Monday, May 26, 2008

Highways, Kerplow!

Highways, Kerplow!

Bum bum bum rum-diddy dum
Dum diddy dum absolutely
Entirely rip rip rip rip rip rip-
Hello Montana, Hello Wisconsin.
Hello cow, hello dirt.
And hello cow-
bum bum bum
diddy diddy dum
Yipes! Yipes! Tree!-
Trunk - bark in the face
Right smash in the nose-
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Hello cow- chew that dirt
You dumb animal-
Moo, you mooer!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
You dumb animal-
Keep mooing! Eat that weed!
Barbed-wire fence-
Hello sun,
hello toes in the dirt:)

Reverence

Yesterday my wife and I gave talks in church. Here's the talk I gave on reverence. This is not exactly the way I gave the talk. I cut out stuff and said different stuff. Without further ado...

Good morning brothers and sisters. Today my talk is on reverence. In Exodus Chapter 3 we read, “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And [Moses] said, Here am I. And [the Lord] said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

You’ll notice that the Lord told Moses to remove his shoes. Why did Moses need to take off his shoes? The Lord simply says, “for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” But when I read the passage I wonder, “Why does holy ground need to be walked on barefoot?” The scriptures don’t really say. To me it doesn’t immediately make sense that Moses had to take off his shoes. Wouldn’t his shoes damage the vegetation and move around some dirt just about as much as Moses’ bare feet would have?

I thought about this question and came up with this answer: The Lord was teaching Moses about reverence. The Lord was teaching Moses that holy places need to be treated differently than unholy places. I don’t imagine that Moses’ shoes clashed with his robe or his staff, and Jesus only wanted aesthetically-pleasing outfits on his holy ground. Rather, Jesus had Moses do a physical action, the removal of his shoes, to teach him a spiritual lesson. Thus a physical action was linked with a spiritual lesson. The Lord often links physical actions with spiritual lesions. For example, the Lord has designed that the priests kneel when they bless the sacrament. The kneeling is associated with humility.

We teach the Primary children to fold their arms, bow their heads and close their eyes when they pray. Why? Well, first of all, it keeps them still for a moment. But second and more importantly we have children bow their heads and fold their arms because those physical actions help the children to learn spiritual lessons. A bowed head, for example, teaches us humility. When you bow your head before someone, you are using body language to say something like, “You are my superior.” Perhaps it is a custom to close our eyes while we pray because closing our eyes helps us to forget the physical world and think about heaven.

Melchezidek Priesthood holders also do special physical things when they give blessings. They anoint with oil and place their hands atop the afflicted person’s head. Are those physical actions really necessary? My quick answer is “Yes, that’s the way we’ve been taught, that’s the way it says to do it in the priesthood manuals, so yes, anointing with oil and laying on of hands is necessary to give a priesthood blessing.” But my longer answer is “No, ultimately these physical actions aren’t absolutely necessary.” You may have heard the story from general conference about the patriarch without hands. The patriarch was able to give people patriarchal blessings by resting his nubs on the people’s heads. If God had explicitly required that a pair of hands be laid on the head when giving a patriarchal blessing, then surely the handless man would have been barred from serving as a patriarch. What really counts, then, in the giving of a blessing is the sanction of God.

The miracles of Jesus in the New Testament show how Jesus did not follow a strict physical formula when healing people. For example, one time when Jesus healed a deaf man, the scriptures say, “And [Jesus] took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue, and looking up to heaven, he sighed and saith unto him, Ephphatha-that is ‘be opened.’” Another time when Jesus healed a blind man, the scriptures say, “[Jesus] spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam… He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”

And another time when Jesus healed a Roman Centurion’s servant, Jesus wasn’t even in the same place as the sick servant. He just spoke, and the servant, untouched and unseen by the Lord, was healed.

So we see that the Lord healed people in a variety of ways. We can learn from these stories of healings that it really didn’t matter what position Christ’s hands were in or just how loud his voice was when he gave the blessing, and it really didn’t matter whether Christ was kneeling or standing. What really mattered was Christ had the power and authority to heal people.

That may lead us to wonder: Why did Christ bother doing physical things like laying hands on people at all? Why didn’t he just stay at home, see sick people in vision, and heal them from a remote location? Again, my answer to that question is that by doing physical actions, Christ was teaching people spiritual things and helping their faith to grow. The Lord was closely associating physical things and spiritual lessons.

When Jesus touched people as he healed them, he wasn’t touching them because he had to touch them for the miracle to work. Jesus was teaching them that he had the power to heal.
In 3 Nephi 17, when Christ is visiting the Nephites, Christ says, “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy… And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.” Thus Jesus healed the afflicted Nephites one by one. Couldn’t he have just looked out over the vast congregation and said, “All that are afflicted, be healed?” Yes, he could have. He has the power to do that. But instead he healed them one by one, as if to say, “I care about you individually. I am willing to spend my time with you.”

I’m digressing from my topic of reverence a little, but what I’m trying to point out is that what really counts are the inward feelings, not the outward signs typically associated with reverence. A certain amount of time on our knees, dressed in Sunday clothes, with bowed heads won’t get us into the celestial kingdom; the attitude associated with those outward signs will. The physical actions themselves do not benefit us at all in the long run if they are not coupled with heartfelt reverence. Looking reverent may have its social perks, but actually feeling reverent has its eternal perks.

