Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Don

This post is in part due to Amy Wang, who specifically requested I post about something happy this week. Something other than Mormons. And given the fact that more than one person I know has suffered a loss in pups, I can't agree more.

Also, I don't know WHY she would think all I write about is Mormons...

Just ignore those links. 

Anyway, two posts ago I had promised a discussion on the incredibly important news. Amy had noted I was supposed to talk about it. So, here it is:

We got a new pug.

For those of you who don't know, I have had a pug in my life that I've written obsessively about for the last year or so.

Her name is Woo.

She has no nose.

She moves about as much as arctic glaciers.

Actually, I take that back. With climate change happening the way it is, the glaciers are moving at a faster rate (and more often) than her.

Suffice it to say, Woo is kind of zen. She likes to just be.

Even if I'm having a bad day...

She really doesn't let it get to her.

If I had to pick something as her one weakness, I would say it's her bed.

Sometimes her bed has been known to transform into alternative locations.

Her favorite hobby is sleep. Without fail. And she's protective of her bed.

This is Woo being not-happy with the stuffed animal pug that (mistakenly) thought it was ok to go into Woo's bed.

Anyway, aside from the obvious, Woo has been my source for the ridiculous (and thus my muse) for quite some time. She is my squishy reminder of the silly joys of life. And recently, my parents acquired another slightly-less squishy joy.

Meet Diego:


He's active....

He's... social...

He is not named after Diego Rivera, as much as I am convinced of the resemblance...

Instead, he is named after Don Diego, as in, the Clark-Kent identity of Zorro.




I mean, aside from the black mask around the eyes...I'm not seeing the resemblance.

But, whatever.

He is a happy addition to my parents' home.

Even Woo seems okay with him. I mean, she lets him into her bed.

Which may or may not be physically comfortable... but, it's sweet nonetheless.

So, that's the news from lake woebegone. We got a new pug. But, it doesn't make the old pug any less sweet or adorable. When I go to visit now I have two sets of paws coming at me, which is making it hard to say no to invitations to visit.

More soon I hope. For now, I hope this suffices, Amy. And for anyone else that's in need of happy-pup stories, feel free to email me and I'll send you one of the many mini videos I've already taken of Diego running back and forth as Woo sleeps on in her bed.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Mitt Like Me

I think we all know by now Mitt Romney is a Mormon. And if you didn't know it, I have a strange obsession with the LDS Church. It's partly due to the fact that I am a history, linguistics and genealogical geek. Also, it helps that I have Mormons on both sides of my family.

Read here to get the full background story on my maternal side. I've got Scottish mormons on my father's side too and you can read more about their history in this book, written by the historian, and I'm happy to say my distant relative, Polly Aird. Check it out. Only $39.95 on amazon.

Thank You, Ancestry Dot Com

Anyway, for those that don't like reading (and yet you're reading this sentence) here is a photo-journey to summarize my Swiss mormon side:

Zoom out to view grandparent generation
(Catholics on the left, Mormons on the right, Atheists at the bottom).


Zoom out some more (and fyi: we're just showing the Maternal side now)

Zoom a bit more....

Everybody got that?


Back to November, 2012.

Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate up against our current incumbent Democrat, Barack Obama. I am only stating the obvious due to the fact that there may be someone in 2127 reading this and thinking, "Who? What? When? Zoid?"

As we count down to Election Day, I've noticed that more and more people--crucial, moderate voters-that don't really like Obama but don't want the guilt complex of voting for a man less in favor of civil rights-have said in some form or another that Mitt Romney, due to his Mormonism, would understand the "gay" plight.


Rudd double-take, Paul Rudd's double take from Wet Hot American Summer

Now, I'm not going to stand up on a liberal soap box and say that all mormons are bad. Nor am I about to say that Mitt Romney is the devil incarnate--that would be rather ironic, considering he is a Christian. But, as a history geek, as someone obsessed with the LDS Church, and yes, as a gay woman I'd like to set a couple important historical things straight:

What Is Mormonism? Where Does It Come From? And How Do I Get Tickets?

Beginning in the late 1700s America was going through a Second Great Awakening--an incredible Protestant revivalist movement. 

