Sunday, October 30, 2005

Smurf Needs

So the game is you type in your name with "needs" and quotes around the whole thing and then you copy and paste what comes up on the first twenty or so results. I did it with my real name on my other blog where I use my real name, and here I'll do it with "Smurf" so you can see how it works. I like it.

Dr. Smurf needs to heal my tight end's foot, so he plays Sunday.

Smurf needs your help!!

A baby dragon has an isatiable appetite for the glowberries Papa Smurf needs for his invisibility formula.

The smurf needs such a mask as the beekeepers have.

smurf needs assistance

If a smurf needs blood, call me, 'cause I bleed blue.

Smurf needs a place to work.

SMURF needs financial

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Campus Deer Problem

Here's a letter to the editor from the Daily Universe from the other day:

Campus Deer Problem

Some time ago I was walking home from campus in the middle of the day. Classes were in session. which eliminated foot traffic near the MARB, where I was walking. All of a sudden I heard a loud noise behind me.

There was not even time to look back before a deer bolted past me, about a foot away. This scared the living daylights out of me. I could have been seriously injured. BYU needs to take the problem of deer on campus seriously before someone gets hurt.


Well, here's the letter I just sent in response:

I am a deer. Some time ago I was foraging for sustenance near the MARB while classes were in session. I decided to cross the nearby road. As I was crossing I heard a shocking noise to my left.

There was scarcely time to get all the way across before a whiny freshman turned and yelled at me, about a foot away. This scared the living daylight out of me. I should have seriously injured him. Imagine my chagrine when a copy of the Daily Universe comes fluttering up to me in the wind while I'm eating the leaves off some shrubs the other day, and it opens up to a letter from that very student, complaining about my presence in his university. Well, I decided to write a letter complaining about his university's presence in my wilderness. Honestly, that kid probably clapped when Bambi's mom got killed. We deer have been very tolerant of you humans' presence here in our valley, and all we ask is a little respect in return. BYU seriously needs to take the problem of whiny, nature-hating humans on campus seriously before some deer gets seriously hurt. Seriously.


Napa, California

Also, friends, be sure to check out Buh's new extra hilarious blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Twitch Lives (and Other Tidbits)

Some things that have been on my mind:

There is no "I" in "team." But there is an "I" in "win." Which is more important?

Asmond accidentally said "my TV" instead of " my teacher" yesterday. Paging Dr. Freud.

My dad has a blog now. He doesn't want me to show it to anyone. I have to say it's a lot like seeing your dad naked. Not very pleasant. I don't need to know all that stuff about him to know that I can love him unconditionally. But it seems I need to know it so that HE can know I do. So that's fine. It's pretty obvious that the love I have for him is unconditional, since he long ago broke any conditions I might have established.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is the most important species in the genus Foeniculum (treated as the sole species by many botanists), and is native to southern Europe (especially by the Mediterranean) and southwestern Asia. It is a highly aromatic perennial herb, erect, glaucous green, and grows to 2 m tall.

I am on a new diet. It's called the poverty diet. I need to get paid so bad right now. Hopefully I'll get my first paycheck from the library soon. I am running pretty low on energy. On the plus side, I got a loaf of the most aromatic and delectable Italian bread from Walmart for 97 cents.

I had my BC interview this afternoon. I was asked only one question: "How would you help keep your counselors focused on the purpose of EFY?" Luckily, I knew that the purpose of EFY is to bring the youth to Christ, so I talked about that. I think it went well.

My roommates and I stayed up until almost five of the clock this morning, discussing religion and relationships. Last week we did the same thing, only the topic of conversation was war. I love living with such articulate and opinionated people. We have the best talks.

This Jason Mraz song, "You and I Both," well, I love it. Check these lyrics:

"See I'm all about them words
Over numbers, unencumbered numbered words
Hundreds of pages, pages, pages forwards
More words then I had ever heard and I feel so alive"

Most of this guys music mentions words and wordplay. I want to meet him.

Once upon a time, N, Jolly John, and I think it was my brother Nanny and I decided we wanted to go swimming in the river, since it was a very hot day. So we went down the road to where there was a bridge we crossed all the time to get to my house. And we went through the wooded area a little bit, and tried to get to the river, but it just wasn't the best place because the blackberry brambles came right up to the water. So we decided to go right under the bridge itself. We went back up to the road and turned woodward as soon as the bridge ended. As the four of us started down the steep sides of the riverbank, with me in the lead, I ran into an almost invisble piece of fishing wire that sent a bunch of cans a-jangling. We realized it was a kind of rudimentary alarm system. As we doubled back and wound our way through the bushes toward the bridge, a spectacular mess met our eyes. Somebody had made a collection of sorts.

It was a veritable homeless mansion, really. Cardboard boxes and milk jugs and soda cans and baby-doll heads and bits of shiny silver plastic. All sorts of wonders, really. It was a fortress. There were curtains made of an old tarp on a pole. There were alarm systems set up on each side. There was a half-sunken row boat, and some red plastic ball floating out in the river with an anchor. A babydoll was nailed brutally to a tree. Another tree had a piece of yellow rope pulling it down toward the water. Closer inspection showed that the other end was tied to a submerged car engine. All over the concrete supports of the bridge in various shades of spray paint was the repeated message: "Twitch Lives!"

