Naturally, the first order of business is to express my grief at the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, age 60. Why do we treat celebrity deaths as such a big deal? Frankly, because they are, especially this one. With her timeless portrayal of the not-so-distressed damsel in one of the most successful franchises of all time, Carrie Fisher has touched probably billions of lives, certainly more than I ever could hope to even if my wildest dreams of writing success come to fruition. Now there's no need to make up a bunch of sentimental pretentious filler here. Suffice it to say that I love Star Wars and I love Princess Leia Skywalker Organa Solo. Of course the question now is what they'll do with Episode IX, and that's not a selfish or insensitive question at all. Star Wars is Carrie Fisher's biggest legacy and it will keep her memory alive for as long as human civilization exists. Which might not be much longer, but let's not think about that.
Steve Martin Tweeted this tribute: "When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well." He deleted his kind and thoughtful Tweet after feeling the venom of several cyber-denizens who purport to be feminists but are in reality a special breed of demon, because they felt that it was sexist. Fun fact: very few people have magic vision to see your personality and intelligence when they first notice you. Another fun fact: most people want to be attractive and appreciate it when someone says they are. Someday if my wildest dreams of writing success come to fruition, I'll commit a "gaffe" of this magnitude, and when people become outraged I'll tell them in no uncertain terms to bite me. But if Steve wants to not offend people, he should have said something like, "What? Carrie Fisher had like a mortal physical body and stuff? Weird, I never noticed because since I was a young man I've been too busy looking at her personality and intelligence. I just assumed it would live forever."
As Pauly Van Nostrand wrote, "Only in 2016 can a compliment offend people who have nothing to do with the compliment."
Yesterday I went with my father and sister to watch “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. Without getting into any details or spoilers, permit me to say that while time will tell whether this film ranks in my judgment just behind “The Empire Strikes Back” as the second greatest Star Wars film of all time, but I can say that I consider it to be a hundred times better than “The Force Awakens”. That film was decent but it didn't feel like Star Wars to me and I wasn't impressed with how it ripped off virtually every element of the plot and settings from "A New Hope" and still fit in an overabundance of ridiculously obvious wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments to it. I think this one has more of a Star Wars feel while still being new and fresh and pushing the boundaries of special effects technology as far as they can go. Boy, did it ever. I'm still in awe.
The Christmas church service involved six hymns and a musical number. It was a little excessive, to be honest, but I did thoroughly enjoy the spirit there. I have nothing against white people, but I do love the rare opportunities I get to see people of multiple ethnic backgrounds gathered together because frankly it's beautiful. My parents' ward has more diversity than my entire Utah stake, even though the student body at USU has equal or greater diversity. I noted two black people, one with five mixed-race children, and at least twenty Asians, mostly Chinese I think, one of them also with five mixed-race children. No Hispanics because they have their own branch (for language, not ethnic, reasons). I enjoyed it so much that for the first time in years I felt like going back to a family ward someday, with or without a family, may not be so bad.
My sleep patterns motivate me sometimes to cry out, “What idiot designed this thing?” There's no correlation between when I get up and when I can fall asleep, I don't have any say in when my brain decides to wake up the next morning, it takes me a week to recover from Daylight Savings Time or a time zone shift, and I can be woken up by someone talking on the sidewalk outside my window. While I'm wearing earplugs. Which I do every night. Other times, I just wake up for no reason and can't get back to sleep for two hours or so. I try not to be a jealous person, but when I see someone able to fall asleep in public, within less than an hour, I immediately despise them. Oh, you like to sleep, do you? How would you like to sleep forever? So getting up at quarter to five after already having woken up twice for no reason while still sick after a week of being sick so I could catch the bus to catch the plane to go to Indiana and be woken up by honking trains thrice nightly and then a final time by the creak of a floorboard as one of my sisters gets up at 7ish, which is still 5ish for me, was an adventure of sorts.
I remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed and energized. It was in April 2009 the morning after a nine-day trip to Spain. Somehow the major time zone shift and our crazy schedule canceled each other out. I yearn to achieve that feeling again, and that's another reason why I don't concern myself about getting married, because I think one impossible goal is enough for a person. In the meantime I wake up every morning feeling like a dead battery and fantasizing about having an "off" switch that makes the same distinctive sound as our old computer when it shut down. Before I get up and adrenaline/the grace of God takes over and gives me some semblance of functionality, I'm in a state of mind where I couldn't be held accountable for anything I think or do. I'm being completely serious when I tell you that this was my last thought before getting out of bed on Monday: "The girl I was watching spontaneously combusted, Anakin. Don't you hate when that happens?"
The Cracrofts' First Christmas
It's been a few weeks since I shared anything from this scripted-but-not-drawn comic series, so to recap, it's a scripted-but-not-drawn comic series (previous posts here). This is the storyline I alluded too once that's loosely based on "The Gift of the Magi", and it's the first Christmas that Alvin, his dim but lovable wife Rachel, and their pet Komodo dragon Steve all spend together, so that sets it in 2004, which turns out to be relevant in this case. It went unfinished for over a month until I threw the rest of it together yesterday and today, so it needs work and I'm not at all satisfied with the humor but I wanted to share it now instead of waiting almost a year for another suitable time.
Alvin (looking at bills, thinking): Well, crud. It looks like money's gonna be real tight this end-of-year. I hope I can still get Rachel something great for Christmas.
Alvin (thinking): I bet she'd like a swing set in the front yard... I could push her, she could push me, we could ride side by side... but looks like we'd be cutting it real close, budget wise.
Alvin (thinking): Aaargh! Why must money get in the way of everything?
Rachel: Thanks for taking care of all this financial stuff, Alvin. It always stresses me out.
Alvin (thinking): Hmm... I bet my Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series 10019-1 Rebel Blockade Runner would fetch a decent price on eBay...
Alvin (thinking): Good thing it didn't come with any minifigures so I don't have to look into their distraught little faces...
Alvin (thinking): I never fancied myself the bounty hunter type, yet here I am selling the Rebels to the highest bidder.
George (on phone): A swing set? How old is she?
George: I got your mother a book on zoology and a collection of poetry. You know, intellectual stuff.
Alvin: She doesn't like to take herself too seriously. Are you going to help me move it or not?
George: Does it gotta be on Christmas Eve? We could do it any other day; she wouldn't know the difference...
Alvin: Who pissed in your eggnog, dad?
Rachel: Steve, I think I know exactly what to get Alvin for Christmas. Promise not to tell?
Rachel: A Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series 10030-1 Imperial Star Destroyer would look great chasing his Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series 10019-1 Rebel Blockade Runner. Eh?
Rachel: Hmm, you're right, it's not in its usual spot. He must be cleaning it.
Rachel: I don't want to spend Alvin's money on his own present, but I haven't got any of my own.
Rachel: Think, Steve. We'll have to be creative. I must have some natural asset that I can sell for a quick buck.
Woman (on phone): I'm sorry, ma'am, but we are not interested in your saliva.
Rachel: What about Komodo dragon saliva? It has over fifty kinds of bacteria.
