Monday, March 31, 2014


So I'm usually a little late in getting on social media bandwagons, but once I'm there, I'm there. For instance, I have an instagram account. I've never really done a "Man Crush Monday," mostly because it would just always be Jacob. But today, I realized that if you expand the meaning of "crush" to mean "platonic but heartfelt admiration," there are a handful of men who deserve the hashtag #mancrushmonday.

But yeah, like I'm gonna wait and post each of these, once per week. Ain't nobody got time for that. So here they all are at once. My dream is to have all of these men over for dinner with Jacob and I.

George Harrison

I love this man. He was a kick-A guitarist, and part of one of the most important bands of all time. He was funny and passionate and looked great in blue jeans. But the thing I really love about George was his quiet center. He went through the same ups and downs the other lads from Liverpool did, but he seemed to have this peaceful soul underneath it all. I think that's why the spirituality of India spoke to him so much. And we all know how much I love India, so we've got that in common. If you haven't watched the recording of "Concert For George," I highly recommend it. For weeks after watching it, I missed George like you miss an old friend who's moved away.

Dave Grohl

The man's got several claims to fame--he was the drummer for Nirvana, and he's the lead singer and guitarist for the Foo Fighters. Part of my affection for him is because he kind of looks like my stepdad, which is awesome. His attitude towards music is pretty's about not using technology as a crutch and keeping it about humanity. If you've got an hour and don't mind a few swears, watch his keynote speech from South by Southwest 2013. Great insights for musicians, music enthusiasts, and/or art appreciators in general. If you don't have the time for that right now, take just five minutes and watch the music video for "Walk." It's hilarious and awesome. Like Dave Grohl. 

Tom Waits

For most music lovers, pinning down ONE favorite artist is almost impossible. But I think Tom might be my favorite. Because he's so...DYNAMIC. His work seems to be an "acquired taste," because a lot of his stuff is so abrasive and rough around the edges and crazy. He can do stuff like "Filipino Box Spring Hog" and then turn around and do something like "Take It With Me." Oh, and then he'll have some spoken word stuff like "What's He Building In There?" or "Frank's Wild Years." And his LYRICS, man. "He's not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at" and "Now he's doing the obituary mambo"? LOVE IT. But here's what else I love. All of his work is done in collaboration with his wife Kathleen Brennan, a record producer whom he met and married in 1980. He's this family man who's been rough, drinking man in the past, who's since gotten on the wagon and spent his days making incredible with his wife of 30+ years. Feel free to check out this NPR interview to hear more about that. 

Hugh Laurie

Some things get better with age. Like Hugh Laurie. Like most of America, I discovered Hugh Laurie because of his phenomenal work on the television show "House." But he also wrote and starred in amazing sketch comedy stuff with Stephen Fry, which he started doing while he was at Oxford. Where he attended on a rowing scholarship. And did you know that he wrote a NOVEL? And know what he's doing right now? He's touring the world with his blues group, "The Copper Bottom Band." (Friends in LA, Portland, Medford, and the SF Bay Area, HE'S COMING TO YOUR TOWN IN MAY.) Because he's classy and plays music. He was also a member of "The Band from TV," which was just a bunch of famous people who liked to jam and gave all the money to charity. And he rides motorcycles. Honestly. 

Daniel Radcliffe

Not to be totally creepy, but I think Daniel Radcliffe and I would be good friends if we ever met in real life. His life so far has been fairly extraordinary, but it seems like he's really found his footing as a young man. I like the diversity of projects he's done. He got RAVE reviews for "Equus," which was awesome since doing that play takes a lot of courage, and not just because of the nudity. And then remember when he sang and danced in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"? He's a dynamic and talented performer. But I also love that he's also just this friendly, slightly introverted, articulate guy, with a great vocabulary and a love of the History Channel. (If you can find it somewhere, watch his interview on "Inside the Actor's Studio." There's also a great interview with Katie Couric.)