Since reverence is one of the Christ-like attributes that we are to attain in this life, we ought to be very concerned with obtaining reverent feelings. But how does one obtain reverent feelings? What come first, the outward signs of reverence or the inward feelings of reverence? Should you fold your arms, kneel down, and then wait for the feeling of reverence to come? Or should you wait until you actually feel reverent, and then in an attempt to express your reverence, fold your arms and kneel down? That’s a tricky question; I don’t really know the answer. Asking that question is kind of like asking, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” You can’t have a chicken without it coming from an egg. On the other hand, you can’t have an egg without it coming from a chicken. So you’re stuck and you can’t really answer the question. Similarly, you can’t really answer the question, “what comes first, real feelings of reverence or physical actions associated with reverence?” You could say the outward signs of reverence must come from an inner feeling. But you could also say, “you can’t feel reverent if you’re shaking around, shouting at the top of your lungs, and dressed like a clown. If there are never any physical actions such as dressing up, carrying scriptures, lowering your voice, then there is no fertile soil from which feelings of reverence may grow.” So I can’t answer what comes first.

But it doesn’t have to be one or the other – it doesn’t have to be that one comes first and one comes second, because in fact physical actions and real feelings work together to help reverence grow. And anyway, the separation of physical and spiritual things isn’t as clear cut as we sometimes make it out to be. For the Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants section 29 verse 34, “all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.”

Also, Moses 6:63 says “all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual.” To me that verse says that both the physical side of us and the spiritual side of us are supposed to bear record of Christ. Our bodies and our spirits are to work together to worship God.

Brothers and sisters, it is my hope that both our physical actions and our inward feelings will work together to help our reverence grow.

Switching gears a bit, for the rest of my time, I’d like to talk about the Ark of the Covenant. And not just because it’s an exciting relic of antiquity, but because I think it relates well to my topic.

The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden chest overlaid with gold. It was made my Moses under the direction of the Lord. According to the Bible Dictionary, “It was the oldest and most sacred of the religious symbols of the Israelites, and the Mercy Seat which formed its covering was regarded as the earthly dwelling place of Jehovah. The Ark was fitted with rings and staves, by which it was carried. Prayers were recited before it moved or rested, and during its progress it was treated with the greatest reverence… The usual resting place of the ark was in the Holy of Holies.”

One story from the Old Testament shows us just how holy the Ark of the Covenant was. In 2 Samuel chapter 6, David and his people were traveling with the Ark of the Covenant and the scriptures say, “And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”

This is one of the occurrences in the Old Testament that makes God seem very angry and vengeful. But the Bible Dictionary explains: “The penalty may appear to us severe, but it must be remembered that the ark was a sacred repository, and the people had been clearly warned that only designated persons could touch the ark, and warned also of the consequences of disobedience.” I think that by smiting Uzzah, the Lord was teaching a very powerful lesson about reverence. Surely many people saw the occurrence, and I assume the story would have been circulated widely among the Israelites at the time. Also, David named the place where Uzzah was killed, “Perez-Uzzah” which means, “Breach of Uzzah” That way, whenever anybody passed through the place of Perez-Uzzah, they were reminded of what happened there.
The ark was a physical reminder of the Lord’s power, and of the law of Moses.

Remember though, that the children of Israel didn’t worship the ark of the covenant. They reverenced it. It is the same in our day. We do not worship this meetinghouse, or the temples.

What objects are there in our lives that remind us of holy things? For me, my wedding ring reminds me of the day I was sealed to my wife, and the covenants we made there that day. The picture of Christ on my wall reminds me of Christ himself, my Savior. And the scriptures on my bookshelf remind me of all the history and doctrine and revelations that Latter-Day Saints have continually before them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

David Cook!!!!!!

Well, as you probably already know, David Cook won season 7 of American Idol. At first I was upset. I really wanted Archuleta to win, and I thought Archuleta would win. The judges seemed to like him more than Cook, and I thought the people who watched American Idol were mostly teenage girls, and I thought all those teenage girls with their cell phones would vote for Archuleta a ga-zillion times. But mostly I wanted Archuleta to win because he's Mormon. That's a really unfair and biased reason, but so what? It's my reason- it doesn't have to be reasonable.

Anyway, now that I've had a little more time to reflect on the results of American Idol, I think it's good that David Cook won. He seems more like a rocker than David Archuleta. And Cook might have more talent when it comes to arranging music and playing instruments. And he's older and has more experience than Archuleta when it comes to making music. And he's really smart, too. When he's interviewed, he seems to have intelligent things to say, and last night Simon Cowell said that David Cook was one of the nicest, most pleasant people ever to come through American Idol. Archuleta is a very nice guy, too, but doesn’t seem as smart or experienced as Cook. David Archuleta's interviews usually go like this:

Reporter: How are you doing today, David?
Arch: Oh my gosh.. um... good? I think um... goodness! Ha ha ha!
Reporter: What do you think has got you this far?
Arch: Geez.. I just love it and... everything is wonderful, you know? I'm like having a blast and gosh! Ha ha ha!

I bet you think I'm a traitor for turning my back on Archuleta after he loses. Maybe I am. I still think he's good. It's funny. I really thought he would win, and I said to myself, "when he comes out with an album, I'll buy it." My wife really likes Archuleta, and I like him too, and David Archuleta seems like a really big deal right now. I think Archuleta will still get a record deal, but I don't think I'll buy it. Archuleta is last night's news, you know? It's horrible. I was so close to Archuleta emotionally, you know. I rooted for him. My wife voted for him over twenty times. And now that he lost, I'm not friends with him anymore. Oh well. I've got lots of other albums to buy before I buy any of the American Idol albums.

Blah blah blah. American Idol this, American Idol that. Blah blah blah.

