Flowers in Hawaii

I went to Hawaii for the first time not that long ago, and it was wonderful!  I love taking pictures of everything, so I had a lot of pictures to go through when I got back.  I especially enjoyed taking pictures of the flowers.

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The day we got there it rained, which made the grounds of our resort feel even more tropical.

These are hibiscus flowers, commonly considered symbols of Hawaii, even though many of the species (including the ones above) are actually non-native.

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The above flower is an example of a native hibiscus.

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Wearing a hibiscus on the right side indicates a woman is single, while wearing one on the left side indicates she is taken.

There were also many beautiful orchids.  I especially love the variegated ones.

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The bird of paradise is one of the most interesting looking flowers.

Mahalo for looking at my post!  I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

How Callings Work in the Latter Day Saint Church

I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile, ever since someone I know tried to convince me that bishops are like politicians, trying to gain more power and prestige.  I figure that other people probably don’t understand how things like that work in the Latter Day Saint church, so I thought this might be interesting to others who are curious.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as in any organization, different members have different responsibilities.  In the LDS church, these responsibilities are called “callings.”  Callings vary in level of responsibility and, I suppose, in prestige, from greeter (who greets people in the lobby), through bishop (pastor/minister/whatever you like to call them), and many more.

These callings work a bit differently than they do in other organizations.

We have a lay clergy, meaning people are not paid for their work in the church.  I’ve taught classes, organized activities, and performed music, among other things, and have not been paid for any of it.  The idea of being paid to teach Sunday School is very strange to me.  We see church callings as a type of service, both to the other members of the congregation and to Heavenly Father.

We don’t volunteer for these positions.  As I like to say it, we are “voluntold.”  Someone in a leadership role will ask us to take on a calling.  We can say no if we like, and sometimes people do, though it’s true that we are encouraged to always accept a calling.  Those in charge of choosing who to call for a particular position are expected to pray to receive inspiration for who to call.  Similarly, when extended a calling, we are to pray for confirmation that it is right.

The most qualified person isn’t always the one called.  People who don’t have teenagers are called to be with the youth.  People who have never been teachers get called to teach.  People who have never been administrators get called to lead auxiliary organizations.  You’ll hear a common refrain: “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies,” said by President Monson.  Moses was slow of speech.  Noah didn’t know how to build an ark.  Peter was a fisherman, not a priest.  Similarly, God teaches us what we need to know in order for us to do what He asks us to do.

We don’t get promoted for doing a good job.  Callings don’t work like your place of employment.  People don’t move up to more prestigious positions by gaining seniority.  We don’t strive for more “prestigious” positions.  In fact, a joke you’ll sometimes hear when someone has been called to be a bishop or Relief Society (women’s organization) president is along the lines of, “Should I give you congratulations or condolences?”

Generally, people are called to positions of less responsibility in order to gain experience before being given a “big” calling, but not necessarily.  It’s also frequent to go from being a bishop or president to being a teacher or having some other, smaller responsibility.  It all comes down to the purpose of these callings, which is to serve.  It’s not the bishop’s job to tell people what to do.  The bishop’s job is to guide and serve.

That’s what it all boils down to: we fulfill responsibilities at church in order to serve.

Wonder Woman a Success by Copying Marvel *Spoiler alert*

Wonder Woman (2017) : Movie Review - Fantoosy.Com™

***Spoiler Alert!***

I’m going to be giving away most of the main plot points of Wonder Woman, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read this post.  Go watch the movie, then come back and read this post.

Wonder Woman has been receiving numerous accolades and high ratings from both fans and critics.  Everyone loves this movie.  I, too, went to see Captain America: the First Avenger…uh…I mean Wonder Woman.  I really enjoyed it, too.  In fact, I never really liked Wonder Woman before, but now I’m totally ready to buy some Wonder Woman merch.

But let’s not pretend this movie is more than it is.  It is not groundbreaking, mainly because it’s straight up copying the story line of Captain America: The First Avenger.

