I don't know how interesting any of this will be to most people, but I know there are some people who have visited my site so many hundreds of times that they obviously idolize me and they should find it fascinating. I'm writing this for them.
A couple weeks ago I binge-read through the first two years of "Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!" This strip is way underappreciated. It's funnier than half the ones still in most newspapers. It's a parody of/homage to everything sci-fi, drawn in a retro style, with humor ranging from slapstick to puns to social commentary. The titular character, Brewster Rockit, is captain of the space station R. U. Sirius, but isn't entirely qualified for the job.
But he's a nice guy and he means well.
After binge-reading comics, I always start thinking in comics. And this time I started really seriously thinking about a comic series of my own. It wasn't the first time, of course. I even attempted some in middle and high school. Some of those are posted here even though maybe they never should have seen the light of day, and others are not posted because I couldn't figure out how to make the stupid scanner not cut off the edge. When your text often goes right up to the edge that's kind of a problem. Anyway, some that aren't posted were about a guy named Alvin and his girlfriend Aurora and his friend Arnold and his pet Komodo dragon Steve. Those, except for Steve, were done in stick figures because that made them much easier to draw. And therein lies the rub. I'm a decent artist, but I don't have the patience to draw the same characters in much detail over and over and over again, or the skill to draw them from an angle other than front, back and profile. I wanted to do something better than stick figures, but I can't, so actually making the comics is on hold for a while.
But that hasn't stopped me from writing a few hundred scripts for them. Some great, some awful, most on a spectrum of mediocrity, but I've been cranking them out so I have something to work with. I soon realized that I was often scripting panels with more dialogue than a standard newspaper comic could possibly fit. Really, two short sentences is about as much as you get in a panel. Partly I'm sure this is because quick and punchy dialogue more easily lends itself to humor, but partly I'm sure it's also a byproduct of newspapers constantly shrinking their comics spaces and forcing cartoonists to dumb things down. But whatever the reasons, writing is my passion and I can't limit myself like that. This will, of course, make drawing the strips even more challenging when that time comes, so it will require some careful planning.
One of my first creative decisions was to subvert the time-honored trope of the male buffoon. As many have observed, husbands and fathers in entertainment media are usually portrayed as idiots who are always getting into trouble. I decided to cut them some slack by putting Alvin's wife Rachel in that role. She was just supposed to be like a non-obese female Homer Simpson, but I still had Brewster Rockit in my brain and went overboard.
Alvin: We should teach Tyler to tie her shoes.
Alvin: I should teach you and Tyler to tie your shoes.
Rachel: Would you, dear? That'd be swell.
Faux feminists will be outraged, but true feminists will rejoice at the leveled playing field. If there's one thing they hate, it's being put on a pedestal. As one explained to me, "The right to be seen as less than perfect is a big deal." (She was talking about the desire for more female villains and mooks, but the point still applies.) Anyway, Rachel's stupidity can hardly be seen by any reasonable person as a slur against women when other female characters such as her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter, best friend, neighbor, and daughter's biology teacher's lab assistant exhibit moderate to high intelligence.
David: So, Mary, you're a college student, huh? Studying biology?
Mary: I'm double-majoring in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Physics.
Mary: In my free time I study geology, anthropology, and psychology. I'll try to test through degrees in those when I get a chance.
David: And of course you're interning here too...
Mary: I invented a formula that removes the need for sleep. I'd let you try some, but it isn't FDA approved yet.
From the beginning, "The Cracrofts" also differed from most comics in one significant respect. Most comics take place in some kind of alternate space-time continuum where Calvin can celebrate ten Christmases and remain six years old, and the Duncans can be baby boomers with a teenage son in 2016. This one has a progression. Alvin Cracroft and Rachel Sparks get married, then they have a daughter named Tyler, then Tyler progresses from infant to teenager.
Alvin (thinking): “Oh, joy, a little girl!” I said. “She'll be so sweet and innocent!” I said.
Alvin: “She'll dress up like a princess and play with dolls!” I said.
Alvin (out loud): Hahahahahahaha!
Tyler: When you've finished laughing at nothing, the car is on fire again.
The actual years covered by this were originally vague, from the early 2000s through the present to whenever. But after making some of the first comics I realized something. Alvin, like me, insisted on playing "Maahi Ve" at his wedding reception, which meant that their marriage had to take place in 2003 or later. I decided it was in 2004, to give Alvin ample time to love that song.
Speakers: Maahi ve! Maahi ve! That's the way... Maahi ve!
