Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stampin' It Up.

So, for those who don’t know. I live in Canada. To be specific, Western Canada. To be more redneck specific: I live in Alberta, Land of the Cowboys. And guess what time of year it is? 
Calgary Stampede time! 
It’s the one time of the year every city slicker can dress up like the rest of us rural town people. Oh man, the outfits I see. It’s kind of hilarious. At Stampede you can always tell who is actually from the small town country prairie and who is from the city. All the city people dress up like the Rodeo stars. Plaid shirts, tight wranglers with doodads and fringes hanging off, cowboy boots to match. Also, designer cowboy hats. The rest of us who grew up outside the city laugh to ourselves because no one outside the city dresses like that except the Rodeo stars.
So I went to Stampede the other night with my husband, my brother-in-law and his boyfriend. I wore a plaid shirt though because, ‘tis the season. Why not.
So, for those of you who have never heard of the Calgary Stampede allow me to tell you why I wait for this event every year. 
The food.
Welcome to the Fairway!
Ever food you can imagine is here. Deep fried, wrapped in butter and baste, and then sprinkled with sugar. It is seriously heaven. 
I actually abstain from deep fried foods for most of the year to save myself for Stampede. Because it is so worth it, and so greasy. 
First up! We wandered the indoor convention center. Where you can find every infomercial and plenty of massage chairs. Also:
Blue candied apples. How have I never seen this before?!
But as much as we were wandering around, I was antsy. There is one thing that I crave so much for at the Stampede. Something that I usually only see served either at fairs, or in the States where if you can deep fry it it’s done. 
Deep fried dill-pickles.
Oh my word I love them so much! But there’s only one restaurant that I know that serves them, and they aren’t that good. So I had been waiting so long for this delicious deep fried mana from above. And let me tell you, I hunted those Fairway grounds until I found them.
After half and hour of searching and asking around though, no one seemed to know where they were. I was disheartened. Maybe my sweet food love wasn’t meant to be. 
Of course I’m stubborn though so I continued to drag my husband all over the place. Until finally!
A choir of angels sang.
If you have never had one, drop what you are doing right now! Go and find some place, anywhere that sells them, and feast. 
Okay now I’m creeping myself out with how carried away I’m getting.
So.. uh.. anyway. After that, rides! Because after you eat, you always need to go make yourself nauseous.

I of course had to get on the ferris wheel. I love them! Granted I am afraid of heights and being at a high height in a precariously swinging steel box. Which usually would mean I would hate ferris wheels, but no I love them.
It also warrants to be mentioned that the Stampede brings a lot of creative ways to make food. Like say…
Deep frying an entire onion.
Which at first I was like, oh my word that is a lot. What is this I don’t even.
But it’s really good! It just giant onion rings that are no longer rings. Also the thousand island ranch dip was yummy. However, hubby kept loosing his onion in the dip. *sigh*
I must confess though, at this point, that I had never had a deep fried Mars Bar. I know that they are kind of old news, and everyone tries them. Husband and I had not though, so of course that was on the list!
And let me tell you, it was so sugary I nearly overloaded. But so very good. 
After riding the swings, and chasing each other on the bumper cars, and eating Bannock at the Native American village things wound down. A storm was coming in and it was getting late. We all worked tomorrow so we were about to leave. Like heading on out, until, of course le boyfriend-to-brother and I spotted something we couldn’t pass up. 
Giant hot dogs.
Every fair trip needs them! This stand had some crazy flavors though. Peanut butter and Captain Crunch on a hot dog. Wasabi mayo and dried seaweed on a hot dog. A lot of choices, but no, no, we didn’t need too much. We had eaten enough already. 
So of course that means Chicago Dog!
These things were huge, just, seriously. They were pilled high with everything a ballpark dog would have on it, and then some. Just…
Well, see how hard it was for us to eat them:
Le boyfriend(tb) seemed slightly horrified at depth of jaw commitment this hot dog took. 
However, Husband just went at ours like a freaking champ.
That dog didn’t stand a chance. 
Also.. I always giggle when he eats something so large, because his eyebrows also put in effort. Somehow raising them gives his food more room. I don’t know. It makes me laugh.
So we ate our hot dogs, contemplated staying for the fireworks. 
Except then it started to rain cats and dogs, and lightning everywhere so we figured we should get outta Dodge, so to speak.
It was a lovely night. Full of eating the weight of my car in calories, and fun rides with family. Hopefully I may go again this week before it ends, but we shall see.
Finally, what’s a Stampede post without a classic Calgary White Hat!
My brother-in-law poses like a mother truckin’ boss!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Faith and Culture