Another word about American Idol: There was this guy named Renaldo La Puz who auditioned for American Idol and he did this really funny song called, "We're brothers forever,” Now, Renaldo is probably a little bit crazy, but he's one of those cool nice crazy people, like Elwood P. Dowd from Harvey crazy, and not like Hannibal Lector crazy. So anyway the footage of Renaldo's audition got on You Tube and lots of people started singing, "We're brothers forever" and making remixes of the song.

I sincerely like "We're Brothers Forever" and the song's composer. I actually think it's catchy and uplifting.

By the way, have you ever heard of Wesley Willis? He's a schizophrenic guy who makes albums that are "so bad they're good." That's a funny phrase, but I get it. There's another thing out there that's "so bad it's good" that I want to get. It's "The Transformational Man," William Shatner's first album. I've sampled part of the album on iTunes and it's pretty wacky-wonky.

Well, if Wesley Willis can get a record deal, than I think Renaldo can, too. I just wonder if people are making fun of him or they are actually celebrating his talent. I actually enjoy it because it's so fun. I get tired of Bob Dylan singing about social injustice and depressing things like that. So what if folk songs are "true" and "important?" "We're Brothers Forever" is fun fun silly-willy!

Oh but there's another problem: Renaldo's voice is bad. He's not a good singer. But he sings so passionately and happily that it's cool. And his untrained voice makes it seems like he's one of us, one of the common people. Hmmm... what do you think?

When I started this blog, I intended to be very serious about the artistic quality and intellectual fortitude of Telemoonfa Time. I thought I would treat Telemoonfa Time as a sort of scholarly journal that discussed religion and art and philosophy and also showcased my original literature. But now I'm a little less picky. Now I’m a little more lackadaisical. And now I'm unashamed to say that I am a fan of American Idol. It's just fun.

How I’ve changed. When I was a teenager, I denounced all things commercial. (Just read my article about Wal-Mart if you want to see how I felt about commercialism and cookie-cutter manufactured stuff. It’s buried in this blog somewhere.)

But I am glad that this season of American Idol is over. I'm ready to go to the forest, away from TV and computers, to read books.

Speaking of going to the forest, this summer I'm going to work at Camp Raymond Boy Scout Camp again, in the kitchen. My wife is staying here in Flagstaff, though. I'll be back on the weekends. So I won't be adding posts to Telemoonfa Time on a regular basis. Maybe if I write a good poem I'll put it on here on a weekend. (Or maybe I should say if I just write a poem I'll put it on here. Ha ha ha.) Not that I've been a consistent blogger anyway.

OK, see you later, whoever you are.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David Archuleta!!!!!!!

I really really really hope that David Archuleta wins American Idol tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll be watching and rooting for him!

Punctuation Lesson Plan

In my education at NAU, I had to write a lot of lesson plans. Here’s one of them. Maybe you’ll be interested in how teachers are supposed to write lesson plans nowadays. All the standards were taken from the Arizona Department of Education website. There’s so many state standards, and they’re filled with educational jargon and buzzwords.

When I started student teaching, though, and actually got into the classroom, I found that few teachers actually used the state standards or wrote lesson plans like this.

This is not a fantastic lesson plan, but it will give you an idea of all the hoops I had to jump through to get through college.

Subject: English Telemoonfa
Grade Level: 9 9/10/07

Introduction to Punctuation

Objectives:
General Objectives: By the end of this lesson, students will generally know about punctuation.
Specific Learning Objectives: Students will compare an improperly punctuated paragraph to a properly punctuated paragraph.
Students will basically understand the nature and origin of punctuation.

Standards:
Subject : Language Arts


Subject/ Grade/ Domain : Writing



Grade : Grade 9



Strand : Strand 2: Writing Elements



Concept : Concept 6: Conventions Conventions addresses the mechanics of writing, including capitalization, punctuation, spelling, grammar and usage, and paragraph breaks.



Performance Objective PO 1: Use capitals correctly for:



Example a: proper nouns: holidays, place/regional names, languages, historical events, organizations, academic courses (e.g., algebra/Algebra I), product names



Example b: words used as names (e.g., Grandpa, Aunt Lyn)



Example c: literary titles (i.e., book, story, poem, play, song)



Example d: titles



Example e: abbreviations



Example f: proper adjectives (e.g., German shepherd, Chinese restaurant)



Performance Objective PO 4: Use underlining or italics to correctly identify titles and vessels (e.g., ships, spacecrafts, planes, trains).



Performance Objective PO 5: Use colons to punctuate business letter salutations and sentences introducing lists.



Performance Objective PO 6: Use semicolons to punctuate compound and compound-complex sentences when appropriate.



Performance Objective PO 8: Use hyphens, dashes, parentheses, ellipses and brackets correctly.



Opening Set: Say, “Today’s lesson is about punctuation.” Have the class read the ant paragraph without punctuation and ask “What’s wrong with that paragraph?” Answer: There’s no punctuation! Let’s read the paragraph again, this time with proper punctuation. Was the second time through easier to understand? What made it that way? What happened to your voice as you read the first paragraph?

Write answers on your graphic organizer in the blanks provided.

