your meticulously arranged nomenclature. It's a travesty.
And I do briefly want to share one story I found and really liked. It's about Wiliam Henry Brighton, son of William Stuart Brighton and father of William Stuart Brighton, who was the father of William Henry Brighton. "There is one more thing that I would like to tell about Grandpa Brighton and that is at his funeral one of the speakers, Mr. Bagley, made the remark that Grandpa had lived a good and long life and that now that he had died his troubles were over and that he [Mr. Bagley] had also lived a good and long life and he wished that he too could die and be through with his troubles. Well, that is exactly what he did after giving his talk. He just sat down and died. Of course that shortened the funeral up some but it was quite a thing for him to get his wish."
I don't have much time to write blog posts since I'm chugging away on my memoir. I'm hoping to get it published next year or possibly the year after that. It largely depends on how much I need to revise after learning more about non-fiction writing this coming semester. But I want to get it done and out there so that its provocative title will hopefully kick-start the career I've put off for far too long already.
As much as I loved The Legend of Zelda from the moment I discovered it, I wasn't impressed the first time I heard the Gerudo Valley theme music. It seemed to me like a simplified, inferior pastiche of David Arkenstone's "The Gypsy Camp" (which, though probably unrelated, is obviously meant to evoke a similar setting and culture). Only after a while did I come to appreciate the complexity I hadn't paid attention to before and how catchy it really is. Because I'm busy writing other things, here are a couple of weird fan arrangements that I happened to discover recently. I've gotten at least eight versions stuck in my head at a time but I figure few other people are patient enough to check them all out.
NateWantsToBattle - Shell
As we all know, Nabooru was brainwashed into evil by the twin witches Koume and Kotake. Since she was okay in the end I never gave it a second thought. But this song, slowing the music down and using an electric guitar and adding lyrics, dwells on it and makes it disturbing. Which I love. But I'm still glad she was okay in the end.
Gerudo Legend - Rozen feat. Julie Elven
This one also adds a voice, but slows the music down even further to make it, well, epic. It sounds completely foreign to the original piece and yet still instantly recognizable. And "Elven" is a very appropriate surname for someone singing about a legend named after a princess with pointy ears.
July 11th marked seven years since I moved to Logan, Utah, and once again the local 7-eleven celebrated with free Slurpees. I don't know what I did to make them like me so much but I'm not complaining. This town is the home where my heart is now and if not for the horrific air pollution in winter I would be content to stay here indefinitely.
Many books that I fundamentally disagree with pass through my hands at work. This includes books written by crotchety atheists whose mission in life is to destroy the beliefs that make other people happy. (Obligatory disclaimer that I'm not criticizing all atheists.) I've read a couple of them, found them to be mostly garbage, and reviewed one here. And I'm not sure why anyone cares what Richard Dawkins has to say about anything after his assertion that we should clone human flesh and eat it to overcome our "irrational" taboo against cannibalism. But hey, free speech. Usually I don't give these books a second thought. But the other day I saw one that made me pause. I don't remember or care about the title, but it was subtitled "How Science Disproves God". And I got a little angry, because it drives me crazy when people's confidence is inversely proportional to their intelligence. Disagreement is one thing, but stupidity really rubs me the wrong way.
Once again: science cannot disprove God. Science cannot prove God. An omniscient supernatural entity who controls anything is by definition impossible to test or falsify. (Faith, in order to not be blind, should be founded on spiritual evidence, analogous to how science works but with the crucial difference that this evidence comes to each person individually and cannot be evaluated by anyone else.) Science and religion/spirituality cover entirely different areas of knowledge, and as such are not in competition except in the puerile minds of a few simpletons in both camps. I will keep saying this until I die or everyone gets it into their thick skulls. So, until I die. (Of course there are some religious beliefs that inappropriately tread into science's realm and make easily disprovable claims about the physical world, e.g. that Earth is 6000 years old and humans are not related to any other animal. This kind of "fundamentalist" thinking, which mostly dates back to the early twentieth century and is rejected by the majority of theists worldwide, is perfectly appropriate to negate with science. But God's existence is not.)
