Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thou shalt not steal.

Commandment number seven for Roman Catholics and number eight for Protestants, Mormons, and I don't know what number for Jews, commands us not to steal. This has been a subject of recent controversy in my family. A relative has found himself on the wrong side of the legal system after allegedly helping himself to a crate of disposable douches before they could be unloaded from a truck into a grocery store.

Stealing is obviously not a good thing. We all know this if only because, from our own egocentric perspectives, we know that we wouldn't like it if someone stole from us. Yet there is a breaking point -- a point at which one would resort to taking what was not rightfully his or hers --for almost everyone. For some, this breaking point is simply a situation in which the theft is not likely to be detected. For others, a bigger safety margin would ne necessary: if the chance of getting away with it were virtually guaranteed, some among us would then feel it was acceptable to steal. For others, only an exigent situation such as one's children going hungry without the unlawful procurement of food or money would render stealing an acceptable practice.

WhAt constitutes stealing isn't totally clear-cut, either. If a person sees a quarter on a sidewalk and no one who might bave dropped it is anywhere around, is it stealing to pick up the quarter, or must one leave it where it has fallen? What if it's a one-hundred-dollar bill and not a quarter that one spots? What if one discovers that a cashier has given him or her one dollar more in change than should have been given? Must it be returned? What if the amount is twenty dollars more than what should have been given? What if the discrepancy of change in one's favor occurs while one is traveling, and the error is not discovered until the recipient has traveled over one hundred miles from the site of the transaction?

Furthermore, where do things like borrowing a paper clip from one's place of employment, or making a few unauthorized personal copies on the office machine figure into the equation? Or what should one do if a vending machine coughs up a soda before the full price has been deposited? If one drops in the remaining quarter and walks away, the next person will get his or her soda before dropping in the correct coinage and will be faced with the same dilemma. What's really the point, other than honesty for the sheer sake of honesty?

Most of us have heard the story of Abraham Lincoln walking many miles to return some piddling sum like a penny to its rightful owner. With the value of a cent being what it is in today's world, I would not travel any great distance to return a penny that had erroneaouly fallen into my possession. I certainly hope I would make the effort if twenty dollars were involved, although I've never had my character tested in such a fashion. I suspect that the vast majority of us fall somewhere between the one-penny mark and the one-hundred-dollar mark when it comes to the point at which we feel we cannot hold on to something that does not belong to us. On the other hand, maybe for some, the greater the amount, the more likely it is that they would keep what was not rightfully theirs. Perhaps some who would make a public display of returning seventy-five cents to a tired or arithmetic-challenged cashier would remain silent were a larger error to be committed in their favor.

My uncle who was caught helping himself to the hefty package of feminine hygiene products was prone to Pharisee-like public displays of pointing out store clerks' one-cent errors and returning the penny in question, and seemed to actually believe the hype he was attempting to create for himself. Yet, at the same time, he liberally supplemented his earnings with goods and supplies from the public and private sectors on a regular basis for decades. Did he really not see the conflict between what he publicly professed and what he did when he thought no one was watching? Only he and God can answer the previous question.

All of this being said, I can state without equivocation that disposable douches are not an item I would care to steal. It is within the realm of possibility that my uncle had a compelling need for the disposable douches. It may have been that one or more of the females in the family were feeling particularly unfresh to the extent that my uncle was having a difficult time providing for his family in that regard. Or then, it may also have been that he had no idea what a douche, disposable or otherwise, really is and and just what is its use. One thing is almost certain: my uncle's wife and daughters are probably even more humiliated than he is right now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"All My Children" Is in Trouble

No, the title should not read "' All My Children' are in Trouble." I'm referencing the long-running daytime drama, "All My Children." Duh. Anyway, it seems that the future of the much-revered-by-many series may be in doubt. People around me are losing serious sleep over this.

My Pseudo-Uncle is providing a benefit concert tonight in my wing of the hospital. His concert isn't actually raising money for the cause of "All My Children." If one wishes to raise money for a cause by holding a benefit concert, holding it in the adolescent mental health wing of a hospital is not the most efficacious venue. What my uncle is trying to do is to help the people who are having trouble sleeping because of the uncertain future of "All My Children" by playing boring music so that they will fall asleep. He'll wonder around the floor with his guitar after everyone is in bed. He would use the piano, but it's not easy to push a piano around while one is playing and singing. It's probably been done before, but most likely with less-than-desired results.

PseudoAunt thinks this is the stupidest thing she's ever heard. She doesn't believe in soap operas. Her disbelief in them isn't akin to her disbelief in UFOs or the The Ghost of Bardsley Road. She acknowledges that soap operas are real and are here to stay. She just doesn't believe in watching them.

I haven't had much soap opera viewing time, either. If I had even tried to watch one when my parents were home, at least one of my parents would have blown a head gasket. Perhap it's time for that to change. When my parents sent me away to this place, it must have occurred to them that I might pick up a few unsavory habits. Perhaps soap opera viewing will be one of those habits. It might lower my iQ by a few points, but as my father is so fond of saying [about himself], I have a few points to spare.

We're having an "All My Children" wake here in the loony bin tomorrow. Everyone who wishes to participate will dress as a character. I've already called dibs on Opal (Gardner, Martin, Cortland). I've never seen the show, but I consulted wikipedia, and to me she seems the most compelling character.

Would it be disrespectful of the near-dead to say that I actually prefer what I've seen of "Days of Our Lives" to "All My Children"? My mom has told me stories from when she was a kid and when her sisters watched "Days of our Lives" and "General Hospital." Those shows had some seriusly convoluted plots about stuff like diamond-making machines that controlled the temperature of the Earth. It was amazing that anyone even watched.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

To Delete, or Not to Delete? That is the Question

I have been contacted by a relative on my father's side of the family. The relative has directed me to delete two blogs. The blogs in question cover the topic of peculiar habits of an uncle by marriage. The relative who spoke to me is also a relative by marriage. As far as I know, the relative did not speak with either of my parents.

The person who contacted me did not ask me to delete the blogs in question. Instead, he told me I must delete them. He spoke as though he held authority over me, which he doesn't. Had I been asked nicely to delete the blogs, I would have seriously considered doing so. I will not, however, cave in to threats or to intimidation.

The offending blogs make reference to my uncle's sticky fingers and provide documentation that his penchant for petty theft had its origin long before the blow to his head that some relatives are now alleging to be the cause of his thievery. If my obscure blog disappears, my detractors would appear to believe, no one will remember that the uncle by marriage has been stealing since long before I was born. Exactly how the D. A. was supposed to find my obscure blog and use it to send my uncle to the pokey for an extended state-funded vacation remains undisclosed. It's not as though I was providing links to the prosecutor assigned to my uncle's case. Likewise, it's not as though writing something in this blog is akin to publicizing it in the New York Times, or even the Salt Lake Tribune.

My parents will at some point become aware of this situation, if only through eventually reading what I'm typing here. They may have opinions as to what I need to do about this situation. If and when they express their opinions, I may be compelled to act upon their wishes. If I am compelled by my parents to delete the offending blogs, I will comply. The continued privilege of authoring this blog is contingent upon my parents' consent. I'm not like a noble journalist who goes to jail for refusing to identify a source. The truth as it relates to my uncle by marriage is not all that important a cause to me in the grand scheme of things.