Outline:
Ask: What is punctuation? What are some examples of punctuation? (Write the student’s examples on the board.) Good. We’re all familiar with punctuation. We all read and write. We will soon learn about how to properly use punctuation, but today I want to talk about punctuation in general. I want us to explore the nature and the origin of punctuation.
(Write these seven points on the board one at a time. As I write them on the board, the students write them on their graphic organizers.)
1. Punctuation developed gradually.
2. Punctuation only exists in written language.
3. Punctuation does not make noise.
4. Punctuation marks are symbols.
5. Punctuation imitates natural pausing and breathing patterns.
6. Punctuation fosters breaks in thought.
7. There is a set of rules governing the use of punctuation. (The rules developed
gradually.)
1) Punctuation developed gradually, over centuries and centuries, just like language. It’s changing, too, very very slowly, just like language. Just as no one is in charge of language, no one is in charge of punctuation. There is no single author of punctuation. There isn’t one old guy in Britain a long time ago who developed our punctuation system. Punctuation is a naturally occurring phenomenon in written language.
2) Punctuation only exists in written language. Question marks are technology, in fact- tools used to transfer spoken language into written language effectively. In speech we often indicate that we are asking a question by raising the pitch of our voice at the end of a sentence. (“You want to go to the park?”) We can’t do that in writing. In writing, we need the question mark. We can yell when we talk out loud, (Go to your room!) but we need exclamation marks in written language.
3) Punctuation does not “make noise”. They don’t indicate that the reader is supposed to make a sound. (Here they differ from letters.) You can’t mispronounce a comma; that’s absurd.
4) Punctuation marks are symbols. They represent something. For example, a period represents an indication to the reader that the sentence has come to an end, and a thought is completed.
5) Punctuation imitates natural pausing and breathing patterns. A big function of punctuation is it indicates when a reader should pause.
6) Punctuation fosters breaks in thought. Punctuation separates ideas from one another. In fact, since we learned from our linguistics lesson that oral language is primary and written language is secondary, it should come as no big surprise that punctuation mimics speaking patterns. Sentences and clauses existed before periods and capital letters did. So, punctuation describes what naturally occurs when people talk.
7) English speakers have gradually and naturally come up with rules for using punctuation. To communicate effectively in writing, we need to learn those rules. The rules developed gradually. Once you learn the rules, you can break them. Take E. E. Cummings, for example.

Check for understanding: Ask these questions:
Where did punctuation come from?
Does punctuation exist in spoken or written language?
Do punctuation marks “make noise?”
How does punctuation foster effective written communication?
Is it important to use punctuation correctly? Why or why not? Or does it depend on the situation?

Closure: Good. Later we’ll look at each individual punctuation mark and talk about how to use it properly.



Graphic organizer for the lesson on the introduction to punctuation

ant bodies like those of other insects have an exoskeleton meaning their bodies are externally covered in a protective casing as opposed to the internal skeletal framework of humans and other vertebrates ants do not have lungs oxygen passes through tiny valves the spiracles in their exoskeleton the same holes through which carbon dioxide leaves their body nor do they have a heart a colorless blood the hemolymph runs from their head to rear and back again along a long tube their nervous system is much like a human spinal cord in that it is a continuous cord the ventral nerve cord from head to rear with branches into each extremity

What was wrong with this paragraph?


How did the lack of punctuation obscure or inhibit your understanding of the paragraph? Give examples.

Ant bodies, like those of other insects, have an exoskeleton, meaning their bodies are externally covered in a protective casing, as opposed to the internal skeletal framework of humans and other vertebrates. Ants do not have lungs. Oxygen passes through tiny valves, the spiracles, in their exoskeleton — the same holes through which carbon dioxide leaves their body. Nor do they have a heart; a colorless blood, the hemolymph, runs from their head to rear and back again along a long tube. Their nervous system is much like a human spinal cord in that it is a continuous cord, the ventral nerve cord, from head to rear with branches into each extremity.

Was the paragraph with punctuation easier to understand? Why?



Other notes about punctuation:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Fun with 5 Paragraph Essays

When I was a student teacher at a Middle School in Flagstaff teaching English, I had the students write a 5 paragraph essay on a candidate they wanted to be the president of the USA. The following is a handout I made for them. I wanted to appear unbiased, so I wrote one essay supporting Mitt Romney and another one supporting Hillary Clinton. Enjoy.

5 Paragraph Persuasive Essay Outline

1st paragraph

Introduction. The thesis statement is in the last sentence of the first paragraph. The thesis statement or another sentence in the introduction contains the three reasons backing up your thesis statement.

2nd Paragraph

Reason # 1 with more explanation

3rd Paragraph

Reason # 2 with more explanation

4th Paragraph

Reason # 3 with more explanation

5th paragraph

Conclusion. Restate your thesis statement and make general closing comments.


Below are two examples of good 5-paragraph persuasive essays.

Example # 1


Mitt Romney for President


There is a wide variety of presidential candidates this election season. From the democrats, the major players are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. From the Republican side, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Gilliani, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul are all running. Each candidate has a unique personality and represents a unique perspective on American policies. Since there are so many different candidates, how are we to know which one is best for the job of commander in chief? That’s a good question. I have looked into it, studied the candidates and their platforms, and come up with this conclusion: Because of his real-world business experience, his family values, and his views on taxes, Mitt Romney should be America’s next president.

First, Mitt Romney has real-world business experience. As the Chief Executive Officer of Bain Capital, he helped to turn failing businesses around. He did that by going over the budget and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Most people know that the federal government wastes a lot of money; we need a President who will leave more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans and out of the national treasury. I believe Mitt Romney is the man who could do just that.

Second, Mitt Romney has exemplary family values. He always goes to church, has been married to the same woman for over 35 years. That’s a really long time nowadays. And lets not forget his five sons, who are all upstanding members of society. I think it’s important for a president to have great family values to give a good example to the rest of the country about how to have a good family, which is the bedrock of decent American society.

Third, Mitt Romney has the best view on taxes that I’ve ever heard of. I know that a lot of politicians say that they will lower taxes when they are running for office, and then after they get elected, they raise taxes, but I think Mitt Romney is different. I think that Mitt Romney is a man of his word. I believe him when he says that he won’t raise any taxes, and that he will be able to balance the budget.

