Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brangelina R. I. P.

Dear Readers,


Say it’s not true!!!

Serious sources have just announced that it has become oober official that the super megastars of all the super megastars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, affectionately known to ka-trillions of fans as our beloved Brangelina- … are… brace yourself… GETTING A DIVORCE!!!



It doesn’t make any sense at all!

Kay actually it’s not “divorce” in quotation marks because “divorce” is only for “married” “husbands” and “wives” but the only reason they didn’t get really really really married was to make a statement about how our happy funny fashionable friends need to have marriage too! And that just goes to show you how socially minded Brangelina is, just like how they adopted those ethnic kids who would of starved without them- that’s how pure Brangelina’s hearts is!!!

That’s why it makes it even more 1,000 times painful that they are breaking up for real!!!

And what will happen to their beautiful happy name??? How can you split “brange” and “lina” That’s like splitting EYELASHES and MASCARA!

What could of driven them apart? They were both sooooo dreamy hot and soooooo oober rich! With all that money-ness and hot-ness… why?

And they weren’t even shallow or selfish- they were, like, grounded in a deep spiritual connection. (These are my deep thoughts, OK?) Kay maybe Brangelina were not quite as grounded as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were- they both shared Scientology and they were both super-hot too so their marriage lasted for over thirty years (Hollywood marriage years is kind of like dog years, you know? Extra longer cause they’re whole lifes are shorter?)

But even though Brad and Angelina didn’t have the exact same religion like Tom and Nicole did, their marriage should have been even better (times 1,000!) because Brangelina were like ALL THE RELIGIONS COMBINED!

Just listen to what the female half of Brangelina said (I say “Brangelina” so much because it will soon go away… tear!)

“Brad got me this great thing for Christmas. It’s a bookshelf that has a book on every religion. That’s how we plan to raise our kids. Teach them about all religions. They can pick one or be a student of all of them. We’ll celebrate Kwanzaa for our girl. We’ll celebrate moon and water festivals for our boys. We’ll take them to temples in certain countries. Also to church.”

it's from here


So why, Brad and Angelina? Why did it not work out???!!!


P.S. Maybe one reason Brad and Angelina’s “marriage” did not work out is that they are, like many of us these days, swimming in a sea of multiculturalism. And multiculturalism isn’t as great as your schoolteachers make it out to be. Sure, espousing multiculturalism will get you friends at Starbucks and good grades in your liberal arts college courses. But where does multiculturalism lead? It leads to the dissolving of nations. It leads to the crumbling of empires. It leads to a loss of faith.

I think if Brad and Angelina were both raised say, strict Catholic and they both stayed faithful and then got married, their marriage would have lasted. Of course, if they were really long-term religiously devoted people, I doubt they would have turned into movie stars.

Now, they have worked hard in their lives and they’ve donated a lot to charity, and acting is a worthy public service, maybe, and before I criticize their marriage- or committed romantic relationship, maybe I should say- I should look after my own marriage.

Watch this video of Mark Steyn talking about multiculturalism. It's great. You can fast forward the first two minutes to get to the meat and potatoes if you want.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monologues for my drama students, part three

Dear Readers,

I think I’m getting better at teaching. It feels nice. I performed some monologues for my classes today, the prologue to Henry V and a snipet from the wacked-out play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In The Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad, and my students acted like they liked my performances. So that was encouraging.

I performed those monologues because I just started a unit on monologues today. My students will have to memorize a monologue and perform it in front of the class. It will terrify some of them. Some of them will love it. And some of them will do it because it’s for a grade and because everybody else is doing it, and they’ll perform the monologue without thinking too much about it.

Who knows what goes on in the brains of middle school students?

Without further ado, here are a few more monologues I’ve written this afternoon that my students can perform if they want to. Again, I feel like saying that these monologues are weird, but that I personally enjoy them, and I believe that some other people may enjoy them, too.

Title: The Process of Unification
Character: The President (not the real President, but the President in a parallel universe that’s exactly like ours, except that instead of Barack Obama being the President, somebody else is.)
Setting: The Press Room of the White House. The President is addressing the nation via television broadcast.

President: Good evening, my fellow Americans. I now have the pleasure, the privilege, and the grave responsibility of addressing you as a nation, as a collection of fifty beautiful states, the United States of America. I want you to think about that phrase, the name of our country, “The United States of America.” How are these states united? Do the residents of these several states all speak the same language? No. Do the citizens of the United States of America all share the same religion? No. Do we all look the same? Of course not. But we are united in the values that we share, values like hard work, fairness, and a bright hope for the future. And so I see our small differences as insignificant. I hope you see it that way, too. Now, there are some among us who might say that our small differences are in fact weaknesses. There are some who try to convince others to hate one another because of their differences. Some would even want to do away with the rich cultural inheritance that some of our grandfathers and grandmothers have so graciously passed down to us. I think you know who I’m talking about. Well, we cannot stand for that bitter, isolationist attitude. Modern, moral nations cannot be content while hatred abounds. We can all agree on that. We are united. So, to those detractors of unity, I say, thanks, but no thanks. And that’s why I’ve decided to execute my political opponents. Thank you. And God bless America.

Title: Your Hand is Wiggling
Chatacter: Jenny, a modern Teenage girl
Setting: Jenny’s Mom’s bedroom at midnight

Jenny: Mom, Mom? Are you awake? Say something if you can hear me. You look asleep. Your hand is wiggling. Does that mean you’re awake? Ok, now it stopped wiggling. Listen, I don’t care if you can hear me or not, um, Mom, I just came in here because I had a nightmare. I know I’m a little old for this, but it was really scary. There were all these trolls and, and they were chasing me, and everything was dark, and I think I was in a cave, and all I really remember was that I was being forced to marry a troll, like the king troll who had all these fangs and a big knife, but I knew he didn’t want to marry me- he wanted to kill me and eat me, because he was a troll! (Pause) Mom, remember today when I said that I hated you? I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry. I love you. OK, I feel better. I know those trolls aren’t real. Plus, I’m gonna get my old night-light from the closet. I love you. Goodnight.

Title: A Savage Creature
Character: Heather, a modern and somewhat strange teenage girl
Setting: Heather’s backyard. She is standing over the fresh grave of her pet cat, Samantha.

Heather: Goodbye Samantha. I’ll miss you. We had a lot of good times together. Like when we just went on walks around the neighborhood. Or the time when you scratched up my bed. I told you not to. But then when did you ever listen to me anyway? You were a savage creature. Downright savage. That’s the word that describes you best- savage. I remember whenever you saw me opening another can of food, your tail would stick straight up. You know, sometimes I think you only hung around me because I fed you, and gave you water. And other times I think you genuinely loved me. It was a savage love, but it was still love. I know I must sound crazy, but, when you would sit in my lap in our ugly purple recliner and we would watch TV, and we would sit there together for hours, and I would pet you, and you would purr, well, I felt like you had some real feelings for me. I mean, real feelings. And I remember the time Dad wanted to teach you to catch mice. (laugh) I can’t believe he bought a mouse just so you could kill it. I tried to tell him that you were too nice and gentle to catch mice, but he was right. You killed that mouse alright. Killed him real good. And that’s what I loved about you. You were savage. And now you’re dirt. (kisses the ground and exits)

Title: Music Sampling
Character: Trisha, a spunky teenage girl who is kind of a snob when it comes to music.
Setting: A house. Trisha has just discovered that her friend Raven left her iPod behind.

Trisha: Whoa, Raven left her iPod here. (puts it on) Oooo, I like this one. It’s got a good beat. This one’s good too. The Mighty Lemonberry Squad? I love the Mighty Lemonberry Squad. They’re so, like, new-wave retro, you know? Well, more like new-wave retro unleashed. Ugh… look at all this punk music. Ugh. That’s all I can say. I had no idea Raven was like that. Ugh. Not that I hate punk music, I only slightly dislike it, but, I mean, all those punk singers need to stop dying their hair once they get past age 30. No, like, 27 even. And they all sound so whiny, like “Oh, ex-girlfriend, why did you leave me? Oh, ex-girlfriend, why couldn’t you stay and finish our video game? Please text me, right now, Oh I miss you.” Whine whine whine whine whine. Agh! Is this for real? Country music? Country music on Raven’s iPod? Those wannabe cowboys are always like, “My horse ran away, and now my horse is dead, and where can I buy another horse…” I mean, seriously, who wants to listen to a song about buying a horse? Don’t sing a song about it- go to Craigslist if you really wanna horse so bad! Raven you and I are going to have a talk when I see you again. Hmm. Techno. Techno music is pretty boss I guess. You can say pretty much anything over and over in a robot voice with a backdrop beat going like, (makes beat-box noise) Frisbee, in motion” “Frisbee, in motion” “Frisbee, in motion” and it’s a techno song. It’s better than electra-trance. There’s a difference ok? But techno isn’t nearly as good as psychedelic trip-hop-pop. Nothing beats psychedelic trip-hop-pop. Nothing except for the Mighty Lemonberry squad!!! Rock on!