Alvin: No need to get me anything, Rachel. I got you this year and that's enough for a lifetime.
Rachel: Oh, shush.
Alvin: No, really, it's fine...
Rachel: I'm not listening.
Alvin: Well, just saying. By the way, you've been wearing that hat for three days now, haven't you?
Rachel: It's all the rage this season.
Alvin: Open your eyes! Merry Christmas, Rachel!
Rachel: A swing set! Alvin, you're such a doll!
Rachel: I can't wait to tell everyone that we're swingers now!
Alvin: Maybe we should keep this to ourselves.
Alvin: A Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series 10030-1 Imperial Star Destroyer! Rachel, you shouldn't have!
Rachel: Told you I wasn't listening.
Alvin: This must have cost a small fortune...
Rachel: I guess I can take this off now. My head is getting itchy.
Alvin: Ah. That explains a lot.
Rachel (bald): Good thing you didn't get me a hairbrush or something, huh? That would have been awkward.
TV headline: 9.3 Magnitude Tsunami Strikes Southeast Asia
Reporter (on television): Preliminary estimates have at least a hundred thousand dead or missing...
Rachel: Judas Priest...
Rachel: Alvin, would you be terribly offended if I sold the swing set and donated the money?
(Alvin looks at her in awe of her kindness)
Alvin: I guess that's the true meaning of Christmas. I'll pitch in the Star Destroyer too.
Rachel: And what about you, Steve? That's your neck of the woods, right?
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia - Life Day Song
I intend no disrespect or tastelessness with this tribute to Carrie Fisher. Yes, the Star Wars Holiday Special, which has come to be associated with Christmas even though its one and only broadcast was during the Thanksgiving season, sucks beyond comprehension. And it has the distinction of being the only film where Mark Hamill was prettier than her, owing to the excessive makeup necessitated by his recent car crash. And she was visibly coked up for the duration of her small role (who can blame her?). But I've always honestly kind of liked this part. She prefaces it by announcing, "This holiday is yours but, we all share with you the hope that this day brings us closer to freedom, and to harmony, and to peace. No matter how different we appear, we're all the same in our struggle against the powers of evil and darkness. I hope that this day will always be a day of joy in which we can reconfirm our dedication and our courage. And more than anything else, our love for one another. This is the promise of the Tree of Life."
Stephan Pastis gets it, and just this week released the above gem that perfectly describes how I feel sometimes, except that I don't share Rat's charming and amiable personality. Of the twenty or so "friends" that I've sent varying editions of my book to over the last three years, the same number of people have made the time to read it from start to finish. But all three of them loved it. That's a great track record, isn't it? The latest one may have loved it most of all. She apologized for taking a few weeks to read it and she wants to print a hard copy of all 400+ pages. I told her that it's going to be published in hard copies someday anyway, but she still wants to print it herself. And that's a pretty shrewd move because after it becomes a bestseller, her printed earlier version will become a collector's item and enable her to retire comfortably. I said sure. She also loved it enough to post about it on Facebook even though nobody would know what she's talking about:
Looking at this now, I have no idea how she ostensibly wrote her comment nearly two hours before the post. And I'm also realizing, as I didn't when I wrote that quote, how much Jane is channeling the spirit of Captain Moroni. She would be mortified to realize that. Anyway, this one quote just by itself doesn't really give a feel for Jane's personality. She follows it up for good measure with "This - is - Sparta!" Then Lillis compliments her on her impromptu rallying speech and she admits, "I practice sometimes when no one is looking."
My own favorite quote from the book is much shorter and simpler:
Jane: Ladies first.
Lillis: And you are?
Jane: A slob. Not ladylike at all.
I've also sent it out to a bunch of random famous people, and believe it or not, many of them took time out of their busy schedules to do so and give me feedback. For example, the next President of the United States had this to say: "This book - and it's a really great book, it really is. The words, make no mistake, we've got the best people and they all say the words are absolutely top-notch. The other people wish they were reading these words because, you know, I know words. I read. I'm a reader. You can rely on these words because they're great words. They're impressive."
For anyone who is tuning into this blog for the first time, I did not vote for Drumpf and his flattering words are not enough to make me like him or support him . However, since I detest Hillary slightly more, I'm grateful that the electoral college didn't rebel and pick her instead this week like many were hoping. A lot of people are scared of a Drumpf presidency, especially Muslims, Latinos, black people, women, LGBT people, and environmentalists. I would share many of their fears if I hadn't resigned myself to this country's irreversible journey down the toilet regardless of who gets elected. There is one group, however, whose fears I relish like a child relishing presents at Christmastime - Planned Parenthood. They're terrified right now, their fears are completely justified, and I love it. Of course that's because I hate women and want them to shrivel up and die without the healthcare that only Planned Parenthood can provide. Actually, no, that's not it at all, but if you're going to assume that my real reasons are invalid because I'm male then the least I can do is offer an alternative, albeit a delusional one.
Remember just over a year ago now when the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos of Planned Parenthood illegally trafficking fetal parts? Remember when PP's defenders kept repeating a barefaced lie about the videos being "deceptively edited" (as if there were any conceivable context that would make its recorded statements acceptable), when even PP's own fact-checking team was forced to conclude (notwithstanding how hard they tried to obfuscate it) that they were not? Remember how a bunch of states defunded it and a bunch of businesses and hospitals cut ties? That was great. The momentum of public opinion is very much against this damnable organization and that damage to its finances is likely to be irreversible. Remember how the scandal just kind of faded away and people just assumed it was over and Planned Parenthood would continue on with business as usual because it hadn't done anything wrong this time? (As opposed to, say, when one of its managers expressed a policy of helping to cover up underage prostitution, but that's another story.)
Yeah, well, the 500+ page report recently released by the Senate at conclusion of their investigation says otherwise. They have recommended Planned Parenthood and several of the organizations it does business with for FBI investigation for their flouting of the law. This may have something to do with the Senate being controlled by Republicans - or possibly with some of the documents they subpoenaed including thousands of invoices for the baby, I mean fetal parts that Planned Parenthood definitely was not selling. In fairness, Planned Parenthood had guidelines in place against that sort of thing, and when it realized after ten years that its clinics were ignoring those guidelines, it took swift action and deleted them. The guidelines, I mean, in case that wasn't clear. Oh, and you know who isn't talking about this? The same mainstream media outlets who didn't talk about Kermit Gosnell until the backlash forced them to. I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. I wonder how much longer it will take them to catch on that this isn't 1977 anymore and refusing to cover something doesn't keep people from finding out about it.
Planned Parenthood is scared, and for good reason. Merry Christmas to me.
New Year's Resolutions for White Guys
Deleting things doesn't keep people from finding out about them, either. This week, as you may have heard, MTV released what I thought was going to be a music video, given that MTV stands for "Music Television", but actually turned out to be just a bunch of people talking. It was a video about New Year's Resolutions for White Guys. Since I fall into that target demographic on both counts to one degree or another, I started watching it, but after about thirty seconds I became discouraged and quit. They were asking me to make these changes that I would love but just can't, because I can't help that I automatically hold every single one of the viewpoints they were criticizing as a result of my sex (is that the right word? I'm not allowed to call it "gender" anymore, right? Or do I have that backwards?) and skin color. So I'm afraid it just added insult to injury for me.
