It's a month almost to the day since the nasty incident with my neighbors, and though I've put it behind me as much as possible, and though by objective measures little else has developed, of course I still remember it every day and have had plenty of time to think about it a little more. It's for my own closure more than anything and I'm sorry if it bores everyone else (insert your own quip about all my posts boring you here).
The next day, open enrollment began for summer and next school year, and I went to sign up. I love my current location, and I had to move thrice last year and I would be damned if I was going to do it again so soon. If my neighbors had a problem with me then they could leave, and I've since heard that they will, though I don't know if it has anything to do with me. I also soon returned to opening my blinds for most of the day as I've always done to maximize natural light and minimize my electricity bill (though most of it is still blocked by trees and recycle bins) but now to also send the message I'm not afraid of you, I mean I am, but I won't let you intimidate me out of living my life. While sitting in my living room on a Sunday morning I've seen them look in my living room window at me before scurrying past like anxious little rodents. Like they're literally scared of me when all I ever did was be nice to them. Such idiocy is so unreal I don't even know how to feel about it.
I've been able to avoid more than occasional glimpses of them, with one notable exception. One Sunday evening I walked into the Spectrum, the basketball stadium on campus where the annual Joseph Smith Memorial Devotional was being held, and there C stood not three meters in front of me, in her campus employee uniform, facing a perpendicular direction. Terror paralyzed me for a moment that seemed like an hour, but I quickly realized that if she turned her head to the left and saw me she would probably call a SWAT team, so I bolted past her, through the crowd, at least halfway around the stadium, not slowing down when I heard some guy behind me say "Hey, there's Nick! Hey, Nick! Nick! He's got headphones on. Nick!" Of course I knew he was talking about/to me because Nick is second only to Christian on the list of things that people think my name is. I found a nice isolated seat close to the action where I could relax a little and process the unwelcome moment.
Now, I was unfairly biased the first time I saw her, as I was trying to close off my heart to the opposite sex entirely, and I thought she looked plain, homely, awkward, and forgettable. I've since come to realize that she is in fact widely regarded by humans as "cute", and I can accept that. But she's no Gal Gadot by any means. She looks like an upside-down exclamation point with glasses, hair, and possibly the worst case of Resting Bitch Face Syndrome I've ever seen. Our first encounter held not the slightest foreshadowing that soon, the slightest hint of a smile on that face would be sufficient to turn my internal organs into jelly. It was what I thought I knew of her mind and personality that transformed her into God's most beautiful creation. This, I thought, is one hell of a woman. This is one of the most mature, intelligent, genuine people I've ever met. This is someone I could have deep, intellectual conversations with for hours. It's not even an issue that she's four and a half years younger than me even though most girls that young don't appeal to me because they look and act like high school students and I'm just not into that.
And then she showed her true colors and I completely lost respect for her, along with faith in my ability to judge character at all, and I was/am embarrassed that I wasted so much emotional energy on someone so unworthy. And then I saw her up close by accident with this new frame of reference and she was still, inexplicably, God's most beautiful creation. So that added another layer of confusion and fear which I was in no position to assuage.
Another little act of bravery was attending home evening even though they're both assigned to my group, and neither of them were ever there so it was fine and for once I was glad I didn't let fear hold me back. After three weeks of going elsewhere on Sundays I decided to return to my ward altogether when it became apparent that few people had heard about the incident and those who did were on my side. Even with C's and T's garbled version of events, it seems, the general feeling from others is that they overreacted to whatever I was or wasn't doing. To their credit, I've obviously told far more people about it than they have, but not so much to their credit, my version isn't dishonest and totally irrational. So I went to church, they sat a bit in front of me with their arms around each other and I realized they make the cutest couple ever.
The final deciding factor was learning that one of their own roommates had stood up for me in a meeting, saying they had jumped the gun, that I wasn't a threat, and that they resented me for treating their dog better than they do. (Guilty as charged. I do have an unfortunate track record of being nice to dogs.) I was surprised to hear about this because, while I knew the complaint had to have come from the two of them, I just kind of assumed all five roommates were on the same page about it. The cop they sent to harass me just kept saying "Your neighbors" this and "Your neighbors" that and made it sound like I wasn't allowed to communicate with any of them at all ever. And I barely know this particular roommate, but on the rare and brief occasions when I talked to her, usually when I knocked on the door looking for someone else, she always seemed to think I was strange and have this What are you doing? kind of look on her face even though I wasn't doing anything. I assumed that when C and T announced I was a stalker she would have just been like I always knew he was sketchy. It warmed my heart very much to hear otherwise.
My friend Jen sent me cookies. She sends me cookies on my birthday but now she doesn't have to for my next three birthdays.
