’80s Basement Lecture Series, 18 Feb 2017: Satire

About a month ago I was feeling nostalgic about NYC, as I sometimes do, and I remembered that my friend Brook started a lecture series there where she would invite various experts to talk about their specialties. It all started in her living room with a small group then grew into an impressive crowd. She called it the Living Room Lecture Series.

This memory sparked in me a desire to copy her. I texted some friends to see what they thought:

Hey, friends! I’m thinking of starting a quarterly lecture series at my house. Maybe 20-minute talks, followed by discussion and treats. The lectures would come from us and cover a variety of topics. Reilly could talk about Family Guy, Maddie could discuss writing copy or songs, Kylie poetry or Ndichie, Jon film, etc. You don’t have to lecture if you don’t want to. Does this sound fun? Would you support this?

The replies:

  • OH MY HELL. I would ADORE THIS.
  • I strongly support this message.
  • YES!
  • If kids are welcome I’m totally interested. We used to do something similar in DC and I love that kind of thing! Also I’m also interested without the kid. Both ways, totally interested.

So we set a date and time, which was February 18 at 7:30pm. I thought about holding these meetings in our basement, which has wood paneling and strange patchy brown carpet from the ’80s. I decided to call this thing the ’80s Basement Lecture Series. Genius, I know.

This past Saturday the guests arrived, and we gave them a tour of our home. Then we ate some pizza and got really drunk. JUST KIDDING THERE WAS NO PIZZA. Just kidding, we had a lot of pizza and zero alcohol.

We headed down to the basement. I introduced Reilly, and he gave a terrific lecture about satire and its evolution on television over the past 30 years. He defined indirect and direct satire, using Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as examples. He hinted a quick comparison of Tomi Lahren and Samantha Bee. He showed clips from the Simpsons and Parks and Recreation. We had a fascinating discussion about the current political climate and people who don’t get satire. And we discussed the purpose of satire: in what ways does it motivate us to act/speak/think? It was a lot of fun.

I looked at the group of us and wondered: Are THESE the people I like hanging out with, slightly strayed, slightly jack-Mormon AND incredibly faithful, moderate-to-left-leaning, super smart, extremely big-hearted; socially conscious, ever eager agents of change to make the world a better place?

Yes, YES.  A frillion times yes.

The conversation, their presence, their intelligence and spirit: I basked in it all.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s great bringing people together to share ideas and foster and strengthen friendships. But I may have started this lecture series just for me. Selfish little me.

Can’t wait for the next meeting.

Three Months

 

Getting cuter

Dear Zinger,

You love us. You really love us.

Three months today, baby girl! One fourth of one year on this earth. Can you believe it? With your alertness and activeness, you don’t take a single moment for granted. Your father and I love watching you grow. You get bigger and cuter every day. Your dad sometimes looks at you and asks me if I can imagine you at your current size in my stomach. I can’t, although there are some expecting moms out there who carry babies your weight.

You sleep more at night now, which is good for everyone. You probably average about eight hours every night, waking up only once to eat. This past Sunday night you slept from 9pm to 5:30am straight through. And when you woke up in the morning, you had this look on your face that showed you didn’t know where you were. I mean, more than usual. You often wake up pretty disoriented. Last night, you slept from 8pm to 1am, and then 1:30am to 5:40am. That’s nine hours! All that sleep helps you grow faster than we can keep up.

awwsosad

You are developing separation anxiety, which, I must admit, feels extremely validating. Except that it makes you sad. Really sad. And often pretty angry. On Sunday a few people from church and a BYU friend tried holding you, and I think you were cussing at us. Angry cries. Red face. Little tears streaming down your cheeks. Sometimes though you give people a chance and remain calm when people hold you, like when some friends from New York passed through on their way to a new home. And when a former seminary student came to visit. I do appreciate being missed, and I love the way you look at your dad and me, with an increasing knowledge of who we are.

We love that you are ours.

Other than these crying spells, you are smiling a lot more. You take in your surroundings. You study everything, and you smile at people when they talk to you. You sometimes seem bashful as you smile and turn your head away. You even giggle, which has to be the purest, most glorious sound ever created.

