Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Did I mention that I love the cemetery?

Halloween is fun because we get to laugh in the faces of Death and Pain and Uncertainty. For one night we stare hard at our fears, tell them they're silly, and go eat some more chocolate.

But sooner or later the doorbell rings and and there they are again, uninvited. We tug on their noses, but those aren't masks anymore. Laugh at them, but this time they don't vanish. They barge in and dare us to believe that we are anything more than highly evolved worm chow.

This is the gravestone of William Wines Phelps, who wrote one of my favorite hymns, "If You Could Hie to Kolob." The inscription is an excerpt from that hymn. It is common for headstones to speak of peace and rest and the hope for future reunion. Conciliatory language. Language of compromise. Death is a decent backup plan if you simply cannot manage to stay alive.

But this hymn inscribed on Phelps's gravestone speaks not of the peacefulness and niceness and white fluffiness of the next life, but of its grandeur, intensity, vastness, excitement. It is the place to be. The beginning of the crescendo. The neverending explosion of newborn colors.

We have seen the Great Unknown, and have found it Great.

(Too Great for a postcard, whisper the dead. You'll have to come see it yourselves.)

Note: As with the rest of the hymn, the term "race" is rooted in the teachings of Joseph Smith. He spoke of all men as being "of the race of the Gods," the same doctrine that gets Mormons tossed in the "non-Christian" bin by some.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Never speak ill of the dead. Unless they're the silly dead.

I'd like to introduce you to some of my nearest and drearest friends. They're not the life of the party. In fact, they're not the life of the anything. But they're excellent listeners, and they put all your troubles in perspective. Cheapest therapy in town. And you never have to call ahead -- they're always there.

The jokes were dumb enough when they were still alive, but now they're the laughing stock of the entire cemetery. Yeah, yeah. So funny. Never heard that one before. You guys all stink.

I know exactly what the Umpleby family must have looked like. Very jolly. Rosy cheeks. Bowls full of jelly and all that. Sometimes I hear them giggling under there.

Hattie Groo and her husband Virgil Groo. They come across a bit stiff at first, but once they've warmed to you, it's all Latin puns and pâté. Yes, it's impolite to ask if they used their own livers for the pâté.

The bastard son of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. That pot of mums did not die a natural death.

As you can see, Daniel died young, and his skating buddies come by most weekends and leave him empty beer cans and cigarette butts, arranged in neat, reverential rows. Looks like this week he just got some lousy bumper stickers. Sorry, Danny.

Habib here is the cemetery's token Iranian Jew. He gets treated a lot better in death than he did in life, because he clearly has the coolest headstone of all. English, Hebrew, and Farsi inscribed in an open stone book.

And Hirini Whaanga here -- he has the best job title: Maori Chief. (Former Maori Chief.)

I love my cemetery pals, but I might have to stop visiting this fella because he's trying to spook me. He's in a box with a lid, and the lid has a serious crack that's widening every year. A couple more hard winters and we might get a look at his bones...

Come on, buddy -- leave a little to the imagination.

There's a special place in hell for people who torture their children with hideous names. You say an angelic visitor told you to name her after Brigham Young? No, you just ate too much Polish sausage before bed.

When this stone was carved, no doubt many tears were shed. But those who cried have long since joined their babies for a neverending tea party in the clouds, so I hope they won't mind me noting that this stone is really funny. (And true.)

Fairy, Arthur, and Grail Gentry. So Arthur meets the fairy lady in the lake, who gives him Excalibur (!!!), with which he then gets the Grail. What a pretty story.


Hear that? That's the sound of a man turning in his grave.

Babs finally kicked off!*

The silence is golden.

* Make your own with the Tombstone Generator.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Note to self.

Next time car breaks down, remember that the bus route info line is




It is very important that you not dial that second number. Remember that, Self. Remember the horror.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No...the OTHER football.

Anyone who's known me for more than five minutes knows that I have a special disdain for the sports world. I've written about why I think this is, and I've still got every one of those Issues I mentioned.

However.....last weekend I attended a Real Salt Lake soccer game, and actually had a good time! Good enough that upon leaving I thought, "I really should do that again."

Of course, I need to admit some things, here.

1. The only soccer rules I know are "DON'T touch the ball with your hands" and "DO kick the ball into the opposite goal." So there is a considerable lack of subtlety in my soccer viewing experience.

2. I went with fun people.

3. The players were very good looking.* Especially #6.

So really it's no bigger a triumph than luring my men-in-tights-loathing grandpa to a ballet performance with promises of elegant ladies and comfy chairs. But hey -- it's a start, right? If I concentrate reeeeally hard and faithfully attend my SHA** meetings, perhaps I can achieve a full-blown sports obsession before I die -- a shiny red cherry on my towering Obsession Sundae.***

* Do the pretty boys all choose soccer so they won't have to hide their perfect tresses under a helmet?

** Sports Haters Anonymous

*** Five scoops of "why don't we consult the Internet?," a thick drizzle of "have you noticed the worldwide conspiracy to swap the meanings of it's and its?," a generous sprinkle of "why, oh why, can't I have the chin of a hairless cat?," and a fluffy dollop of "I can only split dessert if you'll let me move half to my own plate."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Get your loon on.

What're you doing here? You should be over at Wynne's blog, entering her Halloween contest, Literary Mutations. Take a nice song or nursery rhyme and turn it Halloweeny. Here is her example:

Mary had some leprosy, leprosy, leprosy,
Mary had some leprosy, her sores were white as snow

And every time that Mary tripped, Mary tripped, Mary tripped,
Every time that Mary tripped, off would fall a toe...

It's lots of fun, and if you win, she'll send you a surprise Halloween package. I know from experience that Wynne surprise packages are worth catfighting for. Once she sent me a Fairygodmother Orientation Package, including a game for figuring out my special fairy powers and a bag of pixie dust. It was très cool.

You know you want it, wacko.

Monday, October 01, 2007

There just aren't enough songs about carnivorous vegetables.

Okay, so I won't be able to throw a Halloween party this year because I'll be out of town the weekend before Halloween. Not that it would be as fun anyway, since my co-conspirator, Little Ghoul*, has flitted off to haunt the Eastern Seaboard. And I probably will miss everyone else's Halloween parties that same weekend. Oh, moan. Oh, howl. Hopefully I can find some hardcore Halloweenies celebrating on October 31...perhaps that den of goths in my apartment building? They seem nice enough. One of them dresses like a goth Pollyanna.

But whether or not I get to party, I must spread my Halloween cheer! I thought spooky midnight prank calls would be just the thing, but then I realized that caller ID would make it way unfun for all involved. Stupid technology.

So instead I shall play Sandy Claws and give you my super-duper-demented Halloween mixes -- for FREE! I figure it's a lot cheaper than throwing a party, and I'll get to feel all warm and oozy knowing that somewhere out there a Halloween party is funnier and spookier (fookier?) because of my generous piracy.**

Anyway, there are two volumes -- the one I made for last year's party, and the one I'd been compiling in anticipation of this year's party. Just use the new "Email me" feature in the sidebar to provide me with your address and I'll send them off to you. (You lurkers, too! Send me a fake name if you like, and your guilty Halloween pleasure will arrive in a discreet brown paper package stamped ANTHRAX.)

Happy haunting, ye ghouls and 'goyles, fraidies and germs, cysts and boils!

* Sharon

** Although most of these are songs I have on cassette, so is that still piracy? (Ummm...don't answer that.)