Monday, December 29, 2008

The Second Score Is In: Sadly

In Orem was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, the CA weeping for his LSAT score, and would not be comforted, because it was lower.

Yes, I got my email from LSAC on Monday (12/29) my score actually dropped a point this time around. "Oh well." I'm not the first person to use the phrase and certainly not the last.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All the way back to Halloween

Okay, okay, I know. I should have posted these like two months ago, but I'm not very good about being consistent in my blogging. Anyway, I give you Princess Toadstool and Luigi.

MY RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, it was a sad day. On Tuesday, November 25, Christy and I were in the SLC airport, sifting through law school gibberish and waiting to board our SouthWest flight heading up to Seattle. It was a run of the mill experience up to the moment we sat down on the plane . . .

For some reason, I reached my hand into the back seat pocket of the deal in front of me, and when I pulled my hand out, my wedding ring was gone!~ That's right, gone. My best bet is that I lost it in the bathroom of the SLC airport. I know, rough. But after many phone calls and even a few emails, we haven't heard anything from our pals in the lost and found department. So it looks like it's time to dip into Maria's college fund and bust out a new one. I appreciate your condolences on my behalf. (And no, Jon, Christy did not rebuke me for my misfortune!)

Me & Our Daughter!

When my wife pretends to be mad at me she will say something like, "Me and our daughter are going over there!" You're all aware of this, but I figured that I would put up our ultrasound shots of our daughter for posterity or something. Enjoy.  [Since removed for privacy considerations]

(By the way, so far as I know, this is not the spawn of Jabnal.)

It's all over!! It's all over!!

That's right, kids. After hours, months, and years of toil, my undergraduate career is finally over.

I know, it's hard to believe. After my last final (a required Bio class), I was seriously tempted to jump up on one of the desks in the Testing Center's music room, do a victory dance and shout, "It's all over! It's all over! Now enjoy the rest of your schooling!!" Unfortunately, with so many kids taking exams, there just wasn't any room to realize this urge.

Next, as if finishing up the old bs (degree) weren't enough, yesterday I finished applying to the 23rd law school. Phew. It's nice to have that off of my chest. Let's just say I'm tired. For your viewing pleasure, here's the full list, in alphabetical order, that I applied to. Presumably one or more will accept me:

George Washington
Washington U
Washington & Lee
William & Mary

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The last 200 something pictures.



The pictures are FINALLY here, with more to come!!


Below are the first 500.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Tomorrow is the day that I've been dreading for the past NINE months.

Tomorrow is the biggest test of my life (at least so far). No pressure, right?

Tomorrow I will have three to four hours to scramble my brains and put it all out on the line.

Tomorrow will most likely determine a large portion of my life for the next 5-15 years.

Tomorrow is the day that I will come off conqueror.


(Keep your fingers crossed and your arms folded!!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Seagull: Not Exactly a Happy Ending (or a “Comedy”)

I wrote the following for my "Great Works" portfolio. Enjoy.

Historical Context

Anton Chekov is a renowned Russian writer who is also the contemporary of literary greats such as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. While the latter are both well known for their substantial contributions to narrative literature, Chekov is predominantly identified with his short stories and theatrical productions. Set in the rural, Russian countryside, The Seagull is almost entirely devoid of urban “hustle and bustle.” Although now considered a veritable classic, the play first received unbridled derision and Chekov, presumably humiliated, abruptly resigned. Thankfully for modern theater buffs, the play was rejuvenated and now enjoys wide acclaim. (Chekov soon revived his career.)

Critical Analysis

While unremorsefully depressing, The Seagull is the type of production that leaves the astute observer indelibly marked and quintessentially changed. This is not to say that the play is any kind of Nirvana-inducing gospel, but its impact is certainly profound. Most of this stirring effect results from one of the play’s major themes: the hubristic downfall of the self-centered and the futility of human existence.

Chekov presents many of the main characters as fundamentally self-interested and unconsciously disinterested in those who love them. As is often the case, Chekov presents us with various love triangles. Kostya, his mother Arkadina, and the playwright Trigorin (Kostya really just wants his mother to love him). Kostya, Trigorin, and Nina. Kostya, Nina, and Masha. Kostya, Masha, and Medvedenko. That’s a lot of love, and yet, ironically or moreover, sadly, none of the characters truly end up loving each other. In the interest of time and Thuja occidentalis (Northern Whitecedars . . . trees), we’ll focus our discussion primarily on Kostya, Nina, Trigorin, and Arkadina.

The foursome is especially interesting because of the duality in the relationships or the lifestyle reflections, if you will. Arkadina is an actress, Nina is an aspiring actress; Trigorin is a playwright, Kostya is an aspiring playwright. Again, one of the saddest ironies developed during the play is how much Kostya longs for his mother’s approval and yet how much she scorns him and basically dotes after Trigorin. Next, Kostya romantically yearns for Nina, but, like Kostya’s mother, she longs for Trigorin, primarily due to his status as an established playwright which may help her budding career.