You talk in little squeals and squawks and singsong sighs. We listen and agree and ask you to elaborate. We love listening to your philosophy on life.

giggle rattle

We sit you upright on the couch, and you do several things. You suck on your hands and then you look at your hands and watch yourself opening and closing your hands. You pick up a nearby rattle and look at how the whole system of your arm and hand can make things move. We sometimes catch you staring at your feet. You’re figuring things out, but you also watch television. Yeah, our family watches a lot of television.

roadtrip

You took your first road trip last month. We went to St. George, and you behaved so well in the car the whole time. Your cousins thought you were awesome, and my friends from New York thought you were quite darling. Can anyone blame them?

hoodie, yo

mommy thumb

A couple weeks ago, you went on your first little hike to Bridal Veil Falls. You’re cute wherever you go.

Little girl, I returned to work this week, and I might have had a harder time with it than you did. Yesterday morning I walked around the apartment getting ready, and you watched me and knew something was up. You lay on your tummy time blanket on the living room floor, and while I kissed you goodbye I forced a smile and blinked back tears as my throat tightened. I closed the door behind me and when I walked to the car I wondered what the heck I was doing. Maybe I’m really the one with separation anxiety.

You’re progressing so quickly. The thought of missing any sort of milestone makes me sad, yet I don’t want to hold you back in any way. I would love to see all of your upcoming firsts: crawls, solid foods, steps, words, spelling bees, karate tournaments. I want to keep holding you with your fingers wrapped around my thumb, the three of us dancing, floating across the room. I know your dad feels the same way. But we will do what we can so that we’re there for you as much as possible, when it matters the most.

baby thinking

We are obsessed, little one. Totally beside ourselves. Thank you for an incredible first three months.

We love you. We really, really love you.
Mom

Schoolin’

2nddayclass

You guys, I started grad school this week.

Baby and I are learning so far about library history and library ethics. We’ve gotten an introduction to information-seeking behavior. That’s a good behavior for Baby to learn.

It seems like a great program so far. It’s blended, which means it’s partly online and partly face-to-face. Our first in-person class weekend with fellow classmates isn’t for a few weeks, so I’m just making sure to keep up on reading, quizzes, and other assignments. We meet on four weekends during the semester.

Oh, we had orientation back on January 4, and I got to meet classmates and had my picture taken for the student database. We met the dean of the school of library and information management, and we also met librarians from different branches of the library kingdom. That was cool.

Quite a few of my cohort already work in libraries; they need the MLS to move up in their careers. I think there are 16 or 17 students total in my cohort. It’ll be nice to work with this group for the next two years. One student comes from Idaho; one comes from Vancouver, BC. The rest of us live in Utah.

Also, one of the class weekends this semester happens to fall on the weekend Baby has been predicted to arrive. I’ve already told my professors and the director of the program.

While I’m not getting any sleep, I might as well be getting a master’s degree, right?

Reilly’s 2nd semester is already in full swing. One class continues from last semester where he watches movies and writes papers about them. The other class consists of him watching cartoons and writing papers about them. I’m glad to see him enjoying himself so much. He’ll actually get to teach a film studies elective next year at the school where he works. Yeah, he’s awesome.

We are pretty much a power couple, soon to be a mega power family.

Sacrament Meeting Today

A lot goes on in a sacrament meeting in my ward. Babies cry and parents take them out of the room to calm them down. Toddlers toddle in the aisles or between pews. People play games with their smart phone. There are always a lot of announcements and someone is always in the hospital or had a baby or received a mission call. We sustain and release people to and from callings. With everything that happens, we can certainly appreciate the quiet moments during the meeting.

Today, people used the 70-minute block to bear their testimonies of the gospel. We do this every first Sunday of each month. The same things that happen every week in the congregation also happened today. Two rows in front of us, a dad took his fussy son out. I exchanged smiles with a flirty baby while watching a little boy waddle up to the podium to join his father. I caught glimpses of few people sending texts or playing games on phones and tablets.

Everything amused me and at the same time edified me. But in a distracted way. However, I also tried to focus on the meeting. I brought my French hymnbook to church and compared French hymns to their English counterparts. In an effort to learn the names of people in the ward, I wrote down the names of people who bore their testimony. The only people whose names I didn’t know were visitors. I was grateful to be making some progress.

The testimonies themselves were quite impressive. They were heartfelt and inspired. One in particular struck me in a way the others didn’t. The bishopric reminds the congregation that you can come up and bear your testimony as long as you can do it by yourself. Because of this, not many children have born their testimony, at least as long as Reilly and I have been in the ward.