Enough people took it more seriously and got royally cheesed off, though, that in less than two days MTV removed the video from every platform they had posted it on - but there are at least two copies on YouTube from folks who had the foresight to grab it. Interestingly, the one that went with the original title still has about 59 times as many downvotes as upvotes, while the one titled "DUMBEST MOST RACIST VIDEO EVER" has about 138 times as many upvotes as downvotes (not to mention nearly twice as many views). It's all about marketing, people. So anyway, I guess MTV was as startled as I was to learn that the "it's okay to be racist against white people and especially if they're male" thing can be taken too far. I thought you could criticize us and blame us for all the world's problems with total impunity, but it turns out that after a certain point the majority of this country will rise up and tell you where you can stick it. Is there still significant racism against non-whites in this country? Yes. Is it dwarfed by whining social justice warriors' leg-humping obsession with skin color? Also yes. Are most people sick of their crap? Apparently also yes.
Drumpf, among his many other flaws, is a racist. But when progressives have spent the last several years inventing racism where it didn't exist and accusing everyone and their dog of imaginary racism on the most absurd pretenses in an effort to stifle free speech and cop out of intelligent debate, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why their legitimate accusations of Drumpf being a racist fell on deaf ears. There's an absurdly stupid tweet by David Yankovich (I don't know who he is either, but in fairness, he would say the same about me) saying, "We hate Donald Trump like you hated President Obama. However, we hate Trump because he is racist, you hated Obama because you are racist." Because you see, prior to 2008, conservatives always adored left-wing presidents. And the liberal hatred of George Bush was completely different because he's white. Anyway, I've written more about this than I intended to so I'll leave it at that, except to also point out that his tweet should have had a semicolon, not a comma, because here the punctuation is taking the place of a conjunction.
I'm giving this thing more publicity than it deserves, but only to demonstrate how totally unfazed by it I am. Ryan McKnight, the guy who leaked several behind-the-scenes briefing videos of top Mormon leaders that caused a stir on the internet for almost two whole days, has now set up a website to do more of the same with confidential documents. The YouTube channel with the videos is called "Mormon Leaks", but for this site he inexplicably went with the far less catchy and obviously derivative "MormonWikiLeaks". Ryan isn't stupid. He knows this won't bring down the LDS Church. He just wants to force it to be more transparent and let everyone see how the bureacracy operates. Frankly, I looked at some of the documents and they ranged from "stuff that no normal person would bother to read in their spare time" to "BOR-ING". And he acknowledges that too. He knows most of it's boring. So, you know, I would say let the bueacracy do its thing and be grateful we don't have to see how it operates.
Ryan says he has thorough vetting processes in place to avoid publishing faked documents from anti-Mormons to make the Church look bad, or from Mormons to make his site's credibility look bad. He also says that if he gets documents showing the Church "engaged in some surprisingly ethical activity", he'll publish those too. So he's a man of honesty and integrity, other than the trifling matter of encouraging people to violate their nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements. I don't understand why that's even legal, but I guess I'm glad it is since it allows the real WikiLeaks to knock our richly deserving government down a few pegs. Anyway, somebody just wake me up when they find a document indicating that the LDS Church is a deliberate fraud and its leaders don't sincerely believe in it in private as well as public. Oh wait, that isn't going to happen, ever.
Scott Andersen - Chewbacca Sings Silent Night
Some years ago I downloaded a big batch of Star Wars songs from a site that had a bunch of Star Wars songs. And some of them had no attribution and had apparently just drifted around the internet since the mysterious distant past of the late nineties, and one of those was Chewbacca singing "Silent Night". I thought it would be a cute little thing to share this time around. Imagine my surprise when I checked to see if it was on YouTube and discovered that "How it Should Have Ended" just did a remake and it went viral. They also attributed the original, solving that mystery that I probably could have solved earlier on my own if I'd been sufficiently curious. Even though this new one sounds superior and has the actual movie clips to go with it, the original has a certain campy charm that you just don't get with modern technology. Take 45 seconds of your life to enjoy it.
A Checklist of Offensive Topics
Last week I mentioned the Indian friend that I met at the institute Christmas concert a year ago. Of course I only mentioned his nationality because I love Indians, and I'm very excited that India is set to get its third LDS stake (Rajahmundry) this weekend and a fourth (New Delhi) sometime next year. Anyway, I hadn't talked him for a few months, but right after that post I contacted him again.
As you can see, he still has his priorities straight. He has taken a lot of interest in my love life. When I met him, I also met the LDS white girl who had brought him to the concert, but I never spent much more time with her or got to know her like I did him. I inquired about her one time and he inquired back, "Do you like her or...?" And the truth was that a lot of times I don't categorize women as "I'm interested" or "I'm not interested" but just have them on a spectrum where they can move one way or the other as I get to know them more. But his English wasn't perfect and I didn't know if he would understand something so unusual, so I was just like, "A little bit", which was accurate enough.
And then, before I ever told him about my depression he knew about it by deducing from my eyes that I had a lot in common with him. So somehow or other he got it into his head that I was obsessed with this girl and would slit my wrists or something if she broke my heart. He was really concerned and gave me a lot of pep talks about having self-esteem and not basing it on her. I never corrected him because I feel awkward about contradicting people because I associate disagreements with people hating each other, and also frankly it was good advice and I was super touched that he cared so much. After some time he had to bring me the news that she had gotten a boyfriend, and he was super worried and ready to be there for me. I really didn't care. I was just like, "Good for her."
"Oh, good," he said. "I hope you are better and out of her now." I think he meant "over her".
As I've been going through old posts trying to search engine optimize them, I realized that I wrote about dating a lot more than I thought and evolution a lot less than I thought. I'm writing about both right now so that ratio will remain the same.
There are a couple of problems with this meme. First, "not meant to be"? Sure, maybe if you want to bring God into it and presume that God hates you, but if you're approaching it from a purely scientific angle, that's nonsense because evolution is guided by chance, not destiny. But the second problem is much bigger and basically ruins the whole thing. Many people mistakenly believe that evolution and/or Darwinism is synonomous with natural selection, but that's not the case. As early as his original book Darwin outlined another force known as sexual selection. Whereas the former is about survival, the latter is about reproduction and acts not just independently of, but sometimes in direct opposition to, natural selection. For example:
Boy Moose: Hey there, girl moose. I just wanted to let you know that I'm really strong and adaptable and my genes would make a great contribution to your offspring, which I realize is something you get to be picky about because you will invest a lot more energy and resources into them. What do you say?
Girl Moose: Hmph. Prove it. I'm really into big antlers - grow a pair, then we'll talk.
Boy Moose: What?? But growing big antlers would be a total waste of my crucial resources, and they could get tangled in trees and bushes, making me more vulnerable to predators!