Another friend suggested, "That one girl (the one who saw visions) sounds like a pathological liar."
I asked, "Literally, do you think?" Because I've used the phrase "pathological liar" perhaps a bit too casually in my day, but now I was really intrigued by the possibility of a legitimate pathology here.
"Yeah," she said. "Every person I know who claimed to see visions or auras turned out to be a compulsive liar. (Not that there aren't people who can see visions, like the prophets in the Book of Mormon.) There is a hierarchy of who can have revelations for who. Like parents can have revelations for their children or the bishop for his ward. I bet she got uncomfortable with you asking questions because she couldn't keep her lies going without exposing herself. But I wasn't there and I can't read minds. That's my guess."
You know, I think she's right. I never suspected anything amiss about T's "gift" because she didn't seem to use it for her own profit or self-aggrandizement, or have any intention of usurping someone else's authority. I just thought, well, this is unusual but cool, whatever. I may seem like a colossal idiot to those who don't believe in anything like that to begin with but we'll just have to agree to disagree. Looking back I can maybe see a few inconsistencies in her claims, and how she moved the goalposts and always had a little too quick and easy answer for everything. If she could really read my aura or see the color of my heart she wouldn't have been so very, very wrong about me in the end, and if she were really as wise as she pretended (though always putting on a show of humility when I pointed it out) she wouldn't have reacted like a fifth grader. And she demonstrably did lie to me at least a couple of times and had no discernible qualms about breaking her promise to me in a heartbeat.
Part of me wants to believe that she has a toxic influence on her best friend C, that everything is her fault and that C really is at heart the kind of person I thought she was. Who knows? I never likely will. But I received more support for this hypothesis from my old friend Marie, a character whom only long-time readers of my blog will remember.
Incidentally, a couple months ago she delighted in pointing out to me that C's lovely name is a sacrilegious swear word in Quebec. If I hadn't been so blind, I would have recognized that as a massive red flag.
I've thought a bit about my story in relation to Joseph Smith's First Vision. In this event, to which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all breakoff sects trace their founding, and which celebrates its two hundredth anniversary this year, Joseph Smith reports that at the age of fourteen he went into the woods to pray and was visited in person by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Over the years he wrote a few firsthand accounts, and a few more were written by associates who heard him talking about it. There are two main perspectives on these varying accounts. The critical perspective is that because they aren't identical in every detail, Joseph Smith must have made the story up as he went along. The faithful perspective is that he emphasized different aspects of the event at different times for different audiences. Now obviously I'm biased, but I think the critical perspective is pretty infantile, and that only one of these differences (the number of heavenly beings mentioned in the 1832 account versus the other accounts) even comes close to something that could rationally be considered a discrepancy.
I've thought about it because, though it's only been a few weeks as opposed to Joseph Smith's twelve years, I've told my story to several people and I haven't told it the same way each time. I haven't consciously adjusted the story for my different audiences but of course in each case finite constraint on people's attention spans and I have to select what strike me as important, representative details. I've often just started with a simple statement like "My neighbors thought I was stalking them and called the police" or "I had to go to the hospital for being suicidal" and let the ensuing comments and questions guide my additional exposition. I've even gone back to my original post - which was already too long - and, through the power vested in me by George Walton Lucas Jr., revised a few word choices and added details that I didn't include the first time around. There are still more I could add but I don't want it to become so long and rambling that nobody on the planet cares to read it.
Does that make me dishonest? Of course not. All it means is that it was a really big, emotionally impactful event and that I can't think of or include everything all at once, let alone every time, nor would anybody actually want me to. The First Vision was much bigger and much more emotionally impactful, albeit in an altogether more positive way. That's not even taking into account how memories are reconstructed from scratch every time we access them based on our current perspectives and emotions, or the obvious evolution in how Joseph Smith would have viewed the event's significance as his life continued and more events followed. I only hope that the significance of this event for me will turn out to be more than God giving me the finger. Listen to a very long but well worth it historians' podcast on the historical context of the First Vision.
And speaking of church history, Saints Volume 2 is out now and I'm a few chapters in and I intend to binge-read the rest as fast as possible.
