Perhaps it's boastful of me to share feedback that my writing receives, but this blog is basically my journal, so if it pertains to me and makes me happy then I'm going to put it here. Ta-da.
This is an expert opinion. If you don't like my writing, you're wrong. Oh, and there's nothing to be worried about because the stuff in the essay was from four years ago.
It is my humble conviction that the parties responsible for Daylight Savings' Time should be shot, run over with a truck, and shot a few more times. It doesn't even matter whether it's beginning or ending, in fact; it thoroughly throws off my circadian rhythm, causes me to lose a lot more than another hour of sleep (in addition to the hour minimum of sleep that I already lose every night of my life just because) and makes an entire week miserable either way. But who really needs sleep? It's not like I need mental clarity to focus on difficult schoolwork like Latin - oh wait. Yeah, so when I find myself awake at five thirty (aka four thirty) and unable to get back to sleep, I say a few choice words that make me a bad Mormon. I'm not proud of my swearing problem, and I've tried to wean myself off it, but then something like this happens and I erase weeks' worth of progress within a minute. It just feels so therapeutic. Sigh.
I took advantage of spring break to become reacquainted with Bionicle, one of the most popular Lego franchises of all time, which originally ran from 2000 to 2010 and was rebooted in 2015. I loved it very much as I was growing up, but around 2008 the storyline had become really complex and I guess I must have stopped getting the comics because I have no memory of the issues from that point onward. So anyway, though I retained very fond memories of the Mata Nui Online Game and even went out of my way to listen to the soundtrack, I didn't give Bionicle much more thought. And then a month or so ago I suddenly had a dream about it. In the dream, I was two people (because you know how dreams are); one of the guys in charge of the franchise, and a reporter interviewing him. The gist of our conversation was like this:
Reporter: I know some people have lamented – or, I guess "lamented" is probably too strong a word, but – how the storyline started out so simple, and then as it developed and branched out into more islands and more characters and more mythology – I mean, not that any of that was bad, but –
Reporter: – it's just been bittersweet for some people, I guess, because the simplicity of the original storyline had a certain charm that maybe isn't as prevalent in the later stuff. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Boss: Right, I mean, that was definitely something we were aware of, but it was just a price we had to pay for continuing the story. There's only so much you can do if you stay on the original island, you know, and just keep throwing wave after wave of bigger, badder villains at the heroes. At some point you have to look elsewhere to keep it fresh. And we really loved this little world we'd created and so we thought that was a price worth paying to keep creating adventures in it. But really, you can see it as a metaphor for life, you know, how things start out simple and as you grow and learn more and have to challenge your old assumptions, they get more complicated. But the foundation is still there. You can still think back to a simpler time and you can still go back to the original story; it hasn't disappeared just because we've added onto it, so I think that charm is still there if you go to look for it and I think we've gotten the best of both worlds.
Of course, the primary reason they kept advancing the story and adding new stuff was to keep selling toys, and there's nothing wrong with that. Toy makers need to make a living like anyone else, and the phenomenal popularity of Bionicle (which brought the Lego company out of some serious financial problems at the turn of the century) proved that this was a good approach. But looking at the comics and the books and the podcasts and the serials done by Greg Farshtey, who was undoubtedly the single biggest driving force behind it, it's quite obvious that he really enjoyed creating and exploring this world in its own right, and took pride in it far beyond simple commercialism - even disregarding the fact that he continued publishing Bionicle serials online for a bit after the toys had been discontinued. And why wouldn't he? It's awesome.
So I got back into it, reliving old memories and making new ones, determined to take it slowly enough to comprehend the parts that had started to go over my head. So far I'm succeeding, and Bionicle has stood the test of time and continues to be awesome. My dream was correct. Just because the Matoran are actually partially organic sentient robots created before the Great Spirit himself that live for who knows how many tens of thousands of years and don't reproduce doesn't detract from the initial charm of their simple, hard-working lifestyles on that primitive beautiful island of Mata Nui. I do think it's a good thing they stopped the story and didn't completely overdo it. Doing a reboot instead of a continuation was also a wise decision for that reason, and I like to imagine that this reboot takes place in the same universe but an alternate dimension or timeline, both of which are already known to exist there.
Perhaps my dream was a message from God. I know you don't have a social life, God said, so here's something else to kill time with that I think you'll like. Actually, I find Bionicle to be downright spiritual at times. To name just the most pervasive example, I love how the main heroes, the Toa, are elite butt-kicking machines yet at the same time they get prideful, argue with each other, make foolish mistakes, and have to learn their lesson about unity over and over again. I think it's representative of the complexity and the potential within each of us despite our flaws. In a similar vein, we learn from them that a true hero is to be judged not by his outward appearance, but by his ability to make witty banter during combat.
My friend had never seen the Indiana Jones movies. The full story is probably of little interest to anyone and would make this post too long, so suffice it to say that after nearly a year and a half and several postponements, it happened last week, sort of. I say sort of because for half of the movie his fiancée was off doing homework and he was with her, abandoning me with the others he had invited, some guy and his sister and some other girl. One of the girls was in high school and the other was a returned missionary, and the latter was more annoying by far. She wouldn't stop talking about her crush. How could she even think about other guys while Harrison freaking Ford was on the screen? Anyway, when the other two left the room for a minute she said to me "Sorry we're being so loud" and I kind of stared at her awkwardly, not knowing what to say because I couldn't say "It's okay" because that would have been a lie, and I couldn't say "If you were really sorry you would stop" because that would be rude, so I just said "Thank you" and it was awkward. I was overjoyed when she left before the movie was over.
