Sunday, December 26, 2010

lines composed on the couch at Christmas

the best part of Christmas
is lounging on the couch
after everyone has gone to bed

when the house is still
and nothing breaks the silence
but the hum of the fridge

then, alone, truly alone
sitting motionless on the couch
there is peace

and chocolate.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Ruminations

Ever since I read Great Expectations as a teenager, Charles Dickens has been one of my favorite authors. He has a way of wording things that is just right. Sometimes he waxes a bit verbose and some of his lengthier descriptions wouldn't be harmed by a bit of editing, to be sure; but I feel like many times he speaks (writes) the language of my soul. This was further made clear to me when I had the opportunity to take a class devoted to his novels. That was a happy semester indeed. Today, Christmas Eve, as I was rereading his A Christmas Carol, as per my annual tradition, his authorial preeminence stood out to me yet again as he cut through the fluff and non-essential baggage that comes with Christmas and made clear why we celebrate the holiday and what our Christian duty is as a result of our celebration of the same; for truly there is work to do for all Christians as a result of that which we celebrate this blessed time of year.

The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price teaches us that God's work and purpose is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." God exists to work in our behalf so that we might all have access to that most precious of all gifts: eternal life. He works for mankind and invites us to do the same. Dickens seems to sing the same tune as Marley's ghost, having just been told by Scrooge that he was "a good man of business," bemoans his wasted life by talking about his, and our, true business in life:
"Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!...Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"

How often do we stop and realize what our life's "business" really ought to be focused on? In the fast-paced, money-oriented economic world in which we live, how often do we slow down to notice the plight of our fellow men? Do we truly see that we ought to work with God in helping our brothers and sisters realize their eternal potential? How often do we have opportunities to bless the lives of those around us, in even the smallest ways, and we pass on by, unaware of lost opportunities? I realize that I can speak for no one but myself, but I know that I personally can do a lot better in following the light of "that blessed Star" in doing the will of Him whom it represents.

My favorite section of the story comes as Scrooge, the ever-shrewd business man who is constantly focused on the bottom-line and on ascertaining whether any activity or event has the potential to increase his net worth, has just called his nephew a fool for going about on Merry Christmas because doing so has never done anyone any financial good. To this the nephew responds with, to me, the finest treatise on the true meaning of Christmas to be found in all of secular literature:

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

The optimism of the nephew gives hope for humanity. And, indeed, as we take time to look about us during the Christmas season we can see that there is an increase in acts of charity, in the familiar sense of the word, and people do seem to do a better job of taking notice of those "fellow-passengers to the grave." (I love that phrase) Just a week or two ago I was discussing this fact with one of my roommates and we decided that while this tendency to be more charitable and loving during the Christmas season is nice, wouldn't it be even better if that sentiment pervaded our lives year-round. As the Ghost of Christmas Present sings in the Muppets' portrayal of Dickens' classic, "It is the season of the heart, a special time of caring, the ways of love made clear. It is the season of the spirit. The message, if we hear it, is make it last all year." Scrooge himself, a redeemed man, says near the end of the story, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." We need to learn to "open our shut-up hearts freely" all year long and be always ready and willing to help those around us in any way possible.

Jesus Christ's birth is the reason for our celebrations of the season. The fact of Jesus' birth, while miraculous in its own right, merely points to the purpose of his life. He lived to serve others. To help the downtrodden. To give hope to those who had none. Ultimately, with His atoning sacrifice He personally created the path that we must all take if we are to obtain to eternal life. Christmas is a celebration of Christ's triumph over death and hell. Christ's triumph gives us all hope for eternal happiness together with Him and His Father as well as with our families and loved ones. Knowledge of Christ's plan of salvation brings such incredible joy and hope. Would we not do well to be ever ready and willing to actively share that hope, "to
give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you"? Christ is the reason. Let's share His light with those poor homes in darkness. I feel like that is what it means to live Christmas well.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I think literary theorists hate students. The feeling is mututal. Take Althusser for example:

"All ideology is centred, that the Absolute Subject occupies the unique place of the Centre, and interpellates around it the infinity of individuals into subjects in a double mirror-connexion such that it subjects the subjects to the Subject, while giving them in the Subject in which each subject can contemplate its own image (future and present) and guaratee that this really concerns them and Him."

I just read that sentence (yeah, it was just one sentence) over and over again for the last 5-10 minutes trying to glean some kind of meaning from it. I failed.

