The Book of Mormon Kansas City

H and I have been wanting to watch The Book of Mormon for a while. Let’s start with a little context. H grew up in and around the church. Mormonism to her is not just a religion but friends, family and in some ways part of her culture. It is very similar to what Catholicism is to me. Neither of us are currently part of any particular church but we are both very respectful of what others believe. That said, we both have a crude sense of humor when we talk about religion to each other. We are both very frank people with each other about what we find hilarious but we don’t ever try to offend others with our views or ridiculing their views.

I have been in New York in recent years and I was tempted to go see the play while there, but opted to wait until we could see it together. We actually had plans to see it in Chicago but it did not pan out. We were fortunate enough to have a friend that had fantastic seats but was not going to attend so we bought the tickets from him. All that said we did have a close Mormon friend tell us not to go. It did cause some pause for me.

Before being married to a non practicing Mormon my knowledge of the religion was being visited at one point by missionaries down in Colombia. My Mom had a strict rule about other religions just not entering our household. I did have a grandfather that was agnostic most of his life but ended his days following Hinduism. I can be open minded and I did the whole American protestant churches tour. Mormons are a lot different than other protestants I have encountered. They are by far some of the most warm and welcoming people I have ever encountered.

SouthPark creators had previously taken on Mormonism with one of their episodes. Surprisingly that show only made me more interested about the religions and I have since watched it more than once and think it is really positive. It highlights the values that I really love about that religion, the emphasis on family. Mormonism is not for me because I really love coffee and my brain breaks the illusion of religion when it comes to food. Same reason I could not be a Muslim, I can stop eating bacon because it will give me a hear-attack but not because a book tells me so. I also stopped practicing Catholicism seriously when I realized that I forget lent and eat meat on Fridays… I did it for a couple of years without even noticing. I don’t like feeling guilty because of something I consume without thinking.

Before going to watch the show I looked for content about it and found a song that really made me a little uneasy. One of the best songs really highlights some of the reasons that Mormonism would quickly lose me as a member. The chorus “A Mormon just believes” is pretty tough for me. I have no problem with satire and Catholic altar boy jokes, however this song could potentially ridicule some of the doctrine.

The book of Mormon would not affect a devout Mormon at all. However, if you are a Mormon that has doubts or thinks there are things that don’t make sense, this play will probably highlight most of them in a way that might make you think it is pretty ridiculous for you to believe on them. Without giving away the whole play, I am certain that the creators of SouthPark were not trying to get members away from the church but simply make everyone laugh.

Happy New Year 2015

I cannot believe that I have not written in here for so many months. This was probably one of the only places that used to keep me sane. I am almost ashamed to admit that I was a little scared of the internet for a while. I hated the feeling of exposure when it came to my feelings being here. Everything that you put out there is there for the scrutiny of everyone. While this has been true from the beginning and there are many posts here that could probably be taken the wrong way I decided to keep the blog up and continue writing.

The domain and hosting lapsed right around the holidays and it did not feel like I was losing much. That was probably the hardest thing to accept, that even though a big piece of me is here; not touching it for a while had made it almost that old diary that you bump into when cleaning the attic.

First I have to give thanks. 2014 was a fantastic year. It was a year of learning, experiencing and in many ways shedding old skin. The way a snake sheds its skin can be kind of repulsive, if you have the chance to see one at a pet store you might agree with me. However that is probably the most accurate way to describe the feeling of this year that was transitional in many ways.

I had given up on the thought of being a parent for many reasons. As I approach 40 I thought the window had closed…and then BAM, you are going to be a father. Not only that but you are going to marry someone that is a fantastic as your dreams have always made that person to be in your head.

I had tried to hang on to a lot of things this year, but it was really more about letting go. I let go of a lot of thoughts, I let go of a lot of behaviors and feedback loops, I let go of a lot of “friends.” I seriously never realized how much effort I was putting into relationships that did not matter to them as much as they did to me. It has only been recently when I have felt reciprocity in many relationships that I saw the wasted effort.

That said, I did make a lot of relationships stronger this year. I am surprised by how strong some of those are and were all along. I have a fantastic family and some exceptional friends that are moving my life forward in many special ways.

Overall this coming year will be about being more present. You cannot bank on an unrealized future or dwell on a past that can’t be changed. All that matters is now, today, and taking steps forward. I had missed on expressing a lot of things for the sake of not revealing to much. I want to get back to writing and taking pictures and riding my motorcycle more. Concentrate on living in the now and experiencing things. Funny thing is that now that I have a wife and a kid on the way everyone thinks that I will not be able to do those things more… in reality I feel that by having them in my life, everything has come into focus and I see a lot of things more clearly now. It is important to be true to self to be able to be a part of someone else’s life.

Positive thinking is not foolish

I piss people off all the time. I wrestled with it for quite some time trying to change things about me so that others would not be put off in some strange way by me. I explored the “advice” I would give angle. I explore the way I “communicated.” I have done a lot of introspection on why is it that I end up pissing people off in ways that seem mysterious to me. I have started to conclude that it has to do with me being a happy person.

The first thing people do when they encounter my positive attitude is to dismiss it as foolish. People think that someone that is striving to be happy all the time is more than likely faking it. They sometimes also assume that I really have not had any struggles in life to have a positive outlook. My favorite is to call it luck.

I do feel lucky because there is no other word to describe some of the opportunities that have crossed my path. That said I did take plenty leaps of faith and have failed my fair share. Probably more than my fair share… but I don’t like to keep score, my brain does.

