Thursday, April 17, 2014

Truly Stupid Childhood Misconceptions

Note: This is a reprint of an earlier blog.

Most of us, if we think hard enough, can come up with a few truly stupid things we believed as young children. My brother believed more stupid things than I did, though he doesn't remember most of them. I'll help him to remember. Matthew believed that all cats were female and all dogs were male. I'm not sure if he figured the truth to that one out on his own or if he had to wait until high school biology to learn the scoop. My brother also believed that the only parent who was a child's biological relative was the mother. (I should note that my brother does and always did bear an incredible physical resemblance to my father. He must've thought it strange when people commented on it.) My brother also thought the 4-1-1 operator could come through the telephone and attack you. He totally freaked out anytime he knew someone was calling directory assistance. My brother also believed that if a toilet were flushed when a person was sitting on it, the person would be sucked down through the pipes and into the sewer. I terrorized my brother with this irrational belief for the better part of two years until my mother finally put an end to it by sitting me on the toilet fully clothed, and flushing, so Matthew could see that his fear was without foundation. I was a bit irritated at my mom for ending it all so abruptly. I might have had another year or two to torment Matthew had she not intervened.

I carried around a couple of strange beliefs myself. I thought that when a couple divorced, the divorce occurred in a church ceremony, just like a wedding -- with music, flowers, and maybe even a reception -- except instead of vowing to love and honor, etc, the divorcees aired their grievances about the spouses they were divorcing. I imagined songs such as "All my Exes Live in Texas," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers, or maybe "She's Out of My Life." Both my parents frequently performed at weddings. I asked my mom once if she'd ever played or sung at a divorce. She just laughed. I think she thought I was trying to be funny. One day I saw an earlier incarnation of the TV show "Divorce Court" and realized that I had it all wrong. (When I made this discovery, my brother was still fearing the directory assistance operator and thoroughly entrenched in the belief that all cats were female and all dogs were male. I share this with you merely to give you perspective.)

I also believed that one of my uncles-by-marriage on my dad's side was Lee Harvey Oswald. My mother went through a major Kennedy obsession as a child, and her library still features hundreds of books on the Kennedy family. When I was in timeout, I was usually sent to my parents' den. The most interesting thing to read was the books about the Kennedys. I noticed a striking resemblance between the late Lee Harvey Oswald and my uncle. At first I thought maybe the two were brothers, but my uncle's name was Lee. Why would a family name two sons Lee? (This was before I knew about George Foreman and his habit of naming his sons after him.) In my little mind, I realized that Uncle Lee WAS Lee Harvey Oswald -- that the televised shooting of him by Jack Ruby was either a fake or he had miraculously survived it, and rather than filling the public in on what really happened to him, and possibly having a trial for the shooting of President Kennedy, they essentially put him in the "Criminal's Protection Program" or something like that. I always thought it rather strange that they didn't bother to change his first name.

For obvious reasons, I avoided this uncle in the way I would avoid snakes or outhouses. (Note: I have never in my life been inside an outhouse and don't intend to change that status anytime soon.) I made my stupid belief known to the family and endured years of humiliation when, at a family gathering during which I was about five years of age, for some reason the adults were discussing Russia. They were arguing about Russian currency. I don't remember the specifics. I finally had enough of what I saw as a rather silly argument when we had an expert sitting right in our midst. I pointed my finger at the man and blurted out, "Why don't we just ask him? He lived  in Russia."

"I did?" my Uncle Lee replied in a quizzical manner.

"Yes, you did," I declared. "It was before you shot President Kennedy. I know who you really are."

It seemed that the resemblance hadn't been lost on the rest of the family, because the entire group burst into loud laughter at my proclamation. I immediately ran from the room in humiliation, but not before hearing my Uncle Lee accuse my dad of telling me that he, Uncle Lee, was Lee Harvey Oswald. My dad replied something to the effect that he's never once discussed President Kennedy, Oswald, or Uncle Lee's resemblance to the alleged assassin with me.

As you can see, my brother's stupid misconceptions far outnumbered mine, though we both were guilty of major imbecility. I suspect that other kids I knew believed dumb things as well, but I never learned of the specifics.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pleasant Grove Strikes Again

Megan Huntsman

After almost having gotten past the idea of having slept for several nights in a home that was within easy shouting distance of Martin MacNeill (of forcing his wife into cosmetic surgery, drugging her with the excessive medications he insisted on being prescribed to her, and then drowning her in the bathtub fame), it seems that the cosmopolitan city [note:sarcasm font] is once again in the news. This time, it is because one of Pleasant grove's residents has been arrested and charged with killing seven newborn babies. Megan Hunstman, 39 years old, allegedly gave birth to the babies, killed them, then kept them in her home in cardboard boxes. Hunstman supposedly lived with her three daughters, who are now between the ages of  eleven and eighteen.