Ray Bradbury

I never really paid attention to Ray Bradbury until some boy I had a crush on my sophomore year of college recommended "The Illustrated Man" to me. I started reading the collection because of that crush, but I finished reading because I was transported and awed by Ray Bradbury's words. I wrote recently about how much he inspires me in a guest post on a friend's blog, but I didn't even mention half of the stuff that made me adore him. His LA home was painted yellow, in honor of his favorite of his books, "Dandelion Wine." He requested toys for his birthday every year until the day he died (which was a day that I genuinely shed tears). All the way into his 80s, he continued to write, everything from short stories to theatrical productions which were put on by his own company in Pasadena, "The Ray Bradbury Pandemonium Theatre Company." And he stayed so humble through it all. (This article is a beautiful glimpse into his humility and imagination and whimsy.)

Patrick Stewart

Look at this man. Look at this adorable, talented man. He's been KNIGHTED FOR HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THEATRE AND FILM. And he's wearing a lobster costume in a bathtub. I love Patrick Stewart for so many reasons--he's done so many amazing roles. He's got this groundwork of Shakespeare, and spent years in the captain's chair on the Enterprise, and he just finished a run of "Waiting for Godot" and "No Man's Land" on Broadway with Ian McKellen. (My chest gets tight and my eyes well up when I think about the fact that I will never get to see this. And have you seen the #gogodididonyc series on Sir Patrick's Twitter? Be still my heart. Also, if you only join Twitter for one reason, it should be to follow Patrick Stewart.) And then there's this. He grew up with an abusive father, and has now become one of the biggest advocates of ending domestic violence. He campaigns and speaks and inspires. In his words, "People won't listen to you or take you seriously unless you're an old white man, and since I'm an old white man, I'm going to use that to help the people who need it." I love that. My good friend Annie once said, "I have complete faith in Captain Picard. If I were in a crisis, and Patrick Stewart walked in, I would feel better." I would too, Annie. 

And of course, this guy: 

But that goes without saying, really. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Women and the Priesthood

If you were thinking that this blog entry would be my opinion on the matter, I'm sorry to disappoint you. The reality is that I simply don't know how I feel about it. I do know that everyone's point of view deserves to be listened to, even if it seems "unorthodox" or "contentious" or just plain "wrong"--no one deserves to be dismissed. I do know that there's a difference between Church policy, Church culture, and Church doctrine, and I'm still learning exactly where and how women holding the Priesthood fits into those categories. I also know that worthy women have access to Priesthood power, through temple covenants and other ordinances; they just don't hold Priesthood keys. I do know that any kind of change would probably require revelation to the current prophet.

But should women have the same Priesthood keys that men do in this life? I don't know.

For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, in the LDS (or "Mormon") church, Priesthood authority (the authority to act in God's name by giving blessings and performing ordinances) is only held by men. In recent years, several groups of women have begun to question this teaching. The group Ordain Women is the most vocal and well-known among these. There are a lot of related issues, besides the Priesthood--giving women's groups more autonomy, allowing women to have greater visibility within the Church, and allowing them to be a part of more decision-making in general.

I haven't really come to any of my own conclusions on the Priesthood thing...I do agree that women should be better represented and included within the infrastructure of the Church. But I'm not quite articulate enough to get all my half-formed ideas into words at this point. So instead, I thought I'd share the more fully-formed ideas I've been reading about. I've been doing A LOT of reading, on both sides of the issue, for a few years now. So I just thought I'd share a handful of those articles...gather them in one place for anyone interested in learning more. Feel free to comment with other articles if you have them! Most are directly related to Mormon Feminism, a few are sort of fringe articles, but all of them are relevant.


Rational Faiths -- "Why Aren't the Women Included In This?" 

Empowering LDS Women -- The Two Trees

Empowering LDS Women -- Motherhood is the Equivalent of Priesthood

Zelophahad's Daughters: A Critique of the Two Trees

Just Jo -- Why I Changed My Mind About Mormon Feminism

I Feel Like Schrodinger's Cat -- Leaving the LDS Cult of False Expectations

Pendletones -- The Priesthood and Me

Doves and Serpents -- Women and the Priesthood: It's Complicated

Meridian Magazine -- Women and the Priesthood

Fair Mormon -- To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm

And My Soul Hungered -- We Would Have to Get a Revelation: Continuing Revelation and the Mormon Feminism Crisis (I REALLY loved this article!)