I recently wrote a post of Tumblr that drew quite a crowd. Both people who were like-minded, and those who were spiteful. So I figured that it wasn't fair that it wasn't posted here. Also, I've been absent for a while and needed to fill the gap. Oops.
When I began attending University and minoring in Cultural Anthropology, I had a very sudden realization about my religion. This realization has persisted all the way into my marriage. The realization being: there is a difference between Mormon culture and LDS doctrine. 
As a teenager in high school I grew up more focused on the cultural aspect of Mormonism. There were activities with friends, a few hours in church and free food. Going through high school, I will admit, I was probably rather shallow in regards to my religion. I did, however, thankfully, have a father who was a World Religions teacher. Unafraid to ask large and intellectual questions, he was a good source to come to latter in life. 
As I hit college, the cultural aspect began to feel rather hollow. I began to 'pull my head out of the sand' so to speak, and ask many questions. What was stopping me from going out and drinking with friends? Why did I do certain things? Why did I pray a certain way? As I began to turn back to doctrine and re-educate myself I found that the influence of culture within a religion can certainly have negative drawbacks. Not to say it does not also have positive influences, but sometimes lines are blurred.
This issue persisted with me, but eventually became an item on the back burner. I thought of it as a personal thing to deal with slowly over time.
Then one day I wandered downstairs trying to find the workshop at the museum and met my future husband. 
For those who don't know, my husband is not LDS. As a matter of fact, when I met him he was a skeptic agnostic who thought Mormons were something to laugh about. Granted he is still a skeptic on many things in life, I jokingly attribute that to him being a History Major, but I love him for it. 
Later into our dating he expressed interest in coming to church with me, and so he began to attend regularly. His experience to culture shock though was something that proved to be an immediate stumbling block. It probably did not help that we began attending YSA (Young Single Adults), where the fresh Return Missionaries where looking for wives and the young girls were searching for a hot date. There is a reason we call it the "meat/meet" market. 
My husband at that time (and still does) began to point out to me many things that I realized where not part of my faith, but rather the culture. Lessons would be about education, how the gospel applies to our age, and other such doctrinal topics. Other topics though would include "Boys you need to start asking the girls on a date!" or "don't forget to bring a cute date for the dance!" or "we're doing a service activity, come for the food after!"
These little quips often ruffled my husband. He would look to me and ask "Why?" He would also ask:
"Why do you take sacrament with your right hand?"
"Why do you pray like that?"
"What's with the emphasis on 'hot dates'?"
"Why are RM's so important?"
"Why do you all talk about/go to Salt Lake, like it's a pilgrimage?"
"Why does it feel like everyone is trying to just dunk me in one of your baptismal fonts?" 
"What's with basketball and Mormons?"
These are but a few things that my husband was always asking. He still always asks actually, which is good. All of these things have nothing to do with some profound doctrine, they are all tradition. Something that seems to be easily confused. For example, nowhere in the King Fallot discourse was it stated that I get my own world. Most Mormons though seem to think that they will get to command their own cosmos. Instead all it stated was theosis, that we believe our Heavenly Father wants us to become as him. Certainly it is perhaps implied, but it's not doctrine. A few times though someone has mentioned it, and it has left my husband scratching his head. 
I never truly thought culture was a counter productive thing though until our wedding was announced in my small town. Then and there did I realize there was a difference between members who portrayed the culture and members who portrayed the faith. 
It was a rather staunch and bitter realization. As people, even certain friends, were shocked, judgmental and appalled that the religious teachers daughter was marrying *gasp* a non-Mormon. Which that phrase itself bristles me. 
Thus I saw the difference between those who, in lay man terms: talked the talk and walked the walk. 
I actually lost a friend over it who was appalled I would marry a guy who wasn't an RM or even a Mormon. To which I replied "Where does it say that I have to do that?" All she could say is, "We are told to, we're supposed to!" 
First point for counter productive culture. Teaching of a personal belief that eventually came to be believed as doctrine, when it is not. 
Though it was a relief that the people who mattered, loved my husband no matter. My family and good friends do adore him and wish him the best. That is where faith came in, loving one another and judging not. 
At one point my husband said to me (in regards to the friend who said I shouldn't marry him): If I had met her first, I would have never stepped foot in one of your churches. 
Luckily, my family and I made a good impression. However, those who follow the culture rather than the faith have an increasingly worrisome outward appearance that could result in quick judgement. 
That is what is increasingly worrying me. The people who portray our culture rather than our faith. Believe it or not, they don't go hand in hand. They need that crowbar separation. The people who portray our culture are the ones who get us quick judgments that we are all crazy, basketball playing, young marrying, child popping out Mormons. It's portrayal of our culture that gets things like Book of Mormon Musical on Broadway.
But it is those who portray the intellectual side of our faith that can remedy that. My husband and father talk often, with the many questions my husband has. Some I can't answer, though I am working on that, so he goes to his father-in-law. Who is happy to answer his skeptic questions. I personally think that this is something we need more of. Questions. We need to question what we are doing and why we do it. It can help us grow stronger in faith, and separate what is superfluous from what is important. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

