Saturday was one year since the Islamic Republic murdered Mahsa Amini for not wearing a hijab, sparking protests throughout Iran. After a few months, the Western media largely ignored these protests or straight-up lied that they were basically over, but the truth is that they aren't going to stop until the Islamic Republic is dead. The Islamic Republic has passed the point of no return. It's lost its legitimacy, it's become desperate, and its collapse is a matter of when, not if. The sooner the better, of course. The US and the EU need to hasten that day by growing some spines and treating it like the global pariah that it deserves to be. Down with all dictatorships, down with all theocracies, down with all religious extremism, and down with all misogyny and other forms of bigotry, no matter how much they wrap themselves up in the supposed respectability of faith.
Today I went for a hike in Tony's Grove with members of the local Unitarian Universalist congregation and three dogs. I was the youngest human there by a wide margin. The next youngest human was a mother of adults and teenagers, and everyone else had white hair, or in one case would have had white hair if she hadn't dyed it purplish red. I didn't remember where Tony's Grove was and I didn't realize the drive and the hike combined would total four and a half hours, but I'm not mad. Just tired. The temperature was perfect and the views were gorgeous. Susanne Janecke, a geologist from USU, told us about the caves and the rocks. Supposedly some of the latter were shaped by the ocean before life existed on land. I'll take her word for it. I felt, as I often do these days, insignificant against the scope of this planet's history, and since we'd just had a presentation on climate change by USU hydrologist Patrick Belmont earlier that day, I thought about the possibility that my entire species might not be here much longer, and I wondered why we evolved to be so stupid and whether there's any real purpose to the suffering we've inflicted on ourselves and our home. But mostly I just appreciated the views.
The bus that picked me up from Green Canyon High School was moving through the final crosswalk before the transit center, already late, when one of Utah's special drivers tried to turn in front of it and forced the driver to slam on the brakes, sending my phone through the air. I took the Lord's name in vain and extended my middle finger toward her, but she probably didn't notice. Then I went to pick up my phone, but it wasn't on the floor. It wasn't on a seat. It wasn't anywhere. The bus pulled in, everyone else got off, and I kept looking back and forth and over and under and behind with no success. I knew my phone was still on the bus because it was still broadcasting music into my headphones. I told the driver what had happened, and then to my surprise, a transit center employee came on and looked for it too. We were already late, and I knew the other passengers must hate me, and I couldn't blame them. But it wasn't my fault, it was that damn driver's fault. The employee said they'd have to look more thoroughly when the bus was out of commission.
I didn't want to leave without my phone, so I saw no alternative but to stay on for another loop. I tried really hard to take a Buddhist perspective and not be totally pissed off about this waste of my time. The smallest events change the courses of our lives in unpredictable and unknowable ways, so who's to say this waste of my time wouldn't save me from some horrible fate or expose me to some glorious opportunity? Of course, it could also have done the opposite of either of those things, but I tried not to think about that. The point was I didn't know, so I shouldn't be mad. I took the empty spot next to the one girl who had asked me what I was looking for while all the other passengers ignored me. By this point I had turned off my headphones. Maybe she would become my best friend, I thought. Maybe that was the silver lining here. I had the idea to ask if I could log into Google on her phone and use "Find My Phone" to make my phone make a noise even though it was on silent. It took me a while to build up the courage to make such a bold request, but I did, and she said yes.
I put in my email and then her phone just spun a loading circle at me and did nothing. She said she'd just gotten it from her stepdad and it didn't work very well. She played with some settings and tried to fix it. She called her mom. I got up a couple of times to look for my phone again in the same places I had already looked four times. It's not like there were a bunch of nooks or crevices for it to be hiding in. The girl couldn't get her phone to work, but she said I could get off the bus with her and go to her apartment and try to track my phone from her laptop. I couldn't believe it. We were going to be friends! So I did that. Her apartment was surprisingly well-furnished and had two cats, one of whom took an instant liking to me. The girl said that meant I was special. I was okay with that as long as she didn't start saying stuff like she could read my aura and my heart was a nice color and she could see the future. She offered me water and said she was a bad host for not offering sooner. I said it was nice of her to invite me inside in the first place. She said she likes to help people, and if most people were as helpful as her, the world wouldn't be in the state that it's in.
As you may have already guessed, I couldn't log in to Google on her computer because it required a verification code that it sent to my phone. There was literally no other way to do it. No security questions, nothing. She said I could report it as a theft to the police and they could help track it. I hoped it wouldn't come to that because I hate the police. I went back out to the bus stop in front of her apartment, and she asked if I wanted her to wait with me, and I said I didn't care, so she did. She asked about my life, and she said she wanted to go to USU, and that was when I figured out that, contrary to my assumption, she wasn't an adult. She still had a couple years of high school left. I now realized that we wouldn't be friends because it would be inappropriate for me to try to stay in touch in any way. Also, maybe she shouldn't have invited me into her apartment when her parents weren't home. But it's not like she was unfamiliar with stranger danger. When I said I didn't know my roommate before he moved in a couple of weeks ago, she said she hopes he's not a serial killer and doesn't murder me.
