The other day a friend in Uganda asked me what Black Friday is. I and many if not most Americans have long recognized that Black Friday is a sickening orgy of consumerism that brings out the worst in humanity, but when he asked me about it I realized I have no clue what the original paper-thin excuse for its existence is. To my knowledge, it literally is and always has been nothing more than a sickening orgy of consumerism that brings out the worst in humanity. I didn't use those exact words in my explanation but I felt, as seldom before, profoundly embarrassed to be an American. I saw that one company this year started its Black Friday sales at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
So speaking of Thanksgiving, this year I decided to try something new and revolutionary: giving thanks. Here are some things that I'm thankful for this year. The list is biased toward the latter half of this year because I habitually try to block out most of my memories.
* Not being in school.
* Becoming dependent on melatonin.
* Finally getting endowed.
* My sister getting married (albeit on my graduation day) so I can finally have those adorable little nieces and nephews I've been praying for. Better get on that, Heather.
* The development of effective Ebola vaccines and treatments.
* My friend Terrah doing my apartment search for me because I would have rather stuck a dirty needle in my eye. And also giving me food.
* Being forced to move into this great little apartment complex with only one roommate who's frequently gone and the best neighbors I've ever had. Excluding Barky McBarkerton next door, who needs to die.
* Sixteen new temples and eight new missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being announced, to say nothing of the long-overdue death of the stupid Young Women's class names.
* Millennials finally getting their revenge on idiot boomers who have been relentlessly mocking them for struggling to survive in the economy that the boomers ruined.
* "The Mandalorian" TV show demonstrating what Star Wars is supposed to be. Even though the unnecessary existence of yet another streaming service is really annoying.
* Hong Kong voters coming out in record numbers to overwhelmingly displace their pro-Beijing council members with pro-democracy ones.
* Congress passing and Trump signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Suck it, China. Whatcha gonna do, stop manufacturing all our cheap plastic crap?
* My crush giving me stimulating conversation and an unsolicited hug.
* Not developing any serious illnesses or injuries that would put me into life-ruining medical debt because my country has the worst healthcare system in the developed world and I don't have insurance.
* "The Rise of Skywalker" coming up and looking like it's going to have enough epic battles and stunning visuals to compensate for the plot holes, SJW preaching and lame Disney jokes.
* Not wasting time or money on any dates.
* Trump's wall still conspicuously failing to be built.
* 2019 thus far (knock on wood knock on wood knock on so much wood) having been a much, much, much, much, much better year for me than the crapstorm from hell that was 2018. Largely because Kristin Pike wasn't part of it.
Warning: this post contains content that non-nerds probably don't give a crap about
November 17 marked the fortieth anniversary of the worst film of all time. "What?" you may be saying. "'The Emoji Movie' isn't that old!" No, I'm talking about "The Star Wars Holiday Special". What can I say about "The Star Wars Holiday Special" that I or someone else hasn't already said? Just that I arranged a viewing of it and had one person show up, who said that it fully lived down to his expectations and that he might make all his friends and family watch it. This was my fourth or fifth viewing, but my first time with the commercials included, which certainly spiced it up. I learned, for example, that Tobor is robodT spelled backwards and that pantihose with real panties in them are superior to pantihose without real panties in them. The version without commercials that I watched last year has been removed from YouTube for a copyright violation. Why anyone gives a crap about a copyright violation on a film that hasn't been broadcast or released in any format in forty years is beyond my comprehension, as is the fact that the version with commercials was allowed to stay up. But I downloaded the non-commercial one last year so I still have both.