"'Normal' American men are homophobic, afraid of close friendships with other men. The moment we begin to feel warmly toward another man, the 'homosexual' panic button gets pressed. It makes us nervous to see French or Italian men strolling down the street arm in arm. Must be queer! From a cross-cultural perspective it is we who are odd; close male friendship is the norm in most societies and is usually considered a more important source of intimacy than romantic relationships... We need same-sex friends because there are types of validation and acceptance that we receive only from our gender-mates. There is much about our experience as men that can only be shared with, and understood by, other men. There are stories we can tell only to those who have wrestled in the dark with the same demons and been wounded by the same angels. Only men understand the secret fears that go with the territory of masculinity." - Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, 174-75
"I know you're not comfortable hanging out with guys because you don't want people to think you're gay, but really, hanging out with girls all the time is what will make people think that." - Kami Wilson, personal conversation
This partially explains why I consciously chose to bring a guy friend to my work's movie night. The other reasons are that he's been nice to me so I wanted to be nice to him, and I wanted to make sure it didn't end up being misconstrued as a date despite following that formula to the letter besides the gender thing. But whether because of how our culture has evolved in just a few years or increased confidence on my part, I no longer care one iota whether people think I'm gay. As awful as this may be, sometimes I almost wish they did because I feel like they'd pay more attention to me. I decided, in fact, that if anyone that night asked about that guy, I would introduce him as my boyfriend. I knew he would have gotten a kick out of that. Sadly, no one did because they only cared about themselves.
The movie was "Spider-Man: Homecoming". It was only the second Marvel movie I've ever seen, the first being "Thor: Dark World", and I liked it much better. I mean, the other one had Natalie Portman in it, so that was a few hundred points in its favor, but it wasn't nearly as funny or easy to follow. Of course I was still lost on a few things in this one because it's interconnected with all the other ones but after the first ten minutes or so it was self-contained enough. Unfortunately, I can't take movies very seriously anymore since binge-watching CinemaSins, so I often catch myself thinking things like "That's racist." "Roll credits." and "Sixty-six seconds of ------- logos." Since I've already betrayed my ignorance, I feel no further shame in asking, does Spider-Man have super strength in addition to his climbing and web shooting abilities? I ask because I felt like every bone in his body should have been broken a few times over by the end. If he does have super strength, that seems like kind of a cop-out because that's not a spider power. Spiders can, like all bugs, fall or be thrown insane distances without injury, but that's because their small size results in ten times greater air resistance than driving force. So it wouldn't work for Peter, is what I'm saying.
Then yesterday I went on my own initiative to see "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" because it's in the cheap theater now. I read all the books as a kid and have skimmed through them a bit as an adult encountering them again at work, and they really are more clever and sophisticated than one would expect. Dav Pilkey is a legitimately funny writer who apparently just stoops to lowbrow humor to trick kids into reading. His ploy has worked magnificently. And ironically, because this movie has no sexual content (unless I just didn't notice it because I'm so innocent), it's far more appropriate for children than any other Dreamworks movie I can think of. Seriously, if I had kids I wouldn't let them watch most of that garbage. Also, the theme song is by "Weird Al" Yankovic, my favorite artist of all time, so I think I have to buy the soundtrack just for that. He also did a parody of "Piano Man" about the first Spider-Man movie back in 2002, which I've never seen and don't need to thanks to his plot summary.
I haven't seen "Wonder Woman" either. Shame on me. I just don't watch a lot of movies. In a case of truth being stranger than fiction, her current status as a feminist icon is not an ironic re-contextualization, but faithful to her origins. I don't remember if I read it somewhere or it just seemed like a no-brainer, but I had assumed that the males who created her in 1941 did so as fanservice for male comic book readers. Nope! She was a feminist icon all along! Except that the psychologist who created her had a strange way of expressing it by having her getting constantly tied up (which previously I assumed was part of the aforementioned fanservice). I feel like some psychologists need psychologists. Then in the 1970s she became a "real" feminist as she still remains today. I just learned all of this just now while undergoing the thorough research that is the hallmark of every blog post I write.
This is so obvious I'm sure it's been suggested many times before, but the superhero I really want to see is Captain Canada. A superhero who drives a bulletproof Zamboni, uses a curling broom as a bo staff, and apologizes whenever he hits a villain. I can say these things because I'm practically half-Canadian after breathing their air, drinking their water and watching their broadcasting corporation during my formative years. His arch-nemesis would be Captain Quebec, his jerkface brother who has always grown up in his shadow and takes great pains to demonstrate his independence and differentiate himself. He's petty and callous and amoral and often says bad words in French that the MPAA just lets slide because they're in French. I can say these things because one of my best friends is Quebecois and she finds it funny.
Yes, Marie still exists even though I haven't mentioned her in a while. I should have written about how, a couple months ago, she was rear-ended by an idiot teenager, which totaled her car and exacerbated her scoliosis. She's been in near-constant severe pain since then, facing significant medical expenses and losing money from missed work. And here, despite being petty and callous and amoral in most of my conversations with her, she has shown her true colors. If this had happened to me, I would be consumed with rage 24/7. But she's just shrugged it off and kept chugging like a champ. Wow. So the other night she was tormenting me as I kept making stupid spelling mistakes for some reason. The first two were "mayke" (make) and "messager" (message) and they are not included in the following screenshots because that part of the conversation is classified. But I share these screenshots to teach myself humility.
Mackenzie finally read the last post about her and gave me the only feedback that really matters. Until she mentioned it, I assumed she had opted for a "don't ask, don't tell" and just hoped she wasn't upset. I never know when she's going to be upset.
"Kid", she called me, even though we're basically the same age.
the great Luke Ski - Peter Parker
Because it's catchy.
Early Monday morning I was awakened by what I later realized must have been a snow plow, but in my sleep-fogged condition assumed to be the beginnings of an earthquake or a terrorist attack. After a second I figured the former was more likely. I thought, Maybe I should get out of bed and find somewhere safe...
Maybe I should say a prayer for all the people who will be affected...
Do I have food storage? Well, sure, that box of food that expired in 2012. That will have to do...
You never know when "the day before" is "the day before"...
Because "It won't happen to us" isn't an emergency plan.
I fell back asleep and woke up to a bunch of unwelcome snow. The previous day (Easter) had been nearly sixty degrees. And since I had woken up at that stupid hour, my stupid brain decided I would want to do so the next two nights, too, just because.
I spent last Easter alone, but the year before that and the year before that I got invited to dinner somewhere, and the year before that I don't remember, so I was curious what would happen this year. If I did receive an invitation, I didn't expect it to come at the hands of someone I had just met and barely knew, but that's what happened. Let's call her... I don't know... Mackenzie. I met her at Debbie's ward prayers, and overheard her friend teasing her about whatever, so I was just going to smile at her as I passed but then somehow I got caught in a tractor beam and ended up talking for ten minutes or so. She was much more interesting to talk to than most people are. I think I might have accidentally flirted with her, but if so it doesn't seem to have caused any problems.
I wish I could remember how we ended up discussing the psychology of serial killers. "I went on a date with this psychology major once," she said, "and we went to this park he found on Google Maps, and it turned out to be cemetery, so that was creepy – but anyway, he started telling me about serial killers and how their minds are just a total incomprehensible mess – but you disagree, though?” By this time, I was realizing much to my chagrin that my opinion on the psychology of serial killers and other “crazy” bad guys was informed not by actual knowledge but by what makes for compelling literature. It's no fun to write about a serial killer who's just so insane that no one can identify with him. You need to give a solid internal logic behind his motivations, so reasonable seeming that the reader questions their own sanity. But that might not be how it is in real life and I wouldn't know, so I tried to back down from the discussion.
Dinner was really good, and was captured for posterity. I brought those oranges. Nobody took one until afterward when I was packing them up and somebody took one out of pity. I didn't have a lot of options for "breakfast food" to bring since this had been sprung on me on such short notice and I don't shop on Sundays. All my bags of cereal were nearly empty and I couldn't bring milk because I drink straight from the jug. While waiting for dinner to start, I volunteered to help but there was nothing for me to do, so I was assigned to color in a coloring book. It was a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book and it got that theme song stuck in my head for the rest of the day - or rather, it got the two lines I remember stuck in my head for the rest of the day. "That girl's so sweet, just like her name! Straw-ba-baw-baw-ba-berry Shortcake!"
Mackenzie herself, in the lower left, was accidentally excluded from the photograph, an egregious oversight that prevented it from coming anywhere near its full potential. Top row, left to right: don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know. Middle row, left to right: me, don't know, Bob (not real name). Bottom row: Mackenzie (not real name)'s hair, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know. Bottom outlier: Jenna (not real name).
Let's pretend that many readers have written in to accuse me of selfishness for wanting to become friends with Afton so that I could play with her dog. That wasn't the only reason, of course, but let me explain something to you imaginary people. Dogs are the best friends ever. Take care of a dog and be nice to it, and it will love you. It doesn't care one iota how much of a weirdo or loser you are by human standards. Their love and affection is conditional on a couple of reasonable things and nothing else. And I have been deprived of this for the better part of five years. I can't own a dog in my apartment and none of my peers can own dogs in their apartments. I have to take what I can get whenever I can get it. The prospect of one of my peers owning a dog that I could visit and pet and scratch and walk with and run with and feed and throw sticks and balls for and develop a close personal relationship with is beyond tantalizing. I miss my dog in New York more than I can say and I dread the thought that he's probably going to die a long time before I do. If I go to heaven, he'll be the first person I look for. "Hello, Jesus," I would say. "Where's Milo?"