Because the bus on this route was so far behind schedule, only partially because of me, another bus came through this time. I went to the original bus and asked the driver about my phone. Still nothing. He said maybe it was in the lost and found. I didn't have time to check right then because I took a detour to campus to turn in my city council ballot. I didn't vote for any incumbents because they all ignored my email of complaint about the police department. Then I walked home and opened "Find My Phone" on my laptop, where fortunately I was already logged into Google. At first it appeared that my phone had somehow fallen off by Mount Logan Middle School, just a few blocks away, even though we hadn't stopped there. But I refreshed the page and saw that, in fact, it was still traveling along the bus route. I took my laptop with me back to the transit center so I could use it to make my phone make noise as soon as the bus pulled in. I could do this because a few months ago, my neighbor didn't pay his power bill, and the WiFi went out, and he gave me access to xfinity WiFi hotspots. I was very curious to see where my phone had ended up and how the hell I had missed it over and over again.
So the bus pulled in, I clicked the button, and I got on. Everyone missed or ignored the noise as they filed off, but as I headed toward the back of the bus it got louder and louder, and then my phone was right there on the floor, exactly where it should have landed when it flew out of my hand in the first place. It wasn't camouflaged by any stretch, but on top of that, the white sticker that I'd found on the grounds of Green Canyon High School and stuck on it that very day was still on it. I was too dumbfounded to be upset. And although I've all but completely lost faith that God intervenes in my life at all, I don't have a better explanation this time. Maybe he had saved me from a horrible fate or exposed me to a glorious opportunity and wanted to make sure I noticed even though I'd probably never figure out what it was.
Last weekend, I had planned to go camping in Bryce Canyon with some friends, but at the last minute one of them needed to stay somewhere with WiFi access to work something out with his fiancee's visa. They've been working on her visa for over sixteen months, which is why I support illegal immigration. He wanted the rest of us to go camping without him, but the rest of us decided to hang out at his place instead. We went to the zoo and had a swell time. I was going to write some commentary to go with these pictures, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort for the three people who would read it. Sorry. I'll just say that the highlight of the trip was the orangutan who looked right at us while masturbating, but I didn't take a picture of that.
This week's post is rushed because I'm very sleep-deprived and busy. Tomorrow and Monday I'll be hanging out with friends in Salt Lake. We were going to go camping in Bryce Canyon, but literally today something came up with one of the friends' fiancée's visa process that's already been going for well over a year and would be delayed even further if he didn't do the thing on Monday. So he wanted us to go camping without him, but we voted to hang out at his place instead. Awww.
After Donald Trump's fourth set of indictments, which is four more sets of indictments than any other former U.S. president has ever gotten, we finally get a mugshot. He looks like a petulant toddler. He's probably thinking, "ASK ANYONE AND THEY'LL TELL YOU, WE'VE GOT ALL THE BEST PEOPLE AND THEY'LL ALL TELL YOU I'M MORE INNOCENT THAN JESUS. NOBODY INNOCENTS MORE BIGLY THAN ME. WHEN I WEAR MY ORANGE JUMPSUIT, I'LL LOOK NAKED. VOTE FOR ME IN 2024 AND THEN BUILD ME A TEMPLE, YOU IMBECILES. I WARNED YOU THAT BIDEN WOULD LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS. IF I DIE IN PRISON, TELL ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ THAT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GRAB HER BY THE HEART. COVFEFE"
I'm looking forward to his convictions, but I'm not looking forward to how his sycophantic ass-kissing cultists will react to his convictions. Every Trump supporter who says they're going to start a civil war or "take this country back" should be taken at their word and put on a domestic terrorist watchlist immediately. I'm sure January 6, 2021 only scratched the surface of their delusional anger.
I've been to six movies in the theater this year. That's like thrice as many as I usually go to. This past week, I went to see The Last Voyage of the Demeter because my friend Katie wanted to see it before it left the theater due to its underperformance. I hesitated. I'd never seen an R-rated horror movie on the big screen in the dark before. Was I brave enough? But I realized pretty fast that it couldn't possibly be scarier than the real world that I have to live in every single day. This week I learned about Howard Schneider, a pediatric dentist in Jacksonville, Florida who got millions of dollars in Medicaid funds by needlessly drilling and pulling impoverished children's teeth, settled over a hundred lawsuits, then got all criminal charges against him dropped because he went senile or something, even though a society that valued justice would have executed him as slowly as possible with his own tools. When people like that exist in the real world, how the hell can I be scared of a CGI vampire? The more Dracula looks like a demonic bat creature instead of a human, as he does in this movie, the less he looks like the real monsters. On a more general level, it's difficult for me to be scared of exactly what I came to see. If a vampire had started stalking and murdering people during the Barbie Movie, that would have gotten my heartrate up.
