Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I love holidays. Especially THE holidays. But lately I've noticed more and more that people don't recognize holidays for the purpose intended. Memorial Day is seen by most as a day that we're given off so that we can have a barbeque. Easter is a day for eating chocolate and hunting for eggs. Christmas is a day that a fat man breaks into our homes and leaves toys. I realize that these are hyperbolic generalizations and many people do remember the source of these holidays, but I feel like Thanksgiving is one that's source really isn't remembered. Yes we remember the Pilgrims coming to town and getting together for a big feast with the Indians to celebrate the first harvest, but that isn't the source that I'm after. If that were the source it be would be called Feast Day or Pilgrim Day or something similar. In today's society we make the mistake of calling it Turkey Day altogether too often. But that isn't the name of the holiday. It's name is Thanksgiving.
Let's take a look at the word thanksgiving and break it down. Thanks and giving. The giving of thanks. Thankfulness is important and often people get together and express gratitude. But expressing gratitude and giving thanks are different. The verb to express differs from to give. One can express things alone, to a wall, and the action is complete, but in order to give something there has to be another party involved. So the question is, to whom do we give our thanks? The turkey? Unfortunately the poor bird is lifelessly incapable of the reception of such. I think it is clear what I'm getting at. There is but one source from which all blessings in our lives flow. There is but one fount of all the things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Do we sufficiently think to give Him thanks? Even if we say thankyou is saying it enough? I don't think so.
The holiday which we celebrate this week incites us to give thanks. In Spanish the name of this holiday is Día de Acción de Gracias. The Day of the Action of Thanks. I like that. Thanks as an action, thanks as something that is acted out is a way of thinking about this holiday that I think needs to be more prevalent. So how is this done? How do we, through our actions, give thanks to the Lord? There are many answers to this question. I have a few that are pertinent to me in my life, but I think the answers can be different for everybody and that everybody needs to come to their own conclusion.
Amulek summed things up well when he said, "That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."

Friday, November 13, 2009


All throughout my life I've disliked starlings. They are loud and obnoxious birds that commit a host of sins including preying on the eggs of other smaller and prettier birds. In the formative years of my youth I heard many stories about the pestilent nature of starlings and the various efforts made to get rid of them. I think my favorite of such stories is that told of Grandpa Dunn feeding hundreds of starlings plaster of paris and the ensuing weeks filled with dead starlings as far as the eye could see. I even recall reading a small excerpt in the New Era wherein President Monson briefly discussed (without giving any doctrinal conclusion) the ethics of shooting starlings.
I personally remember many a happy afternoon spent alone in the field behind our house chasing starlings and trying to catch them. You may ask what I planned to do with them once I'd caught them, but I didn't think that far ahead. I just knew that it was absolutely necessary that they be caught. I never did succeed despite my diving lunges.
In the fall it seemed that all the starlings in the valley would congregate in Bluffdale and fly around en masse. It was always a fascinating sight to see their complex and ever-changing formations. It was almost like a dance the way they would shift completely in sync with the thousands of others all around them.
To me starlings are linked inextricably to Bluffdale and my childhood there. So while they are a vile creature, I can't help but to think of them fondly.
I recently ran across this video that glosses over the baser aspects of starlings' existence, but shows them for the beauty they are capable of creating. While I've never seen anything of this magnitude, this rekindled that begrudging fondness I have for starlings.

Friday, October 16, 2009


In the months during which I haven't posted anything here I have, several times, contemplated and even started writing posts dedicated to the great American pastime. Yes that's right, baseball. The problem I have in discussing baseball is that I'm never able to adequately portray the beauty, majesty and magic of the game through words. Though the use of words can be a mode of communication that is both powerful and delightful, I find it lacking with respect to this subject.
It being October and with the baseball postseason in full swing I've decided that a post about baseball is necessary. Due to the fact that I lack the eloquence to fully capture this staple of American culture I've decided to post a few videos that portray that which I feel about baseball.

We start off with America's team:

Next let's see what Fred from I Love Lucy has to say:

How could I post clips about baseball and leave off The Sandlot

What says baseball better than cornflakes...and Babe Ruth?