I've read conflicting stories on her husband or husbands. One account has her being married at different times to seven different men. Another story says that her sole husband was away in prison during the interval in which the babies would have been born and killed.

Hunstman is a relatively common surname in Utah. the most prominent bearers of the surname would be Jon Hunstman, Jr, former governor of Utah.  No clarification regarding any familial relationship or lack thereof between the prominent Huntsmans and Megan Huntsman has been provided to date.

I spent a summer in an apartment roughly two blocks from where this all went down. the most recent murdered baby was allegedly murdered in the year 2006. It was in 2008 when I spent a month in that apartment. At least no baby was killed [of which the authorities are aware], but the lady and her daughters lived in the house during that first summer when I was in the apartment two blocks away. I'm pretty sure I walked by the house. It gives me the willies. I'm going to need pharmaceutical assistance in order to sleep tonight.

If the idea of eerie events happening near you  keeps you awake at night, you would do well to avoid Utah.  At the rate things are going, Utah will soon catch up to central Florida in terms of weird murders.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rest in Peace, George Donaldson

I should have taken the time to post this earlier, but I've procrastinated as I often do.

The Earth has lost a consummate musician and an even better human being. George Donaldson, the stately anchor singer of  Celtic Thunder, succumbed to a massive heart attack in his sleep on March 12. He looked healthy enough to me, although, perhaps because of his baldness, I would have guessed his age as older than the actual number of forty-five that it was.

I've seen him with Celtic Thunder in concert three times and have seen him on TV numerous times. I met him after two concerts. My parents knew him better than I did because they've worked with him on occasion.  He was a very kind person.  The world is an infinitely poorer place with his loss. Rest in peace, George Donaldson.

George Donaldson, February 1, 1968 - March 12, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Judge Alex, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Marigolds

Judge Alex, who stands for truth, justice, and the American way, will be leaving us soon.

My dad brought flowers to me today when he came home from work. It was a cheap bouquet, of course. He's not going to spring for two dozen long-stemmed roses for me unless I die or do something similarly grave. for that matter, they looked a bit old. He probably either took them off the hands of some patient exiting the hospital who had too many flowers to carry, or perhaps he got them really cheap from the hospital gift shop because they were getting almost too old to sell. In any event, I could speculate for the rest of the night and possibly never arrive at the actual means by which he came in possession of the flowers.

The bouquet contained carnations, a single rose, and, I think, a few marigolds. The marigolds were timely in light of a recent sermon at the LDS general Conference in which Elder Jeffrey R. Holland made some reference to the masses preferring a god who patted them on the head, made them giggle, and then sent them on their merry way to pick marigolds. It was possibly a literary reference. Then again, it may have been merely a jab at those who do not see God as the vengeful and wrath-filled he-man as portrayed in Mormon doctrine.

I'm told I should like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland because he did a big favor for a close member of my family -- a member of the family whom I actually like. I, on the other hand, do not blindly follow instructions of anyone. For me, the verdict is still out regarding Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  While he's less overtly hostile than some of the LDS general authorities, I found that remark condescending and unnecessary. Why can he not speak his own truths quietly and clearly without denigrating the beliefs of others?

I digress. Allow me to return to my original topic, which is the flowers that my father brought home to me today, and the reason for those flowers. My dad just heard the news from God knows how long ago that "Judge Alex" will end as soon as the last season that has been filmed is aired.  He thought I might be in deep mourning. While I'm sorry to see the program end, "deep mourning" is just a bit extreme in description of how I'm feeling about the situation. My life will go on, as will Judge Alex's.  judge Alex will probably have continued life on TV, for that matter. Perhaps he'll become a Fox News pundit. Then my dad and I can watch and shoot the TV with foam darts together.  I can hit Megyn Kelly's forehead from a distance of twenty-five feet.  Judge Alex's forehead is even bigger.

