Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Quick Update on the Awesomeness

So, God is amazingly fabulously awesome. And on top of that He just answered all my prayers and landed me a job with the news website Examiner.com. I am now officially a Nashville Dance Examiner, and if you want to read my first article (on where to find cheap or free swing dancing in Nashville), or if you just want to support a struggling college student a bit, click the link below!

http://www.examiner.com/article/low-cost-swing-dance-lessons-and-socials-nashville

Thanks a million jillion!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

On that Strange and Intriguing Web of Magick Better Known as the Internet

I've lately realized that novelizing isn't the only form of writing I like, and may actually be a form of writing I'm less good at than other forms. I've done blogging of various types and enjoyed it immensely, and I've found that my sense of humor seems to fit well with the sense of humor of a significant part of the internet, so I'm thinking social media is sort of my career niche. There's a part of me that thinks, "Wow, that's, like, really shallow and not nearly as awesome as being a novelist," but there's a big part of me that disagrees. The way I see it, we all will pretty much inevitably find ourselves using the internet for more and more things as time goes on, and therefore we all have a Choice. I capitalize Choice in order to emphasize how very epic and poetic this is. A Choice we have, my friends, between Good and Evil. We can choose to use the internet as an end in itself, a means of gratifying our own vanity, until it becomes a selfish, horrible addiction -- or we can choose to use it for enlightenment, education, and promotion of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

This is the story of how the internet went. Once upon a time, a few men decided to see if their computers could talk to each other, and it worked. Pretty soon everybody's computers were talking to each other, and things like chatspeak and memes and social networking were born. Dark things crept in, and brilliant things were invented, and mediocre in-between things happened to start existing, just as if humans were running the thing. Which they were, and still are. I think we all tend to think of the internet as this sort of substance that we pipe into our homes and disperse through the air so we can all be saturated in it because that lets our computers and phones do fun stuff. In reality, it's still just a big conversation between pretty much everyone in the world. Just because companies like Google and Amazon and CNN and mysterious government officials do a lot of the talking doesn't mean that we aren't all involved.

 I am amazed by this thing that has grown so huge we can't contain it, and sometimes I'm even frightened by it. However, I think it's a little bit like a gift from a wise old fairy, and needs a wise-old-fairy admonition to go with it: Use it well, and it will be your greatest help; use it ill, and it will be your downfall. If you saw a thing on my "An FAQ... Sort of" page saying I don't really go on Tumblr anymore and I might explain why later, this is sort of my explanation: I found that Tumblr tends to be a really difficult part of the internet which has it's own amazingly fabulously creative culture, one that I love and that has really influenced and embodied my sense of humor, but also has a huge amount of people preaching acceptance of all beliefs and Down with Bullying, and then refusing to accept Christian and particularly Catholic, conservative beliefs and essentially bullying those who do. I don't want to whine and complain, but while there were times I had legitimate discussions with people about my beliefs on abortion, for example, there were times I felt as if I was just being attacked and accused of attacking others because of some silly thing having to do with Star Trek that suddenly became a so-called social justice issue. Tumblrites are amazing people: agree with them and they are your passionate friends forever and ever, but disagree with them and they will hate you and ostracize you, even though that's exactly what they claim they don't believe in doing. Of course, not everyone on Tumblr is like that, but it seems to me that an overwhelming majority are raging liberals who will tolerate anything and anyone except a white conservative Christian male. Being female might have given me a little bit of a break, but it didn't really help much because I don't happen to want to dismantle the patriarchy or even petition Marvel to make a movie with a strong female lead. I used to tell myself that if I stayed on Tumblr and kept arguing my points as politely as possible, maybe it would be a good thing, and I could get people thinking about my point view, and open up intelligent dialogue. Being a witness for Christ in the most difficult places is generally the right thing to do. However, Tumblr also has it's corrupting influences, no matter what kind of person you are. I did my best to only follow clean blogs, never reblogged anything inappropriate or used foul language, etc, but no matter what I did the people I followed would end up posting junk I really wished I hadn't read or seen. Even the people I followed because they had posted pro-life stuff and mentioned that they were Christian in their bios or whatever would turn out to be sort of... Laxer about living out their faith than I would prefer to see. I knew it was bad for me, and knew I should probably get away, but there's also so much great, funny, creative stuff on there that isn't bad at all that was making me want to stick around. In other words, it was becoming an addiction. I probably wouldn't have ever stopped going on that infinite blue website if I hadn't gone to the college I did and met a certain girl who happened to mention that she hadn't eaten chocolate in over two years because she was giving it up until abortion is made illegal in the U.S. I heard that and promptly thought, "If she can give up something as difficult to resist as chocolate, then I can give up a dumb website." Bam. Done. I never went on Tumblr after that, not even to say goodbye to my loyal followers. Sometimes I laugh because even though it might look like I left because Tumblr is such a culture of death and feminism and I was defeated and run out of town, I actually left so I could use Tumblr as a tool against that culture. Once abortion is illegalized, as I am hopeful it will be within a few years, maybe I'll go back to my old Tumblog and sing for joy about it, after unfollowing all the blogs that ever post anything bad... Which is basically everybody.