And finally we have Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) delivering perhaps the finest treatise on baseball and its importance in America today ever written. If you watch no other clips watch this one.

"This field, this game: it's a part of our past...It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."

Thursday, October 15, 2009


So I haven't posted anything for several months. Sorry about that. This one won't be too long either but I've got something that I need to get off my chest. I don't understand why people say they "may or may not" be doing something. Do they realize that they are merely wasting our time and their breath by saying absolutely nothing? I mean I realize that they are saying that they are doing whatever it is that they are doing, but why the may or may not garbage. Why not just come out and say "I'm looking to buy a house" or "I just got a certain satisfaction out of stepping on a very crunchy leaf." But no, people have to say, "I may or may not be looking to buy a house" or "I may or may not have just gotten a certain satisfaction out of stepping on a very crunchy leaf." Are people ashamed of what's happening in their lives? I always find myself asking, well did that really happen or not? And so I've decided to start using this phrase opposite its current usage and tell people that I may or may not be doing things that are absolutely ridiculous.
I may or may not be eating whole cloves of garlic right now. I may or may not have just watched a small furry animal be eaten by an alligator. I may or may not sleep on a pile of live coals every second Thursday of the month. May or may not, you decide which because I'm not going to tell you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tu Amor Me Hace Bien.

It is well known that I often sing to myself when I am at work. Often, when I am completely absorbed in what I'm doing, someone comes up behind me and enjoys the show which I am providing free of charge. There was the famous incident the summer before my mission when I was weeding the wild strawberries south of the Student Athlete Building. As I was doing so, and singing to myself "Play That Funky Music White Boy," Bronco Mendenhall stopped behind me to enjoy my dulcet tones. How long he was there I'll never know. Once I became aware of his presence he asked me with a wry grin what the plants were that I was weeding. I told him and he continued on. For some reason I didn't learn my lesson that day, for today it happened again.

Today's incident however did not take place while I was working on the grounds crew, rather it occurred as I was roving the Museum of Art. Now usually I am very careful to not sing aloud or do any other such actions unfit for a man in uniform. I have been known, on occasion, to conduct with sweeping motions the unseen symphonies that serenade the museum from on high...the PA system. But as for singing aloud, I have, until today, managed to keep such actions to a minimum.

I'm not sure what it was that incited my behavior today. The best I can guess is that the emptiness of the museum, when mixed with the Spanish music that was running through my head all day due to it being Cinco de Mayo, caused a chemical (yes chemical) reaction within my being that inspired me to serenade the world around me.

At around three o'clock as I was on the third floor roaming the galleries that play host to the Southwest American Art exhibition, the religious art, and the American Dreams exhibit. At this time these three galleries were completely empty. As such I, having already finished the NY Times Crossword for the day, was in desperate need of something to entertain my mind while pacing the galleries. As I'm sure you've guessed, I began to sing. Not loudly by any means, just kind of a low hum that only I could hear. But as the minutes passed I began to sing more and more loudly. Now I never got to the point where I was singing full voice, but I was definitely within hearing range of anyone who happened to venture into the galleries. As I was doing this, a piece of art in the Southwest Art exhibit caught my eye and I stopped to examine it. (It was a painting of some Russians. Why it's hanging there with all the Indian portraits and desert landscapes I've yet to understand.) My distraction caused that I left the American Dreams gallery vacant for several minutes, and those several minutes were all it took.

As I revived from my Russian-peasant-painting induced torpor and continued my circuit, I struck up a lively Salsa tune that was wildly popular in Guayaquil during the Christmas of '06. As I was thus engaged serenading what might as well have been a street full of drunk Ecuadorians, I turned the corner into the American Dreams gallery, and there stood a stately older gentleman and his proper little wife beside him, beaming fervently at me. Taken aback at their unexpected presence I quickly ceased my singing. There ensued an awkward moment of silence as I looked at them, unsure of how to act, and they at me with obvious pleasure. The woman broke this silence by saying to me kindly, "You have a lovely voice. Was that Spanish?" I thanked her and replied in the affirmative. They nodded to me knowingly and continued their perusal of the art grinning broadly.

