Friday, January 31, 2014

Angry White Sandwich

Apparently, Burger King now carries a sandwich called an "Angry Whopper" on its menu. As you might have guessed upon reading that little tidbit, it has been calling the Angry White Loner's name.

Birds of a feather and all that stuff.

No, Burger King isn't compensating me to say any of this. When I was 18 years old and worked at BK for a year, they didn't really compensate me then, either. Not that I am bitter. Or angry.

Suffice me to say that if you, like President Obama, think that the minimum wage is too low now, it was even worse Back in My Day.

Anyway, for dinner tonight, the Angry White Loner tried out an Angry Whopper, which is much like a regular Whopper, except that it hides out in the basement all day and sulks and listens to Evanescence and writes numerous blog posts about how women just don't "get" it.

In addition to the usual hamburger toppings like ketchup, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes, it also contains such "angry" food elements as bacon, pepper jack cheese, chipotle peppers, and a very hot "secret" sauce that may be made up of battery acid, lighter fluid, or the blood of the alien in the Alien/Sigourney Weaver film franchise. Or all of the above. Who knows for sure?

On a scale of one to 10, the Angry Whopper has a spiciness level of about 45. It's far too spicy for my tastes.

Just about the right amount of angry, though.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hot Guy Saves the Universe

The Angry White Loner and his five-year-old nephew have been hanging out a lot lately, usually by playing video games or with LEGO bricks, or, combining the best of both worlds, playing LEGO-themed video games. Because that's just the kind of awesome uncle the AWL is.

At five years old, my nephew is too young to see The Avengers, which is rated PG-13, and many of the other popular superhero-themed movies now making guys exclaim "Cool!" and women pass out. Through the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes video game, however, I've been introducing him to the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and so forth.

A recent conversation with him went like this:

Nephew: Who is that guy?

AWL: The one with the bow and arrows?

Nephew: Yeah.

AWL: His name is Hawkeye.

Nephew: Hot Guy?

AWL: Your mom sure thinks so, yeah.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Flippin' Heck

A little more than a week ago, nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were announced. Unfortunately, in the Angry White Loner's humble opinion, Hollywood tends to get these things wrong far more often than it gets them right. Harrison Ford, for example, who was absolutely amazing in the role of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, was completely robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination for 42. Tom Hanks, likewise, certainly deserved a Best Actor nomination for the title role in Captain Phillips, which is hands-down the best film of 2013. No Best Animated Feature nomination for Monsters University, either.

But still, the Angry White Loner pays attention to things like these. One of the categories that caught my eye was Best Adapted Screenplay, because one of the nominees was Terence Winter, who wrote The Wolf of Wall Streeta script that included a staggering total of 506 F-bombs over the course of a 179-minute movie, or about one F-bomb for each 20 seconds of screen time. That's not even mentioning the graphic sexual content, which I understand is explicit and frequent.

This is what Hollywood calls award-winning filmmaking.

I mentioned something to this effect on Facebook the day that the nominations came out. People, as they are wont to do, opined on the subject. While many tended to agree with me about the objectionable content, a few brought up the fact that people swear everywhere, and filmmaking that uses a great deal of swearing is "realistic" and simply a product of our culture.

You're a prude, I felt some of them were saying in essence. You're a Prudy McPrude Pants with a Prude Casserole, with Prude Sauce on Top, Served with a Tall Glass of Prude Juice. And Prude Cake for Dessert.

Even America's (or Canada's) "sweetheart," Justin Bieber, is now making a name for himself with the potty talk. At least, according to the transcript I saw on the news following his arrest last Thursday for drag racing and driving while intoxicated (with an expired license, to boot), every fourth or fifth word out of his mouth was reportedly an F-bomb.

Which is the kind of intelligent talk we've come to expect from a genius such as him by now.