As the genre demands, Trigorin appears to “love” both Arkadina and Nina. However, as Chekov foreshadows (dualistically, which we’ll discuss momentarily) early on, Trigorin will dubiously take advantage of Nina when, in essence, she meant to take advantage of him (at least his status). "A young girl lives all her life on the shore of a lake,” says Trigorin. “She loves the lake, like a seagull, and she's happy and free, like a seagull. But a man arrives by chance, and when he sees her, he destroys her, out of sheer boredom. Like this seagull." As is readily manifest at the end of the play, Trigorin veritably destroys Nina. Yet, it is not in this obvious destruction where Chekov places the greatest emphasis.

Even after Nina runs off to fraternize with Trigorin, Kostya still aches for her. Even after discovering, surreptitiously, that Nina gave birth to and subsequently lost (to death) Trigorin’s child, Kostya still loves her. Unfortunately for Kostya, Nina is so distraught that she will not listen to him. When Nina exits the scene we consequently witness Kostya exit and then hear a loud gunshot. Thus, not only is Nina destroyed by the boredom of Trigorin, but Kostya is as well (he shot himself). Hence the dualistic nature of Trigorin’s shooting the original seagull. He destroyed both individuals.

However, the implications and scale of these obliterations are much more complex than being brought on simply by the boredom of Trigorin. In a sense, all of the characters are made miserable because they refuse to recognize that the characters whom they love do not love them. Therefore, Nina and Kostya are not the only victims of this cataclysmic, domino-disaster; the entire cast is also made to suffer and it’s almost like a vicious ecosystem of depression, a circle of death (or at least sorrow) instead of life.

As some marketing gurus might inquire, “What is the take home message here?” Perhaps, as Chekov oddly subtitles the piece, life is a comedy. Although certainly a paradoxical concept, it’s as though life is so absurd, so feebly ridiculous, that even our dearest and most sincere desires are so incongruently matched so as to fizzle into nothing more than pure and unadulterated vanity. What a pleasant thought, huh?

Personal Response

This is one of the most depressing plays that I have ever seen. Period. Thankfully, as one of my favorite professors, Charles Swift, pointed out, most Latter-day Saints who see The Seagull will have a somewhat similar experience to the following. “Wow, that was really depressing . . . Wanna go get some ice cream?” Having an eternal perspective really helps to wash that futile flavor out of my mouth.

Other than the sullen and devastating tone of the piece, I loved every minute of it, especially the humor. If not merely a result of the English translation, Chekov’s dry wit is absolutely uproarious, even a century later. The acting was superb and the setting, The Margetts, divine. I only wish to see it again, in the same setting, and unfeasibly, with the same cast.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My BYU Bureaucracy Experience: Unpleasant

Bureaucracy: a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape, and proliferation, says Merriam-Webster. Don't forget to add large headaches and a heeping helping of my unbridled rage!

I applied for a BYU parking permit back in the day and was quasi-promised that it would arrive, in mail, 2-4 days later . . . riiight. So I left some "feedback" for the Parking People asking them where in the freckles my permit was at. Response: We have it, we just weren't coordinated enough to MAIL IT to you (paraphrased).

So I said, "Oh, that's it! CougarAbogado bout do somin bout dis!"

I left my Bio class at 3:45 (15 mintues before class, plenty of time to run a couple of errands) expecting nothing more than a commonplace in and out cake walk. I was sorely mistaken.

I walk into the parking office, sit in line for like 7-15 minutes (I'm not good at guestimating ranges), have the woman tell me that even though some clown sack told me that they HAD my permit I had never applied for a new one since, get this, last September. Wow. So I figured that I would quickly bust out the scantron form on the left. No big deal. Tell me something, Jedi Knight, have you mezmorized your VIN? Most of us haven't . . . So I figured that I would just hit up the closest computer station and resubmit. That was easy enough. I go back in and the girl who told me that I hand't submitted anything tells me that her screen isn't working . . . So I go sit in line in the one to the right, waiting, waiting. When I get up to the front, the woman tells me that the system is moving slow and so she'll have to make me a temporary (yes, meaning that I would actually have to deal with more nonsense) permit. Next she asks me if I have my student ID and I point to her circular mouse pad and say something like, "Actually, you have it on your mouse pad . . ." Needless to say, I was not thrilled with swimming upstream like a desparate Salmon against the ferocious currents of shameless bureaucracy.

So I leave, "salty," as Fword (the Blogger, not the epithet) would say, and head over to the Talmage to pick up my generous check for services I had rendered in an experiment to the department. I pick up the check, somewhat satisfied that at least I would have some George Washingtons to add to my name, and the guy yells out to me, "Actually, that's not a real check, it's just a form you take to the ASB so that they can cash the check." WOW.

So I walk over, saltier than a 3-foot-long Westchester pretzel, and march into the ASB (otherwise known as the X building). My woes would continue. I go into the back of the opaque windowed office room to whip out my check and receive vindication. The thing is closed . . . so I turn the corner and ask if the girl can cash me check. After five minutes of incoherent mumblings, consulting with another girl at least twice, and then having to go make change becasue she didn't have any $5s or $10s on hand, I was the proud recepient of a handsome sum of $12. That's right, kids, $12. I almost felt like charging the school $20 just for wasting my time with their nonsensical gibberish.

