Sunday, July 30, 2006

X3 Thoughts Part II

One of the really cool and poorly executed premises of X-Men: The Last Stand is that someone has created a cure for the X-factor (the mutated gene that gives mutants their powers), stirring controversy between mutants who want to be cured and mutants who are offended by the suggestion that they need curing, with obvious parallels drawn between mutants and homosexuals. So of course the question that I left the theater with was: If there were a cure for homosexuality would I take it?

It's a hard question. Considering the fact that I am married to a woman and the ideal would be for me to be attracted to her and no one else, it seems like I should not have to think twice about taking a hypothetical "straight pill." Yet still I hesitate.

Part of the problem is that being attracted to men is such an ingrained part of me that I cannot imagine myself otherwise. I don't talk about it all that much for a lot of reasons, but in truth I am very aware of my sexual orientation for a good portion of each day of my life. I work in a public place, and while I have to say that a good 80% of the male population of the world is entirely unattractive, that 20% that's left still adds up to quite a few men I interact with on a daily basis who, on some level or another, attract me. Even before my mission, when I was participating in reparative therapy with the supposed intent to change my sexual orientation, I never could imagine myself seeing a good-looking man and not feeling some kind of draw toward him. I suppose what it comes down to is that I cannot conceive of a Straight Master Fob, so if I were to eliminate the Gay Master Fob I'm not sure who would be left.

The other part is that, as much as I am philosophically opposed to pride, I take a certain pride in being different--different from the 90 to 95% of men in the world who are straight, and also different from the 4.99 to 9.99% who are gay but either closeted or in gay relationships but not openly gay and in a straight relationship. This is a silly reason. I hang my head in shame.

In theory I don't believe sexual orientation should be such an important factor in one's identity, but in reality it's a big part of how I see myself. Perhaps it's just that for such a long time I was unwilling to openly acknowledge that part of me, so now I'm giving it more importance than it deserves as compensation. Ideally, I suppose, with time I'll settle down to a healthier view of myself as a human being, independent of whether I call myself gay or straight.

You can bet, though, that if my sexual orientation were big white wings growing out of my back or kickass telekinetic powers, I would not give them up and I would not feel the least bit of angst over it.

X3 Thoughts Part I

The disappointing thing to me about X-Men: Last Stand is that it had such great potential--both the concept of the X-Men in the first place and the specific concept of this movie--but dropped the ball in so many ways. The advantage to having serial characters who are interpreted by hundreds of different creators over the course of half a century is that some of those creators are going to do some pretty darn cool stuff with the characters, things the original creators never dreamed of. An example is the first two X-Men movies, in which Bryan Singer updated the concept for the twenty-first century and told some excellent stories. The disadvantage is that some of the creators are going to do really mediocre things, such as in X3 where instead of dialogue we have an endless string of crappy one-liners and instead of character development we have, well, an endless string of crappy one-liners. And Jean Gray, who was one of the most interesting characters of the first two movies, turned into some chick who stands around looking bored while people talk about how powerful and passionate and insane she is. Blaugh.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

RSS Feeds

Is anybody else getting them? I haven't in a week. I miss them. What, do you expect me to actually go to your blog to read it?

Friday, July 28, 2006


A giant thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you who wished me a happy blogday on Wednesday... all ZERO of you.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Dreams Last Night

1. My friend Dandypratt was living in the mountains in Utah and for some reason had my children living with him and wouldn't let Foxy and me see them. I was very angry with him. Like raging mad to the point where I had to wake up and calm down.