I can imagine the scene. Here's Althusser, sitting at a table late at night in a dimly-lit, underground Parisian pub (do they have pubs in France?) surrounded by his beady-eyed Marxist buddies. While brainstorming ways that he might obfuscate any possible meaning in his writings because he knew that generations of students living under a capitalist regime would attempt to study his writings, he decides that a particularly effective strategy would be to use the word "subject" as many times as possible and with as many different usages as possible in one sentence, thereby frustrating the hell out of the previously-mentioned capitalist student scum and making them pay for adhering to such an awfully incorrect economic and political ideology.

Anyway, I'd better get back to estudying. I just needed to vent about how much I hate theory and how much I'm not going to miss these ivory tower scumbags and their overly narcissistic and often atheistic views of the world. I think that every time a theorist dies, Lucifer gleefully stokes the flames of purgatory in anticipation of said theorist's arrival. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Extremely Loud

I'm not talking about how I like to listen to Battle Without Honor Or Humanity as loud as I can when walking across campus while pausing and stepping dramatically at all the right times to match the score...but I do that too. I'm talking about the first in a series of two phrases that makes up the title of one of my favorite books. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This is one of the three books that I recommend when requested for a recommendation. (The other two are My Name Is Asher Lev and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). I wouldn't say they are my absolute favorite three books (they've gotta fight with Dickens and Twain to make that list), but they certainly are up there. I think that they are three books that everybody can relate to and from whose pages everyone can glean valuable insight about life. Coincidentally two of them were written by Jews. If I weren't Mormon I think I'd be Jewish. But I digress.

I recently lent my copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to a friend. She finished it and she brought it back last week. Having it in my hands once again I flipped through it, remembering some of my favorite parts.

Do you ever have that experience where there's some aspect of your life that you struggle to wrap your head around for a long time and never can quite get the hang of--something that every time you try to explain it to someone, or write about it yourself, you just get frustrated at your inability to bend the language to your will and accurately describe what you're feeling? And then you read some book that you've heard is a decent read, and you find that some author, someone you have never met and don't know from Adam, has taken a good long look into your soul and phrased that ambiguous something perfectly?

For some reason when this happens to me I experience equal parts euphoria and rage. I always imagine it to be a faceless bohemian author sitting at a street cafe in Europe. He's just jotting down these little nuggets of literary gold on a napkin as if it were some little ditty that he can't get out of his head. He does it so quickly and so simply that it would seem as if the turn of phrase that he's just composed, and that I've been searching for endlessly, was a commonly held piece of knowledge and that he was merely transcribing it from the great ethereal nothingness as easy as tying his shoe. How does he do it? It's infuriating. But at the same time it's comforting to know that there are people out there that do this. But, again, I've digressed.

Back to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. There's a section of this book that made me experience what I've just described. I'd forgotten it until this weekend, but thankfully Foer, through the voice of a remarkable little boy named Oskar, brought it back.

Here 'tis:

"What if the water that came out of the shower was treated with a chemical that responded to a combination of things, like your heart beat, and your body temperature, and your brain waves, so that your skin changed color according to your mood?...Everyone could know what everyone else felt, and we could be more careful with each other, because you'd never want to tell a person whose skin was purple that you're angry at her for being late, just like you would want to pat a pink person on the back and tell him, 'Congratulations!' ...there are so many times when you know you're feeling a lot of something, but you don't know what the something is. Am I frustrated? Am I actually just panicky? And that confusion changes your mood, it becomes your mood, and you become a confused, gray person. But with the special water, you could look at your orange hands and think, I'm happy! That whole time I was actually happy! What a relief!"

I'd try to elaborate on this one but I can't. I'd fall short and in doing so would just muddy the waters. Suffice it to say, I've been there. I know what he's saying.