Title: We’re Videotaping You.
Character: Stanley, an intense police officer or an FBI agent
Setting: An interrogation room. Stanley is interrogating a crime suspect, who remains silent and scared.

Stanley: How’d you sleep? Keep your hands where I can see them. Just set them on the table. That’s good. Now, how’d you sleep? You look great, do you mind if I tell you that? And the guards, are they treating you to your satisfaction? Excuse me, I asked you a question. I asked you a question and you didn’t answer me. I don’t like that. So how’d you sleep? That’s alright. Don’t talk. Just to let you know, not that I have to tell you, but since I’m feeling generous today I’ll let you in on a little secret. Not all the inmates know about it. We’re videotaping you. We videotape all the people we bring in here for interrogation- if you look really closely in that corner, see that black spot right up there? That’s the camera. So, I’m going to ask you a few questions, and even if you don’t answer with your voice, that’s OK. You’ll answer with your body. You’ll answer with your face. You’ll answer with your sweat. Where were you on the night of June the nineteenth? Interesting. How do you know Nancy Thompson?


The New Credit Card Laws

Dear Readers,

I just watched the video at the other end of this link:

Say that reminds me, did you hear about the new credit card laws? I heard that starting this year, 2010, eighteen, nineteen, and twenty-year-olds can no longer get credit cards. There are some other new credit card laws, about interest rates and fees and stuff, designed, supposedly, to protect consumers.


I think these new laws are dumb. 18 to 20 year olds are adults, you know? They ought to be able to get a credit card if they want to get a credit card. Now, before they get or use a credit card, they ought to educate themselves. 18 to 20 year olds, and everyone, really, needs to educate themselves about the conveniences and dangers of credit card use, just like everyone ought to educate themselves sufficiently before buying any product or service from any company.

Yes, I think people need to be more careful about singing contracts. They ought to read the fine print and understand it. But too many of us sign contracts without really understanding them. I do it, too, you know- whenever I sign up for some website just to make a comment on a news article, or to get free access to lesson plans, and it tells me to read a whole bunch of terms and conditions, I totally never do. I just click the box that says, “I have read and agree to follow the terms and conditions” even though I really haven’t.

Ha ha ha. You do it, too, don’t you?

Let me be self-referential for a moment:

iTunes makes people sign a lot of contracty stuff a lot too- everyone once in a while when I open my iTunes thing-a-ma-jig it says: (and I am absolutey quoting this verbatim) “Hello Telemoonfa, this is iTunes. You have to agree to the NEW terms and conditions right now or else you get kicked out of iLand forever and all your music goes away.” And then I start to read the new terms and conditions, because it seems all official and important and stuff, but within seconds my eyes glaze over because it’s all a bunch of snoring snoring algorithms and riddles mixed with mysteriousness.

So I just scroll down and click on the “Yes I understand and agree” button just so I can listen to my Bob Dylan music faster.

Maybe when I click on the “agree” box I’m agreeing to let Steve Jobs take my daughter when she’s 12. I have no idea. All I know is Bob Dylan is really cool and iTunes are cooler than regularTunes because iTunes have those attractive silhouettes dancing with their iPods and the faster I have iTunes playing in my ears, the cooler I am.

But these new credit card laws, see…

It just goes to show you that people have become too complacent about the seriousness of signing contracts- people need to read and understand them before they agree to do whatever…

Now I know there are plenty of sob stories out there about people getting in over their heads in credit card debt (Maxed Out is a good documentary for those sob stories). But the people who sign up for these contracts, they can read the fine print, and if they cared enough they would read the fine print, or make sure that somebody explained it to them thoroughly. In short, people should know what they’re signing up for and they should know what they’re money situation is every time they swipe their credit card.

These new credit card laws may be part of a trend toward a nanny-ish federal government. They think we little civillians are the kids and the government employees are the grown-ups. They think they know how all we little people ought to think, live, consume, raise children etc. It’s like the federal government feels the need to protect us poor unsuspecting consumers from the meany-pants credit card companies.

Um, federal government, thanks for trying to protect me from my own ignorance and irresponsibility, that's really thoughtful, but I’d rather you focus on protecting me from terrorists- the ones who put bombs in their undies, for example.

Essentially what these new credit card laws are doing, in my estimation, are preventing people from growing up. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t sound so bad. Ha ha ha. Not growing up… the Peter Pan Syndrome… That’s what my “Heading Back to Egypt” blog post was about- not growing up, accepting handouts galore, wanting to live in the Big Rock Candy Mountain, forever remaining a blissful Teletubby.

Now, I can see the other side of the argument. I can see how some laws like these could be helpful and good. I do think that some of the interest rates that credit cards charge are disgraceful. And I do think that the way credit card peddlers lurk around college campuses and malls is icky. Some of the practices of credit card companies are like highway robbery, I’ll tell you what.

But actually, credit card company policies aren’t like highway robbery in one crucial way: in the case of highway robbery, people are involuntarily robbed, but in the case of credit card interest rates, people are voluntarily robbed. These new laws are taking away choice, don’t you see? And taking away choice is THE DEVIL’S PLAN!

Disclaimer: I didn’t read the new credit card laws in their entirety… um… or any of them really… and I’m not an economist or anything like that… and I spent much more time opining about the new credit card laws than I did researching the new credit card laws.

OK, readers, there’s something that I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while. I often blog about the greatness of fiscal responsibility, self-reliance, conservative economic policies, small government, rugged individualism and nineteenth-century American frontier-like idealism and stuff like that.

But, as a professed follower of Jesus Christ, I try, every once in a while, to first cast out the beam in my own eye, you know what I’m saying?

Quoth Bob Dylan, from Brownsville Girl, “People don’t do what they believe in, they just do what’s most convenient, then they repent”

OK, enough stalling. My wife is 1/32 Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, which is a small wealthy Native American tribe (I didn’t marry her because of this, I swear) and this small wealthy Native American tribe gives money to its tribal members. And we accept the money.

Now, I think the money comes from casinos, and not from taxes, so that makes the whole thing a little bit better in my mind. And we do have to front the money and then mail in a bunch of receipts and then we get reimbursed. And we only get reimbursed for responsible things like medical bills and utilities up to a certain amount- we can’t go buy video games on the Tribe’s dime, you see… but still, we’re accepting the money, and sometimes I think that goes against my conservative principles.

Also, we accepted the $8,000 tax credit for buying a new home last year.

Also, we recently got on WIC (Women and Infant Children) which is a government program to help us with buying baby formula and stuff- our daughter has a sensitive stomach and needs a really expensive kind of formula, and we qualified for WIC, so… yeah.

Also, my Dad gives me money sometimes.

I’ll be 27 in a few days.

So yes, I do feel a little bit hypocritical.

Not that any of this is any of your business, you understand, but… well, there it is anyway.

I do think that overall I’m a contributing member of society, and I think that I’m a good guy, and I know I’m not entitled to any of that money, but it’s nice to have and I’ll accept it and try to use it responsibly.


P.S. I think Barack Obama is the first U.S. President to give a "shout-out"! If you watched the video linked in this blog post you know what I’m talking about.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eldridge Cleaver

Dear Watchers,

The following speech is one of the best and most interesting speeches I've ever seen. I'm so glad that Seraphim the Apologist finally finished putting the whole speech on You Tube so I could put it all on Telemoonfa Time in one post.

I don't know much about Eldridge Cleaver, except what I've learned from watching this video and googling his name a little bit. I've learned that he was a radical Communist Black Panther who turned into a conservative Capitalist Mormon! Woo-hoo!

He tells a lot of his life story, how he went from the far left to the far right, and let me tell you, it is intriguing. It's neat the way he mixes politics and religion, too- since he's not an LDS leader or speaking at a church function, and since he is not a political leader, Eldridge is free to speak his mind. He does not have to answer to a religious or political hiearchy, so his speech seems incredibly honest. He has an off-the-cuff way of speaking that makes me want to follow every single word he says.