Though cursing may be realistic, it doesn't mean I want to be around it. I believe that the words we choose to use do matter, and they reflect our minds and character. And I've been around all sorts of cursing. There are plenty of other things that actually happen in the real world every day that I don't want to be around, either.

Twerking, for example.

President Hinckley, I believe, summed things up very well in the April 2007 general conference:

"Be clean in your language. There is so much of filthy, sleazy talk these days. Failure to express yourself in language that is clean marks you as one whose vocabulary is extremely limited. . . . A filthy mind expresses itself in filthy and profane language. A clean mind expresses itself in language that is positive and uplifting and in deeds that bring happiness to the heart."

If following this counsel makes me a prude, then I'm proud to be one. Cursing not only offends the ears; it is the product of a filthy, lazy, uneducated, and impatient mind, too.

Or so I've been told. Now, it's Netflix time for me. I'm going to be watching "Christmas with the California Prudes."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When Darkness Falls

"And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone."
 -Don Henley, "New York Minute"

A friend of mine started her own blog this week. I'm certainly interested in following friends' blogs, especially those who follow mine. I read through the first post and, in doing so, I learned a lot more about this friend that, unfortunately, I did not know before.

Among the facts I picked up were that, like me, she lives with depression. Unlike me, she attempted to take her own life not that long ago.

What would ever make a person want to do such thing? I used to wondera number of years ago. I'm sure it's a thought many of you may have asked yourselves at one time or another. If you've never been chemically depressed yourself, it's certainly an understandable query.

That was before my own battle began. And when I learned exactly what depression could do to me or to anyone else, I learned several hard, painful lessons, some of which took me years to learn. Others, I am still in the process of learning.

It certainly affected a good friend of mine, who not only suffered with depression but also with issues of anger and I-don't-know-what else. The thing is, he suffered in silence, never opening up nor uttering a word about his struggles. At least, not to me, he didn't. One summer day, the last time I saw him, he and I went to see a blockbuster movie together (the title of which is not important, but it rhymes with Revenge of the Sith). A few short weeks later, he was featured in the top story on that night's newscast.

He had shown up at his ex-wife's house and, when she opened the door, he shot her at point-blank range, killing her instantly.

Depression also, sadly, runs in the family of a handful of other friends of mine—all brothers in the same clan. One spring day, our circle of friends was informed that one of these boys had taken his own life. A mere three years later, his brother, likewise, committed suicide, as well.

I attended two separate funerals for this family over a three-year span. Both for the same reason.

So, what have these experiences taught you? you ask?

Many things, to be sure. I don't have all nor even most of the answers, but I have learned that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle of one sort or another. Many, like my three aforementioned friends, suffer in silence or perhaps feel there is no one around who will understand what demons they are battling. What I do know is that kindness is always a good choice. I don't always choose that route, but when I do, it is always a good option.

Perhaps it's something I need to talk or blog about more. If there are any friends or acquaintances reading this who are depressed or have been depressed at one time or another, please count me among those whom you can talk to about it. If my own struggle has taught me anything, it's that help and healing are available, and though times may be dark, there is always a way to see things through. If I can help out anyone in any small (or big) way, then all of the difficult things I've been through won't have been suffered in vain and I will have learned the lesson(s) I was supposed to learn. If it's not me, then talk to someone about it—a parent, friend, bishop, or someone else in your circle of trust.

To those who don't know what it feels like to be depressed, just know that it is not imagined and is very real, and it happens to people you know—to family members, neighbors, friends, people in your ward, co-workers, etc. If you don't understand it, then at least err on the side of caution and believe people when they tell you or show that they are having a hard time.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:31 reads: "And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land."

I do not know what this scripture means, per se, and I have not heard any General Authority speak directly on it. It may refer to the spread of some sort of illness or to indifference, pride, anger, any number of addictions—even to some kind of plague yet to come. But when I read it, it reminds me directly of depression. It certainly is a scourge and a sickness to the millions who live with it.