In conclusion, I believe that Mitt Romney is the best candidate for President in the upcoming elections. Because he has experience as a successful businessperson, good family values, and excellent views on taxes, Mitt Romney should become the President of the United States of America on January 20th, 2009.


Example # 2


Hillary Clinton for President


There is a wide variety of presidential candidates this election season. From the Democratic Party, the major players are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. From the Republican side, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and others are running. Each candidate has a unique personality and represents a unique perspective on American policies. Since there are so many different candidates, how are we to know which one is best for the job of commander in chief? That’s a good question. I have looked into it, studied the candidates and their platforms, and come up with this conclusion: Because of her experience in the White House, gender, and views on health care, Hillary Clinton should be the next President of the United States of America.

First, Hillary Clinton should be the next President because she’s already had a lot of experience in the White House. From 1993-2001, she served our country faithfully as the First Lady. A First Lady gets an insider’s view of what goes on in the White House, just by living there and being married to the President. So, during her time as a First Lady, Hillary gained plenty of knowledge about how to be a good president.

Second, Americans should vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman. Since this country’s founding over two centuries ago, all the presidents have been male. Since we live in a representative democracy, in which elected officials are supposed to represent the diverse views of the entire population, doesn’t it make sense that the politicians we send to the White House should represent all Americans, not just white males? It’s about time that we break the long tradition of men running everything in this country. Hillary Clinton, just by being a woman running for President, is making giant strides towards equality for both men and women.

Third, Hillary should be the President because of her views on health care. It’s deplorable that we are one of the most financially stable nations on the planet, and yet there are so many sick and poor people among us. These sick people can’t afford expensive health insurance, so they just go on suffering while the complacent leaders in the White House do nothing about it. It’s time that we establish a system of universal health care in this country, like Canada and many European countries have already done. Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for health care reform.

In conclusion, on February 5th, I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton, and you should too. Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for our country because she has the experience of a First Lady, is a woman, and has the know-how to get our nation’s broken health care system back on its feet. For these reasons, and several other reasons that I did not mention, Hillary Clinton should be the next President of the United States of America.

Statement of Purpose

This following is a "Statement of Purpose" I wrote as part of my application to the General English Studies Master's Program at Northern Arizona University. Sometimes I read it to remind myself why I want to go to graduate school. Sometimes I forget, you know, why I'm going to go; school has plenty of stresses.

I intend to go to graduate school to major in General English Studies for several reasons. Some of my reasons for going to graduate school include my enjoyment of English classes so far, my achievement in English classes so far, my expectation that graduate school will help me write better, and my love of English. I want to major in General English Studies in particular because I desire a broad study of English and flexibility in the courses I take.

First, I greatly enjoyed the English classes I took while I was an undergraduate student, majoring in English Education. While I read, wrote, and thought for my classes, I found that my love of these intellectual activities grew. If I enjoyed the courses as much as I did as an undergraduate, I can expect that my graduate courses will be even more enjoyable, since they will be comprised of people who are even more serious about English.

Second, I achieved a great deal in my undergraduate English courses; I earned very good grades. I want to see if I will achieve in a graduate school setting, though. I expect it will be harder in many ways, but hopefully more rewarding.

Third, I am a writer. I have regularly kept a journal for about seven years now. I have written speeches, plays, essays, poems, memoirs, and even comic books on my own, for fun, throughout my youth and adulthood. But perhaps I haven’t had the discipline or know-how to complete a manuscript and get it published. I believe that graduate school will help me learn how to write better and give me the discipline necessary to buckle down and write the novel that I know I can write, or the collection of poems that I know I can write.

Fourth, while I recognize that there may be financial benefits to obtaining a master's degree, I want to go to graduate school for my love of English. I value education for the sake of education. Reading, writing, and thinking are lifelong activities, not busy work assigned by teachers. Even if nothing I learn in graduate school will translate into monetary gain, I still would like to learn lots of things about English anyway.

I would like to add here why I am interested in the General English program in particular. I’m interested in a broad program because I enjoyed my literature, grammar, and writing classes. At times I feel as though I enjoy the more artistic side of English most, like creative writing and literature. But at other times I find the scientific side of English fascinating. From my undergraduate career, I remember how interesting my Introduction to Linguistics class was, and how strangely amusing diagramming sentences was in English Grammars. So instead of getting into a program that specializes in one type of English, I feel like I would get the most out of a master’s program that offers a broader view of English, and allows for a good amount of flexibility when it comes to picking courses.

For all these reasons, and several others that I did not mention, I intend to go to graduate school at Northern Arizona University to major in General English Studies.

Dumb dumb dumby-dumb Registration Fee Stuff

This is a letter that I wrote to the Administrative Assistant of the theatre department of Northern Arizona University a while back. ACTF stands for American College Theatre Festival. Names have been changed.

Dear Administrative Assistant,

Hi, this is Telemoonfa. I'm a senior majoring in Theatre Education. I was going to go to the ACTF thing back in February but then I decided not to go. Jathleen told me that I owe the theatre department $65 for the registration fee. Jathleen also told me that I needed to pay the $65 before June 1st and she told me to contact you about it.

First I want to double-check that I really do owe the money. Do I? If I really really really do, then I'll pay it before June 1st. But if I don't owe the money, that would be nice.

Now I don't mean to cause any trouble. But, to be honest, I don't feel like I ought to owe the $65.

First of all, I never knew about the registration fee for the conference. As near as I can recollect, I was never informed that there was a registration fee for the conference at all. I was also never informed that if I decided not to attend the conference, I would owe the registration fee. Had I known this information, I probably would not have agreed to go to the conference in the first place.