In the last two video segments, he advocates Americanizing the world in a way that most people are too ashamed to advocate these days. I think I need to watch this speech a couple more times to undo all the liberal brain damage my college professors inflicted on me.

In fact, I think all college graduates these days should have to undergo some sort of de-tox upon graduation. Like right after they move their tassle, they ought to be trucked off to a re-education camp overseen by Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage. Ha ha ha.

But wait, maybe college graduates already undergo a type of re-education camp upon graduation- it's called living in the real world and getting a job. (Well, not really because a lot of college graduates are still liberals after being out of college for a while, and that's cool, and liberals are cool, but conservatives are cooler, and I love everyone, and love love love. I'm sending positive energy your way!)

Ha ha ha.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Five Haikus


Clouds, colors, mountains
Stability is a lie
Luck reigns over us


God is in the sky
He looks right down upon us,
Right down into us.


A lizard’s tongue- red.
Sounds drift on the windy day
Black ants gather food


To Sally, my Love:
Please requite my love, and my
Beastie Boys CD


Rivers flow a lot
And leaves rustle a bunch too

I don’t like women

You and me are in a park

Dark tree branches wave.
You and me are in a park
Well past your curfew.

“What curfew?” you ask.
My mouth offers you no words
Only low laughter

And now I know it.
There is no curfew. Ever.
Now you touch my hair.

We swing, we dig, we
are caught up in the wonder
of our existence.

I toss a pebble,
You press your toes into sand
We split, we convene.

Night fresh at our lips
our bodies drink it. We sway

“What are you thinking?”
“What’s inside of everything”
Five ducks on water.

Listen to the ducks
They eat, honk, dive, spin, flutter,
Dark natural ducks.

We are dark ducks, too
all of us, eating bread crumbs
that come from above.

“Thank you for this night.
I could have lived without it,
But not very well.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

cool videos

Dear Readers,

Ha ha ha Psyduck! I like this video because Farfetched just keeps smacking Psyduck in the head over and over and then Psyduck gets madder and madder and madder until BAM Psyduck wins. Psyduck was always one of my favorite Pokemon. But I also like Zubat and Rattata. Ha ha ha. I used to watch the cartoon and play the TCG. (Trading Card Game)

There's something so appealing about the Teletubbies. The gentle colors, the slow shots, the soothing comforting easy to follow plot, the ryhthm of Teletubby life, the very small conflicts easily resolved, the exploration of a wonderful world and the exploration of a wonderful set of bright-colored bodies... it's all very soothing and lovely. Teletubbies is the opposite of John Wesley Powell's trip through the Grand Canyon.

I remember my older brother telling me about the Negative Zone in the original Super Mario Brothers, how it was a secret glitch the video game designers didn't want you to know about. And maybe I have a foggy memory of seeing him get to the Negative Zone... The funny thing about the Negative Zone is that there's no where you can go- you're trapped, the time just runs out and you're dead. It's like James Joyce's Dublin.

But I also remember my older brother telling me that there was a way to run out of fireballs, like maybe you got a thousand fireballs, and if you just kept throwing and throwing them, you would stay in your special FireMario outfit but you couldn't shoot fireballs anymore. I think that's just a myth, though. I don't think you can really run out of fireballs. I saw my brother try it and it didn't work. He just died.

But this video is proof that the Negative Zone is real.

I like all the old fashioned electronic stuff in this video making really cool noises in a really cool way, and the film editing is top-notch in my opinion, and I play the video again and again, so there must be something to it, but who am I to say that my taste in videos is any better than somebody else's taste in videos? I like it. That's all I can say.

Harry Smith was an anthropolgist, ethnomusicologist, collector, artist, animator, filmmaker, um... he was an eccentric guy who lived in Oregon and Colorado a lot and traveled a lot... he put together The Anthology of American Folk Music, which I've heard a lot of and which influenced the 1950s and 1960s folk music revival: Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, etc... He was a wild, wild guy, but I like him and I like this video. I'm not sure if it's creepy, per se. I'm not afraid of it. Why should we be afraid of the images that come out of our minds sometimes? I've watched quite a few videos like this one, abstract animations by Harry Smith. I've watched them sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night to feed my baby. My baby watches it, too. I hope it doesn't mess her up. This video kind of reminds me of the last part of Dave's trip (pun intended) from the moon to Jupiter in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Here's a video to cheer you up.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.

Dear Readers,

A while back I started Moby-Dick by Hermann Melville and read about 200 pages of it. I loved it. I didn’t get it all- a lot of the allusions went over my head- and I needed to have a dictionary by my side when I read it, and for some reason I never finished it… but I really liked what I got.

Well, I just picked Moby-Dick up again. I doubt I’ll finish it this time. It's hefty. But I enjoy reading a little bit of it here and there, very slowly. It’s the same way for me with On the Road and Song of Myself and Walden Pond and the Scriptures. I never really start or finish those books; they’re just always with me, and I dabble in their contents now and then.

I stand in awe of Herman Melville, just absolute awe of him and the beauty that he brought in to the world.

Here’s one passage that jumped out at me, and I read it again and again, to savor it. Ishmael is talking about how and why he goes to sea, as a lowly sailor, and not as a passenger or a cook or a captain.

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who aint a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about-however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way- either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.

Moby –Dick has elevation of form and content. Important things are talked about in an important way. Moby-Dick is a novel, not a blurb or a blog. It requires people to sit down patiently, think things out, and get at important things.

That passage inspired me to write the monologue "Just Look at that Sunset."

Amazing isn’t it, that this little piece of a novel written so long ago by a man I never met should move me so? But that is the glory of literature.

The thoughts that that passage spawned in my brain and the ideas it conveys reminds me of “Everybody Hurts,” that great anthem of sympathy and compassion by R.E.M. “The universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.”

With that last line, Melville provided an image rather than an abstraction. It’s better that he wrote, “rub each other’s shoulder-blades” rather than “everyone should be nice to each other.” Another reminder of the power of imagery.

I love the line. “Who aint a slave? Tell me that.” It makes me think that everyone is a slave in one way or another. It makes me think that everyone has things hard… and the slave and the master are both tortured. And when the Earth burns, and all our silly games are done away, and all the things we thought were so important suddenly seem unimportant, we will one day see that the Judge of All The Earth hath done right.

I'm reminded of a good converstation I had once with a poet who worked at Hastings, a book and music and entertainment store in Flagstaff. He said he saw people shoplifiting all the time, and there was little he could do about it. In fact, the store policy was to not search people or attempt to chase after them or accuse anybody of stealing. He said that it was definitely not right, but he felt as though even though they didn't get caught stealing, those shoplifters were being punished in one way or another. He said maybe a lot of those people were stealing to get cash so they could buy drugs, or maybe they were depressed, or maybe they felt ashamed.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't punish crime- of course we should fix injustice as much as is in our ability to do so- but isn't assuring to know that karma is real? That in the eternal scheme of things, there is no injustice, because everyone will get what's coming to them? Yes, I answer, that is assuring.

On second thought, in the eternal scheme of things, there is injustice: the injustice is Jesus Christ suffering for our sins when he didn't deserve to. But the great thing is Jesus Christ is at peace with that injustice- he's fine with being wounded for our transgressions, he's glad to do it, he's merciful, he has compassion on us, just because he loves us all.

Group hug!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monologues for my drama students part two

Dear Readers,

Here are a few more monologues I wrote today. Enjoy.


Title: What the Civil War is All About
Character: Mr. Snail, a new history teacher is trying to teach his unruly class.
Setting: Classroom.