My favorite part is still Bea Arthur's big musical number in the cantina, but my favorite part to show someone else was of course the part where virtual reality Diahann Carroll makes it seem like the film is transitioning into a bizarre Wookiee porno. Neither of these scenes make much more sense in context than in the previous sentence. Also, he said that the Jefferson Starship scene gives him hope that the crappy music playing on the radio today won't be remembered in forty years. "Jefferson Starship has two good songs," he said, "and they went with this one instead." As I said to him and as I've probably said elsewhere before, it really is amazing that this film didn't kill the Star Wars franchise in its infancy. Make no mistake, the film is far worse than anything Disney has put out, yet "The Last Jedi" and "Solo" have somehow done more damage. It's the darndest thing.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has its own version of the Holiday Special - three terrible third-party games for a forgotten piece of hardware called the CD-i that resulted from Nintendo backing out of a deal that led to Sony developing the Playstation and becoming its primary competitor. Nintendo doesn't have as healthy of an attitude about these games as Lucasfilm does about the Holiday Special. While the Holiday Special has informed several other Star Wars projects, especially those involving Wookiees, including "Revenge of the Sith" and even the upcoming TV series "The Mandalorian", Nintendo wants you to forget that the CD-i games exist. They are absent from official sources like The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia even though it includes a section on non-canon spinoff games, and "Spirit Tracks" was advertised as the first time you could play as Zelda even though she's the protagonist of two of these three. The first one came out the year I was born and had its twenty-fifth anniversary sometime this year that I can't be bothered to look up. But that's not what I came here to talk about.
Ocarina of Time, widely regarded as the greatest video game of all time, turned twenty on November 21. Conveniently I was at my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving and they have a copy and I celebrated by playing it as much as possible. That's where I was introduced to it in the first place. Let me back up: I was introduced to the Legend of Zelda franchise via an ad in the back of a Super Mario Advance choose-your-own-adventure book that I got through the school book order in second or third grade for another choose-your-own-adventure book based on Oracle of Seasons. Of course, this being the first time, I viewed it through fresh eyes that I never could again. "Legend of Zelda"? Zelda was a person's name, so it was Legend of some person. Who the crap was Zelda? What was this about "Link's latest quest"? That made little or sense to me, since Link isn't a name. I didn't give it another thought until we went to visit my grandparents and on the way we stopped at my mom's friend's house and I watched my mom's friend's kid play Majora's Mask.
So I still didn't know who Zelda was or that the little guy I saw running around mostly as a Deku Scrub was named Link, but I saw what the franchise was and so the mystery I didn't really care about was solved. And more to the point, I was entranced by the fascinating world, plot and characters. I had so much fun just watching my mom's friend's kid play, and that obviously indicated that it was a darn good game. So when we got to my grandparents' house, and my aunts (they're twins) who I guess technically own the Nintendo 64, or maybe it's one of their brothers' (my uncles'), I forget, asked if I wanted to use it, and I asked if they had any Legend of Zelda games and they said they did have one, and though I didn't know it at the time, it happened to be the best one. It also happened to be the rare original release with some glitches and details that were almost immediately changed (e.g. the atmospheric Muslim prayer chanting in the Fire Temple). Since I wasn't allowed to have a Nintendo 64 and could only use this one for two weeks every two years, I spent every second I could playing it. On Sundays when I couldn't, I pored impatiently over the Strategy Guide.
The second thing that struck me about this franchise was how unapologetically weird it was. Why were chickens called "Cuccos"? What the crap did "Deku" mean? What was an ocarina? It's originally based on medieval Europe, but I didn't notice that. I saw it as just a pure one-of-a-kind fantasy land. It's interpreted through a Japanese lens and evolved beyond its roots and it's got words and creatures and mythical elements with little or no basis in medieval Europe. The weirdness was a huge part of the appeal for me. I was a weird kid who thought outside the proverbial box, and this world matched. I still have that attitude and it extends to Tingle, a character who in Japan is loved but in the U.S. is the Legend of Zelda franchise's version of Jar Jar Binks. I don't understand the hate at all. He's weird. So freaking what? I don't escape into fantasy worlds because I want to make small talk with boring people. Sure, I'd keep him away from my children if he existed in real life, but this isn't real life. That's the point. Tingle isn't in this game, but he made his debut in Majora's Mask, so that's kind of still relevant.
Again, I don't want to recap stuff that's already been said about how groundbreaking and influential Ocarina of Time was on its own franchise and video games as a whole. That can hardly be overstated. Some people will say that the game is overrated. Those people are wrong. True, it's obviously a product of its time. The vast and expansive game world of 1998 is small and linear in 2018, some of the graphics now look like they were drawn by a seven year old, and the tinny MIDI arrangements of Koji Kondo's impossibly good music pale in comparison to almost any orchestration or cover version. None of these things, in my judgment, make it any less enjoyable (and the graphics were vastly improved in the 2011 3DS remake anyway). I'm sure the fact that I was able to play it within a few years of its release helped me see it the way it was intended. I rarely find Navi annoying and I think most people who claim to are just regurgitating what they read on the internet so people will like them. I do concede that the Water Temple is a massive pain in the butt (though it was vastly improved in the 2011 3DS remake anyway).
