After reading the synopsis, I still don't remember anything else from it, but it fuels my nostalgia nonetheless. Since the special'ss inexplicably not on YouTube I'm debating whether to spend twenty dollars plus shipping on a VHS tape that I have no way of playing. And what are these other things?
Against all odds, while dredging the internet for Legend of Zelda stuff to sate my obsession, I discovered a snarky synopsis of the Lamp Chop Chanukah Special entitled "Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah". If I wasn't already feeling nostalgic enough from working on my memoir, this cranked it up to eleven because I watched "Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah" when it aired in December 1995. I was two and a half years old. I really want to be two and a half years old again. All I remember from it was that Charlie Horse opened his Chanukah present early, prompting Lamb Chop to taunt "You're gonna get in trouble!", and that his present did indeed cause trouble as troublemaking people kept magically coming out of it, the first being some kind of genie who kicked the furniture and made something fall off the wall by yelling at it. It was very weird. Even at that age I wondered why Shari Lewis was giving her kids/pets such dangerous presents. Learning the context almost twenty-three years later hasn't really made it less weird.
After reading the synopsis, I still don't remember anything else from it, but it fuels my nostalgia nonetheless. Since the special'ss inexplicably not on YouTube I'm debating whether to spend twenty dollars plus shipping on a VHS tape that I have no way of playing. And what are these other things?
Lamb Chop's existence predates her early nineties show "Lamb Chops Play-Along" by over thirty years, though, and it turns out she's occasionally been a bit less than child-friendly, as in this couple of very old clips. I must admit Lamb Chop swearing was not something I expected to hear ever, albeit they're just a couple of minor swears that aren't even swears in the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand. These clips both end with the same weird song, and that's the part most worth watching, as Shari Lewis switches between herself and the puppet with inhuman speed and precision. She never seemed old to me despite being in her sixties, but holy crap, she looks so young here despite probably being in her forties.
It also turns out that Shari Lewis cheated by celebrating Chanukah and Christmas. What lucky kids/pets.
Okay, I'll give the blathering on about Star Wars a rest. A review of "The Last Jedi" will probably be forthcoming in a few weeks. I'll just say for now that I liked it much better the second time.
Visiting my family in Indiana required getting up at 6 am on Saturday morning. So like most people would do, I set an alarm. But additionally, my brain does this really helpful thing where it likes to wake me up at least an hour before my alarm goes off. And it did that. So after a bit of unpleasant half-sleeping delirium I came to my senses, such as they are, enough to figure that I should check how much time I had left. And the clock said... wait for it... 12:46. So I had probably been asleep for like two minutes. I said to my brain, I said, "Are you ----------------------------------- kidding me??"
I got back to sleep and, sure enough, woke up again. I checked again. Maybe it was almost time. Or maybe it was 2:59. It was 2:59.
"I hate being me," I told God. That was an overstatement, of course, but it was how I felt at the moment.
The third time, I wasn't optimistic, but it was 5:49 and that somehow came as a relief even though I felt like crap. I just wanted to put on a blindfold like Kanan Jarrus and never open my eyes again. How was it possible to be so hungry and so needing to throw up at the same time? Ironically, I felt worse than I did a week later in Indiana, yesterday, when I went to bed at 10, fell asleep sometime after 1:30, and was woken up at 5:24, aka 3:24 MST. Somehow I got so hot while being unable to sleep that twice I went outside in my underwear and stood with my bare feet in the snow and it felt like a cool spring day. But I digress.
I had to get up so early, in large part, so I could arrive at the airport two hours before my flight to make sure I would have plenty of time to get through security even though it's never taken me more than five minutes. But this time it did. This time it took an extra ten minutes. When my laptop didn't come out of the scanner with the rest of my stuff, I knew something was up. When the TSA guy carried it over to another station and asked "Whose laptop is this?" I knew something was up. When he gestured me over to him with a couple fingers and pointed to the external hard drive enclosure duct taped to the top of it and asked "What's that?" I knew something was up. He said that for future reference it looks suspicious to have something taped to a laptop in an airport and their explosives expert would have to look at it. That was fine with me, as I had nothing to hide, but I started to get a little worried that they would confiscate it anyway like they did my toothpaste one time, and then they may as well just shoot me too because it has my tens of thousands of songs that took years to accumulate.