Just imagine it:  everyone--and I mean everyone--in your family is jumping in on the action to join this new, hot, sexy, young Church that literally just started down the street from you--isn't that just so lucky? You have a prophet that goes to the same blacksmith as you!--and this new wave of Protestant revivalism is going to reform the heck out of you. Everyone who is cool is doing it. And if you don't, it probably means you're secretly a loyalist. Or going to hell. I mean, your first three children died before the age of five and your crops are failing--maybe if you convert and repent that won't happen anymore?

Meanwhile, high off of winning independence from the Old World in 1783, started by a minority of Enlightenment intellectuals, America is going through its first massive immigration surge. The push to move West, find and claim a piece of land is immense because there is no regulation--or if there was, it's still literally being put into the constitution--and you are "free" long as you can survive.

And this is the world in which Joseph Smith, Jr., Founder of the Mormon Faith, was born into in 1805.

I won't go through the entire history of Joseph Smith's revelations, and his family's background history with religious magic (although--interestingly enough, Joseph was a self-proclaimed Seer of gold--as in, he would "see" where gold was buried by looking through a hole in a hat...). You can wikipedia that.

Just know that 25 years later Joseph has his series of visions, is visited by the Angel Moroni, digs up the (in)famous Golden Plates and translates them from the "reformed egyptian" into what is now known as The Book of Mormon. $14.99 on amazon. Gift-wrap is available.

Boy Has Got Polygame

Joseph Smith, by Sutcliffe Maudsley,  profile drawn from life 
Joseph Smith, any historian (and high ranking members of the LDS) will agree, must have been a charismatic and attractive man (and I don't mean physically--if the paintings done by Maudsley during Smith's lifetime are any indication, Vincent van Gogh got off better). Smith could get the confidence of many people to believe him to be a modern prophet of God. Now that takes chutzpah. 

He was no different in his married life. When he married his first wife, Emma Hale, it was actually against her father's will--he told him to buzz off two years prior. But, Joseph kept pushing for it and one night in 1827, he stole Emma away. Emma recalled, “I had no intention of marrying when I left home...[but] Preferring to marry him to any other man I knew, I consented.” Months later they returned to the Hale home to retrieve Emma’s belongings.  Mr. Hale, as you can imagine, was more than tee'd off: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to the grave.”*

Not exactly... the best Father-of-the-Bride speech I've ever heard. Also, for being a prophet of the Christian God whatever happened to the honor thy father bit? Do father-in-laws not count? 


Anyway, Joseph Smith had supposedly made revelations about Polygamy beginning as early as 1831, but the Revelation of 1843 is the one that historically, socially and when-talking-about-societal-stigmas has politically bound the Mormon Church forever to the taboo of polygamy.

99 Problems But A Bitch Ain't One: Try 56.

Joseph Smith, and some of his direct followers, were attacked, tarred and feathered, mobbed, and more than once made to leave a city they had tried to make home. Smith had worked his way across the land from New York, to Missouri, to Ohio and then to Illinois. Each new venture would fail at being Zion.

Now, you might have noticed, for being an American-born religion, Mormonism certainly wasn't welcome at home. And with this kind of vehement oppression and continued banishment, I've noticed that groups of people tend to self-segregate even further, become even more entrenched in their beliefs and self-righteousness.

Don't worry, I'm not saying Mormons "got what they deserved." It's more that they're part of a trend in this country; most American minorities are persecuted or ostracized at one point in this country. It's the reaction to this societal "hazing" that gets my goat, when it does happen: sometimes a minority group will turn into its own fierce oppressor, as a sort of last resort for self-protection, and cut itself off from anything that might make it more vulnerable than it already feels. Kind of like an animal cornered in a cage, when you think about it. 

Joseph Smith went on to "seal" himself to supposedly 56 women, whom at the time of marriage ranged from 14 years old to 58. There is no firm documentation of all the marriages or the amount of sex Smith was actually having with these women. And the LDS Church continues to debate whether Smith was the main proponent of Polygamy or if it was Brigham Young (one of his earliest converts).

However it started, the urge to practice polygamy as part of being a practicing mormon took a strong hold on its followers. These women (and men) truly believed that it was God's will--and if they didn't, they'd be "destroyed" by Christ if they did not consent. It feels weird stating the obvious, but it's kind of...not really...consent...if you're forced to do something.

Joseph, Interrupted

If Joseph Smith was a sex addict, then today he would be considered a sex offender and a pedophile for acting on that disorder. If Joseph Smith was a disillusioned sociopath with schizophrenic tendencies, believing himself wrongly to be doing God's will according to the Church's current stance, then he'd again be labeled as an outsider and possibly excommunicated.