Sorry for that tangent, but that's something I've been wanting to explain for a while, somewhere on the internet. It's also a good example of what I'm kind of trying to say with this long rambling post. The internet has its problems, but it can be used for good. Maybe some of us (pointing at myself here) need to just stay away from parts of it that are hurting our souls, because we aren't strong enough yet to fight the darkness and make our own little circles of beautiful radiant light, but maybe in places that aren't so dark we can spread the light around and make it stronger. That's why I have a movie-theology blog, I guess. I want to try in some tiny way to participate in the New Evangelization, by joining in the big world-wide conversation. Now, I don't really believe that all the internet should ever be talking about is God. I'm not saying we should all read only Christian apologetics blogs, like all the "I love Jesus" Facebook pages, and constantly tweet back at all the evil people who tweet mean things at @Pontifex on Twitter. What I do believe is that we should only support things that are morally good or neutral, and that we shouldn't pollute our minds with stuff that could hurt our souls. The internet is great, but there's nothing out there that's worth giving up heaven.

The other main thought I have is that I consider myself somewhat of an intellectual. Probably anyone who has read this far in this stupid post considers themselves something of that sort as well, since we are the kind of people who mostly think if you start reading something you have to finish it, no matter how stupid. Here's my thought: we intellectuals like to be snobs. We sometimes like to think of people on the internet as always sounding something like "lol das stupid imma explain you a thign" and then creating what they think is a gorgeously logical one-liner in under 140 characters. (We particularly like to make fun of the 140 characters thing, as if the rules of Twitter apply to the entire internet.) This, however, we tend to do on the internet. I never cease to be amazed by our own stupidity in making fun of people on Twitter ON TWITTER, complaining about Facebook ON FACEBOOK, trying to convince people on YouTube that we're never going to convince anyone of anything via the internet. It's hilarious, really, how human nature and our intellectual pride makes us almost compulsively do this. I'm as guilty as the rest. Therefore, I'm not going to tell anyone to stop. In fact, I'm going to tell people to keep at it, in a qualified sense, because I think underneath this hypocrisy lies a truth: if we could only spread the light, if we could only get people at least thinking about the truth, if we could only steer the giant conversation in a little bit more of the right direction, we could change the world. I think the internet has a bad reputation at times for a reason, because it sure can be and is used as a brainwashing, mind-melting, or stupidity-mongering machine. Lots of people, myself often included, turn to the internet for entertainment, for a means of communicating without too much real contact, for stupid stuff. But lots of people, myself occasionally included, turn to the internet as a means of gaining knowledge and then using that knowledge to try to debate maturely, discuss thoughtfully, and inform politely. We can learn valuable truths and skills on the internet, and we can encourage others to notice and think and learn. We can find and create wholesome entertainment, and we can support the things that are good, true, and beautiful. This is my challenge, to myself and to anyone who wants to join me. Let's set the world ablaze through fiber optic cables. Let's send sparks through the all-knowing WiFi. Let's spread the truth about life through this magic Web, and see if we can wake people up to the huge amount of power humanity really has. Let's use this gift wisely. Because if we don't, it'll be everybody's downfall.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I Learned in my First Semester of College

'Ello, mates! So, I had a list of Things I Learned in my First Semester of College all written out, numbered one through fifty-one, and then I accidentally left it at college and right now I'm at home. So, this post is my attempt to reconstruct that list from my memory as well as possible. Enjoy!