It was nice of the people at both airports to let me through with my expired ID. There was an officer at one of them who looked like Will Smith. I wanted to get a picture of him, but I might have gotten in trouble. I traveled all day, had the usual delays, and got to Indiana around 9 pm EST. It was another hour to the house and then I was ready for bed. And right as I got out of the car I remembered the trains that pass like twenty feet from my parents' house several times day and night and always blow their horns. I used to like trains.
On a more positive note, the next morning it was once again nice to attend a congregation not completely full of white people. Don't get me wrong, most of my best friends are white, but it just gets stifling when that's all I'm ever surrounded by, you know? Because it was Christmas Eve, somebody thought it would be a good idea to sing like eight hymns. I opted out of all the extra ones because I was tired. The black Baptist convert behind us complained that we had ruined the tunes, and she wasn't wrong.
So, the fifty degrees of winter thing the previous and only time I'd visited Indiana turned out to be a fluke. It was very cold. One day I walked a couple miles from the house and on the return trip my fingers felt like they had been hacked off. I have gloves, I just don't know where they are. But it was sunny! I was asked to post some pictures and bring the sunshine back to Utah! So here are some pictures and I got a pocketful of sunshine which, as anyone in Logan can attest, is being put to good use. I hope I got enough pictures to satisfy the person who requested pictures.
Trains that were very hard to photograph through the trees
As Douglas Adams famously wrote in "Last Chance to See", here be chickens
My parents have the best kind of neighbors
A church we don't go to
Bustling city stuff
My scary friend Mackenzie is starting to sound even more like a mob boss
I knew what she meant the first time, of course, but I like messing with her. My advice to her and anyone else hiring someone to take me out is make sure you're not talking to an undercover cop by mistake. I saw that on TV once. It was real, filmed with a hidden camera in the cop's car, and this woman was hiring him to shoot her husband and he was playing Satan and trying to goad her into being more evil. He was like, "You know, sometimes when I shoot people, it takes them a long time to die and they suffer a lot. Does that bother you?" And she was like, "I don't care, I don't care, I just want him gone. Ohhh, I'm gonna sleep good tonight." You can spot undercover cops because they never actually drink the beer. Wait, wrong scenario. You're on your own then.
My parents have a few books
I took the time to read some of them and record my thoughts.
"Lost Race of Mars" by Robert Silverberg. Written in 1960, set in the distant future of 2017, where the colonists on Mars still use film cameras and paper mail. I'd trade digital cameras and email for a colony on Mars. We haven't even put a person on Mars, which is pathetic and inexcusable. We should have done it decades ago. Would we even be able to get emails on Mars? Could they set up the internet infrastructure between here and there? But hey, at least we have fidget spinners, amiright?
"Peanuts Classics" by Charles Schultz. This one is mine. I don't remember it having a broken binding and a brown stain all the way through. Let's see... oh, I know all these comics by heart even though I haven't read them in who knows how long. I read them so many times and yet I never really understood how great some of them are.
"From First Date to Chosen Hate" by Brenton G. Yorgason. Oh, "Mate". Right, I always read that wrong the first time. It's not the best font. Well, maybe I ought to read this famous book. Plot twist: it's for Australians wanting to escape the matezone. "Hooley dooley! So you've come the raw prawn with another true blue Sheila and she's dobbed she just wants to be mates? Do you just cop it sweet and hope she'll be apples, or bugger that for a joke? Fair suck o' the sav!" etc. 1977? Then it should be good for a few laughs. I'm sure it's very... dated. Hum de dum. Oh, so dating sucked even before millennials ruined it? So much for my... romanticizing the past. Creative date ideas - skip! Satan's deceptions - skip! Getting engaged - skip! Oh, look, it's available on archive.org and I just wasted my time reading the hard copy instead of something else! Well, it was very dated but it did have some good stuff. I recommend modern readers to supplement it with "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari and "Animal Behavior" by John Alcock.
"Happy Valley Patrol" by John "Blitz" Krieg, pseudonym for Robert Kirby. This book has seen better days. The binding is all but gone and at least a quarter of the pages are not connected to anything. I didn't do it, though I have read it many times. It's a collection of the eponymous newspaper column about Kirby's time as a police officer in Utah, and I love it because it makes fun of two things that I love making fun of: the human race and Provo. And it's just as hilarious this time around.