This isn’t meant to actually knock DC for copying Marvel.  DC and Marvel copy each other constantly.  That’s why they have so many characters that are basically copies of each other, like Deathstroke and Deadpool, Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Darkseid and Thanos, Black Cat and Catwoman, and, of course, the Justice League and the Avengers.

In Wonder Woman, the role of Captain America is split between Diana and Steve.  In this analysis, Diana is sometimes the hero and sometimes the love interest.  Nevertheless, the similarities are such that I’m amazed no one else seems to notice.  Here is my point-by-point analysis of the similarities between Wonder Woman and Captain America: The First Avenger:

  • The hero tries to join others in military training, but is stopped by an authority figure.  The hero succeeds in being accepted for training with the help of a mentor figure.
  • The mentor figure dies and the hero is unable to stop it.
  • The hero wants to join the war effort, is denied by an authority figure, and finally joins the war effort by going rogue.
  • The hero is idealistic, with the main goal of saving innocents and doing what is right no matter the circumstances, with emphasis on the high moral character of the hero.
  • The hero’s worldview is depicted as simplistic, but is ultimately correct.
  • The movie is a period world war piece.
  • The hero must overcome a supernatural power.
  • The hero is a captain named Steve.
  • The hero’s first big success: charges in and single-handedly (or nearly so) saves those who are helpless (POWs/village) from the Germans.
  • The hero assembles a rag-tag and multi-ethnic band for the mission.
  • The Big Bad is a power-hungry German with a psychotic inventor sidekick.
  • Psychotic inventor sidekick creates a super-weapon that the power-hungry German plans on using on the enemy.
  • Power-hungry German uses the super-weapon on his own people for standing in his way.
  • Great loss (Bucky/village they just saved) bolsters the hero’s determination to stop the Big Bad.
  • Rag-tag band storms fortress to destroy the super-weapon.
  • The super-weapon is loaded on a plane.  The hero manages to get on the plane and subdue the pilot, and faces a dilemma: how to dispose of the super-weapon.
  • The hero sacrifices himself to save innocents from the super-weapon, saving the day and leaving a mourning love interest.
  • Fast-forward to modern times: the hero waits and is ready for the next Big Bad.

There you have it.  Wonder Woman has the same story line as Captain America: The First Avenger.  Though, it wasn’t until the plane that I was ready to accuse DC of outright plagiarism.  Maybe we should just call Diana “Captain Amazon.”

And, just for fun:

re a pretty happy family don t tell how to do his job robin needs a ...

How My Fair Lady Should Have Ended

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Here I go again, wading into truly controversial territory.  That’s me, fighting the good fight.

Eliza should have married Freddy.

Perhaps a little background is required, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical.  My Fair Lady was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In it, Eliza Dolittle is a poor flower girl (meaning someone who sells flowers) with a thick Cockney accent, which in London means she’s little better than a beggar.  Henry Higgins is a phoneticist who encounters Eliza in the street.  On a dare from Colonel Pickering, Higgins decides to take on Eliza as a student, to transform her language and make her pass for a fine lady in London society.

He succeeds.  Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a young socialite, has fallen in love with Eliza, and has professed his love to her.  In the end, however, Eliza decides to continue living with Henry Higgins.  Eliza made a serious error.  She should have married Freddy.  I shall now present the reasons why.

First off, Freddy is devoted to Eliza.  Granted, his song “On the Street Where You Live” is a bit of a stalker song, but Freddy seems much to innocent to really understand that.  Freddy is unashamed to admit to Eliza herself that he loves her.

On the other hand, Henry Higgins won’t even admit to himself that he cares about Eliza.  In his song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” which he sings to himself, it is apparent that he does care about her, but he will only admit to being “accustomed” to her.  Ah, yes, that’s what every woman dreams of in a relationship with a man: to be with someone who is used to her.

Secondly, Freddy is kind and respectful, even deferential, to Eliza.  Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is rude, irascible, and tyrannical, and doesn’t appreciate the things she does for him.  He doesn’t recognize her achievements, claiming all success for himself, as seen in “You Did It.”  He excuses has appalling behavior by saying he treats all women that way.  Ultimately, Eliza is going to be happier with someone who treats her well.