When will it end?

You guys, the past week was one of those weeks you feel is only written on the pages of tear stained journals. Filled with unspeakable horrors and reprehensible events. The kind of week where bards will tell the stories to horrify the small children. Ladies shy away and only the bravest of gentleman can withstand!
Okay, it was a bad week.
So what am I doing for a blog post today?
Pic spamming the hell out of this blog with ridiculously awesome/adorable things! That's how we make things better!

Well I feel better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Doctor Who S05e02: The Beast Below

In the Beast Below we suddenly find ourselves in the 30th century, with crying children, booth box dolls trying to kill you and Starship U.K.

Going to be honest. Not sure if I really like this episode much.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't necessarily a terrible episode. It is a good one, I watched it a second time. There was just something off I felt. Maybe the plot felt a tad rushed, or maybe it was because I'm still new to this and the Doctor seemed a bit off. I'm not sure. Needless to say we're introduced to the first episode where we get to see the Doctor and Amy off on a adventure.
But first, a very nervous little boy clutching his book bag. The children seemed to be lined up in front of their teacher getting their grade for the day? NO! NEVERMIND! CREEPY PORCELAIN DOLL FACE MAN! Carnivals are ruined for me now...
Timmy is apparently told he has done a bad job and that is... awful? I don't understand, does he get like detention or something? No, he apparently he has to walk to London. Erm. What? But no, he takes the elevator and the floor opens up and EATS HIM OH MY FUDGE AND CRACKERS!! 
Although no matter how the rest of the episode went, the beginning of this episode had me watching in child-like awe. The beginning with Amy was beautifully done I thought. With Amy floating in Space just, looking. Admiring everything that you may have ever dreamed to see all around you. The things you never thought you would be able to touch, the sky and stars, are around you. This scene just filled me with such admiration, and little bit of longing. I also loved how the Doctor was just hanging onto her by her ankle as she floated there.

Also, Amy asks what she is breathing and the Doctor tells her he expanded the air shield. I love random fact tidbits! 