I could understand that the department would be upset if I backed out a day or two before the theatre group left for L.A. If I had taken on responsibilities for the trip, such as crewing for the competition play, I would understand why the theatre department would be miffed. But I decided not to go about a month before the conference. I don’t feel like I inconvenienced the department by changing my mind at such an early date.

In fact, I would think that the department would actually save money by me not attending the conference. Since I didn’t go, the department didn’t have to give me food money, and perhaps they could have reduced the number or size of hotel rooms they were getting. I heard it said that the theatre department couldn’t take a large amount of people to the conference due to budgetary constraints. So I thought that my absence would actually save the department money.

I wonder if some in the theatre department might be upset that I never really gave a good reason for backing out of the conference. I didn’t go for a lot of reasons. I didn’t feel like getting ready for the Irene Ryan auditions, I didn’t feel like being away from my home for a week, and I didn’t want to leave for a week during my student teaching. So, it was really a bunch of silly personal reasons that kept me from going. I want it to be clear that I have enjoyed my time in the NAU theatre department greatly. I appreciate the kindness, generosity and professionalism of the faculty.

Like I said, if the theatre department insists that I owe the money, I’ll pay the money. I won’t feel ecstatic about it, but I’ll do it.

If nothing else, hopefully this email will help to improve communication between faculty and students regarding ACTF registration fees in the future.

Feel free to forward this email to anybody you feel is necessary.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Update: I ended up paying the $65. I didn’t have to, but Jathleen said she thought it was the right thing to do. I’m not so sure that it was the right thing to do, but I paid it just because I didn’t want to burn any bridges. Plus, I sort of thought that giving money to the theatre department would support the arts. But I also thought, “No way am I paying the money! I could buy so many CDs with that $65!” Maybe I paid it because I’m a pushover and am easily intimidated by people who dress nicely and have their own offices.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little anecdote. See you later.

Noises

Noises

Creaking floorboards, a thick
stew simmering, a lullaby-

These sounds come to me,
unsummoned, like a stranger
saying hello as
we pass on the streets,
and I flash my unsure smile,
eyes briefly meeting, then
returning somewhere downward.

Chatter behind the door, a chirp,
the refrigerator hum-

These noises must have their
hobbies, their political leanings,
their likes and their dislikes.

I bet the popping of popcorn
likes supermodels on catwalks,
and dislikes beehives.

The pitter-patter of raindrops probably
likes evergreens and alligators,
and dislikes Styrofoam.

Maybe the clump clump clump
of footsteps on concrete
likes grandmother and grandfather
sitting on the porch,
but dislikes filing cabinets.

Fighting

I’ve never been in a fist fight before, so I don’t know what it’s like. But I’ve talked with some people who have told me stories of their fights.

One good story I heard about fighting was told to me the other night when my wife and I were over at some friends’ house for dinner. They’re a nice married couple who are still in college and share our faith. The husband, who I will call Joe, told me the story of his growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He said that he grew up in a rough neighborhood and went to a rough school. So rough, in fact, that nearly all the boys had been in several fights. According to Joe, in the school hallways, during passing periods and lunch and before and after school, 99% of the students walked through the halls with their heads down. 1%, the biggest and toughest males, walked with their heads up. If you made eye contact with another guy for longer than a second, it was a fight.

Joe was naturally a sensitive, intelligent, and curious young man. But after growing up in that type of harsh school environment, he hardened emotionally and spiritually. He described his experience in that school as being “in survival mode,” always paranoid about having to fight.

When he was a junior or senior in high school, his family moved to Mesa, Arizona. He decided that he didn’t want to fight anymore. He didn’t want anybody to bother him. So he decided that on the first day he would beat up somebody so bad that nobody would ever mess with him again. The first day that he was at the new school, he planned to hold his head up while he walked down the hallway. He was going to beat up the first male who made eye contact with him. He was going to clobber him, maybe break a bone, and maybe send him to the hospital.

So the first day of school comes, he makes eye contact with another guy, looks down, and he starts to charge after him. Joe makes a fist and gets ready to punch the guy in the face, and then he takes another look at the guy. The guy is flabbergasted and terrified; he puts his hands in front of his face and shouts, “Whoa!” At that moment, Joe stops his advance and realizes that the guy he is about to punch is scared and shocked. Joe then realized that he didn’t have to fight, and he thought that maybe this school was different than his old school in Albuquerque. Joe felt kind of embarrassed and he said to the stranger he was about to pummel, “I’m sorry…” and then went on his way.

My friend Joe said that that was a turning point in his life. After that moment, Joe began to improve emotionally and spiritually. What a story, huh?

What do we learn from the story? Um, maybe we learn that one should live in a nice neighborhood and send his or her kids to a nice school.

Also, we can learn that delicate, beautiful things cannot survive in harsh environments. Joe was a delicate, beautiful thing. Like I said, he was naturally spiritual, sensitive, artistic and extremely intelligent, but after being in a lot of fights and after constantly living in fear at school, his finer sensibilities and characteristics gave way to a rougher, more animalistic way of living and thinking.