I also read through all my Tintin books that my sister is keeping safely for safekeeping. I hadn't read them since before I started college, and now I get more of the jokes and references. Hergé truly was a rare breed of genius, which would explain why most Americans don't appreciate him. If you haven't read Tintin, do so; you won't be sorry unless you have no taste. If you want to be thorough you can start from the actual beginning with the mediocre "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" and the racist "Tintin in the Congo", but it's probably better to just start with the sanctioned volumes and come back to those for thoroughness after you're hooked.
The Mormon Section
A noble crusader against injustice has brought to light that in the last five years, twenty Holocaust victims were posthumously baptized by various Mormons in violation of LDS Church policy, sparking another round of complaints about baptizing dead people without consent. One should always obtain a dead person's consent before performing an ordinance that will either unlock their path to salvation or have no affect on them whatsoever. And it is, of course, incredibly selfish and thoughtless for Mormons to spend time baptizing people who will never be on the membership records, pay tithing, or help a church ball team. How would we feel if someone did it to us? I, for one, would be outraged if I were dead and a Muslim or a Hindu or a Rastafarian did something they thought would help me get into heaven. In fact, there's a website called "All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay" which purports to make that happen, and you can guess how much that upsets me by how many times in my life I've mentioned it. (This is the first time in my life I've mentioned it.) Why doesn't every religion just do this for everyone, and then we'll all have all our bases covered?
Several Jewish leaders take this practice personally because it reminds them of the long history of Jews being forced to convert to Christianity or die. That's understandable (even though, as people keep pretending to forget, Mormon teachings state that dead people are free to accept or reject the ordinance). The LDS Church is under no legal obligation to stop the baptizing of Holocaust victims, but does so as a gesture of good will. Most of the people feigning self-righteous indignation over the very few who slipped through the system are atheists who believe that Holocaust victims ceased to exist as soon as they were murdered. That in their lives, millions of lives, the Nazis permanently and irrevocably won. And these complaints about baptizing dead people without consent ring just a little hollow coming from them. And do they care one iota about Jewish religion or culture at any other time? A random teeny little hunch tells me probably not. Some people need to grow up.
The world has survived year one of Drumpf's presidency. True, he didn't accomplish much worthwhile, and he consistently refused to behave in an intelligent or dignified manner befitting a nation's leader (which comes as a surprise to no one), but he hasn't started a nuclear war yet despite his best efforts so I say we should count our blessings. I look forward to blogging for another year, and striving to please my loyal fans, unless of course I unexpectedly die and move beyond this vale of tears, which would be even better. I suppose it's also possible that Daesh will cut off my hands. That would really suck. I will surely face many challenges in this coming year, and just as surely God will bring me through them as He always has in the past, as undeserving as I am. I don't stress nearly as much about them now. So there's that.
George Harrison - Ding Dong
There aren't a lot of New Year's songs. That means there also aren't a lot of good ones. Enter George Harrison's "Ding Dong", which ought to be a lot more famous than it is, and might become a tradition with me since this is the second time I've shared it.
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.
Facebook is Stupid -_-
I am so tired of this crap from Facebook.
Hitler's Jewish purge was not some sort of aberration, but a natural outgrowth of century after century of anti-Jewish bigotry, and this bigotry still exists. This is partially why I made a conscious decision to like and trust the Israeli girl at the mall and let her sell me those skin care products I couldn't really afford. Since Jews have been stereotyped by "Christians" as sleazy, cunning money-grubbers for so long, I chose to believe that she wasn't ripping me off and really would take me to the movies as promised. Someone told me a week later that she was probably long gone by now, so I went back to verify that she was still there, and she was, so my trust hasn't been shattered yet. Anyway... that isn't the worst of Facebook's stupidity.
It really disturbs me when pornographers make a big deal about having models as young as they're legally allowed to be. I get the impression that they would use 15 year olds in a heartbeat if they could. Anyway, trained orangutans could literally do a better job than this at policing Facebook's "Community Standards". They could be trained to recognize the shapes of the letters in certain words indicating red flags, which is obviously more than Facebook's staff is capable of. Whatever they're being paid is too much.
It's heartwarming to see the faith, goodness, etcetera of the old people at the old people place in spite of their deteriorating bodies and/or minds. One old man named Norm stands out in this regard as he joins us in singing the hymns, even though he can't stand up without swaying around like a bobblehead, his voice is so weak as to be barely audible most of the time, and he has great difficulty even turning the pages of the book. I like his attitude about life too. Last week someone told him "Have a good day" and he responded, "It's a good day when I wake up. If I wake up."
