Friday, December 19, 2014

strike the harp and join the chorus

Today I was watching that video where they ask a whole bunch of people the eternal question:  "Lennon or McCartney?"  Everything proceeds as you might imagine, with the results seeming to be fairly evenly split, and then there's a guy that says this:  "As a person, Lennon, but McCartney's (something something about songwriting)" I stopped listening because I was so gobsmacked by AS A PERSON, LENNON.

Remember the part in Forrest Gump where Jennay has that douchebag abusive boyfriend who at one point excuses his outbursts by blaming Johnson for being a warmonger, you know, 'cause the boyfriend is an anti-war protester.  He loves peace so much that sometimes he just has to hit his girlfriend in frustration if there's not enough peace going around.  Well, that guy is a TOTAL John Lennon--full of righteous judgment for everyone but himself.  I love Lennon's music, and there is so much beauty and truth in some of it, but like many of our beloved celebrities, the man himself was not the personification of his art that we wanted him to be.  He was a scold, a hypocrite, and a weenie.  And maybe (maybe) Paul McCartney was a weenie too, but you can't be going around saying that you prefer John Lennon as a person unless you want to be exposed as a jerk.

There's a bit on a superhero-themed episode of This American Life where John Hodgman talks about how he often asks people the other classic question:  Invisibility or flight?   He gets into what motivates people to choose one over the other, and he has noticed a trend--that people who want flight typically want to use it to help other people, while those who want invisibility want to use it to get away with stuff, e.g. shoplifting.  One guy he talks to says that invisibility is the choice of craven masturbators.  What I'm getting at here is that I want people to ask the two questions together:  Lennon or McCartney, and invisibility or flight, and then do an analysis of the answers.  Like, I wonder if there are people who claim to care about peace and love, but really they just want to boss people around and steal stuff, and if that would be manifested in the data.  WHY DO I NOT OWN A THINK TANK?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

mormon musings

I was thinking about coffee ice cream, and how much I like it, and how much Ike loves Mexican Coke (as if he could tell the difference from American Coke in a blind taste test, 'tis to laugh), and I reflected on how as a young girl I was a little bit scandalized that my uncles drank Pepsi and Coke, which although not forbidden by the Word of Wisdom yet have a disobedient air about them for many Mormons.  

There is a behavior not unique to Mormons that is sometimes called hedge building--take instruction such as "dress modestly" and build a nice big hedge around it so it means "little girls who wear sleeveless sundresses to church should be chastised."   (This is a topic for a different lecture.)  The Word of Wisdom has a directive to avoid hot drinks, and the general consensus has long been that that means coffee and tea, which were the standard hot drinks at the time the revelation was given, and so therefore it must be the caffeine that's against the rules, which means for many Mormons that caffeinated sodas are also out--and there's the hedge.  Caffeine is addictive, y'all!  (Aside:  I would really love to see how much caffeine-free Diet Coke gets consumed in Utah, because caffeine or not, there is a serious problem here.)  

Anyway, because of the hedges it took me a while to figure out that drinking caffeine was not indicative of a serious moral failing, and not equivalent to shooting up in a rat-infested, urine-soaked alley.  Likewise, not drinking Coke or Pepsi or Mt. Dew (my grandma's favorite--it helped keep her awake driving home from her shift at the temple) because of the caffeine is a great thing, because soda is not good for us, but it doesn't mean you're more righteous.  Also coffee ice cream is delicious, and if you like the taste of Coke I guess it's delicious too.  So I don't know if I'm just trying to find a way to justify my lack of orthodoxy, but I think I'm for sure less of a self-righteous prig than I used to be.  So on balance I think it's a win.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

just look the other way and I'll disappear forever

I keep losing my mouse cursor thingy on my computer screen, and that's always the time when the touchpad decides it doesn't feel my fingers anymore.  I feel like it's possible that maybe the reason my computers keep acting up isn't them . . . it's me.  Maybe I transmit some weird kind of energy that causes electromagnetic anomalies.  I bet that's it.

I am Rogue, probably!  This is a very exciting development.  In related news, finding such a sanitized picture of Rogue is a little like finding a needle in a haystack.  The image search on her is very depressing.

Last night John and the kids and I all sang a song together at our extended-family FHE, and it was like a dream come true.  I love, love, love singing with my family.  We blend really well, probably because we are all related, and even when it is a "boring song," according to Grant, it is a pretty boss experience to sit there and listen to my children lift their voices in song.  Inch by inch we are nearing my family band goal.  We'll be singing "Don't Shoot Me, Santa" in no time!

Groceries scratched me on the chin the other day because we were trying to hold him like a human baby when he wasn't in the mood.  That's okay, I respect his distance.

The buck goat that is staying with us has the weirdest voice.  It's really loud and high-pitched like he's being tortured all the time, which is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy if he doesn't watch out.  You're not going to have any friends if you don't learn how to chill, fella.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

there are dog- and caterpillars and a copper centipede

Here's how the pie situation shook out:  together, my sister-in-law Emily and I made nine pies.

1. banana cream
2.  chocolate cream
3.  cran-raspberry meringue
4.  lemon meringue 
5.  pumpkin
6.  pecan
7.  maple syrup
8.  apple blueberry 
9.  apple 

The cran-rasp went better than I feared it would, the apple-blueberry was a soupy mess (I should have gone with my gut and pre-cooked the filling like I normally do), the maple syrup one was a nice surprise and with whipped cream it tasted like breakfast, the pumpkin was not a big seller, and it was nice to finally have pecan pie at Thanksgiving, since I've heard that's a thing that people do, I just haven't grown up in or married into a family that observes the pecan tradition.  