One of my favorite professors was James Pitts. Before I met him, I used the lab manual he co-wrote and met his daughter, so I had the impression that he was a very dry and not entirely pleasant individual. But then I had two classes with him. The first, called "Plagues, Pests, and People", made me never want to touch anything, eat anything, or breathe again. But I can't say it wasn't interesting. And one day I missed class because I went to DI to buy a picture of Jesus. Long story. And I missed a take-home test, and he wanted to know why I hadn't turned it in, and I said I had missed it, and he brought me to his office after class, brought me past the line of students outside, and gave me a copy because he said something about how its point was to test my knowledge rather than meet a deadline, or something. And I must have said something about liking dinosaurs because he pointed out his dinosaur books and said I was welcome to borrow them or come talk to him about dinosaurs sometime, and I would have liked to but because of my social anxiety I never did.
The second class, "Darwin's Big Idea" or something to that effect, was more pleasant. In this class we read "On the Origin of Species", which most scientists and non-scientists alike have never bothered to do, and had discussions about how it held up and how evolution was engrained into our culture. The book holds up incredibly well. A few pieces are missing, like the mechanism behind species diversity that we now know as genetic mutations. And a few things are incorrect, like whatever convoluted explanation he came up with for whatever we now explain with plate tectonics; I don't remember the details. But by today's standards most of the book's contents is common sense that not even the most ardent creationist would dispute. It's hard to imagine there was a time when this information was revolutionary. Like, people literally didn't remember that they had bred all their different varieties of sheep from one ancestral species. I guess someone forgot to write that down. They must have felt sheepish. Speaking of writing, I wrote this essay for that class. It's about dinosaurs.
Dr. Pitts had this amazing breadth and depth of knowledge that enabled him to go off on tangents about any topic we could think of. He lamented his proclivity to go off on so many tangents, but we assured him that we were learning more this way. He also showed a great deal of sensitivity. Near the beginning of the class he stressed out that while the Bible couldn't be used as a science book, that didn't mean it wasn't good or useful at all. In contrast, there was this one kid who was clearly an atheist and thought that our evolution class was anti-religion by default, and occasionally Dr. Pitts would have to kind of subtly reel him in without making a scene. It was beautiful. On Halloween, of all days, he was spring cleaning and gave each of us a book to keep. I got "The Panda's Thumb" by Stephen Jay Gould. It's a fascinating collection of essays on evolution, and perhaps most interestingly it explains the origin of words like "idiot" and "moron" that, sadly, were once scientific classifications of intelligence.
I learned many things that the lab manual never told me. Dr. Pitts was an Army veteran from the south, Tennessee if I recall correctly, with a dry sense of humor. On the day Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police, Dr. Pitts came in to class and drawled, "Did you hear they got one of the bombers? They got him the way I wanted him to be got." (I agree, and on that note, why on God's green Earth is his brother still alive well over three years after he was sentenced to death? This incompetence nauseates me.) He didn't get too political in class, although once he complained about some obviously Republican legislation to stop giving free school lunches to impoverished children, and I don't think anyone disagreed with him. He built and played his own musical instruments in his spare time. He taught us once in the diseases class, "There was a big kerfuffle a few years ago when the number of gonorrhea cases in Utah doubled. Went from one to two." Bwahaha.
My point, that I've tried to get at in such a roundabout way, is that Dr. James Pitts was as good and smart a scientist as they come (I mean, he probably still is, but I haven't seen him in years), but he was also a normal person who had a normal personality and interests without deifying science and trying to make everything fit through that lens. I'm quite certain he doesn't wait for science to tell him that his jokes are valid or that it's okay for him to play instruments. He appreciates it as much as anyone, but he doesn't pretend the universe revolves around it and nothing else matters. He really humanized scientists for me and gave me hope that most of them are nothing like the idiots on the internet who try to put down religious believers by flaunting their own worship of science. I don't know or care if he believes in God himself, but his respectful and balanced approach was a breath of fresh air. We need more James Pittses in the world and fewer Richard Dawkinses.