Sometimes I want that water.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reasons Why Special Collections is the Best Place to Study

1) The chairs around the tables have arm rests.
2) There are cool looking old books all over the place.
3) There are cool looking old people all over the place.
4) There are sculptures and other cool art works all over the place.
5) I'm studying next to a griffin.
6) There's a grandfather clock in the corner that chimes ever 15 minutes.
7) This quote is sitting on the table, "Reading makes immigrants of us all -- it takes us away from home, but more important, if finds homes for us everywhere." - Hazel Rochman.
8) The kid sitting at the table next door has a cell phone that keeps making noises that make me feel like I'm in an early 90s video game.
9) Airplane mode for the cell phone. Which of course means airplane mode for Sam. Airplane mode for Sam means I pretend I'm a little boy laying on my stomach on the swings who is pretending to fly an airplane. Airplane mode makes life more exciting. Especially when Maggie shakes the table to simulate turbulence.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

pressing questions that have arisen as I've been writing (procrastinating) a term paper

How do we know that elephants never forget?
How do we know that elephants are afraid of mice?
Who is doing these fascinating elephant studies?
How did this researcher get his or her findings to take such a prominent place in collective American knowledge?
Why is it so hard to focus on writing a term paper even though it is due tomorrow and I'm still far from the finish line?

Friday, December 3, 2010


I just woke up. It's 1:23 am. I'm in the library. I know it's time to come home from the library when I get to that point where, if I were home on the couch I'd just nestle in and be done for the night. I would totally climb up on this table right now, shut my eyes again and sleep on the 5th floor all night if they would let me. But they won't...Just fell asleep again. Now it's 1:43 am. I'm going home. I don't wanna go to class tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alarm Clocks

Last night I set the alarm on my phone for 7:08 AM, 7:15 AM, and 7:39 AM. I set three alarms for a reason. The first alarm is just a warning. It's saying, "alright Sam, you're gonna be gettin up soon." The second alarm is the real sign for me to throw back the covers and grace the new morning with my presence. The third alarm is a safety net in case alarms 1 and 2 fail. If I'm up by 7:40 AM, I still have time to get up, dress, brush my teeth and be to class on time. All of this careful preparation is done with the intention of waking up in time for my 8:00 AM class on American literary modernism. Even though this has become a bit of a bored routine, I was actually really excited to go to class this morning for several reasons: 1) I had actually completed all of the reading, 2) I had found the reading fascinating, and 3) I really enjoy this class, as much for the professor teaching it as for the subject material.
So this morning at 7:08 in the AM the dulcet tones of Dave Brubeck's Take Five gently roused me from sleep. As I woke up I ran my daily diagnostic analysis and decided I wasn't hungry. Thus I made the decision to skip breakfast in order to enjoy a few extra minutes of sweet repose. So I grabbed my phone reset alarm 2 from 7:15 AM to 7:23 AM and nestled back into the comfort my pillow and blanket. I instantly fell back asleep assured that my phone would do its duty and bring me back 'round at the appropriate hour. But my phone betrayed me.
I don't know what I'd done to offend it. Maybe considering I've allowed it to die a time or two it had so hardened its affections towards me that it felt the need to exact revenge. Maybe it's seen me giving more attention to other electronic devices such as my laptop and ipod and it's gotten jealous. Maybe it was tired of me taking it for granted and sleeping through its daily reminders to wake up. Or maybe 8 human months equates adolescence in phone years and it's just going through a rebellious phase. Whatever the case may be, it decided not to carry out its assignments with regards to alarms 2 and 3, and I slept on unperturbed.
A while later I came out of deep sleep into semi-consciousness with the thought, "Man this has been a long 15 min." I blindly reached for my phone and my sleepy eyes struggled to focus on the leering face of this self-important Benedict Arnold. As the blurs merged into one, I read 8:02 AM and immediately jumped out of bed, adrenalin coursing through my body. Thinking a series of unmentionable evils towards the world of electronics in general, I pulled on my pants and shoes, grabbed a notebook and a pen and raced to class, arriving at 8:10 AM.
Later during class, as I sat with my classmates discussing Richard Wright's visit to Indonesia, I pulled my phone out and looked at it. How could it have betrayed me? How had I missed the warning signs that our relationship had grown cold? What might I have done to prevent this travesty? More importantly, was the trust gone forever? Would I ever be able to sleep well at night knowing that such an occurrence might repeat itself? I reviewed the alarm settings in despair and was inspired to vow two things: 1) I will never again take for granted a properly functioning alarm clock. 2) I will always make sure alarms 2 and 3 are, in fact, set to AM and not PM.

Monday, November 8, 2010

On Being Old and Reading all the Time.