Don't believe me?

By the end of the 19th century LDS was under severe pressure by US Congress. After Joseph Smith had been killed by yet another angry mob, Brigham Young uprooted the Saints and lead them to Salt Lake City, Utah. The American Government still wanted to stop polygamy and took some pretty drastic measures to do so:  in 1862 Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy ActCongress escheated all of the Church's assets to the Federal Government and would not ratify Utah as a state so long as they were practicing plural marriage. This meant they were under siege, disenfranchised and pretty much hated by everyone else in the country.

So, in 1890, the then-President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff made a dramatic decision. He sent a message to the US Government that the LDS would not acknowledge polygamy and that any followers planning on getting multiply-hitched should "refrain" from doing so.

The result: Utah got ratified, Church-approved polygamy died out, and since then the Church of Latter Day Saints has continued to try--fiercely--to disassociate itself from Joseph Smith's revelation. When on Larry King, Live, current President of the Church of Latter Day Saints Gordon B. Hinckley stated the Church's official position quite clearly:

"I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church...If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. 

...More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God."

So, the 1890 Manifesto killed off the 1843 Revelation, and it has been since canonized (Woodruff would begin to call it a "revelation" about a year later). That does beg the question, though: which revelation is more of a revelation?

It Sucks Being The Group That's Hated. 

In that same interview, Gordon Hinckley called me a "so-called" lesbian.

And according to him, I have a "problem." 

In turn, I stick out my tongue and say I think he is a supposed Mormon who has a major problem with his prophets and his Church's history. But, let's face facts: there is a pretty good shot we're going to have Mormon President, if not tomorrow, then possibly one day. And right now, that means getting a President with spiritual issues based in fear and oppression. The Church has a history (ask any defector) of saying to not fall in line, to not uphold what the group tells you to do, is cause for excommunication. It makes sense: for a Mormon, the worst punishment would be banishment. But, when it comes to me getting my marriage rights, I don't like my odds. 

Maybe Mitt would give up on fighting Gay Marriage. Maybe he wouldn't do much at all given the fact there is much more going on in the world than homos being happy. Even I'll admit Syria is more of a civil crisis than my lack of tax exemptions. 

But, he is certainly not sympathetic to us. He wouldn't fight for us. And it's ironic, really. Because Mitt's Mormon ancestors?


All over the family tree.

Just like me.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Staying Alive: It's My Birthday and I'll Talk About Dying Poets If I Want To.

Well, it's happened. I've turned 26. I'm in that foggy part of the 20s where all of your peers say, "It's all downhill from here" and the people older than you look at you with that sort of sad, poignant look of, "It really is all downhill from there..." and then you start to fantasize about going the Chatterton route, who died at age 17 of arsenic poisoning. But, at least he did become one of the first teen heart throbs to reach Bieber Status.

Suicide from feeling unappreciated as an artist? Or accidental poisoning from venereal disease medication?
Either way, this was The Sex in the 1850s.

So, in order to veer away from superficial suicide, I thought I'd talk about change instead.

It occurred to me that great moments of change are the railroad switches of life. If the change is smooth enough you don't even realize half the time how much your exterior environment has been altered. And sometimes, it can be a bumpy, bumpy ride.

For example, I tripped across this lovely little gem:

Now, you may not recognize these boys. Why would you? I mean, they look like any other generic 50s boy band, sweater-vests in all (and isn't it ironic that while they look so outdated here, if a boy or girl walked around dressed like this today, they'd be waaaay chic?). But, you know them very well.

You've heard them sing probably over a hundred times--every New Years Eve Party, every wedding you've been to, the night you went clubbing and ended up being accosted by an older man by the name of "Gecko" who solicited you for your "beautiful, crisp hair" at the muni stop.


This is them on their first TV appearance. But, since the early sixties you've heard these boys a million times. To this day they're one of the top tracks on any DJ's playlist.  I just heard a mashup of one of their biggest hits with Pink Floyd's "The Wall" while out at a Bachelorette's party at the "Booty Lounge" in San Francisco.

Considering they look more like Leave it to Bieber (Copyright Beryl) rather than any teen heart throbs you would know of, I'll let you in on a little secret.

These boys?

Are these boys:
Robin, Barry & Maurice Gibb, aka The Bee Gees



p.s. Speaking of changes, there is a new addition to the parent's home.