Be Your Babe - Brooke Surgener
As I may have mentioned before, I'm on a Legend of Zelda kick right now. I cycle through my obsessions because my puerile mind can only focus on one thing at a time. I was obsessed with Star Wars not too long ago, but I cycled back to the Legend of Zelda because I was at a friend's house playing some non-Zelda games that reminded me of the Zelda games because they're also games. So I found this adorable song that has nothing to do with the Legend of Zelda but has an adorable Zelda-themed video to go with it. I keep thinking about how bizarre it would be to someone who's unfamiliar with the franchise. And I don't typically call men beautiful, but I can only describe the man who plays Link as beautiful.
Nineteen years later, Ahmed Best has divulged that he considered suicide after the backlash against his character Jar Jar Binks. This should be a wake-up call to people to stop being douchebags. It makes me grateful that I was never a part of the backlash. I loved Jar Jar Binks. He was the funniest person, so to speak, that six year old me had ever seen. I still don't think he's even as annoying as C-3PO in "The Empire Strikes Back", aka still the best Star Wars movie ever. But that's just my opinion.
Amazon sent me a new Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia to replace the damaged one, so I forgive them. Though I'm only about halfway through this dense tome, I really cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who is interested in this franchise. And why wouldn't you be? It's not only the greatest video game franchise, but the greatest franchise of any kind in the history of ever. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Michael Moore's documentaries don't even come close. But that's just my opinion.
On that note, I was wondering recently why Japanese people make most of the characters in their cartoons and comics and video games look Caucasian. And I looked it up and the main answer I found, which sounds legit enough for me to accept, is that they don't. Caucasians think of the default person as Caucasian while Japanese think of the default person as Japanese, so they perceive the cartoon people, who aren't meant to look strictly true to life anyway, differently. This blows my mind and makes perfect sense. But that's just my opinion.
I had another adventure on Independence Day, which no longer means much to me now that the leaders of this country are hell-bent on wiping themselves with the principles this country was founded on. I have mentioned before my attempts to befriend a recovering drug addict. At this point, my persistence has gotten her to respond to my texts more consistently when she isn't in jail or with whooping cough, but my attempts to hang out with her have fallen through time and again because she acts spontaneously and can't keep plans. So I spontaneously dropped by her carcinogen-ridden apartment Wednesday morning to invite her to the free breakfast that the Boy Scouts put on. I knocked, and there was no answer, and then I knocked harder and a muffled voice that didn't quite sound like her asked what I wanted and said it was a holiday. I wondered how that could possibly be relevant when she doesn't have a job. But I explained why I was here and she said to come back later.
So I got breakfast and came back an hour later. This time, the owner of the voice invited me in. The owner of the voice was not my friend. The owner of the voice was an upper middle-aged woman with two teeth who was sleeping in the front room next to my friend, who was still sleeping. I never got her name so I'll call her Shirley. Shirley shook my friend and talked to her, but she just groaned and rolled over a couple times. So Shirley asked if she could come with me instead. I didn't know how to say no. So we left and she offered me a Mountain Dew from the stash hidden under a pile of garbage outside, and I guess that was worth it. I'm more of a Dr. Pepper guy but Mountain Dew is cool too. It always reminds me of the time my friend, a different friend back in New York ten years ago now, was with us on a road trip to Youth Conference and we stopped at my dad's friends' house and hung out in their basement, and he chugged a can and a half of Mountain Dew and then remarked, "You guys know I'm diabetic, right?" We did now. Then he had a breakdown and laughed hysterically at nothing for half an hour. Ah, memories. Anyway...
"Where is it?" she asked. I said it was at the LDS Church at such-and-such address. Shirley said that was too far; wasn't it way on the other side of McDonald's? No, it wasn't. I tried to explain where it actually was, but I think she was drunk or high and I didn't think it would be much use. So I spinelessly went along with her as she suggested going to a closer church building instead. She said there would probably be food there too, as "There's always something going on at the LDS Church, right?" I knew there wouldn't be, so I suggested that if there wasn't I could give her the mostly intact pancake I was still carrying around. She said she would like that. I didn't offer so much out of generosity as a worry that she would start freaking out when we got there and there was no food.