It seems to me that the floral arrangement should have at least a token marigold.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Break Rears Its Ugly Head

unrest in Isla Vista created by non-UC-Santa Barbara students

A social media-promoted spring break gathering turned violent when a sheriff's deputy was hit in the head with a backpack filled with beer bottles in the UC-Santa Barbara off-campus residential area of Isla Vista. When an ensuing arrest was attempted, a riot erupted in which fires were started, traffic signs were removed, and projectiles were thrown at law enforcement officials. Law enforcement from neighboring Venture County was called in for reinforcement.  Hours later order was restored. Over one hundred arrests were made, and at least forty-four people were taken to a local hospital.

I'm quite familiar with the neighborhood, community, or whatever you'd care to call it, of Isla Vista. While I wouldn't willingly take my grandmother there, seedier places than Isla Vista exist within a ten-minute drive of my previous hometown, which is considered one of the safest communities in the U.S.

The spring break event -- what has become an annual street party dubbed "Deltopia," which allegedly morphed from the "Floatopia" spring break event of several years ago -- was attended primarily by high school students and students on spring break from institutions other than UCSB.  I'm sure there were UCSB student in attendance, but the majority have left the area for spring break. In this particular case, the reputation of UCSB students has been sullied by outsiders.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bobby Flay Made My Cousin Gay

My cousin sees something in Bobby Flay that I don't.

Note: Thanks to Donna for the inspiration.

I have a cousin who shall be referred to in this blog as Nathan. His mother, who is my father's sister and therefore my aunt, shall be called Therese. The names have been changed in this blog to protect both the innocent and guilty. I'll leave it to the reader to determine exactly whom falls into which category.

Nathan, bless is soul, has been gay probably since before his forced exit from the womb. (He was twelve days overdue, and labor induction was unsuccessful, so he was delivered via Caesarean section. I don't think that's particularly relevant, though my Aunt Celeste -- strongly devoted both to anti-Caesarean and anti-gay movements --would tell you otherwise.) I've known Nathan was gay since long before I even knew there was such a thing as gay. When I first heard of the concept of homosexuality, Nathan was my personification for the condition, as in, "Oh! Like Nathan!"

In the unenlightened 1990's when he was growing up, a great deal of murmuring was heard among family members regarding Nathan's rather effeminate nature. Even in the dark ages, my own parents were relatively open to the idea of one's sexuality not being a matter of choice. Still, the degree to which Nathan pinged bothered my dad a bit.  "It's not so much that he carries a purse,"  my dad would say. (Several of my mom's cast-off purses were in my stash of dress-up clothing.) "It's how he carries the purse."  My dad said he didn't really care about anyone's sexuality as long as whatever happened did so behind closed doors. Still, Nathan's overly effeminate demeanor made him a bit uncomfortable, or at least pretending not to notice it bothered my dad. He said numerous times that being around Nathan with the rest of the family and pretending there was nothing about Nathan to bother the LDS segment of the family  My dad described witnessing the young Nathan dressing in drag and painting his nails in front of the family as like being in a room with a giant flamingo and pretending not to notice it.

Nathan loved trying on the formal gowns from my mom's high school years, and only wore heels that matched, usually consulting with my mom to ensure he'd made the best choice. He was quick to criticize my shoe selection in my dress-up kit, and complained that his mommy's shoes were much prettier. (In retrospect, that's probably where all the family's money went. Nathan's father was an MD and presumably brought in a decent salary, but  parents have hit my parents up for help with mortgage payments or other expenses several time throughout the year.) Nathan likewise disparaged  my nail polish and lipstick selections as well selection. All I ever had as a kid had was what my mom threw out.  She's never been into upscale beauty products, probably because she doesn't need all that much in order to look nice. She's naturally pretty. She probably buys her makeup from Walgreen's.

Anyway, Nathan's interests were never typical for a boy his age, not that there's anything wrong with a boy not being interested in sports, outdoor pursuits, model airplanes, chemistry or anything else along those lines. My earliest recollection of Nathan would have been when I was two and he was five. He and I were both in attendance at a family reunion in some LDS-owned luxury cabin somewhere in Utah.
He brought with him in a duffel bag his rather extensive collection of Beanie Babies, and warned all the other children not to touch them.  I was a rather oppositional child, and took his warning as an invitation to grab the elephant Beanie Baby and run as fast as I could with it. Instead of chasing me, Nathan let loose with a high-pitched shriek that got the attention of everyone, including the security personnel who patrolled the property 24/7. My dad chased me down, which was a good thing, as once he finished his shriek, Nathan took a deep gulp of air, then held his breath until Peanut the Elephant was returned to him.  Therese gave me a look that would have sent me six feet under if looks could actually accomplish such a thing. She still hates me to this day, and I suspect my theft of Peanut the Elephant is the main reason, as the two of us have had little direct contact since that time.