Alvin: Aw yeah, this is my jam! This is the one thing I insisted on having!
Speakers: Tere maathe jhumar damke, tere kaanon baali chamke, hai re! Maahi ve!
Alvin: You just put your hands together like so and move your arms like so!
Speakers: Tere haathon kangna khanke, tere pairon paayal chhanke, hai re! Maahi ve!
White Person: What the – hey! This is cultural appropriation!
Indian Person: Eh, blow it out your ear.
This opened up a world of possibilities in allowing them to react to and comment on real-world events even though I'm not writing concurrently with them. They get to watch "Revenge of the Sith", and then ten years later they get to watch "The Force Awakens".
Alvin: Rachel! Did you see the “Revenge of the Sith” teaser trailer they released today?
Rachel: Duh! My land, it was epic!
Alvin (pantomiming starships): Pew pew! Boom!
Rachel (pantomiming lightsaber): Voom! Voom!
Alvin: I'm so excited I almost wet my pants!
Rachel: I'm so excited I did wet my pants!
They get to comment on four elections (and counting, if the U.S. still exists in 2020).
Rachel: All these people judging poor Donald for things he said eleven years ago. He was young and foolish like all of us once were! When I was fifty-nine –
Alvin: You've never been fifty-nine, Rachel.
Rachel: Well, anyway, he could have changed since then.
Alvin: Actually, his sexism since then has been so obvious that I don't understand why people are so shocked by this video.
Rachel: It's just “locker room talk”, right?
Alvin: He doesn't look like the type who spends much time in locker rooms.
They get to interact with real people - so far I've guest-starred Pope John Paul II, Mitt Romney, and Robert T. Bakker. The latter's personality has been completely fabricated in the same spirit as Jane Goodall's character in Irregular Webcomic!, who once dismissed a technicality of the differences between monkeys and apes by proclaiming, "I'm Jane freakin' Goodall!"
Dr. Pitts: As promised, today we get to hear from Dr. Robert T. Bakker, who's largely responsible for the way we look at dinosaurs today.
Dr. Bakker: Yep! “The dinosaur heresies”, I called them. Not so heretical anymore, are they?
Dr. Pitts: Dr. Bakker has –
Dr. Bakker: Everyone was so blinded by their confirmation bias and prejudice against reptiles that they scoffed at my radical new theories. Well, who's scoffing now, huh?
Dr. Pitts: Yes, that's –
Dr. Bakker: Suck it, orthodoxy! SUCK IT!
After their marriage in 2004, Tyler's birth is in 2006, and then she'll be 18 in 2024 and I decided that would be a good place to end it with an even twenty years. It feels weird to be writing strips set a few years in the future, but we all know by now that the future is basically the same as today and will consistently fail to deliver on its promise of flying cars. (Bakker's appearance is set in 2020, so I don't know if he'll actually still be alive then, but he's only 71 so I assume he will and if he's not I'll work around that somehow through the endless possibilities of fiction.) This has become a very story-driven strip (which will be my excuse whenever the humor is below par), with several extended storylines that go on for longer than they would in most daily comics. If they ever actually get drawn I'll just put them all up at once (along with some ads to cash in on their inevitable popularity). I like being unorthodox.
Alvin: What have you been up to today, sweetie?
Tyler: I've just been reading this biography about Adolf Hitler.
Tyler: I was really surprised and fascinated by how much his early childhood and grievances had in common with mine.
Rachel: What have you been up to today, sweetie?
Tyler: I got my book-reading privileges revoked and I can only watch TV for a month.
Rachel unexpectedly wormed her way right into my heart. One theme that developed very quickly is that despite this severe shortcoming, she's an amazing person with a heart of gold and a lot of wonderful qualities, and her husband sees that and loves her for it and it's beautiful. I really enjoy writing about how in love they are. There's probably something to do with brain chemistry about how it creates an illusory feeling that I'm in their shoes myself.
Rachel (in bed): Alvin! Psst! Alvin! Wake up!
Alvin (in bed): Mmph.
Rachel: Are you sure you wanna marry me?
Alvin: Rachel, we've been married for twelve years.
Rachel: Just thought I'd double-check.
I watched at least fifteen episodes of "Last Man Standing" with Tim Allen at my grandparents' place over break, because "Psych" is no longer on Netflix, and as a comedy it was decent but what really mesmerized me was the relationship between Mike and Vanessa Baxter. They have such a good marriage and it's always obvious that they love and respect each other even when they argue. I didn't know it was legal to still show good marriages in entertainment media. We need more of that.