2. I was trying to give my presentation on Netlibrary's downloadable audiobooks at the Utah County librarians' luncheon today, but I had forgotten to bring my MP3 player to the mall to show them how to transfer audiobooks to a portable device, and the librarians were coming and going and not listening to me and I wasn't sure where to begin and on top of all that I was naked--this is a recurring theme in my dreams. Yesterday I was naked at Provo library and I'm sure that the night before that I was naked somewhere else. It's always this sort of vaguely embarrassed feeling, but a sense of "Well, there's nothing to do but ignore the fact that I'm naked and do what I have to do."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reading Brokeback in Orem

I'm currently listening to Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Well, technically, I'm currently listening to Feedback by Jurassic 5, but in a broader sense of "currently" I am listening to Reading Lolita. I'm only about halfway through, and that's after listening to it on the way to and from work for the past couple weeks and on the five-hour drive home from Vegas. It's kind of hard for me to get into because it's rather slow--slow like taking a walk through the park and taking time to smell all the flowers and feed all the birds, so it's a good kind of slow, but slow nonetheless. It's interesting, though, to see how Nafisi remembers her life through the various books she's read and the literature classes she's taught.

As I reentered Utah Valley on Monday afternoon, Nafisi (or the narrator in Nafisi's name) was talking about a mock trial she conducted in a class, sparked by a student's objection to reading The Great Gatsby. As she spoke to the jury, representing the defendant--the book itself--she brought up the issue of morality in fiction. This is nothing new to me; one does not get a master's in English from BYU without having a Morality in Fiction discussion at least twelve hundred times. I appreciated Nafisi's perspective, though. She says that a good novel is democratic. Not that it promotes democracy, she assured her students, but that it is democratic because it represents a multiplicity of voices. In moral fiction all viewpoints are represented.

The example that came to mind for me was Brokeback Mountain. Because of my particular position in life, I felt a need after watching Brokeback twice to defend my decision to see a movie about a man who cheats on his wife with another man. My defense was that the movie was moral because it portrays an important truth: indecision, as represented by Ennis del Mar's inability to choose between his wife and his lover, leads to unhappiness. However, this is not quite true. The movie is not moral because it portrays this truth, but because it allows me to see what I consider truth in it while allowing others to see other truths, even conflicting truths. Another viewer might see that Ennis is unhappy because he has tried to live a straight life when he is Undeniably and Unchangeably Gay, while another might see that Ennis is unhappy because he tried to make a gay relationship work when straight is, in fact, the One True Sexuality. Brokeback Mountain does nothing to deny any of these interpretations, nor to promote any one of them over the others, and this is precisely what makes the movie moral--as in life, the experience can be seen from a number of perspectives and it is up to the viewer to decide what is true, not to accept a "truth" imposed on him by the artist.

But then I don't know. This might just be another case of Master Fob the Moral Relativist. What do you think?


The last two nights it has taken me almost an hour to fall asleep. This morning I woke up an hour earlier than I needed to and couldn't go back to sleep. This is not normal for me.

The Worth of My Blog

It's risen since last I checked:

My blog is worth $12,419.88.
How much is your blog worth?

(And I didn't even have to fake it.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Washington Update

By the way, I've been offered a job at one of the UW libraries. It's a crappy job, pay- and benefit-wise, but potentially a really good job experience-wise. I'm still waiting to hear on a couple other possibilities, the best of which would not conflict with this job (I think), but would pay my tuition and give me benefits on top of a stipend. That would be ideal. I'm afraid, though, that I'll be stuck choosing between this one job plus the unsure hope of getting something else to pay the rent or sticking with the two well-paying jobs I have here.

This post may or may not have anything to do with the second one below it.

Coming Soon: The End of the World As We Know It

When I was ten or eleven, I had a very vivid dream in which the Second Coming was going to be on July 25th--I knew this because it was announced on billboards and tv commercials. Since then, I'm always a little nervous when July 25th rolls around. It looks like we've made it through another uneventful one, though. Phew.

The Invisible Fob

Today I did a presentation on graphic novels for the teen summer reading group at the library. It went great--about fifteen teens attended, and they all seemed to enjoy the presentation. After the presentation, one kid showed me the comic book he's making.