Sometimes I want to fast forward to this stage of life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sonograms and Love Jones

So recently I've been thinking about the different personal filters that people employ when deciding which aspects of their life they deem appropriate for posting on social networking sites like facebook and twitter. I don't believe that there are any hard and fast rules about this, and more often than not I can jive with pretty much anything, but there are times when I read things that make it through the filter and can't help but to marvel.
The example that most recently brought up this question: "Just got back from my first sonogram. No baby yet." I just want to go up to this girl who had a love jones for my freshman year roommate and ask her why she thought sharing that information was a good idea. Does she realize the many implications of what she is saying? The undesired insights into her life to which we are now privy?
...I could go to greater lengths about the different ways in which this phrase could be understood, and I had originally intended to discuss the subject of the need of stricter filters at greater length, but something else has caught my attention. I just decided that this post would do better to be dedicated to talking about the phrase "love jones." Rather than explaining this phenomenon myself, I'll let "The Brighter Side of Darkness" do it for me. Take it away gentlemen.

Can we please bring back Soul Train?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Belated Father's Day Musings

So I haven't blogged for a while. I decided today that I would, so I sat down to my computer and pulled up my blog. Now while I haven't actually posted anything, there have been several times when I've jotted down a few thoughts. I decided that I'd look over old unpublished blog entries for a creative spark. There I found this post that was completely finished, but which for some reason I'd never posted. It seems all the more appropriate that I post it now since my parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. So here it is, my thoughts about my parents written about 3 1/2 months ago.

Yesterday was Father's Day. Maybe it's the curse of being an English Major but I feel like I am much more capable at expressing myself through the written word as opposed to the spoken. Such being the case I feel like today, as was the case with Mother's Day a few weeks ago, I didn't adequately express the love and gratitude that I have for my parents. I am therefore going to do my best to do so right now.
I have the best parents in the world. I know that that kind of thing gets said a lot, and I know that it all comes down to how you define the word best. I'm not trying to discount the greatness of anyone else's parents, but I guess what I'm saying is I have the best parents in the world, for me. They have taught and continue to teach me some of life's greatest lessons, and they usually do it with seemingly innocuous actions and words rather than well-rehearsed sermons or carefully crafted set-ups. Their their daily walk and talk is all it takes.
I'll give an example from the recent past. A little under a month ago Mom and Dad and Maurianne and I were making the annual Memorial Day trek up to Bear Lake, Idaho to decorate the graves of our Dunn family members. While on the way back we stopped in Montpelier to fill up on gas. Mom filled up the car's tank while Dad, Maurie and myself emptied our own. We all piled back into the car and headed on out of town, past Ovid and up Emigration Canyon. As we got to about the summit of the canyon, a good 45 minutes to an hour outside of Montpelier, Mom exclaimed that she hadn't paid for the gas and that we had left without paying for it. My immediate reaction was first to think, "well, we made it this far without anyone realizing, might as well continue on." Then, realizing that such a course of action would be dishonest I thought, "maybe we could stop at the next Chevron down the road and pay for it there." Dad, however, had a different idea. Without saying a word he pulled the car over and began to turn around. There wasn't a second's hesitation. A debt was owed and it would was to be paid, as soon as humanly possible, to the wronged party. I could tell that he wasn't thinking things over like I was. He didn't have to. The reaction was immediate. Personal integrity was being called into question, and I could see that, for Dad, integrity wasn't in fact a question, it was a way of life. Whereas I was personally hemming and hawing, Mom and Dad acted immediately to right the wrong. The course of action was clear and unanimous; we were headed back to Montpelier. Upon turning around Mom remembered that she had in fact paid for the gas and that all was indeed well. So we pulled back onto the road and continued onward. While everyone acted as though nothing significant had happened, I learned a great lesson that day. I came to a better understanding of the fact that my parents do indeed live by Shakespeare's words, delivered via Julius Caesar, which say, "I love the name of honour more than I fear death." They do. I, apparently, would do well to make improvements in that area.
This is just one example of the many that might be given of times when Mom and Dad, unbeknownst to them, have taught, through the way they live their lives, the characteristics of a life well lived. I'm positive that anyone who has interacted with either of them to any extent has stories to share about a lesson learned from them.
Mom and Dad have always been supportive of me and the things that I decide to do in my life, even if such decisions include choosing to be a major which, as we all know, at very best leads to life under a freeway overpass with naught but limp and somewhat damp refrigerator box as shelter. When I make stupid mistakes they're there to help me figure out ways to right the ship. When I dress or act in ways that would embarrass a large majority of the human population, they might shake their heads with a bit of disapproval, but I always know that their love is undiminished.

