Five Reasons I'm NOT Excited to go Back to School

1. My Earliest Class is 10 am Did I really think this was super late to start a class? That I was gonna roll out of bed at nine o'clock, refreshed and ready to take the world by the horns? One week in, and waking up at nine o'clock seems like a chore. A job. A restriction on the freedoms I thought I would soooooo enjoy. However, that first class did produce the irony quote of the week: 1st Amendment Professor (wearing business attire) : "So how would you feel in an environment where someone or some entity tried to stifle, restrict, or otherwise govern your speech?" 1st Amendment Student (wearing "Quest for Perfection" BYU Football T-Shirt): "Oh, I would just be so super offended if someone or some organization tried to limit my speech in any way. It's just fundamentally offensive." 1st Amendment Class (wearing puzzled, yet bemused grins, thinking): Did that JUST happen?! Ah, I missed this place... 2. Provo For a city that prides itself on being home of the "Berkley of the West," Provo sure hasn't figured out that it exists because of the BYU students who flock here in Autumn like some wild herd of EFY buffalo, not in spite of them. My favorite anti-student legislation passed in the city of Provo in recent months: Provo Residential Areas require motorists to have certain types of passes to park in them past a certain time. Reasoning? Non-students are fed up with Students parking in front of their homes. Reason for Students parking in front of Non-Student homes? Because they don't have enough parking space at their apartment complexes or on campus. Reason for there not being enough parking space on campus or at apartment complexes? Provo city does not adequately enforce parking standards at the complexes that students reside in. Solution? Provo city tries to fix the problem it has created by creating another problem that will undoubtedly have other, less pleasant side-effects. IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE CITY IS BITTER THAT BYU STUDENTS ARE HERE...PUMPING MONEY INTO ITS REGISTERS AND CACHES AND BUDGETS. WHICH IS ALMOST LIKE SOMEONE BEING BITTER THAT THEIR HEART IS BEATING IN THEIR CHEST... Dude, without that thing, you ain't going nowhere... 3. BYU Football Fans Who: a) Aren't Me; b) Aren't MY Friends; c) Aren't Cute; d) Aren't Funny; e) Aren't Smart; f) Are Obnoxious Two things to note about BYU Football Fans: 1. 90% of them are great, smart, fun, friendly, cute, funny, pleasurable, etc. It's the other 10% I cringe about... 2. Of that 10%, the most egregious violators of the ebv-cringe factor are: a. The Baby Mommy Blogger Football Fanatics. They come, they bring baby, forget to bring a blanket/shade/bottle/diaper/brain and look absolutely disgusted with life when they realize that the football stadium is not Baby Mommy Blogger friendly. Can't they at least install the diaper surfboad thingys in the bathroom?!! Darn that perfect husband for making Baby Mommy Blogger come out to the stadium with Baby Mommy Blogger Baby! b. The Fan Coach. My sister Kirsti pointed this one out to me yesterday. You know the guy. The one who yells at the field and the players and the fans and the refs and the grass and the football. AND FULLY EXPECTS THESE PEOPLE AND INANIMATE OBJECTS TO COMPLY WITH HIS DEMANDS. And is convinced he's an absolute genius when the defense "Finally Got to The Quarterback, Bro!" just like he told them to do since the first second of the first quarter. And is absolutely crestfallen when he realizes that these people and inanimate objects do their jobs better than he can, even when all the football has to do to comply with the demands of its nature is exist. Yeah. He's annoying. c. The Flirty Fan. This is an equal opportunity BYU Football Fan. The one who shows up to the game wearing his/her favorite too-tight shorts, which go perfectly with his/her too-tight polo shirt, which makes a good foil for his/her too-big sunglasses, which are obviously needed on a cloudy day because otherwise his/her too-tan body would look kinda silly. And they don't even hide the fact that they came just to scope out the latest offerings at the meat dep...er...BYU game. They want you to know they're in attendance solely to scope out the produce. d. The Not-Drunk Drunk Fan. This is the fan who acts, shouts, speaks, and sometimes smells like he/she is drunk. Only they're not. Which makes it even more disgusting, to be honest. e. The Fair Weather Fan. This fan will turn on the team at the drop of a yellow flag or a football from his running back's hands. This fan will also deem his team to be the Greatest There Ever Was When They Just Beat a Div. II School at Home. Their motto: "Why beat a good team by two when you can beat a lousy team by 24?!" f. The Weird Fan. The one who dresses up as Frodo and tries to start cheers in the Black Speech of Mordor; who also wets himself when he hears the strains of Howard Shore's score to the Lord of the Rings played by the BYU band. I actually LOVE this fan, but I know people who don't... f. The Righteous Fan. This winner is convinced that the Lord's University must also be the Lord's Sports Team. Included in this notion are such dogmatic gems as: i. God plays favorites ii. Personal Righteousness will win you whatever you want--including a touchdown! iii. Because a school is sponsored by a church, that school and its players and overall athletic program are more righteous than the "other schools" not sponsored by a church, and thus not sponsored by Jesus. iv. God is a sports fan v. BYU must be the Lord's Sports Team because BYU wins every single event, game, and match in every single sport. Ever. Always. Amen. PS. The creamery ran out of Frozen Lemonade, so I bought a Sprite with a half-day's salary to share with my sister. CREAMERY! OUTRAGEOUS CONSESSION STAND PRICES!! 4. Diego's Taco Shop is Hidden Yeah. If anyone can find out where this place is now, I'd appreciate it. They have the most lovely carne asada burritos I've ever had in my life... and now they're gone. Oh, where'd you go, Joe Diego? Come back to me....please.... 5. Erin's in DC :'( 'nuff said.