The bright lining of this story is that my Bio professor spends about as much class time actually going over stuff that we need to know as a drunk Russian trying to speak English makes sense. So the fact that I returned to class at 4:30 (45 minutes later), wasn't the impetus of a nuclear holocaust or anything.


So I tie up my boot straps this morning, take care of some business, and then mosey over to the parking office. Christy needs a new permit as well, so I, the ingenious Hidalgo that I am (it's from Don Quixote), had the tremendous foresight to prepare a power of attorney form, have her sign it, and even had the wherewithal to take in her ID. The result? FERPA. That's right, sports fans, SHE has to walk in there physically because FERPA thinks that all men are chauvinist pigs who like to take advantage of their wives by stealing their parking permits!


When I gave the woman my ID, it took like two seconds and she handed me my permit. Irony truly is a very, very harsh mistress.


Don't ever think that you can go an entire calendar month without running into our dubious friend, Mr. Bureacracy. He's out there, and he's waiting for you!!!

See Strongbad for more hilarity and a similar "customer service" situation:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Falling Out of My Chair

For those of you who are interested, the thesis is OVER (at least the first draft)! Jon and Ryan: I hope that I don't have to do sleepless nights as much as you clowns do.

Now all that's left in probably the most stressful month of my 24 years of life is for me to write 9 two to three page papers, attend a play and a symphony, stack up all of my shining undergraduate papers together, and pass out on the steps of the Maeser building (where I turn in all of my honors junk).

It's been a wild ride and I could have never done it without the best woman in the world!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cotton Swabs: Flexible & Safe

When I opened our new package of Q-tips this morning, I just couldn't help but take two minutes to blog my wonderment. Flexible and safe? Are those really the two principal reasons why consumers purchase Q-tips, er, cotton swabs? I was thinking more along the lines of makeup applicant, and ear wax remover.

Either they think that those two uses are overdone, monopolized, or they just have no marketing skills whatsoever.

Oh well, I guess they figure that cheap bungles like myself are going to be purchasing them so as Strong Bad would say:

As long as your tone is well dressed and sweaty enough, it doesn't matter what ya say!

Friday, September 5, 2008

St. Anselm's Proslogion: Say What?

According to my pals over at Wikipedia, Proslogion is a Latin word meaning "Discourse on the Existence of God." Don't ask me how they get six words out of one; I don't speak, think, or read Latin. In fact, about the only Latin that the all-knowing Cougar Abogado understands is veni, vidi, vici, which, ironically enough is part of tobacco giant Philip Morris' logo . . . go figure.

Anyway. If you're wondering why I decided to culture myself with this Early Christian/Medieval classic, I only had one book left to go on my "Great Works" list and Proslogion is only like 40 pages. So yes, Scott, I took the shameful road more traveled-by with one of the quickest reads that I could find and read as I wandered about the burgeoning confines of BYU campus.

Although an aspiring lawyer myself, I have to confess that most of the Medieval logic was lost on the all-knowing CA. If you're interested in the Fletchword-style synopsis keep reading:

Basically the essay, argument, piece, or what have you is set in the second person singular and sets out to prove that God does, in fact, exist. In my opinion, most of the arguments are somewhat confusing and left me furrowing my eyebrows as I drifted back and forth across campus. If you're interested in reading the actual text, here's a link: PROSLOGION.

Beyond what is in my opinion a nebulous argument for why God has to exist, the piece has some interesting tid-bits here and there and quotes some great scriptures. Admittedly, some of the additional arguments also seem rather hazy and contradictory, but hey, my man St. Anselm was, I presume, primarily a church official and not a philosopher.

Looking at the piece in the light of the Gospel helps to fill in the gaps here and there, especially in Anselm's explanation about how God can be just and merciful at the same time. The missing link is, of course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Ironic, I know. As the Fletchword and I were sipping orange juice and philosophizing a week ago, we each came to this conclusion about flawed or incorrect doctrines:

But whoso among you shall do more
or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.

In essence, any "Gospel" which doesn't have Christ as its central explanation will not stand, because He must be at the center or there can be no reconciliation with God and therefore no eternal salvation. Everything else is, essentially, a sandy foundation.

If you're looking for the antithesis of most classics (a work that isn't 10,000 pages) I would highily recommend taking a look at this one.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bovary and Frankenstein: Peas in a Pod

Emma Bovary and Victor Frankenstein, though hailing from two starkly contrasting literary periods or genres, share at least one great similarity: always thinking of themselves, both wish to do or become something that is much more grandiose than their societal station or anyone’s common moral ethics of the day will allow.