Mom and Dad, I may not say it enough, but I love you. Thank you for all that you do and are.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

3:35 a.m.

In David's words, as written upon my facebook wall, it is the Devil's own hour. I'm not exactly sure what that means but it fills me with a feeling of hopeless abandon and dread. I don't plan to sleep tonight. I didn't sleep much last night. I don't know when sleep became an option rather than a requirement, but I'm rather put-off by its demotion to such a status. I love to sleep. I do so every chance I get irregardless of location. (yes I intentionally used that word widely regarded as a heinous abomination to the English language. It is after 3 am after all)
My objective tonight is to finish a paper on the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Nuyorican Poetry in general as well as write a 4 page personal statement intended for a graduate school admissions board. These are interesting subjects to be sure, but I'll be glad when this is all over and I can sleep. Which sleep will allow me to dream the sweet dreams of a man unburdened of scholastic care. Were it not for Powerade and Cheetos I'd be a lost cause right now.
Sometimes I try to envision myself in the future looking back on these sleepless nights. I can't help but to think I'll look back on them fondly as a formative part of my past. Perhaps I'll look back at them and laugh at my folly for being such a prodigious procrastinator.
My late-night counterpart Jordan just gave up and went to bed, intent on awakening early to finish up the last of his paper. I'm just going to power on through and finish up as best I can.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Contents of my backpack. April 5, 2010; 11:24 a.m.

What I have:
1 toothbrush
1 pair of binoculars
1 handful of pecans
1 Spanish Hymnbook
2 books of Nuyorican poetry
1 USB Drive
4 trapper keeper folders
1 legal pad
1 Daily Uni-farce
1 Indesign install cd
1 pamphlet entitled "Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Obama Administration"
3 peanut M&Ms
1 Brochure for Aspen Therapy
2 pairs of dirty clothes

What I need:
1 pen OR
1 highlighter

I feel like I belong in an Alanis Morissette song or something.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I've learned through the first month of the semester

1. Grammar is cool and interesting. I subscribe to the e e cummings school of thought when it comes to grammar; it can be used however you darn well please. However, the study of grammar in a rhetorical setting is fascinating. Grammar is an integral part to making your argument clearly and effectively.
2. There is little that is as relaxing and thought-clearing as going to a beat-up basketball court by the train tracks and shooting around for an hour or so. This is best achieved after 9:00 PM but can be beneficial during daylight hours as well.
3. Chicano is derogatory, Latino is better, but hyphen-American is best. (I dislike this one. I think we should all consider ourselves as one cohesive unit of Americans without any title or distinction based on race. Lamentably such is the status quo.)
4. The illegal immigration debate isn't as black and white as I'd once thought.
5. Eva Cassidy has joined Ella Fitzgerald, Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Enya (yes Enya) in the ranks of women with dreamy voices.
6. Audrey Hepburn is the American dream woman. (I already knew this one, but it has hit home with greater force of late.)
7. The Law of Consecration is difficult and we often don't live up to its standards as well as we're capable.
8. The planting of tulip and hyacinth bulbs, while best to be taken care of in the fall, is an extremely enjoyable task when undertaken surreptitiously in the dead of night in snow covered dirt.
9. Banana chairs rock my world.
10. Despite having hundreds of pages of homework reading to do, one can always find time to read for personal enjoyment. Even if it's just flipping through seed catalogs whilst on the commode.
11. People like my hair long. I do sometimes, but I'm getting the urge to cut it super short, like a dog shedding its winter coat.
12. Being the activities committee co-chair isn't actually so bad.
13. It is not actually possible to suck your own eyes out of your head using only your hands and your mouth. (No this was not learned by experience)
14. Fresh foods taste better than canned and packaged ones.
14a. There is such a thing as too much macaroni and cheese, which thing I never had supposed.
15. I still dream in Spanish.
16. Seeing tulips and daffodils poking their little heads out of the ground brings hope and joy difficult to equal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Witch Is Not To Be Blamed

So for my Rhetoric of Grammar class read a piece by the Ancient Greek sophist Gorgias in which he defended Helen (of Troy) and claimed that she wasn't at all to blame for the bad things that she is usually associated with. Well my Professor assigned us to try and copy his style, in all of its florid grandeur, to do the same with a persona of our choosing. The person we were to defend was supposed to be someone who is traditionally looked down upon for some seemingly unforgivable crime or flaw. My classmates all chose actual figures from history or pop culture such as Britney Spears, Napoleon, and Michael Jackson. I took a somewhat different route, I chose to defend the witch from Grimm's Hansel and Gretel. Here follows a copy of that defense. (Bear in mind this was written late at night/early in the morning and, at some points, lacks clarity. I apologize for this.)...(Also I realize some of the rhetorical tropes such as alliteration are very over top. Such was Gorgias' style.)