Another Spiritual Lesson from Bionicle
The basic premise of Bionicle is that the heroes known as the Toa Mata have a quest to awaken the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, who was cast into a deep sleep by his jealous brother Makuta. Somewhere along the line it is discovered that Mata Nui is not merely asleep but is, in fact, dying. This would devastate the entire universe and basically be the worst possible thing ever, so the Toa Inika go on their own little quest to save his life. He ends up dying for a few moments but one of them sacrifices his own life energy to bring him back. In another story, however, Takanuva travels to an alternate universe where this hero hesitated a moment too long and failed to sacrifice himself, so that Mata Nui's death became permanent. The hero was disgraced, there were huge cataclysms all over the place and most of the islands were destroyed and a lot of people died.
But the survivors didn't give up. Previously warring races all came together and established a new society of peaceful coexistence on the one remaining island. They built onto it so there was more room for everyone. And though they faced a lot of challenges, they were still going strong a thousand years or so later when Takanuva stumbled onto them. The takeaway from all of this, which is probably a lot more poignant to someone actually familiar with the stories and not just my paltry attempt to summarize and articulate them here, is to keep moving forward even if the worst possible and most devastating and demoralizing thing happens, and that a tragedy with even the most unmistakable sense of finality doesn't have to be final as long as you're still breathing.
The Mormon Section
General Conference is going on today and tomorrow (duh). So I was watching it today, and during the sustaining vote the dissenters yelled out again, and everyone in the room was talking derisively about them, when Mackenzie spoke up, so quietly that maybe no one else heard her, and said "We can be nice to them even though we disagree. We don't need to call them fools. They just don't understand."
I was stupefied. Who are you? I thought. In a good way, I mean.
Anyway, I'll probably share my thoughts on the conference a week from today when everyone else has moved on with their lives. I hope there will be some temple announcements tomorrow. Did I ever mention that I missed the temple announcements a year ago, after eagerly waiting two years for them, because my computer was being stupid? And now it's dead. That'll teach it.
Shahrukh Khan - Maahi Ve
Two Easters ago Chelsea from Vermont invited me to Easter dinner, a much smaller and more intimate affair with only four of us, and I believe it was later that day that we were in her room listening to peaceful music as we made wedding decorations for someone or other. That was when she asked me, "Why did you like Jean so much?" and I was about to say "Because she's so nice" but before I could speak Chelsea continued, "She wasn't very nice to you." And that just blew my mind and I couldn't speak. Anyway, I introduced her to some new music and vice versa. I showed her the Bollywood song "Salaam-E-Ishq" that I once danced to in the campus Diwali festival, and then she showed me this one which, impossibly, is even better. In the unlikely event that I ever have a wedding reception, my only demand is that this song be a part of it, "cultural appropriation" be damned.
Daffy the Commando
It's always awkward when American World War II propaganda cartoons ended up being extremely racist. Fortunately, this is not one of those, unless you consider pseudo-German words and phrases to be racist, which I don't think most people would because racism has recently been redefined via circular logic so that it can only apply to non-white people. I have enjoyed this cartoon for years but only recently connected the dots between the date of its release and the cute little jab at Mussolini. Can you spot it?
"Some of them may even display selective mutism, speaking not at all to most people and excessively to specific people. Some may choose only to talk to people they like." - from Wikipedia's article on Asperger syndrome. As I look at it in isolation just now I realize that "excessively" is a very biased and subjective term that probably shouldn't be in a Wikipedia article. But the reason I copy-pasted it in the first place is that I find it amusing. Do normal, sorry, "neurotypical" people regularly choose to talk to people they don't like? How dumb.
What a strange feeling it is when an old Facebook status about your crush is liked by a total stranger who upon investigation turns out to be your crush's mother, though at first you think it's her sister because she looks twenty years younger than she must be. Yes, what a strange feeling, especially when you weren't aware that your crush's mother even knew that you existed because you didn't know that your crush had ever mentioned you to her family because you thought you were out of sight, out of mind. But what a good feeling it is when you realize that you had nothing to hide, except for that one status that she liked, but nothing "bad". Yes, perhaps you would want to hide some of these things if you had any shame, but you don't, which is why your profile is on its most public setting.
By "you" I mean "me" and the rest is pretty much literal. This actually happened a month or so ago, but I didn't know whether it was prudent to mention or not, but now I think it's okay. I told a couple people, and I asked Marie, and I asked if I should message her, and Marie was like "No, that would be weird", so I didn't, but then I decided to do it anyway because I have decided that as long as my behavior is respectful I shouldn't have to be dictated by society's arbitrary whims of whether or not it's "weird".