Additionally, as Freddy’s wife, Eliza will have a place and future in society.  As a married woman, she will be respectable.  Living with Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is a very ambiguous position.  When he first introduced her to society, she was a charming novelty.  As others get to know her and her situation, however, she will not be so welcomed.  An unmarried woman, who is not a servant, living with an older man will not be a savory role in society.  Furthermore, Eliza is going to tire of being a novelty and will want a life with meaning, such as she could have as a wife and mother with Freddy.  I mean, Eliza isn’t going to sleep with Henry Higgins, is she?

You might say that Freddy will end up wasting his estate, and leave her for someone else.  We also have no evidence for that except for Henry Higgins’ assertion, and he’s jealous, so we can’t really trust what he has to say on the matter.

Finally, what will happen to Eliza when she grows old?  As Freddy’s wife, she would be entitled to an inheritance when he dies, and any sons she has would be obligated to care for her.  With Henry Higgins, she would have no official status.  Since she is an unmarried woman who is not part of his family, there is no assurance that she won’t be thrown out into the streets upon Henry Higgins’ death.

In summary, Freddy loves Eliza, treats her better, Eliza will have a better role in society with Freddy, and has more assurance of being taken care of in old age.

Also, Freddie is a much better singer.

Top 10 Disney Animated Musicals

If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I’m no stranger to controversy.  Today, however, I venture into truly contested territory: ranking Disney musicals.  Here, I rank them primarily based on the quality of their music as a whole, with story and animation considered only as tie-breakers.

These musicals were really hard for me to rank, because there are so many great Disney musicals, but if I’m going to make a top 10 list, then they have to be in some sort of order.

*Trigger Warning*

You may find I rank musicals lower or higher than you believe is warranted.  You may find that your favorite Disney musical has been snubbed.  You have been warned.

10. Tarzan – I put this one at the bottom since it’s not a proper musical, since the characters aren’t actually the ones doing the singing.  But Phil Collins and his songs are amazing, aren’t they?

9. Hunchback of Notre Dame – This is a seriously under-rated musical, both as a musical and as a movie, perhaps because it doesn’t have a princess or because it’s pretty dark for a kids’ movie.  If you want pathos, Hunchback has it in spades.  Granted, the singers aren’t as good as those in some of the other Disney musicals, but what songs has Disney ever created that are more emotive than “God Bless the Outcasts” and “Out There”?

8. Pocahontas -Pocahontas herself is clearly the star of this score, though the white settlers have some interesting songs.  This musical is also one of the few Disney musicals to get a memorable end credits song, “If I Never Knew You.”

7. Mulan – The songs are fresh and classic at the same time, with plenty of clever lyrics, as well.  The score has a good blend of silly and serious.  Plus, Donny Osmond.

6. The Little Mermaid – What teenager can’t relate to Ariel?  “Part of Your World” was my anthem.  Sebastian and his blues-y “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” are also crowd pleasers.

5. Frozen – Mind you, Frozen only made it onto this list on the strength of its music.  This movie was so overrated, and there are plenty of potholes in the story.  But you can’t deny that the music is really good, though fairly unoriginal.  The score is in a decidedly Broadway style.  Idina Menzel is always amazing, so Frozen was bound to sound good.  (Tangled is still a better movie!)

4. Aladdin – The score of Aladdin is playful, fun, and jazzy.  It has lots of clever wordplay, and is where I learned the phrase “nom do plume.”  Aladdin will also always be remembered, of course, for the beloved Robin Williams, who brought a lot of the fun to this musical.

3. Moana – These songs just keep moving.  You can’t help but be caught up in them.  The melodies are catchy and singable for the layperson but still complex enough to be interesting

2. Beauty and the Beast – (The original, not the shameless money grab that is the live-action remake) This is the classic Disney musical.  The songs are an integral part of the plot, both setting the scenes and showcasing character development.  Every subsequent Disney musical gets compared to this one, and for good reason.