Girl Moose: Hmph. If you're really as strong and adaptable as you say, those things shouldn't be an issue.
Boy Moose: But – oh, fine. Hrrrrrnk... [Pop! Pop!] There. Two of the biggest antlers any woman could ask for. Happy?
Girl Moose: Now use them to fight for me.
It might seem silly, but she was a very cute moose. Made all the boy moose go "Whaaaaa!" Of course, humans are special and superior to other animals so sexual selection doesn't apply to us and has nothing at all to do with the evolutionary basis for archaic dating gender roles that I mentioned last week. No, actually it does, but I'm not going to complain about that again (for now) because it's pretty benign compared to many of mankind's other primitive "quirks".
Can You Tag...
There are a few demographics that it's still acceptable to be prejudiced against, such as mentally ill people (just don't be too blunt about it), anyone who doesn't share your political leanings (be as blunt as you want), and at least one of the Abrahamic religions depending on said leanings (Christians if you're liberal, Muslims if you're conservative, Jews if you're a conspiracy theorist). Oh yeah, and ugly people. Thousands of people consider it find and dandy to post Facebok memes of ugly people with captions like "Can you tag Dave? He left without paying last night" and then all laugh at the notion that Dave would have sex with someone so ugly. Because apparently once you cross a certain threshold of ugliness you no longer have feelings or dignity. All that stuff we say about "looks don't matter", "it's what's on the inside that counts", and "everyone is beautiful"? Yeah, we were just kidding. This form of prejudice is nothing more or less than another head of the same monster that spawned racism, sexism, nationalism, tribalism, homophobia, and all the other ways humans have been douchebags to other humans for as long as they've existed.
I don't know anything about the people I've seen in these memes - except one. Believe it or not, she's a person and she's alive somewhere and she even has a name: Lizzie Velásquez. She has a disease so rare that it doesn't have a name, and she can't create body fat and she has to eat every twenty minutes and she's gone blind in one eye.
Yes, she is aware that she has become the subject of one of these memes, and it isn't her first such discovery. One evening she was just browsing YouTube, minding her own business, when she stumbled upon a video called "The Ugliest Woman in the World". It wasn't really a video, just a picture, a picture of her. It had millions of views. People in the comments were saying things like "Kill it with fire!" (Hitler called. He wants you to please stop stealing his ideas.) I wouldn't trade all the suffering of my life for one experience like that. But Lizzie Velázquez is clearly stronger than a mere mortal, and instead of killing herself she went on to become an anti-bullying motivational speaker. I lump the people who bully her under the same term I use for tobacco company executives: "Satan's hemorrhoids."
Speaking of images on the internet that promote extreme shallowness and insentivity to the actual humans in them for entertainment purposes...
Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, who declared pornography a public health crisis earlier in the year, is now putting our money where his mouth is with $50,000 out of a $16 billion budget devoted to anti-pornography education efforts. For perspective, that's 1/320,000 or 0.0003% of the budget. Naturally this has outraged some residents of Salt Lake who feel that Mormons and Republicans are legislating morality and infringing on their constitutional right to jack off to their hearts' content. This is a little odd, seeing as Governor Herbert has made no attempt to actually restrict distribution of or access to pornography, but it makes sense in their heads somehow. And of course it doesn't bother them in the slightest that pornography is being shoved in our faces to the point where children are first exposed to it at the average age of eleven. There is no conceivable way that this could affect their brain development, and if it does, who cares? That's their problem.
Pornography is natural, pornography is harmless, pornography is healthy, pornography is great. Know how they know? Because they enjoy it, and therefore by logical inference it can't possibly have any negative consequences or repercussions whatsoever. QED. And of course all opposition to pornography is motivated by religion. That's why the United Kingdom, which is widely known for being a devoutly religious nation, has been at the forefront of opposing it in recent years. You know what, I know things sometimes don't come across as intended through text, so let me be perfectly clear: I'm being sarcastic and I think those people are idiots. Did I mention that these education efforts constitute 1/320,000 or 0.0003% of the budget?
As I've been going through old posts trying to search engine optimize them, I realized that I haven't written about abortion since February when NARAL had an aneurysm over the Doritos Super Bowl commercial. Good thing I was already planning on writing about it again - specifically, about Kermit Gosnell. Remember him? Or did you ever hear of him in the first place? If necessary, let Wikipedia refresh your memory:
"Gosnell owned and operated the Women's Medical Society clinic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he was a prolific prescriber of OxyContin. In 2011, Gosnell and various co-defendant employees were charged with eight counts of murder, 24 felony counts of performing illegal abortions beyond the state of Pennsylvania’s 24-week time limit, and 227 misdemeanor counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. The murder charges related to an adult patient, Karnamaya Mongar, who died following an abortion procedure, and seven newborns said to have been killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors after being born alive during attempted abortions. In May 2013, Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder in the deaths of three of the infants and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Karnamaya Mongar. Gosnell was also convicted of 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion, and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. After his conviction, Gosnell waived his right to appeal in exchange for an agreement not to seek the death penalty. He was sentenced instead to life in prison without the possibility of parole."
How was this allowed to happen? Because the authorities in Philadelphia obviously cared so much about women's health that, despite multiple complaints, they couldn't be bothered to inspect his clinic or for how many years? Five? Ten? No, seventeen. Because holding the abortion industry to any sort of accountability or oversight, or enforcing any restrictions on it whatsoever, is seen by some as an all-out assault on women's health. Of course virtually everyone, regardless of their views on abortion, agrees that Gosnell is a monster. So why have so many people tried to keep us from knowing he exists?
When his story broke, mainstream media outlets refused to cover it until they were forced to by the outrage of people who knew how to use the internet. I watched CNN spin excuses for why they hadn't covered it in the first place, and they were so lame that I felt embarrassed on their behalf. When filmmakers Magdalena Segieda, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney decided to make a movie about Gosnell, Kickstarter refused to let them crowdfund on its website, claiming that the premise was too "graphic" while the pornography on the site apparently isn't. Because pornography is okay, remember? They crowdfunded on Indiegogo instead and set the record for the most successful film funded on that site. I contributed my widow's mite, which I mention only as a reminder that just liking Facebook pages and posts does virtually nothing to help any cause. Now all of Hollywood has refused to release the movie, claiming it's too "controversial", because apparently their pro-abortion films and all the other sewage they've put out in the last few years aren't controversial at all.
But this isn't even really about abortion, right? It's just about one guy who broke the law and a bunch of spineless authorities who let him do it for a long time, right? Right? Ask yourself: what do all those people have to fear from the truth?
So they're releasing the film independently sometime next year. In the meantime, they also have a book coming out in January. They want as many people as possible to pre-order it on Amazon so that it will show up on the New York Times bestseller list and be impossible to ignore. So if you're looking for some way to help, there's one. Now let's close on a more lighthearted note.
Steven Cavanaugh - Walkers in a Winter Wonderland
In honor of "Rogue One" being released and Christmas soon to follow, here's a mashup that I can't believe I've never shared before. Steven Cavanaugh is from Australia, so he wrote this in June. It's brilliant and like many parodies I alway sing it instead of the original lyrics.