Mr. Snail: (talking generally to the whole class) Class, now, the Civil War was a time when, the Civil War- (talking to one student) Hey can you put that cell phone away? (pause) Please? (pause) Because. Just because! Well, at least hide it under your desk so I can’t see you texting! I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that. OK, now, class, The Civil War, see, was a war, (sounds like he is making it up as he goes along.) a really big war, very big, and it was a time when there was a north side and a south side in this country, the USA, although I suppose there still is a north and a south, but, well, the point is that they were all really mad. Everyone in the country was mad. Very mad. Gregory, return to your seat, young man. And put that peanut butter away. No, do not spread it on the floor! No, stop! You shouldn’t be bringing butter knives into class, anyway! I hope you know you’ll be staying after to clean up that mess you made! So, class, what started the Civil War? (pause) Why did the Civil War even happen at all? (pause) No one knows? Not a single one of you? Well, you should have studied. It was in the book that you were supposed to read for homework. And I was hoping that some of you would know because I really don’t know and it doesn’t matter because you’re not listening to what I'm saying but Robert E. Lee, um, let me write his name on the board, (writes "Robert E Lee" on the board) he was the general who fought a lot of people and he said, “no, I don’t want the people to be alive in New York, er, I mean, Penselvanyia. Yeah. It was Penselvanyia. And that was his exact quote, too. And that, class, is what the Civil War is all about.

Title: Pyrotechnics. Joy.
Character: Jasper or Julie. 14 years old.
Setting: A high school pep assembly. Jasper/ Julie is running for class president.

Jasper: Hi, my name is Jasper (or Julie) and I want to be your class president. I want to be the president for the following seven reasons. Reason one: I play the electric guitar. Reason Two: Electric guitars are so cool. (Holds up a pen) Reason Three: I found this pen in a volcano. I took it out from between some rocks, and then the volcano erupted and I escaped. See, look, the pen has a little bit of lava on it. Reason Four: I have seven cats, and they are all named Max. Max 1, Max 2, Max 3, Max 4, Max 5, Max 6, and Max 7. Max 3 plays the tambourine. We jam. Reason Five. I have seven cats and seven reasons for wanting to be the president. Is that just a coincidence, or is there something bigger at work here? Something bigger than us all? I choose to be a believer. Believe with me. Reason Six. I’ve got what it takes, in general. Reason Seven: two words: Pyrotechnics. Joy. Well, I think my seven reasons say it all. So when you go to the voting booth this afternoon, ask yourself one question: Do I want the drudgery that a different class president will bring? Or do I want magicalness?

Title: The Pies Do Taste Good
Character: Jenny, 14 year old girl.
Setting: Her bedroom.

Jenny: Dad’s gone all the time, for business. I don’t know what kind of business. Just business, you know. Shaking hands, signing contracts, making deals, moving money around. I don’t really know him, because he’s never home, but he sounds pretty important. My Mom stays at home and cooks and cleans. Seriously. She even wears an apron and bakes pies. The pies do taste good, and I’ll admit it’s nice to have some company at home when my friends are being stupid, but that’s not the point. I mean seriously, while I’m at school and Dad’s at work Mom’s at home dusting the chandeliers and dreaming about soap opera guys. I feel sorry for her. That won’t happen to me, though. Nope. I’m going to be a powerful business executive, just like my Dad, but even more powerful. I’ll be the boss of a hundred people, and I’ll have personal assistants who get me coffee and say things like, “Nice pant suit, Ms. Steinberry,” and “Your genius amazes me, Mrs. Steinberry.” And I’ll forget their names. I’ll say, “Thank you, uh… assistant. That’s a nice compliment. However, your performance lately, uh… how do I put this gently? You’re fired.” Sounds like a good future to me.

Title: Zack vs. MegaStarBusters 17.
Character: Zack, 10 year old obsessed with video games.
Setting: Elementary school playground. Zack is talking with another student.

Zack: Oh man, you like MegaStarBusters 17? That’s like my favorite video game! Hey have you ever got to that level in MegaStarBusters 17 where all those lava spikes come at you all at once, from every part of the screen? I found out the secret to that part, dude! All you do is get on the little platform, you know, this special little part where it’s a little more blue than usual, and then you get out your surprise wammy master blaster in your special weapon pack, and you push A B A B up down up down, and that’s the secret code, and all of a sudden a big light flash pops up like Flash! And you’re automatically at the next level, but then once you get to the next level there’s all these lion heads with flames coming out of their mouths and the flames are like this wide and so you can’t do anything about it. You just have to die automatically. You can’t even use the code. Oh man, it’s so crazy. But my cousin said that he knew a guy who helped invent the game and he said that when the video game designers were designing it they wanted to make it impossible because they thought that video games were getting too easy these days. But I think those video game designers are just jerks and I think my cousin’s a liar.

Title: To Santa Claus From Patricia
Character: Patricia, a stuck-up and shallow 15 year old.
Setting: Patricia's bedroom.
Background: She's writing a letter to Santa.

Patricia: Dear Santa, I’ve been really really good this year. Well, pretty good. Forget about that one time at Jason’s, OK? I didn’t know he was that kind of guy. And I hope you weren’t paying much attention to me yesterday. And let’s just forget June ever happened. Just think about all the good stuff I did. Like remember when I told Charlene that she was good at dancing? Well, that was a really really good deed, because she really wasn’t good at dancing and I really had to go out of my way to make someone that pitiful feel nice. So I feel like I totally deserve at least fifty bucks worth of presents for that compliment. Plus, another nice thing I do is… I’m really pretty. Really really pretty. I spread prettiness. And in case you think I’m lying, I’m enclosing a picture of myself to prove it to you. Trust me, your elves will appreciate it. Enough small talk. Here’s the list. A pink umbrella. A pink iPod. A pink TV for my bedroom. A pink t-shirt that says “pink” on it. A pink skirt to go with my pink shirt, so make sure they’re the same color pink. OK, and the last thing I want for Christmas is the coolest thing. A pink giraffe. I'm not talking about a stuffed animal. I want a real giraffe. You might have to do some genetic modification or some animal testing or whatever, but that’s fine. You’re Santa, you can do whatever you want. So get me all the things on the list and I super-duper-promise that I’ll keep being pretty next year. Sincerely, Pink and Pretty Patricia.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Few Thoughts About the Recent Earthquake in Haiti and About Pat Robertson's Comments About The Earthquake in Haiti

Dear Readers,

No doubt you’ve heard about the earthquake in Haiti.

And if you’re a news junkie like me then you’ve heard about what Pat Robertson said about the earthquake in Haiti.

If you haven’t heard, Pat Robertson said that he thought that God caused the earthquake because a long time ago when the Haitians were under French rule, the Haitians made a pact with Satan so that they could get their Independence. According to Pat, Satan, who is always willing to lend his goat-ish hoof to sinners, gave these people independence as long as the Haitians kept doing voodoo and kept sinning a lot. Now about 200 years later, God is punishing the Haitians for making that pact with the Devil.

Well, I don’t want to defend Pat Robertson too much, but I do want to defend him a little bit.

First, though, let me make it clear that I don’t believe in Pat Robertson’s version of Christianity, so he has no real authority over me. I don’t accept the man as a prophet. Also, I don’t know much about him. There are accusations that he misuses the funds that believers give to him, and I wouldn’t doubt that those accusations are valid. But I do recognize Pat Robertson as a spokesman for Christianity and for conservative values, so that’s why I feel like I should defend him a little bit.

Plus I’m bored and I like arguing with no one and sorting out my thoughts on my blog.

What Pat Robertson did, and what some people are so mad about, is he brought up the uncomfortable idea that people get punished now and then by God for being wicked. And that’s true. Natural disasters come from God because people are wicked. That’s what I believe. We’ve read about it in the Scriptures, and we’ve been seeing the wicked get punished as history marches on.

But the righteous get punished, too, you know, God sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

Editor’s Note: I was going to fully develop this, and get long-winded and preachy and philosophical, but I really should go do something more productive, so I’ll just post the scraps of thoughts about the earthquake in Haiti I have here and leave it at that. And I’ll number the scraps of thoughts, since numbering them creates the illusion of conceptual cohesion.

1. Once again, I’m glad to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I’m glad to hear that the Church has sent over a whole bunch of food, water, rescue workers, hygiene kits and stuff like that.

2. I wonder if part of God’s plan is like, “I’ll knock ‘em down, you set them up.” God destroys an area with a famine or a flood or a war, and then people are compelled to be humbled, and they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and then the LDS missionaries move in, and then POOF! now we have Happy Mormon Land, formerly known as Haiti.

3. It’s like the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon.

4. Punishing children for the sins of the parents… Third and fourth generation of them that hate me… the supposed deal with the devil happened about two hundred years ago… his blood be on us, and on our children… I hope my ancestors didn’t make any deals with the devil that I don’t know about… ha ha ha

5. Pat Robertson didn’t pull the deal with the devil stuff out of nowhere, though. I think a lot of people in Haiti have heard about the deal with the devil or believe in it. I read about all the voodoo stuff that went on in the Revolution in a book I had to read for my Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures class called The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier

6. We ought to give the Haitians food, water, shelter, clothing, try our best to rescue them from the rubble.

7. But I’m afraid of some of the backlash against Pat Robertson is bad… and I’m sure that his comments will be used for a long time by anti-Christian people who will say, “See, Christians love it when the people they call “wicked” suffer! They’re all about death and destruction!!!