Frankenstein is a classic example of the typical egg-headed poindexter of the Romantic era. He is reclusive, brilliant, high-minded, and, to make an understatement, ambitious. After all, your average humanist would not be nearly mystical, eccentric, or ingenious enough to dig up human remains out of sundry grave yards and magically turn them into a composite and living creation. On the other hand, however astronomically brainy Frankenstein is, it’s hard to imagine a Sancho Panza or other typical “fool” who would be foolish enough to put together a living, breathing, and potentially destructive creature, without calculating the risks of creation or even contemplating the creature’s future. Indeed, so caught up is Frankenstein in his own genius and ability to become the veritable god of a new “species” that he flees (oddly, without a screech) from the “wretch” which he took months to create in a brief, shocked, and terrorized flight much like the air-headed protagonist of Michael Jackon’s popular music video “Thriller.” How could any self-proclaimed or at least self-imagined mastermind be so short-sighted as to believe that his gaudy creation would instantly turn picturesque, charming, and beautiful just like Easy Mac? It seems rather apparent from this pathetic example that Frankenstein’s great hubris (or idiocy, you decide) is his self-absorption and absolute disregard for others. Perhaps the most ironic and yet sadistically hilarious exposé of Frankenstein’s self-centered nature occurs over various chapters as he continuously assumes that the monster is going to murder him on his wedding night, “Au contraire, Victor!” Even in the midst of his hyperbolic grief, Frankenstein can think of no one but himself. What is difficult to decipher, though, is whether Shelley is aiming at the heart of everyday Romantics themselves or simply at the egocentric characters that they often promulgate.

Flaubert’s Madame Bovary seems to depict generally the same egocentric hubris with Emma Bovary; just that Flaubert does it by portraying an average Joe Shmoe rather than a super-mysterious and insanely eccentric Isaac Newton figure. Truly, everything about Victor Frankenstein is grandiose. From his upper-class education, idyllic family life, to his charming German accent, Frankenstein is the portrait of a Romantic genius. Emma Bovary, on the other hand, is a simple farmer’s daughter and a former convent member. (Not to mention that she’s French, what could be more or-di-na-ry than that!!) Her day to day lifestyle (before she meets our bedazzling protagonist, Charles) is monotonous and boring. Yet, somewhat like Frankenstein, Emma has been searching through old classics and dreaming, almost always dreaming, about some dashing rogue, prancing onto the scene, mounted upon his muscled stallion, ready to whip her off her feet and carry her away into the dazzling sunset. Unlike Frankenstein, Emma has to sit and wait a while to get a taste of la pura vida (the good life); and when she does, like Victor, she finds it invigorating and virtually irresistible. Of course, big dreams Emma waxes eloquent in her mind about one day acquiring the perfect love, living the highlife (no, not like the beer ads), and finally achieving Nirvana (although she never uses that term). Flaubert presents us with at least four separate instances and often intervals where Emma presumes that all of her big dweams will come twue. She first presumes that Charles will be her knight in shining armor. As is no surprise, Charles charms her for about a day or two and then loses his flare (or at least Emma’s appeal). Next, Emma has a euphoric encounter with an enchanting nobleman as she dances the night away and later relishes his cigar box as though it were the very Holy Grail. Like our previous example, this experience eventually crumbles and leaves Emma with nothing but fantastical dreams and aspirations. Finally, and much abridged, Emma has her two end-all-be-all affairs with two separate gentlemen, each of whom she at first considers to be everything that she ever wanted in a man or in a love. It goes without saying that these fantasies burn to ashes as Emma reaps the reward of crushing debt and well-publicized humiliation as a compensation for her infidelity, selfishness, and insatiable appetite. She finally takes arsenic to end it all and as one translation reads, she “cease[s] to exist.”

Both Flaubert and Shelley masterfully paint two caricatures that are odiously self-interested, self-serving, and unappeasable. One is a genius who seeks power, fame, and glory. The other is a shrew who seeks self-gratification, unheralded ecstasy, and the “finer things” of life. Both egotists wreak havoc on themselves and on the ones who love them as they selfishly ignore the devastating consequences of their actions and think only of their own success and unparalleled euphoria.

Karl Marx and the Humanists: Not a Match Made in Heven

Karl Marx was a radical materialist. Like the humanist and rational humanist thinkers of his day, Marx argued that the source of all truth and that truth itself are simple; however, his thinking vastly estranged him from the humanists and other thinkers of the day in that Marx believed that the source of all truth is external to man.
Humanists argued that as we look inward we can find the answers to the many riddles of mortal life. Yet, even within the realm of humanists such as Montaigne, Galileo, Descrates (rational humanist), and others, many still looked toward heaven and established society as they looked inward for guidance. Galileo, for one, argued that man could deduce the answer to most questions about nature and the expansive universe through simple deduction and experimentation, but he did not dare to lift a finger against the supreme authority of the Church or against the established conventions of his time.
This is what makes Marx such a “radical” thinker in comparison to his progenitors and most of his contemporaries. Marx asserted that truth is not found in some sublime and mystical reality such as the Weltgeist but in the day to day hum drum of materialism. Men are inherently self-interested (sounds a little capitalistic . . .); therefore those of the higher ranks (the bourgeois), are wont to suppress the helpless and feeble proletariat. Most of Marx’s ideology was revolutionary in its time but from our perspective, a little clichéd and trite to say the least. The message was in essence, “Throw off the chains that bind you and unite in a form of egalitarian utopia!” Gee, we’ve never heard any “radical” proposal like that before. But up until that point in time, it was unprecedented thinking: God is a fabrication of the bourgeois to help them subjugate the proletariat, and society itself is just another form of the rich getting richer while the poor suffer and get the short end of the stick!
Marx argued against Hegel’s traditional thesis-antithesis view of society and posited that all societal structures would inevitably lead to communism (and no other reversal) and thus throw off the chains that bound the proletariat. . . perhaps, as history has shown, Marx, like the humanists was a little too simplistic himself?