Two polar opposites - the worst film and best video game ever. But I'm grateful that they both exist. In closing, here's the best song from "The Star Wars Holiday Special" (among not many options) and the best song from Ocarina of Time (among literally dozens of strong contenders). May they keep bewildering and entertaining us, respectively, for decades to come.
I'm usually pretty chill about the prejudice against Aspies and autistic people. I figure countless millions of people have been discriminated against for stupid reasons, so who am I to think I'm better than them? Who am I to resent someone calling the cops on me for acting strange when better men than I have been murdered for their skin color? I sometimes see the phrase "screeching autistically" used as some kind of derisive and not particularly funny joke. While I'm at the high-functioning end of the spectrum and do not, to my knowledge, screech in this manner, still I have a kinship with those who do and therefore try to gently guilt-trip people out of mocking them. I saw a dumb teenager use the phrase a few weeks ago. It would have been silly for me to get upset, because when I was a dumb teenager my friends and I were quite unrestrained in throwing around words like "gay" and "retarded", mostly at each other. I cringe to think about that now.
But I have less patience with adults, especially LDS adults, who should know better. The other day one used "miserable Aspie" as a slur against Jeremy Runnells who isn't even, to my knowledge, an Aspie. I told him to bite me. And I felt that I was symbolically saying it not just to him, but to the countless people throughout my life who have treated me like less than a person. So I'm still not perfect. Or sorry.
The Logan institute recently did its closing social and made it Star Wars themed. Mormons love Star Wars for theological reasons in addition to the reasons that everyone else loves Star Wars. Each room was supposed to represent a different location from one of the movies, and while they were in the planning stages I took the liberty of contributing unsolicited and tasteless suggestions.
These were better ideas than what they did for the opening social. They were calling one of the rooms "The Friend Zone" which was a clever joke because it was a place where you went to make friends. But not many people came in. I think they were afraid that if they came in, they would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever leave.
We made several Star Wars decorations. The most bizarre in my opinion was a cutout of Darth Vader saying "Great leaders inspire greatness in others." Sorry, what? Did we leave off the end of the quote? "...by punishing failure with death," or something? This is Darth Vader, not Jesus. I heard there were several activities at this social but since one of them was an actual Star Wars movie, none of the others mattered. I heard one of them was a dance. The only dance move that most Mormons know, at least in this country, is jumping. Most people would call it "jumping up and down" but that's stupid because you only jump up and then the down part just kind of happens by itself. It's a cool move, but it's not my favorite. What are my favorites? I'm glad you asked! Let me show you!
The "George McFly"
The "Salacious Crumb"
The "Clone Troopers"
The "Obscure Peanuts"
The "Aman Mathur"
The "Emo Philips"
The "Wayne's World" (especially for Rammstein)
The "The Cheat"
The "Italian Schoolgirl"
The "Russian Riverdancer"
The "What is Love?"
I had to make more than half of those GIFs myself, and it was a real pain in the neck. Please read this post twice to justify the amount of work I put into it.
I suppose now that I'm feeling less lazy I should record something for posterity about visiting my grandparents for Thanksgiving. They live in eastern Idaho. It's a beautiful place if you like seeing eight hundred cow fields in a row, which I don't particularly, but I love it anyway. Up until a few years ago my grandparents had cows too. Cows are one of the ubiquitous animals that everyone, at least in the western hemisphere, knows about from infancy, but if you've only seen them in pictures and/or from a distance you may be surprised to discover how massive they are. I was. And if you've never had your hand sucked on by a calf before, put it on your bucket list. It feels amazing until you pull your hand out. I went back to the now-empty barn to look around and, surprise, it still smells like cows. My sense of smell is virtually nonexistent but one of the few things I can smell, fortunately for my nostalgia, is cows. I found two kittens sleeping, got closer, and then found that they weren't sleeping but were in fact part of a cluster of ten dead kittens in varying stages of decay. How they all came to be in that spot is perhaps best left to the imagination.