Many a lesser man may have been ashamed at this point. Now I am under no delusions of the quality of my voice. I can carry a tune and read music, but the quality of the sound produced by my lungs is average at best. Having given up social inhibitions for Lent, I suppose I've hardened myself to the point where little that I do causes me shame. I wasn't, at this moment, at all ashamed to have been caught singing, "Ay como te quiero, ay como te adoro, ay lolita linda, tu eres mi tesoro." Heart warming I know. It was my pleasure to have been the means of brightening the day of a couple of older folks out on their date night...afternoon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


It being the first day of April, 2009, and my post bearing the title snow, one might think that that which here follows will be a diatribe bemoaning the wintry evidences present all around me. Honestly that was my original intent. But I've experienced somewhat of a paradigm shift with respect to the snow and the influence it has over my life right now. In talking about this new point of view I have four thoughts.
First of all, as I was walking from my American literature class to the library not 15 minutes ago, as the snow was descending gently, I couldn't help but to notice the looks of dismay and outright disgust on the faces of my classmates. They seemed to view the snow as an affront and a hinderance to their happiness. Seeing such an overwhelming preponderance of sulleness about campus I, in spite of the weather, found myself amused. What good is complaining about something over which you have no power? These people are letting something that is completely out of their control determine their outlook on today. (Insert comment here about not letting anything or anybody outside of your dominion determine who you are and how you view and live life.)
My second thought is that we, living here in the great state of Utah, are in a desert. Such being the case we don't have the luxury of complaining about moisture falling from the heavens, no matter the form in which it descends. I would much rather have the tip of my nose be cold and have rosy cheeks now, than suffer the agonizing effects of a parched summer.
This lead me to think about a passage from the Book of Mormon where Nephi, the son of Helaman, tells of the great nothingness of man in saying that we are less than the dust of the earth, "For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God" (Helaman 12:8). The snow is as the dust of the earth for it merely does what our great and everlasting God tells it to do. The elements are a product of his hands and act according to his will. If we see fit to complain about the snow, we are really complaining about the will of God and saying that we know better than God what the world needs. A truly prideful mindset and one worthy of the rebuke given Paul "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5). (There are probably many other scriptures that would be more apropos in this situation, but I like "kick against the pricks." It's imagery strikes me as humorous, as well as poignant.) If it's snowing in April, it's because God wants it to snow in April. That's good enough for me.
Lastly, I find the fact that it is snowing on April 1 to be a further boon to my testimony of the fact that God has a sense of humor. I can hear it now, a tremendous thundering voice echoing across the vast expanse of eternity, "APRIL FOOLS!!!" Followed by raucous laughter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Professor Wood cracked