Vanessa: So you think things were better when we had slavery and women couldn't vote?
Mike: Of course not. Slavery was horrible.
Mike: Good night, honey.
And once in a while Rachel subverts expectations, so that's a lot of fun to write too.
Rachel: So I was on this mommy forum today and a bunch of mommies told me we shouldn't get Tyler vaccinated because it will give her autism.
Alvin: Hooboy. Dare I ask what you said?
Rachel: I said, “Ha! Vaccines are the greatest miracle of modern medicine, there's no evidence that they cause autism, and even if there were I would much rather have an autistic child than a dead one!”
Alvin: I'm so very proud to be your husband.
Rachel: Then I posted a bunch of scientific studies and they banned me.
Tyler, for her part, was supposed to be the female version of Calvin, but she went overboard too and became even more of a brat than I expected. I love her too, though. She's got a heart of gold too, no matter how many layers of mud she tries to hide it under.
Alvin: Rachel, be honest with me. Am I Tyler's real father?
Rachel: How dare you ask such a thing! I have been a hundred percent faithful to you from our first date until now! I oughtta smack you upside the head!
Rachel: Who else could her real father be, anyway?
And did I mention that Steve the Komodo dragon is still a part of this? He's Rachel's pet and she brought him into the family. Komodo dragons can live up to fifty years in captivity, so I can keep using him for a long time.
Mrs. Philbinksi: Aieeeee! Your monstrous lizard thing ate my little Fritzi!
Steve: Munch munch.
Rachel: Fun fact: if he had been larger, Steve would have just bitten him, left, waited for him to get infected and die of sepsis, and then come back to devour his corpse.
Rachel: Isn't this a much nicer way to go?
Mrs. Philbinski: I'm suing.
Alvin's sister Susan was intended to be like the female version of Jon Arbuckle before Liz gave in to his harassment, Dilbert before his comic shifted to work topics only, and me always, in another role reversal that has her pathetic love life being played for (in theory) laughs. But she maintains a positive attitude and just keeps plugging along.
Susan (on phone): So my love life is getting weird.
Alvin (thinking): You have a love life now? That is weird.
Susan (on phone): This guy went on one date with me and said he wants to be mates. Crazy, right? I told him I'll think about it.
Alvin: This guy wouldn't happen to be Australian, would he?
Susan: Yeah, how'd you know?
And I guess I should also mention Alvin's brother Bill. And then I could mention his parents and stuff too but this post has already gone on for too long.
Bill: Yo, Al! Dad tells me you're fixin' to pop the question! You've come to the right place!
Alvin: Uh, thanks Bill, but I didn't –
Bill: Come on, we'd better have a little chat. I'll tell you everything you gotta do. Not to brag or anything, but I'm a freakin' expert on marriage.
Alvin: I should hope so, after you've done it five times.
Bill: Six, but who's counting?
In closing, since I can't take a hint even from myself, here is one of the shorter storylines more or less in its entirety.
Dr. Pitts: Good morning, class. I'm Dr. James Pitts and I'll be your Biology instructor this year.
Dr. Pitts: And this is my assistant, Mary Hollenbaugh. She's a student at the university, on an internship here.
Mary: I'll be grading your assignments, so be really nice to me, ha ha.
David: Well hel-lo there. Biology? This just became a Chemistry class for me!
Tyler: You're disgusting.
Panel 1 (and only)
Dr. Pitts: As Theodosius Dobzhansky aptly observed, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, so that's where we'll begin this course.
Tyler: Heads exploding in three... two...
Alvin: What's up?
Rachel: Bad news. Tyler is learning evolution in her science classroom.
Alvin: What's wrong with that?
Rachel: What's wrong with that??
Rachel: Hello! Pokemon aren't even real! Don't they have anything better to learn about?
Alvin: Right. I forgot.
Rachel: So I love Pokemon as much as the next girl, but I just don't think they belong in the science classroom.
Dr. Pitts: I see.
Rachel: Thanks for hearing me out, Dr. Pitts. My husband said that no one would listen to me and that I'd be wasting my time.
Dr. Pitts: Well, your objection to evolution is about as valid as any of the others I've received.
Rachel: Ha! I'll tell him you said that!
Dr. Pitts: Mrs. Cracroft, evolution is part of the state-mandated curriculum and I have to keep teaching it.
Rachel: Judas Priest, what is modern education coming to?