The cliche would be to say that I get to be positive because of hard work. It does require a fair share of that, trust me. One of my biggest struggle has been fitness for quite some time, I have tried many things in the past and I am excellent at justifying being lazy when I know I should be active. It is hard to stay positive about those things as well. Over time I have made changes though, little changes, changes that stick. Those make me happy. Those move me forward. Those keep me smiling. And they are not all about staying fit.

So back to pissing people off. Someone last night in one of my social groups said something that makes a lot of sense. Overall I am not the nicest person around, but I do surround myself with nice people. The angry and mischievous me does like to hang out with people that are mellow and happy. That seems to always rub people the wrong way because in their heads I am just lucky to have what I have (friends, career, family, etc).

Public speaking is terrifying to me for example, most people think I am a “natural” at it. In small groups, sure I don’t have a problem starting conversations. A big room though it is still something that gives me pause. I do it, I work at it, I try to get better. I have been part of toast masters and loved my speech class in college. I am better now at it because I just did it. That is just one example of the many things that people think come easy to me, but I got to them through just being stubborn and saying I will do it.

I never thought of pissing people off as a good thing. I never saw it as a measurement of success in any level. It seems that in this competitive society it is just the nature of the beast. The more you accomplish the more people are going to begrudge your success. I do enjoy my accomplishments, they make me happy. I cherish the relationships I have, but it does not mean that I have not had plenty of failed ones. The key is not to be good at anything from the start, the key is to keep trying until you get good at it. So don’t get pissed at someone for enjoying their life and being positive, write your own story.

Weekend Recap Rant

Even though I had an amazing weekend with my family I am pretty sad right now. Elliot Roger made a massacre again the leading headline. Wikipedia already has a page for it, 2014 Isla Vista killings. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I thought would be the last straw for many… I guess I was wrong.

This makes me sad for many reasons, and I am writing this because I cannot seem to get it out of my head. So here are some of my thoughts.

Asperger’s was not the cause, it was only a contributing factor.
Could gun control or laws better prevent this? or do we need to get more serious about mental health?
Where bulling and isolation also contributing factors?

When Sandy hook happened I thought that the answer was square on mental health. I do not think that access to guns is the answer, while I do think that further scrutiny on who buys guns is required I don’t think it will be the end all when it comes to these types of crimes. People that “lose it” will find another way to cause harm in my opinion.

The problem we have here is an individual that got obsessed with a thought. He thought sex was owed to him. He thought he was entitled. And while we could sit here and argue about how we live in a patriarchal society and rape culture is rampant, I don’t think that is the answer. That individual got stock in a thought, the thought he deserved something and when he did not get it he lashed out at the people he held responsible. Careful though… he also blamed humanity… in a way, he thinks we were all at fault for his pain.

I don’t understand Asperger’s completely. What I do know is that while most people can get over a bad thought, someone with that condition can become consumed by it. I think the evidence is pretty clear. I do hold some anger towards the movements out there that radicalize people.

I’ll put it in another context. More than once I have had lunch with a group that has included a woman that has recently ended a relationship. The moment the vitriol starts spewing about not just the person that was a jerk to them (perceived or not) but against all men! I have a problem with that person from then on. Generalizations are fine, we all use them to communicate and convey ideas. I think the issue lies when we blame an entire group of people (gender, religion, color, etc) for our problems. Once someone starts thinking in those terms they lose sight of the real issue they were dealing with.

I did not know the individual but lets say a blond girl did turn him down, lets say she even ridiculed him in front of others. I am sure we have all seen that at some point in our lives. The difference is most of us get over it and try again… but there are some out there that don’t.

From what I know of this case he did have help available to him. I wish I knew the answer to this problem. Did we have a systematic failure where law enforcement should have done something about it? Could they have prevented it?

This hits home because I have personally been the victim of this type of violence in the past. Nobody died that day, but my grandpa did have a heart attack and I got to see what a bullet does to flesh when one of my family members was actually hit by a bullet… I was not even 12 at the time. I don’t hate guns, some day I will write about that day in detail. In the end it was the same story, someone becomes obsessed with a thought enough to act on it.

Chef (****)

I have always been somewhat of a Jon Favreau fan, so when I heard that he was going to be starting on a movie he wrote I was pretty intrigued. The movie seemed to have been promoted pretty well the last couple of weeks because it stayed in my radar. I heard an interview and a review on the radio. I knew from listening that it was a movie that I could not go hungry to because it was going to be a foodie porn movie for sure.

Chef’s cast was cast was excellent. Jon Favreau as “El Jefe” or the boss of the kitchen was very believable Chef Carl Casper. He created art when he was doing the cooking and highlighted the love that goes into crafting a good meal with some soul. John Leguizamo was the comedy relief as Martin, he had a couple of lines that will make you truly laugh without making the movie into a silly road trip movie. The kid in the movie was amazing, for such a young actor Emjay Anthony as Percy truly captured what it is to be part of a broken family and also let us see how kids not understand the digital world a little more than their parents. The female characters could have been a little stronger, but both Scarlett Johansson as Molly and Sofía Vergara as Inez did a great job playing roles a little bit different than what they do in most movie; still not different enough to be remarkable but it worked.

The movie also had two villains, Dustin Hoffman as Riva the clueless restaurateur and Oliver Platt as Ramsey Michel food critic and wordsmith that takes people apart with his reviews. Even Robert Downey Jr. as a small cameo brought laughter to the movie.

The movie is about great food and it also has some great music. I think it is a foodies’ must see this summer. One thing I found interesting is its take head on the topic of internet reviews. It is not very often that you get to face your critic and let him know how you feel. That part was interesting to watch. While it was a movie about food, it was also about social media in many ways. It is worth the time to watch it on the big screen. Do not go hungry into that movie if you are hungry or you will spend the rest of the day trying to find your nearest Cuban restaurant.

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