And ultimately, I think these last two are the most important ones:

Carrie -- Empathy Dreams

FairMormon -- These Are Our Sisters

Happy reading! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest Post: Empathy Dreams

Today, I am happy to host the amazing Carrie of Seeker of Happiness! She's a fellow blogger with a fantastic tote bag business and she's my guest today.

Carrie and I go way back, to the Fall of 2004, when we took John Bidwell's acting 1 class and did our final scene together. We ended up forgetting our lines during our final performance, because every time we got together to rehearse, we ended up talking for hours instead. Now, ten years later, I'm still honored to consider her one of my best friends.

Exactly a year ago (by bizarre coincidence, it really was exactly a year ago--March 26, 2013), Carrie posted a powerful blog entry about a dream she had. It's one I refer to a lot anytime something controversial comes up--gay marriage, women and the Priesthood, etc. And I'm thrilled to repost it here.

So without further ado, take it away, Carrie!

I had a dream last night. It was probably the most vivid and realistic dream I've had since the one from 2005 about a Mormon Holocaust. I woke up feeling many, MANY emotions and after taking the day to mull it over I am feeling overwhelming grateful that dreams exist.


I was attending church here in my ward in Utah. Same building, same congregation. I was teaching Junior Primary singing time (for children ages 3-7), which is, in real life, my current calling. In order to teach a principle on being reverent, I had a boy and a girl come with me outside of the Primary room and I asked them to tell me one way they could be reverent. I don't remember their answers, but we went back in. I explained to the rest of the group the question I had asked, and Sister Black (who really is a counselor in the Primary presidency), leaned her chair back and said: "Oh! We don't ask questions like that in church anymore!"

I was pretty confused and got real snobby and sarcastic.

"We don't ask questions like that in church anymore? What does that even mean?"

"We were asked not to ask those kind of questions. There was a letter from the First Presidency. Just remember for next time."I was clearly annoyed and disbelieving and went on to the teach the rest of singing time how I wanted.

During the 3rd hour of church, I walked in late to Relief Society. Sister Cox (my Relief Society President in real life) had just finished reading "the letter" from the First Presidency. I didn't hear it because I was late. There was a murmur of discussion about the new church policy asking members to not use QUESTIONS while teaching the gospel, both in church, and out.
As far as I understood, you could ask questions if you were confused, and you could answer questions from others, but you couldn't ask a question to teach a principle.

I remember that I wasn't "confused." I wasn't TRYING to "figure it out." The idea was simply illogical and absurd to me. I raised my hand and I asked question after question to try and find a logical explanation for the passing of this new policy. Every time I asked "WHY?" however, I could feel the other women in the room avoid eye contact with me. I was very aware of their backs and their shoulders. I was making Sister Cox uncomfortable. I remember using two points:

1.) Are they going to block out the entire section in Preach My Gospel specifically laying out to missionaries the importance of ASKING QUESTIONS?

Sister Cox responded that, yes, they most likely would.

2.) Alright then. Are they going to seal up the ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT too? Because I'm pretty sure every time Christ taught anyone, He used questions to do it.

There was a lot of awkward silence in my dream. I remember being flabbergasted that no one else seemed to have issue with this. No one else seemed to have even PAUSED. I felt like I was suddenly in a room of people I didn't even recognize.

Then, slowly, women began to raise their hands and comment. They only looked at each other and Sister Cox. No one made eye contact with me. They all said in different ways the following:

"We don't need to know everything. People who question what the church says need to have more faith that the Prophet is called of God. People who question need to have more faith in God."

I remember feeling a mixture of emotions. None of them were angry. All of them were astounded. How did wondering what brought upon this new policy suddenly make me faithless? How did I go from a functioning member of a ward FAMILY and in 5 minutes turn into someone to avoid talking to? It was as if my "faithlessness" would be contagious through eye contact and communication.

I decided to go home. I was trying to find Scott since he had the car keys. While looking for him, I ran into Brother Tibbets (the real life 2nd counselor in my bishopric). He lovingly told me that he had heard I had some questions and then encouraged me to meet with him and the Bishop. I remember that I felt genuine love from him, but I was put off that I was being invited to meet with the Bishop. I did not feel any sway in my testimony of the gospel, but felt like I was being treated as though I had lost my faith.

I ended up walking, and then running home down a long, steep hill. It was sunset- the only thing not consistent with real life and my dream. Normally, I have church meetings at 11am and have never seen a sunset while leaving early.

I remember thinking as I ran that I hoped Scott would not look for me and just get the baby and come home to find me.

Then I woke up.

As I explained my dream to Scott, I was hit with the same wave of... empathy that I had upon waking up in my bed. I thought about all of these faithful members of the church who ask a question as simple as "why?" and are treated as though they have lost all faith in Christ, His atonement, and His restored gospel. I thought of how some of them eventually DID lose faith in those things. And I wondered if how they were treated had more to do with that than I originally suspected.

I have thought a lot about women who struggle with not having the priesthood. Or women who don't struggle with that but get lumped in the group with those who do because they want to know why we don't talk about Heavenly Mother, or why women don't wear pants to church. d I thought about people who wrestle with Prop 8. People who feel like NOT supporting gay marriage is just as ridiculous as not asking questions while teaching the gospel.

I thought about how I'm not one who has had deep struggles with the gospel. I thought about how grateful I am for that. But mostly I thought about how this- ALL OF THIS- it is not TOPICS. There is so much more that separates us as brothers and sisters. It is how we treat others who struggle with things we have not struggled with.

How dare anyone say: "I have not had that problem, so neither should you. Something must be wrong with you, at least SPIRITUALLY if you struggle with that."

One of the most beautiful facts of the Plan of Salvation is that God will judge us each individually. He will take into account EVERYTHING. Even what we WOULD have done had opportunities A, B or C arose.
What a marvelous weight we have off of our shoulders!

What a wonderful thing to not have to judge the faithfulness of others, but instead, simply love them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm elsewhere today

Hello readers! 

Today I'm guest blogging over at Jules Isaacs' blog! She's a great writer, a kick-A designer, an awesome mom to two, and a good friend. She also takes wonderful pictures and wears really cool clothes, and I'm honored to share her corner of the internet today. 

Go check out what I had to say about writing here

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Of all the gin joints in all the world...

I'm related to these people. This is Jacob's sister and her husband being all classy.

That moment when Dave walked out of the shadow? Classic.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Through the looking glass, or "Mythical Egin," or "Guys, Brigadoon is in Idaho"

During the summer of 2009, Jordan Tait let me borrow his Honda Trail 110 from April to August.

Me with the Honda Trail (and my regular bike), back when I wore shorter shorts. 

During that summer, I got in the habit of joyriding among southeast Idaho's back roads. The Honda topped out at around 45 mph, but it was fast enough to make me feel alive in the afternoons when I should have been in grammar class. I never paid attention to where I was going--I just took corners when it pleased me to do so, and wandered until I was ready to go home, then made my way back. I suppose you could say I got lost, but I was never really trying to get anywhere, and my internal compass always led me back to Rexburg.

In the summer months of 2012, I drove a Kymco People 150 scooter. It was an automatic, so it was easier to steer, and topped out at 50 mph, so I could feel 5mph more alive while joyriding through Rexburg's surrounding countryside. I got used to several routes, and my favorite area to ride was around Hibbard.

There was one afternoon when I started out in Hibbard, but just kept wandering. I found myself in an area where I'd never been...there were more trees than usual, and flocks of birds rose up from the fields and lakes nearby. Maybe it was something about the angle of the light, or the time of year, but it seemed enchanted.

In retrospect, I don't know how I found out I was in the Egin area. But it was MAGICAL. I came home and told Jacob that I'd discovered a mythical land where everyone waved at you and had a pet goat. I kept passing people in their yards, watering their gardens in the late afternoon light. It was that time of day when the sun is lowering, and the air cools, and the bare earth beneath your feet is still warm from the noon heat. Every person I passed raised an arm in greeting. And there were a bizarre number of pet goats. It seemed like I saw a goat on a tether in every other yard I passed.

But it was the ferris wheel that truly won me over. I was already charmed by the friendly people and the tethered goats, but as I turned a corner, I passed a yard with a huge metal structure in front of it. It was a ferris wheel. A FERRIS WHEEL. Like, a small one with six cars or so, that looked like it had just been made at home, in some guys' welding garage. Maybe it was unsafe or structurally unsound or something, but the whimsy of it completely enchanted me.

I've tried to find Egin a few times since that magical afternoon, but I've never succeeded. In this modern age, I realize that I've got GPS and Google Maps and all kinds of tools at my disposal to re-find Egin, but I kind of don't want to use them. It would take away from the mythical nature of it. Besides, it wouldn't tell me exactly where in Egin I was wandering that day.

Maybe Egin is like only appears once every hundred years or so. Maybe the conditions have to be just right; like, the light has to be at a certain angle, and it has to be at a certain time of year, and you have to be on a motorcycle or scooter or something.

I keep looking. Every now and then I drive out in that direction, instinctively following tree-lined streets, looking for goats and ferris wheels in the front yards. But maybe it can't be recreated. Maybe it was a moment in time, and everything was magical and it can never quite be the same way again. Maybe I'm Gatsby, reaching for the green light, trying desperately to "recreate the past."

But whatever. It's pleasant driving around the backroads outside of Rexburg, turning corners by impulse, waiting to stumble upon something magical.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I have watched over 100 documentaries in the last ten years.

And I've decided that's an accomplishment.

Despite the length of this list, I actually slowed down on documentaries a little bit for a while there, partly because I was busy watching every single episode of "Chopped" ever. (I go on TV show binges...last semester, it was "Ancient Aliens.") But here are a handful of recommendations! Most of them are on Netflix. Happy learning!

Inside North Korea
I've recently discovered that North Korea is this terrifying real-life dystopia and it scares the crap outta me. This is an interesting look at life in North Korea--as accurately as can be portrayed by an illegal undercover journalist posing as part of an eye surgeon's crew. BECAUSE REAL JOURNALISTS AREN'T ALLOWED INTO NORTH KOREA. For a good basic intro to the whole North Korea situation, check out this blog. (Warning: Language.)

The September Issue
A glimpse into the world of Vogue magazine and the biggest issue of the year. I love the world of fashion. For some, it's materialistic and stupid, but I can't ignore the creativity and theatricalism of it all. This is also a great glimpse at the personalities of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief, and Grace Coddington, creative director.

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation
I'm in love with the 1960s. Especially in US History. Man, everything turned upside down. This is an awesome look at how one small artistic neighborhood in New York City helped shape an entire generation. So awesome.

Vanishing of the Bees
This got a little preachy/propaganda-y towards the end, but it's a really good overview of the current bee situation. Bee colonies are dying all over the world, but especially in the United States. This documentary goes over the causes, the people trying to solve things, and what's really at stake. It also reiterated to me the sad truth that Europe errs on the side of caution, and America errs on the side of "Oh crap I won't make a ton of money."

When We Left Earth (series)
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!! Here's something new I didn't really think about. A lot of those folks who pioneered space exploration--at least the ones who actually went into space--weren't scientists. They were Air Force guys. They were familiar with operating complicated machinery and could stay cool under pressure. Which was a really good thing because there were dozens and dozens of times when things created a lot of pressure. For example, did you know that when the Hubble first started sending pictures back to earth, they were BLURRY? The lens hadn't been sanded quite right. Then, once they fixed that, the solar panel wings on the Hubble didn't work. So the folks out in space had to radio back to earth what was wrong, and what they had with them to fix it. Then mission control had to mess around and engineer some sort of solution and then radio instructions back to space. All without video or email or anything--just radio voice communication. Oh, and it all had to be done right away because there wasn't enough oxygen to prolong the repair mission.

Jane's Journey
I didn't know much about Jane Goodall until this documentary. All I knew is that she worked with chimpanzees and was a humanitarian. This gives a good overview of who she is and how she got to be who she is. I didn't know this--when Jane first began her work with apes, she had no degree. She was a 19-year-old high school graduate who was just passionate about studying wildlife in Africa and found an opportunity to do so. Pretty cool, huh?

Echo of the Elephants
Watch it here
I have a deep and spiritual love for elephants. They're so intelligent, and live such vivid emotional lives. For example, when they come upon the bones of an elephant, they become quiet and wary. They spend hours running their trunks over the bones, and often attempt to carry them away, hiding or burying them. They don't do this with the remains or bones of any other creature. They live in matriarchal societies, with extremely close family ties, and have the same lifespan as humans. This documentary follows a short time in the family of a matriarch named Echo, and she and her family deal with loss, hunger, new beginnings, and everything else that comes with family life. (Also, 29:00 = CUTEST THING EVER!)

Dolphins: The Ultimate Guide
Cheeeesy, but informative and fun. I'm a little suspicious of some of their claims after having watched "Blackfish," but there's some great info here.

Ken Burns: Prohibition (series)
Ken Burns is the classic historical documentary film-maker, and this series is awesome. The thing I love about Ken Burns is that he realizes that history doesn't happen in a vacuum--everything is the result of what came before it. The story of Prohibition doesn't start with the 18th Amendment in 1920. It starts way back in the 1800s, with Temperance Societies. Having context for Prohibition rounds out your understanding of it. This documentary starts with Temperance and ends with the the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition.

Ken Burns: Jazz (series)
Another great example of Ken Burns' understanding of history. If ever you want an understanding of jazz--its theory, its history, its traditions, its conventions--watch this documentary. It covers everything from old slave spirituals to the tightly orchestrated dance music of Glenn Miller. The history of jazz is also a history of race issues--there's no way around it, and this documentary does a great job of addressing that.

Al Capone: Biography of a Mob Boss
Watch it here
How to Control the Press: Lessons from Al Capone
If a newspaper reporter is printing disparaging things about you, wait until he's walking home alone. Then get six guys to beat him up. Then pay his hospital bill. Then buy the newspaper.
But seriously guys, Al Capone. He's such an interesting figure because nowadays, the image we have of him is split down the middle--generous gangster with a heart of gold, or selfish and ruthless murderer. And both are based in truth. On the one hand, Capone WAS generous, and he was willing to provide employment to hundreds of people during the Great Depression. He also had refused to deal in narcotics, so that's cool. On the other hand, he was doing a lot of things that were wrong, both legally and morally. He also was a murderer, and a ruthless one. So watch the documentary...I'll let you come to your own conclusions.

Oh my gosh. If you only watch one documentary on this list, WATCH THIS ONE. So awesome. I actually cried at the beauty of humanity while watching this. This documentary is about how a TV show for little girls (My Little Pony) transcended its own genre, and created a community of people (many of them men) devoted to messages of friendship and kindness. As Lauren Faust, the creator of the show said, "To people who feel that an adult man watching a show that's meant for little girls, if they think that's wrong or that that's strange, I would say this. I would ask them 'Why do you think that's strange? What about that makes you uncomfortable?' As a society I think our first reaction is to jump to the conclusion that there's something wrong with that. But I think that that's what needs to be changed. We need to allow men to be gentle, and to be sensitive, and to care about one another, and not call them weak for caring."

King Tut Unwrapped
First of all, the name of this documentary is undeniably hilarious, so let's just acknowledge that for a moment. Okay, now that that's out of the way, this is a pretty cool documentary. If you're fairly familiar with ancient Egypt and King Tut, this documentary doesn't offer a whole lot of new information. But it does present it all clearly and interestingly. "Forensics and archeology come together to solve mysteries neither of them could do on their own." Also features Zahi Hawass, whom I find delightful. (Even though, in light of the recent upheaval in Egypt, he MIGHT have been in Mubarak's pocket?)