So that was a good feeling. A slightly more disturbing one is when strangers are arguing with me and feel the need to look at my profile and then bring it up. (Ex. Mike Poole from last week, "It's ok, I'm sure the leadership will give you bonus missionary points for having a Jesus cover photo.") Why are they so obsessed with me? I couldn't care less what's on their profiles.
Grammatical note: "I couldn't care less" is the proper term. "I could care less" makes no sense at all in the contexts where it's used, which people would realize if they thought about what they were saying for two seconds instead of just running on autopilot.
Facebook's reporting system is really a piece of work, isn't it? I wonder about the logic behind it. (All of the following are based on real instances.)
Mook 1: Oh dear, someone has reported a meme of a woman with tape over her mouth that says "Don't wrap it and tap it, tape her and rape her". How should we handle this?
Mook 2: Mmm, well, I myself do not for a moment share the viewpoint expressed in this image, but we can't just go around censoring everything we disagree with. After all, America was founded on the free exchange of ideas.
Mook 1: Right then. It stays up.
Mook 2: Here's another one. It's a meme of a nuclear explosion that says "Some cancers need radiation treatment. Islam is one of them."
Mook 1: Ooh, tough call. Some of my best friends are Muslims. But, you know, maybe they just meant that sometimes Muslims get cancer and they need radiation treatment, and then they did a Google search for "radiation" and grabbed the first picture they found even though it doesn't really match.
Mook 2: Yeah, that makes sense. Not our place to judge others' mistakes. It stays up.
Mook 1: Let's see here, what else do we - SWEET JUDAS PRIEST, IT'S A PICTURE OF A MOTHER BREASTFEEDING AN INFANT. AAAAAAH!
Mook 2: AAAAAAAH! TAKE IT DOWN TAKE IT DOWN TAKE IT DOWN! I'D DO IT MYSELF BUT I'M BUSY BLEACHING MY EYES!
You're supposed to be able to appeal the decision or whatever, and sometimes that accomplishes nothing but sometimes it does. One time I reported a blatantly pornographic page, they said it didn't violate their community standards, I politely asked if they were retarded, and then they took it down. I suspect that no one actually, you know, looked at it the first time. Or read what it was called.
I thought this was amusing, especially the bit about Planned Parenthood.
Christmas was good. The highlight was receiving another crocheted R2-D2 hat from my sister to replace the one she gave me last year that got stolen (at church no less). This one fits better anyway.
Another highlight was what I discovering on my grandparents' bookshelf in the basement, which I have looked over many times but obviously not paid close enough attention to. My grandfather pointed out a picture of him with his parents and sister when he was four or so, and though I had seen it many times, this time I noticed partially obscured behind it not one, not two, not three, but four books by Mary Frances Sturlaugson Eyer, the first black sister missionary, who was once a celebrity among Mormons but has since faded into obscurity for whatever reason. Since I am enthralled with this kind of topic this was a veritable treasure trove. These were evidently owned by my great-grandmother, Geraldine Jensen, and three of them were autographed.
On a related note, I recently recently added in its entirety this story that has also faded into obscurity for some reason even though it deserves to be famous.
Because we live in a cruel and horrible world, wonderful luck sometimes happens to the wicked and undeserving, and so it was that on Monday I won two tickets to see "The Force Awakens" from Kool 103.9's contest. I was so happy that for a while all I could do was walk around the house clapping my hands like one of those toy monkeys with cymbals. The tickets were for the next day. So you see, I do not regret my decision to wait for a while because free tickets that aren't for opening night are better than opening night tickets that aren't free. To enter the contest all one had to do was comment on their Facebook page that one wanted tickets, and I made a point of asking very politely and deferentially, so I don't know if I was chosen randomly or if that had something to do with it.
The movie was hilarious
The pacing, action etc. was exciting and superior to that of the prequels
The special effects were very good and superior to those of the prequels
Kylo Ren was a unique villain and not merely a Darth Vader clone
It felt more like "Guardians of the Galaxy" than a Star Wars movie (largely because it was so hilarious)
Except for Chewbacca, there were no familiar aliens until near the end (would it have killed them to add a few Rodians and Twi'leks?)
Much of the plot was clearly a reboot of the first film
I felt like too much of what happened between "Return of the Jedi" and this one was left unexplained (why, for example, are the New Republic and the Resistance two separate entities and what is the relationship between then?)
I wonder how long I have to wait before I can comment on the major earth-shattering spoilers without being a waste of skin who doesn't deserve to live.
On the whole, I considered it worth watching, though it wasn't quite what I expected from Disney. I thought it would be something more like this.
the great Luke Ski - When You Wish Upon a Death Star
Now that Christmas is over and everyone else will have forgotten about it, I am taking the opportunity to post this video which remains as applicable as ever. I happen to particularly like this one. Sometimes I find them hokey because I'm cynical and I can't help it, but I like the artistry and the discount Morgan Freeman narrator voice.