From this story we can learn that delicate, beautiful things need a good environment in which to survive and blossom. If such an environment is not created and maintained, sooner or later we'll thirst for man's blood. But if such a caring, favorable environment is created and maintained, we'll have many wonderful afternoons chatting, smiling, enjoying things and creating and appreciating beautiful things.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commentary on my iTunes Purchases

In this blog post I’ll talk about the music I’ve purchased on iTunes. I’ve bought 5 albums and three single songs. The three single songs I bought are “Technologic” by Daft Punk, “Worrisome Heart” by Melody Gardot, and “My Hallelujah Song,” by Julianne Hough. The albums are: Live at Stubbs, by Matisyahu; The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture: Folk Songs from Wisconsin, by various artists; The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture: Songs of the Mormons and Songs of the West, by various artsits; Angola Prison Spirituals, by various artists; and Music from Tuva, by Igor Koshkendey.

“Technologic” by Daft Punk is awesome and catchy and incredible. I highly recommend it. It makes you want to dance. I’m not much into electronic or techno music, but Daft Punk really knows how to put beats together.

“Worrisome Heart” by Melody Gardot was a “single of the week” that you can download for free. Usually the free singles aren’t that good, but this one really is! It’s jazzy, bluesy, sensual and smooth- I’ve listened to it a good amount and have enjoyed it every time. Her album is actually on my wish list.

“My Hallelujah Song” by Julianne Hough. Another “single of the week.” I haven’t even listened to it yet. It’s country and poppy… the 30 second sample I heard was OK. I think my wife my like it. It was free, you know?

“Live at Stubbs” by Matisyahu is lots of fun. It’s a great album to listen to while you’re washing dishes or something. That probably wasn’t that great of a description, though, I like to do dishes with lots of different music playing- but you know it kind of pumps you up. I really like hip-hop music, but the subject matter of hip hop music is often vulgar. But Matisyahu, on the other hand, is clean as a whistle. He’s actually some type of strict Jew, so he sort of preaches while he sings. And he can beat-box, too! (You know, with his mouth and not with a turntable or any other instrument.) But it’s just great. “King Without a Crown” is especially fantastic.

The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture: Folk Songs from Wisconsin is interesting. I really like it, but I realize that old folk music isn’t for everyone. Not everyone likes scratchy recordings of old geezers with untrained voices singing a cappella. But I like it. It’s so different than music that comes from a studio. And here’s another word about folk music: “folk music” basically means traditional music, or music of the common people. Not music that the common people buy and enjoy, but music that originates “naturally” from common people, or music that is passed down from generation to generation. So Bob Dylan, even though he’s a wonderful musical artist, and even though he sings folk songs, he doesn’t consider himself a folk musician. But “folk music” has also come to mean the music that people like Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, the Kingston Trio and Bob Dylan, produce. I won’t get mad at anybody who says that Bob Dylan is a folk singer. I’ve said plenty of times that Bob Dylan is a folk singer. In a interview in San Francisco in 1965, Bob Dylan, when asked what type of music he played, he said, after hesitation, a thoughtful look, and a cigarette drag, “Vision music, or… mathematical music.” What a trippy answer. That reminds me of what the Gorillaz called their type of music. They called it, if I’m remembering correctly, “transcendental trip-hop pop.” Debates about genres and sub-genres could go on forever. Taxonomy is a tough thing. Another thing about the folk songs from Wisconsin: what I like about it is it’s like I have this little secret in my iTunes music library; nobody that I know of has heard these songs before. I’m sure some old folks in Wisconsin have heard them, but has anybody in Flagstaff, Arizona heard them? These songs will never be played on the radio, unless it’s some kind of special program on NPR or something.

The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture: Songs of the Mormons and Songs of the West has been one of the best music purchases I’ve ever made. I knew that the early Mormon pioneers must have had some folk songs that they sang, besides the hymns in the hymnbook. And the album I bought has five of those folk songs. The rest of the songs on the album fall under the category, “Songs of the West.” But the five Mormon songs are incredible. There’s “The Handcart Song,” “Tittery-Irie-Aye,” “Echo Canyon,” “The Utah Iron Horse,” and “St. George.” The songs are each sung a cappella by a single man, and were recorded in the 1940s, as near as I can tell. They are incredible. I actually cried the first time I heard “The Handcart Song.” I was imagining all the saints who crossed the country with their handcarts. I was imagining them cold and hungry, but pushing their cart up a hill and singing “The Handcart Song”- gee whiz. I don’t think I’ll ever have to go through anything like that.

Angola Prison Spirituals is an album that I used to have, but I lost it in that package we sent from Nashville to Arizona. It’s a bunch of spirituals sung by the inmates of the Angola Prison in Louisiana in the 1950s. Angola Prison is the epitome of prisons for black men in the post-Civil-War South. It was originally a plantation that held tons of slaves, and after the Civil War, I guess it got turned into a prison. I’ve listened to this album plenty of times and it doesn’t get old. There’s a version of “Go Down Moses” that’s really awesome. (Here’s something funny: I could have sworn that when I bought the album in Amoeba Music in Hollywood in 2006 or 2007, it was called “Angola Prison Negro Spirituals.” Now on iTunes it’s called, “Angola Prison Spirituals.” Maybe they took out “Negro” because it’s offensive. Or maybe I’m just imaging things.)

Music from Tuva by Igor Koshkendey is the weirdest album I’ve bought on iTunes. Have you ever heard of the special throat-singing in Tuva? Have you ever heard of Tuva? Probably you’re answer to both of those questions would be no. I had never heard of either of those things either before I stumbled upon Music from Tuva. It’s really weird. Tuva is either in Mongolia or Russia. But there’s these people that you would read about in National Geographic magazine that live there and sing in this really strange way. It sounds cool. You just have to hear it. I’m glad I bought the album, because it actually is nice to listen to. It’s a bit of an acquired taste; at first it might seem unpleasant just because it’s so unusual, but I think it has nice rhythm and such. I sort of wish I could understand what they were saying. But perhaps the lyrics aren’t as important as the sound.
Well after I bought and listened to all the folk music and such, I think I’m ready for something a little more commercial and poppy. The next album I buy might actually be “We Started Nothing” by the Ting Tings. OK, hang in there, buddy, and I’ll see you later.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Roads in the Woods

The title of this blog post sounds like a poem, but it's not.