So we swam. But only very nervously, because we were afraid about a) all the junk that might be under the water where we couldn't see it, and b) Twitch's imminent return. We went instead to that little cafe I told you about last time, and we ate a delicious lunch.

From then on, every time we drove over the bridge, no matter how cold it was outside, we had to roll down the window and yell, at the top of our lungs, "Twitch Lives." Okay, eventually we forgot to keep doing that.

Later, with Tox, I think, I saw a homeless man digging through the recyclable trash can at High-Tech Burrito. Which was right next to that old scary bridge. And he was talking to himself. And twitching. Twitch lives!

The Hague (with capital T; Dutch: Den Haag, or officially Gravenhage) is the administrative capitalof the Netherlands, located in the west of the country, in the province South Holland of which it is also the capital.

I am changing my glossary to my "bestiary," at the suggestion of Asmond, who also mistakenly called it a "bestiality" yesterday.

In the words of Horatio the Great: "That is all."

For now.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Levi and the Zombie

This is a story I can't believe I've never told on here. It's really one of the nost terrible stories I have. I hope you enjoy it.

Once upon a time there was a smurf. And he lived in a trailer home all by himself. Okay, that's going to get annoying if he keeps telling the story in third person, so he's going to stop right here.

Anyway, I lived by myself in this trailer on my mom's friend's property in the beautiful Napa Valley. The property had vineyards, a softball field, a swimming pool, a hot tub, a bonfire pit, a barbecue, etc. Nearby was a little mom-and-pop store with a delicatessen that had outdoor tables under the oak trees. I used to stroll down there and eat a smoked turkey sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese, plus a deviled egg or two, some kettle-cooked dill potato chips, and a berry smoothie. It was heaven for me. Those of you who know me might expect that I'd have some difficulty living by my lonesome. But in fact, these were some of the most tranquil and sublime days of my life. There were only two major problems with the place.

A pack of wild coyotes inhabited the same property as I did. I don't know how many of you have ever lived alone, but for those who haven't, I can tell you that it can be frightening at night. Especially when you're sitting alone on your couch, reading a book, and you start to hear the manic howls of the coyote pack coming closer from the woods. And then they are suddenly running all around your house, rifling your trash can, and running up onto your porch, with their little claws click-clacking on the wood. They had this magical ability to make the doors and walls of my trailer seem paper-thin, so that I always felt one of them would come busting right through the wall at any moment, just like G'mork came through that painting in the Neverending Story. Coyotes always sound like they're in pain. I hate them.

The coyotes were the lesser of my two concerns, however. About a month after I moved in, I convinced Tox to move in with me. That wasn't the main concern, either. No, the main concern was that our landlady's son, Levi, moved back home and had taken up residence in the pool house.

Levi had been our friend when we were small. He and his mother and sister had joined the church as a result of the interactions between Levi and all of us Mormon kids through Scub Scouts. While we were in middle and high school, Levi started experimenting with illegal drugs. He became weirder and weirder as time went on, piercing his own ears in the school bathroom, shaving his head except for one patch that he would grow out into a single nasty unicorn spike. It looked very intimadating, especially because Levi was always the largest of all of us. The kid was a big moosie. His mother, in a last-ditch attempt to help him, sent him to a drug-rehab camp for teens in Samoa.

While Levi was there, someone sneaked in some acid. But it was bad acid, and the story goes that three of the five kids who dropped it died, one is still in a coma, and the other is Levi. Levi is now a drug-induced schizophrenic. He can't hold a job. He wanders from town to town, throws rocks at police cars, and inflicts his theories of government conspiracy on strangers he meets in the video store.

Tox and I were the recipients of several unexpected visits from Levi while we were living on his mother's property. He would walk right in in his ragged sarong and weird Asian scarecrow hat, and start boiling his frozen spinach on our stove, or he would just sit on our couch and fart loudly and ask us bizarre questions. Any questions we asked him would go unanswered for over a minute, and then a light would go on and you would see that the question had finally sunk in, and he would give some convoluted answer. Tox found the whole thing sad, though mildly amusing. Me? I was scared to death of him.

When Tox got into a car accident and was staying at his parents' for a few days, leaving me once again alone in the house, I was actually glad to hear the coyotes' insane yelps and howls right outside the windows. If the coyotes were out, it meant Levi wasn't. I fell into feverish sleep those nights, dreaming of Levi being eaten by the pack of coyotes, or on one night, by a pack of wild Levis, who then turned their sights on my little trailer.


One evening, Joshua Adam Hawks and a gentile kid we'll call Loony Leo were over at our place. We got a phone call from the girls, who lived about 40 minutes away. They said they were on their way over, and they wanted a surprise when they got there. The other guys immediately started brainstorming about what great thing they could have for the girls once they arrived. But I am not one to be so easily manipulated. "You guys!" I exclaimed. "They never said it had to be a good surprise!"