The truth doesn't seem all that important to anyone involved in this situation, or at least the original truth doesn't. The relative by marriage who contacted me seems more interested in reinventing the truth to suit his purposes. He, and those around him, seem almost to believe in this truth they're painstakingly recreating. The people involved here, other that the disposable-douche-stealing-uncle himself, were people whom, while I didn't necessarily hold them in high esteem, I never thought were bona fide delusional. Now I can see I was wrong.

"The truth shall make you free." What exactly does that mean, anyway?

Depths to Which One Should Not Sink

One of my cousins is obsessed with movies that feautre mentally retarded characters. (My mother will read this and insist that I change mentally retarded to cognitively impaired. I refused to cave in to the political correctness movement. Mentally retarded shall remain.) His friends that I knew all held similar fascinations with the topic. Movies I remember them watching repeatedly were "What's eating Gilbert Grape," "Something about Mary," and "The Ringer." They love to sing the song about "I see pretty girls everywhere I go," and they recite much of the movie dialogue along with the characters.

Political correctness aside, I find his obsession highly unbecoming. While I occasionally find inappropriate jokes funny, one must draw the line somewhere, and it seems that poking fun at cognitively challenged individuals should be on the far side of the line each of us would draw. I don't assume that everyone who reads this will agree. Pleast respond in the "comments' section if you have strong feelings pertaining to this topic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Am Now over 5'7" and Have Really REALLY Large Boobs: More Lies from the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

My bra size is 36DD.

I used to date Brad Pitt. That was defore I dated Jake Gyllenhall but after I dated Jesse Spencer.

I weigh 129.

I gave acting lessons to Gwyneth Paltrow.

I did time in a convent, where I was studying and preparing to become a nun. I left just before it was time to take my final vows. The reason I left was that Prince William said he wanted to marry me. Then he went and proposed to Kate Middleton as well. He expected the two of us to co-exist peacefully in the same wing of Buckinham Palace as sister wives. I opted out, and now Kate has William all to herself. The convent won't take me back. Go figure.

My mother was a fat lady in a circus sideshow, but she had the lap band procedure and is no longer sufficiently corpulent to continue working in the freak show profession.

My [biological] father is also my half-brother.

I am a direct descendant of Pocahontas.

My twin brother is a direct descendant of L. Ron Hubbard.

I have a very rare blood type. No one else in the world has it. It is known as "IB Positively Negative."

My brother and I say we are twins, but we are technically decatuplets. The remaining eight decatuplets escaped from our home in infancy and haven't been heard from since.

I intercepted a bullet in an attempted assassination of President George W. Bush in 2007. The bullet is still lodged in my elbow. If doctors remove the bullet, it may explode and destroy anyone within a 1000-yard radius.

My great-great grandmother authored the epic nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty."

Nothing Important

My brother came directly into my room just before midnight last night following a date with his latest insignificant other. He sat in my recliner and started laughing hysterically. When I asked him what was so funny, he tried to asnwer me, but he was laughing too hard to even get a word out. Finally he was able to blurt out "disposable douche" before laughter again basically incapacitated him. As soon as he said "disposable douche," I could no longer help myself, and I joined him in hysterics. Our uncle by marriage is facing a charge of grand theft (or petty theft; I don't yet know which) for stealing a crate of dispoable douches. It would be sad except that it's so damned funny.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Black Sheep in the Family, and It's Not I for a Change!

Uncle Mahonri, AKA "Runic Manhole" and "Hernia Column," has found himself in a bit of a quandary. A few months ago I wrote about his innovative budget-easing strategy of helping himself to household staples including but not limited to toothpaste and toilet paper from the supplies maintained by others. It seems that feminine hygiene products can be counted among the products Mahonri obtains gratis.

As a shipment of individually packaged disposable douche products, the brand of which was not disclosed (not that it really matters), was in the process of being delivered to a discount grocery store not far from Mahonri's home, Mahonri intercepted the delivery of a very large carton of the supplies. He loaded the windfall into his minivan and headed home with them. A store employee observed Mahonri's supermarket spree and jotted down his license plate number as he sped away. An hour or so later, local law enforcement showed up at Mahonri's home and located the incriminating empty carton. The contents had already been distributed to bathrooms throughout the family home, as well as to the family's two-year supply of food and essential items.

Mahonri is an employee of the church educational system. This presents a wee bit of a public relations debaucle for the church. The solution decided upon by the church was to proclaim a lapse in mental health, with a physiological cause at its root, as the real culprit. This behavior, according to a local church spokesperson (when a public relations fiasco arises, the church prefers to relegate it to the local levels of church administration)is totally out of character for Uncle Mahonri.

I don't know whether the spokeman is under-informed or is deliberately misleading the public. While, as I am not a professional in either the medical or mental health fields, I am far from qualified to comment on the state of my uncle's sanity (and, for that matter, I've always thought he had more than a few loose screws), whether the issue is one of mental health or one of moral turpitude, the behavior itself is far from recent in onset. When I was three years old, Mahonri helped himself to all the Band-Aids in my family's medicine cabinets. This was only one of my parents' many opportunities to involuntarily participate in Mahonri's creative five-finger-discount system.

The members of my extended family are following the church's lead and are deluding themselves into believing that this behavior is unusual for mahonri. This is sad as well as stupid. Each branch of the family knows fully well the lengths to which they have gone to lock up their food, paper products, printer ink, and anything else Mahonri might find worth his while to lift whenever he has visited any one of us. Faulty wiring in his hard drive or some sort of chemical imbalance may very well have led Mahonri to pilfer the what must surely add up to thousands of dollars worth of goods he has stolen in the years since he has been a part of my extnded family.

My extended family's habit of looking the other way contributed to the situation Uncle Mahonri is now facing. Many years ago my mother attempted to address this problem directly by first confronting Mahonri himself and then, when he reacted with hostility, by approaching Mahonri's wife and my grandparents. My grandparents refused to speak to her for more than a year following her one-woman attempt at staging an intervention. Had someone taken my mother seriously at the time, perhaps the family would not now be suffering such public humiliation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Traveling North and South Regularly

The people who have control of my life feel that I'm not yet ready to discontinue residential treatment, but I really want to participate in spring sports in my final year of high school. We have reach a time-consuming and expensive yet satisfactory compromise. I will fly home immediately before the first ahtletic competition of the week, and will fly back to my treatment facility as soon as is practical following the final competition of the week.I will miss occasional unimportant competitions. This plan is costly, but I've been told I don't need to worry about from where the money is coming. Regardless of whom is footing the bill, I'm lucky I don't have to worry about it.

Tonight I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say. My relatives would say that nothing is new in this regard because I never have anything intelligent to say. That's a subject for debate, but as far as tonight goes, I readily admit that such is the case. The frequent flying is frying my brain. I can't really explain why. I'm not even crossing any time zones in my flights.

Watching television is an activity that I seriously enjoy. My parents restricted the amount of time I spent in front of a TV in my younger years and would still do so now if I were around them enough for them to enforce restrictions. Still, I managed to be sick often enough in my childhood that I got in a fair amount of exposure. When I was injured last spring, for a couple of months I wasn't able to do much besides watch TV. i saw a lot of really good stuff during that time. "Leave Ir To Beaver" reruns are my favorite, but I also like, "MASH," "WkRP in Cincinnati," "St. Elsewhere," and "The beverly hillbillies." My parents consider all of these shows to be beneath contempt, but their viewing habilts leave plenty of room for criticism as well.