Having said that, I never, ever, ever want to be that old and frail myself, as it's probably a hundred times less fun to live through than to witness. I hope I die before then.
About three years ago I met this lady who I shall call "Janet" in an institute class and for whatever reason, she remembered me and always said hi from then on even though we never really talked or became close. This wouldn't have been a problem except that she was married and I was aware that I had in times past flirted with female friends without even realizing it, even when I wasn't actually interested, and I became super paranoid about that happening if I interacted with her too much, so I just felt super awkward every time and I think she thinks I'm "special" and she isn't really wrong. We never went beyond saying hi except for once when she was trying to use a computer terminal at the campus library and her baby was crying so I went over and made faces to calm her (the baby) down, and one time when she forgot to lock her front door so she asked me to go do it and let myself out the back since I lived close by. It took her like five minutes to ask because she kept oscillating between her worry about someone breaking into the house and her worry about inconveniencing me.
One time a year or two later my ward was gathered at the church building near my house to carpool to a home evening activity, and being Mormons, of course, they were still gathered there twenty minutes after we were supposed to have left. I got frustrated and bored and didn't want to socialize like everyone else was doing so I wandered away to the other side of the building. Across the street, Janet was out with her toddler and newer baby playing hopscotch and eating popcorn and, seeing that I was all alone with no family and no home evening, invited me to join them. So I played hopscotch for a minute, feeling awkward all the while, and then her husband appeared in the doorway. A look of murderous rage came over his face. He stormed out, down the driveway, toward the sidewalk, past me, and moved the baby a little further from the road, and then turned and went back into the house without saying a word. I decided it was a good time to go rejoin my ward.
Afterward I told myself that the look of murderous rage on his face must have been my imagination, driven by paranoia, because I hadn't been doing anything wrong and had never done anything wrong. I was just paranoid and everything was fine. But the next time I saw her she said, "Sorry my husband wasn't very nice. He thought I was flirting." Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I saw them at Summerfest last night and accidentally made eye contact with him through some bushes as I walked past and slipped away into the crowd, and from what I could see through the bushes I felt like I should probably stay hidden. Predominantly, though, while I was scared the first time, this time I just felt like laughing. Maybe that makes me a bad person but, setting aside the fact that I've never done anything, he must be the most insecure person in the world if he feels threatened by me.
The Mormon Section
Last week I mentioned Elder Glenn L. Pace's book "Safe Journey: An African Adventure" and his struggle to gain government approval for the temple in Ghana, and since it's such a good book I'm going to lift from it again. During this time period he also got church approval for the temple in Nigeria, albeit this was a much easier and less frustrating process. Church leadership hesitated to announce one because of the instability in the country. When he returned to Utah for General Conference in April 2000, they asked him about conditions and he responded:
"We just had riots in the north over the passing of Sharia law, and several hundred Christians were killed. In retaliation, several hundred Muslims were killed in the south, including many right in Aba where the temple site is located. In the delta region, where the oil fields are located, many hundreds of people have been killed. Whole villages have been burned from explosions caused by sabotage of oil lines. Oil executives are being kidnapped and held for ransom. In Lagos there have been serious riots in the streets. Vigilante groups are springing up all over the country - and they are recognized, condoned, and even encouraged by the police and military. In summary, things are better than they have been in thirty years." I just have always wanted to share that quote. More seriously he continued, "Brethren, if we wait for Nigeria to be stable before we build a temple, we might as well forget it. I feel we have to move forward and support the people. I understand your apprehension. However, if I remember right, there was a lot of instability in Nauvoo when we built that temple."
President Hinckley announced that temple at the end of conference a couple days later. The moral of this story, in case you didn't catch it, is that sometimes you just have to go ahead and do something and not wait to be ready for it because you never will be.
The Music Section
The choice paralysis described by Aziz Ansari in "Modern Romance" and mentioned here extends beyond marriage to several other aspects of life. For example, I have over three months' worth of music on the hard drive from my busted laptop, so when recently I was able to remove said hard drive and put it in an enclosure, I was faced with a real dilemma of which song to listen to first. (My life is horrible.) The winner ended up being "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" by Norah Jones, which was a free iTunes download in December 2012. There's a lot of legally free stuff available if you know where to look. The reason I accumulated so much music was that after the first time I had a laptop fry, and was without it for so long, I realized that was what I missed most of all. And as Aspies are prone to do with this or that, I developed an obsession with it. I became at least as fixated with accumulating music as with actually listening to it. I developed a mindset that I was moving toward a goal of "completeness" in my collection, which of course was nonsense given the sheer volume (pun intended) of music in the world.