Dr. Pitts: But tomorrow I'll open with a disclaimer that Pokemon is just a game and not to be taken seriously. Sound good?
Rachel: Yeah, that'd be swell!
Dr. Pitts: Anything else I can do for you?
Rachel: I'm good here, but I'd like to have a little chat with the Gym teacher.
Rachel (on computer): Dr. Pitts was helpful, but there's more to be done. I'm writing to the state board of education about their science guidelines.
Rachel: If they're going to allow certain things in the classroom, then they need to allow the opposing viewpoints as well. They need to teach the controversy.
Alvin (reading over shoulder): Rachel, there is no controversy. Digimon is a thousand times less popular.
Rachel: Only because most people never gave it a chance!
Tyler: Pastor Hartgraves, what do you think of the whole evolution thing?
Pastor Hartgraves: Ha! More like evil-ution if you ask me!
Pastor Hartgraves: I can't speak for your teacher, but I ain't kin to no monkey. It's degrading and appalling to suggest that mankind sprang from some lower animal.
Tyler: Where did mankind come from, then?
Pastor Hartgraves: Dust.
David Seville and the Chipmunks - The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)
And now, to start off this holiday season, a song that needs no introduction.
Alvin (off-screen): Coming, dear!
Alvin: What is it? What'd I do?
Rachel: Nothing. I've just always wanted to say that.
I sought a ride to Idaho Falls for Thanksgiving, hoping to leave on Wednesday but knowing that beggars can't be choosers. If I couldn't get one I would take the Salt Lake Express bus, but that's a lot more expensive. It costs a staggering amount to fuel them and I'm sure it doesn't help that they have to go south to Brigham City before going north to Idaho Falls for some reason I can't comprehend. I looked at a map and it looks to me like you could go directly from Logan to Idaho Falls, but I'm no expert. Anyway, I did get a ride, and it was on Thanksgiving itself but we would be leaving at 10:30 so we'd get there in plenty of time and it would be great. She'd only be staying for one day so I'd just stick around and take the bus back, but that would still be a lot cheaper than taking it both ways.
Early Thanksgiving morning she got sick and canceled. She was very apologetic and I told myself not to be upset with her because it's not like she chose to be sick and not get to go at all. I chose instead to be upset at life itself for pulling this kind of crap on us. So I would have to take the Salt Lake Express bus after all, which was pretty annoying because if I'd known I would have to take the bus I would have left on Wednesday. I tried to get the soonest departure, which was just over an hour away. Usually you can just get tickets online with a few mouse clicks, but apparently since this one was so close, it said to call a number instead. I did, and got an automated voice blathering on about some promotion and concluding, "If you are fifty or older, press one."
It repeated, "If you are fifty or older, press one."
I swore at it. (I swear a lot when I get mad. I'm not proud of it, but I'm just being honest.)
It said, "If you are fifty or older, press one. If you are not fifty or older, press zero." I pressed zero. It said "End of call" and disconnected.
I swore at it again, redialed and this time got an automated menu with actual options. I pressed the number for customer service and was informed that I was the sixth caller in the queue. Okay, fine, it was a holiday so that was understandable albeit still really annoying. I waited for twenty minutes, with it repeating the standard forgettable music and "We appreciate your patience" stuff, and then I was in the first position. And then for a further ten minutes it continued to inform me that I was in the first position. I was getting pretty aggravated as time ran out, and thought about rude things to say to the person who would answer, but told myself not to because it wasn't their fault and I worked in a call center for almost four months so I know what it's like when people treat you like you're not a person because they can only hear your voice. But when it finally came to be my turn, the line went silent.
"Hello?" I said. "Hello? HELLO??" No answer. I waited maybe thirty seconds and swore and hung up in disgust. I still had about twenty minutes, so I ran down to the bus station to see if I could just buy a ticket right there and get on.
"Sorry, I don't sell the tickets," the driver said. "I don't have any tickets to sell." And I just stood there for a moment staring at him as I silently told myself not to yell at him because he was just a driver and he didn't decide the policies and none of this was his fault. I turned away and swore under my breath. "We still have a couple minutes," he said. "You could try calling them again." I did, and it immediately told me I was caller number one, but given my previous experience with being caller number one for ten minutes I wasn't about to go through that again. I hung up after two minutes and walked home fuming.
Then I saw Jordin Sparks' Facebook status: "Before getting upset always ask yourself: will this even matter in six months, in a year, or in five years? If the answer is no, just let it go."