Encomium of the Witch from Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel


[1] Perhaps the clearest of all evils that we have been taught to avoid is the old woman living alone in the woods. These old women have, western cultural and artistic expression, been treated with a harshness that is hardly deserved. From Aesop to Anderson, Mother Goose to Grimm, Disney to Dreamworks these poor women, who merely strive to live their lives as best they know, are vilified and demonized, denigrated and victimized time and again. Ultimately they are denounced, denunciated and damned to the life (if they are lucky) or death (if they are luckier) of those unlucky enough to be labeled with that most hideous title, witch. While many share this sad fate, the kindly old grandmotherly “witch” from Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel stands out for the unfair denouncement she receives at the hands of society in being labeled a witch and being forced to suffer the consequences thereof, namely death by fire. My wish with this piece, though I have but little time to bring this wish to full fruition, is to set forth the innocence of Grimm’s witch with respect to the charge of maliciously cooking and eating children and show her to be as free from guilt as the innocents she purports to have born ill will.


[2] We know not anything about this witch. Her hopes, her fears, that which she enjoys and that which brings her tears all remain a mystery to us. We but know the overly biased and propagandistic viewpoint perpetuated unashamedly by the fairy tale teller. We know only that she lives in a home constructed of all the good foods that could possibly be imagined, she has, in the past, been known to consume children, and that she has threatened to do the same with Hansel and Gretel. But as for her character, the woman inside, she could have been anyone. We can’t know with certainty who she is. However, in Grimm’s writing there is still evidence enough to exonerate the witch, and show that she deserved not the fiery end to which she was condemned. While her actions are known well the world around, it is the motives driving her actions that tell the true story. While motives can only be inferred, there is evidence of those motives, which I will present, that prove conclusively that she is worthy of vindication.


[3] The eating of children is a heinous offense which is not easily overlooked, but the witch of the tale cannot be held responsible without first accounting for her circumstances and motives. Whether it was result of the economic hard time, that she was aged far past her prime, or that she had a fantastic recipe featuring children and a hint of thyme, clearly, she was not guilty of any crime.


[4] Hard times bring out the savage inner beast in all of mankind. When food is scarce and the little that there is doesn’t come close to making it all the way around the table, the world, as with one common consent, divides up into two parties, the strong and the weak. The strong make a show of looking out for the weak, but in the end, the weak fall victim to the strong. It’s survival of the fittest. Lamentable though the fact may be, children are not the fittest and often do not survive. Hansel and Gretel had been abandoned to the mercy of the barbarian beasts of the forest by their parents. The children, having little chance of survival, were actually shown mercy by the old witch, for she adopted these young abandoned and gave them all they could eat. It matters not that she was just taking care that that fresh "meat" not go to waste. In such hungry times, she could hardly be blamed. In the end, the witch was merely doing that which was necessary for her to ensure her place among the fittest. She is far from the first to take to this course of action. The Jews during the Roman’s siege of Jerusalem resorted to a resembling course of action. The Irish were instigated to the same by Swift. If, then, the witch was but ensuring prolongation of her life, and in doing so following a previously established pattern for life in hard times, she must surely be acquitted of these supposed crimes.

[5] But if it was age that had driven the witch to be a bit touched in the head, she surely should not be shamed by facing the fate of a fiend blessed with all Earthly faculties. We dedicate great buildings and give much monetary support to institutions that immure the elderly so as to prevent them from being a danger to themselves and the community. If the witch was such a hazard to children, why was she left on her own? Clearly, then, the fault for the near death by baking of Hansel and Gretel lies directly with the witch’s own children. They faulted in allowing her to live alone and on her own at such an advanced age. Therefore, if unaware of what she’d done due to an aged lack of rational thought, the witch’s guilt ought clearly be set at naught.