Of course I was already aware that I needed to re-balance my priorities and not spend so much time accumulating more, but being without a laptop again helped me to accomplish that more quickly. Now, with over three months' worth of music suddenly available at once instead of gradually, the thrill of accumulation is there again and I don't feel compelled to keep doing it so much. Of course I still have the list of albums that I intend to get someday, and tracking down obscure and out of print things on the Internet is still an adventure, but I'm doing it over a longer timeframe and not devoting so much time to it all at once. Listening to music, on the other hand, is good but not inherently productive, so the idea is to write stuff while doing so (like right now, for example). What I like most of all is to shuffle all three months plus of music at the same time. Then I never know what will come up and it removes the problem of choice paralysis or bias. When I first heard the concept of a "playlist" after getting my first mp3 player about ten years ago, I thought it was weird. Why limit yourself instead of playing it all?
Now, continuing on with another alien invasion song, this one from UFO Phil, a strange individual "who has made a name for himself through appearances on national radio programs, television, films, and internet videos speaking on the subject of extraterrestrials and the paranormal. Whether Phil Hill is an actual believer in the paranormal or is engaging in a kind of performance art is the subject of some debate." (Wikipedia)
UFO Phil - Alien Jam
Newly Posted Essays
These are from my recently concluded Creative Non-Fiction Writing class. Long after this post has faded into the mists of time, they will still also be readily accessible from the Essays page. The professor, who is a published creative non-fiction author and whose job it is to know about this stuff, likes them, so if you don't, you're wrong.
In Defense of Pickup Lines
Also, though my novel "Space Girls" has not been published and won't be until at least 2020, it has already garnered blurbs from several people.
Zack, Prince Among Men
I have been most negligent in failing to mention the great act of kindness that was performed for me a few weeks ago when, after waiting at a red light, I rode my bike into a crosswalk and one of the pedals immediately popped off. As I swore and hastily retreated back to the sidewalk, a ginger-bearded guy named Zack pulled up with his wife Katie or Kathy and baby whose name I forget (Luke maybe?) and offered to give me and the bike a ride home. Almost immediately, however, he thought better of that idea and decided they should take me to his friend's bike shop to get it fixed instead. I accepted because I was broke and figured he would be blessed for his generosity. Out of consideration I just took an old pedal that doesn't match the other one at all, instead of a new set, and now whenever I see it I will remember what a great guy Zack is.
Jewish Skin Care
On Memorial Day, I was looking for a copy of "A Giraffe and a Half" by Shel Silverstein, which is not to be found at the library or at Hasting's. I got desperate enough to try "Fun Unlimited" at the mall, which didn't have it either, and on my way out I was intercepted by a girl visiting from Israel to sell skin care products from the Dead Sea. "You there, may I have a few moments of your time?" she called out. "Are you married? You have girlfriend? Of course, you have seven girlfriends, one for each day of the week, yes?" Her warm demeanor and smooth sales tactics, in conjunction with her ethnicity and broken English that made me extra cautious to not accidentally be racist, kept me riveted, grinning like an idiot as she held my arm and rubbed it with this stuff, even as I realized that it was way too expensive for me at this time.
She twisted my arm by offering a huge time-sensitive discount. I didn't believe for a moment that this was exclusive for me and needed to be kept a secret, of course, but still... I don't worry much about my appearance, but her description of what this would do to my skin sounded exquisite... Another determining factor was her promise that if I bought it she would take me to two movies. I realized then that there were two branching paths available, and one involved gaining a new friend from another country, culture and religion, and the other involved never seeing her again, and the former would hopefully be worth [redacted] dollars. So with any luck, I just bought a friend. She has my number and if she doesn't keep her commitment, I know where she works.
So that's how I ended up with less than fifteen dollars to live off of for two weeks. Fortunately I've had plenty of practice at that sort of thing.