The turkey was probably the best turkey I have ever eaten.  Turkey is hard, we all know it, and most of the time we want so badly for it to be better than it is, so we retcon it to make the day seem more fulfilling.  But this turkey was perfection.  We skirted around and dabbled in controversial conversation topics (polygamy; Mormon heterodoxy) and dived deep into others (the terrible primary teacher who singles out my niece for harsh, unmerited criticism; food) and raised our eyebrows in dismay about this and that example of bad behavior.  A good time was had by all.  I love Thanksgiving!  

I was very resistant and grumpy about going to cut a Christmas tree this year, but John talked me into it, because he said it was clearly an important thing for my mom.  So off we went, and we got a good tree, and now it is up and lighted and ornamented and I'm glad we went, even if I do have to sweep up needles for a month.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

in which I rail against american consumerism

I am super cross right now, so get ready.

Last night John and I stayed up far too late having a "heated discussion" about whether or not it is immoral to shop/make your employees work on Thanksgiving (it is).  As always in these discussions, John comes at the topic like a pragmatist, and I come at it like an idealist.  He thinks it's stupid but that stores have no choice, and I see his point--the greedy monsters will just go shopping somewhere else.  But it's disgusting, and I wish it were possible to boycott stores that open on Thanksgiving.  Not all stores--obviously stores that sell essentials have to be open.  But that people can't even wait until the sun sets before they're out buying their thneeds is so gross to me.  And that stores force their employees to work!  I get that there are people who want to work on Thanksgiving, not because they're can't afford not to, but because for whatever reason they don't have an attachment to Thanksgiving.  That's fine, let them work.  And people who want to shop, even though they are awful, should be allowed to shop.  But there should be a self-selected group of people who want to shop on Thanksgiving and people who want to work on Thanksgiving, and they could get together and consume to their hearts' content, and they can leave the rest of us alone while we spend one day a year devoted to something other than trying and failing to fill the emptiness inside that no matter how much we buy or sell it is never enough.

And I don't think I fully buy the line that stores have to be open on Thanksgiving just to make ends meet.  See this article.  If opening your store on Thanksgiving is the difference between survival and failure, then maybe you suck at your job and don't deserve to be in business anyway.

And I am infuriated when the very same people who say the stores have to be open on Thanksgiving turn around and say that if the employees don't like it they should get a job somewhere else.  Give me a break, that is such a false choice.  Working the front lines of retail is not generally the domain of people who have job mobility, and to tell them otherwise is disingenuous at best.  How can you argue that the store is a victim of circumstances, but not the employee?

And if you go shopping for non-essentials on Thanksgiving you are a terrible person, and it's time that you recognize that your choices affect other people.  You are supporting a morally indefensible system.  

Anyway, it may not be possible to boycott all the Thanksgiving traitors, but if you are frothy about this like I am, here is an article I found that lists the businesses that are closed on Thanksgiving.  Good for them.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm doing everything all wrong

Please indulge me for a moment.  I know I go to this well often, but our family went to the high school's production of Les Miserables on Saturday night, so you know I'm on a tear again about Marius Pontmercy, Literature's Greatest Villain.  


They sanitize Marius for the musical, which I didn't remember, since the last time I saw it was in high school.  In the musical he half-heartedly protests when Jean Valjean decides to remove himself from their lives to protect Cosette's reputation or whatever.  But even so, it's like here's this guy who has helped countless people, fought valiantly at the barricade, taken in a dying woman's child and raised her as his own, symbolically represented humanity's journey from beast to angel, and Marius is like meh, UNTIL he finds out that he also owes his own life to Jean Valjean and then it's all COME BACK SHANE.  And in the book he's horrific.  Victor Hugo is another one of those authors that I need to talk to--what was his intention with Marius, and to a lesser extent, Cosette?  Are they supposed to be sympathetic characters?  Maybe Victor Hugo and Mary Shelley are up in heaven just laughing fit to bust about how they've created these terrible garbage people for characters.  

What a terrific story is Les Miserables, though.  The musical can't fully explore all the themes in the book, but it does a good job with the time and resources it has.  I would like to talk about this story for a long time, please.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

flying too high like some bird in the sky

Okay, this is the pie list I came up with.  Can I get some feedback?

Lemon Meringue
Cranberry Meringue (Should I cut the cranberries with some raspberries?)

Plum/Blueberry (Which one?  Maybe a mix?)

Strawberry/Chocolate (Chocolate is a bigger crowd-pleaser, but strawberry is less expected)

Maple Syrup

I am not totally opposed to adding another one into the mix--the obvious choice would be to do both strawberry and chocolate cream pies, because I really want to do that strawberry one--but is it too summery?  And is that too many cream pies?  I do a chocolate pie with bananas, but I think people probably want a traditional banana cream pie with vanilla filling for Thanksgiving, would you agree?  And what about the crusts?  I've looked through and decided that they are all probably good in a traditional pastry crust, except for maybe the pumpkin, which might be nice in a gingersnap crust.  And I know chocolate pie in a chocolate crumb crust is good, but sometimes it feels like too much chocolate.