A little girl and her visiting cousin came up to the stand. The cousin bore her testimony first, then the little girl. The little girl had just gotten baptized yesterday, and she expressed her feelings with such confidence and calmness. It occurred to me how virtually sinless she was, and her simple and powerful testimony heightened the spirit in the room. A palpable sweetness swelled and touched my distracted little heart, and tears flowed instantly from my eyes.

Even though this girl wasn’t the first to bear her testimony today, I’m grateful that she set the tone for my Sunday experience. I’m grateful for her example and especially her parents who strive constantly to give happiness to their family.

I hope to have this kind of influence someday.

Stupid Parking Job

Macey’s is a Utah grocery store with a pretty good bakery and super cheap soft-serve ice cream, and they have free Smarties and Dum-Dums or Chula Pops at the cashier. Reilly and I got blue raspberry Dum-Dums tonight. We had just seen a father pushing his two kids in a cart. The daughter was around two years old, and the son was about 4. We were in the frozen foods aisle when I heard the son say to his dad, “Why are you talking back to me?” just before the daughter dropped her sucker on the floor and cried because the dad wouldn’t pick up the dirtygross candy for her. We quietly laughed far enough behind this family.

This evening, Reilly and I came out of Macey’s and wheeled our cart of groceries to the parking lot. Reilly walked in front of the cart, and I was pushing it. As we neared our car, we noticed a small grey SUV parked next to us. Reilly saw how the Jeep/Forerunner/similarly objectionable vehicle with a Washington state license plate was parked, and he looked back at me with an expression that made me look at what he noticed. The vehicle’s left rear wheel was on the line, and the left front wheel was in our parking space.

I immediately reacted. “I hope he [the owner of the SUV] comes out soon so I can kick him in the nards.”

Reilly agreed that the parking job was bad.

We loaded the groceries into the trunk of our car, and I wheeled the cart to the nearest cart corral. The perfectly cool air braced my hot, angry face. Yet, I still wondered how I could push my neatly into the corral when I had a normal cart and the other carts in the corral were a mini-cart and a car-cart that kids could sit in and pretend to drive while parents pushed it. Then I just decided to make sure my cart was at least out of the way, because I’m incredibly considerate about these things.

When I returned to the car, Reilly had unlocked my door, but he hadn’t opened it because the space between our car and the dork car next to us was too narrow. But he also looked at me as if something was funny.

I opened the car door and slipped inside, and I happened to glance inside the Jeep/Forerunner/whatever. The driver happened to be in the car, and the driver happened to be a woman. Blonde, ponytail, appearing to avoid looking to her left at her condemners.

It occurred to me that she could have heard what I said, but once I closed the door, I told Reilly, “It’s a girl in that car! I’m still going to kick her in the nards!”

Then Reilly said, “I have a little trick for when I park like that. I park the car again and fix it.”

Seems simple enough.

Book on Tapeworm Was Here

This is what happens when I bring a camera. There doesn’t have to be as many burdensome words.

Last night, I went to an album release show of a band called Book on Tapeworm. Here they are:

The percussionist here is my husband’s brother:

Here was their real-life, life-size set last night at the Velour. As you can see, the stage quite resembles the band’s CD case:

Here’s Gavin working his magic. He came all the way back from grad school in Illinois for this show. This guy is legit:

So, if the set looks surreal, if the CD packaging is styled after their set, you can expect to hear music that’s ethereal and transcendent and not harsh and grating and makes you feel like gagging yourself.

If you’re into well-written songs, tight harmonies and angelic voices; if you like thoughtful music that truly reflects how serious and professional and skilled the musicians are; if you appreciate the shrinks, swells, and swings of emotion in music that makes you sigh with longing or nostalgia; and if you want the mystery and magic of the morning mists meandering groves and chaparrals, then you’ll love this album.

If you don’t like any of that stuff, I can accurately conclude that you’re pretty stupid.

Also, these folks are incredibly nice and insufferably cool people. None of the band members are likely to become supreme jerks when they become rich and famous.

Check them out, like them. Buy their stuff. Watch them:

Book on Tape Worm – Shadow Puppets from Jason Moffat on Vimeo.

They’re amazing.