Hamlet, Skepticism, and the Rest of the Gang

Hamlet portrays an extreme example of skepticism in that Hamlet himself can never seem to make up his mind about anything. The classical view of humanism, especially as demonstrated by Montaigne is that man need only but turn inward to find the answers to his problems. Yet, no matter how inwardly focused our seemingly determined Hamlet finds himself, he never takes a determinate course of action.

Shakespeare (or to whomever we wish to give the credit) points out through Hamlet’s constant indecision that this simplistic view of humanism is probably just that: too simplistic. For example, when Hamlet first learns of the “most foul and unnatural” murder (what form of murder isn’t foul and unnatural, by the way?) of his father he swears to avenge the dastardly deed and then causes his associates to swear that they will reveal the vision or anecdote to no one. Ironically, however, although Hamlet starts out with a firm resolve to avenge his father’s murder, he waivers throughout the play and even grows unsure of himself (which is telling as well because the classical Greek understanding of drama is that action is the principal motif or virtue, as it were). This uncertainty is also ironic as Hamlet constantly flaunts himself as superior to others throughout the play. Take for example, when he mocks Polonius (especially when he runs him through and essentially labels him as a meddling fool), Ophelia (“Get thee to a nunnery!” and how he chides her about his lying in her lap), his former friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who, like Polonius, get a more malign and exacting treatment than that of both Ophelia and the Queen (in that the former are physically executed at his orders), to name but a few.

Hamlet declares that “the play’s the thing” which will spur him to action, but in the end, it’s not his own inward voice or deductions that tell him to act but the simple fact that he’s about to die and has only two alternatives: take revenge or die a failure.