We got there and there was no food. So we sat down on the grass and Shirley ate my pancake. As I patiently waited, she continued telling me her life story. How she met my friend in prison, and is turning 51 in a month, and is becoming a grandmother shortly after that, and wants to quit smoking, and is LDS but hasn't been to church in many years. She asked what music I was listening to on my phone. I felt a little awkward saying "Barenaked Ladies" out loud, but I did and she said "Let's hear it" so I took out the headphones and pressed play. It was their 2006 album "Barenaked Ladies Are Me", a really mellow and beautiful and soothing album. She really got into it and started dancing. Then she was finished with the pancake, and she wanted to flag somebody down for a ride back, but I didn't want to deal with that so I changed the subject and we walked.
My friend was still asleep. As Shirley went to lie back down, she remarked, "Maybe you don't even know her." That possibility didn't seem to disturb her in the slightest, though. She said thanks and I said it was nice to meet her and I left. I probably doomed myself to cancer with the time I spent standing in that hallway, if my grossly inconsiderate neighbors haven't already done it. The landlord should be in jail for allowing such conditions to exist. But that's just my opinion.
"The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia" was the only thing I wanted for my birthday, and it came in the mail yesterday. On opening the package, I was somewhat annoyed to find that two of the four packing bubbles were already deflated, and that despite being plastic wrapped this "new" book that I intended to keep in flawless condition forever already had a little dent/tear in the cover. Thanks, Amazon. No complaints about the actual content, though. I've spent hours reading it yesterday and today and I'm less than a third of the way in. It's just so chock-full of pictures and text and diagrams. Two thumbs way up. If you haven't already, go out and get this book.
I alternate between that obsession and the Spotify playlist I'm building. Since most of my tens of thousands of songs became inaccessible, I've been searching YouTube or choosing artists on Spotify for six months, but now I'm putting every song I like or love that I can find on Spotify on this list so it can be my go-to spot for virtually everything for the foreseeable future. Lots of the stuff I owned is obscure and/or independent and not on Spotify, but Spotify also has lots of stuff that I never owned due to time and money constraints, so it's a tradeoff. This playlist takes me back to the days when I was first introduced to the concept of a playlist, and didn't get it. Why would I want to choose only some of my music as opposed to shuffling literally all of it? I've always liked shuffling. Probably because I grew up with a CD changer that could hold five CDs and shuffle all of them together. If I end up with a polka and a rap and a symphonic metal back-to-back, so much the better.
I try to resist my natural inclination toward inflammatory rhetoric, but there is a time and place for it and in this case I'm not going to hold back or sugar-coat it except insofar as to leave out the swear words going through my head. I join with millions of others in unequivocally condemning the Supreme Court's misguided decision to uphold Drumpf's refugee ban. I know my condemnation of it doesn't affect jack but I'm putting it out there anyway so I can stand before God with a clear conscience. As the anniversary of the United States' Declaration of Independence fast approaches, we can all celebrate the ideals that our nation is founded on and now actively tramples underfoot. I am officially no longer proud to be an American. I refused to sing any of the patriotic hymns in church today. We can't just go around pretending that this is de facto a great nation because we said so while it's doing crap like this. We may as well be honest and change the plaque on the Statue of Liberty to read "Screw You."
Last year I detailed at length why the ban is a moral abomination and why Drumpf's excuses for it are an enormous crock of orange feces. Reiterating all that would be a waste of time, so here I'll just remind Americans yet again that when this blight on humanity was running for the Republican nomination, he called for a ban on all Muslim immigration. In any civilized country, that remark, along with any of at least three hundred other indefensible remarks he's made, would have immediately disqualified him from being taken seriously as a candidate for anything - but in this country, basic decency isn't a thing anymore, so the Republican Party, to their everlasting disgrace, nominated him as much because of that remark as in spite of it. And today, millions of imbeciles have chosen to forget he ever said that and have the gall to claim with straight faces that this ban has nothing to do with religion. What is it about, then? Not any legitimate national security reasons, that's for sure. Maybe refugees are better off going to countries that will treat them like human beings anyway. But those countries are small and the refugees' numbers are not.
"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."
- David Young
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.