This evening I led a book discussion group on Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, also at the library (the same one). It went not so well. Another librarian and I spent half an hour talking about library school and careers and housing before we decided that no one was going to show up. This was a wee bit frustrating, as I spent much of the past week scrambling to make it through the 580-page book (I'm a slow reader), but ultimately I don't regret having read the book and put in the effort to prepare for a discussion. I got paid for the actual preparation and I would have liked to read the book anyway, but probably never would have without this impetus.

Invisible Man tells the story of a black man's search for identity in early twentieth-century America (I'm foggy on the exact time, but I got the feel that it was set in the twenties or thereabout). Regardless of race or culture, the process of finding one's identity is a struggle for everyone, I think, but I particularly identified with the unnamed narrator at a point toward the end of the book when he discovers his true place in the political organization he's been working in:

"You were not hired to think," says Brother Jack, the leader of the Brotherhood. And a bit later, "Let us handle the theory and the business of strategy."

The narrator argues that because he works closely with the people of Harlem, he can best represent their interests to the Brotherhood. What the people want, he says, is not what the Brotherhood thinks they want.

Brother Jack dismisses this notion, reprimanding the narrator for giving "undue importance to the mistaken notions of the people."

At one of my jobs--or better yet, at one of the many jobs that I have had at some point in my life--I too have felt that I was not hired to think. At this job I was highly valued as an effective worker ant, but the administration let me know on several occasions that my job description did not include thinking about the way we did things and ways we could improve. Not only was my opinion undervalued, but I also got the impression that the administration felt they knew better than the public, whose interests I felt I represented, what the public wanted. They would never say this, in fact they might argue otherwise, but this is certainly the message that was communicated.

Reading the Invisible Man's description of his frustration at realizing just what his superiors thought of him, was an Emerson Moment for me. Upon seeing his own invisibility, the narrator decides the situation is unacceptable. He gives up everything he has--his job, his home, the relatively comfortable life he leads--in order to escape the helplessness of being in a position where he is expected to help people but cannot because he is not allowed to think for himself. Admittedly, my position was never quite so extreme as his, but I wonder if I would sacrifice my job, home, and comfortable lifestyle in order to be in a place where my ability to think was respected. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Five hours and fifteen minutes

from my in-laws' house in Vegas to the Smith's parking lot in Orem, including a fifteen-minute stop in Mesquite for gas and snacks. I'd taken a cooler full of grapes, carrots, cheese, water, and a ham sandwich, which I ate while driving to save time. At the gas station I decided to make a preemptive attack on potential sleepiness with some kind of caffeine, but the problem is that I really don't like any carbonated beverages and, though I briefly considered the frapuccinos available, I hate the taste of coffee. I opted then for sugar and the small amount of caffeine available in chocolate; I was happy to discover a little bottle of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milkshake. It was, as the bottle says, "a euphoric milk beverage." It was also a bit costly for its size, but Milob had given me a little bit of cash so I wouldn't feel guilty about buying myself a treat, so I splurged.

At Smith's I prepared for the coming week of feeding myself. I'm embarrassed at all the already-prepared food I bought--I fear Foxy J has managed in the past five years to domesticate me, turning me into the typical male incapable of cooking his own meals--but the truth is that I don't have time to prepare meals. I am going to make lasagna sometime this week, though, as that's the only dish I remembered all the ingredients to and knew I could make successfully. I'm also proud of myself for buying a decent selection of healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies.

Today was the first time I'd made a drive longer than an hour by myself, and the coming week will be one of the very few times in my life that I've lived completely alone, with neither family nor roommates. While I will miss Foxy and Boogie and LD, I am looking forward to this week. I have always valued my alone time and I've not had much of it in the past few years. I imagine about the beginning of next week I'll have had enough of myself and will be more than happy to have my family back. Until then, though, I'm going to enjoy hanging around the apartment in my underwear (which is not to say that I can't or don't usually do so). I hope Foxy and the kids continue to enjoy their stay in Vegas, and I'll be watching S-Boogie's blog for pics.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fobsvithing Hopefully

My brother-in-law reported today on his LDS mission to Russia. In his talk he cited a scripture from the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:4: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." Bilob then went on to say, "One of the reasons I wanted to serve a mission was--" and, based on my interpretation of the scripture I expected him to say something along the lines of so I could earn the right to be in a better world with God after I leave this one (i.e. being good gives me hope that I'll go to heaven). But he didn't say that. Instead, he said, "--so that I could help make this world better."