Hamlet & Frankenstein: More Than Just Cool Names in Common

Hamlet & Frankenstein:
To Pity or Not to Pity? That is the Question

Prince Hamlet of Denmark and Dr. Victor Frankenstein of Switzerland each have one thing in common: they both have really cool names. However, beyond this outrageously obvious similarity, the correspondence of the two characters waxes much more complex. Each figure is faced with the all-time bummer of a situation and left to figure a way out. It goes without saying that Hamlet did not wish or desire that his father be killed. On the other hand, Frankenstein methodically probed, plotted, and fleshed out the commencement of his own dilemma. Trotting along side by side in many of their parallels (an unfortunate situation, being forced to solve the problem, etc.) Frankenstein and Hamlet’s characters distinctively break with each other in how the audience is meant to perceive them. Although Hamlet is criticized for being “indecisive,” Shakespeare gently coddles us to feel a kind of innate sympathy towards him. He thinks that he should seek revenge, but he’s not even sure of his own mental faculties. In Frankenstein’s case, however, we’re not incensed so much that he’s indecisive but rather that he’s very much decisive, in the sense that he opens up Pandora’s box almost without a second thought to the consequences and then he cowers in the irresponsible shadows of inaction instead of stopping the mushrooming destruction. And all this for the sake of keeping his “good name.” In short, we pity Hamlet and nearly loathe Frankenstein.
The surrounding characters seem, on the surface, to pity Hamlet, however, underneath this guise of friendship and loyalty, a number of them secretly plot his untimely death. Shortly after Hamlet runs Polonius through, Claudius remarks to the Queen that his “liberty is full of threats to all” and that “[Hamlet’s] providence [he and the queen] should have kept short, restrain’d and out of haunt, this mad young man: but so much was our love , we would not understand what was most fit” (IV, 1, 14-20). Thus Claudius pretends to truly and deeply pity his most unfortunate and bereaved nephew Hamlet. However, we, the audience, are fully aware of Claudius’s continual treachery, no matter what his pretty façade to the queen may set forth be. As a case in point, the audience is shown, nearly from beginning, that Claudius murdered his brother in cold blood and without remorse. Additionally, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern pretend to honor Hamlet as their true “friend” and ally as they make off with him to England. Supposedly, they are concerned about his mental health and well being. However, we see right through this fabrication immediately after Claudius greedily implores England to execute Hamlet and rid him of his inevitable rebellion (IV, 3, 57-67). Ironically, the two “friends” of Hamlet are the ones who receive execution at the hands of the English authorities (V, 2, 351-355). Although never explicitly stated in the play, but given Hamlet’s vivid distrust and fiery disdain for these two former friends, it would not make reason stare to assume that Hamlet himself procured their diametric demise. It seems like there wasn’t a whole lot of pity to go around in Denmark.
Unlike Hamlet, however, Frankenstein’s family and friends genuinely pity him. As would appear to be the common service of the time, friends and family would sit next to the bedside of an ailing companion and nurse him through his feverish days of illness. Moreover, we are informed by Frankenstein himself that Clerval somewhat understood that he was mad. Or at least he suspected something. “When he observed me more attentively, he saw a wildness in my eyes for which he could not account, and my loud, unrestrained, heartless laughter frightened and astonished him” (46). Clearly, this is not an occasion where Frankenstein is coughing up blood on his bed sheets or vomiting into his bed pan, it’s an unequivocal case of madness. “My dear Victor . . . Do not laugh in that manner. How ill you are! What is the cause of all this?” (46) However, to contrast our noble Claudius and his willing but mindless minions, Clerval does, in fact, take pity on Frankenstein and nurses him back to health on more than one occasion. In addition to his close family and friends, Frankenstein is deeply pitied and succored even by completely random strangers. For example, we have the obvious case of the commiserate scientist and voyager, Robert Walton, who would naturally be expected to care for one of his one. Alternatively, we observe the peculiar situation of Frankenstein’s purported judge and moderator, Mr. Kirwin. Frankenstein is found washed up on the shore, swarthy, unkempt, and just in time for the people to accuse him of a murder which we know he did not commit. (Ironically enoug, of course, the victim turns out to be his good friend and nurse, the very Clerval). Although we might expect Kirwin to treat Frankenstein with the same scorn, revulsion, bile, and boiling contempt as his fellow Irish, he blows our socks off by nursing Frankenstein just like our ole’ chap Clerval. In fact, Kirwin steps it up a notch by affirming Frankenstein’s innocence, caring for him like a true Clerval, and even going to the unanticipated trouble of examining his personal letters and writing to his family to relate to them his unfortunate state of affairs (158). For a man who was nearly and virtually impaled on the sands of the not too distant shore, this is quite a tending. Apparently, there was a little bit more pity to go around in the era of Romantacism.
As stated at the outset, Frankenstein, unlike Hamlet, occasions his own misery and gloomy misfortune. This is where the sullen irony of each piece comes into play. As we have discussed previously, Hamlet is hardly pitied by his associates while Frankenstein is more or less enshrined by his ever-concerned fellows. Herein lies the rub. While Hamlet goes about racking his brains and tormenting himself about whether or not he should take action and revenge his father, he can never seem to make up his mind. Ironically, when he finally does get a little bravado in him, he ends up killing the wrong bloke. Blimey! Indeed, instead of killing the treacherous tyrant, Claudius, he kills his intrusive but not as important underling, Polonius. While Hamlet treats the gory murder with nonchalance and even sarcastically pointed humor (“A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king, and marry with his brother.”), we, as an audience, cannot help but pity him for his blinded rage and paradoxical failure when he finally musters up the determination to act (III, 4, 20-30). Hamlet is thus plunged into a spiraling blood bath over which he seems to have no control. In the end, as Hamlet attempts to culminate his stoic revenge, he dies just before he can extend his sword to exact it.
Once again, we juxtapose the fate of Frankenstein to that of Hamlet’s. As Hamlet puzzles and scratches his head about what to do, Frankenstein, on the other side of the coin, starts out running when he hits the pavement. From his childhood days, Victor is always obsessing over the great sciences and how he, the little boy wonder will change the world. Of course, it is no wonder at all that he attends a prestigious university, sticks his nose up at all of his superiors, and seeks, essentially, (as he had at a younger age) the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life (25). It is this self-infatuation, self-promotion, and unadulterated self-obsession, the reader’s knee-jerk reaction is to turn up her own nose at Frankenstein. He muddles in grubby graveyards and tinkers with the gears of life, why, to what end? Shelley alludes throughout the novel that Frankenstein is not engaged in these “enlightened” pursuits out of a purely altruistic humanism, but rather out of vanity and good old fashioned greed. Not necessarily greed of filthy lucre, but most certainly a rabid craving and foaming at the mouth for fame, glory, and in a historical sense, immortality. Such is Shelley’s portrait of our egotistical protagonist and throughout the unobtrusive letters and objective diary entries of her characters; this egotism seems to sneak by unnoticed, unseen, and even unquestioned. We, however, as omniscient readers (that is to say of all the facts presented in the novel), hold Frankenstein for his worth and would scoff to pity him for more than a split second. To help expound the unsavory taste in our mouth and justify our complete lack of pity, we need cite but a few examples. For an extended period of time, Frankenstein trembles that the monster will kill him on his wedding night and not his bride. As we read about his trembling fright, we can’t help but give him a swift back hand for his self-centered absorption. Need we recall the drawn-out days of Justine’s trial when Frankenstein refuses to spill the beans and instead sits by in the shadows, inept and unwilling to act? Or would it be enough to simply point the finger of accusation at Frankenstein’s thoughtlessness at the start of the whole ordeal? Throughout the span of the novel, Frankenstein concerns himself with one man: numero uno, himself. Is this an action worthy of our pity and our kind understanding?
While numerous readers wag their heads at Hamlet’s stationary wallow in the mire, in comparison to Frankenstein, he seems to deserve our utmost respect for eventually seeking to right a wrong which was born entirely independent of him, while the good Dr. Frankenstein had everything to do with the many travesties which he, in essence brought to life.