I suppose this is probably my last post of 2015. Pity it's nothing spectacular, but then I suppose most of them aren't anyway. Not fishing for compliments, but I'll take them if you have any to give...
Eleven more "deceptively edited" (note the sarcasm) Planned Parenthood videos were released a couple days ago, this time by a hacker who somehow got his hands on them. Some excerpts from Matt Walsh's summary (because he phrases things better than I could):
"This is an abortionist talking to other abortionist[s] (who, by the way, appear to agree wholeheartedly with everything she says). Do you hear that, 'pro-choicers'? Even the damned abortionists aren't trying to claim it isn't a person or it isn't killing or it isn't horrifically violent. They just think killing people is the 'most important thing they can do with their life.' Forget how utterly disturbing it is that anyone would call killing innocent people 'the most important thing' they could ever do, let's just focus on the fact that pro-aborts who use the 'clump of cells' argument do so despite the abortionists themselves saying otherwise... To review, a woman recounted killing a baby and having its eyeballs fall out of its skull. The room full of abortionists laughed hysterically and applauded. And, if you recall, these are people who fully admit the 'fetus' is actually, in their words, a 'baby,' a 'person,' and 'alive.' They fully admit it is, again in their words, 'violence' and 'killing.' Yet they find it funny and charming to hear about a dead baby's severed eyeballs...
"The stuff about selling baby parts is terrible and outrageous, but maybe it shouldn't have ever been positioned as the headline. The headline is, or should be, the simply reality of what abortion is, how abortionists themselves view it, and just the general callousness and cruelty and sadism these people exude... Pro-aborts: abortion doctors admit they are murdering human babies, and they think it's funny. How do you feel about that? Forget tissue sale. How do you feel about the fact that you are in favor of something the abortion industry itself describes as killing babies? How do you feel when you hear a room full of cackling psychos laugh and applaud at the thought of a dead child's eyeballs rolling around on the floor?"
There, I've already given it more coverage than the mainstream media. Now on that cheery note, let's move on. I don't feel inspired to write anything in particular but I'm going to force myself to write anyway, which is usually a bad sign. To wrest out of context a quote from one of my Facebook friends the other day, "I'm excited to see just how terrible this franchise can get. Because when the co-manager of the production company in charge of the film says (and I'm not making this up, it's an actual quote): 'If this is successful, we hope to include more, we'll continue this as long as we possibly can' you really can expect some quality story... right?"
One highlight of this past week was that a girl called me "my knight in shining armor", but that's not really a story, because it was just that and that was it. And then when I mentioned it to one of my other friends (Marie, for those who remember her) she said "Either you're deep in the friendzone or she likes you" and then I wondered why apparently it's okay for girls to use the word "friendzone" but if a guy says it he's the worst person in the world, at least whenever I've observed it. Like, whenever a guy posts something like "How can I get out of the friendzone?" I just wait and watch for everybody to pile on him and be like "I can't believe you're using the word 'friendzone', which doesn't exist, unironically in 2015." But when I see girls say it, no one bats an eyelash. Oh well. Maybe it's like how black people are allowed to use racial slurs against themselves.
Speaking of race... what do you notice about this chart?
I'll tell you what I notice, even though you didn't ask, because if you don't care to know my thoughts on things then you're in completely the wrong place. I notice that even though our society, and especially the LDS Church's critics in this particular context, divide the human race into "black" and "white", there is a whole spectrum of different skin tones all over the above page. Most of the "white" people are not the same color, nor are the two "black" people. Conclusion: society is stupid.
Actually, society's leg-humping obsession with skin color in 2015 is stupid altogether. It's embarrassing to hear some of these people talk and realize that they're being completely serious. Nothing has changed since Booker T. Washington wrote 104 years ago, "I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."
Here's a delightful example of such BS that I encountered recently: "In America white people are conditioned to subconsciously feel superior. [Way to make a sweeping, insulting generalization.] It's possible that they feel this way and aren't even aware of it. [See, if you're white but you don't think you feel superior, you're just too stupid to know yourself. Fortunately a benevolent mind-reading black person is here to help you.] When most all major leadership positions in the US are filled with white people it reaffirms white superiority. [Yeah, because who cares that the freaking President, the most prominent and visible leadership position and so-called "most powerful man in the world", is black. He's practically invisible.] Christ taught that we are all equal. [Duh. Is this a response to the statistically insignificant "we aren't all equal" demographic, or just a straw man?] So my question is, are you willing to listen? [Condescending and patronizing.] Or are you coming here to teach? Are your views so superior that you're unwilling to hear the cries of all of Gods [sic] children? [Straw man. The only person talking about superiority is you.] Or are you coming to excersize [sic] love compassion and empathy as the lord has commanded? [Wow. Get off your high horse already.]"