More of the thrilling future series discussed here, here, and here. This time I will go back to what is thus far the very beginning, and you also get to meet Alvin's parents since I know you've been burning with curiosity about them. There are a few scripts here that I already posted in the initial announcement, but now you get to read them in context which will make them more enjoyable (insert your own quip about that not saying a lot here). Yes, I know some of them suck but you're seeing the creative process underway here. So without further ado...
First Comes Love,
Alvin: Dad, I've decided I want to marry Rachel. I know you don't like her very much, but –
George: Now just hold it right there, son.
George: You're right, I don't like her very much, but your opinion is the one that matters. You do what you want to do.
George: And I'll do what I want to do, which is write you out of my will.
George: Look, son, marriage isn't just about you, but also your future kids. You need someone who can teach them and take care of them.
George: And to do that, she needs to first know her stuff and be able to take care of herself.
Alvin: Rachel knows stuff! Rachel can take care of herself!
George: Son, last week she tried to tie her shoes and almost strangled herself to death.
Alvin: Well, have you seen her laces? They're freakin' long!
George: And then there's the genetic aspect! If your kids don't get good genes, no amount of external circumstances can compensate, and you're putting them in the race of life behind everyone else.
George: It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and as much as we like to consider ourselves civilized, survival of the fittest still very much applies to us.
Alvin: Need I remind you that Rachel has survived three years with a pet Komodo dragon?
George: Obviously he doesn't eat junk food.
Alvin: Mom, what do you think about this?
Connie: Your father was right the first time. Your opinion is the one that matters. I'll support you in whatever decision you make.
The important thing, that no one else can do for you, is to follow your heart. Heaven knows I wish I had.
George: Wait, what?
Alvin: Uh, I'll leave you two alone for a while.
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?
Bill: I've been in a lot of fights over money. Who pays the bills? How much beer can you afford? Do you each keep your own money, or pool it together and split it evenly?
Alvin: She'll stay home while I earn the money, and we'll split it as needed.
Bill: Huh. I didn't know that was still allowed.
Bill: So you've already discussed it with her?
Alvin: No, but I've seen her resume.
Susan: Look, I get what you see in Rachel. She's kind, honest, fun, humble, and beautiful. But she's also stupid and psychotic.
Susan: Don't be so in love with being in love, or so desperate to get married, that you settle for less than you deserve.
Alvin: Susan, you once told me you'd marry a lamppost if you had the chance.
Susan: At least lampposts are fairly bright!
Susan: Are you as good as gone once you're married?
Alvin: Nope, we're getting a house nearby and I'll still be helping dad at the print shop.
Susan: Oh, good, I guess. I would have missed you terribly. But I wouldn't blame you for wanting to get out of this place.
Alvin: What can I say? It's home. My family is here.
Susan: That's why I wouldn't blame you for wanting to get out of this place.
Bill: Have you finished yakking at Al yet? I need to teach him about bachelor parties.
That exposition about Alvin's place of work is smoother than the cream cheese on your bagel, isn't it? The print shop is called "Prints Charming" but I'm not sure how to work that in naturally. Just show it written on the window, I guess.
Alvin: Rachel, these last six months have been the happiest of my –
Rachel: Let's cut the crap, Alvin. You got the goods?
Alvin: Uh, yeah. Here.
Rachel: A Ring Pop??
Alvin: There's more where that came from.
Rachel: Mm, cherry! You just bought yourself a wife, my friend.
Alvin: I assume you aren't interested in a real ring?
Rachel: My land, no. What a waste of money on something so intrinsically useless.
Rachel: Instead, we could go on a Caribbean cruise... buy a home theater system... take flying lessons...
Rachel: ...eat our weight in lasagna a dozen times over...
Alvin: I love you, Rachel.
Alvin: Well then, we can go almost anywhere for our honeymoon. What would you like?
Rachel: Hmm... well... I've always wanted to go to Venice and see the Eiffel Tower.
Alvin: The Eiffel Tower is in Paris, Rachel.
Rachel: Drat those Spaniards. It's just like them to steal it.
Before you get on Rachel's case for being racist, realize she's no worse than Wesley in "The Princess Bride", and everyone loves him.
George: Who's going to pay for this thing, anyway? Rachel's parents are still MIA, yeah?
Alvin: You could just think of it as a replacement for Susan's wedding that you'll never have to pay for.
Alvin: I didn't mean that to be as cruel as it sounded.
George: No, you've made a valid point, son.
Rachel's parents are MIA because that gives me two fewer major characters to worry about, especially during the wedding when everyone is together. I've decided that they were explorers and got lost in the jungle somewhere, and at some point there will be a storyline to track them down. But not yet.
Alvin (at computer): I really like these wedding invites I designed for the Martins, dad. Could I just swap out the names and pictures and print some extras for me and Rachel?
George: Sure. I'll give you a discount.
Alvin: Hm. On second thought, I bet Square One could do a better job.
George: Fine. I'll make them free, you backstabber.
Alvin: Thanks, dad, you're a champ.
George: But take out the "George and Connie are pleased to announce" part.
George: Well, congratulations, son. You're taking a huge step into the next chapter of your life.
George: Someday you'll look back on this as the happiest day of your life.
Alvin: The wedding is tomorrow, dad.
George: I know.
George: Normally I'd tell you to just say "Yes, dear" to everything your wife says, but in your case that could get you in a full-body cast or in trouble with the law. Of multiple countries.
Alvin: What do you recommend instead?
George: Scream and run away as fast as you can.
Alvin: Thanks, dad, I'll keep that in mind.
George: Even better, run in the direction of Bill's divorce lawyer.
George: And when she asks "Does this make me look fat?" you say –
Alvin: Rachel would never ask me if something makes her look fat. Phat, yes. Fat, no.
George: She's already messed you up, son.
Alvin: What? Most guys would love that in a wife!
Then Comes Marriage,
Pastor Hartgraves: Do you, Alvin Cracroft, take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?
Alvin: I do.
Pastor Hartgraves: And do you, Rachel Sparks, take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?
Rachel: I do, I do, I do, I do, I do!
Rachel (dancing): I can't conceal it, don't you see, can't you feel it? Don't you too?
Pastor Hartgraves: Um, ma'am?
Alvin: No use. We just have to wait it out.
Pastor Hartgraves: If anyone has any reason why this couple should not be be joined together in matrimony, let them keep quiet and mind their own dang business, preferably forever.
George: Hang on, I've got a whole alphabetized – wait, what?
Alvin: Thanks, Pastor Hartgraves. I owe you one.
Pastor Hartgraves: Hahaha! The look on his face!