Jordin Sparks, ladies and gentlemen.
So I bought a later ticket arrived after my family had eaten dinner and I got to eat leftovers by myself and it was the crappiest Thanksgiving of my life, but the person who was going to give me a ride probably had a crappier one since she was sick and didn't end up going at all. I reminded myself of that to try and stop being all "me me me". Even without that perspective, there is the whole issue of first world problems versus all the people who were starving, being abused, and what have you on Thanksgiving day. And even without that perspective, it's already in the past and doesn't matter. It took some pride-swallowing but I followed Jordin Sparks' admonition to let it go. Except that Salt Lake Express.refused to even dignify me with a response when I asked for a refund even though their incompetence ruined everything. Regardless of whether you think I deserve a refund, they could have had the simple decency to acknowledge my existence. So I'm keeping my promise to tell everyone about my immense dissatisfaction with them. You guys, I'm immensely dissatisfied with them. That's all. I've let it go now.
I would like to completely change the subject by sharing something that has already been shared over a couple hundred thousand times, and expressing an opinion about it that does not fall in line with the general consensus of most of those people. Some will undoubtedly hate me for daring to do so, but I've given up caring about that sort of thing. I'm quite tired of being held to a double standard just because white people who aren't me have done and said bad things to other races in the past, or even today.
There is no such thing as "African culture" or "Asian culture". Africa and Asia are both vast and diverse continents with anywhere from dozens to thousands of different cultures, depending on how one measures such things. And if black = African as the post asserts, then white = European, right? And surely white people can have pride in their European culture and heritage, right? Especially since Europe is a far smaller and more cohesive continent than Africa or Asia so the phrase "European culture" is slightly less absurd, right? No, descendants of European stock can only take pride in their specific country, not their continent, or else the social justice warriors with their mind-reading powers have determined that they're just proud they don't have a different skin color. How do we know people with black pride aren't just proud they aren't white or brown? Why aren't they required to choose Ghanaian pride, Ethiopian pride, Rwandan pride, and so on*? For that matter, why doesn't this guy grant permission for Mexicans to have generic Latin American pride? What did they do?
*Of course, even acting like a particular African country has a uniform culture and heritage doesn't really work, since most of their boundaries were drawn by Europeans who didn't know or care that they were breaking up tribes, ethnic groups, and languages with no rhyme or reason. And while we're on the subject, Africans have a wide spectrum of skin tones and are more genetically diverse than the natives of any other continent, so I think that lumping them all together as just "black" is kind of silly.
The Mouse on the Mayflower
This cartoon first aired 48 years and three days ago. I watched it as a kid, maybe fifteen years or so ago, and then I watched it again on Wednesday evening for nostalgia purposes. Everything was familiar. I hadn't realized as a kid, however, that it features the versatile voice actress June Foray of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame. She did the voice of Rocky and virtually every female character. Like Kirk Douglas and Vera Lynn, she's still alive at the age of 99 years, and I very much hope that all three will survive the Celebrity Massacre of 2016. Kirk only needs to make it less than two weeks until his hundredth birthday, knock on wood. Anyway, the opening song of this cartoon is as awe-inspiring as I remembered it, so I include it here, followed by the entire thing for anybody who has the time and interest (which will probably be nobody, but just in case).
"Let us be articulate for while our defense of the kingdom may not stir all hearers, the absence of thoughtful response may cause fledglings among the faithful to falter. What we assert may not be accepted, but unasserted convictions soon become deserted convictions." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell
"Mormonism" differs from mainstream Christianity enough that many mainstream Christians refuse to acknowledge it as Christian at all, claim that it follows a "different Jesus", and often regard it as a cult that must be opposed to save its practitioners from hellfire (even though the vast majority of de-converted Mormons become atheists). Historically by far the most vehement opposers have been evangelicals. Catholics have done it sometimes but only a fraction of a percent as often. Times have changed, though. I believe that evangelical anti-Mormonism is virtually irrelevant to anything in this day and age. For one thing, as evangelical scholars themselves noted nearly twenty years ago, it has spectacularly failed to evolve in response to Mormon apologetic counter-arguments. For another, Western Christianity altogether is increasingly unpopular and rapidly shrinking, and one sect arguing that it's less irrational than another looks absurd to many people. In this century Mormons and evangelicals have begun to realize that they're far more alike than different, and to foster a more constructive dialogue which is beginning to supersede the tired old polemics.