8. We’re so afraid to attribute stuff like earthquakes to the wrath of God for fear of looking like religious freaks.

9. God works in mysterious ways.


Comparing People to Hitler

Dear Readers,

It kind of bugs me when people get offended if you compare people to Hitler. What’s wrong with comparing people to Hitler?

Do you feel like comparing George W. Bush to Hitler? Go right ahead! That’s fine.

Do you feel like comparing Barack H. Obama to Hitler? Go right ahead! That’s fine.

I think that comparing people to Hitler is an intellectual exercise, and it doesn’t hurt anyone. You’re not causing any harm by trying to evaluate the thoughts and action of someone by comparing him with another person. It’s actually a healthy thing to do, I think.

Watch, I’m going to compare Mother Theresa to Adolf Hitler.

Mother Theresa was a really really nice Catholic Nun who did a lot of really compassionate stuff for people. Adolf Hitler was a really really mean Nazi who did a lot of hellish stuff to people. They had a few things in common. They both had two arms and two legs. They both spent a lot of time in Europe. They were both influential.

There, I just compared them.

Did that comparison diminish Mother Theresa’s goodness? Did that comparison diminish Adolf Hitler’s badness?

And if comparing Mother Theresa and Adolf Hitler was bad, then comparing God and the Devil must be downright blasphemous, right?

Well, if comparing God and the Devil is blasphemous, then us churchgoers must be condemned, because we do it all the time in church. Even the prophets compare God and the Devil.

In Moses chapter one, Moses is visited by Jesus Christ, and then he is visited by Satan. Remember that the Devil can appear as an angel of light, (D + C 129:8 and D + C 128: 20) and so even though the Scriptures don’t say it clearly, I speculate (always a great thing to do with Church doctrine) that Satan came disguised as Jesus. Satan does claim that he is the Only Begotten, and demands Moses to worship him, so I suspect that Satan put on his Jesus-mask when he went down to try to trick Moses. But Moses was spiritually enlightened enough to discern between God and Satan and he says to Satan, “I can judge between thee and God.” (Moses 1:15)

Good job, Moses! And we also need to discern between good and evil spirits. Our spiritual welfare depends upon it. And what better way to get good at judging between good and evil than by practicing with folks like Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa?

Thus I have conclued that comparing people to Hitler is actually good for the soul. Hey, I just got an idea for my next home teaching message. I can see it now:

Brother so-and-so, I challenge you compare more people to Adolf Hitler in your casual conversations. At the grocery store, at the park- wherever you come in contact with people. Start with just 3 times a day, and then up your goal to 5 times a day. I think comparing people to Hitler will really boost your testimony.

Ha ha ha.

I sure do get carried away.

Maybe people’s problem with “comparing people to Hitler” is that they think “comparing” means looking for the similarities and “contrasting” is looking for differences. And I suppose if you only look for commonalities between Adolf Hitler and other people, other people will start to seem a lot more like Adolf Hitler. Or will Adolf Hitler start to seem more like other people? Hmmm….

But look at what the dictionary says:

Compare: verb. To examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences.

So really, the term “compare and contrast essay” is redundant. It should just be called a “compare essay” or a “comparison essay.”

But uh… so my opinion is that comparing people to Adolf Hitler is good and fine, and in fact it’s useful. The useful thing about invoking Adolf Hitler in an argument is that Adolf Hitler acts as a touchstone of evil.

It’s hard to get everyone to agree on an abstract definition of evil, but if you bring up Adolf Hitler, most people I know are like, “Yep, he sure was evil.” So the fact that Adolf Hitler is evil is good common ground on which to base a conversation about good and evil, or political policies, or racism, or megalomania, or whatever.

Using Hitler as a touchstone of evil is kind of like Matthew Arnold’s idea that we ought to judge all literature by comparing it to the great touchstones of the past, like The Odyssey and Oedipus and Hamlet, because everyone just accepts that those works are awesomely fantastic.

So maybe we ought to judge all people by comparing them to Adolf Hitler.

On second thought, maybe it would be a lot better to compare everyone to Jesus Chirst. Then we could spend more time looking at people's capacity for perfection rather than people's capacity for evil.

On third thought, maybe it would be better if we stopped judging people so much, and instead smote upon our breasts, and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Monologues for my drama students

Dear Readers,

School is getting a little bit better for me. (I teach drama at a middle school.) I got all new students two weeks ago, and I started out stricter, and I'm trying to plan better lessons and stuff, so I think I'm going to try to get my job back there next year. We'll see if they hire me back. In a lot of ways, it's a good job. And I'm thankful to have a job now, in this economy.

I spend a lot of time googling things like, "drama lesson plans" and "middle school theatre." And I spend a lot of time browsing lots of plays and I read "The First Days of School," by Harry Wong, and I think philosophically about the purpose of education and stuff like that, and when I'm away from school my mind often drifts back to the classroom, but I procrastinate getting down to the nitty-gritty of actually writing detailed lesson plans.

I have to spend a lot of time writing lesson plans because there is no drama curriculum I'm supposed to teach. I have to make the whole thing up.

There are some state standards I'm supposed to meet, but they're vague, and the state standards don't explain how they are supposed to be met, really. They don't give you any ideas for how to actually fill the time in each class period.

And there are no textbooks for my drama classes to use.

But I sort of like it that way. I like the freedom of being able to do whatever I want. But I'm scared of being scrutinized by the school administration. I have to fake confidence every day, and I have to look like I know what I'm doing, especially in front of my students.

So… I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I feel like college didn't prepare me that much for what teaching would actually be like.

In college I mostly learned about how minorities are oppressed in public schools and new teachers need to charge into the classrooms and bring about social justice. Yeah, in college I learned plenty about the importance of teaching multicultural literature, and the importance of teaching postcolonial/feminist/communist works that challenged the Eurocentric dead white male canon. And I learned how to be really sensitive to students' feelings, and I learned how bad President Bush was for implementing No Child Left Behind, and I learned about how evil standardized testing is, and I learned that children really ought to be left to roam free in the forest and learn from the natural fountain of knowledge within their own unique life-spirit, and I learned that Alfie Kohn was a great guy, and that Harry Wong was a heartless dog-trainer, and I learned that teaching in Spanish is just as good as teaching in English, because all languages are equally valid, linguistically speaking ... and you know, in teacher-preparation courses I learned practical things like that.

But I didn't learn much about the bigger issues, the loftier philosophical stuff, like, oh… writing lesson plans, what to do if a student is absent, or what to do with a student who is foaming at the mouth with a hatred for all authority.

(I'm exaggerating too much, and being sarcastic too much. I apologize for that. Does exaggerating and being sarcastic make my blog more fun to read, or does it make my blog dumber? I get tired of people who can’t get out of sarcastic-mode.)

Well, what I learned from my first semester teaching is that if a teacher can't manage the classroom, a teacher can't really teach anything. See this post to see what I mean.

But anyway, the real reason I’m blogging tonight is to say that what I need to find is a bunch of middle-school-friendly plays- plays with big casts, minimal sets, lots of female roles, an easy-to-understand plot and easy-to-understand dialogue. And the play needs to be conservative and family-friendly. And those plays are hard to find.

I'm having the same problem finding monologues my students can do. I bought some monologue books before school started last fall, and they were filled with mostly really advanced monologues that I don't think middle school thespians are ready for. And some of them had bad words or had adult themes or situations in them.

So I thought I would write a few monologues myself, and then my students can choose if they want perform one from a book or one that I've written.

Now, I'm not sure if I’m writing these monologues for my students or for myself. That is, I’m not sure if I’m writing them so my students can have good monologues to perform for school or if I'm writing them to feed my own ego. Or maybe I'm writing them so I can do what I love- write creatively- but still feel like I'm workings.


I think some of them are weird, and I think that my students might think that I’m weird for these monologues coming out of my brain... but on second thought, my students already think I’m weird. I told them I didn’t have a TV and they flipped out. It was a nice moment, actually. I think we bonded, my students and I.

Anyway, without, further ado, here are some of the monologues I’ve written this afternoon.


Title: Bagging Groceries Forever

Character: James or Felicia, 17 years old. He or she has an attitude problem, but is very witty and entertaining.

Setting: Modern day America. In the boss’ office in a grocery store.

Background: The manager is having an interview with James/Felicia who is a courtesy clerk (a.k.a. bagger) at a grocery store. James/Felicia has not been performing the job well.

James/Felicia: Bag groceries forever?! Of course I don’t want to bag groceries forever. I mean, this job is OK, it’s better than flipping burgers, like my last job, but bagging groceries forever… I don’t think so. No offense, but this job is boring. Put the groceries in the bag, put the bags in the kart, smile and wave, smile and wave, smile and wave. And the customers are nuts! Like that old lady who says, (in mock old-lady voice) “Young man (or lady) Could you please put my groceries in a plastic bag and then tie the plastic bag and then put the plastic bag inside a paper bag and then put the paper bag in this cloth bag I brought? I like bags.” Or how about that guy who says, (in mock tough guy voice) “How dare you put my canned lima beans on top of my bananas?! You expect me to pay for the mushy bananas that you personally mushed?” I’ll tell you, I’d like to mush more than his bananas. So, to answer your question, bagging groceries forever? Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather invent a robot to do the job for me. I could call it Zor-bot 5000. He’d be like, (in robot voice) “Hello sir, thank you for shopping at our grocery store. Have a nice day. Warning! Warning! My computer chip is malfunctioning! Exterminate all humans!”

Title: Just Look at That Sunset

Character: Robbie, 25, a free-spirited yet underachieving restaurant worker

Setting: On a mountaintop.

Background: Robbie gets to the top of a hill on a hike with a friend and looks at the sunset as he thinks out loud about deep things.

Robbie: Gosh, look at that sunset! It’s beautiful. Makes me want to never go back to work. Yeah, like I was saying earlier, Richard, my boss, he orders me around like an animal. That’s the way he treats all of us at the resteraunt. “Sweep the floor!” “Wash the dishes!” “If I see a dirty tablecloth one more time…” Yeah. That’s my job. And yes, it’s true, I don’t have a car or a big house, or really many possessions to my name. But so what? In the long run, physical things don’t matter. And social standing, popularity, that doesn’t matter much either. I realize that now, now that I’m looking at a sunset. Lofty bosses, lowly workers- the knife of time cuts us all down to the same level. No one can escape that knife. So Richard has more money than me. So what? Does that make him better than me somehow? The way I see things, everybody has a hard life, everybody has struggles. I’m not a victim. Things are fine. Things are just fine. Well, of course things aren’t really fine- social equality, freedom, love- those things must be sought after and fought for, and those who oppose social equality, freedom and love, they need to be converted. We need to change them. You and me. But I think this sunset would do a better job of converting them than my words ever could. Gosh, just look at that sunset.

Title: Which Things Are Mine?

Character: Jake, 17. He likes punk music.

Setting: Jake is at a restaurant on a date with Sarah.

Background: Jake talks to an invisible person.

Jake: Hey, you ever heard of the Meat Puppets? Of course you haven’t. They’re an obscure eighties punk band, and you’re a cheerleader. (laughs) Well, they’re not just eighties. They’re nineties and they’re current, too. They’re really really cool. Oh, did I offend you? Sorry. Um, I’m really sorry. There’s music that I haven’t heard of before, too. I’m sorry. I always mess things up. (pause) Is that a new bracelet you’re wearing? (pause) It’s really nice. Where’d you get it? (pause) You’re not talking. You’re not talking to me because I offended you, is that right? OK. I understand. (trying to think of what to say to smooth the situation over.) Look, I didn’t mean that cheerleaders don’t listen to cool music. I’m sure they do. I’ve never been on a date with a cheerleader before, and so I just assumed that… well, nevermind. Um, if you’re interested, what I was going to say about the Meat Puppets is that they have some really weird lyrics. I can’t figure out what they mean. Like, this one line goes, “My mind, which things are mine? Well I thought I saw a few before I found out I was blind.” Maybe it’s nonsense. (the girl gets up to leave) I don’t know. Hey, where are you going? I was hoping we could listen to the Meat Puppets together. I’ll call you, if you want me to call you. (exits)

Title: Maybe Eggshell Blue

Character: Nicole, a 30 year old woman.

Setting: A modern American home, in the living room.

Background: Nicole is working two jobs to pay the mortgage on their house while the husband remains unemployed. Nicole comes home late from work and confronts her husband who is sitting on the couch, watching TV.

Nicole: (turns off TV) Dustin, we need to talk. Listen, I’m trying to be supportive of you and I’m trying to be supportive of us, and our relationship. And, you know, I wanted to put those candleholders on the wall, right there, (points to a place on the wall) the candleholders I showed you at the department store. I wanted to get them in lavender. Or maybe eggshell blue. Remember? I haven’t decided yet – lavender or eggshell blue. But I haven’t decided yet because it doesn’t matter which color I pick because I’m not going to get them. You told me not to buy them, and I respect you, I do respect you Dustin, so I want to do the reasonable things you ask me to do, and because we can’t afford it. So I can’t have my candleholders. I accept that. (shifting moods) I loved you once, Dustin. You were a good man. Everybody told me you were a good man. My mother loved you, my sisters loved you, Christine couldn’t stop telling me about how jealous she was that I found you. And on our wedding day, you were a man. I looked in your eyes, you held me in your arms, and we danced. But, now, Dustin, you’re a boy. A small child. I can see that now. How can I love a child the way I am supposed to love a husband? Well, that’s all I wanted to say. You can watch TV again. (turns the TV back on.)

Title: The Willpower of The Lizard

Character: Roger, 21, just returned to America from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Setting: A front porch.

Background: Roger is talking with a friend he hasn’t seen in a long time. Roger is trying to explain his emotions.

Roger: Ever since I got back from the war, I get jittery around people. Real jittery. People don’t understand it, why it’s hard for men who get back from Iraq to get back to the normal swing of things. Men aren’t the same as they used to be once they get back from over there. “Go get a job,” they say. “Go on a date. That’ll cheer you up,” they say. “Go see a movie.” Well, I don’t feel like seeing a movie. Movies are too spooky. I tried going to the movies, and I got the jitters. I got the jitters real bad. There’s too much movement, there’s too many flashing lights on that gigantic screen. I want to look at something for a long time and not have it change, you know? I must sound crazy. And maybe I am crazy. I’m crazy because I don’t want to go to the movies. Well, I’ve been taking long walks lately, just trying to sort stuff out in my mind. I went deep in the desert yesterday. Deep in the desert. I saw a lizard, eating ants. You should have seen that lizard. It was all intensity. All instinct, and the only word I have for it is just pure intensity. And I thought, why can’t I have what that lizard has? I want the brain and the willpower of the lizard.

Title: I Want To Be an Actor

Character: Sally/Frank 14 years old.

Setting: A bedroom.

Background: Talks straight to the audience.

Sally/Frank: I want to be an actor. A real actor. Well, I guess I sort of am an actor already. I was in a few plays before, but they weren’t real plays. They were fake plays. They didn’t even charge money to get in. That’s when you know if a play is fake- if they don’t cost anything, they’re fake. Let’s see… I was a sheep in the Christmas play. Baah. (makes the sound of a sheep.) Oh, and then in another fake play, I was a tree, and I only had one line. I still remember it: (holds arms out like a tree.) “Look at me, I’m a tree, don’t my branches bring you glee?” Apparently the playwright didn’t get the memo that rhyming lines are so elementary school. Oh wait, we did do that play in elementary school. Whatever. But like I was saying, I want to be a real actor, like on Broadway. Mmmm, Broadway, I just love the way that word sounds. Broadway. Or maybe I could be an actor on off-Broadway. Really, I’d even settle for off-off Broadway. But not off-off-off Broadway- that’s way too many offs. Anyway, look everyone! (ultra-dramatic) To be or not to be, that is the question! Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?


Zombie Kid Likes Turtles

Renaldo Lapuz - We're Brothers Forever (satre Remix)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Few Places in Arizona I’ve lived in and been to

Dear Readers,


I grew up there. They have copper mines and a big pecan orchard that have been there for a long time. Now Sahuarita has a SuperWalmart and a movie theatre.


I went down there to get some penicillin and amoxicillin and some other prescription drugs. They also sell big jugs of vanilla for really cheap. I’m scared of that town, and the people who live there. I feel like a foreigner, even when I’m on the American side.


Tourist place. Old West stuff happened there. Was it there that I looked through the wooden fence at the O.K. Corrall shoot-out reenactment with Grandad, or was that somewhere else?


When I was in fifth grade, our school had a campout at Tumacacori. It was cold in the morning, and I drank watery hot chocolate. There are old ruins there. Small town. Southern Arizona.

Gila Bend

Lots of trucks go through there. I drove through there, and saw lots of big trucks. It’s at the junction of Highway 85 and Interstate 8. Truckers on the Interstate 10 go through there if they want to bypass Phoenix.

Where The 95 meets the 40

Stopped a few times at the Pilot truck stop there on my way from Flagstaff to California, and on my way from California to Flagstaff. Northwestern Arizona. Really really hot. Even when I was there at night, it was hot. But it was the Wild West. There’s no town there- it’s just a truck stop, and a Burger King or something. It’s adventurous. Everybody there is either a trucker, a worker at the truck stop, or an adventurer.

Jacob’s Lake

Had a family reunion there. It was strange to see BYU (Brigham Young University) students doing the manual labor around the hotel- landscaping, working in the restaurants. Usually in Arizona Hispanic people do most of the manual labor. I’m not trying to be racist, but that’s the way I see things. I had a good shake in a restaurant there. The hotel rooms were pretty expensive, but I wasn’t the one paying for them.


My wife went to high school in Globe. They have good Mexican food. They have big hills there. Mining town. Drug town.


I spent a lot of relaxing time staying in a lakeside apartment building built for the Forest Service workers. My father in law is a Forest Protection Officer at Lake Roosevelt. Beautiful place, and he stayed in one of those apartments for about a year. There were lots of scorpions there, though. I remember walking to the lake in the dark a time or two, removing my flip-flops, and sticking my toes in the muddy shore. I also remember watching a Project Runway marathon on TV for most of a day, and feeling groggy-headed.


I remember driving around Lake Powell, on Highway 89, on the way to Salt Lake City, and I thought about getting out and looking at the Glen Canyon dam there, but I didn’t. Beautiful sunny country. I have a foggy memory from my early childhood of spending the night in a hotel room, and I think it was in Page, and maybe it was the Fourth of July, because people were setting off fireworks from their houseboats on the lake. I watched an old black and white episode of the Twilight Zone in that hotel room. And maybe Godzilla vs. Mothra. There’s a road there, in Page, or somewhere, with seven different churches all in a row. I never saw it, but I think I heard my Mom and Dad talk about it.

The Navajo Nation

I didn’t get out to look, while I was driving on Highway 89 between Flagstaff and Page, but I saw lots of Navajo people selling jewelry, pots, and rugs on the side of the road in ragged wooden booths. The Navajos parked their pickup trucks next to the booths. I saw the beautiful land there. The plains, the harsh desert, the miles and miles of emptiness, the hills jutting out of the red earth. And I was judgmental, too, of the drunken Navajo I saw on the side of the road.

The Grand Canyon

I saw thousands of tourists there. A group of German girls in their twenties, speaking in their foreign tongue. Asian families. Busses full of tourists. An elderly English couple, who asked me if I ever thought about going to London. People from all over. The Grand Canyon certainly is a magical, inspirational, and sleepy place. How did all those people get there?


I’ve been there just a few times to go to the temple. I’ve never seen the town at night. But there are lots of old looking houses there, and lots of trailers there, and there’s a Circle K where I got gas a few times. Lots of farms. A train going through. I remember seeing a sign there saying “Fresh Corn For Sale,” and somebody told me that was really good corn.


I stopped at the Love’s truck stop one time to get gas. Or maybe that was Joseph City. There’s a store that has giant bright-colored stone dinosaurs outside. I remember the green T-Rex. There are giant concrete teepee hotel rooms. The few folks I’ve met from Holbrook have been, uh… well… the people from Snowflake and Eager and Pinetop and Showlow and Holbrook and Joesph City all kind of blend together for me. They like guns and the outdoors and trucks and they don’t go to college very much. Good people.

Anthem by Del Webb

(I’m talking about the one on the Interstate 17. I hear there a few Anthem by Del Webbs around.) Anthem by Del Webb tries to market itself as a relaxing suburban paradise, but everybody there is stressed out. Probably because most of them are upside down on their mortgages and stuck in traffic for about 2 hours a day, because they drive down the 17 to Phoenix to work. The billboards advertising the town show pictures of white kids playing at parks and well-to-do smiling couples sipping wine on their back patios. I hear the Home-Owner’s Associations there fly around in helicopters and look in people’s backyards. I’ve got gas there a few times, and sunflower seeds at a Chevron.

Black Canyon City

There was a very nice lady standing behind the counter at the deli station in a grocery store.


I’ve walked around the town and saw some ducks at a park. Beautiful. Relaxing town. Lots of retired people. Lots of hunting and fishing and camping there.


I lived there for four years while I attended NAU. Gorgeous place. Kind of a crossroads town. The 40, the 89, the 17, Route 66… People coming and going. Lots of hiking. Flagstaff was founded by rough men who cut down trees and put the lumber on railroad cars. Lots of bike lanes. Lots of friendly, wonderful liberals. Hippies, too. Cool hippies. People making music in the streets at night. Snow in the winter. Erratic weather. Coffee shops, poets. There’s a KOA campground I always wanted to stay at for a while. I remember riding my bike on Shultz Pass Road one time. It was a Saturday. I took my shirt off when nobody was around and rode my bike. And it felt wonderful to be outside with my shirt off, going on an adventure, feeling aware of my surroundings. It almost felt like a dream it was so good. Very sensual. Earthy.


Red rocks. An abandoned van in the desert. Desert, hills. Tourist place. Getaway for rich folks from Phoenix. Crystal healing. The kids there are normal kids, though. They watch a lot of TV and they wish there was a big mall in their small town. Hotels. Off-roading. Working artists. Arts and crafts. Turquoise. Driftwood. Chakra balancing. Follow a nice winding road to get there.

Camp Raymond and surrounding wilderness

I lived there for three summers. Two summers in an RV and one in a tent. The last summer I was there, I rode my bike a lot, wandering around. I took a dump in the woods once, and I wiped with a page out of a book. It was one of those useless blank pages they put in the back of books. You know, squirrels, forest. You get wanting to be in town, though, sometimes. Or at least I do. And now I’m in a town.

But I really haven't seen that much of Arizona. Mostly I've just seen the land on the sides of the roads.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why I Hope Area 51 is Real

Dear Readers,

So a lot of us conservatives are upset that the President and the Congress and the United Nations are spending tax money irresponsibly. What’s new?

Well, my fellow conservatives, maybe spending tax money isn’t so bad. Maybe Area 51 is real. And maybe all that stimulus money and TARP money is really going into developing secret alien technology or dissecting the carcasses of extra-terrestrials in an undisclosed location in the Nevada desert.

That’d be pretty cool.

I’m all for cutting up little green men in the name of science. It’s even better when the cutting is done is a shroud of mystery!

And of course the government would have to be in charge of Area 51. Of course we couldn’t leave something as cool as space-alien autopsies in the hands of ordinary citizens.

Ordinary citizens aren’t mature enough to handle that kind of thing! And of course the government isn’t made up of “ordinary citizens” The government only recruits the best and brightest. And then once the best and brightest join the government, why, the government makes them all drink from the magical fountain of superiority!

And of course it takes billions and billions and billions of dollars to fund something like Area 51!

So don’t feel so bad, my conservative pals, when you look at your pay stub and see the evidence of Uncle Sam’s snatching hands. Feel instead that you’re helping to fund really secret and cool scientific progress.

It’s all like a really fun science-fiction movie!


Things my grandfather could do that I can’t do

Dear Readers,

My grandfather could…

Ride a horse

Grow a cherry orchard

Shoot a gun

Kill critters and big game

Chop wood with an ax

Make jewelry


Keep an accounting book by hand

Fix up a house

Survive and thrive in the wild

Me, on the other hand…

I teach drama at a middle school in America, in the suburbs, in the year 2010. I live in a house that other men built and other men maintain. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my students’ lives… teaching them drama. What a namby-pamby subject. They should be learning useful trades, so they don’t end up like me.