His name is Don Diego. More on him next week, but I thought I'd leave you with this:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The My Heart Project

Update to the original blog post below:

We have a Kickstarter up and running for the "My Heart" Music Video Project and have gotten fantastic support from people all over the country! We've already reach goal for the budget of the production and shooting has come and gone. Now comes the hard part of editing, working on the matting, animation and promotion! Website of music is almost up and running...stay tuned and feel free to reread below!

Begin previous posting:

Don't worry--I wasn't eaten by ravenous wolves.  Or pugs for that matter.  Nor was I chucked down some horrible spiral of doom as of last Fall.

But, I'm still figuring out the new job, still trying to grapple with changing cities/living situations, I got into a car accident, and my pug barked at me when I came home to visit the other night.

She didn't recognize me.

After a year of living together.

I get the feeling, though, that feeling routine disappointment over stressful things that happen in life isn't quite the point of life.

So, onward and upward to new and better things.  That's where *this* comes in...

The Music Video Project

I'm in the process of pulling together a crack! team (mostly because I like saying crack! team) to help me build stuff for a very cool project.

Remember the song My Heart?


It's ok. It hasn't gone viral.... yet.

I posted a live performance of it on Facebook a while ago right after I had written it--back when I had more leisure time and a lot more pug loving--and it seemed to catch peoples' attention. A lot of friends said they got it stuck in their head, which both annoyed them and buoyed me. Anyway, things got busy, I got overwhelmed, the pug forgot me, and I forgot about this song.

But, then I played it for some new friends for the first time.  And they reminded me that there is a potential here for something that could be entertaining for a lot, lot more people, thanks to the handy-dandy Internet.

It's always been in the back of my mind that I would love to do a music video with an actual group of other artisans. Working at a theatre, I'm surrounded by talented artists, but so rarely do I get to work on a creative project with them.

That's when I gave my friend Jonathan Potter a call asking if he'd be interested in doing a film together.

It Begins

So, here's a taste of where I'm going.  Below is the storyboard I've been working on edited by Jonathan with one of the recordings I have of the song.  Be warned:  it's not the final draft of the storyboard, nor is it the final draft of my singing the song (I know there are a couple wonky notes in there) but overall, it's a great beginning.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happy Leap Year!

I forgot about Valentine's Day this year. 

Ok, ok, so it hasn't yet happened.  

But, I had completely forgotten February has a national holiday (other than the awesomest holiday ever because it only happens once every four years--and no, I don't mean the Winter Olympics opening ceremony).  

By the by, when you google image search "leap" or "leaping" eventually you will find this photo:

I feel as though this image is a perfect jumping off point (ha) for what I'm going to discuss this time around.

**And every time I make an awkward leap of judgment, this will be the defining image.

Why Is It That Relationships Or Any Kind Of Relating To People Usually Involves You Relearning About Yourself?  Is That An Ego Thing?   

I love my subtitles.  They make more sense than anything I write after them.  Except for this.  

Anyway, I forgot it was Valentine's Day coming up until I kept seeing store fronts covered in pink and red hearts.  At first, I thought there was another blood drive campaign happening.  But, then I realized Red Cross probably doesn't want to encourage digestion of Necco Candy Hearts, no matter how conversational they are.

"Anatomical and redundant"
And it clicked in my head that "Oh... that holiday... is coming."  I haven't been one of those singles who is dramatically affected by Valentine's Day:  I don't sit at home and willfully anti-celebrate it by singing "All By Myself" Bridget-Jones-style whilst chugging the red wine.  Nor do I go on a rant and rave about how America's capitalistic system supports a surplus of expenditure on useless products and profits off of our insecurities.  No, no.  

The economy is bad.  

Buy that shit.  

I just have the memory of a baby gnat when it comes to other people's celebratory days (yea...I forgot my best friend's birthday this year--sorry, Maia!)  And being single, I routinely would forget about Valentine's Day.  I remember thinking for five minutes last year, "Oh.  Well, that'd be nice to have a date.  I wonder if Berkeley Bowl has a new sharp cheddar up for free tasting?" 

This year is a bit different.  I, for one, am not going to divulge my private life on a public blog--other than the stuff that only affects me because I don't care if you know I used to write marriage proposal letters to Alyson Hannigan...actually, wait.  I didn't want you to know that.  