I appreciate his interpretation of the scripture. A responsible understanding of faith does not lead one to sit around and hope for a better world to come, but to hope for a better world and therefore work to make our world better.

Friday, July 21, 2006

No More Dead Dogs

by Gordon Korman

Wallace Wallace always tells the truth, and he is tired of reading books about dogs who die in the end. So when he has to write a review of Old Shep, My Pal for English class, he lets the teacher know exactly what he thinks. Unfortunately, Old Shep is the teacher's favorite book, so he doesn't take Wallace's negative review very well. Too stubborn to say anything nice about the book he hates, Wallace ends up in detention for months, which leads to his unwilling involvement in the drama club's adaptation of Old Shep.

This book is full of unique characters with great voices, a fact the audiobook version we listened to yesterday took advantage of by having different readers perform each of the four narrators' parts.

Dear Cicada,

I have found your people: they are here in Las Vegas, living in the tree outside my in-laws' house, making a very annoying mating call. Please respond to their call soon so they'll shut up.


Master Fob

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fobsvithing Faithfully

For some reason I always end up svithing on Mondays. Perhaps when I start my own religion I'll make Monday the holy day. Then again, maybe I'll make every day a holy day so no one ever has to go to work.

But that is not what I want to svithe about. What I want to svithe about is this:

Yesterday I submitted three job applications--one in Orem and two in Seattle. Today I did a phone interview for a third Seattle possibility. Meanwhile, I love both of my jobs here in Utah Valley, despite the fact that working 45 hours a week without the pay and benefits of a full-time job kind of sucks.

After submitting the third application yesterday, my first thought was that my fate is now in other people's hands. Where I am and what I'm doing in a month and a half and then for the next few years is dependent on what job offers I receive.

My second thought was that this is not quite true. My fate is in God's hands--not because he is some master puppeteer working behind the scenes to control people, but because regardless of what job offers I receive, whether here, in Washington, or in Zimbabwe (I forgot to mention the job in Zimbabwe, didn't I?), Foxy and I will choose to do what we feel God tells us is best for our family.

The truth is, I'm a little anxious to find out where I'm going to be in September and what I'll be doing, but I'm not worried. Somehow, it'll work out and we'll be where we need to be. I suppose what I'm trying to say is this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.
- Proverbs 3:5,6
And I'll leave it at that.

The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

This book is often mentioned as a well-written version of The Da Vinci Code, so I've been wanting to read it for a while in order to (in good conscience) recommend it to library patrons. It is similar to DVC in that it deals with a mystery hidden in an ancient manuscript, and even gets into religion a little bit, and it is fairly well-written. I suspect it's not quite as quick-paced as Dan Brown's thriller, though, as Caldwell and Thomason actually take time for things like character development. What I found most interesting about the book was a recurring theme of prioritizing one's loyalties: the main character is struggling throughout the book to not repeat his father's mistake of becoming so entrenched in the mystery of the Hypnorata Machia that he neglects the woman he loves, and this gets complicated when his commitment to solving the mystery becomes intertwined with his commitment to help his best friend. The choice, then, is not between his girlfriend and a book, but between his girlfriend and his best friend. There's an added tension in the narrative because despite the fact that the narrator is trying to convince the reader and himself that his girlfriend is what's most important, the mystery of the ancient manuscript is really what's most important to the narrative. I'm not sure whether the authors intended this or if it's just that they didn't succeed in making me care enough about the girlfriend. While I enjoyed the book overall, the end disappointed me because this conflict of loyalties was never satisfactorily resolved even though the authors seem to want me to believe it was. That, and the fact that the book ends with a twist that could have been explained if the story had gone on for just one more chapter, but unfortunately was left unexplained.