My friend and his fiancée returned right as the Cairo marketplace fight scene began, and he was able to get up to speed even though he missed the foreshadowing about snakes, the rivalry with Belloq, the relationship with Marion, etcetera. I like watching movies I've seen a hundred times with someone who has never seen them because I just pretend to be that person and perceive it through their fresh eyes. He was really shocked and concerned when Marion died and then when the monkey died. "The monkey's just asleep, right?" he said. Yes, the ominous music, the imagery of the ceiling fan blades slowly rotating over its motionless form, and Sallah's grim understatement of "Bad dates" after he has just prevented Indy from eating one all serve to indicate that the monkey is asleep.
In writing about "Debbie", I may have forgotten to mention that she gives me rides to or from church sometimes. That's how we met. Her car always smells euphoric and she always has an index card on the dashboard with whatever scripture she's ponderizing that week. To her, ponderizing is more than just a fad that fizzled out within a month. She just offers rides whenever opportunity brings us and her car into close proximity, for example when she exits the church building right after me. One of those times she said "Want a ride?" and I just shrugged because I was sincerely torn between my desire to walk instead and my desire to be around her. She continued, "Yes you do. Get in." That would be considered kidnapping in some states. If our genders were reversed, it would be considered kidnapping in this one.
Now we've moved beyond that. Last week, I had gone less than half a block from my apartment when a car pulled up to the curb next to me, which happens more or less frequently when people offer me rides. I didn't know who it was, but it was nice out and I wasn't running late so I really just wanted to walk. In true Christian fashion I muttered under my breath, "Go away." Then I looked and saw that it was Debbie. She didn't ask, didn't order, didn't say anything, just moved some stuff off the passenger seat; and I didn't say anything either, just got in. "Your car smells nice," I said. Then we went to church and got out of the car and I prolonged the moment by asking if my collar was okay. Unexpectedly, instead of just saying that no it wasn't, she fixed it herself. Then she said, "You smell nice too." And I stupidly just said, "You can tell?" meaning, of course, that I was surprised she could discern it through her own scent, but I don't know if that context came across or not.
After church, someone else offered me a ride, but as I was on the other side of the road, he just stopped in the middle of it. A well-dressed Mormon family of three was stuck behind him for a minute, and then drove around, one of them extending a middle finger as far out the window as they could to make sure he noticed it. I'm the last person who should judge other Mormons for behaving badly, and he did deserve it, but come on, don't teach that kind of behavior to your kid in the backseat. Anyway, I didn't see an easy way out of it so I ran across the road and got in. Then he said, "We're going to have a little talk with these people," and accelerated to catch up with them. As we drew closer and closer and he showed no sign of slowing down, I realized that I just might be about to die. At least I hoped I would die in the event of an impact, because in my book that would be preferable to being painfully and perhaps permanently mangled. He did slow down, perhaps because of my hesitant warning to do so, and then tailgated them for a bit. We came near my apartment, I told him where it was, and he said "But we're going to take a little trip first", went past it and continued to follow them.
The next time we hit a stop sign I figured I should just jump out of the car. Fortunately, for the grace of God or whatever reason, he gave up shortly afterward but craned his neck to look after them as they drove off. "Sunday suits? Sunday suits? Ehh!" He shook his head and muttered, "Pricks."
The Mormon Section
I deactivated my Facebook profile so I could break my addiction to it and study Latin. In order to continue running my page, however, I had to create another profile, add it as a friend to the first one, and make it an admin. I didn't intend to use this profile for anything else. That was eight days ago, and in that time this profile has received 4 friend requests from people I know and 189 friend requests from people I don't, overwhelmingly located in Latin America and the Philippines. I thought that was really weird. I've always gotten random requests like that once in a while, but never in such a deluge. Of course I accepted all of them so I could invite them to like my page. Then I realized that most of them were open and proud LDS. Even the guy in Pakistan was LDS. And I realized they must have been drawn by the photograph of the Salt Lake Temple that I chose as a profile picture. I feel like there's a beautiful message in that somewhere.
A couple of them messaged me. One of the Filipinas messaged me in a mixture of English and Tagalog. Where did she get the idea that I speak Tagalog? And another Filipina was confused by an anti-anti-vaxxer post that I shared on my page. First she didn't understand that it was sarcastic, because sarcasm doesn't exist in all cultures and I guess the Philippines are one of them. I had one institute teacher who was like "I heard an Apostle say that sarcasm is the language of the devil" and another one who was like "I'm so proud of my Mexican daughter-in-law for learning sarcasm. We made her cry. We had to explain, 'No no, we're being mean to you because we like you!'" Anyway, I said that it was sarcasm, but didn't explain what sarcasm is for fear of being too patronizing, and she still seemed confused, and I realized she probably didn't even know what an anti-vaxxer is. How do you explain to someone in a third world country that people exist who think vaccines are bad? I can't even believe it myself when I look at it from that angle. I can only wish it were just an unfunny joke. And another one of the Filipinas just wished me a happy Sabbath because that's what it is there.
I think I'm going to do one "scripture taken out of context and inserted into a conversation" thing per week, at least for two weeks, since I've only thought of two decent ones so far.
Them: This clickbait article will restore your faith in humanity.
Me: And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?
Hammerfall - Last Man Standing
Indiana Jones brought me to this song which I love for its lyrics as much as its tempo. Video is rated PG-13 for violence; song is rated G for message, unless it has some kind of subtext that went over my head because I'm so innocent. That happens sometimes.
Porky Pig - Ali Baba Bound
Not sure how long or consistently I'm going to do this part, but here it is again. This cartoon from 1940 is kind of outrageous in today's political climate. When I was little I watched it on one of those cheapo VHS cartoon compilations from the library, and loved it for the music. At one time I even had the entire thing memorized and played it in my head to alleviate the tedium of school. But not until I revisited it at an older age did I understand that it has a suicide bomber in it, portrayed as a screwball and presumably played for laughs. Awkward.
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- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, 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.