The Doctor tells Amy that this is the Starship U.K  in the 30th century. The earth burned up from solar flares so humanity took to the skies. Oh pleasant. Oh little girl crying. 
I love how the Doctor is like: "Now Amy, we mustn't interfere. We just have to watch." Amy of course is busy agreeing with that and comparing it to animal documentaries and HURRY UP POND! The Doctor is already busy meddling. 
Heh. ♥
At this point the Doctor makes an interesting statement that Amy needs to start practicing her sense of observation to see what is wrong. Of course, I'm with Amy going: Uhm.. what? I see that the U.K. is a spaceship now and that Earth burned up. That's a problem. Other than that is just looks a tad... slummy. 
No apparently there's a 'missing fish'. Doctor, why are you putting water glasses on the floor? It goes on the table. I don't know what they do back on your planet, and seriously what is going on!
Obviously something sinister and plot related because now ominous robed figures are watching the Doctor and calling other ominous people asking water glass related questions about the Doctor while they watch him. Excellent. 
The comment the Doctor makes about children crying is rather astute as well. Saying children cry aloud to get attention because something is wrong, they're hurt. They cry to themselves when they can't stop, and everyone else is noticing. Yet no one goes near this little girl, and now I am like: What ritualistic crazy things are going on here?! Because it's totally got to be some sacrificial thing! And Anthropology go away, I'm watching tv. 
Amy: Are you a parent?
Yeah Doctor, are you?! Because that would be cool, and a little mind melting. 
Also, yeah Amy. Stay away from the booths! They are *~not nice~* Now let us split up! Because that's always an ingenious plan. Sweet mother of pearl
So off Amy goes to follow this poor little girl, who clearly clever and notices what's going on. Catching Amy following her. Wait, no the Doctor is just a bad pickpocket. Somehow that is really funny to me. He can do so much else, but he can't seem pick a little girls pocket properly. 
Ooo. Ominous tent. Pick the lock Amy! Pick it! Yeaaaaaaah. Amy Pond isn't afraid of ominous things. She's too fierce
They don't speak of Below? You mean where TIMMY GOT EATEN?! Although seriously, what is down there? Why would you be totally okay to just sent children down elevator shafts into the Below? 
Maybe they use them as fuel.
As Amy crawled into the tent I was worried the ground was going to give away and she would plunge into this dreaded 'Below', but no. Instead it's just a silly, old, SHARP, POINTY, TAIL... THING... FLAILING AROUND! LIKE I AM DOING! 
What in the everliving is going on, on this ship? Seriously people! Also, the booth guy does not look happy. Neither do the dudes in hoods who have now taken Amy. Awesome. This is why you don't split up guys. 
However, I suppose if Amy were tagging along then the Doctor couldn't do his super secret stuff. Which apparently involves running around in an engine room. I know it's an engine room, because every engine room (or room within the vicinity of an engine room) has steam pouring everywhere like it's a bloody rave party. Oh look, ominous woman with a velvety red cape. Velvet is totally stylish. No
Wait, she knows he's the Doctor. So she knows him? Owen says the Doctor gets around though, I suppose being a time traveler you would. Look though! There are no engines! It's all fake and hollow! That's why he used the glass of water, clever Doctor! It didn't ripple from vibrations, and OH MY WORD! THEY ARE USING CHILDREN AS FUEL OF SOME SORT! what is going on
Btw, no worries. You're friends is totes safe. Here's a tracker to find her. We just looked scary and knocked her out. No worries!
Your execution could have been better. Just sayin'. 
This part of the episode really just threw me off though. It felt a little confusing. As Amy is in a voting booth (with a creepy smiley guy there! eek!) and in front of her sits three buttons. Protest, Record and Forget. A presentation starts running, and you would think in the future they would have better tv's, she is told that if even 1% of the population chooses to remember; they will all suffer the consequences. 
Uhm. What did you guys do?
The presentation runs and all I could make out was a brain and a child. Amy immediately hits the Forget button and a Recording of herself starts playing, pleading with her to get the Doctor out of there. 
Seriously. What is going on? Is it something that they might feed the Doctor too? I have no idea. Whatever it is, Amy promptly hid's it from the Doctor. Turning off the Recording as he walks in. They soon learn everyone over 16 can vote, and everyone always chooses to Forget. Why though? If it is something so awful, wouldn't someone Protest at some point? Or would it threaten their whole existence? These are the questions I had. Apparently the Doctor had them too, but the voting booth won't let him watch because he isn't human. So of course he totally hits the Protest button, and this man is sheer brilliance. Except the floor is now kind of OPENING UP TO EAT YOU! I sense that was a bad life decision! 
Which, I am promptly proven right as the Doctor and Amy are shot down a tube into a trash compactor? Or something? Oh gross. I feel bad for Amy, who is still in a nighty! All covered in nastiness. As the Doctor helps her up though and looks around, they realize that they are not in the garbage.
They're in a freaking mouth.
We appear to have been nom nom'ed