Last night I watched Monsters University, which I had only seen once, when it came out ten years ago. At this time of year I felt nostalgic about both the movie and about college itself, and that ended up making me kind of depressed. I can't believe it's been twelve years since I started college. It seems like yesterday. There are so many things I wish I'd done differently, but it is and forever will be too late. I only got one life. I wish I could go back and talk to my freshman self and warn him about everything.
Because I have two sisters and a non-binary sibling who functioned as a sister, I've seen the OG Barbie movies. I must have seen Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie as Rapunzel twenty times each. I unironically enjoyed them and I don't care who knows it. One night in 2019, long after the last time I saw Barbie as Rapunzel, I dreamed about its musical motif and woke up in chills from how beautiful it is.
I also saw Dance! Workout With Barbie a few times. When I revisited it as an adult, I stopped watching after a few minutes because watching preteen girls in leotards made me uncomfortable, but I left it playing because it has a killer soundtrack by twelve-year-old Jennifer Love Hewitt, which is what I was really after anyway. Also it features the little mermaid as the voice of Barbie.
When I saw the trailer for a live-action Barbie movie, I just thought the concept was bizarre, maybe even desperate. I wasn't super interested. But my interest shot through the roof after conservative man-babies like Ben Shapiro threw temper tantrums about its wokity wokeness. I will say that even though I fully agree with the movie's feminist message, I found it a little off-putting because it's delivered with all the subtlety of an exploding freight train full of fireworks and neon paint. (And the multiple references to Barbieland's all-female Supreme Court were kind of weird because they implied that the US in real life has an all-male Supreme Court, which it doesn't and hasn't for a long time. The US Supreme Court profoundly sucks, but not for that reason.) But I do agree with it, and oh, the movie was so, so funny. I kept thinking that it was a well-deserved giant middle finger to the church I grew up in. I swear I could hear Ezra Taft Benson screaming from beyond the grave within the first five minutes. The opening scene where little girls smash their baby dolls on rocks made me a little uncomfortable, but then I realized it was an allusion to Psalms 137:9, which celebrates smashing real babies on rocks, so that was fine. I just worried that the message might be anti-motherhood instead of anti-not-letting-women-have-identities-or-aspirations-outside-of-motherhood, which would make the filmmakers the very evil that anti-feminists think they are. I was glad they clarified that by the end.
A week later, I went with Steve and Sierra to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. It was action-packed and funny. I don't really have anything specific to say about it, and I'm not a diehard turtle fan or anything, but I enjoyed it.
Before that, we went to the thrift store and picked out a DVD that we knew would be really bad. It was a mockbuster, aptly described by Strong Bad as "The kind they put right next to the check-out line, so Grandma might accidentally mistake it for the real thing." The Secret of Anastasia is actually a knockoff of two movies - the real animated Anastasia movie released the same year, and Beauty and the Beast. In this version, she's friends with four talking instruments that are actually her parents and siblings, which she doesn't realize because she has amnesia for reasons that are never explained. It was just the right amount of badness. It had a lot of unintentionally funny moments and plot holes that we augmented with inappropriate jokes (like I asked if the horn blows himself, and a few minutes later when he did blow himself, we couldn't hold it together). I did legitimately appreciate that the Communist secret police's comic relief guy was named Goofinov, at least until his boss insulted our intelligence by saying "I hope Goofinov isn't goofing off again." And we all agreed that Anastasia's emo sister was funny. And the pronunciation of Anastasia was more authentic than in the real movie. And the portrayal of Russia's military as childishly incompetent and pathetic was very accurate.
The bonus movie on the DVD, Snow White and the Magic Mirror, was legitimately good. The songs are better and it's funny on purpose. The Magic Mirror is a Robin Williams genie knockoff who imitated a bunch of nineties celebrities. The seven dwarves are all based on comedians that today's kids won't recognize. It's surprisingly dark in a couple places. Instead of ordering a hunter to kill Snow White, the queen orders a butcher to kill everyone in the kingdom (including her executioner, because even he's prettier than her). Fortunately, the butcher is a pacifist who doesn't even kill real animals. Then when Snow White runs away, her first stop is at an inn where a creepy guy with an off-screen mother offers her a private shower. In case you fail to notice the name of the inn, the camera zooms in on the words "The Bates Inn" after she leaves. I certainly hope no child understands that joke. My intelligence should have been insulted, but I was just shocked (in a good way) that they went there. My friends seemed a little confused that this movie follows traditional versions of the Snow White story more closely than the Disney version. She gets poisoned first by a magic comb and then by having a piece of apple stuck in her throat, and she revives when it pops out. She and the prince she just met sing a song about how they're going to get married, but at least he doesn't kiss her corpse. (He did see her at the dwarves' house earlier, but he didn't introduce himself because she was baking bread and it smelled awful and he was afraid he'd offer her some. Told you this movie is funny.)
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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.