Smithsonian's Secrets: Richard III
So remember a few years ago, when British newspapers announced that the remains of Richard III had been found under a parking lot in Leichester. Well, the whole story is SO MUCH MORE EXCITING. Phillipa Langley, of the Looking for Richard Project, compared antique maps with current maps to make an educated guess about where the site of an old church might be, where Richard III might be buried. It was a parking lot, and when she walked onto the site, she said she got an eerie feeling that it was the right place. It took years and a lot of convincing of a lot of different people to even start digging, but they finally did. It was a needle-in-a-haystack, no-one-really-knows-what-we'll-find situation, so on the first day of the dig, they asked Phillipa, "Where should we start?" She looked around, and saw a parking spot marked with a letter "R." She told them to start there. AND THEY FOUND BONES.

Smithsonian's Secrets: The Sphinx
Not the most riveting documentary, but a decent glimpse into the history of the Sphinx. There are a lot of different theories about the age and purpose and creation of the Sphinx, and this documentary goes through all of them, finally focusing on the most accepted.

Smithsonian's The Real Story: Escape From Alcatraz
I kinda like these "The Real Story" documentaries that Smithsonian's been putting on Netflix. Most people are familiar with the story of Frank Morris and Charles and John Anglin, who escaped Alcatraz in 1962, using dummy heads and a life raft made of raincoats. The jury's still out on what happened to them, and it's generally believed that they drowned. The story was solidified in the cultural mind with the Clint Eastwood film, but as always, Hollywood's version is the story-telling version--not the true version. The true version is that a guy named Allen West seemed to have been the mastermind behind the plan. He didn't make it out with the others, but it seems that he had every intention to. (This documentary also has wonderful re-enactments, with stand right on the border between legitimate film and cheesy low-budget work.)

Smithsonian's The Real Story: The Untouchables
A bit more Al Capone history. This is another case of popular culture highjacking the truth. William Ness often gets credit for "bringing down Capone." He was seen as this incorruptible force for good. (Which he actually was--at one point, Capone's men came to him and said that if he left Capone alone, he'd find $2000 on his desk every Monday morning for the rest of his career. Which is the equivalent of around $25,000 in today's money. $25,000. EVERY MONDAY. William Ness declined the offer.) But the reality is that for all of Ness' work making arrests and destroying distilleries, it didn't make much of a legal dent in putting Capone away. His part in Capone's arrest was almost non-existent--his work was never used in any trial against Capone. Ness' role was glorified in a book written by Oscar Fraley in the 1950s, who knew what would sell and wrote according to that, as opposed to writing according to the truth. The truth is that Capone was jailed for tax evasion. And the man who found enough evidence to bring Capone to trial was an unassuming accountant named Frank Wilson. (Also, the actor they got to play William Ness really looks like William Ness.) 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A poem

Dug this out of the archives a while ago. I've been too busy/too tired/too writer's-blocked/busy-reading-instead to blog much lately. So here's this.


I drove fourteen miles today
through the same potato fields
I passed the summer I drove Jordan Tait’s
red Honda CT 110,
skipping grammar class
to wear my father’s old leather jacket
and go joy-riding.
That same year, between sessions of April’s
general conference,
we rode his motorcycle—a real one—out to
Barney Dairy Road
stopped and wandered through the same graveyard
that Jacob Chapman and I would eat cereal in
years later.
Just talking.

I’m surprised the car has made it this far today.
Riding out here between sessions
of April’s general conference.
This car is rusting away at the edges
and like so many things, it seems about to die.
Every day I think “This week, this month, this year,
it’s going to die.”
And every week, every month, every year,
it rustily carries on.
You press the gas pedal and the damned thing
just keeps going forward.

There was an afternoon in these fields
when Shaun Scrivner and I drove and drove and drove
I remember some old potato bunker
roof gone
that we climbed around in.
I sometimes wonder if I dreamt it
Lately, most memories seem like that.
Too surreal to have actually happened.
You get out of the habit of making things extraordinary.
You get too old to unthinkingly say yes.

We go through days when we are
as ships in the night and when I drive,
I imagine—I keep picturing—
that I’ll see Jacob, meet him in a field somewhere
between the cemetery and that roofless potato bunker
and he’ll play the guitar
and I’ll keep saying yes
and we’ll pull everyone out of the cave behind us.
So many things keep going.
Ted, the car, marriages.
And every few years, I sit in the driver’s seat of a car
and write a poem that feels important.