And then this comment stood out. "White people on this site: if you are arguing with he [sic], then you don't get it. Go back to Black People in America 101 and start over. When your eyes are open, you'll understand empathetically and exactly what she said without feeling like you have to defend yourselves." Translation: "If your understanding of yourselves is different from our assertions about you, then your opinion is invalid. Only black people's opinions about this matter."
I feel like sharing a story, for no particular reason, mind you. One time I was out walking at night and having a great deal of fun removing the leaf piles from storm drains. After I had finished, I was crossing through the crosswalk of an empty street when somebody pulled up to it, paused at the stop sign, and then proceeded to start going again while I was directly in front of him. Like, so directly in front of him that Mr. Magoo could have seen me. But alas, this man was either blinder or stupider than Mr. Magoo. I put up my hands to indicate that I would appreciate it if he didn't kill me, and calmly explained, "HEY, MORON! WHAT THE ---- ARE YOU DOING!?" before indicating my displeasure with a choice hand signal. He just stared at me with all the comprehension of a dead cow.
Afterward, of course, I regretted these impulsive words and actions that had burst out of me in the heat of the moment. If I'd had just a few more moments to mentally prepare myself, I would have behaved differently. I would have used more swear words, indicated my displeasure with both hands, and kicked his car for good measure. His stupidity was what really made me angry. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that I would be slightly less angry if someone actually tried to kill me. I know there are people who would do so in a heartbeat if it was legal. What makes me angry at times like this is the prospect that I should have to become real dead because someone else is braindead. (That, incidentally, is the same reason I detest anti-vaxxers so much, though in that case at least my anger is altruistic because it's their children and the immunocompromised people I'm actually concerned about.)
As I continued home, thinking about how I hoped he would crash into a tree and remove himself from the gene pool, the thought came to me, What if he was your bishop or something? Without hesitation I retorted, I don't care if he was President Monson. He has no right to drive like that. It did occur to me to wonder, "What would Jesus do?" But I can't do what I think Jesus would do, because I think Jesus would use His powers to disable the car and take the guy out of it. He'd be like, "Sorry, buddy, I forgive you and everything, but we can't have you on the streets endangering people." Or maybe He'd even perform a miracle and heal the guy's blindness.
Between there and home I passed through a public park, and I went to use their bathroom. I wasn't sure if it would be open. The parks always close their bathrooms for the winter because no one ever has to pee during the winter. But it was still open, and right before I went in I noticed that I was actually going into the women's bathroom because someone had defaced the sign and in the dark the stick figure actually did just look like a chunky guy. But I was like, Whatever, it's late and no one's around and no one cares, so I went in. I realized afterward that this might have been illegal, and if so, oops.
Once inside, the first thing I noticed was one of the largest spiders I've ever seen. It was building a web in the corner next to the first toilet. Oh-ho, I thought, God is in a playful mood, I see. I felt sorry for it, realizing that in the near future it would probably get squished and/or flushed, and I looked around for some way to pick it up and place it outside, but to no avail. I wasn't about to touch it with my bare hands. While the mere sight of the creature didn't faze me, I was less than enthused about the prospect of it jumping onto my face. So I had to leave it there with my regrets. As I left, though, I realized that my anger and my animosity toward that stupid stranger had evaporated. It's funny how life works sometimes.
Now for a more serious and bittersweet but hopefully inspiring story that was shared with me by a friend who hopefully won't be angry at me for repeating it anonymously.
"I used to go all out and put on makeup and dress super nice, but then I noticed people wouldn't really talk to me or would make preconceived notions about who I was. They always seemed super surprised when they actually got to know me. Especially when they found out I was actually geeky and outdoorsy and not just a sissy girly girl. Because of that there was a time when I did not really take pride in who I was and therefore tried to hide in sweatshirts and sweats. I wanted people to like me and so tried to fit into the constraints they were comfortable putting me in.
"But then I had an epiphany. If I want to dress nice and express myself through my clothing, then by all means I will. I'm not going to let anybody dictate whether or not I want to look nice. The same thing goes for other things I like and believe in. I dress and act the way I do because it makes me happy. And I choose to be happy."
I can't improve on that, so no comment.
Here's a song for Halloween that I remember fondly from kindergarten. Unfortunately it's full of annoying beeps and doesn't actually go through the pages of the book, but sometimes life is like that.
Erica Silverman - Big Pumpkin
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
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.