I go back home on wednesday of this week and fly back here on Saturday morning. My pseudorelatives will be here this weekend, and I will spend some time with them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Strange Family's Reunion, and Modern-Day Perceptions of Nixon

My dad's side of the family holds a reunion, usually in a small and not terribly luxurious resort in the mountains east of Salt Lake City, every other year. I've attended my final reunion with this branch of the family. Last spring one of my dad's sisters and her husband were hired to take care of me when I was sick and injured. They didn't take care of me, resulting in a fiasco that wound up costing them custody of some of their children for several months. Part of the family blamed me for the sequence of events that caused some of this family's children to land in foster care for a time. Because I'm no longer welcome at any event my grandparents are hosting, and also because my mom is honoring my desire to never again see the aunt and uncle whose negligence almost killed me, I won't be attending future reunions with this side of the family.

The most recent reunion, as have all reunions with these particular relatives, ended with a testimony meeting. Mormons are fond of testimony meetings. One Sunday church service in each month is a testimony meeting in place of a more conventional worship service. Other church functions -- youth conferences, girls' and scout camps, and young adult retreats -- feature testimony meetings as well. It's logical enough that expecially zealous families might incorporate this feature into their reunions.

The family reunion testimony meetings most often have consisted of long-winded adults -- especially men -- attempting to outdo one another in terms of spirituality and in name-dropping of prominent Mormons. The bombastic son-in-laws of my grandparents have typically hogged most of the air time of these sessions. It somewhat caught me by surprise, then, when at the most recent reunion, in the middle of his testimony about his own righteousness and the rightness of His One True Church, one magniloquent uncle-by- marriage inexplicably began testifying to the holiness of Richard M. Nixon and how, if given the opportunity, he would vote for him again in the next election. (Thank God or whomever you wish that the American voting process has not been corrupted to the degree that we knowingly elect dead people to government offices.) Not to be outdone, the next pompous uncle-by-marriage bore his tetimony that he would go so far as to stuff a ballot box on behalf of our nation's thirty-seventh president. What had begun as a meeting with the presumed intent of allowing attendants to express love for God and family soon morphed into a lovefest for the late great Richard M. Nixon. My mom actually left the campfire area. I tried to do the same, but my dad physically prevented me from getting up and walking away. Nearly two years after the fact, I'm glad that my dad made me stay, as it wasn't something I would've wanted to miss. Grown men were crying while swearing allegiance to a dead guy who was a known crook. If I had needed further affirmation -- which I didn't -- that my dad's sisters had all married men who were bat$hit -crazy, here it was on a silver platter.

The testimony meeting always concluded with my grandfather's testimony. Grandfather did not disappoint me. He, too, spoke of the divine mission of the only- U. S. president-in-history-to ever-resign-while-in-office Richard M. Nixon. I wouldn't have been surprised to have seen my grandfather's face transformed into that if Tricky Dicky as he spoke.

Does anyone else out there have relatives who are equally reality-challenged?

St. Patrick's Day Revelry

My mother, who is of Irish descent, and some of her relatives and friends were having a marvelous celebration on Thursday night. Beer flowed freely --so freely that some of it found its way into my hands and down my throat. The stuff tastes atrocious, and I had to plug my nose to chug it down, but I did plug my nose and chug the stuff down in the interest of science. My brother thought the whole thing was hysterical. He thinks he's very sophisticated because he doesn't have to plug his nose to drink beer.

As I was starting on my second beer, my dad noticed what was happening and took it away from me. His effort was too little and a little too late, as, at eighty-two pounds, all I really need is a single beer to get an excellent buzz. Dad carted me upstairs and helped me brush my teeth and get into bed, and I slept through the night like a comatose sailor. The next day -- yesterday-- I stepped onto the track at my school and shattered my personal best times in two of my three hurdling events. In the 200 meter hurdles, I even managed to set a new school record.

What do you think are the chances that my parents will let me drink a Guinness the night before each of my remaining track meets? If you answered "slim to none" or "zero," you guessed correctly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

American Idol

Am I the only person in California who doesn't really care about "American Idol"? I don't hate the show, the contestants, or the winners, present or past. I just don't really care. Under the present capacity it's virtually impossible for the viewer voting system to guarantee anything resmbling fairness or honesty, yet if the viewer voting system were tossed out, the show would lose much of its appeal. Even if the voting were fair, though, I still wouldn't care.

When I was younger, I was mildly entertained by each season's early episodes showing the initial screening process. Eventually, though, I outgrew the morbid and somewhat sadistic curiousity of watching random people, many of whom possessed little talent for singing, display their lack of talent on network television. I used to speculate as to the motives of those with no talent who so willingly exposed their lack of talent to a nation-wide audience. Now I can't bear to watch the spectacle.

Simon Cowell was a major source of controversy while he served as a judge on the show. He was abrasive in his manner of communication but was correct in a technical sense more often than not. While I took issue with his blatant prejudice against female contestants with plus-sized bodies, I doubt that his replacement has his gift of discernment regarding vocal performance quality. I cannot say this for certain because I do not watch the program.

I'm not someone who wishes to impose her views on others. Many of my friends at the hospital eagerly anticipate each upcoming episode. Some of my real-life friends watch it as well. This is all fine. My friends and I can have differences of opinion in regard to entertainment. I just don't watch the show with them.

I'm not automatically biased against a singer because he or she appears or appeared on the program. I actually like Jennifer Hudson's musical and acting performances and think she's a talented vocalist. On the other hand, I refuse to let the electronic ballot box-stuffing American public influence my choices in music.

Congratulations to Uncle Scott on his residency match.
I was the highest-scoring diver in today's dual meet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marginal Success

This morning started out in the wee hours with diving practice. I noticed right away that the boards at my high school pool are noticeably inferior to those of the two universities where I had practiced in recent weeks.
It didn't affect my performance; just my enjoyment of the sport. I've been diving since December, although without the benefit of coaching. Still, that's more than most of my teammates have been doing, so I'm not really off pace.

The track meet was interesting. I haven't been training to the degree that my teammates and competitors have since mid-February, although my winter practice was significant. Today's meet was just a dual meet, so I was able to outpace my competitors in the two events I ran, but my times
were pretty far off last year's end-of-season runs. I'll need to run more religiously when I'm at the hospital.

Tomorrow I have a diving competition, so most of track practice is out for me. I'm still going to rush to the track as soon as I've finished my diving events for the day just to get in what practice I can. My parents will be les than thrilled, but that's hardly uncharted territory for me.

Life wouold be rough if I were a bona fide student. I do still need to go through the motions of attending class while I'm here and competing in athletic events, but I've finished all actual work. I could probably put on sunglasses and sleep in class if I had to, although if my mom's friends ratted me out it wouldn't bode well for me.

Soon I hope to be able to discuss something other than mundane high school affairs.

