Friday, October 23, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much

When I taught at Brighton High School Seminary in the Salt Lake Valley, there was a girl there whose older 
brother had left home abruptly when he turned seventeen or eighteen never to look back.  His parents were broken-hearted, not knowing where he was or what he was doing.

One day, several years later, they saw his picture in Time Magazine in a picture of military action.

Her parents quickly got in touch with the magazine and they pursued the issue to find out where he was.

The response was from the military telling the parents the young man wanted nothing to do with them and for them to never look for him again.

I can't imagine this. They were not abusive parents, maybe a little religously zealous, but still.

I gave her the platitudes that might apply like "At least your parents have you,"   To this she replied, "That's not enough, though."

I still think about that son and how little it would take on his part, to make a difference in alot of lives.  

But then I guess it's merciful that we all don't see the damage our selfishness can cause.  Maybe not as extensive as his, for certain, but damage nonetheless.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

President Monson, the Prophet to the World

We went to a particularly inspiring Stake Conference on Sunday.  President Monson touched me deeply.  He spoke about the "Lost Batallion" of WWI having been on the River Somme some years ago.  It seems that a Batallion of men from the U.S. Army 77th Infantry Division were encircled about by the enemy yet refused to give up.  I found his talk online and found this quote: 

"Correspondents noted in their dispatches that the relieving forces seemed bent on a crusade of love to rescue their comrades in arms. Men volunteered more readily, fought more gallantly, and died more bravely.

"As I thought of these events, I found myself saying softly, How strange that war brings forth the savagery of conflict, yet inspires brave deeds of courage—some prompted by love. A tribute to those courageous deeds echoed in my mind from that ageless sermon preached on the Mount of Olives: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.),17905,4884-1,00.html

He then spoke of those lost souls who are in the midst of difficulty and loss, and he called us to find them, too.  The lost, the elderly, the sick, the lonely, the misguided.  It was such a wonderful talk.  I wish we would mobilize and do what we can to help.  There are too many people who are lost and I do believe that one day we will regret not having been of greater help to them.  

President Monson truly is a prophet.  I love to hear him talk.  Our very own Number One 80th Octegenarian.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dancing with the Henson Puppets

Hoo, boy.  I just saw "Where the Wild Things Are" and I want to hug everyone.  It's fabulous.

I was one of about ten people who saw "Being John Malkovich", and I loved that, too.  Spike Jonze is as good as his namesake.  Better, probably.  He's the director/co-writer.

I also read "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" last year which was one of my all-time favorite books.  It even made me, a non-crier, cry at the end.  That was written by Dave Eggers, and it turns out he was the co-author of the script for "Wild Things."  Whatta lifetime moment.

Back to the movie:  Sure it was a little dark and menacing at times, but so was "Up" and "Bambi".  I think that you'd want to take a great opportunity to talk to your children about their fears and worries.  And, if you think you're children are immune from much worse going on in their little pointed heads, good luck with that.  Remember the really scary guy who lived in the closet?

I think two things might be a problem.  One is that if a child doesn't get imagination, they might not get the point.  Also, judging by the little squirty kids in the theatre when I was there who were playing on the stairs, it might be boring for the really young ones.

But go to see it if you loved it when you were a kid or even if you are just familiar with it.  It's good!  At least see the matinee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over

Watched Oprah talk to Iron Mike Tyson.  It was amazing.  The man was so articulate yet so helpless.  I think that the words came from years in rehab.  But I also believed that he was manipulating no one.

He blamed no one but himself.  He said he lost God while he was in prison and implied that he regained Him, but that those three years were awful.

He talked about his rage, but seemed incapable of really blaming that but just talked about how he has decided since all of that, that he is on his way to trying just to be good.  He said he figured that that really is what everyone wants.  It would seem to me that he is right, but the problem is that everyone's route to that is different.

He talked about the death of his beautiful little daughter, and was truly broken about that.  He was wonderful as he introduced his new baby girl.  She is beautiful.  And he spoke of his other five children with such love and devotion.