Militant atheists, on the other hand, who once mostly ignored Mormonism because it's so small, have turned a lot more of their attacks toward it in recent years as it grows in prominence disproportionately to its size. So in my view, anyone who wishes to be involved in Mormon apologetics, which is a noble and necessary endeavor, should focus on addressing atheist critics and not worry about evangelicals much at all. I've had a hard time persuading others of this, though. There's a group of internet apologists I hang out in and many of them, in turn, are involved in Mormon-evangelical dialogue groups that are jointly led by admins of both faiths and intended to model the more constructive and less polemical dialogue but often degenerate into the same old arguments. When one of these groups becomes too contentious or too evangelical-dominated, someone leaves the group and starts a new one, and the cycle begins again. I've long viewed the whole affair as a colossal waste of time that persuades no one of anything.
Recently I couldn't stand it anymore and asked these people, "What exactly is debating doctrine with evangelicals supposed to accomplish?" I presumed the answer was "nothing", of course, and that they would realize this and move on to more productive endeavors. I was wrong. What follows are the reasons they gave, with a few edited slightly for aesthetic purposes. I let them speak for themselves, with no commentary on my part, and their inclusion here is not necessarily an endorsement of every word of all of them. I intend no offense or disrespect to evangelicals or their beliefs. I really like that this allows me to fill up the post without thinking of something to write myself.
"Challenge your own arguments, fine tune them, or change them if you discover they are unsound. Respectful, intelligent debate analyzes some of the best or worst points we adhere to."
"D & C 71."
"It's made me a much more effective scriptural pugilist, for what that's worth."
"Nothing much. Just post the truth to correct their misrepresentations of LDS beliefs. Don't defend much or give in to their provocative rhetoric."
"We learn their perspectives, see the differences, Learn the sources of their doctrines (scripture, creeds, etc.) So we can speak from experience when we empathize with and share truth with our actual relations (friends, family, members, etc.)."
"Christopher... much, actually. Having been involved with this particular endeavor for over 25 years now, I know of literally dozens who have joined the Church who once opposed it as a result of hearing the gospel taught in the course of our discussions. Behind the facade of anti-Mormonism, sometimes there is a true seeker of truth exploring to see what that truth might be... someone who fights the LDS Church because they are insecure in their own faith. I've been told by some who later joined the Church that when they read what we wrote, they felt impressed that it was true... some said that it 'sounded right,' or that it 'felt right,' like something they had always secretly believed, but which ran counter to popular EV belief. Never discount the impact that teaching the truth... in WHATEVER setting... may have on those who are secretly searching."
"^ amen to that"
"^ Yep. For instance, I was in Cambridge, UK for a long weekend in January. A man approached me and informed me that he had struggled with LDS theology (Christology; plurality of Gods doctrine, etc) due to his Church of England/Trinitarian background for a number of months while meeting with the missionaries there until he happened upon my blog posts on LDS vs. Trinitarian Christologies, such as my response to Bobby Gilpin and others, which made him do a 180 on the topic of LDS Christology and other issues that had once troubled him and was nearing baptism. There are truth seekers watching on the benches, if you will."
"When I go out with my local missionaries, I share our discussions, questions and the comments by the Evangelicals that oppose us. When they see the lack of logic, consistency and scriptural support, they readily listen to the Restoration message. Take this from Bowman, for example. I asked: What is the purpose for which the Triune god created mankind, ex nihilo? He answered: 'Mankind was not created ex nihilo. The universe was, but not man.' Rob doesn't seem to understand 'Ex nihilo'. But he continues, 'God created human beings to bear his image in this finite, physical world - to be and act as his representatives, displaying his glory (his goodness, truth, etc.) in the world as physical creatures endowed with the capacity to know and love God and each other in ways that reflect God's character.' When you pose additional questions like this for which 'Christianity' had not response, it become quite simple to open a once closed mind."
"It mostly strengthen my own testimony because it forces me to research and study and reinforce, intellectually, what the Spirit has already confirmed. Sure, it's disappointing when they refuse to listen but when they are here to argue about points of doctrine they're not really ready for the true gospel anyway."
"When I was still inactive, living in Bay City, Texas, just outside Houston, I met a former Jehovah's Witness the one time I attended the Block. I asked him how devout he had been as a JW. He told me he averaged 160 of proselytizing each month. Our full-time missionaries don't do that. I then asked him what opened his mind to listen to us, as they are indoctrinated, 'You are there to teach, not to be taught.' He said it was a missionary who showed him with his own Bible there would be more than 144,000 going to Heaven. So, it pays to not only learn our own beliefs, but theirs."