So we spent the next little while trying to find a way to prop a bucket of water on the door so it would fall on the girls when they got there. It soon became apparent that the physics required to get that to work only exist if you're a character on "Dennis the Manace" or some such show. Soon the other guys had given up and settled into playing "Better Man" on their guitars. I pointed out that we still needed a surprise for the girls. And then I had an idea. A terrible, terrible idea. One of the worst I've ever had, probably, and that's saying something.

"I know what we can do, you guys! How surprised would the girls be if they got here and we weren't in the house. But Levi was!" Everybody kinda laughed, but after a moment's contemplation, it was decided that that would indeed be the best surprise we could come up with on such short notice. But then it was also decided that I should be the one to go get him, since it was my idea.

I protested, but only vaguely (I couldn't have everyone knowing that I was afraid, after all), and in the end, I started down the dark, tree-flanked path toward the pool house to see if I could find Levi.

There was a horrible sound coming from levi's house. It was what Levi referred to as his "jungle beats." He had an old record player in there, and it was hooked up to some huge speakers, and he would sit in there for hours and try to communicate with aliens or supernatural forces through the beats he would scratch. It sounded like funhouse music, only without the fun or the music, and with a little bit of plain, unadulterated evil thrown in. I lost my nerve. I didn't even make it all the way to the house. I stopped there on the little wooded path, and I turned and ran like a rabbit in the sights of the farmers gun, all the way back to the trailer.

I was a bit more forthcoming about my objections this time. "I am NOT going back there," I whined. "It is WAY too scary."

Loony Leo said, "Here, I'll go with you. I knew Levi back in 4H. I haven't seen him in forever. Let's go." So I somehow found myself headed back down the path again, headed toward the haunted pool house. The jungle beats were still filling the air so much that we could hardly hear each other, even when we were shouting. We went around to the front door. Emboldened by the presence of another human being, I knocked on the door. It creaked open slowly on its own.

"Levi!?" I yelled.

Nothing. Just those jungle beats, as terrifying as absolute silence, because either way ot rendered us completely deaf to any actual noise. The doorway was a black triangle. We could discern no shape, no depth. Just the blackness, and that noise, like a horror-movie soundtrack, emanating from somewhere in it. In my frightened state, I turned to ask Loony Leo what he thought we should do, but he had bolted. I ran and caught up to him on the path back to my house.

We ran inside. Loony Leo told the other two guys that he thought they should come with us, that it was way too scary. Tox let his true colors show a bit then. "No way," he stammered. "I'm kinda scared too. Let's just do something else for the girls." In the awkward silence that followed, we could hear the jungle beats floating up eerily through the woods. In the end, we just sent Tox to the store to get some ice cream, and we'd call that our surprise.

Well, the girls got there before Tox even got back. And when he did get back, it was with vanilla ice cream, with no toppings, so no one ate it anyway. I still really don't know what you were thinking on that one, Tox. In order to alleviate the embarassment of having such a lame surprise to offer, we engaged the girls in the story of our failed attempts to procure Levi, and how afraid everyone had been.

The girls, up for a little adventure, decided they wanted to go meet Levi, since they hadn't grown up with him, and had only heard the stories we'd told.

"I don't think that's such a good idea," I objected.

My objection went unnoticed, though, because suddenly the other guys were all gung-ho and macho about the idea of taking everyone down to Levi's. And the girls thought it sounded scintillating, and so the next thing I knew I was trudging along the forest path once again, collectedly remonstrating them for what I knew to be a bad idea. Nobody listened.

We got to Levi's house. The music had stopped, and the place was silent, but rather than mollifying the miasma of fear that surrounded the place, it only made the place seem dead, and, were it possible, even more frightening. There was a flickering t.v. light coming from the sliding glass door on the far side of the house. We went to the door. It had a curtain hanging in it that hung down to about knee-level. Tox hunkered down and looked inside under the curtain. "It's Levi," he announced. "C'mon, let's go in."

He kncked perfunctorily, and slid the door open. Instead of opening the curtain, we all just sort of sidled under it. Once everbody was inside, and my eyes had adjusted, I realized that there was something very, very wrong.

"What are you guys doing here? Who are these girls?" asked Levi, in an oddly strained voice. His face was three points of white: two glazed eyes reflecting the television, and a mouth stretched into a skeletal, cheshire grin. I averted my eyes, looking instead at the television set, which had been making some strange noises. I could feel Tox looking at the set already, and soon realized why he had been so quiet.

On the screen was a zombie. He had rotting flesh and tattered clothing. He had a naked blonde virgin on what was either a sacrificial altar or a mad scientist's table, and he was raping her. She was screaming in pleasure and pain, alternately. It was one of the most horrific things I've ever seen. Tox tried to stand in front of the TV screen to block the view for the girls, but in that dismal lighting, there were few other places to which one could avert one's eyes. Mine flashed back to Levi's demented face, and then to the third and only other spot of light in the room. it took me half a second to realize that I was looking at Levi's underwear, and that Levi's oversized pants were in a buch at his ankles. For several seconds my my eyes darted back and forth between the demonic face, the exposed underwear, and the zombie rape porn, while I flinched every time they lighted on something and quickly jerked them to the next atrocity.