[6] But the blame may reside in the fact that the witch owned a particularly tasty recipe for baked children. If this be true, then fault for her homicidally cannibalistic tendencies is surely not her own, but nature’s, for making her subject to her own appetites. While the capable cook is a tender young child’s best friend, a tender young child is a capable cook’s main course. A good dish is, in the best of times, hard to pass up. Passing up a great one, at times such as these, would be nigh unto impossible, especially if the main ingredient happened to wander to your house and take up residence with little to no persuasion.


[7] Clearly the Grimm’s witch of Hansel and Gretel fame has been undeservedly on the receiving end of much bad press. I have shown unequivocally that she was not at fault for her misdeeds. I have achieved what I set out to do and derive much pleasure in having done so.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Social Stigmas and Fruit Snacks

Last year around this time I often joked that I was going to give up social inhibitions for Lent. This came about because our culture deems unacceptable many activities with no obvious rational. Take skipping for example. Skipping is an activity that is considered thoroughly unmasculine and unacceptable for anyone over the age of 8. The only exception being if you find yourself in a field with daisies stretching out as far as the eye can see with a rainbow overhead and a jovial-faced sun looking on with a twinkle in its eye. I disagree with this social stigma. Anyone who has actually ever used skipping as a means of getting from here to there will tell you that it is quite physically demanding once you get past the first 7 or 8 skips. While on the topic of skipping I'd like to take this opportunity to challenge any and all interested to a skip race. Just know that I will dominate you. Skipping is just an example of many societal stigmas that are completely unfounded. While there are some such unjustified social norms, there are others that are, in fact, well-founded and are completely understandable. I submit the screaming of obscenities in public as an example. However, there is yet another category of social faux pas, those that aren't quite unacceptable, but not quite justifiable. I was recently brought face to face with one such enigma.This social stigma is one whose rationale I understand, but I'm not quite sure I accept as valid.
The societal standard in question? One must not eat food off of the ground.
To better understand the following events it must be understood that I, Samuel James Dunn, Esq., love fruit snacks. No matter the flavor, the brand, or the form they take I love them all. If ever I decide to treat myself and buy a box of fruit snack pouches, there is little chance of their lasting more than 48 hours. With that in mind, I present the following situation.
It was Monday afternoon. I had gotten up early that morning to go running before I had to be at work at 7:30 am. Having somewhat mismanaged my time in the morning I didn't eat breakfast nor pack a lunch for myself before leaving. (I was distracted by watching three of my roommates do P90X, two of whom nearly threw up from the physical exertion required of them. With some shame I admit that I found the situation somewhat humorous.) What with working for two hours, class for three hours and having returned again to work it was 3:00 pm and I had eaten naught but an apple that day. I guess what I'm trying to say is I was hungry. Quite hungry. As I was making my rounds through the art galleries, watching closely for anything out of place, my eyes lit upon a small green object on the ground up ahead. As I got closer my eyes grew larger as I saw what it was. It was a fruit snack. A small green candified portrayal of Goofy's face. It being a part of our job to pick up that which has been carelessly strewn aside by patrons I bent down to retrieve the offending object with the intent of tossing it in the rubbish bin. But as I held it in my hand and I gazed down at it, my stomach churned quietly and my famished condition was brought sharply to my recollection. I turned the fruit snack over in my hand and saw that it was clean and free from any obvious evidence of previous attempted consumption. However, as I was about to pop it in my mouth and think nothing more of it I remembered the famed 10 second rule and the fact that I had no idea how long that fruit snack had been sitting there on the gallery floor. As I thought about this, I thought about the numerous conversations I've had over the years about the validity of that same rule. I pondered the various health "risks" that might be associated with consuming this fruity piece of heaven. I decided to take it up to the info desk and ascertain my co-workers' thoughts on the subject. Kaitie was vehemently opposed to my eating it while Garrett was ambivalent and thought it'd be funny if I did. So basically they canceled each other out and I was left to decide for myself. I struggled with this dilemma for a couple of seconds and decided that the pleasure and satisfaction that is derived from eating fruit snacks far outweighed any possible risks. And I ate it.
Now before you go off judging and condemning me for this action I ask you to consider the following. I found the fruit snack in front of two different paintings of Christ, I have been vaccinated against the swine, and it was delicious. Was I in the wrong? Frankly my know the rest.