Food for thought, I suppose.
Janeen Brady and the Brite Singers - I'm a Mormon
The song I wanted to post today is not on YouTube. What a bitter disappointment that I shall have to fix later. So instead, you get this. I suppose that it, like the above remarks, speaks for itself.
Please make me very happy by liking me on Facebook:
In the 2012 election, I stayed up late on pins and needles and was too depressed the next morning to get out of bed. This time, I simply didn't care about the result because I knew that, barring some miracle, I would hate it. So I'm not going to stress about it. Some of Trump's outlined policies for the first one hundred days look good to me. The rest are terrifying. At least there's no anti-vaccine crap on the horizon yet. The only bright side is that in order for him to win his opponent had to lose, and with any luck her political career is over. His never should have started. Obviously I didn't know what I was talking about when I said months ago that he wasn't going to be the nominee. I could go on and on about this but we've all had enough of that, haven't we? Yes, we have. Anyway, I'm not going to stress and if worst comes to worst I'm not married to the idea of staying in this country for the rest of my life. I did some research and found that some of the friendlier Middle Eastern countries have a surprising level of economic freedom.
But since I was obsessing over the election earlier, I forgot to post this back when it would have been more relevant. It's a friend from back home wearing what I think is the coolest Halloween costume ever. They called it Khardharsan Zuud, which is apparently Mongolian for "nightmare". I'll take their word for it.
Now want to see something really stupid? I knew you did. Here you go.
There you have it, folks, God isn't real because of atoms and planets. That makes perfect sense because reasons. Oh, and if you're going to attempt to demonstrate the perceived superiority of science over religion you could do better than to perpetuate an inaccurate representation wrongly believed by laypeople in general and creationists in particular. The timeline of human evolution looks nothing like that. It's more like this:
And this is the real relationship between humans and apes:
Contributing to the current discussion on sexual assault that surely has nothing to do with any political figures, Cracked.com recently published this very enlightening article on "7 Reasons So Many Guys Don't Understand Sexual Consent". The article gives Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back" as one of its examples of entertainment media portrayals that disregard the principle of consent. I kind of pointed this out last December, but didn't realize it was actually a factor in shaping real attitudes because any guy who isn't Harrison Ford who aspires to be like Han Solo has delusions of grandeur bigger than the third Death Star - sorry, I mean Starkiller Base. I also saw a couple of articles about inadvertently creepy things that "nice guys" do, and since people have often called me a "nice guy", apparently thinking I don't know that it's a thinly veiled insult, I figured I should read them. Neither was very helpful. I haven't done any of the things they listed because I'm not brain-dead.
Oh, and Mackenzie had tickets to a ski movie that she couldn't use because she was out of town. Apparently ski movies are a thing. So she asked if I wanted them and I could go on a date with someone. I had to think about it for a few hours before I remembered that I would rather shoot myself in the kneecaps. Besides, I've made it almost a year without asking any girls out and it would be a shame to give up now.
The Mormon Section
As much as I hate Mormon culture, most of the problems I've encountered with it and most of the people who have made me want to apostatize have been on the internet, not in any local congregation. I deal with a lot of pages and groups and their respective admins and members as I try to get my own foot in that door, and sometimes don't see eye-to-eye with them. Sometimes they downright disgust me. When several pages that knew better shared Rodney Meldrum's pseudoscience about Book of Mormon DNA, I protested, and their private responses were basically "Yes, I know this is a load of crap, but look how popular it is." Of course the fact that such things are popular because so many Mormons are gullible and scientifically illiterate enough to like and share them disgusts me too, but at least that doesn't evidence a lack of integrity.
There is a group called "1 Million Mormons on Fb" (which, despite having existed for at least seven years, has well under one twenty-fifth of that amount). I've clashed with some people there too, particularly those who denounce articles as anti-Mormon without bothering to read them first and those who think I'm an apostate because I don't see eye-to-eye with them on cultural matters. I know at least one of the admins isn't my biggest fan notwithstanding I never intentionally broke any rules, including the vague "common sense and decency" clause. The other day, subsequent to not breaking any rules or posting anything that should have been controversial to anyone, I was banned out of the blue. Confused, I inquired of some admins, most of whom proceeded to ignore me. The only response I got was from Josie Meechan Barnshaw, who said, "Hi Christopher, I believe you posted something political, which is against the group's rules."