Don Quixote:

No Average Hero

Where have all the good men gone

And where are all the gods?

Where’s the street-wise Hercules

To fight the rising odds?

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?

Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero

I'm holding out for at hero 'till the end of the night

He's gotta be strong

And he's gotta be fast

And he's gotta be fresh from the fight


“Ferris Bueler, you’re my hero.” (Bueller) From Batman to Superman, from King Arthur to Lancelot, and even from the ingenious Don Quixote down to Ferris Bueler, the clichéd term “hero,” consistently carries with it an implicit theme of rusty romanticism. Notwithstanding the numberless journeys this expression has taken, there always seems to be enough oil to grease its joints. Tales of Hercules and Perseus all suggest a kind of unquestioned machismo which never seems to die. Amazing Hero X has amazing strength Y along with unprecedented quality Z which both qualify him to set out and vanquish any number of helper minions A before he vanquishes their malicious master B. Don’t forget to through in a dash of tantalizing damsel and such is the varied genre of heroism. Author Miguel de Cervantes disarms this archaic knight and presents his reader with a new type of hero: stripped of all the classic machismo, swordsmanship, and especially the jaw-dropping maiden. What remains underneath the obligatory shell of fantasy is not quite what we would expect. Cervantes leaves us with a Quixote who is lanky, ludicrous, and, at times, “absotively blunderous with [his] words which [he] speaks” (Strong Bad). Yet, disrobed of all stereotypical glory, our new-style hero comes equipped with a set of values and charm that were found lacking in his age and are all but forgotten in our own.

A hero must possess some super-human quality or look really cool in his outfit. Clark Kent or Superman, if you will (don’t tell anyone that they’re the same guy, it’s a secret, k?), seamlessly fits both molds. Clark can see through walls, pick up large pieces of scrap metal, and even take a bullet to the chest without so much as flinching. Additionally, with his good looks, rippling biceps, and culry-cue hair cut, Kent makes his “S” look super, indeed. On the other hand, our ingenious hidalgo is a caricature gangly, goofy looking, and even ridiculous to behold. As the narrator remarks, the green ribbons which held Quixote’s visor together were so absurd that they made the “funniest and strangest figure imaginable” (34). Throughout the narrative we observe the “knight errant” riding courageously, as a gangly and middle-aged figure, stooped upon his bean-pole-of-a-horse Rocinante, who an equally pathetic sight. These depictions leave the reader scratching her head with an eye brow raised or guffawing uncontrollably at the ridiculous sight of our heroic protagonist. Part of what makes Quixote so pitiable and yet bombastically hilarious is that he never attains to the stature of what we would consider a “true hero.” He never manages to equip with any equal to the peerless Excalibur. He never finds a strength-yielding potion. And he is often pummeled for his lack of a trump card utility belt. Yet, undaunted, unwitting, and although lacking any kind of superhuman capabilities, Quixote swaggers forth with unwavering confidence and even proverbial defiance as you will, gentle reader, shortly witness.

A hero is unmatched in his skills of battle. Classic demi-god heroes like Hercules could trounce the Titans while mortal champions like Perseus could slay numerous foes including the untouchable Medusa. These Greek archetypes both equate to modern heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, or Johnny Depp. All of these men find themselves repeatedly submerged in the heat of battle with enemies who are either as numerous as the sands of the sea (or at least it seems like that sometimes) or as powerful as the gods themselves. Of course, with their unparalleled dexterity, unusual cunning, or simply good aim, these heroes always come off conqueror, dispatching their opposition like a Boy Scout flips flap jacks. How about our Don Quixote? Ah, not so much. Sir Thigh Piece, as he is aptly named, exudes as much martial skill as a suckling infant waving a stick of string cheese violently through the air. As related previously, Quixote is often the target of tremendous beatings and unyielding hilarity. Perhaps the most telling example of Quixote’s blunders occurs when he charges the taunting, gigantic monsters who are in actuality a couple of peaceful windmills. After charging the sneering vermin, Quixote finds himself “rolling over the plain,” his lance in “pieces,” and ultimately in such a mess that he “couldn’t stir” (64). Such are the unmatched skills of the ingenious Don Quixote.

A hero is a man of chivalry. Unlike the aforementioned characteristics of a hero, this is a trait in which our own knight errant shines, although satirically, above all the rest. Cervantes paints Quixote as a tireless romantic. A scholar well versed in seemingly every tale of courtesy known to man, as is well witnessed by his colossal library collection. In fact, Quixote has such an astounding collection of chivalry, that his friend the priest is overwhelmed by the sheer number of them (58). But it is nary Quixote’s possession of chivalric literature that exalts him to a pedestal of heroism all his own, but rather his willingness to emanate the noble principles of these fictional classics. We hear tales of gallant knights such as King Arthur and Lancelot. The men depicted in such legends, although human, are portrayed as benevolent, honorable, and true. They carry with them an aura of such high esteem that every reader is likely to envy their goodness.