Next to the barn is a shed full of junk, including no fewer than nine bicycles and an old-timey radio. Whenever I see it I think it would be cool to fix it up and use it, but then I remember that it would still only play modern stations and that would totally kill the magic. And then, outside, there's like twenty enormous farm machines that are probably going to stay right where they are until the Second Coming. It's weird to think that one day Grandpa just turned each one off and never used it again. Kind of like how one day your parents put you down and never picked you up again. And they can't have been cheap.
The main way we spend time together when I'm there is by watching TV. In all seriousness, I feel that it brings me closer to them. As soon as Thanksgiving was over we watched "The Muppet Christmas Carol", the Rockettes Radio City Music Hall Christmas show from 2007, a ghost movie called "The Spirit of Christmas" that was all right but should have been half an hour longer to flesh out the reasons for the romance, and the first few minutes of some movie called "Noel". They turned it off after someone said to the protagonist, "You need sex. Good sex." My sister thought that it should have been PG-13 but since it was made a long time ago, in 2004, it must have been before the PG-13 rating was created. She was only off by twenty years.
But none of them had minded a few minutes earlier when the protagonist said something like, "I'm doing great! You know, single woman over forty during the Christmas season! Just keep me away from any kitchen knives or open windows for the next few days! Ha ha... heh..." So I'm not sure why the word "sex" is more offensive than a joke about suicide. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't find said joke hilarious. But they turned that off and I requested "The Santa Clause" because I hadn't seen it in a very long time. Well, I don't know what else to say about this vacation now but I really just wanted to say something about how big cows are.
Auralnauts - Jedi Party
So how do actual Jedi dance? Look no further to find out! This is from the redubbed Star Wars film "Attack of the Phantom Past" and makes sense in context. Kind of.
I'm on vacation for Thanksgiving and don't feel like writing a real post, but here's one of my favorite cartoons. One month until Christmas!
I sought a ride to Idaho Falls for Thanksgiving, hoping to leave on Wednesday but knowing that beggars can't be choosers. If I couldn't get one I would take the Salt Lake Express bus, but that's a lot more expensive. It costs a staggering amount to fuel them and I'm sure it doesn't help that they have to go south to Brigham City before going north to Idaho Falls for some reason I can't comprehend. I looked at a map and it looks to me like you could go directly from Logan to Idaho Falls, but I'm no expert. Anyway, I did get a ride, and it was on Thanksgiving itself but we would be leaving at 10:30 so we'd get there in plenty of time and it would be great. She'd only be staying for one day so I'd just stick around and take the bus back, but that would still be a lot cheaper than taking it both ways.
Early Thanksgiving morning she got sick and canceled. She was very apologetic and I told myself not to be upset with her because it's not like she chose to be sick and not get to go at all. I chose instead to be upset at life itself for pulling this kind of crap on us. So I would have to take the Salt Lake Express bus after all, which was pretty annoying because if I'd known I would have to take the bus I would have left on Wednesday. I tried to get the soonest departure, which was just over an hour away. Usually you can just get tickets online with a few mouse clicks, but apparently since this one was so close, it said to call a number instead. I did, and got an automated voice blathering on about some promotion and concluding, "If you are fifty or older, press one."
It repeated, "If you are fifty or older, press one."
I swore at it. (I swear a lot when I get mad. I'm not proud of it, but I'm just being honest.)
It said, "If you are fifty or older, press one. If you are not fifty or older, press zero." I pressed zero. It said "End of call" and disconnected.
I swore at it again, redialed and this time got an automated menu with actual options. I pressed the number for customer service and was informed that I was the sixth caller in the queue. Okay, fine, it was a holiday so that was understandable albeit still really annoying. I waited for twenty minutes, with it repeating the standard forgettable music and "We appreciate your patience" stuff, and then I was in the first position. And then for a further ten minutes it continued to inform me that I was in the first position. I was getting pretty aggravated as time ran out, and thought about rude things to say to the person who would answer, but told myself not to because it wasn't their fault and I worked in a call center for almost four months so I know what it's like when people treat you like you're not a person because they can only hear your voice. But when it finally came to be my turn, the line went silent.