Anyway, at some point right after he returned home from his LDS mission a year or so ago, Nathan became interested in food, or at least in the Food Network. He had finished his mission mid-semester so was not enrolled in any college courses. He essentially commandeered the family room television and watched Food Network programming nonstop during all of his waking hours. He periodically attempted to recreate a culinary masterpiece he saw while watching, but mostly he just watched. And drooled.  Bobby flay became a particular favorite, though he also watched anything he could find with either Tyler Florence or Giada de Lorentis.

Aunt Therese eventually noticed her son's fixation with the Food Network and, through some epiphany, noticed for the first time her son's effeminacy.  Therese considered it very much a cause/effect scenario. Watching Food Network programming had made her son effeminate, Therese said, ignoring twenty-one years of feminine behavior on Nathan's part. Therese immediately called my mother, who is a licensed clinical psychologist. That faction of the family seriously believes that if a person shows homosexual tendencies, consultation with a psychiatrist is in order.

My mother said she tried to be gentle in speaking with my aunt. She told my aunt that Nathan is who he is and that watching the Food network would not cause him to be a homosexual if he were not already one. This came as a relief to Therese, who assumed my mother meant Nathan couldn't possibly be gay, which she never said and certainly didn't mean to imply. My mom told Therese that it seemed as though Nathan was replacing one addiction -- his mission (or something or someone from his mission, though my mother didn't specify this) -- with another addiction, which was the Food Network. My mother's concern was not that Nathan was watching the Food Network, but that he had so much time on his hands that he could spend every waking hour watching the Food Network. My mom recommended to Therese that she insist that Nathan either get a job or do volunteer work.

Therese didn't follow my mom's advice. Instead, she called her cable provider and had all cooking channels blocked. Nathan still watches on his computer, but his mother doesn't know about it, which is a good thing, as Therese probably considers it pornography. Nathan is now carrying fifteen units at BYU, but he still finds time to feed his Bobby Flay addiction.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Les Haute Couture et Coiffure de Polygamie (otherwise known as polygamy)

I spent a large part of the previous weekend lounging around and doing next to nothing, as I somehow developed a nasty case of bronchitis that may have crossed the line into the dreaded territory of croup. I drugged myself with codeine cough syrup, AKA purple sludge, for long enough to stop hacking excessively in order to get through accompanying  a senior recital on Sunday afternoon, but that was the extent of my productivity. In truth, I did cough all over the piano keyboard during the final two songs, but I kept playing, which was all that really mattered. The violinist passed her recitalwith flying colors, and I was playing the gig for free, so she couldn't really complain about my coughing. The remainder of my time last weekend,  or what little of it I was actually conscious, I spent ogling  photographs at

If you've never been to, you should seriously give it a look. It does not feature standard LDS hair per se, but rather the hairstyles popularized by the fundamentalist Mormons, and especially Warren Jeffs' FLDS branch. The females there are known for really poofy hair above their foreheads. It's an odd look -- I'm not quite sure who in the world thought it would be flattering,  who agreed, and generally how the trend ever got off the ground.  Some of the braids used are elaborate and attractive . . . from the back. From the front, the women have that  otherworldly-appearing poof that makes even the comparatively few passably pretty females among the flock look like space aliens. Sadly, not many of the flock could be classified as anything resembling passably pretty, at least in my opinion. (Most of us need at least a touch of cosmetic assistance to look our best, and FLDS women are forbiden from wearing makeup. The inbreeding that has occurred among the FLDS over the past century hasn't exactly helped the overall look, either.  Then again, I'm not exactly a supermodel myself, although I at least don't make every effort to look even more ridiculous than I do in my natural state.  those poor ladies haven't consciously chosen to do so, either; it's the fault of Warren Jeffs, his predecessors, and his higher-level underlings. Tpoor women aren't even allowed to pluck their eyebrows.

I've posted a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. I highly recommend that you check out the site.

The lady with the cell phone is Annette Jeffs, first wife (and only legal wife) of Warren Jeffs.(source Aftonbladet)

source politicsrusprinciple
I included this one primarily because the little girl, whom I think is flawlessly beautiful (for that matter, with a more flattering hairstyle and a little makeup, the lady would possibly be pretty as well), doesn't appear (by hair or clothing) to be a member of Warren's flock, although perhaps the picture was taken when she was in state custody after the YFZ raid.
(source: politicsrusprinciple)