Five Reasons I'm Excited to go Back to School

1. My Earliest Class is at 10 am I am nigh unto incoherent in the early morning hours. If my career choices were narrowed down to Early Morning Talk Show Host and Grave Digger, I'd have to think for a long time... 2. Provo For all the grief I give this big little city, some of the best friends, coolest people, and most beautiful women I've ever met wouldn't be a part of my life if not for BYU-city. And I'd be so much worse off without them. You know who you are... ;) 3. Third Year, Like Senior Year, is an Excuse to Finally Enjoy Yourself I'm here. I'm finally here. Two years later. I'm alive. I feel like I've gone through a tour of duty and have been assigned to some kind of luxury resort for the remainder of my term. It's so nice to look forward to classes and finally know exactly what they deal with. I dare my professors to try and hide the ball.... 4. FALL MEANS FOOTBALL!!! There's nothing like the crisp autumn air, fall colors, and the roar of a stadium after a touchdown. That, and the BYU football team tends to provide me with more blog-fodder than any other source. Oh, and this year looks like both the Utes and the Kewgs could head into their November matchup either undefeated or at least ranked in the Top 25. It could shake out to be the best matchup for the two since, well, ever. Fall Saturdays are glorious. 5. Provo This city makes me giddy. Just the thought of the police beat, living irony, hypocrisy, pharisism, unintentional hilarity, and the prevailing sense of benign totalitarianism makes me shiver with anticipation. I take it back. Provo gives me more blog-fodder than BYU football ever could...


Five Things I've Learned From Stephenie Meyer (or Twilight Sucks, Too)

Well, here it is. The column you've all been waiting for. I'm sad to say, but this is it for my Twilight crusade. At least for the next little while. I just want to let this go, and get back to making fun of happier foibles, like Scooters in Provo, Politics, and Hurricane, Utah. Ms. Meyer makes me tired. Without further ado, here are the five great things I've learned from Stephenie Meyer: 1. Want a Girl? Want a Guy? Be Undead, Unbelievably Attractive, and Ultimately Perfect, That's All. It's so easy, I wonder how no one ever thought of it! The following Edward wiki-description (painstakingly crafted by an uber fan, no doubt) proves my point, methinks: Edward is described by Bella as being impossibly beautiful. At various points in the series, she compares him to the mythical Greek god Adonis. His skin is "like marble"– very pale, ice cold, and sparkles in the sunlight like diamonds. She describes his facial features as being perfect and angular - high cheekbones, strong jawline, a straight nose, and beautiful, full lips. His hair, which is always in casual disarray, retains the unusual bronze shade that he inherited in his human life from his biological mother. His eyes, once emerald green, are now described as a liquid, golden topaz. His fingers are described often as slender and he is said to have a dazzlingly crooked smile. Edward stands at 6'2", and has a slender but muscular build. Edward, like all vampires in the Twilight series, possesses superhuman beauty, strength, speed, endurance, and agility. His scent and voice are enormously seductive, so much so that he occasionally sends Bella into a pliant daze entirely by accident. In Twilight, Edward explains that like other vampires, he does not need to breathe, though he chooses to do so out of habit and because it is helpful to smell his environment.

Edward is charming, polite, determined, and very stubborn. He is very protective over Bella and puts her safety, humanity and welfare before anything else.

Edward is also musical, able to play the piano like a virtuoso. He enjoys a wide range of music, including classical, jazz, progressive metal, alternative rock, punk rock, but dislikes country. He prefers indie rock to mainstream, and appreciates rock and classical music equally. He mentions in Twilight that he likes music from the fifties better than the sixties, and dislikes the seventies entirely.