"Hello?" I said. "Hello? HELLO??" No answer. I waited maybe thirty seconds and swore and hung up in disgust. I still had about twenty minutes, so I ran down to the bus station to see if I could just buy a ticket right there and get on.
"Sorry, I don't sell the tickets," the driver said. "I don't have any tickets to sell." And I just stood there for a moment staring at him as I silently told myself not to yell at him because he was just a driver and he didn't decide the policies and none of this was his fault. I turned away and swore under my breath. "We still have a couple minutes," he said. "You could try calling them again." I did, and it immediately told me I was caller number one, but given my previous experience with being caller number one for ten minutes I wasn't about to go through that again. I hung up after two minutes and walked home fuming.
Then I saw Jordin Sparks' Facebook status: "Before getting upset always ask yourself: will this even matter in six months, in a year, or in five years? If the answer is no, just let it go."
Jordin Sparks, ladies and gentlemen.
So I bought a later ticket arrived after my family had eaten dinner and I got to eat leftovers by myself and it was the crappiest Thanksgiving of my life, but the person who was going to give me a ride probably had a crappier one since she was sick and didn't end up going at all. I reminded myself of that to try and stop being all "me me me". Even without that perspective, there is the whole issue of first world problems versus all the people who were starving, being abused, and what have you on Thanksgiving day. And even without that perspective, it's already in the past and doesn't matter. It took some pride-swallowing but I followed Jordin Sparks' admonition to let it go. Except that Salt Lake Express.refused to even dignify me with a response when I asked for a refund even though their incompetence ruined everything. Regardless of whether you think I deserve a refund, they could have had the simple decency to acknowledge my existence. So I'm keeping my promise to tell everyone about my immense dissatisfaction with them. You guys, I'm immensely dissatisfied with them. That's all. I've let it go now.
I would like to completely change the subject by sharing something that has already been shared over a couple hundred thousand times, and expressing an opinion about it that does not fall in line with the general consensus of most of those people. Some will undoubtedly hate me for daring to do so, but I've given up caring about that sort of thing. I'm quite tired of being held to a double standard just because white people who aren't me have done and said bad things to other races in the past, or even today.
There is no such thing as "African culture" or "Asian culture". Africa and Asia are both vast and diverse continents with anywhere from dozens to thousands of different cultures, depending on how one measures such things. And if black = African as the post asserts, then white = European, right? And surely white people can have pride in their European culture and heritage, right? Especially since Europe is a far smaller and more cohesive continent than Africa or Asia so the phrase "European culture" is slightly less absurd, right? No, descendants of European stock can only take pride in their specific country, not their continent, or else the social justice warriors with their mind-reading powers have determined that they're just proud they don't have a different skin color. How do we know people with black pride aren't just proud they aren't white or brown? Why aren't they required to choose Ghanaian pride, Ethiopian pride, Rwandan pride, and so on*? For that matter, why doesn't this guy grant permission for Mexicans to have generic Latin American pride? What did they do?
*Of course, even acting like a particular African country has a uniform culture and heritage doesn't really work, since most of their boundaries were drawn by Europeans who didn't know or care that they were breaking up tribes, ethnic groups, and languages with no rhyme or reason. And while we're on the subject, Africans have a wide spectrum of skin tones and are more genetically diverse than the natives of any other continent, so I think that lumping them all together as just "black" is kind of silly.
The Mouse on the Mayflower
This cartoon first aired 48 years and three days ago. I watched it as a kid, maybe fifteen years or so ago, and then I watched it again on Wednesday evening for nostalgia purposes. Everything was familiar. I hadn't realized as a kid, however, that it features the versatile voice actress June Foray of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame. She did the voice of Rocky and virtually every female character. Like Kirk Douglas and Vera Lynn, she's still alive at the age of 99 years, and I very much hope that all three will survive the Celebrity Massacre of 2016. Kirk only needs to make it less than two weeks until his hundredth birthday, knock on wood. Anyway, the opening song of this cartoon is as awe-inspiring as I remembered it, so I include it here (starting at about the 0:54 mark) followed by the entire thing for anybody who has the time and interest (which will probably be nobody, but just in case).
"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.