Good luck, Uncle Scott!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” - Robert Frost

I'm home for the first time in two months. I saw my dad every two weeks or so, but this is the first time I've seen my mom since she was recovering from her ruptured appendix. I'm happy to report that she looks much better and is no longer an avocado-green skeleton.

My room is every bit as wonderful as I remembered it. My mom asked me on Monday which rug/comforter combo I wanted so she could have the room ready for me. I went with the white with pink polka dots. It's perfect. All the rugs and comforters are perfect. My parents are moving (since my brother and I will be going off to college, it's not as though we're moving)at some point this summer. I was OK with their move, in part because there's absolutely nothing I can do to stop it but also because there's nothing here for me other than my room. My friends will all be going off to college. One of my closest friend's parents have also moved. She's staying with her grandparents in order to complete high school here.

The one thing causing me to feel ambivalence in relation to the move was the idea of leaving my beautiful room. Then my dear sweet Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph said that they would recreate the room in whatever home my parents buy. The rugs, comforters, and other bedding and accessories have already been purchased. Some remodeling was done to recreate this room from an existing guest bedroom and attic space. A closet for storing the extra comforters and rugs was also carved out of attic space. My aunt said my uncle will hire an architect to redesign a room at least as nice in the new home, wherever it ends up being. I'm lucky to have such indulgent godparents.

I have diving practice before school and a track meet after school. It will be intersting to hurdle. I've been practicing but haven't totally regained the speed that I had before last spring's injury. I don't know how much is related to leg strength and how much is due to overall loss of strength due to loss of weight. There's a popular perception that loss of weight equals an increase in running speed, but I am living proof that one can have too much of a good thing.

I'm sending positive thoughts to my Uncle Scott, and wishing him a good place to serve his residency.

Good night! The Four-thirty a.m. alarm will ring all too soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Pleasant Orchard Polygamist: The Legend of Daniel Kretchmer

Perched on a ledge of a range of the Rocky Mountains was the small village
of Pleasant Orchard, located in an especially placid corner of Happy Valley. The men of Pleasant Orchard were strong men of God who seldom missed a Priesthood Meeting. The women were industrious and free from gossip. The boys were all outstanding football players who would go on to become fine missionaries. The girls were lovely, virtuous, of good report, and praiseworthy. This was the popular perception, and perception was all that mattered.

Daniel Kretchmer once lived in this tiny bedroom community of Pleasant Orchard. Then he didn't. No one knew why. When it was just Daniel Kretchmer missing, not a great deal of thought was given to his wherabouts. Daniel had been a known user of all manner of mind-altering substances. It was only a matter of time, most people thought, before his lifestyle caught up with him. Still, it was odd that his body never turned up.

Near the end of winter many years after Daniel was remembered by anyone but his immediate survivors, who had kept to themselves before Daniel's disappearance and who continued their somewhat reclusive existence, a thirteen-year-old girl from the local middle school disappeared one evening while walking home from a church activity. The authorities were contacted. The people who saw her last were interviewed repeatedly. The girl's friends were questioned exhaustively. Each lead was followed. Every detail -- even ones deemed inconsequential -- was examined. No stone was left unturned. No clue was left unexplored. Still, no trace of the girl was ever found. Her family mourned her disappearance, but eventually she was forgotten by all but her family.

The following year, in the weeks before spring thaw, another young female disappeared. This time the young woman, a fourteen-year-old high school student, had been walking home from the local high school when she was last sighted. Again all acquaintances and contacts were interviewed, and again, the painstaking detective work yielded no promising leads.

When the very next February, following a Saturday afternoon birthday party, a twelve-year-old sixth grader failed to reach home, the good people of Pleasant Orchard realized they had a bit of a situation on their hands. They put their minds together, added everything up, and came to the undeniable conclusion that the disappearances of the young females of their town could be attributed to one thing and one thing only, or more correctly, to one person and one person only: Daniel Kretchmer.

What use would Daniel Kretchmer possibly have for not one, not two, but three young females? The answer was obvious to all but the most obtuse of minds: Daniel Kretchmer must certainly be a polygamist. From that point, the people of the township of Pleasant Orchard made it their business to protect the young women residing within their borders so that not one more would be lost to Daniel Kretchmer's harem. School was canceled for the entire month of February. Church was deferred for the four consecutive Sundays of February. Activities for the month were called off. Life in Pleasant Orchard came to a virtual halt for twenty-eight straight days (twenty-nine days, in fact, every fourth year). Neighborhood watch units were orgainzed, and priesthood patrols roamed the moonlit streets of Pleasant Orchard.

While vigilance can deter the most heinous of criminal activity, eventually, as the crime waned and as the years passed since the last disappearance of a young female, people let down their guard. First the people of Pleasant Orchard resumed February church services. Next to make their way back into existence were February activities. Finally, over the loud protests of the children and adolescents of Pleasant Orchard, school was reinstituted. All was well initially. Nothing was amiss. Then a twenty-one-year-old kindergarten teacher disappeared at 4:51 on Valentine's Day somewhere between her classroom and the school parking lot.

The great minds of Pleasant Orchard came together to solve this problem. Daniel Kretchmer had to be stopped, but how? The lead police detective suggested setting up a sting operation. A GPS-loaded mannequin dressed in a Girl Scout uniform with a CTR ring was posed in a school parking lot abutting a national forest, where Kretchmer was thought to maintain a hideout and lookout post. Whether he wasn't there or was too smart to take the bait (though anyone who had actually known Daniel Kretchmer doubted there was anything he was too smart for), the sting operation failed.

Lynch mob mentality was beginning to overtake the once calm atmosphere of Pleasant Orchard. The Melchizidek priesthood held a special weekday meeting where they planned to converge on the forests to the north and east of the city and, if necessary, smoke out this sex pervert Daniel Kretchmer once and for all. Operation Smokeout brought all manner of male humanity from the woodwork of Pleasant Orchard. Unfortunately, this included Craig Thurson, a known pyromaniac who now had an excuse for his pyrotechnics. The fire soon got out of hand. Fourteen homes and roughly one-thousand-three-hundred trees later, the good men of Pleasant Orchard were no closer to finding the elusive Daniel Kretchmer. Cooler heads needed to prevail.

School Psychologist J. Spencer Cannon created a psychological profile of Daniel Kretchmer. Kretchmer was, as profiled by Psychologist Cannon basically a composite of Jeffrey Dahmer, Lee Harvey Oswald, The Zodiac Killer, Brian David Mitchell, and Elvis Presley rolled into one. A composite sketch was drawn and posted at all schools, churches, and at the post office.

Meanwhile, the young females of Pleasant Orchard grew tired of waiting for the town's leadership to solve the problem. Other than living in Pleasant Orchard at the times of their disappearances and being of the appropriate age and gender to be desired by Daniel Kretchmer, the victims had just one thing in common: they were all believed to be lovely, virtuous, or good report, and praiseworthy. The females of Pleasant Orchard decided that the easiest way of protecting themselves from Daniel Kretchmer or whatever evil influence lurked in the forests surrounding their paradadisiacal community would be to immediately proclaim themselves to be brazen hussies and absolute sluts. In truth, nothing really changed. Some girls were brazen hussies and sluts and some were not, just as before. The perception, however, was all that mattered.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jeopardy, Sister Wives, Dog the Bounty Hunter, PTSD

Right now I'm with my aunt and uncle at the home of the doctor who directs psychiatric residential services, among other things, at the hospital where I'm being treated for PTSD. This doctor, who is referred to in various posts as either Dr. Jeff or Chairman Mao, is a personal friend of my dad. My dad was in Chairman Mao's wedding, and Chairman Mao was in my dad's wedding. They've stayed in touch, although they did so out of my presence. I had only seen the man maybe three times in my lifetime before being admitted to his wing of the hospital.