To which the obvious response, though not the one I chose, would have been "Are you ------- kidding me?" I did not post anything political. I did not post anything that a person with a functioning brain and a first grade English reading level could possibly mistake for anything political. I certainly did not post any "DISCUSSION OF PARTY POLITICS OR CANDIDATES", which is what the rules actually forbid (caps in original). So the only conceivable origin of this accusation appears to be a deliberate, calculated lie by one of the admins. Which one? Was it W. Stephen Svedin, Brad Hill, Christine Sheets Bates, Donald E. Neighbors (though I know him from another setting and don't think he would do such a thing), Josie Meechan Barnshaw, Dan Owen, Cheri Murphy, Sheila Blume DuBois, Nikita Eden, or Toni Martin Owen? I have my suspicions about which one it was, but since I have no evidence, I shan't accuse him/her because that would lower me to his/her level. Of course I'll probably never know since he/she is too much of a coward to acknowledge my existence after banning me and making up a reason.
So anyway, I told Josie that I hadn't posted anything political and showed her the last thing I had posted which was not political, and in response she proceeded to ignore me. After a few attempts to rejoin the group I was blocked by someone or other. Now I know how the impoverished Zoramites felt when the self-righteous Zoramites kicked them out of the synagogues. Assuming, that is, that they weren't so much distraught as really pissed off. Anyway, if I needed a clearer message that I don't belong and am not welcome among Mormons of this ilk, I have one now. This is why I like Robert Kirby so much. Also, I know it might have been socially unacceptable for me to list everyone's names like that and I don't care.
Jordin Sparks - One Step at a Time
At an institute dance in February last year I heard a song that I thought was impossibly beautiful, but didn't remember any of the words so I couldn't find it afterward. I requested a list of the songs they had played and they sent it to me and I checked all the ones I didn't recognize but it wasn't there. I gave up on it. Then, this week, I discovered that I had gotten it in my possession without even trying, on one of the albums I purchased during the Hastings clearance sale before they went out of business (may they rest in peace). It made my week. I was only really familiar with two Jordin Sparks songs, and between this and the rest of her two albums that I have I'm a fan now, and an even bigger fan after seeing what she had to say the day after the election:
Many people might think I'm overreacting to call this song impossibly beautiful, but to each their own.
Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of my website, though of course for the first four and a half years of that time it was hosted by Webs, a company that I don't recommend you ever use because it sucks beyond belief. A couple of Computer Science students living in a basement could probably run a better company. Anyway, to celebrate I updated the domain. Notice how much more professional it looks now? Hopefully people who see it in Google searches and the like will now take it more seriously, even if just in their subconscious, and be more likely to click on it.
It also marks just a couple days until the United States gets to make a thrilling choice between drinking sewage or bleach. Yesterday I was at McDonald's watching election stuff on CNN and an employee on break was watching it too and as I started to leave he asked, "Bro, who are you voting for?"
I said, "I'm not sure yet." (Yeah, I should probably decide soon.) "Someone third party." (Evan McMullin could actually win Utah, which probably wouldn't do much good in the long run but would be a glorious middle finger to whoever does win.)
"Yeah," he said. "They're both criminals. ---- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, man. I can't believe this country is stupid enough to make them the nominees." And he went back to work. Those words had a chilling effect even though I've been thinking the same thing for months. They sounded like an epitaph. I probably could have gotten him in trouble for getting political on the job, but I didn't because he was right.
When I started my website I was obsessed with politics and disgustingly conservative. I gave up on being obsessed with politics because it only led to frustration since my views have no bearing on anything that happens in this country, and that remains the case even now that my views are far more eclectic. All the more so with this election. They should both be behind bars. Hillary should be in prison and Trump should be in a zoo. I'm so disgusted with them that I don't even know what to say. To be perfectly honest, though, I hate Trump more just because he has no class or intellect whatsoever. At least Hillary seems to be an evil reasonably intelligent person instead of an evil moron. Oh, and if you think that the things he said are okay because she did worse things, or because everyone says things like that, then [redacted]. If you insist on voting for him, fine, I'll still be your friend, but don't defend the indefensible.
Two things bring me some small comfort in the midst of this country's attempted suicide. First, that other countries have had, and many still have, even worse leaders, so it's not like I'm some special snowflake who's entitled to be exempt from that kind of crap. And second, like most things including many things that we probably shouldn't, we can still find some humor and levity in it, and that brings some small bit of comfort.
Bad Hombres, Nasty Women (ft. "Weird Al" Yankovic)
"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
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.