I finally gathered my wits, and instructed everyone to go back outside. They obeyed dumbly, ducking back under the black felt curtain, and out into the relative safety of the dark, coyote-infested woods beyond. Everybody ran back up the path. One of the girls tripped on a step or a log or something, and fell. "Are you okay?" I breathed.

"NO!" she sobbed. "I don't know if I'll ever be okay again." We helped her back up and got her to the house, where everyone just sat around and looked shell-shocked, and the one girl just kept crying and crying. Joshua Adam Hawks sat with her and tried to comfort her. The girls' adventure seeking mood, as well as the guys' bravado, had left them like air from an untied balloon, and they sat like little wilted rubber messes around the couches in the living room. Then somebody noticed that Loony Leo was missing. He hadn't come back with us, and somehow, against all reason, I found myself once again walking down that dark and forlorn path to Levi's.

Loony Leo somehow hadn't noticed what it was that Levi was watching, nor the fact that Levi was in his skivvies, and he was just standing there, dwarfed by Levi's hulking frame, and trying to reminisce about the rabbits and chickens they used to raise together in a time when Levi's brain and self had still been in Levi's body. I took Loony Leo firmly by the arm, explained that we needed him in the house, and made him bid a hasty farewell. I looked askance at Levi as we exited the room for the last time, and I saw him looking complacently, creepily bemused, head cocked like some sort of cockatrice.

Levi disappeared soon after that, and I've never seen him since. But the indelible images of that night still haunt my dreams from time to time. Just me, a little boy lost in the woods, being pursued by coyotes and zombies and Levis. I never even had to say "I told you so." I don't think any of us is the same after that night. Nor will we ever be.

The End.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Glossary II: Tox

Tox: In the 1970s, My mother and Lorna Eide were really good high-school friends. In 1980, my parents learned that I was on my way into this world (though I don't think they understood all the implications of what they were doing to the world). At the same time, Lorna was NOT pregnant. But her mother was. So Lorna's little brother and I were born two days apart, and we've been friends for as long as anybody can remember.

The Tox is short for Brettocks, which is a play on the way Forrest Gump pronounces "buttocks." We were in Scub Scouts together (that's how my brother always pronounced it), were in the same elementary school class, and in the same sunday school class. He looked a lot like that kid on animaniacs that would come out of his house and say a lot of things really fast about his friend Randy Beaman. Remember that kid? Like one time it was this:

"One time, OK, see, one time Randy Beaman's mom had a dreamthat she ate a big marshmallow and it was really good, andshe, and when she woke up ... [He scratches under his right arm.] ... her pillow was gone 'cause she ate it. 'K, bye." And then he runs back into the house. That's what Tox looked like when we were kids.

When we moved to a nearby town when I was 11, Tox would come spend the night from time to time. We went to the Wooz. After high school, we reconnected at Youth Conference. You know those nametags that say "HELLO My Name is?" And then you take a marker and write in your name? Well, when Tox and I ran into each other after years of separation, we saw that we had both written, "Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die," on our name tags. There was a lot of shouting "Dude!" which is Tox's most used word. We seriously call our mothers "dude."

Tox is a linguistic oddity. Although he was raised right alongside me and my other friends, Tox somehow developed this huge surfer-dude accent. You know, like Michaelangelo on the Ninja Turtles, which we used to watch together all the time. That and Thundercats.

Tox and I were in the MTC at the same time. We had laundry and gym time together. After our missions, we got the sweetest apartment (with the craziest landlady). We had so much fun living out there. One time I ordered pizza to his parents' house at 1:00 in the morning because we lived too far out in the country to get pizza deliveries. So then we had to rush to their house to intercept the pizza before they awoke his parents. Our friend Joshua Adam Hawks drove us, and Tox and I were in the back seat with a blanket because it was butt cold outside. And a girl called Carrot, because she was a vegetarian. So at a stoplight, Tox threw the blanket over those of us in the back and started yelling, "Help! There's people under this blanket!" And I think that's the first time I really appreciated how hilarious that boy is.

Later, we got caught on a security camera toilet-papering the local Chuck E. Cheese's. Don't ask. The cop who caught us as we were trying to get sodas out of an out-door vending machine was pretty bemused when he found the shopping cart in the back of the truck, too. We couldn't really explain any of that. Anyway, he made us clean it up. That was sad.

My favorite Tox story is up next.

Tox and our mutual friend, Heather Angela Hawks, were hanging out one night while I was at the movie "Holes" at the dollar theatre with my roommate. This was aftter Tox and I had both moved to Utah, by the way. So they made this video. Since you can't see the video, I will tell you what happens on it. Heather is holding the camera, and she's outside the bathroom door at her crappy duplex. She asks Tox why he's been in the bathroom for so long. His voice is heard through the door. He stammers awkwardly about not wanting to explain. With a little pressure, he buckles.

"It's just that my poo... it smells so GOOD!"

"WHAT!" gasps Heather. "Tox, that is so weird!"

"I know, but it just smells so delicious!"

She freaks out, then demands that he come out of there. After some persuasion he opens the door a crack. And he has brown filth smeared all over his mouth. Sick. Heather, judging from the sound of her voice, is about to go insane with disgust. But also, she's laughing. "Tox, that is the grossest thing I have ever seen."