Ironically, despite all of his absurdities, it is in this concealed heroic benevolence where Quixote’s character shines through his shoddy and otherwise ridiculous visor. In the beginning of his famous adventures, Quixote happens upon a young servant being brutally flogged by his farming master. Quixote assails the vicious tyrant and threatens him with exacting justice if he will not stay his hand (44). Although satirized as a bumbling kook, it is in moments like these where Quixote presents us with the real stuff that heroes are made of. Undaunted and courageous, Quixote does not fear the villainy or power of the cruel stranger, and, as alluded to previously, he defies him with astounding intrepidity. Furthermore, Quixote beckons the reader to a mystical age of honor, affirming that he will need no greater assurance that the violence of this scene will cease than the simple word of the servant’s cruel oppressor. As a sensible reader, we can’t help but grimace or chuckle at this profound display of stupidity. Yet, this is the hysterical satire combined with unquestioned morals that Cervantes weaves throughout the epoch. Quixote is not simply a hero, however, he is also not just a babbling idiot. Underneath the false air of knight errantry, Quixote radiates with a kind of simplistic goodness which is unequaled by anyone throughout all his journeys and, as stated, in our own day.

No simpleton could possibly confuse Don Quixote with Superman, Hercules, or any number of traditional heroes. On the contrary, Quixote leaves us no choice but to smile at his innocence, bravery, and good will. While he certainly would have lost any joust ever entered, Quixote represents that in each of us, no matter how absurd, which is the good that we can all become.

Works Cited

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Prod. Maysh, Ltd. Productions. Dir. John Hughes. Per. Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara. DVD. Macrovision Corporation, 1986.

Tyler, Bonnie. Musician. I Need a Hero. SB Emails. Love Poem.


For all of you "lesser mortals" out there, the painting on the left is depicting a quintessential scene between the protagonist Raskolnikov, of Dostoevsky's classic Crime and Punishment, and another bloke (Marmeladov), presumably as the former tells him about something baaad that he's done (read the novel to find out what!). I know, the knowledge just seeping from this page is absolutely astounding!

So thus begins the posting of some of my random Civ 202 doings (much to Kalvin's delight). Thankfully (for me), the class is over but sadly (for you), that means that the number of exceptionally exquisite posts related to it will certainly be limited (not endless).

I'll begin either by posting some of the word doc.s of my shining papers (I know, you all can't wait!) or just by using good old fashioned Ctrl+C & Ctrl+V.

"[So] put on your patchy-stained jacket and gather 'round the fire in the trash can, homeless romantic, because the Rub [Doctor] is here to help!" Before you can understand any of my mindless madness, you have to at least experience one Strong Bad email (the one that I lifted the quote from): Make sure that you do a little Ctrl+"+" action to make the cartoon bigger.

And as always, "PROVECHO!"

(By the way, Scalois, the picture on the right is NOT a self-portrait, in case you were mulling the question.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


For those of you who don't parlevouis Francais, cultive means "cultured" in French. Yep, thanks to the mad blogging examples of my brother, wife, and family at large, I've decided to enter the realms of cool and bust out my own bangin' blog. And you thought that sliced bread was kickin'!

More than just becoming cultured as a blogging fool, I've been coddled into proverbial erudition at the hands of BYU's "Honors Department." That's right, kids, I've roamed the halls of the MOA, sat through agonizing plays (well at least one of them was gut-wretchingly awful), watched random foreign films at the IC, been serenaded by sumptuous music performances in the De Jung, hung out with my enviro-dawgs in a small conference room in the biology building, and finally, I've digested more books (actually read them) in the past year and a half than probably the rest of my life combined . . . Stay tuned for a life-changing post about all of these aged bourcheran cheese experiences.

In addition to immersing myself in leagues upon leagues of high minded culture, I've been taking the Old Testament, Pearl of Great Price, and Comparative Lit 202 (Civ) for the summer term. (For your incalculable reading pleasure, I'll soon post a couple of papers that I wrote for my CMLIT class: fasten your seat belts.) Also, if you were previously unaware, I'm writing a thesis on Intel (coming soon to a blog post near you) and wracking my brains in preparation for the LSAT this October. Thankfully, I've still got two blessed months of study left before the day of judgment, so please keep your arms folded and your fingers crossed!

Beyond all of this busyness business, I've only got one semester left in my undergraduate existence. It's hard to believe. "Can you handle the excitement, children?" I can't really tell you what lay beyond the Utah Valley horizon, but it will almost entirely depend on what LSAT score I eek out in October. Even then, I probably won't get an acceptance letter to any law schools before the first couple of months of 2009. So it looks like my wife and I will be kickin' it in Yogurtland indefinitely. Ah, but then what dreams may come? . . .