Oprah talked about how she had followed his career for Stedman but that she had been horrified by his  violence.  She said she finally saw him for what he simply was:  human.  I think she's right.  I think I saw him that way for the first time, too.

Maybe the movie, Tyson, might be worth the trip to the rental store.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Whoopi Goldberg ('Not a Rape-Rape'), Harvey Weinstein ('So-Called Crime') et al. Are Saying in Their Outrage Over the Arrest of Roman Polanski


This article appeared in the October 26, 2009 edition of The Nation.

A youthful error? Yes, perhaps.
But he's been punished for this lapse--
For decades exiled from LA
He knows, as he wakes up each day,
He'll miss the movers and the shakers.
He'll never get to see the Lakers.
For just one old and small mischance,
He has to live in Paris, France.
He's suffered slurs and other stuff.
Has he not suffered quite enough?
How can these people get so riled?
He only raped a single child.

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
This man is brilliant, that's for sure--
Authentically, a film auteur.
He gets awards that are his due.
He knows important people, too--
Important people just like us.
And we know how to make a fuss.
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people's rules.
So Roman's banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl.

    I've got to send this on.  It's too good.  And remember, I love Whoopi.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Following Story is Ripped From the Pages Of ALMOST True Confessions

The great news is I bought tickets for the Elton John and Billy Joel concert at the Energy Solutions Arena next month.  Great news does not always require bad news, but I have some.  The number of tickets I bought is three and Carl and I are two.  Further, the single ticket is in a much better spot, costs almost as much as the other two combined,  and is alooooone.

This isn't the first time fiasco follows excitement at a concert at ESA.

We went to the Bob Dylan/Paul Simon concert years ago which provoked my flurry at getting tickets this time, and haste, as you know, makes Jill a dull girl.  But more on that later.

At the previous concert, BD/PS, to be specific, we were really in nosebleed.  Up in the rafters, were we, with the crazies, the hopped up and the drunks.  The concert was, of course, fabulous.  But its fabulosity didn't stop us from observing the wild scene around us.  As I recall, things were rowdy enough, but then there was some rough stuff between a guy who took umbrage at another guy who spilled beer on his date.  Then the police arrived and some other stuff happened, and we had to crane and bob and weave to see around the brouhaha and really crank our hearing aids to hear the concert.  It was totally crazy.  There were the performers, not missing a beat and the concert-goers on the floor swaying, dancing and singing along.  And we, upstairs, were in chaos.  It was glorious.

But back to the ticket buying.  SmithsTix online buying is scary.  They announce that they are going to TIME YOU OUT if you don't get on with your business, and your reservation will be given to another.  Certainly lots scarier than the police and a bunch of drunken bums.  It renders you incapable of reading the line which reads "Quantity of tickets purchased" and causes your hand to punch "This approves this charge to my credit card" without a second thought.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Me?

Authentic mental conversation:

"Why not actually put the toilet paper on the rolly thing?  Are you
too busy?"

"No.  I just don't want to right now."

"Do you really think you're going to magically want to later?"

(Sullen silence). "Stupid conscience."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hangin' With The Daughters Again

Crap.  Where did you guys go?  I blog about my vacation for a week, miss a couple of days and you drop off the planet.  I'm feeling a little insecure.  Oh, well.  Here goes.

The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers is up and running again.  I exaggerate when I say "running" as I am probably among the younger middle-ager members.  Harriett is 94 and there are others who run a close second.

But I can't explain why I like them so much.  It's not what you think.  It's not because I'm old because I don't feel old.  It seems to be because those of them who have lived so long with their brains intact seem to value life and everything about it.  They care about their ancestry, but also their families who are alive today.  And they care alot about each other.  They are also pretty funny sometimes.  Funny in a good, laugh-inducing way.

Today we talked about pioneer physicians.  It was pretty interesting, but it was really interesting and also fun when these near-one-hundred-year-old ladies laughed and talked about what went on during those waning years of the craziness of lobelia-taking, coffee-enema-having sick people.

They may not understand the technologies of today, but those things aren't especially interesting to many except for geeks, (of which I'm kinda one.)  Knowledge of Pop culture is pretty shallow, too.