1. Chocolate is the only constant in life.
2. 99% of the disco balls made in America are made in Kentucky.
3. You can't bring a horse to an elephant fight.
4. Plastic box lids make excellent sleds. And excellent phalanx shields.
5. Absolutely everyone's personality can be distilled down to seven letters, seven numbers, and a color.
6. The eggs in the cafeteria aren't eggs, they're prime matter.
7. One should never ever ever assume that bow-tie-wearers are necessarily Whovians.
8. One should also be very very careful when arm wrestling. Actually, just don't do it.
9. Heaven is not like Delaware.
10. It can be metaphysically proven that Brussels sprouts do not exist.
11. The phrase "sore distressed", accent on the "ed", is very useful in certain situations, particularly those involving history professors.
12. Some people insist upon watching Gladiator at the most inconvenient times.
13. Libraries are precious things, and should be open at all times, especially Friday nights.
14. The terms "skin the cat", "backstabber", "death drop", "suicide dip", and "can opener" all refer to moves in swing dancing.
15. The terms "Minotaur", "Trench Warfare", and "Suicide Square" are all names of contra dances.
16. Where there is tea, there is hope. Where there is coffee, there is a happy philosophy professor.
17. Scarves are impeccably, ineffably, scrumptiously awesome.
18. Pennsylvania may or may not touch the Atlantic Ocean. It also may or may not exist.
19. "D'Artagnan" is not pronounced how it's spelled.
20. Apparently crayons are the same thing as crowns.
21. Sometimes a gym simply ceases to be a gym and becomes Bedford Falls. Those times are the best of times.
22. 10-cent books are always a good idea.
23. So are 1-cent books, and if someone else buys them first, you are allowed to challenge him/her to a duel.
24. Marshmallow guns may be brought to said duel, but it is not socially acceptable to bring cookies to a duel.
25. Said duel must take place at ten o'clock behind the Luxembourg.
26. Whiffleball is a thing. I'm still not sure what kind of thing it is, but it's a thing.
27. Most people haven't read nearly enough Dickens.
28. Most people haven't read any Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
29. Some people haven't even read The Lord of the Rings, or seen It's a Wonderful Life, or in other words lived at all.
30. It is perfectly acceptable to stand on the debate floor at the Chester-Belloc Debate Society in a tuxedo and very politely call the previous speaker's argument "utter bunk". And/or make a Star Wars reference.
31. Watching Inception messes with your brain. So does spending too much time in the World of Forms.
32. The Commons is called the St Lawrence Commons. St Lawrence was the patron saint of cooks because he was roasted to death. And we eat mystery meat...
33. There used to be a lot of cats and now there are fewer cats. Again, mystery meat...
34. The Christendom bubble is an actual thing that is difficult, but not impossible, to pop.
35. The gym parking lot is a very bad place.
36. So is the basement of the student center.
37. When a professor says your test will be graded by tomorrow, he means next week. Maybe.
38.All is vanity and striving after wind. Maybe.
39.  Lycurgus lived. True.
40. Aristides sang the cup song on his way out into ostracism land.
41. Empedocles dressed like a male Lady Gaga and threw himself into a volcano.
42. Alcibiades was basically a cross between Flynn Rider, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Hitler.
43. Statistics exams will not be rescheduled unless there's a natural disaster.
44. Theology tests are, unfortunately, supernatural disasters.
45. If you don't know what a person's name is, yell "Mary", "Joe", or "Peter", and it will most likely be close enough.
46. Haircuts are an accidental change. Unless your last name is Kuplack.
47. Michigan has its own state song, except it's really just O Christmas Tree with different words.
48. The saying "when Hell freezes" is illogical, as Hell, Michigan freezes every year.
49. If you live in Michigan, your hand is all the map you ever need.
50. Even if Brussels sprouts don't exist, they taste amazing when fried in bacon.
51. It is possible for the same snow to stay on the ground for over a week.
52. Also, snow plows exist in real life.
53. Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible for five girls to go shopping and find formal dresses in less than two hours.
54. It is also possible, when necessary, for one girl to go to a thrift store and find homecoming dresses for herself and two other girls when the dance starts in three hours.
55. Sleep is a precious thing that can only be found by those not faint of heart.
56. And sometimes those not faint of heart decline it when they find it, resulting in difficulties and dismay.
57. When a priest mentions the TARDIS in Mass, you know you've found your niche in the world.
58. Those moments when you know you've found your niche in the world are the absolute best moments.
59. The absolute worst moments are remembering that you have to graduate in three and a half years.
60. Crying at the end of the semester is perfectly okay. You've just fought an epic battle and won.