For a while he acts self-conscious about it. "You just don't understand, it's really good. I couldn't help it."

Heather adopts a sanctimonious tone. "I still can't believe you were in there eating your own poo. That's just disgusting."

"Well, what about YOU!?" asks Tox, indignantly. He grabs the camera and turns it on Heather, who holds a hand up to her face in a failed attempt to disguise the fact that her mouth has likewise been ringed in the brown putrescence this whole time. The video ends with a shot of the two of them and the camer in the bathroom mirror, and Tox is licking more off some toilet paper. It was at this point, after the video-making, that Tox hatched his best idea yet.

After "Holes," we were driving some girls home, and had to drive past our own house, first. There were three big, scary Harley-Davidson type guys on our front lawn. I made some comment. Those guys were still there when we got back home, so we bee-lined it for the front door, but the scaries intercepted us.

"Hey, do you guys live here?"

Gulp. "Yes."

"Okay, well, somebody just left poop on your porch, man."

We were pretty upset. The guys started describing what had happened.

"We were doing our normal neighborhood watch. Anything goes down in this neighborhood, we know about it. Like the guy in that house over there? He beats his wife. And that house has a ton of squatters and they deal drugs in there. Anyway, we were watching, and these two people came sneaking through the bushes at your house. And they left something on the porch and ran back to the truck. It was a silver truck, and we got a partial on the license plate. Anyway, we went up to the porch and saw that they left toilet paper with crap on it on your porch. So we tried chasing them, but they got away. Anyway, we woke up your roommate, and he called the cops."

After hearing the story a couple of times, I noticed that the license plate number sounded like a California plate. So I started to think about who I knew that was from California that had a silver truck. It had to be Tox. I asked the guys to describe the people they'd seen.

Well, the girl was short and had short hair, like a boy. And when they drove away she stood up in the back of the truck and yelled, "I LOVE POOOOO!" And the guy was really tall, and he had one of those faces, you know? Like, you look at this guy and you just KNOW he's an idiot. You can tell just by looking at him."

I turned to my roommate. "It's Heather and Tox."

"What!" he cried. Why would they put poop on our porch?

I ran into the house to see Spanky, my roommate, asleep once again on the couch. I was able to wake him, but not to get him very coherent, but he told me that he had indeed called the cops. He told me he'd thrown away the toilet paper in the big trash can outside.

I ran out back, and dug through the garbage. My suspicions were confirmed. I brought the soiled toilet paper into the house. The first roommate squealed, "Dude! Don't bring that in here!"

"It's just chocolate, man! It's chocolate frosting!"

We went back out front, and the scary triumvirate was now giving the license information to the police officer, who had just arrived. I explained that the whole thing was a joke, that it had actually been chocolate. The cop (I hate Provo cops) gave a world-worn smile and a nod that told us he gets more of these types of calls than real ones, and backed away.

Well, you can imagine how funny it was to call Tox and tell him how he'd been described. Poor guy. He really is a lot smarter than he looks, I can assure you.

Anyway, the point is that Tox and I go WAY back, and I love this guy. He's quite possibly the best roommate I'll ever have. Our friendship runs deep, and we did lots of zany stuff together. Those were great times. Anyway, that's all for now. Up next time in my glossary: Asmond, Chris, and Mustard. Heh heh heh (that's my evil laugh). Bye bye.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


A guitar strums simply somewhere out of sight,

Down in the valley this October.

We lie still atop the golden hill we’ve climbed, Jill and I,

To fetch a pail of water,

Looking down at the town below,

Only God watching us,

Looking down on us in turn.

The air is so full and crisp that you just know

That if you stuck your sweatered arms out to your sides and spun around,

You might just lift a few feet off the grass

Like a whirligig,

Then float gently back down, crisp and dried and gentle.

The sunshine comes down sideways, backlighting everything:

The purple grapevines, the dusty telephone poles,

The rusty cow-licked hair of children playing ring-around-the-rosies by the river;

Ashes, ashes,

We all fall down!

It's not exactly that there's no wind today, but

A breeze blows in from all sides at once, equally,

And cancels itself out, electricity hung like blankets to dry in the air,

Pine smoke and ashes smearing around seductively like rainbow-colored oil in a puddle.

Come; look with me at this withered, tortured tree,

Leaves the colors of brilliant mud, seemingly frozen in time here

Under cruel Medusa's stare, snakes of autumn for her hair.

Father time kindly glides by as we watch,

And a single leaf falls down, around and around

On its way to the ground and to winter and death and the natural progression of life,

Lazily, beautifully, tragically. Its life is a macrocosm of its death.

As is all of this.

As are we.

Ashes to ashes.

We all fall down.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Patch of Good Luck

So that couple I hooked up in California? Well, they're getting married in February. And I'm to be the best man. How great is that?

The same day I found out about that, I went to Oktoberfest at the University Villa Apartments. Right when I got there they brought out a huge german cocolate cake. It was like 20 cakes side-by-side, all frosted together. They announced that there had been an engagement ring baked into it and that the guy who found it could keep it. And looking at all that chocolate, I had this feeling like Charlie Bucket, that I was going to win, because I wanted it more than the other kids. So they said "ready set go" and we all ran at the cake. And I was at the bottom of this 40-man dogpile, and everyone kept jumping on me and I got knocked back out of it. And as soon as I got knocked out, I heard someone say he had found the ring. And I was bummed, but I also remembered that Guatemalan phoney in the movie, so I jumped right back into the pile and kept feling around. I found a clump of undisturbed cake with my right hand, which was reaching in between two football players who seemed to be enjoying thrashing about more than looking for the ring. And as I stuck my fingers into it, I felt something hard. I pressed it down against the plywood the cake was on, and felt that it was distinctly a ring. I started to panick, as I could feel other hands groping about my wrist. So I clandestinely scraped the ring with my index finger all along the bottom of the board until I was free of the melee. I was standing only a foot away from the table where the emcee was standing. I stuck my chocolate-encrusted finger into my mouth, scraped the cake off the ring with my tongue, and held it aloft. The guy with the microphone announced that we had a winner, grabbed my wrist, and hoisted me up onto the table. It was all such a blur. As I was celebrating, Slugworth pulled me aside and started whispering in my ear. Except really he was working for Willie Wonka, and I just didn't know it. He told me I could bring in the ring to his jewelry shop and he'd exchange it for any ring up to $1500. So I need to do that some time this week or next. I kinda ruined my new shoes in all that cake, but I think it was worth it. They'd only been ten dollars at a thrift store right by my house.

Sunday, the Mermaid invited me over to her house after ward prayer. She kicked my butt at spit and we talked and laughed so much. It was awesome. Monday I went back over there and asked her on a date for this Friday. She said she'd been hoping I would say that. Tuesday I got a call from the Brick Oven and they said they wanted to interview me. So I went and did that, and they said they'd be able to work around my schedule. Wednesday I got the news about my efy interview for next summer. My secretary agreed to call me and remind me about it before it happens. Then I watched Brian Regan after choir practice. That man is hilarious. Thursday is today, and I just got a call from Brick oven saying they want me to start on Saturday. Everything is going great.

"Billy, I need you to clean your room."

Five minutes later: "Billy I need you to stop playing with your brother and start cleaning your room!"

Another five: "Billy! Is your room clean yet?"

Tommy: "Man, mommy always tells you to do the same things, over and over!"

Billy: "I know. Sometimes you just have to have patience with her."

That's how we get about general conference sometimes. Thanks to Asmond for inspiring that one with his comment in Sunday School. I will try to write more, but I have been very busy. See ya, kids.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Glossary Vol. I, and a Response to BAWB

Well, I have several people waiting on several different projects that I've said I'd be working on, so here's my attempt at at least two of them. The first is my description of different people I write about, so you all can have a better understanding of who I mean when I talk about all these random folks. We'll start with Topsie because she's been hounding me most of all about this. I think this will end up being a continuing series, and I'll probably only get to two or three today.

"Topsie" is short for "Triceratops," which is long for "Sara." I came up with that, and it's stuck, and I'm glad. She's quirky. She has the most beautiful singing voice I've ever heard. We made her sing "Part of That World," and she sings opera, and I got to hear it. She was a counselor during my last two weeks of efy this summer, and we hung out over the weekend, and then again fir quite a while when efy was over, with our friends Germany and Dawn Treader (I gave them those names too, and they liked them). Topsie lives in Southern California somewhere, and she is very witty, and I recently helped her to see that she is (and should be) in love with my friend Boston. We communicate through IM a lot.

BAWB is my roommate. He's not just great; he's swell. That means great in a wholesome, polite way. It's a little unsettling the way he seems absolutely delighted to help all the time. I'm not sure whether he seriously loves it or whether he is just set to enthusiastic as his default. It's odd for me because I feel like the moral thing to do is to take him at his word, but that ends up bennefitting me in the end, so it's hard to tell if that's my true motivation. At any rate, he's fantastic to be around because of his attitudes and his insights, and also his bizarre idiolect. He says things like "Egads!" and he means them. We met through the Hundred Hour Board back in the day. Recently he's been questioning a lot of things about the gospel, in a very healthy way, as far as I can tell. I've been meaning to respond to some things he said on his blog that rubbed me the wrong way (that's the second thing I'm finally getting to), and it took a lot of thought to figure out why, but I got it straightened out in my head now. So here's my case:

Bawb, listing reasons to live the gospel in spite of doubt, said:

"If the Church is false, the consequences of living it are trivial; tithing is the only significant sacrifice. If it is true, the consequences of rejecting it are colossal and eternal. (Pascal's Wager)

"Humans are generally stupid and selfish; I doubt they can survive without fear of hellfire. Teaching them the Gospel is preserving our race."

At first it was this latter point that didn't seem right to me. I contended that Mormons aren't statistically smarter or better people than everyone else. He countered by asking what the point of the gospel is, then, if not to make good men better. That caught me, for sure. I thought about it for several days, and realized he's right--the gospel does indeed make good men better, and members of the church in general should prove better than they were before, at least. But there was still something wrong, and I discovered it in the shower one morning.

"If the Church is false, the consequences of living it are trivial; tithing is the only significant sacrifice. " That's the part I really vehemently disagree with. This gospel cannot be lived without the sacrifice of all we have. To maintain that it's easy to be a member of this church is to insult the pioneers and all the saints before and since who have sacrificed everything to make Christ the center of their lives. Such religious worship seems to be mere membership in the church, as opposed to the sainthood we should all be seeking. There is no passive way to live the gospel, and all must be pushing the wheels of the church along when the end comes, not merely napping in the back of the handcart. The reason this struck such a nerve in me is that these two items, taken togather, make it seem as though mere membership in the church makes people better and smarter. Really, I believe, it's active, almost desperate membership of the church and adherence to its principles that will make bad men good and good men better. Joseph Smith taught this principle: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, n.d.], p. 58).

I hope I don't come across as argumentative, here. It's simply that this is a topic about which I become instantly fervent. I feel that I've made many sacrifices in my life, and that I've yet to make many more. And I feel that my positive traits have developed as a result of those sacrifices, and I believe the best people I know are where they are because of the incalculably greater sacrifices they've had to make. I can think of many, many more significant things I'd have given up in vain if the church weren't true. But it is, and so I'll give up many more in the years to come.

Sorry if this discourse isn't very practicable, BAWB. I don't know what to tell you on that. I don't know what anyone else is supposed to sacrifice. I just know about my own things. I can't imagine what I'd do if I didn't have veritable neon signs pointing at all the things I need to give up in order to move closer to God. Anyway, you're a good guy, and it seems to me that you're on the right path. Just don't want you getting to cushy and then claiming that it's easy to live the gospel and that the gospel makes you a better person. It makes you better precisely because it's hard.

Ok, finally, my secretary. She's not really my secretary anymore. She's another of those completely selfless people that confuse me so much. Once upon a time back in California, I accidentally scheduled dates with two girls at the same time, and it was a disaster. SO when Jenny heard about it, she decided that I needed a secretary. But yeah, right, who would do that for me?

She would, she said. And she did. She bought a planner just for my schedule and kept it in her purse. Whenever someone needed to schedule something with me, I would give them her phone number and they would schedule it. She would arrange rides for me, request time off from work, change my schedule, keep track of my personal affairs. This went on for over a year. Then I moved to Utah and my life fell apart. Then she moved to Utah and got me a job at the Mexican restaurant where she worked. And then she decided to be my secretary again, calling me every morning to remind me to go to work and when and what I'd be wearing that day. And then I went to efy, and finally learned to schedule my time a little better. Since then, I haven't needed a secretary as badly (except it would have been helpful on the date of my court summons, no?) and I've called on her only when I particularly need clerical aid, like when I go to the bank and they are being a pain, or when I am trying to deal with bills or paperwork and become whelmed. But that tells you about what she does, not who she is. She's totally Hermione to me. She is kinda endearingly nerdy. She dated my brother for a while. She is studying hospitality and tourism at UVSC, and she'll be great at it. She has this laugh that is just like Ernie's, more of a scraping sound in the soft pallate, and it's totally contageous; if you start doing it, you can't stop. She gives and gives and gives and then somehow makes me feel like I'm a good person just for being around, exactly like BAWB does. So weird to me. I mean, I love these people, and I hope I can make them feel that way too, but I just don't serve as naturally. Hopefully some day I'll be like that.

Anyway, children, storytime is over for today. Go home.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Q as in Coupon

A lady said that to me on the phone once. You know how people always say "V as in Victor?" This black lady was giving me her password for her website when I worked at Tahitian Noni International, and she said "S as in syphilis, E as in eye, and Q as in Coupon." I couldn't tell if she was stupid or hilarious.

So Chris tells me I need to write something amazing to make up for my not having written for the last week while the internet was on the blink. The problem is, I never know what to write about. I wish my blog could illuminate the entire human experience. I wish people could read it and know in that moment exactly what it's like to be me. But I can't even write about things as fast as new things are happening to me. There's just no way. Like what Ed Harris' character says in "The Hours":

"I wanted to write about it all, everything that happens in a moment. Way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread, all our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it. Who we once were, everything in the world, everything all mixed up. Like it's all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed... no matter what you start with, it ends up being so much less... "

I was told by a friend today that I am hard to read. I get told that by my friends all the time. How can that be? I spend most of my social energy on being straightforward. Have I failed so completely? Even my best friends tell me that I'm hard to read. Possible reasons why:

1. I spent so much time in my youth hiding "who I really was" that now I've become inaccessible.

2. (This is my guess) I am so interested in other people and how they think and feel and exist that I forget to let thim into my world, as well. I feel like such an alien in the world. Sometimes people realize that I'm cutting them open and seeing how they work, that I've got them tied down in my spaceship, and it disconcerts them. Sorry, folks.

3. I'm just so open that I actually say all the things I'm thinking and people just assume there must be more.

4. I am shielding you all from the bizarre and banal thoughts in my head. We're sitting there having a conversation, and while I'm talking to you about how delicious the spaghetti is you think "I wonder what he is really thinking about, and whether he likes this spaghetti or he's just saying that, and if he's lying then is he doing it because he likes me or because he's trying to avoid having to talk to me about it?" and I'm thinking, "Man, I wonder why there aren't really any colors that start with 'D.' I mean, I guess there's 'dandelion,' but that seems like a stretch, and Crayola only carried that color for less than ten years, anyway. And it's kinda cheap to count colors that are just named after some flower. I wonder whether violets were named after the color, or whether the color got its name from the flower. Maybe it was just 'purple' before that. Man, this is good spaghetti."

I have a feeling it's a bit of all four.


Those of you who read my blog and saw my concert last week can tell the rest how great it was. Lend me some credibility so next time I invite people top something, they come. Some really hot girls from my ward came, actually. That made me swell with happiness.

I made friends with the first chair violinist afterward. The kid is really cool. I introduced myself at Pinetree's behest, and we ended up hanging out after both nights of the concert. After the Friday concert we went on a nice little hike with Wiggle and Blue Shorts and Pinetree and everybody. We also had pizza at an underground place called "The Pie." That pizza was incredible. The Violinist invited me to do the whole conference thing at his cabin. So I did.

We drove up on Saturday morning. The cabin is at Sundance. We(when I say we I am including two other strangers who were there; there was nothing illicit going on, dirty people) listened to the Saturday morning session on the radio. It was pretty cold up there, so we sat with quilts, and then when the sun hit the porch I moved outside to the deck. The air was redolent with the smells of decaying leaves and pine smoke, and carried the sounds of the nearby stream and the wind through the aspen trees. Every time the chilly breeze picked up at all, the golden maple leaves would come tumbling all around us as though we were in a giant mystical snow globe. White and orange butterflies intermingled with the leaves. The trees themselves were yellow with a sun-kissed red spot at the top, exactly like a peach. I basked in the warm sunlight and the warmer spirit, listening to the words of the speakers. President Faust's words struck me particularly, as he spoke of gaining the image of Christ in our countenance and surrounding ourselves with those who have the light of Christ in their eyes. And about how the lord leaves us alone for a while to see if we will be righteous in the dark. I have always thought that: that maybe the good I do while the sun is high and the days are long just gets stored up for the long winters I invariably encounter from time to time--a sort of spiritual hibernation. Now I have to go read "The Ant and the Grasshopper" again. I think there might be more to that story. Maybe it's just the Greek version of the ten virgins.

Well, after that session, we hiked up to the waterfall. At one point, as we were crossing the logs over the stream that meanders through the meadow up there, a stiff wind came up and the motley forest to our left came ablaze with millions of tiny leaves flying high up to the sky and raining down all around us. We got up to the waterfall and I ran into my old friends Josh and Megan, and their baby. That was strange, since they live in California, but I was very happy to see them. My new friends and I sat around and sang hymns in four-part harmony over the roar of the falls and amid the flecks of white water that surrounded us like a mist.

We went back to the cabin, and listened to the rest of Saturday's conference (I must say I loved the tag-team combo if Elders Oaks and Holland--my two favorite apostles--on the whole woman issue). The Violinist made whole-wheat spaghetti (the new friends are hippies, by the way), and it was great to sit and be nourished physically and spiritually.

Sunday we had even more friends, and so we baked biscuits and cinnamon rolls with home-made lemon glaze and we had fresh-baked bread with home-made apricot jam, and mango juice, and pine nuts and yogurt. It was incredible. Sunday followed the same pattern as Saturday had, except that this time we lit a fire in the huge two-story fireplace, and sat in the couches in front of it as we listened, looking out the humongous single-pane windows that stretched from floor to ceiling on either side. There were stellar jays on the deck, and the leaves continued to shed themselves for our benefit.

When conference had ended, we listend to classical music and read books. The cabin was chock-full of bookshelves, which held, between the candles and teddy bears and model sailboats and pine cones and other bric-a-brac, tons of books. There were Caldecott winners and classics and camic books and religious books. We all sat there serenely, sanguinely reading and looking at nature and listening to the music and smelling the fire and feeling the glow of happiness and friendship. The entire experience was sublime.

Once upon a time I would have felt antsy about not doing anything, and not talking, but I think I am past that now. I just sat there and enjoyed the feeling I was having, and the knowledge that it was okay for me to feel that happy.

Anyway, if you find yourself wondering what's really happening in my head these days, it's probably a lot of this stuff, recycling through.

I have to go to work now, but one more story for the benefit of some ladies in Colorado:

I got home from work the other day and my roommate said, "Someone called for you. It sounded like Satan."

I laughed. "How do you know what Satan sounds like?" I chided.

"No, she said her name, and it sounded like she said 'Satan.'"

"Oh. That makes sense."

Sure enough, the message said, "Hey, smurf, this is Satan Satan Satan," and then faded out. Then back in the chirpy voice, "Call me back!"

"So how do you know Satan?" retorted my roommate.

"Oh. It's my mom." Thanks, mom. It's nice to have characters like you in my life so I can write about them. You're so weird. Elder Oaks says we can't get released from our families, so I guess there will be a lot more stories like this one in the future. Weirdo.