I like these women alot, I think, because of their values, their information, their wisdom and really, it's because they really are "Old School", which they show is definitely a good thing.  They may not be too fast, but their feet are definitely solidly "on the ground."

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Ever-Increasing Flock

I couldn't believe my eyes.   On the church program yesterday, there was his name.  It had to be him.  How many names in the church could there be like his?  Not many, for sure, since his dad was a Dutch immigrant.  You've seen the Dutch names.  But anyway,  there he was in my nephew's ward.  We were visiting Craig and Lee-Ann since they were blessing their baby.

I taught this guy about fifteen years ago at Brighton High School in an LDS Seminary class.  Let me hasten to say I really did like him.  He was funny, for one thing, which always wins points with me.  But he did have ear piercings that you could see daylight through like the one to the right only not quite so huge.  And if you know what a "straight-edge" is, he was one of those.

The other kids really liked him too, I think, but they did cut him a wide berth since he was a little scary to them.

But there he was in church, with his cute wife and two little sons, saying the closing prayer, and looking smaller than I remember, I might add.  I hustled over to talk to him after the meeting and asked if he remembered me, and he did, though he said that was surprising since he didn't remember that many people from back then.  He was totally charming, too.

But I wasn't surprised to see him there.  I've seen it enough times before.  The first times were from my own high school days when kids, as goofy in their own ways as he was in his, turned things around and went on missions for the church and turned out to be great parents, adults and Sunday-go-to-meeting-Mormons.

But as a teacher, many former students were kind of disappointed when I was not too terribly surprised they turned out to be decent people too.  But it really happens far more often than it doesn't.  Sure, there are those poor souls who spend a lot of their lives wandering about aimlessly, or worse.

But most turn out to be quite commendable folks.  And I suspect that even those who do appear to be in trouble at any given time are still not dead, and it's not over till it's over.  The Good Shepherd does not lose his sheep and they were his long before they were ours.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Case For Brutal Honesty About Movies

Here's a movie that I would recommend that you avoid unless you want to be confused, bewildered and depressed.  Interestingly, it's a comedy.  And basically appears good-hearted, cheerful and full of appealing people throughout.

The trailer for The Invention of Lying is amusing,   There are some lovely people in it like Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and etc.  It was written by Ricky Gervais who wrote the original scripts for The Office who is both a talented writer and actor.

Ricky Gervais plays a chubby little failure with rent due, who loses his job, who loves Jennifer Garner's "out-of-his-league" character.  They live in a bizzaro-world like ours but which completely lacks the concept of lying.  Ricky's guy "invents" it and ends up with money, fame, success and the girl.  Predictable, but still appealing.  But don't be fooled.

But there are some real negatives about it that kind of ruin it.  The most malignant is that, in the interest of kindness to his dying mother, this Ricky invents God, the idea of an afterlife and reward for a good life lived.  People, who don't understand lies, believe him whole-heartedly throughout.  Gullibility rewarded.  This is never corrected.  Just harshly laid out there.  God's a lie.

Yoicks. But there are also some real flaws in development. People apparently have never had "commandments", but they seemed to live decently among themselves before learning about the "Man Upstairs" and after.  Nothing here changes.  That's bad movie-making, isn't it?   Shouldn't something  change or make a difference, or matter especially when it's introduced in the title?

And the idea of honesty in this movie seemed to actually mean "cruelty and crudity."  "You're ugly and I've never liked you" is hardly to be embraced as honesty.  It's meanness, don't you think?  But that's never cleared up.

Ricky's character is also very loveable, loving and very caring but he is the inventor of lying.  Good irony, I'd say, but that's really not developed.  If this is to show that in the name of kindness we use lies, the point is muddled.  Again, the discovery of lying doesn't seem to change much.  People remain gullible but don't start lying.  Just Ricky's guy continues on employing lies.  Yet he vascillates between using them and not, without displaying much concern or integrity or developing an awareness of their inherent use.  Kinda just arbitrarily.