This post comes in relation to the last. In my previous post I mentioned how stoic professors are in the face of incredible temptation to laugh. Yesterday I was witness as one of my professors folded under the pressure to remain aloof. Yes, she laughed...kind of.
It happened in my Dickins class. (Yes I'm in a class devoted entirely to Charles Dickins.) There's a girl in my class that makes this funky noise every single time class is held. At first you think she's just hiccuping, but then the hiccup increases in volume as well as duration until she's shrieking. The noise that she makes sounds like a mixture of a corpse, post-mortem, gasping for air and the sound that Shiz surely made as he, after he had had his head cut off, "raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." (Ether 15:31) Only imagine that sound increased in volume and occuring in the middle of a discussion about the societal criticism made by the masterful pen of Dickins. It's distracting sometimes and hilarious...always. As for what causes this regularly occuring death-rattle, Will, one of my classmates, and I have several theories, but due to their superfluous nature in relation to this story, I shan't share them, unless asked.
Anyway, the first couple of times this happened in class, I grinned broadly and looked at the young lady to see her reaction. She always just sat back in her chair and pretended that nothing had happened. (Be it known that this class is held in a classroom where we students sit in groups around tables. I'm not straining my neck or anything to look around at this girl, she just happens to sit right in my line of sight.) After a while I grew accustomed to this rather noisy ritual, and have more recently been able to keep any visual evidences of my mirth within. This has been one of the occurences of which I spoke in my last post which, to my consternation, has never caused the slightest interruption in my professor's flow of speech; until yesterday.
After making some profound statement about the significance of the bells in Dickins' The Chimes, Professor Wood paused dramatically. Right as this pause was gaining steam and increasing the gravity of what had just been said, the great shrieking gasp was set loose upon the class. It was a virtuosic production. Caught off guard, Professor Wood let out a loud guffaw. I was stunned. She quickly swallowed the guffaw, but by interupting it before it had run its full course she caused a kind of loud thumping noise within her chest. This only increased the hilarity of the situation. She looked horrified. After a lightning-quick glance around the room, Professor Wood gathered herself and continued on with the class discussion. Everyone but Will and myself sat attentively as if nothing had happened. It was astounding. Why was not everyone rolling around on the floor unable to contain their mirth? I was amusedly perplexed. I caught Will's eye and was forced to look away rapidly to avoid a sudden outburst of raucous laughter.
After class had ended Will and I discussed this experience and we came to the conclusion that the rest of our class is peopled with zombies. It's the only possible explanation. How else could they fail to see the humor in the situation? As for Professor Wood, she's given me hope. Perhaps it is permissable for a professor to have a sense of humor; as long as they're willing to fight off the undead.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Deterrent

I'm an English major. I love seeing people's reactions when I tell them that. They go from kind of confused to overly supportive every time. It's hilarious. Anyway the most common question people ask me upon finding out what I study is, "So...uh...what are you gonna do with that? Teach?" People can't fathom being able to live off of amazing abilities to critically analyze life and synthesize such criticism into real life situations. Anyway, I usually tell them that I'm leaning towards getting an advanced degree and, yes, teaching as a professor. However, this tentative goal hit a speed bump this week. As a result, I'm not sure I could teach.
This speed bump came as I was in my Spanish Literature class on Thursday. We were doing a kind of group presentation on a play called La Casa de Bernarda Alba. Everything was going along fine. I explained my part about how the little lamb that the crazy grandma carries around is actually a symbol of Christ and how it, when juxtaposed with what the Grandma says, is a scathing denunciation of Franco's fascist rule in Spain and categorized it as being un-Christian. Then it happened.
First, be it known that this class is 90 minutes long and starts at 4 pm so, lamentably, many of the students, exhausted from their extensive studious endeavors, fall asleep in class. I would be lying to say that I did not find myself in their company.
Anyway, after I finished my little analysis, our professor began explaining something to the class while my group and I continued to stand up in front. It was then that a slumbering young man, who was sitting in the desk directly in front of me, nearly fell out of his chair and jerked himself violently awake. The professor was talking about something fairly serious and to smile, not to mention laugh, would have been totally inappropriate. As such I struggled mightily with myself to not laugh aloud. I succeeded in making no noise, but being a mirthful fellow inclined to laugh given the slightest prompting, my efforts to conceal my laughter caused slight, yet plainly visible, twitches of the body, while a smile of epic proportions spread itself quickly across my face. There was nothing I could do. For the life of me I know not how my classmates were able to keep straight faces during these events. As I caught the eye of one of my friends in the class Steve, I could see that he too was laughing silently. But being hidden from view of the professor (he wasn't up front with me) he could do so unabashedly.
Anyway, after class I approached the professor and apologized for my gaiety. He just looked at me funny and said he hadn't noticed anything. I didn't explain.
As I was mulling this over in my mind I began to remember times that I have done just exactly what this young man had done. I remembered the time the girl sitting next to me in my astronomy class nudged me awake because my loud breathing was distracting. A plethora of such occurrences flooded my mind, and I set myself to thinking about the professors witnessing them. How had they kept straight faces? And more importantly, how would I ever be able to so? I honestly don't know.
Maybe I should watch CNN more often, that would definitely somber me right up.