Right now, when the days are very short in length, is a particularly vulnerable time for people who are depressed and/or dealing with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). From personal experience, I know that that is also a very real thing. It can truly make some people feel as dark, despondent, and gloomy inside as the sky is outside.

They're having a tough time right now. Love them anyway.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsor . . .

And now, a word from our sponsor . . .

Me.

The Angry White Loner has received more feedback on this blog over the past month than he has in all of the previous 10 months combined. Most of it has been positive, while some it has not. Getting negative feedback, though, is not necessarily a bad thing. Through it all, he has learned who has really had his best interests at heart and who has been willing to offer constructive, rather than destructive, criticism. After all, true friends tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear.

At times, I have even considered whether it is really worth it to continue this blog. Or to express my opinions in a public forum at all. Every time I have done so lately, it seemed like three or four people were right there to burn me at the stake about one little thing or another.

One thought, however, prevails: Having an opinion is a good thing.

Certainly not if that opinion is contentious, hateful, overbearing, or rude, of course. One can express opinions and can disagree politely while still being respectful and tolerant of opposing viewpoints.

People who don't really have any opinions, well, are much like the sheep in George Orwell's Animal Farm, sitting around and waiting for someone to tell them what to think and/or for a bandwagon to jump on, because, hey, it's hip and trendy, and everyone else is doing it, and there's a catchy jingle involved. Before long, they're chanting, "Yes we can! Yes we can!" And we all know what a complete disaster became of that.

Sorry. I meant, of course, "Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!"

I just finished reading David McCullough's excellent book 1776, and I was reminded, once again, that some of the best blood that has ever been spilt in this land came from George Washington and his Continental Army. They achieved something truly miraculous, while being outmanned and outgunned, in besting the British during the Revolutionary War. Thanks to them, we have a free land and a Constitution, which includes the First Amendment, granting us all the right to the freedom of speech, among other rights.

One of my favorite classes in college was all about the freedom of the press as it is found in the First Amendment. To this day, it remains among the best education I have ever received.

For now, I'm going to keep on writing and making observations. I will not be perfect in this process. I certainly am not anywhere near smart enough to be right all of the time. I can write only from my point-of-view and not another's. If anything I post leads to a discussion, well, that is most likely a good thing. I will also try to do so "with Malice toward none, with charity for all," as Abraham Lincoln said so wisely in his second inaugural address in 1865. I will also try to focus on lighter topics more frequently.

If a friend has constructive criticism for me, I will listen to it. If that criticism is destructive, well . . . that person was probably not a good friend to begin with. If a friend chooses that this blog is not worth his/her time, well, that is an option, of course, and is perfectly fine, as well.

I will accept compliments, too. And plates of brownies.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Enemy

Last night, I attended a mid-singles dinner group activity, something we are wont to do every few months or so in my mid-singles group. Because some mid-singles just haven't gotten the message that it's now hip and trendy to give up on having a social life altogether (well, 1,000 in 30,000 in Davis County, anyway).

Ha! I won't go into that again tonight.

For this dinner, we gathered at one of my favorite local hangouts, a Chinese restaurant called The Mandarin.

Insert Iron Man 3-related joke here. (One friend already did so on my Facebook wall.)

As soon as I walked in, I spotted an old "friend" whom I'll refer to here as: The Enemy.

The Enemy wasn't always The Enemy. In fact, she may not even be aware that she's The Enemy. She may even be other people's Enemy, for all I know. One thing I do know: Whenever I see her, she manages to find some way to remind me why she's The Enemy.

When I first met her about three years ago, The Enemy was, as a matter of fact, actually someone I perceived as a cute girl and possibly something far different from what turned out to be The Enemy. On first glance, she appeared to be someone I might possibly want to get to know better.

Acting on that impression was my first mistake, as I'm sure you've guessed by this point. I approached The Enemy, who looked at me much in the same way that a cow looks at an oncoming train, to introduce myself. I may as well have been giving away free buckets of rancid dog poop, judging by the reaction that I got. She was no more interested in getting to know me than she would have been in getting to know Vlad the Impaler.

After this experience, my Shoulder Angel whispered to me to err on the side of caution. Perhaps I hadn't given this girl a fair chance, or she was having a particularly bad day, or she had gone temporarily insane, or something of that nature. I actually ran into her again the next week, and she proceeded to treat me much in the same fashion as she had the week beforewith a great deal of indifference and an "I couldn't possibly care less about you" attitude.

I've run into The Enemy off and on multiple times over the years, though she never seemed to turn up at activities on a consistent basis. Maybe that was for the best. During that time, I've observed her treat me and others in much the same fashion as in my initial two encounters with her. I've also observed that she rarely seemed to smile and did not really seem to have a wide circle of friends, but not because others didn't approach her nor try to make an effort. In fact, the more indifferent she has acted around me, the more friendly I have tried (or pretended) to be. At this point, it's almost become a sort of game for me.

Last night was no exception. The Enemy assured me that, yes, she is still The Enemy, though this is indirect and not direct. I'm not sure I saw her smile more than once (though it did finally happen, though not in reaction to anything I said), and she seemed mostly to talk only to the female friend who accompanied her to said event rather than making an effort to reach out and make new friends.

What made me think, at first sight, that The Enemy was in the least bit attractive? I've wondered. Who can say? Everybody perceives beauty differently. Everybody you meet and have an initial reaction to also then changes in one way or another, for better or worse, once you really get to know them.

Do I have a point? Don't know if I do, actually. I realize that it's really only my perception here and that everyone sees everyone else differently. Perhaps I need to fine-tune my "inner beauty" radar. And perhaps The Enemy has scores of friends and dates I don't know about and is well liked by an entirely different set of people. Then again, perhaps not. Maybe the point is that, with some "friends," who needs enemies?

Another point might be: The Enemy, I'm glad to say, is an exception to the rule. I suppose today's post is really just a way of saying thank you to all of those women I know who possess true, inner beauty. It certainly reflects on the outside. A smile is the most attractive thing you can carry with you, and you show it. You're better people than those who do not possess it, and you're a lot more fun to be around, too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Clean Slate

I love the whole Halloween to New Year's stretch of the calendar. It's my favorite time of the year.

Why limit a favorite holiday to just one holiday? Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Festivusthey're all fantastic. I enjoy each and every one when its turn comes around, and I also enjoy the time spent with family members and good friends.

There is a certain sense of letdown upon waking up on January 1, to be sure. The hangover for the last great party (or parties) of the year that was, however you chose to celebrate, is about to begin, and there is also the very real sense that my next "favorite time of the year" won't begin for about another nine months or so. But there is also something about the New Year that brings a sense of "clean slate" with it.

It's almost like that blog post you wrote in a moment of utter loneliness and/or frustration two days ago never even happened!

Admittedly, 2013 was not the greatest year for many people I know, and they are glad to see it go. For me, it was, well . . . good and bad both. It was a year like many other years, in other words.

I am one who makes New Year's resolutions but who also ends up breaking them far more often than I keep them. Even so, I still a fan of the idea of self-improvement and of setting new goals. I have one for 2014 that I began to work on yesterday. I won't go into the details of it right now, but one of my siblings is helping me out, and we're going to try to keep each other accountable for our goals.

Additionally, I believe the concept of a clean slate is a gospel principle. Each Sunday when we take the sacrament, we're recommitting ourselves to follow Christ, to repent and try to improve upon our shortcomings, and to be a better person than we were the week before. It's one of my favorite things about the gospel and my faith. And it's something that's available 52 weeks a year rather than during a three-month span (well, 48 really, if you take away general conference and stake conference).

Another great thing about slates: breaking them over the head of Gilbert Blythe at school!

Unless movies and TV have lied to me.