1. Hercules – Hercules has everything you could want from a musical.  It has a stirring ballad, a sassy but poignant song from the leading lady, a funny character song, and an energetic and jazzy chorus.

What do you think the best Disney animated musicals are?  Ready…Set…Debate!

Upon reviewing my list, this article could also be appropriately titled “Alan Menken writes most of the best movie musicals.”

On a side note, here’s an interesting article about how Disney Saved Musicals for a New Generation.

Blogging Your Friends Away

I like to post about a variety of things.  My blog is kind of all over the place.  The posts that always get the most views are the ones that are controversial in some way.  Sometimes I choose controversial topics on purpose in order to get more views.

But a lot of things that seem like no-brainers are controversial now.  Things like “camel toe is inappropriate for work” and “holding Republican politicians to one standard and Democrats to another is hypocritical” have gotten me some very strong backlash, both on WordPress and on Facebook.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to say them anyway.

So far as I know, only one person on Facebook has unfriended me over the views I express in my blog.  But I have noticed something interesting about some of my Facebook friends: they only comment on my posts when they disagree with me.  Not on my posts about travel, movies, the funny things my students say, or any of my other benign topics.  Nope, only (or almost only) the political ones, and only to disagree.  It’s very disagreeable.

Granted, there aren’t very many such friends.  I don’t plan at this time to unfriend them, but it does make me wonder why I friended them in the first place.  I think the lesson from this is that quality matters over quantity, and I’ll only friend people on Facebook that I truly connect and want to keep in touch with.

More On Grace and Works

I often worry about whether or not I’m good enough.  I know I mess up a lot.  I’m not as patient as I should be, I act rudely to my husband, I don’t always keep the Sabbath holy, I forget it’s fast Sunday, and on and on.  It’s really easy to put myself down as I think about all the ways I fall short.

That’s why my husband suggested I listen to this particular talk from the Saturday morning session of the October 2016 General Conference.  It’s titled, “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” from Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy.

This talk was exactly the message I needed.  In this talk Elder Cornish showed that he cares about and understands the feelings of the members as we try to do the right things but just can’t.  If you have ever felt that discouragement, you should go read the whole talk.  Here I’m going to give some of the highlights and my thoughts as well:

“Sometimes when we attend church, we become discouraged even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently, ‘I can’t do all these things’ or ‘I will never be as good as all these people’…Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others.

We sometimes compare ourselves to other members of our ward, believing that they are successfully doing all the things we feel we can’t.  I think it’s also important to note that we don’t necessarily know what other members are struggling with.  They may look like they are doing all the right things and that we can’t compare with them, but they make think the same about us.

Salvation isn’t a competition.

I also really struggle with the idea that I have inherent worth.  I think of my worth as being dependent on my productivity.  If I’m really smart or a great teacher or really good at keeping a family history, then I must be worthwhile.  That’s what goes on in my head.  Instead, I need to remember that my worth comes from being a daughter of God.

“If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.”

This one is so hard for me to remember.  Discouraging thoughts about how I’ll never be good enough don’t come from Heavenly Father.  Those come from Satan.  Heavenly Father encourages us, rather than discouraging us.

Elder Cornish focuses on what direction we are facing, rather than on where we are.  If we keep trying to be like Christ, then that is enough.

“Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it!”

I really love that.  Heavenly Father didn’t send us here with the intent that we would fail.  Like every good teacher, He doesn’t set us up for failure.

“If we will sincerely repent, God really will forgive us, even when we have committed the same sin over and over again. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: ‘However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made …, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.'”

“None of us will ever be ‘good enough,’ save through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ, but because God respects our agency, we also cannot be saved without our trying. That is how the balance between grace and works works.

I forget this sometimes.  I don’t have to do it alone.  It was never intended that I do it alone.

I’ve bookmarked this talk, because I think I’ll be going back to it again.  I don’t always feel like conference talks are especially relevant to me, but this one feels like it was given directly to me, about the things I need to hear.  I know that the church leaders are inspired by the Lord, and knowing that helps me keep going.

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  –2 Timothy 1:7