Pastor Hartgraves was made to look foolish in his first appearance on this blog, and antagonistic in the second, in both cases mocking evangelical fundamentalism. But he is a multifaceted character with redeeming qualities. Also, guess what I learned while researching this strip. Though the call for objections is usually omitted from weddings nowadays, in Anglican church weddings in England the minister is legally required to include it. There are very narrow legal criteria for what constitutes a valid objection, and "I'm an ogre, she's a part-time ogre, I'm in love with her and he's just marrying her so he can be king" does not fall under them. If somebody raises an objection, the minister is legally obligated to stop the wedding and call in the police. If the objection is found to be invalid, the objector faces a prison sentence and/or steep fine and will probably also be sued by the other guests. England is weird.
Pastor Hartgraves: By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride.
Rachel: He doesn't need your permission, pal.
Pastor Hartgraves: Er, right.
Alvin and Rachel: (kissing)
Pastor Hartgraves: Now, for the exchanging of the rings...
Rachel: Judas Priest, I already ate mine.
Alvin: Relax, I got you covered.
Susan (thinking): I'm ready. This time I'm going to catch the bouquet if it kills me.
Susan (thinking): Come on, Rachel, what are you waiting for? Throw it! Throw it!
Susan (thinking): Or eat it. That's cool too.
Why do I make light of Susan's hopeless love life? Because I enjoy her suffering? No, because I think it's therapeutic for all singles everywhere who can relate to some degree or another, and also because it's therapeutic for me to disregard the optimistic bull pucky we tell each other in an attempt to believe that life is fair on some level. You'll find someone... unless you don't. Just being honest.
Alvin: Great. Now's the part where we have to stand here and shake hands with eighty people I don't care about.
Rachel: Leave it to me.
Rachel: HEY, SCREW ALL Y'ALL!
Rachel: There. Now only our true friends will want to shake hands with us.
Bill: Any of y'all seen “The Wedding Singer”? I'll be playing the same minor role as Steve Buscemi, getting drunk and sharing awkward stories about my brother's less-than-perfect past.
Bill: But first, I'd like to propose a toast to him and his beautiful new bride!
Alvin: Rachel, what are you looking for?
Rachel: I left my toaster at home. There's probably one among the wedding presents.
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.
When Chelsea shared this song with me it surpassed "Salaam-E-Ishq" as my favorite Bollywood song, and that wasn't easy to do. If you haven't heard it, FIX THAT RIGHT NOW. It's the perfect song for letting your best friend marry the woman of your dreams because you're terminally ill. And also in the video you can see the brilliant hand/arm choreography Alvin refers to.
Connie: Well, that wasn't a total disaster, was it?
Connie: I mean short-term. Look, nothing exploded, no one got sent to the hospital, and Alvin is happy.
George: I suppose you're right.
Connie: We'd better give Bill a ride home, though.
Bill (staggering): You are the worst wedding singer in the world! Sir, one more outburst and I will strangle you with my microphone, you understand?
Alvin: Wow. My wedding night. I felt like this moment would never come.
Rachel: Let's make it a night to remember, if you catch my drift.
Alvin: You mean –
Rachel (lunging): Yep! Tickle fight of the century! Raaawr!
Then Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage - But First, Star Wars
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!
Alvin: I was only five, but I still remember being in awe when “Return of the Jedi” was released. I felt that way when "The Phantom Menace" came out and I feel that way now.
Alvin: A lot of my coworkers are lukewarm about this, but not me. Sure, the prequels are far from perfect, but so what? I'm just going to relax and be a kid again.
Alvin: Hopefully George Lucas has learned his lessons. No more Jar Jar Binks. No more painfully wooden and awkward "romance" scenes.
Rachel: I love Jar Jar Binks! He's hilarious!
I have the same nostalgic attachment to the prequels as older folks do to the original trilogy, so I can't hate them if I try. Several scripts, including a Christmas story based on "The Gifts of the Magi", are omitted here because of course there was a lengthy period between the teaser and the actual movie.
Alvin: I can't decide what costume I want to wear to the theater... Have you decided?
Rachel: I'm thinking maybe Princess Leia in that metal bikini.
Alvin: Er, well... you'd look great, of course, but wouldn't you rather play a more powerful role? One more in control of things and not being exploited for eye candy?
Rachel: Princess Leia in that metal bikini strangling Jabba the Hutt with her chain.
Alvin: Not gonna lie, that would be awesome.
Screen: 20th Century Fox logo
Rachel (thinking): It's starting! It's starting!
Alvin (thinking): Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh.
Screen: Lucasfilm Ltd. logo
Rachel and Alvin (thinking): I felt like this moment would never come...
Screen: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Alvin (thinking): I should probably start breathing again at some point.
Rachel (thinking): There's something I'm forgetting to do, I just know it.
Alvin: You were the chosen one!
Rachel: Not if anything to say about it I have!
Alvin (pantomiming lightsaber): Voom! Voom!
Rachel: Pew pew! Boom!
Rachel (tickling): No, no, you will die! Zap zap!
Alvin: Ack! Hahaha! Activate ray shields!
Rachel (in bed): Anakin and Padme's kids saved the galaxy... do you think it's a good time for us to start having kids?
Alvin (in bed): Well, sure. We're financially stable, there's a good school nearby, the house has plenty of space... I don't see why not...
Alvin: ...other than the petition that all our neighbors signed.
Rachel: I don't even know half those people.
Rachel: Alvin, do you happen to have the number for Baby Island? I can't find anything on Google.
Alvin: The number for what??
Rachel: Baby Island. You know, where babies come from.
Alvin: Where babies come – what??
Rachel: My land. Your parents never gave you “the talk”, did they?
Rachel: No one knows the location of Baby Island. It's a heavily guarded secret. But when people wish for a baby, their wishes travel there.
Rachel: The caretakers of the island listen to the wishes and create babies to fulfill them.
Alvin: And who are these caretakers, the Baby Fairies?
Rachel: No, genetic engineers. What are you, seven?
Rachel: When an embryo is ready, one of the genetic engineers packs it into his dirigible and flies off.
Rachel: One night while we're asleep, he'll sneak into our room and inject it into my uterus.
Alvin: Fine. Whatever.
Alvin: So, do we want a boy or a girl?
Rachel: If we leave a note and a couple thousand bucks under the pillow, I bet they'd give us a Velociraptor.
Yeah, I kind of referenced this already in one of the storylines that I showed out of chronological order, but hopefully you knew Rachel well enough by then that no explanation was necessary.
Rachel: Alvin! I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant!
Alvin: Wonderful! Is it a boy or a girl?
Rachel: I haven't checked yet. It must be a Velociraptor.
Alvin: Rachel, it is not a Velociraptor.
Rachel: You're right. The money was still under our pillow the next morning.
Alvin: Thank goodness genetic engineers still have some scruples.
Alvin: Now, Rachel, this is going to be like nothing you've experienced before. Or me either, of course, but I've read about it.
Alvin: There will be a lot of pregnancy hormones swirling around in your head, clouding your brain. You'll have weird cravings and strange behaviors.
Rachel: I feel like eating a nutritious, well-balanced meal and going to bed before one thirty.
Alvin: Hooboy. Here we go already.
Alvin: I'm not comfortable with the way entertainment media portrays husbands and fathers. Everywhere from “The Simpsons” to "The Berenstain Bears".