Sigh..... Perfection. Not only is he hot, shirtless, polite, charming, romantic, seductive, alluring, and Adonis-esque, but he plays the piano. Virtuosically. Sigh.... Now, prepare yourself--I'm going to flip this thing on its head. I apologize in advance for the seriosity I'm about to indulge in... What if we had a male protagonist (we'll call him Bello) who described a similar female figure (we'll call her Edwina)? Like Aphrodite, only sexier and much more physically alluring? What would the national reaction be? While the guys might hoot, holler, and scream "aoooooooooooga!" now, the ladies might have a different reaction to this. Instead of the sighs and the "oh my"s, I'd bet the Edwina character would be met with grunts of disgust. Many would probably scoff and say "That's what we always get, some impossibly attractive girl with big...um...eyes." Others would shrug and brush it off as "Another Baywatch Bimbo figure...so?" Some might even wax indignant and rage against the perpetuation of a stereotype and point out that, yet again, guys just prove themselves to be pigs... But isn't that just the problem? Isn't Edward just a perpetuation of an impossible stereotype? The dashing Brad Pitt, sans real person problems and a touch of the exotic? A figure who, while superficially mysterious, is perplexingly and frustratingly perfect? A standard that if striven for and demanded will ultimately lead to nothing? I'm sorry to break this to y'all, if this is the standard men are held up to, they will never totally measure up. Physically, emotionally, undead-ally...ain't gonna happen. Likewise, ladies, if the growing pornography use among men indicates anything, it's that guys are already doing this exact thing to themselves: casting an impossible image in their minds of the "perfect" woman, even though to achieve that image women would have to be 70% plastic... and essentially act like men. The Plasticene Woman is an unarguably unfair standard and denigrating to women. So what is Edward? Is he an ideal as many would argue, or is he something worse-- a soulless dream, a vampiric Twinkie without the cream filling? If the latter is true, no wonder marriage rates are down and divorce rates up: We can't find our respective Edward Cullens and Carmen Electras! (Not that this is the only reason for that...) Now, before anyone gets feisty, I understand this is fiction. I understand it's escapism. I understand it's essentially a modern-day fairy tale. But when so many women and girls and men devour these books over and over again (some women I've talked to have read them 14+ times already), isn't a bit concerning that readers are consuming an image of a man who's not just unrealistic, but impossible? Is this healthy? Is it wise? Worse, Edward's relationship with Bella, from what I can gather, is one based mostly on barely restrained lust between them both and a touch of over-controlling boyfriend syndrome. Is this the match made in heaven I keep hearing about? 2. Good Idea + Bad Execution = Billions of Dollars Play Doh was supposed to be a Wallpaper Cleaner. Silly Putty was supposed to be a rubber substitute in World War II. Saccharine was supposed to be a tube of chemicals in some guys lab. The Microwave was a vacuum-tube magnetron experiment. Post-It-Notes were the result of glue that didn't quite bond well enough. Twilight was supposed to be many things: a trashy novel for the dime store Romance section; a book that didn't quite work; a Dracula substitute in Post-Cold War America. But then it had to go and make like those other products: become wildly popular with kids, kitchen-goers, and office workers. 3. Quotes that Sound Good ARE Good. "Without the Dark We'd Never See the Stars" (2005 Quote) Technically, not true. The Sun, Stephenie? Hello?! Big huge star in your face pretty much every day. Not really dark when you see it, though, is it? "About three things i was absolutely positive: First, Edward was a vampire; Second, there was a part of him -- and I didn't know how dominant that part might be -- that thirsted for my blood; And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." Goodness. Love is a grocery list. And a very dry one at that. "Don't ever let anyone tell you that high school is supposed to be fun. High school is to be endured. College is fun." Sounds like someone had a hard time in high school. 4. If you Find a Niche, Suck it Dry, Man. You Never Know... Success is like an oil well. You never know when it could run dry. I hate to admit it, but a part of me is rooting for the day that this Twilight well catches fire and burns up... The Cast of "Saturday's Vampire..." or "Twilight's Warrior." Whatever it is, I swear I've seen that smile somewhere before... 5. Unlike Baby Mommy Bloggers' Affection for Poo, Blood is Actually the Cutest of all Bodily Functions. Most people shudder at the thought of spilled blood. And the thought of spilled poo. But apparently when either irresistably Adonisish undead guys or half-grown people have anything to do with these bodily fluids, it makes Baby Mommy Bloggers go ga-ga. With that in mind, I'm writing my own Young Adult Fiction series entitled "Huggies." You know what it'll be about... And it will be chock-full of impossible, yet irresistably appealing, stereotypes. Billions, here I come... ;)


Ahhh... Religion and Politics

Well, this one has sealed the deal for Jason Chaffetz. Read on... Thanks to loyal reader Kyle Witherspoon for the tip. KSL reports today that: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Democratic nominee in Utah's 3rd Congressional District told The Salt Lake Tribune that Jesus would vote for him if he had the chance. WHAT?! I must have missed this divine revelation... Wait. It's not official? Huh. Must be a campaign ploy. I'm just waiting for the deployment of all those yellow silicon bracelets with "HWJV?" emblazoned on them...