Overall I give Rule of Four three out of five Fobs:

Things That Make Me Sick

1. The fact that there are people in this world who abduct small children.
2. When my professional and personal commitment to intellectual freedom requires me to help groups of young men with shaved heads to find Mein Kampf and other Nazi-related books.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Now On Sale at the Fobcave!!!

100% Homemade Sno-Cones
Real-life customer LD Fob (not an actor) says: "alsdkj;asdkjdkke."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Quick Reviews

(So I can update my "Books I've Read" list with links.)

Small Steps by Louis Sachar. The sort-of sequel to Holes, featuring Armpit and X-ray. Not quite as amazing as Holes, but still a good read. X-ray talks Armpit into getting into the scalping business, a situation that is complicated when Armpit meets and falls in love with the girl whose concerts he scalped. The fact that this book is largely about music and the music industry was a happy coincidence, as I am currently attempting to write a book that deals with similar themes.

The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher. Interestingly, I read this book about censorship so that we can discuss it next week in a staff meeting at Library #2, in which we will discuss whether "edgy" teen books should be in our collection. A good story about a teenage boy going up against censorship at his high school, as told by his dead best friend. The anti-censorship theme is a bit heavy-handed, even for me, but the appearance of Chris Crutcher himself in the story won me over, as I'm a sucker for metafiction.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Why My Baby Smells Like Pot

Thursday night Foxy and I took S-Boogie and Little Dude to the first of this year's Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City. I had learned that Michael Franti and Spearhead would be performing at a free concert in SLC a few months ago and spent the intervening time in drooling anticipation. I discovered Michael Franti a couple years ago when I figured Lauryn Hill was likely not going to release a new album any time soon, so if I wanted to listen to something besides her two albums, I'd have to diversify my interests a bit to include other artists. Spearhead is listed on as a soundalike for the Fugees because they're both hip-hop groups heavily influenced by reggae, soul, and various other non-rap genres, and also because they both have a reputation for being socially and politically conscious. In the case of Michael Franti and Spearhead, this is a ridiculous understatement. Sporting dreadlocks down to his butt and hemp t-shirts, Michael Franti is the epitome of the 21st-century freel0ving, bleeding heart, anti-war, anti-Bush, pro-choice, anti-death-penalty, pro-gay, all-politicians-are-corrupt, down-with-the-establishment, let's-all-get-high-and-love-everyone hippie musician. Basically, he's a perfect match for me.

The funny thing is that I was first interested in MF&S because they were a hip-hop group, but that's not really true anymore. Over the last twelve years they've progressed from reggae-influenced rap music to reggae-influenced rock with just a touch of rap. Their last album and their current one (coming out on July 25th) hardly have any rap at all. Their music is amazing enough, though, that I forgive them for that mishap. The nice thing about their new rock sound is that it makes them much more palatable for Foxy J, as well as pretty much everyone else I know and subject to my music.

At any rate, the concert: Foxy and I were picturing a pleasant little affair sitting on the grass, listening to music. I suspect the Twilight Concert Series is more often along these lines, but we didn't take into account the demographic of SaltLakians who listen to freeloving hippie rock. The Gallivan Center was packed--meaning that finding a place to put our blanket on the grass, even out of sight of the stage, was tricky. Moving at all, for that matter, was tricky. It was refreshing to be reminded that the whole world does not have the clean-cut cookie-cutter look of the entire population of Utah Valley, but we quickly realized that no matter the group, everyone within it looks the same--it's just that the uniform appearance of the hippie subculture of Salt Lake is different from the uniform appearance of the BYU culture of Provo. The other thing that unified this group and distinguished it from our usual surroundings was the required cup of beer in one hand and cigarette in the other. Of course, a large number of little white sticks emitting some form of smoke had nothing to do with tobacco. Hence the unique smell we all came home with. Probably not the sort of atmosphere I want to expose my children to on a regular basis, but for one fun night it was not bad.