Alvin: Such male figures are almost always portrayed as silly idiots who make messes and get into trouble. Their families love them, but look down on them at the same time.
Alvin: At the very least, for the sake of equality we should see women portrayed like that once in a while.
Rachel: Pfft. Who would find that entertaining?
Alvin and Rachel come dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall, but I will never succumb to that temptation because I think it's cheap writing (insert your own quip about all my writing being cheap here.) Now obviously pregancy is a long process but I haven't written all of it yet so now it just cuts to the chase.
Alvin: Push, honey! Push!
Rachel: Really? Are you sure I shouldn't pull?
Alvin: No, you need to push. You want the baby to come out.
Rachel: Well, it isn't working. I'm going to pull for a minute and see what that does.
Alvin: Nurse, can you talk to her?
Rachel: Judas Priest, this hurts. Are you sure it isn't a Velociraptor?
Sometimes I don't invent character traits so much as discover them. Here, for example, I discovered that Rachel has a high tolerance for pain, which is good because she's so sweet and innocent I don't want her to suffer. It comes in handy for giving birth to her daughter but far more for actually raising her.
Panel 1 (and only)
Nurse: It's a girl!
Rachel: No, that's a big red screaming potato if I've ever seen one.
Alvin: That's what newborns look like, Rachel.
Alvin: Well, what shall we name our little bundle of joy?
Rachel: I like Tyler.
Alvin: That's a boy's name.
Rachel: And you have a chipmunk's name. What's your point?
Rachel: We're home, Steve! Please welcome Tyler Anne Cracroft to the family!
Rachel: I know she looks like a big potato with clothes, but don't eat her, okay?
Rachel: Wait, what am I saying? You don't eat potatoes anyway! Ha ha!
Alvin: That's immensely comforting.
On the island of Komodo, people build their houses on stilts to protect their children from the dragons, so Rachel's flippancy is perhaps in poor taste and certainly absurd, but remember that it's meant to be a freaking cartoon. Here I omitted several more scripts because I've taken up too much space already and they're kind of lame. Yeah, if you think these ones are lame, imagine how bad those must be.
Tyler (offscreen): Waaaaah!
Alvin (in bed): Mmph.
Rachel (in bed): Mmph.
Alvin: This is what, the seventh time tonight?
Rachel: I'll take your word for it.
Alvin: I was just dreaming about the sweet, sweet kiss of death.
Rachel: You're cheating on me in your dreams??
Inspired by a real experience staying at an relative's house and being awakened what felt like seven times by a cry, starting out low and steadily rising in pitch and volume, followed by the sound of someone above me rolling out of bed and walking across the floor to attend to it. What felt like the seventh time, I wondered if I was trapped in a horrible time loop for eternity.
The One That Might Cross the Line Too Far
Now, you may want to skip this next one and I hesitated to even share it but maybe someone can offer feedback on the debate I'm having about whether it's irredeemably crass.
Rachel: My land. I took Tyler to the petting zoo today and they kicked me out for breastfeeding in public. Threatened legal action, even.
Alvin: What? That's absurd!
Alvin: I can't believe there's so much ignorance in this country about something so natural and innocent. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that.
Alvin: Don't let them get to you. All that matters is that Tyler appreciated it.
Rachel: The baby llamas actually, but yeah they did.
I wanted to make a point, but I can't just spout my opinions in a comic strip. That's what my blog is for. So I had to hide it in a joke, or an attempt at one, and given the subject matter and the opinion being expressed about it, that was difficult to do in a tasteful manner that wasn't ironically counterproductive to said opinion, so I tried and probably failed... also, I discovered that Rachel is kind to animals.
No song today since this has gone on long enough already, but there is still room for another plea for donations of likes to my Facebook page.
First of all, as I announced two weeks ago, yesterday was legendary actor Kirk Douglas' 100th (one hundredth) birthday. I'm so very happy for him even though I myself have no desire to live that long. Some highlights: he's lonely because his Hollywood friends are dead (I can relate), he's not worried about death (I can relate), he writes more nowadays since a stroke left him unable to communicate verbally as well as he used to (I can relate), and he kind of just wants to relax and be left alone until he does more interviews when he turns 200 (I can relate).
Of far less significance, a couple days earlier marked the one year anniversary of the last time I asked a girl out. After I realized that I hadn't done it for several months, I decided to see if I could make it a whole year, and now I've accomplished my goal and I know I can do anything I set my mind to. I almost slipped up a couple months ago when I fell head over heels for a coworker, but she saved me by strategically mentioning her boyfriend. Over the summer, when I was hanging out with Debbie at least thrice a week, we did a bunch of things that would have been dates if I hadn't already agreed that they weren't. Lots of people thought we were dating and I made no attempt to correct their misconception. I realize now that was very selfish of me. But dang, it was a great summer.
So much drama gone. So much stress gone. So much money no longer gone. And every time I asked a girl out, I felt like I was following someone else's script and not doing a particularly good job of it, reading lines that someone else wrote without my input or consent, but that I was expected to follow just because I was born.
This last time was for the Latter-day Voices Christmas concert, which happened again last night and will happen again tonight. Since Emily is now on a mission and unlikely to ever read this, I can finally all of the juicy details, except that there really aren't any. It was pretty standard. She was in Creative Fiction Writing with me, but I had to ask her via Facebook because she was never alone, and she said she would love to and she gave me her number and I was so sleep-deprived that I put it in under my own name and then stared at it for a long while as it slowly dawned on me that something wasn't right. Also, it was the wrong number because she transposed two of the digits even though I repeated it back for confirmation. But I still found her place all right. She said no one ever found it without calling for clarification, but I made a beeline right to it because I'm a genius.
The choir put on a stellar performance as always. "I had a great time tonight," she said afterward. "I had a great time tonight," she said again when I dropped her off. "I had a great time tonight," she texted me a few minutes later.
So I felt that it had gone very well and inquired about the possibility of doing something again after the break.
"I don't know," she said. "I'm going to be pretty busy next semester. Also I feel I should tell you that I've kind of started dating someone."
I've been emailing her on her mission, lest anyone think there are any hard feelings. The next night I went again by myself and met another great Indian guy who's been a great friend since then. I love Indians.
I have gone on one date since then, though. Chick-Fil-A was giving out free food to college students. It took like an hour to get there because winter weather had knocked out the power on half of Main Street, and then it was super crowded and there was a big line, but that was all right because I had nothing better to do. I got to the line and then I ordered and wandered over somewhere to wait some more. Then this other girl from Creative Fiction Writing, the one who was usually glued to Emily, walked over to me alongside a friend who was unsuccessfully suppressing giggles for some reason. "Christopher," she said, "will you go to the Ladies' Choice dance with me tomorrow?"
She seemed pretty confident that I hadn't already been asked even though it was, you know, tomorrow. Which I hadn't. But there was no shame in that. Most guys don't. But I said sure and then I said, "Did you ask me because I just happened to be here?"
"Yeah," she said. "And I do like you, so..." Then she and her friend turned and walked away as if with an invisible mic drop.