I've been riding my bike in the wilderness lately. It's a lot of fun. I'm trying to figure out how to get from Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Camp Raymond Boy Scout Camp on a bicycle. I really want to avoid driving on the Interstate 40, because riding a bike on the freeway is scary. Can you imagine all those giant trucks going past you at 75 mph? So I'm trying to take back roads, and it's crazy. I bought a map of Coconino National forest, which encompasses Flagstaff and the scout camp and a lot of the surrounding area. But I'm quickly finding out that no map could accurately represent all the new trails, dirt roads beside power lines, logging roads, private long driveways, and other types of mysterious dirt paths that are out there. Maybe if I had a Global Posistioning System (GPS) or a mobile web device so I could go to Google Maps and look at the sattelite imagery, or maybe if I had secret expensive military gadgets, I could really find my way around. But for now I'll settle with trial and error, my map, and a compass. It's adventurous going out there, riding around, taking in the scenery, etc. Flagstaff is a very bike-friendly city. There's tons of bike lanes on the roads and there's lots of paved bike paths around. I bought another map of all the hiking, biking, and horse-back riding trails around Flagstaff and have been having fun exploring those. And another beautiful thing about Flagstaff is all you have to do is ride your bike for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes and then it seems like you're in the middle of nowhere. You're surrounded by trees and hills, and besides the dirt path that you're on, there are no signs of civilization. I might like to live in Flagstaff for the rest of my life. At least I know that I'll be here for another two years while I go to graduate school at Northern Arizona University to get a master's degree in General English Studies. Then who knows what my wife and I will do. Get a job as a high school English teacher somewhere in Arizona, I suppose. Anyway, take care reader. Enjoy nature.

Music I Want

Here's a list of stuff I sort of want to buy on iTunes or in a music store:

"rehab" by Amy Whitehouse
"gonna fly now" (theme from Rocky)
"mad world" the famous cover version
"Memory" from the Cats soundtrack
"everyone's a little bit racist" from I don't know
"werewolves of london" from I don't know
some of the songs from the Juno soundtrack
"That's how you know," True Love's Kiss" "Happy Working Song" and "So Close" from the Enchanted soundtrack
"hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley
"pink" by Aerosmith
"ripple" by the Grateful Dead
the simpson's TV show theme song?
various theme songs from the original supermario brothers games
anything by David Archeleta (The next American Idol!!!)
this is spinal tap soundtrack
alan lomax prison songs and various southern journey albums
angola prison negro spirituals
little shop of horrors soundtrack
Woody Guthrie: Ach Recordings set
Woody Guthrie: more stuff
Furry Lewis stuff
Mississippi John Hurt stuff
maybe DJ Spooky stuff
maybe Run DMC stuff
Tom Waits stuff
Bob Dylan: the Collection, which is on sale on iTunes for $200. It's every official release that Bob Dylan has ever put out. It has over 750 songs, including some secret songs from the vaults that you virtually can't legally get anywhere else. It's crazy. I look at it and drool.
Leadbelly, the complete document recordings
Robert Johnson complete recordings
Kris Kristoferson's greatest hits
Kristin Chenoweth girl in 14G and other stuff.
Rolling Stones greatest hits, with "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Paint it Black"
Led Zepplin stuff
White Stripes: "We're going to be friends," "Seven Nation Army," "Icky Thump," and other stuff
Tommy Maken
U. Utah Phillips?
Phantom of the Opera soundtrack
Wizard of Oz soundtrack
Mary Poppins soundtrack
Elvis Presley early stuff and greatest hits
Hank Williams greatest hits
Johnny Cash personal file, unearthed box set, live at madison square garden, other stuff
Ewan Macoll
"walk the line" soundtrack
June Carter Cash greatest hits
Beaches soundtrack
Violent Femmes stuff
more Pink Floyd stuff
Beatles stuff
Jack Johnson stuff
Queen greatest hits
"daysleeper" by REM
maybe some Cake songs
more jazz.

Hmmm... what else is good? There's lots and lots of good music out there. I am like Ash Ketchem from Pallet Town, and I gotta catch 'em all! (That's a Pokemon reference, for all you old or un-cool people out there.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sprinkles on my Ice-Cream

Sprinkles on my Ice-Cream

On my ice-cream there are lots:
Pink, yellow, orange,
green and purple.

I know these sprinkles were
made in a factory, but I don’t
think about that.

These are tasty toppings,
and fun; the tiny bits of sugar
come from the circus- the red
ones are little clown’s noses,
they smile at me and giggle.
If I squeeze the purple sprinkles
they honk, and the green ones
toot. The pink are tutus,
twirling, whirling.

They melt a little, the Vanilla
a smeared rainbow. A happy
smeared rainbow, a gigantic rainbow,
mixing with the ice cream, cheerfully
atop and inside the ice cream.

The sprinkle-rainbow comes off the top
of the cold white dome, spreading
into the air; it is a sphere expanding-
it engulfs me- I sparkle and guffaw
inside the rainbow’s womb- I am
fed from a pink, yellow, orange,
green and purple umbilical cord.

In here I hear my colorful mother's
laughter; I feel the vibrations of her
ever-expanding body. Now I meet
my twin, and now my triplet.

I know these sprinkles were
made in a factory, but I don’t
think about that.