Saturday, November 26, 2011

New book reviews and Mormon Lit news!

I just reviewed to great new memoirs for Main Street Plaza: John K. Williams' tales of serving a mission in Bolivia Heaven Up Here and Ingrid Ricks' amazing adventures in a highly unusual (and-not-entirely-in-a-good-way) Mormon family Hippie Boy.

Also note: Johnny Townsend is planning a project that sounds really fantastic:

I am accepting short stories dealing with unconventional Mormons for an anthology to be called “Marginal Mormons.” The stories should be 25 pages or shorter, though length will not necessarily disqualify a submission. Payment will be $20 and one copy of the book, in exchange for perpetual, non-exclusive rights. The stories may be original or previously published, as long as you currently retain the rights. I am not particularly impressed with faith-promoting stories, but I am also not looking to attack the Church. I simply want stories that show unconventional Mormons or new interpretations of doctrine or history. The story does not need to be disturbing but should certainly be thought-provoking.

Please email any stories in the body of the email, but also include them as an attachment. Send to johnnyjohnnyt at yahoo dot com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Battle for Dream Island!!!

As a parent, I end up having to watch a lot of low-quality kids' entertainment. My general strategy is (as long as it's not something actively offensive), just not to worry too hard about it, and let my kids learn and decide for themselves what they like. And when I find kids' programming that I think is clever, to recommend it:

Enter Battle for Dream Island, a cartoon series my kids found on YouTube.

I've gotten hooked on this series with them because I think it's clever and funny. But there's an additional, unusual aspect of it that impressed me:

The series started with twenty contestants (all of them anthropomorphized objects) with approximately an equal split between male and female characters. Yet -- even though it's a cartoon -- the female characters aren't given any of the typical signals to mark them as female (eg. big lips and eyelashes). The characters vary widely in personality, hence aren't gender-stereotyped. I know this shouldn't be exceptional, but I don't think I've ever seen any cartoon do this. And yet it works. It works great, in fact!

The series is almost over (after a run of a couple years), but I look forward to seeing what the artists do next. Go Leafy!!

(see also this post for contrast)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ernie and Bert as mishies?

There are various interpretations of what Ernie and Bert are supposed to be: brothers? a gay couple? just room-mates? Here's a cute comic of them as Mormon missionary companions:

I know, I know, E & B obviously aren't Mormon missionaries, but still... from reading missionary memoirs, I recognize the relationship dynamic


Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I have a long list of topics bouncing around in my head. I really want to write the corresponding blog posts, but I never seem to have the time. Especially if it's something potentially controversial, I don't want to just dash it off -- I want to compose it carefully. And the longer I put it off, the bigger the hurdle (to just sitting down and writing something) grows. Does that every happen to you?

I'll just list some of the topics, and see if anyone has any comments on them to start with:

  • Switzerland: "The country that continuously proves that no problem is insurmountable when you're sitting on a huge pile of money." On the one hand, I'm continuously impressed by Switzerland's ability to put money to good use in forward-thinking investments (eg. environment, scientific research), but there are some negative aspects as well (some xenophobia, for example).
  • Obama: Let me count the ways I am not happy with his performance as president, and deconstruct the errors in my earlier endorsement. Bonus questions: (1) Is there any hope for real change? (2) After 10 years in Europe (and counting) why don't I bother to follow European politics as closely as I follow US politics?
  • The Flying Spaghetti Monster: I got a really cute crocheted Flying Spaghetti Monster from Camp Quest. My kids love it! I'm planning to post a picture of it (possibly with Leo dressed as a pirate (since he'd already decided (before receiving this FSM toy) that he wants to be a Pastafarian)). The problem: my kids broke the camera I usually use for this blog. (That's why the food photo on this post is an embarrassingly blurry cell phone photo, unlike the sharp pictures on my Lego posts.) So I have to go borrow my husband's camera, and maybe get Leo to dress up as a pirate. Yet, somehow, I never seem to have the 1/2 hour that would require...
  • Bonus surprise feminism topic: I can't seem to sum this one up in a couple of sentences without writing the whole damn post. So it's a surprise.
  • I'll also be writing about Heaven Up Here for Main Street Plaza sometime this week.

What do you think? Are these topics too difficult/controversial, or is it all in my head?