Maybe public school curriculums should be patterned after Boy Scout Merit badges. I’d say learning how to identify poisonous berries is a heckuva lot more useful than learning the difference between stage right and stage left.

And how will that wimpy monologue you've got memorized save you when the government blows up your house?

Have you noticed that a lot of public schools these days don’t have auto or woodshop or anything really useful? What’s up with that?

Anyway most men these days are too far removed from nature, and a lot of men are turning into frail, frail, wards of the state. And that’s bad. Bad for our country. Bad for our souls.

Let’s go hunting, and then let’s cook the meat over a fire.

Let's go marry Indian maidens, and build a cabin out of logs.


P. S. Have you ever read Pioneers! O Pioneers! a poem by Walt Whitman? It captures the spirit of the nineteenth century American West that my grandfather had, and I wish I had.

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew movie review

Dear Readers,

I recently watched The Gospel According to Saint Matthew directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. It was very good, and I recommend it.

I first heard about the film a while back on a History Channel program that briefly covered a lot of movie versions of the story of Jesus, and I’ve wanted to see The Gospel According to Saint Matthew ever since.

I went into the movie vaguely remembering that the History Channel program had mentioned something about Pasolini being a communist and a homosexual and an atheist, so that probably altered the way I looked at the film. But honestly, knowing that about the director made me want to see the movie more. Controversy sure is great marketing.

I started reading things into the movie that maybe weren’t there. Maybe Pasolini wasn’t trying to emphasize some stuff as much as I emphasized some stuff in my mind. Like I noticed there were a lot of shots of the poor and oppressed and the working class, and these types of people were portrayed as the heroes, and then the Scribes and Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, the government officials, the bankers and such were portrayed as the bad guys.

Of course, that’s often the way it really is in the New Testament. Jesus himself was a blue-collar type of guy- he was a carpenter. And he mostly called blue-collar type of men as his apostles. And Jesus overthrew the tables of the moneychangers… it’s similar to one of my previous posts about Jesus Christ being portrayed by Woody Guthrie as a social hero and not so much as a God.

Jesus looked like a harsh union organizer when he turned away his mother and his brother. It seems to me that the director was trying to say that Christ abandoned his family for the social good, much like communism disassembles families in the name of social good.

In communism, self-improvement and family improvement is written off as selfishness. But caring for the faceless masses of your comrades, that’s a lot better, you see.

I found the theme of abondoning family for the greater social good running through John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As the plot unfolds, the Joad family gradually fell apart. Some family members died, some deserted each other, and the Joad family is in shambles by the end of the novel. But at the end, even though the immediate family is not doing well, the human family of comrades is doing better… or at least the human family of comrades has an idea of which direction to head in...

In the final moments of the novel there is a glorious vision of the future- a communist utopia where people care for strangers as much as they care for themselves and their families. That vision comes when Rose of Sharon Joad breastfeeds a stranger. (Hmmm… who else do we know who is sometimes called the Rose of Sharon? Hint: His initials are J.C.) I would argue that Rose of Sharon Joad can be seen as a Christ figure. Both Christ and Rose of Sharon gave of their bodies to help their fellowmen.

Rose of Sharon gave her milk, which was designed for her baby’s consumption, to a complete stranger- she was a compassionate, good communist. Instead of giving it to a family member, she gave it to a stranger. Likewise, Christ denied his mother and his brother and instead went after the lower-class strangers that nobody else seemed to care about.

And so in the Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon is the quintessential good communist, and in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Jesus Christ is the quintessential good communist.

And when I say “good communist,” I’m talking about the pie-in-the-sky type of communist that well-intentioned liberals like Oscar Wilde want us to believe in. I’m not talking about the actual communists like Stalin and Mao Zedong that have hardly any compassion and don’t mind killing lots of people.

Hmmm... Jesus Christ as good communist... don't you hate it when people thwart Jesus's message?

But then again, maybe I was reading all this stuff into the film that really wasn't there. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sometimes even homosexual atheist communists want to pretend to be Christians, just for a little while. Maybe the director really just wanted to faithfully record the wonderful story he found in the first book of the New Testament.

It's a lot like Bob Dylan's new Christmas album, you know? Just because Bob Dylan is a deep deep deep artist, that doesn't mean he can't do an innocent Christmas album. Just trust him. It looks and sounds just like a Christmas album- get it settled in your mind that it's just a Christmas album, and a charming one. There are no hidden messages. Take it at face value. Enjoy the Christmas songs. Get it settled in your mind, and you will be at peace.

Returning to The Gospel According to Saint Matthew- it looks like an innocent, well-done Jesus movie. That's what it is. Get it settled in your mind, and you will be at peace.

Blah blah blah.

Here are a 5 observations about the movie:

1. Boredom alert!

Warning to teenagers with ADD: The Gospel According to Saint Matthew is black and white, subtitled, and old. Sometimes shots go on for dozens of seconds without cutting to another shot! It's crazy! Those elements- black and white, subtitled, old- sort of make me think that films are better than they really are… or maybe they really are better. One of my problems with subtitled foreign films in general is that I can’t tell if the actors are acting well because they’re speaking a different language. I can’t the hear voice inflections that reveal so much. But I still like subtitles more than dubbing.

2. Jesus never smiles!

I think there was only one brief scene in which the corners of His mouth turned upward. But most of the time Jesus looks ticked off. Righteously ticked, off, though. I personally like to think of Jesus as a friendlier, smiley-er man. I like to think that he enjoyed watching butterflies flap their wings with happy little children.

3. Pasolini got the baptism of Jesus wrong!

The movie showed John the Baptist by the Jordan river pouring handfuls of water on people’s heads, instead of immersing them in the water.

4. The dialogue was great!

It was like somebody inspired by Heaven wrote all the lines! Ha ha ha. The dialogue was taken straight from the King James Version of the Bible. They cut out a little bit of Scripture, though- mostly parables and sermons that didn’t advance the action of the movie.

5. Shocker!

The scene depicting Herod’s men killing all the male children around Jerusalem was intense!!! I don't know if I've ever seen such a straightforward depiction. The women and babies were running from men with knives... the killings happened on a sunny hillside...

Overall, great movie. Five stars.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Catholic Cop Searches LDS Temple Crime Scene; Ethical Entanglement Ensues

Dear Readers,

I was talking with the school security guard this morning. Every Tuesday morning we have supervision duty together, where we have to watch the kids get off the busses and make sure they’re not up to any funny business.

He told me an interesting story.

He said that once when he was a cop in Los Angeles, the alarm to an LDS temple went off in the middle of the night. Some teenagers had broken into the temple and broken some windows and stolen a few things.

He showed up to the temple, and starts looking around the scene of the crime, and then an angry church official shows up and yells, “Hey, are you cops Mormon? You can’t be in here unless you’re Mormon!”

But my security guard friend, who is a life-long Catholic, said to the church official, “Look, this is a crime scene. I have to look everywhere.”

And then the church official got angry and said, “No way, only Mormons can be in here.”

And then my security guard friend said, “Sir, you’re obstructing me and I could arrest you,” (the security guard has a confrontational attitude) and he and another cop looked all around the temple, did their jobs, and wrote down which windows were broken and such… and that’s the end of his version of the story.

The story interested me so much because I just wonder what the proper Church protocol was. And I wonder what the proper police protocol was.

Cops need to be able to investigate crime scenes, wherever those crime scenes happen to occur. It would be bad if there where places the cops couldn’t go…geographical asylums from the law, beyond the reach of the long arm of the law. Then a bunch of criminals would do all their criminal things in the places where the cops couldn’t go… maybe.

On the other hand, it seems like there should be some laws protecting sacred places from being intruded upon by unbelieving government people.

Like Waco Texas!

Those ATF (Alchohol Tobacco and Firearms) and FBI agents should have left the peaceful Branch Davidians alone!

I tell you, sometimes I love cops and armed federal agents, like when I've been robbed, (not that I've ever been robbed, but if I did get robbed, I'd like it if there were some cops around) but other times I dislike the cops. I think a lot of guys become cops just because they want to show off their guns, be jerks, and boss people around.

And the attitude of the ATF and FBI agents involved in the Waco Texas thing was deplorable. There was some messed up stuff that went on there, and we shouldn't forget about it. It perfectly illustrates what happens when the government gets too cocky and corrupt and godless.

But I digress.

What do you think? Do you think my security guard friend did the right thing in searching the temple?