Bennion Spencer is writing a book about how Jesus would view certain policies. He says Jesus would oppose making President Bush's tax cuts permanent and that he would support a "very compassionate" immigration policy.

Not to make too light of this scenario, but it's just begging for it. Pretty sure that Jesus was non-partisan and a conscientious abstainer when it came to taxes-- "Rend unto Caesar what is Caesar's...." As to his immigration policy, also pretty sure that Jesus meted out both justice and mercy, but not to any immigrants that I know of. In fact, if memory of the Gospels serves, the only group of people the Savior really couldn't stand was...oh...wait...politicians (pharisees and publicans being the politicos of the Hebrew theocracy). Sorry, Bennion!

Seriously, how do people feel it's OK to extrapolate specific policy and politics from the Savior's principle-based teachings? Of course, individuals have the right to allow those teachings to influence and shape their own beliefs and policies. But to say that "Jesus would do this" always seems self-serving and worse, sacrilegious.

Jesus would do a lot of things if He were walking here today. Somehow, throwing His support behind a politician seems like it would be lower on his list of things to do.

Spencer later backed away from his statement and told the newspaper he isn't sure whether Jesus would vote for him.

Smartest move yet, Mr. Spencer.

But sadly, a little late.


Breaking Dawn... Breaking Bad

Check out this article from Entertainment Weekly. Call me sardonic, sadistic, or just plain cruel, but I've never been happier to see someone's balloon get popped. Especially THIS blood-filled balloon. I do have a question for those who have read these books: do you really, like so many Mormon girls and moms, believe that this series is clean and reverent and wholesome? Or is it all about an unhealthy preoccupation with/repression of sexuality? Discuss...


All You Need

When I was 18, I knew everything. I was deep. I had perspective. I had experience. I knew the world, and the world knew me. And I wrote a short paper on a subject I felt perfectly qualified to address: LIFE. I won't reproduce all of it here; it's humbling how much your perspective, mindset, and writing style can change in seven years. But in this paper, I analogized life to a block tower. (Think JANGA, only more mature and somberly serious in a way that only adolescence can produce). Stylistic weaknesses aside, there is a small portion of the paper that I like to this day; a mantra that I try desperately to cling to: "When building our own tower of life, any slight miscalculation, any flaw in construction, and the tower will fall at the slightest breeze. And when it crashes, the only thing to hold onto--the only thing left--is the base: self, friends, family, and God." Another man I deeply respect spoke much more eloquently than ebv.18 on these things. I especially appreciate what he had to say of our one unfailing Foundation: "Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. "Pray always, and be believing." Indeed, as Paul wrote of Abraham, he "against [all] hope believed in hope" and "staggered not . . . through unbelief." He was "strong in faith" and was "fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able . . . to perform."

Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.

In spite of this counsel, I know some of you do truly feel at sea, in the most frightening sense of that term. Out in troubled waters, you may even now be crying with the poet:

It darkens. I have lost the ford. There is a change on all things made. The rocks have evil faces, Lord, And I am [sore] afraid.
No, it is not without a recognition of life's tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God's love and the Savior's power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us--as well as the sea--to "be still." Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to "be of good cheer." Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them."
--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
Now that I'm 25, I realize that I know next to nothing, I haven't touched the surface of depth, and my perspective is narrow to a fault. Almost done with Law School, and I feel like a fresh-eyed Kindergartener, wondering how Mrs. Waterworth made those funny symbols on the chalkboard or played the chords on her guitar. Looking back, then, on the base of my 18-year-old tower, and inspecting it now, I wouldn't change it. Self, Friends, Family, God. Those are the things that really matter in life. But with a bit of perspective and some weightier experiences under my shoes, I see now that there is one link between the four corners of that base, the bedrock of it all: Ready? This won't blow you away.... Love. I think now, more than ever before, John Lennon had the right of it. That in the end, Love is All We Need. But what is LOVE? President Hinckley (dear man) called it "the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But it is not at the end of a rainbow; it is at the beginning, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. It is the security for which children weep, the meat and drink of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death." Since my 18 year-old self already tried to tackle LIFE in a one-page thought piece, I'll try my hand at describing LOVE in a few lines. It is a soft whisper against the storm. It is a piercing star upon the blackness. It is the beauty in the mundane. It is a cool kiss on a fevered brow. It is a cupped hand on a quivering chin. It is a hot tear on a reddened cheek. It is a belly laugh in the midst of sobs. It is a bear hug on a lonely night. It is a gaze into another's soul. It is the water in the stream, and the flowers floating there. It is a friend in the sea of strangers. It is the glue and rock and root of us. It is a story for a storyless time. It is a quick smile after a playful wink. It is the greatest single achievement we have. And it is worth everything.