The Doctor deduces that, allow seeing the stomach would be fabulous, the only way out is to make the creature sick. Oh how...lovely. Using the Sonic Screwdriver (which apparently does anything), the creature spews them out, and I love the fact that the Doctor yells Geronimo! Hah. 
Now out of the monsters mouth, the only way out of the chamber is to 'Forget'. This is some serious business if apparently the only option you really get is to 'Forget'. I'm pretty sure 0% of the population remembers, as they probably got eaten. Lovely. Just, lovely. 
The booth guys get a whole lot creepier as the Doctor insists he will not Forget and they climb out of their booths! Don't worry though, ominous lady to the rescue! And she shoots them down like a total bamf. 
It also turns out that she is Liz X. What?! Yup, she's Liz 10 or Elizabeth the 10th. 
Owen had a problem with this part. She didn't seem to have that aire of royalty. I mean in the manner of talking really. I just thought she was some cool chick who totally kicked trash. When she was like "I'm the bloody queen mate." It was, "That's cool" and "That's odd" at the same time. It was just mannerisms. Then again it's the 30th century, I dunno. 
Also, heh the Doctor and the 'Virgin Queen'. Oh Doctor. 
As they arrive at Liz X's, with water glasses everywhere to remind her. I thought that part was actually kind of nice, she cares and actively seeks out what is wrong. When the creepy hooded guys show up though to detain all of them, and then turn out to be smilers, I was like NO THANK YOU. Do not want heads that turn 180 degrees. 
From here on out I think is when the episode became weird to me. As they are taken to the lowest level, which is the Tower of London (lol) we discover what is actually going on and what Amy chose to forget. Those tentacle things are around there too, caged in. As well as A BRAIN. That they are shooting painful amounts of energy through! What have you people done? 
We are then told that, apparently, Britain had a lapse in preparation as the sun began to flare. As everyone else took the skies, they were still there. Their sun betraying them, their children crying and then "like a miracle" a starwhale comes. The last of it's kind.
And you build a ship around it, caging it, and now shoot lasers through its brain so you can fly off. 
Wow. Just. Wow.
At this point, I was basically going: WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU?! No seriously. How could you do that? However horrified and slightly miffed I was, paled in comparisons to the Doctor as I actually see him mad for the first time. And excuse me but it is a little frightening. Liz X is also apparently 300 years old, just so you know, and every time she investigates she ends up there. Hits the Forget button and goes back in a loop. 
You also feed you people to this thing! Just.. ah.. ugh.. whyyyy
 Perhaps what threw me off about this episode was the Doctors anger. It seems like he's almost trying not to blow up in rage. Most of it though seems to get directed to Amy, as he's so furious with her that she would try to protect him from this and forget about it. He's angry she would try to make that choice for him. I get why he is so mad, the anger was just so sudden I suppose. So the Doctor is now faced with three options: release the starwhale which will kill all humans, let the starwhale continue in agony as they torture it, or basically make it a vegetable with a high blast. Allowing them to still sail, but the starwhale will be basically dead. 
Seriously depressing. 
It was also kind of ...awkward? As Amy keeps telling the Doctor she doesn't even remember hitting the Forget button. While the Doctor replies that she still did it anyway and he's taking her home, all she can reply with is that she's human and he totally ignores her. 
Thank heavens for Amy though, as she uses her observational skills to realize something. Then grabs Liz's hand and hits the Abdicated button like a total champ, releasing the starwhale. 
Oh guess what. It doesn't leave! It freaking wanted to help! 
Oh my gosh, you people are idiots for what you did. Seriously, hang heads in shame. 
With the starwhale in control, the pick up speed and yay!
Now, another thing about this episode. I get that a lot of people like this quote:
The Star Whale didn't come like a miracle all those years ago. It volunteered. You didn't have to trap it or torture it. That was all just you. It came because it couldn't stand to watch your children cry. What if you were really old and really kind and alone—your whole race dead, no future. What could you do then? If you were that old and that kind, and the very last of your kind, you couldn't just stand there and watch children cry.
Amy talking, of course, about the starwhale and the Doctor. However, just something about that quote just doesn't sit with me. I think it's the repetition. I'm fussy with things like that I suppose. Though not in my own writing evidently.
So now Starship U.K. has a better pilot at the helm, and the adventure has resolved happily. As the Doctor tells Amy she could have killed everyone on board I love how Amy just simply states, "You could have kill a starwhale." Both were just as bad, and I love that she says that. Amy Pond you are lovely.
So off they are in the TARDIS. Amy apparently contemplating her case of cold feet, as she ran off with a madman the night before her wedding. I find that humorous. The Doctor shows up at the weirdest of times. Also, phones for you it's Winston Freaking Churchill! Because, you know, he's totally drinking buddies with the Doctor. omg awesome
As Amy and the Doctor are off, the Starship U.K. keeps sailing with it's starwhale pilot.
With a crack in the hull!

Ahh! What is it!
Obviously a reoccurring story arch plot point. But still!


Oh, and also. This: