Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I just had an interesting, comical experience that proves better than any fiction I could concoct at the moment.
I sat in my Intro to Film class next to my friend Josh and set in to listen to the lecture and enjoy the class as I always do. A shorter, darker kid sat next to me. Josh on my left, this kid on my right. The days lecture was on foreign film.
It became appearant very shortly into the class that this individual to my right had no sense of personal space. He repeatedly bumped me. With his knee, foot, elbow, arm, and seemingly anything else that can project from ones person. It was rather uncomfotable. I have what you might call a comfort "bubble", its a personal problem, I know, but the reality remains. I kept thinking, "Doesn't it bother this kid to bump me? For every action there is an equel and opposite reaction, he is feeling a bump as surly as I am every time he makes contact. I'm trying to focus, to take notes, isn't he trying to do the same thing? And doesn't all of this contact bother him as well?"

No, it seemed. No it didn't.

Two days ago, in a church leadership training meeting, I heard a talk about charity that reminded me how very uncharitable I am. Truly, I am grossly lacking in this virtue. I kept reminding myself of this, and that I should try to be charitable, give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe hes from a different country, and is not familiar with the American notion of personal space. He probably is from another country, I thought. He looks it, he sounds like it, and heaven knows he smells like it.

He won't stop moving his leg. Moving ones leg is normal when sitting down, it helps with circulation. But Don't do it when your knee is in full contact with the person next to you. And what is he drawing? It looks like something a third-grader would do.

The teacher continued the lecture with no notice of us.
"One of the greatest obstacles to appreciating foreign film is 'Xenophobia'. Does anybody know what Xenophobia is?"
"Fear of things that are different?"
"Yes, only not just fear, but hatred."

Man, would there be no end to this kid? I had my leg up rested on the knee of the other, clearly on my side of the arm rest, the unspoken dividing line in theater seating. Lines are no barrier for this kid, though, none whatever. He lifted his leg up to do the same thing as me, only mirrored. His knee bumped mine out of the way to take the space I had previously occupied.

"And as a wise man said, a barrier is not where a thing ends, but where something else begins."

Class break. Finally. I get up to get a drink, come back and sit down. "Josh", I says, "this kid next to me will not stop bumping me. If I am leaning your way, I'm sorry, but I'm trying to put some distance between me and the guy to my right."
"No, don't worry about it, I noticed he was kinda' spread out, too."

End break, and class begins again. Only no bumping boy!

"Maybe you got lucky" says Josh. "Your friend doesn't seem to be here."

But no such luck. A little bit into the class, he comes walking back with a bag of chips and a smoothie. We were sitting right in the front of the class, in the very middle. The instructor was standing immediately in front of us, and little bumper had to walk in front of him to get to where we were.

The teacher was mid sentance when bumper boy made his prime assault on my space. The (full) smoothie slipped from bumber boys hands as he tried to pick up his folder, and Pink Aloha Pinapple purree escaped from the broken styrofoam cup, gushing out onto the ground just in front of me. The teacher stopped talking for a moment, and then began again.

My shoes bore the scars of this attack, pink splotches all over them. For those of you who are not aware, I rather enjoy my shoes, I like thier shape, color, and overall departure from the rest of the clothes we wear. Its not a fetish thing, there is nothing strange or unhealthy about it. I just like my shoes. I like them clean. Which they no longer were.

I was wearing my Pumas, the pair that have an outer gray mesh, an interweaving latice of threads. That turns out to be a rather porous surface, and readily absorbed the pink contaminant.

This, you would think, should set me off. This, you would think, would send me into a tyrade. But no, not this time. Maybe there were some mental gymnastics going on behind my consciousness that did it, but somehow all this didn't even bother me. It was funny, really. I couldn't come up with this kind of scenario if I tried. It was comical.

Bumper boy did quickly appologize, not profusely, but an apology none the less. He didn't make any attempts to clean it up, either. There was a pool of pink slush that grew as it melted throughout the remainder of class.
Nor did he stop bumping. Strangely, and seemingly with no provocation, he turned and asked where I was from. "Phoenix Arizona." I replied. "You?"

"I am from the Himalayas. Nepal is my country."

For the rest of class we watched a handful of clips from various foreign films. But I correct myself, the teacher said we shouldn't call them that.

"The term 'Foreign' Film focuses on what is different about this genre, it focuses on what we tend to be afraid of. Rather, we will call them 'International' Films. This helps us focus on what is similar. Its not that we speak different languages thats important, but that we both use language."

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Sometimes we pretend not to know people.
And by "we" I mean I, and by " sometimes" I mean all the time.
The other day I saw three girls that I know, or rather have known, that I pretended not to know. There are two reasons for this. I don't think they would remember me, and theres really nothing to say. Examples (all from Wednesday)...
1. Saw the former Sister Miller at the DMV when I updated my registration. She was a missionary in the Spokane Mission at the same time as I was. She was one of the first people to greet and welcome me on my first day in the mission. She welcomed us with truly comical enthusiasm. "I JUST LOVE IT WHEN THE NEW MISSIONARIES COME!!!" I found out later that she had only been out six weeks at that point and we were the first group of new missionaries that she had encountered. She is now married and I've seen her there before at the DMV when I registered the car the first time. She was the teller that helped me when I was there last week. Both of the above cited reasons applied.
2. There was another girl there who I recognized from my freshman year. Random event it was, she needed somebody to do some illustrations when I was living in DT first term here, and somebody told her that they had a friend (me) that liked to draw. So this random girl payed me to draw some pictures. It took longer that I thought and it really wasn't worth it, but she was desperate to get help on her project. I don't remember her name other than it was unusual. I think she might have recognized me actually, despite having only really talked once four and one half years ago. But there was nothing to say to her, so I didn't.
3. Also freshman year, first term, I went to Teriaki Stix in the WILK every day for lunch. I may have already talked about this. Anyway, long story short the girl who worked there gave me her number and I never called her. Now she sits behind me in my Pop Culture class. Best to feign ignorance there I think.

Am I a bad person for this? I think I might be.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

OOOOhhhh...moving pictures.

I recently reflected on how much I watch movies. I watch a lot. Monday I watched Whats Eating Gilbert Grape. Not a bad movie, but didn't prove to be one that I really want to see again. There were certainly some interesting subjects and themes, but I don't really know what the film was trying to say.

-It dealt with the subject of food. He works at a grocery store, his name is grape, his mother is obese. But what it all means, I'm not sure of. Help and input here would be appreciated.

-It dealt with faithfulness. He was involved in an affair with a customer at the store. The married woman he is involved with then becomes jealous when he meets a younger, more attractive, and all around better woman. He had to go to his hometown grocery's competitor when he needs something near the end of the movie, and his boss saw him, saw his unfaithfulness.

-It deals with the nature of small town America, and its slow painful decline. There were little things here and there that gave the not-so-subtle message. Arnie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio, stunning performance) says to Gilbert repeatedly in several situations, "We're not going anywhere", not at all referring to their station in life, but thats the deeper message. The man that tries to sell Gilbert insurance (not knowing that Gilbert is the man his wife is cheating with) tells him, "You've got no auto insurance, no fire insurance, no life." Note how he didn't say life insurance. That is implied, but the message, again, is that of not moving, not going anywhere, not having a life or purpose. If Gilbert has any purpose, so far it hasn't proven to be for himself, but for others. For right or wrong, he meets the needs/wants of others; an aging housewife looking for young love, a mother who can't do mothering things anymore, a brother who doesn't know how to take care of himself (or anything else), or a grocery store owner who fears the future. He tries to give all these people what it seems they need.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough. Long review short, didn't like the affair, loved Arnie, thought the themes were interesting but ambiguous.

Tuesday I watched three, count them, three silent films from the twenties. That wasn't so much because I wanted to, but because thats what we were learning about in both of my film classes.

Last night, Wednesday, I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The review on that one is short. Entertaining but campy. Its just a mindless fun time. You can't really think too much about movies like that.

Tonight a bunch of us are going to the LDS Film Festival, of which we are a part. Have I mentioned that yet? Last weekend we decided to enter the 24-hour Film Making Marathon. I really really don't like what we submitted. If we had more time we could have done much better, but I guess thats the game with a 24-hour film making marathon.

Is this much movie-going healthy? Regardless, I am hoping to get tickets to go to Sundance next weekend or one of the satellite festivals.

Friday, January 13, 2006

on the shoulders of Giants

Yesterday I went to a...devtional? It wasn't really the normal BYU Tuesday devotional, but it was the same kind of setting. Regardless of the title you give it, Truman G. Madsen was the keynote speaker. I am a big fan. There is a question that I have wanted to ask him for years, ever since listening to his lectures on the Prophet Joseph Smith. I thought there would never be a better opportunity to ask, so I went up afterwards and asked. He was shaking hands of various students that had come up to meet him for one reason or another. He came to me, said hello, thank you, shook my hand, and looked like he was ready to move on, but I hadn't asked my question yet, so I just started before he could leave. I hadn't even gotten to the question yet when he stopped me, said "I know where you are going with this, I get that question all the time. I didn't realize it would be such an issue when I first spoke about that, but I now have a form letter to answer it. Give me your address and I'll send it to you."
However, Everybody else there was so intrugued as to what the question was that he just repeated it and gave the answer on the spot.
Here is the letter he sent me.

Dear Austin:

Thanks for your encouragement.
Here is the rest of the story.

in Truman G. Madsen's, Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Bookcraft, 1989.

There was a beautiful moment when Dimick Huntington in a shoe shop was working on the Prophet's boots. The Prophet recounted things Dimick had done for him, mostly physical and comforting things—rowing the boat across the Mississippi until his hands were blistered, carrying messages, and as the scriptures have it, "hewing wood and drawing water." The Prophet expressed gratitude and finally said to Dimick, "Ask of me what you will, and it shall be given you, even if it be to the half of my kingdom." Dimick did not want to impoverish the Prophet. He asked something else. "Joseph," he said with his whole soul, "Joseph, I desire that where you and your father's house are [meaning in eternity] there I and my father's house may be also." The Prophet put his head down for a moment as if in meditation, and then looked up. "Dimick, in the name of Jesus Christ, it shall be even as you ask."3'

The father [should be brother as well as father] of Dimick was named William. One night the Prophet learned from Shadrack Roundy, who stood guard at his gate, that a mob was on the river. Shadrack Roundy's "rascal beater," which we would call a billy club, would not be enough against twenty men. The Prophet went down the street to William's house, woke him up, and said, "A mob is coming, counsel me." William said: "I know what to do. You climb in my bed. I'll go back and get in yours." That is what they did.
The mob came and dragged William out. Down by the river they discovered they had the wrong man. Their viciousness knew no bounds. In wrath, they "stripped him, roughed him up, tarred and feathered him, and herded him back into Nauvoo like a mad dog."32 When he finally staggered into his own home the Prophet embraced him and said with all the power of his soul, "Brother William, in the name of the Lord I promise you will never taste of death." That prophecy was fulfilled.33

p. 148 Notes and Sources to Chapter Three
32. "Brother Joseph," said William, "you were right to come. You get in my bed and don't you worry. The Lord will protect you." In the light of dawn the mob saw their mistake."When Brother Joseph saw what they had done [to William] he clasped him in his arms and said, 'Brother William, in the name of the Lord I promise you will never taste of death.' " (See Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, p. 9.)

33. William Huntington went west with the exodus and settled eventually in Springville, Utah. One night; forty-three years after the Nauvoo incident, just after going to bed he was conversing with his wife in the darkness. He said something and she replied. She said something and he did not reply. After two or three repetitions she lighted a lamp. Without a sigh or a shudder he had died. The family believed this was the fulfillment of Joseph's promise, which is universalized in the Doctrine and Covenants: "And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; and they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter" (D&C 42:46-47). See Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, vol. 2, p. 271, entry of March 19, 1887.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Lists Begin

During the last three months of my mission, I carried a little notebook with me at all times with a very special purpose. It was a place to record things that had little or nothing to do with my day to day prosolyting efforts, but I wanted to remember all the same. It ended up being mostly lists, some of things for right after my mission, some of things for before I die. It became more fantastic as time passed. I hoped to post a picture of the list itself, but that will probably come later, seeing as my computer and scanner aren't getting along these days. If there was any confusion previously about how very wierd I actually am, this will clear it all up. So, without further adue, here is the first of a series of lists.

Stuff I want to Make When I get Home:
-Rubik's cube
-Butterfly knife
-Expando sphere
-Spinning top
-Magic rings
-Jitter rings
-both of the things on page ten
-a "director's cut" version of Finding Faith in Christ, w/ commentary, special features, etc.
-Beam robots
-A website on how to make simple toys(yo-yo's, tops) from parts at an auto store

I am so lame.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Book of Mormon update

I got a response from the proffessor that I emailed about the first edition Book of Mormon. Here is what he said.

Dear Austin,
The people to ask would be a couple of BYU librarians. Their names are David_Whittaker@byu.edu or Larry_Draper@byu.edu. They both have quite a bit of expertise in rare Mormon books and could give you an estimate as to it's worth. The last that I heard of one selling that was in good condition was about $50,000. They have really shot up in price over the last 15 years because LDS businessmen have been buying them up for their kids and grandkids. I heard that there were about 200-300 copies in existence today.

Parenthetically, I have been watching for a copy here for use in Religious Education. I would not mind buying one and then keeping it here so that many BYU BoM students could see and even touch it. It has occurred to me that the concept of witnesses in the scriptures is best outlined in the experiences of the three and the eight witnesses to the BoM, specifically the notion of "seeing, feeling and hearing" the witness. Anyway, tell your friends that they shouldn't touch the pages without having protective cloth gloves on and that it's humidity should be keep fairly constant. (They probably know those things already.)
Well, I hope this will help answer your questions. Keep me posted if they are the slightest bit interested in getting it into a safer environment where many more could have a chance to experience it and be impacted.

My Best,
Br. Wilson

I love BYU. Love it.