My aunt, uncle, and I are at the home of Chairman Mao and his wife because they invited us to have dinner with them. I don't know why they invited us.
Chairman Mao's wife is a good cook. Mrs. Tse Tung prepared tri tip, garlic bread, salad, rice, and boysenberry pie with ice cream. I just ate a little rice, a little bread with no butter or garlic on it, and a little Seven-up. The greasy hamburger I ate last night made me sick, and my system is not ready for regular food yet. For once no one is hassling me about eating. I had to have an injection last night, which ruined my day. I think a person should have the choice as to whether he or she wishes to suffer with an illness or to receive an injection. I'm seventeen now. When I turn eighteen are The Powers That Be going to miraculoulsly hand over the reins to me and let me make such decisions for myself? I doubt it. I really like my uncle, who gave me the injection, and if someone other than I is to make a medical choice for me, I would choose him or his wife, but I would even rather make the choice myself.

We played a computer Jeopardy game. The teams were divided by "Over 25" and "Under 25" categories. This placed Chairman Mao's son (age 17 like me, but he thinks he's much older because he shaves), Chairman Mao's daughter (eleven years old), aunt (sometimes referred to as "PseudoAunt"), and me, against Chairman Mao, his wife, and uncle (sometimes referred to as "PseudoUncle). The geriatric team beat us by a narrow margin. The teams were fairly even. PseudoAunt is very smart and I'm not stupid. Chairman Mao's kids would have been thrown out of school and into the work force before the age of eight if they lived in the Republic of China.

"Sister Wives" is on right now. I can't get into their storyline all that much. They're just not as exciting as the "Big Love"-style polygs.

I watched a bit of "Dog, the Bounty Hunter" at the Chairman's home. I thoroughly enjoy the show. Lisa, also sometimes called "Baby Lisa," is my favorite bounty hunter on the show. What I really get into is when they're preparing to stake someone out and the adrenaline is totally flowing, and the bounty hunters are hurling expletives all over the place. Then one of them says, "We need to pray," so they briefly cease with their expletives just long enough for Dog to utter a prayer as they huddle. Then it's back to "F--- this!" and "S---- that!"

Chairman Mao told my Aunt and Uncle that I could spend the night here with his family and that he would take me to the hospital when he reported there for work tomorrow, but my uncle said he wanted me to spend the night at the hotel. I didn't say anything because it wasn't my decision, but I was glad to spend one more night with the Pseudos. They'll take me to the hospital tomorrow morning. I'm going back home to compete in diving and hurdling this week. I'll be glad to get home. I haven't been there since mid-January. On Saturday I'll come back here, so it will be a short trip.

On Thursday Uncle will find out where he serves his residency. The central coast of California was his first choice. The air quality is good here for Aunt'a cystic fibrosis. She developed pneumonia right before they flew from Utah to here, but seems to be getting better. She can at least walk one hundred yards without collapsing, which she couldn't do on Friday when I first met up with the two of them. Uncle was having to piggyback or carry her everywhere. He's strong and she's extremely light.

Aunt says I'll be the very first person she texts about PseudoUnc's residency. I'm so excited I'll have trouble sleeping the night before. I hope it's somewhere really good, and I hope it's in California.

Aunt and I are looking through People magazine in an effort to determine which celebrity PseudoUnc most closely resembles. I think Jesse Spencer is closest. Aunt thinks maybe Ryan Reynolds is closer. Uncle is actually better-looking than either of them.

Last night on an episode of "House," the characters of Chase, House, and Foreman were doing a karaoke version of "Midnight Train to Georgia." They don't sing as well as my uncle does, but it was incredibly funny.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I've seen a bit of the California coast in the past two days (I believe that's within the limits of specificity I'm allowed in divulging my whereabouts) but haven't observed anything all that impressive. The devastation in Japan is terribly sad. I'll ask my parents if they can take money from my account and donate it to the Red Cross or a similar charity. PseudoUncle wouldn't allow me anywhere near the waves today when we were walking on the beach because he didn't want to explain to my parents how a tsunami wave swept me away. Silly PseudoUncle!

We had really greasy hamburgers for dinner. I could only finish half of mine. My PseudoUncle kept giving me the evil eye, but my stomach will contain only so much LDL-producing animal fat at a given time.

I think earthquakes should be given names, similar to the way hurricanes are named. Maybe an earthquake should have to reach a given Richter Scale point -- perhaps 6.0 or even 7.0. If the problem is that no one concerned with tracking seismic activity has time to waste on such trivialities as naming earthquakes, I volunteer for the task. My cyber-friend Rebecca would probably even be willing to help.

Bobby Flay's tour of Ireland was aired on Food Network tonight. No one here wanted to watch it, but it's being recorded at my hospital. I suspect it's totally bogus and probably not worth watching, but I'll watch it anyway to ascertain that I'm not missing anything worthwhile. On his last special filmed in Ireland many years ago, Bobby Flay said he would like to take his mother to Ireland. I wonder if he has done so. If not, I would suggest that he get a move on. His mother's certainly not getting any younger.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bizarre Dream

Last night I had a peculiar dream. It wasn't the nightmare -- that one wasn't all that peculiar -- but another dream I had earlier in the night. In this odd dream, I had a baby. The birth experience or pregnancy or even conception were not part of the dream. I just all of a sudden owned a baby.

The baby's name was Mary Alexis. One thing I can guarantee is that if I ever have a baby her name will not be Mary Alexis. That has to be one of the more ridiculous name I've ever heard. I remember fiding out that the baby's name was Mary Alexis by seeing it on a birth certificate. I remember questioning someone in the dream as to how the baby got the name of Mary Alexis and stating that it was not a name I would give to a baby, but the person with whom I spoke insisted Mary Alexis was indeed the baby's correct name.

I remember that as I was driving newborn Mary Alexis home from the hospital, she was already calling me "Mommy." I think I was looking forward to impressing my acquaintances with the fact that my newborn baby could already talk, or at least could speak one word. The baby had dark hair -- a respectable but not ape-like amount. The baby was quite small -- too small-- even for a newborn.

I was driving Mary Alexis home from the hospital in my dream. I don't yet have a driver's license. As I was driving while holding Mary Alexis, I realized that I was committing a safety violation, so I pulled over to the side of the road, fastened my seatbealt, and drove off still holding the baby in my left arm as I steered with my right. I should note that I am from a family that would probably alert the proper authorities on their own next of kin if the next of kin as much as drove from one parking space to another with a child in the car not properly secured in an appropriate seat or carrier.

I don't recall being concerned that my parents were going to kill or disown me for having this baby. Neither was it a concern to me that, despite the fact that I am seventeen, I am not yet physically capable of conceiving a child even with help from the opposite sex -- which I most definitely have not had, I should add.