That evening I found out there's an Australian person in the ward combined with my ward, and I would have met her a lot sooner if I were attending my ward, but life is full of trade offs like that. I thought at first that she was British, which would have lent an amusing irony to the American flag she made for Memorial Day out of marshmallows, grapes, and blueberries. Since she's from a white English-speaking country (sort of; see below), I allowed myself to be sort of racist and listen to her talk just because of her accent, and I decided that asking a ton of questions about the accuracy of Australian stereotypes was worth the risk of annoying her and ruining a potential friendship. There was no need to worry, though, because when I decided that enough was enough, she said "Come on, what else you got?" So I asked her if she could arrange to teach us all Strine. And that was shamelessly disingenuous, since mainly I wanted to show off how much I already know from David Morgan-Mar's podcast interview with Professor Jack Bandicoot, head of the Department of Australian English at the University of Sydney.
DMM: No doubt you are aware of the fact that many people around the globe regard the Australian dialect as being
so full of peculiarities as to be almost opaque to comprehension.
Prof. Bandicoot: Indeed, yes.
DMM: As an expert in the subject, is there any truth to this reputation?
Prof. Bandicoot: No, it's a complete furphy.
DMM: So as a country, what can we do about it? Should we just cop it sweet?
Prof. Bandicoot: No, bugger that for a joke. We can't have mug lairs telling porkies about us like that. I mean, fair crack of the whip!
Debbie My New BFF
Debbie was without roommates for two days and told me in a commiserating tone, "Now I know how awful it is." That's not the word I would use. When I came home from New York at the end of last summer to find my roommates in the process of moving, I was so happy that I started singing to the tune of a famous Willy Nelson song, "All alone again... I can't wait to be all alone again..." I thought I was going to get roommates this month, since the "For Rent" sign came down weeks ago, but here I am still alone and that's more than okay with me. The drawback of having to pay everything for utilities myself is more than outweighed by the benefits of playing my music as loud as I want, having silence whenever I want, walking around naked if I want to, sleeping on the couch every night, praying out loud wherever and whenever I want, never getting woken up by people talking or playing video games at stupid a.m., and not being excluded from social events in my own home. My roommates were great guys, of course. The only problem was that they were people.
Because of Memorial Day, the campus library where I would normally go to use the computer was closed on Sunday, so I was faced with the dilemma of choosing which friend to exploit for the use of their laptop, and I chose Debbie because I don't get to see her often enough anymore since she left the best ward ever. I was going to just walk over but she insisted on coming to get me because of the rain. I didn't realize at the time that she had gotten roommates by now because none of them were home when we got there. She lingered nearby to make sure I didn't access her novel or do anything that would contract malware. She apologized for the slowness of her computer, but that was all right because I was in no hurry to leave. When I did, she insisted on driving me again. As soon as she dropped me off I took an eight block walk just to spite her.
The next day I remembered some more things I needed to do, so I went over again, and this time she did her makeup in the kitchen right next to me. I asked, "Do you always do your makeup in the kitchen?" She said, "No, but it isn't polite to desert a guest." Then she came over into the living room where I was to plug in her curling iron and do her hair. With all this going on I found it difficult to remain focused on the tasks at hand, as I felt fascinated to observe what seemed like forbidden and secret rituals. I saw her putting makeup on a guy's face in a talent show (and I so desperately wish I could post it on YouTube without engendering his lifelong hatred) but this was the real deal. But I also felt betrayed because all this time I thought the curl in her hair came naturally. I wonder how many other things I thought I knew about her are just smoke in the wind.
A couple days later, normal computer access restored, I had the temerity to call and invite myself over just because I was having a horrible day and wanted to talk. This time her hair looked different and she was glistening all over. She said that was from running on a treadmill. We talked about the horrible thing that was going on and then shifted to more pleasant topics, like psychology. She talked about things like how if the doctor consistently rings a bell before tapping someone on the knee, they become conditioned to kick reflexively whenever they hear the bell, without the tap. "So," I said, "stuff like that is accessing the more primitive parts of human brains." "Yep," she agreed. So, I thought but didn't dare say, that's just one more proof that we're a product of evolution. She doesn't like the idea of human evolution because she thinks it precludes morality. Someday I will build up the courage to gently correct her misconceptions about that.
Adam Sandler - Love Stinks
This is my second favorite scene/song from "The Wedding Singer" (my first favorite is not appropriate to share with a family audience). I think the fat man looks like Paul McCartney. Am I the only one who thinks that? Also, whoever did the Spanish subtitles took some creative liberties with the refrain.
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C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. Please don't make sweeping assumptions about my views based on one or two posts (hint: the Democrat and Republican parties can both go back to hell). Don't assume I'm always angry just because I try to use hyperbole for comedic effect. And please don't judge all Latter-day Saints by my shortcomings.