The nice similarity between Mormons and hippies is that neither group has any qualms with bringing small children wherever they go, including outdoor concerts. S-Boogie had a blast, whether playing with other kids, trying to escape from her parents in the crowd, or rocking out on my shoulders, waving her hands in the air and singing along with Michael Franti, "Yell fire! Yo, yo yo yo!" Between the convenient distraction of the ultra-cute toddler on my shoulders and the fact that everyone around me was drunk out of their minds, I didn't feel self-conscious at all about dancing and singing along myself. In short, I had a lot of fun.

The music, of course, was great. Michael Franti is a talented performer--I could tell, even from fifty yards away, that he was enjoying himself, and that energy spread to the crowd. He introduced his bandmates as his friends, and I believe it. Doing concerts and making music is not a way for him to make money--in fact he left a major label several years ago in order to make the music he wanted to--but a chance for him to get together with friends and share. This is why the political messages of his songs, which otherwise might seem trite or contrived, come across so poignantly: he believes every word he says, and he cares about everything he talks about. When he decries war in a song, it's because he's been to Iraq and Israel and seen its effects, and it makes him sick. When he sings that "every single soul is a poem / written on the back of God's hand," it's because that's how he sees people, and how he treats them.

By the way...

That last one was my 200th post. Hurray for me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fobsvithing Obediently

Master Fob's thoughts on obedience, as inspired by a discourse delivered in church last week:

Obedience is a valuable tool in raising children. S-Boogie is not quite old enough to understand (despite previous experience) that taking off her own diaper can have disastrous consequences, but she is old enough to understand that she should obey Mommy and Daddy's counsel to not remove her own diaper. Similarly, she is not old enough to understand that running in the street or parking lot could have even more disastrous consequences, but she can understand that obeying her parents when they tell her not to run into the street is a good thing. Therefore, it is in her own and everyone's best interest for her to learn obedience.

This principle extends into adulthood only insofar as God understands consequences that we, like children, do not. I might not understand the full extent of the consequences of killing people I do not like, but I can trust that God does and therefore I obey his commandment that I shall not kill.

This is God telling adults what to do, though, not adults telling other adults. I acknowledge that God often speaks to people through other people. As a self-proclaimed follower of God, it is my responsibility to determine when people are speaking for God and when they are not. Theric, for example, might suggest to me that I eat more raisins. I might not understand why in the world I should eat more raisins, but if I pray about it and I feel that this suggestion, counsel, or commandment comes from God, then I will trust that God knows why I should eat more raisins and act accordingly. If I determine that the counsel is Theric's alone, though, I am under no obligation to follow it and I would appreciate if he would respect that. (The jerk.)

Here's my take on Gordon B. Hinckley's counsel that good Latter-day Saints should not have more than two piercings if female and none at all if male: I honestly have not prayed about it because it doesn't matter to me. I have no desire to pierce my body so I don't need to know whether God considers it a sin. If you have prayed about it and you feel the counsel is from God, please follow it and please ensure that your underage children do so as well. If other adults don't feel that the counsel comes from God, though, and choose not to follow it, I believe it is everyone else's responsibility as decent human beings to respect that. I can't speak for everyone, but I find it annoying when my fellow adults call me to repentance on some counsel or commandment that I honestly do not feel comes from God. Determining what is right and wrong is every human being's right and responsibility and should be respected.

A lot of people explain the piercing thing by saying that it's not really about how many piercings you have but how obedient you are. You are welcome to believe this if you choose to, but it does not fit with my personal understanding of God and the universe. God has plenty of opportunity to teach his children obedience with commandments that really do matter; I can't imagine why he would throw arbitrary commandments at us just to make sure we'll obey the important ones.

So if you are ever speaking at a meeting where the congregation is spread thin and you politely ask everyone to move forward, I probably will comply with your request just because that's the nice thing to do. But please don't try to make a moral issue out of it. I obey God as much as I can, but I feel no obligation to obey people on power trips.