BUT, there is someone out there I'm trying to impress.  And by impress, I mean not letting her know that I used to write marriage proposals to Alyson Hannigan.  

Help me out here, people.  

Don't let her read this.

Even though I'm still posting this on Facebook.

And my mom just friended me.

The lowdown:   

I bought her tickets to something she said she wanted to go to a while ago without checking her schedule first because I was afraid the tickets would sellout and now I'm pretty sure she can't go because it turns out it's also the same exact night as her main project-y thing you do when you're working the work she's got and therefore I am screwed.

Then I realized it was Valentine's Day coming up.  So, I have a failed attempt at getting a nice gift in the midst of the Day Everyone Must Succeed At Giving To The Person Who Lets You Kiss Them.

Turns out:  I reaaaally should get a calendar.

I ordered one for work. But, then it got lost and my coworker had to mass-email everyone to recover it.  And when he did and told everyone else, it ended up just looking like I had stolen it in the first place.  Thanks, Andrew.  Thanks. 

The point is this:  

I would rather celebrate Leap Year at this point.  And, I think a lot of people--not just singletons, couplers or those like me in between--really don't know what to do with Valentine's Day.  We all feel this urge to complete a certain level of sameness in expressing love, our idea of love, our imagined perception of what love should look like to everyone else.  Meanwhile, we're all struggling to uphold standards that quite honestly don't fit the way any of us actually express love. 

Case in point:  The way I express love usually involves some form of babbling about a random fact I learned for the day because I would want to share that with someone.  Hence the blog.




Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photojournal from Fall of 2011


Since writing and having the space of mind to write is untenable these days I thought I'd share one of my other passions with you and also give myself another Get Out of Jail Free card with the blog.

So, I give you my amateur photography.  I took these while out on a small walk in Alameda last October.  My favorite time of year is Fall, so I had a ball running around getting these colors together.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when running around with my camera.

Tree moss...

Moss on fence post.

Pretty, pretty colors...

Sharp red--we don't get the kinds of leaves like on the East Coast but a few are good like this one.  I wonder what kind of tree it is?

Hello, Mr. Pelican.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

iFail: New Years 2012

I think it's clear that the blog has taken a bit longer to get in touch with during the mess of this time.


I shall just say I am working on it.  The only trouble is, my room(s) are in a mess.

I think the problem is I went from living off of part time work, living with the parents and BARTing my butt everywhere to owning a car, renting, working full time and possibly planning devious plots to take over local dives with my music.

Life got intense.  Real quick.

Then there was the blog.

And in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "I should update.  I should update soon.  But, what to update about?"

It seemed rather boring, if not self-indulgent to go on and on about my doings, but the trouble is my doings have kept me from learning interesting facts and watching tons of documentaries like I used to when I had free time.

Therefore, you get a split kanich of the two:

A Woo Update.

I know you've been wondering a) Whatever happened to that adorable fur ball and b) What is Beryl going to do now that she doesn't live with her anymore?

The answer to both is:  I am going to find a way to steal her.  Don't tell my family.  They don't need to know.  Even though they follow this blog.



She is the love of my animal life, even though I think she spoils me.

But, it's a mutual kind of awkward adoration:  when I have food she will cut a bitch (no, really--if there was another female dog near her who tried to take me-with-food away from her, there would be hell to pay) to protect me from harm.

She also falls asleep routinely and didn't even notice when I moved out.

Or rather, when I came back after being gone for approximately a week she didn't even bat an eyelash, let alone get up out of her pug bed.

Ok, so sometimes she might look up--but only if the food factor has increased by a likelihood of one crinkly bag being opened near her.

You think I'm joking that this is what she looks like snuggled.  But, I'm not.

I think this is about when she mistook my camera snapping photos for a new version of crinkly food bags.

Sadly for Woo, there weren't any treaties to be found after this photo shoot.

I am going to miss Woo, even though she will not be too far away.

We had some good times together, like when she and I went as Robin Hood & Friar Tuck for Halloween:

She also was a routine analyst in general of my wardrobe.  

She also is a great accessory to pajamas.

She is so delicate in nature.  So subtle. 

And she just knows where exactly to go to find the blackest item on any surface.


NEXT WEEK:  The story of the woman who went around the world in 80 days.  But, unlike Phileas Fogg, she did it in reality.  Say WHAT suckah?!  Yea.  I said it.