And,neither lies nor honesty allow him to ultimately end up with the girl.   He just does.  Wouldn't this be an important point to make?  It's not.  All just limps along.

And did Ricky's character achieve a reward in ultimately ending up with Garner?  She's really pretty vapid and not up to the expectations that we are led to believe that Ricky's character believes in.  She's cute but not that cute.  It just didn't work.

And when you leave, you're not only a little ticked off, but kinda depressed.  Is that how you leave a happy little comedy?  I don't think it would have taken much tweaking to make it good, but none was used it would appear.  I'm just being honest.  And to be totally honest, I'm sick of thinking about this.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fodder For Carl

I'm having trouble getting back into the blog habit.  How's this for today?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Branson -- It's That Good

We're home from Branson, as of Saturday.  It was even better than we could have hoped Branson would be.  That's especially since we had almost no expectations whatsoever.  Ben, smart-aleck that he is, commented that he envisioned a giant HeeHaw stage.  Not even close to that.

Friday we saw Pierce Arrow which was about as close to country as we saw, but it was really good.  Many  types of good singing, great costumes and a wide variety of people. The comedian, who worked off and on throughout the show, was hilarious and he was clean.  Can you imagine?

And here's an info alert:  Branson is on the Ozark Plateau.  I thought before that Ozark was a perjorative, but actually, it's not.  It's a huge area that goes from Oklahoma almost to the east coast and into the south.  "Ozark" is in the name of about half the businesses in Branson including the "Ozark Trailer Park", (pause for laughter), and no one seems apologetic for it.  Speaking of businesses, I don't think there were any bars there either, or at least not very high-profile ones (the Bible Belt, remember), and I think the people there are even more conservative than they are here in Utah, which is going some.

Why do people go to Branson?  For the shows, I'd say.  There's a lot of talent in Branson.  I even heard Kristen Chynoweth on Glee muse that she might go to Branson.  It's that good.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sixties Recall

The Rankin Brothers sing my songs. The old Righteous Brothers, Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Chuck Berry, Simon and Garfunkel -- though I don't remember any Beatles, Bob Dylan or Rolling Stones . . . But I digress.  They were another great show in a string of the greats.  Even the Elvis part was enjoyable.   I thought the guy sitting by me from California was going to achieve Nirvana during the Righteous Brothers.

 I've loved the variety of shows we've seen all week.  I'm not tired of it at all.  I could take another week, I think, without getting tired.  Maybe two?  I think that those of you who are not Baby Boomers would love these shows, too.  They are really that good.

Today was Carol's birthday so we even made the 10 AM show of Dalina Ditto who is a classic country singer who even has glitter lipstick.  Her show was so wonderful, I thought I loved country for two hours.  In recall, I can't quite get to that point again, but I felt it then.  For real.

Branson has all-live music which means that some really great backup people are around here.  Drums, strings, piano and keyboards, horns and all kinds of stuff really shine.

Happy Birthday, Carol.  It's been a perfect week.  One more night on the town.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We Are Kinda Easy to Panic

Please -- In a Life Relive, Let Me Dance!

Spirit of the Dance is almost worth the trip to Branson by itself.  I never saw “Lord of the Dance”, but I think it’s a relative.  It has lots of Irish-type dancing, but also, some Flamenco, ballet, Scottish stuff, a Cowboy number for the Americans, the CanCan, and a big Broadway number with bowler hats for everyone.  I’m exhausted.  It was fierce and hot with some good singing thrown in.  And like Carl said, it only got a little raggedy towards the end of the CanCan when everyone was high-kicking and falling into splits which came near the end of the show.  

I was a little worried about whether Carl would enjoy it, but it was a “not to worry” situation.  A further bonus for him was one of the dancers looked like his former co-worker, Murray.  A little more muscular, however.

Then there was the crazy-cute blond guy who looked like Bobby Cannon from Brighton High School from about ten years ago.  Turns out he was the star and he didn’t just earn it on his good looks.  He was really talented.  Bet his mother went nuts about every time he went out.  

Definitely put the Haygoods in at fourth, but that’s not a problem, either, because they’ve all been great.