I apologize for sharing the contents of my strange dream here, but I wanted to make note of it because if I didn't, I would surely forget the details. To the relative (Ammon or Curt) who thought my blog about couvade syndrome was "the stupidest thing ever written," you were wrong; this blog was.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jessica Beagley Reprise

Jessica Beagley, a mother of six children who achieved infamy for disciplining her adopted Russian son by pouring hot sauce in his mouth and by forcing him to take a cold shower as shown in a home video aired on "Dr. Phil," was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in late January. Ms. Beagley
pleaded not guilty through her attorney. Her attorney described the incident as "a family matter."

I can't begin to fathom any possible justification for an offense committed against a child because it was perpetrated by a family member. Does this attorney propose to offer no defense because no defense other than the familial nature of the alleged [it is with great angst that I refer to the abuse as alleged when it was captured on videotape at the bequest of the alleged perpetrator herself] abuse is necessary? Is he buying time until a plea deal can be arranged on behalf of his client? What law school did he attend, and did this alleged institute of higher learning not teach its former student the value of the "no comment" response?

I was also dismayed when I read a Salt Lake Tribune column by Robert Kirby which touched upon the topic. Mr. Kirby, the author of a light-hearted religious column appearing in the Tribune, said basically that the response to Ms. Beagley's actions was overblown. He based his conclusions on the much-heavier-handed discipline he had survived. Mr. Kirby is something of an anomaly as a Mormon with the ability to laugh at himself. He writes with irreverence about most topics he chooses to address. While I normally value irreverence at least as much as the next person, I would have preferred that Mr. Kirby leave this particular topic uncovered. I can't comment on the level of abuse present or absent in the disciplinary tactics employed by the adults charged with Mr. Kirby's upbringing, but I can only assume that he didn't come to his caregivers toting a similar load of psychological baggage as did the adopted Russian orphan. Thus, any comparison between the disciplinary methods employed by Mr. Kirby's parents and neighbors and those used by Ms. Beagley would be "apples to oranges" at the very closest,and more realistically something like "apples to cacti."

Ms. Beagley will appear in court on March 21, at which time we may learn more specifically what is her justification for asserting that she is not guilty of child abuse. Does she plan some variation of the Twinkie defense? Since she is LDS, perhaps green Jello made or do it. Then again, she may have overdosed on funeral potatoes.

"House" Cuddy, Nightmares, Klonopin

I'm awake because I had a nightmare and couldn't go back to sleep afterward.
If I'm with either of my parents or my Pseudorelatives, or if Chairman Mao is present, I can go back to sleep folowing a nightmare. If only the graveyard staff is available to help me, I may as well begin my day at whatever time it is that the nigthmare occurred. It takes some time afterward for my heart rate to return to normal. After some nightmares, such as the one I just had, I have to take medication to slow my pulse.

I also took Klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication. following last night's/ this morning's nightmare. The nurse watching me says I shouldn't be blogging about this because addicts and other potential drug thieves will know that there is Klonopin in my house when I am at home. Since my real name isn't used here, though, I'm not terribly worried. Uncle Mahonri, sticky though his fingers may be, is not, to the best of my knowledge, either an addict or a drug thief, although if he were, that would go a long way toward explaining a few things about him that heretofore have been unexplained. Similar things could be said about much of the family on Dad's side. My parents do keep drugs locked anyway, and even if they didn't, they would when Dad's relatives were around. Dad's relatives have so many quirks already that the very last thing any of them needs is to add drug experimentation to their already mildly to moderately abnormal psychological states.

I finally got around to watching the most recent "House" episode. Cuddy broke it off with House at the end. If the writers plan to have House and Cuddy frequently breaking up and reconciling, I supposed I'll keep watching. They character of Gregory House is sufficiently erratic that his relationships would realistically be far from smooth. If, however, the writers finally brought the two characters together just to break them up, I will not watch anymore. Such is basically jerking the viewers around, and I don't intend to remain a viewer in order to be jerked around by writers. I'll monitor the program for a few weeks to see what direction the show is headed, but that will be all. Even the hunky Jesse Spencer, who probably does look a bit like pseudoUncle, won't be enough to entice me to continue following the show.

PseudoAunt -- the one who has cystic fibrosis -- has pneumonia. She was coming to California for a doctor's appointment that was scheduled for Monday, but the appointment has been moved up to Thursday. They'll be flying to California tomorrow. I hope the flight isn't endangering her health, but I understand why PseudoUncle wanted her California doctor to see her when she was actuall sick. If he sees her only when she's healthy, it could affect the course of treatment he recommends.

I may not spend much or any time with them on this trip. My mom called me and gave me a rather cold lecture about how everything is not about me and how I need not to bother the two of them right now. I'm not sure quite where my mom was coming from besides being her usual [I won't use the "h" word even though it probably applies] self. Of course I won't bother them. If one of them calls me and invites me to spend time with them I won't pass on the opportunity, but they obviously have weightier matters than my entertainment on their minds right now. I would also hope they understand that I would not expect to be entertained during any time spent with them on this trip. I just want PseudoAunt to be OK, like everyone else does. It's unfair of my mom to accuse me of thinking only of myself when I haven't spoken or written a word to anyone as all about the situation, until now, anyway.

I'm off to shower and make myself as un-ugly as possible for the day. Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Judge Alex" : Today's Episode

I watched today's "Judge Alex" case with the other crazy people residing in this facility with me. I had been warned by someone from the east coast who had already watched today's case that there was at least one litigant in the "not quite sane enough to run loose" category. That, fellow citizens, was an understatement. The plaintif, a self-proclaimed "Warrior for God," epitomized the degree to which the Venn diagram circles of religious zealots and bona fide insane people overlap. I'd map it out for you were it not for the fact that I'm not allowed to have any illustrations in my blog.

The plaintiff had a church in her home. I've known of people who held church services in their homes. To be perfectly honest, I've always thought the concept itself was bizarre, and have considered the people I know who engaged in such practices to be more than a smidgen odd, religious worship style and location notwithstanding. This lady, however, didn't just hold worship services in her home. she set up an actual church, complete with pews, an altar, and other requisite trappings. She brought photos of her home church along with her to court. Even though the church in the plaintiff's home had absolutely nothing to do with the case at hand, morbid curiosity must have gotten the better of Judge Ferrer. He agreed to look at the photos when the plaintiff offered them. Judge Ferrer asked the plaintif how many members her church had. t/he grand total is [drum roll] /././././././././././././././ FIVE! I've never heard of a church with jusy five members. Even the Branch Davidians in their prime outnumbered this group. The lady never gave the name of her church. It probably had one of those "Lamb's Blood Bride of Christ the Redeemer and Holy Ghost Covenant Pentecostal Epiphany Harvest Worship Center" sorts of names.

Judge Alex couldn't spend much time on the church because he had to address the actual case, which was about a thirteen-year-old washing machine and drier. The plaintiff paid seventy-five dollars for these appliances but was unable to pick them up by the time the defendants moved out. The defendants sold the items a second time. Why they felt justified in doing so is another great mystery. It's bestm in general, not to try to get inside the minds of judge Alex's litigants. Most of them have minds that do not work in the ways your mind or mind does, and trying to understand the nonexistent logic is an exercise in futility.

The plaintiff prevailed, but not for the one-thousand-plus dollars or so for which she was suing. God only knows, if God even knows, just why the plaintiff thought she was entitled to a thousand dollars when she had paid just seventy-five dollars for the appliance combo. She explained that it had something to do with extracting revenge on behalf of her congregation of five, but the exact reasoning was about as coherent as one of Brian David Mitchell's rants.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Couvade Syndrome

Couvade syndrome is a condition in which the mate of a gestational female experiences symptoms typical of those experienced by a pregnant female. The condition derives its name from a medieval Basque tradition of allowing the male partner of a laboring woman to lie in bed and moan as the woman experienced labor pains, and to be waited on and allowed to convalesce for a considerable interval after the birth of the child. This Basque tradition is every bit as bizarre as couvade syndrome itself, but that's a topic for another blog on another day.

Couvade syndrome is generally considered by the medical community to be a psychosomatic condition, to which I would offer a resounding "Duh!!!" Some experts in the field have attempted to offer lame research involving cortisol levels and other variables to prove a physiological basis for this rather peculiar disorder. Such proponents do little other than display their savage misogyny. (Savage misogyny, is, by the way, my new favorite buzzword, and I plan to use it as often as possible whether it fits my topic of discussion or not.)

Seriously, other than the sympathetic weight gain, which can be explained away by either a husband eating becuase his wife is eating and there's lots of good stuff around to eat, or a husband feeling OK about putting weight on because his wife is doing the same, can you imagine anyone you know experiencing this condition for real? I for one find it hard to believe. I do, however, sense an idea brewing. we could have a celebration here at the facility commemorating odd psychosocial phenomena. If we do such a thing, my condition will be that of an hysterical pregnancy. I've long been fascinated by that particular phenomenon as well. Multiple personality disorder would be interesting as well, but with Sybil, The Three Faces of Eve, and plots from various daytime dramas and telenovelas, that one has been done to death.

I'll keep my loyal readers -- all four of them -- posted.

A Wonderful Start to a Day

Daddy and I just had breakfast. We were part of a cozy little foursome which included my dad, Chairman Mao, Electra, and myself. Electra was in hog's heaven. She didn't quite know which male's attention she preferred more, although I think my dad won on that competition. She can throw herself at Chairman Mao any day. My dad is available for that purpose only on special occasions. When the pseudos visit late this week, I'll try to get them in and out of the ward without encountering her. I'm not particularly concerned that PseudoUncle will break any marriage vows in response to Electra's advances, but I'd like to spare him the whole ordeal of her attention.

After a counseling session, I'm going with Daddy to one of his hospitals while he works for a few hours. We'll then have lunch, followed by hurdling and diving. We'll have dinner back in the loony bin. I'm not sure what we're doing here tonight. There may be a ping pong tournament. If my dad gave even a half-hearted effort he would win, but he probably doesn't want to take out a kid. I'll tell him that he should play the winner after the tournament. All the kids want to play him anyway. He's incredibly popular in our wing.

My dad told me that he wanted to name me Aubrey, but that my mom wanted Alexis and he gave in. I wonder if my personality or my life would have been any different if my name had been Aubrey instead of Alexis.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Watching a medical Drama with an MD

My dad is here at my facility. Right now we are watching "House" episodes. My dad deosn't like any TV program set in a hospital or medical facility. He dislikes "House" with an intensity most people would reserve for terrorists or mass murderers. I try to tell my dad that "House" isn't really about hospitals and medicine; the medical setting is merely a backdrop. My dad says it wouldn't matter, and he would detest "House" just as much if it was a detective drama or a reality show highlighting the sex habits of little people.

As I told Matt in the "comments" section following my last post, my dad is seated between me and the girl who is in love with everyone's father. Right now she's leaning her head against his shoulder. That's probably as much contact as he'll allow. If she gets any more aggressive, he'll think of a reason he needs to get up and move. The other fathers who visit are so freakedout by her that she never gets to shake their hands, much less to rest her head against their shoulders. I don't think my mom has anything to worry about at this point in time, which is a good thing. It would be humiliating to tell people that my dad met my stepmother while he was visiting me in the psych ward of a hospital.

My dad feels the need to to point out that "House" is unrealistic. Duh! It's a TV drama. When I want realistic, accurate information on a given topic, the firts place I look is not usually at a TV drama series. It's entertainment. It doesn't entertain my dad, although if I were a doctor, no TV medical drama would be my go-to source of merriment or escape, as I would feel the need to distance myself from the environment in which I worked. I do think my dad derives some pleasure, and thus some entertainment value, in ruining the show for others by pointing out to other viewers lucky enough to be in his presence the inconsistencies and inaccuracies as he sees them. Right now he's totally going off on how stupid the writers of "House" were for having the title character almost off himself by sticking a knife in an electrical socket, not to intentially commit suicide but, rather, to have a near-death experience. I hope my dad doesn't think it was his expertise as an MD that gave him the particular insight needed to make that call. i like the show, and even I though "House" jumped the shark with that one.

Later tonight my dad will play his guitar in my room to help me fall asleep. Some of the other inmates will probably end up in the room, but my dad will only let them stay if they are quiet because he doesn't want them to keep me awake or to wake me up as I'm drifting off to sleep. I hope Electra doesn't come in to hear my dad play his guitar because I may not be awake for long to chaperone. I really wish Chairman Mao would come back to the hospital. Electra likes him almost as much as she likes my dad, and his presence might distract her at least a bit. I'm not a psychiatrist and, as such, am probably not qualified to comment on the respective states of mental health of my fellow inmates, but I think Electra needs more help than she can ever receive here. I'd recommend a lobotomy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Back on the Farm

I left Utah late yesteday afternoon for the quiet serenity of California's central coast. The director, fondly known as Chairman Mao, picked me up at the airport. Instead of driving me directly to the hospital, he took me to his home, where I spent the night. His wife and one of his two children were present as well. He wasn't hitting on me, as hard as that may be to believe. I can only speculate as to why he drove me to his residence rather than to the hospital, but I suspect it had something to do with letting me become gradually acclimated to the total disarray into which the inmates in my hospital wing had fallen since my departure. The Recreational Rapist had her way with the wing in my absence. While I was frolicking in Utah, she had the inmates square dancing and making potato prints. Potato prints are something kindergartners make when their teachers aren't sufficiently intelligent resourceful to think of worthwhile projects for them.

I asked Chairman Mao if the inmates were actually having fun with The Rapist's activities. He said the others are apathetic and miserable. This will make the job I must do easier on my conscience. Even if it were for their own good, I would feel guilty if I were to make them feel that an activity they legitimate;y enjoyed was beneath them. Who am I to tell anyone what they can or cannot enjoy, or what forms of entertainment will or will not allow them to be cool? It's not as though I am myself the Grand Imperial Wizard of Coolness.

If, on the other hand, I am merely giving a voice to their existing opposition to or dislike of the forced allegedly frivolity being thrust upon them by a dictatorial yet thoroughly uncool hospital employee whose duty is to promote psychological wellness through enjoyable yet entertaining activities, I can sleep at night. I don't wish to tell anyone that anything they genuinely enjoy is a geeky pursuit, but advocating for less powerful peers who feel that they are being made to look foolish is the sort of thing that gives me a sense of purpose while I am facing down my own demons. Furthermore, it appears I have been given tacit consent to do just that.

When I arrived back at the facility this morning, my first course of business was to weigh in. I was at 81. When I left three weeks ago, I was at 78. A three-pound gain at my weight is statistically significant. Chairman Mao and another doctor wanted to know how I had gained the weight. I don't like to give credit to those guilty of perpetrating totalitarian regimes, so I didn't tell the doctors about the times I had been forced to remain seated at a table until someone bigger and more powerful than I determined that my caloric consumption had been adequate. It seems that Chairman mao had a bet of sorts going with PseudoUncle. At stake was some sports memorabilia artifact. Since I weighed in at a pound higher than teh eighty pounds pseudoUncel neede me to weigh in order to collect, Chairman mao is sending a case of wine as well.ine I'm the one who had to stuff myself beyond comfort, I feel that at least one bottle of the wine that is being shipped to PseudoUncle should go to me. I probably don't even like wine, but at least a bottle of it should be mine to dislike.

My dad showed up unexpextedly this morning. He sat through a not particularly productive counseling session with me. When it was time for recreational rape, Dad brought a Scrabble game to my room. Before we started, two other inmates showed up in my room, and he invited them to join us. Seven other people appeared within the next ten minutes. It turned into a group effort and was fairly lame, but we at least saved nine people besides me from recreational rape.

My dad bought pizza for the inmates who wanted it at lunch.He offered to bring me some sort of take-out for dinner, but I felt guilty eating it in front of the others and didn't want him blowing my entire inheritance in feeding the residents of the floor, so we made the best of hospital food. At least there were ice cream sundaes for dessert.

Dad is spending the next three nights here with me. He has to work tomorrow, but he'll be bcak tomorrow evening. Sunday after my counseling session he's going to take me running and diving. He'll work on Monday then go back home. On Thursday the Pseudos will arrive here for pseudoAunt's pulmonology appointment, and they'll pick me up Friday morning after my counseling session. I'll come back here for some appointments but will be with them Friday through Monday nights, and even part of Tuesday.

Daddy is playing guitar for the inmates. The girl who hangs all over everyone's fathers is sitting right by him and staring at him. I don't know where her father is or if she even knows where he is. It's sad.

Enjoy the wine, Pseudorelatives. I love you anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LDS Music (which some would call an oxymoron)

I attended LDS (Mormon) services on Sunday and was thus subjected to the banal world of LDS music. Many LDS people think their music is of high quality because their church exposure has been limited to LDS churches, so they don't know any better. Other people think automatically of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when they think of Mormon music, and assume that since the choir is fundamnetally sound, LDS music in general is of adequate quality. Making such an assumption is akin to assuming that because the San Francisco Giants won the most recent World Series, San Francisco's Little League must be a solid program. While for all I know San Francisco could have a first-rate Little League, there's a better than average chance that youth baseball in the City By The Bay totally sucks. I just don't happen to know. Regarding Mormon church music, however, I do know; at the local level, I can state with authority that it sucks more strongly than the products of Hoover, Orick, and Rainbow combined.

I've been a church organist in a Catholic church. I actually had to audition for the job in front of a panel of church musicians and clergy. My cousin is a church organist in a Mormon church. Suffice it to say that she had no audition. Some misguided bishop received divine inspiration to "call" her to the position. Had any audition taken place, even a tone-deaf bishop would have had sufficient inpiration, divine or otherwise, not to "call" her as organist. On a good day my cousin plays ninety per cent of the notes in front of her correctly. Ninety per cent may earn an "A" in most graded courses, but ninety per cent of notes played correctly on a given music score, depending upon the combination in which the correct and incorrect notes are played, yields a sound that is somewhere between cacophonuous and ghastly. Also applying here is the familiar adage, "You get what you pay for." I was paid one hundred dollars per mass as an organist of the parish for which I was employed. My cousin was paid zero, zilch, nada, or in blessings, depending upon how one wishes to view the form of compensation afforded not just my cousin but all organists in the LDS church, including those who, unlike my cousin, actually possess some level of skill.

LDS hymns range from standard Protestant works to standard Protestant old-time gospel songs, to corruptions and rip-offs of Protestant hymns, to original LDS works.

The opening hymn sung in the ward where I attended Sacrament Meeting on Sunday was the original LDS work, "The World Has Need of Willing Men." It features a repetitious if not rousing chorus, replete with tenor/bass echo: "Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along (push along). Do your duty with a heart full of song [full of song]. We all have work, let no one shirk [quite conceivably the single most absurd rhyming couplet in all of hymnology]. Put your shoulder to the wheel." I am sad to report that the verses offer no respite from the literary and musical disaster that is this hymn. Even the title is offensive, as though the world has such a burning need for men but not women. The savagely mysogynistic LDS church probably genuinely believes such to be the case. Never mind. What the world actually needs is men or women willing to ferret out and immediately shred, burn, or otherwise destroy all existing copies of this hideous example of Mormon hymnody at its very worst so that no one ever has to sing or hear this hymn again.

The second hymn sung, the Sacrament hymn, was "In Humility, Our Savior." The hymn tune, known in hymnology circles as "Hyfrydol," is a well-known Welsh hymn tune from the 1800's associated in Protestant and even Catholic circles with texts including "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling." While I'm less enamored of the harmonization of the hymn as appearing in the LDS hymnal, and though I don't find the "Hyfrydol" tune particularly compatible with the crucifixion genre nature of the text, this hymn is at least pretty. I actually sang on this one. When I'm in an LDS church, I sing fewer than half of the hymns. I'm a bit paranoid, but people sometimes turn and stare at me when I sing. My singing voice isn't all that much weirder than anyone else's, so I'm not sure why I'm treated to the rudeness of being gawked at when I attempt to worship in song.

The closing hymn was one of the Protestant gospel song oldies that the Protestants have all but abandoned and left for the Mormons alone to use. "I Have Work Enough to Do" was the title of this hymn. This one I had never heard before. It did have some archaic text, but the text was at least not offensive. The song wasn't bad per se, but was the melody was not terribly conventional, and possibly unfamiliar to the congregation. It seemed that only the people who read music were singing.

What passes for special music in a Mormon church would be substandard in any church I've attended regularly. It wasn't so much the calibre or skill level of the presenting musicians (although no one would have mistaken them for Juilliard escapees) as it ws the amount of preparation time devoted to the performance. I heard the teenaged musicians hurriedly running through their vocal selection with piano accompaniment for what they indicated was the first time in a Sunday school classroom just before the service began. I'm a relatively skilled and experienced performer, but I would not disrepect a congregation so much as to perform so much on the fly. During the special music presentation, my PseudoUncle,who was sitting on the far side of my PseudoAunt, reached around her and squeezed my upper arm. I didn't know why, so I asked him after the service why he had done that. He said he wanted to warn me not to laugh. I wouldn't have been so rude as to laugh at a musical performance that was not intentionally funny, and I told him so, but the fact that he thought it was even a possibility that I would laugh would indicate that he thought it was a fairly pathetic offering.

I won't critique the organist of this particular ward (who was not my cousin discussed earlier in the post, by the way) because she appeared to be handicapped in more than one way. Enough said.