In one episode of "Psych", there's a part where Shawn says "Desperaux is alive!" and Woody looks at the tray full of plastic baggies ostensibly containing Deperaux's remains, pokes one of them, turns back to Shawn and says, "I'm quite sure that's impossible." That was the line that popped into my head in response to her disclosure. "I'm quite sure that's impossible." So I did what any normal person does when faced with inexplicable cognitive-dissonance-inducing circumstances, and decided not to think about it. My food arrived soon afterward and I ran into another friend and that was that.
We went to the dance but after that night, although she sometimes likes my Facebook posts she never responded to my messages again. I have no idea what happened to restore the universe to its natural order, but maybe it was because afterward I said something to the effect of, "Are you going to leave now?" It was a very poor choice of words, but all I meant was that I didn't think she would want to stick around for another half hour while I helped clean up.
Recently I was hanging out with a friend and he mentioned that he hadn't gone on a date in about a year but that it wasn't for lack of trying. He wasn't upset but just felt that he was doing what he needed to be doing so the results weren't his problem. I mentioned that I hadn't asked a girl out in almost a year. He said, "If you give up, nothing is going to happen." I didn't point out that without trying I had gone on more dates in that time period than he had. And also, maybe I prefer nothing happening to the somethings that were happening before. Did you ever think about that? No. You only think about yourself.
One of my other friends got kind of mad at me. "You are withholding a wonderful blessing from a special young lady!" he said. Which, first off, is easy for him to say because he looks like freaking Adonis. And secondly... I'm not stopping this special young lady from stepping forward and claiming this wonderful blessing for herself. When I want a blessing, I don't just wait for someone to give it to me and get depressed when nobody does.
This is a societal problem. The very existence of "Ladies' Choice" events indicates that the rest of the time they don't have a choice. Another friend (I have a lot of friends) mused on this the other night as he was driving me home. I had interrupted a conversation between him and his sister to offer them pizza, and she kind of looked like she wanted to go home and sleep forever, so I asked if she was all right and he started talking about her dating problems. I went on a date with her once by accident. When I say "by accident" I don't mean that I minded it, not in the slightest, but I just didn't realize that taking her to Freedom Fire counted as a date until I brought her home and her landlord was there and he asked "Is this your date?" and she said yes. Anyway, her brother talked about her dating problems and he said, "Dating must be real hard for girls. I mean, it's hard enough for guys to date who you want, but to feel like you don't really have a choice..."
Why does it have to be that way? It doesn't. If he would have said "Doing James Earl Jones impressions must be real hard for girls" or "Growing ZZ Top beards must be real hard for girls" or "Peeing while standing up must be real hard for girls" I would have just shrugged it off as part of the inevitable fairness of life. But there is nothing sacred about these traditions our forebears have built up. They are not mentioned in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". Most people can't give a real reason for them at all. Once I heard an institute teacher opine that it's unnatural for girls to ask guys out because the hunter doesn't like it when he has his prey in his sights and then suddenly feels eyes on his shoulders and looks back and sees another predator stalking him. I do have to concede that point because yes, strangely enough, most animals including humans want to eat and don't want to be eaten. It would be more accurate to imagine that the prey has a brain parasite that can only reproduce after it's been digested, so it makes the prey run toward the hunter and ask to be eaten.
Taking the metaphor this far just exposes how stupid it actually is. Hunting and dating are not analogous. There is an evolutionary basis for these traditions, which arguably does render the role reversal "unnatural", but who says we need to let evolution tell us what to do? I say, if you want to ask someone out then ask them out and if you don't then don't. The end.
The Cracrofts - Tyler and the Boy
I'm not going to explain the premise of this series or introduce the characters a third time. If you're confused, see here where it was introduced and here where more of it was shared. This storyline was omitted last time for space considerations but seems relevant now. Like "Meet the Mormons", it isn't finished because I don't know how I want it to finish. Zach Burns is named after Zack Burns, a guy I met at EFY who sadly is no longer with us. Tyler is sixteen years old, so this takes place in 2022.
Tyler: Hey, Zach! I was wondering...
Tyler: You? Me? Chick-Fil-A? Tomorrow? 7?
Zach: Sure, I'd love to.
Tyler: Great. Here's my address. Don't be late picking me up.
Zach: Hi, I'm Zach Burns. I'm taking Tyler on a date tonight.
Rachel: Thank you, Zach, but your princess is in another castle!
Zach: Ha, ha, classic! You're awesome, Mrs. Cracroft!
Rachel: Congratulations, you passed that test.
Zach: Phew! That's a load off my shoulders!
Rachel: Yeah, I don't think I could let my daughter go out with someone who's never played the Zelda games.
Director's Commentary: The joke, whether funny or not, is that the line is from a Mario game, not Zelda. If you didn't know that then you should also be made aware that the green-clad protagonist is named Link, not Zelda.
Zach: Hi, I'm Zach Burns. I'm taking Tyler on a date tonight.
Alvin: Hi, Zach. Nice to meet you. I'm Alvin Cracroft.
Zach: So... that's it? You're not going to threaten to shoot me or anything?
Alvin: No, but you'll probably beg me to later.
Zach: Good night, Tyler. Thanks for the wonderful time.
Tyler: Same back atcha, Zach.
Alvin (from bushes): Pssst! Zach! Are you all right? How did it go?
Zach: Oh, it was just marvelous. I can't wait to take her out again next week.
Alvin: Did she threaten or blackmail you into that? I can have a talk with her.
Zach (spreading arms): I'm in love, Mr. Cracroft!
Alvin (in bed): Zach seems like a kind, polite young man with a good head on his shoulders and a promising future.
Rachel (in bed): That he does.
Alvin: Explain to me what he sees in our daughter?
Rachel: Well, she has nice eyes.
Rachel: Zach, my boy, if you wanna score with Tyler then you gotta be a great kisser.
Rachel: And today's your lucky day, because I'm a great kisser and I'll teach you everything I know. C'mere.
Zach: Er... is your husband okay with this, ma'am?
Rachel: He put his face in his hands and sighed. I took that as a yes.
Director's Commentary: That was loosely based on a real experience when my roommate's wife, who had also become a de facto roommate despite never paying rent or utilities, argued with him to let me kiss her "so that he can say he's kissed a black girl, and I can say I've kissed a white guy". So she was like "Come here" and he was like "Don't you dare" and I, unable to obey both of these conflicting orders, just about short-circuited. Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics never covered anything like this.
Panel 1 (and only)
Rachel (doing Tyler's hair): Each night I ask the stars up above, why must I be a a teenager in love?
Tyler: And the stars whisper back, “First world problems much?”
Kirk Douglas - A Whale of a Tale
In honor of you-know-who, here is a clip of him in Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954) where he portrayed Canadian whaler Ned Land. There is a recorded version of this song with completely different lyrics for the last verse. Maybe some people found them offensive, but not offensive enough to redub the actual movie? Who knows. I mean, I'm sure somebody knows and I could know to if I bothered to look it up.
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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.