Monday, October 2, 2023

New Book of Mormon posts

I have a couple more posts on my Book of Mormon blog which I haven't linked here yet, so here they are:

"The Nephites knew nothing of an 'Aaronic priesthood'" makes the case that the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood as described in the Torah as we have it today did not yet exist in Lehi's time (i.e. just before the Babylonian captivity) and is thus not a genuinely Mosaic institution.

"Running into the fountain of all righteousness" tries to make sense of Lehi's confusing metaphor of a river flowing into a fountain.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Six degrees of Neil Finn

In my September 29 post "Syncs: Tropical dreams and not-dreams, 555, Freeman and not-Freeman," I noted that a 4chan post beginning "I don't dream" had made me think of the Crowded House song "Don't Dream It's Over." Well, it made me think of the song. I had to look up name of the band, which I had never heard of.

The intro section of Crowded House's Wikipedia article mentions "Their most recent album, Dreamers Are Waiting, was released in 2021." The recurrence of the "dream" theme made me click the link. Here's the cover art:

Why is that significant? Because the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival fell on September 29 this year, and two of the symbols most closely associated with that holiday are the rabbit (usually white) and a big green citrus fruit called the pomelo. I assume that's meant to be a shrub on the Crowded House album, but its shape and color sure suggest a pomelo.

The appearance of a rabbit on an album called Dreamers Are Waiting made me think of a line from The Code of the Woosters where Stephanie "Stiffy" Byng thanks Jeeves for his assistance by saying, "Jeeves, you really are a specific dream-rabbit!" to which he replies, "Thank you miss. I am glad to have given satisfaction."

I watched the music video for "Don't Dream It's Over," and idle curiosity as to the ethnicity of the lead singer -- I couldn't quite tell from his physiognomy -- led me back to Wikipedia to early-life him. Neil Finn, Irish. "He is best known for being a principal member of Split Enz with his brother Tim, the lead singer and a founding member of Crowded House, and a touring member of Fleetwood Mac."

Really, Fleetwood Mac? I clicked the link. And wait, isn't Stevie Nicks's real name Stephanie, just like Stiffy Byng in the Wodehouse novel? I clicked that link, too. Yes, Stephanie Lynn Nicks. The intro to her Wikipedia article mentioned (as the band's article had not) that Fleetwood Mac's only number one hit in the U.S. had been the song "Dreams."

Today I happened to think about the website Clickhole, which I hadn't checked for ages because it hasn't been funny for ages. I visited it just in case. Nope, still not funny. One of the recent articles, posted on September 25, was "Stevie Nicks And CNN, Ranked." It featured the same photo of Nicks I had just seen on her Wikipedia page and consisted of a list of reasons why Stevie Nicks isn't as good as CNN. One of the tags at the end was "She Can Sing But Wolf Blitzer Is On CNN." That made me check Wolf Blitzer's Wikipedia article -- no, not because I'm so clueless I need to early-life Wolf Blitzer! I just wondered if that was his real name. Apparently I'm not alone:

Blitzer has said he has frequently been asked about his name, which has been characterized as seemingly made for TV. He explained that his surname goes back for generations, and that "Wolf" is the same first name as that of his maternal grandfather.

The words "made for TV" were a link to the article "Stage name," which I scrolled through. Of all the thousands of examples they could have chosen, this one made the cut:

Members of New Zealand art-rock band Split Enz all took their middle names as stage names, so as to keep their private image separate from their public personae.

Two days ago, I had never heard of Split Enz. Today I knew it was what Neil Finn was in before Crowded House and Fleetwood Mac.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Where Dreamers Become Doers

This evening I was about to go to a particular coffee shop to read, but the thought suddenly popped into my head, "No, go to the night market first" -- even though that was very much out of my way. I tend to follow these random whims unless I have some good reason not to, so off to the night market I went.

On my way there, there was an electric scooter in front of me on the road, with a man operating it and a woman sitting behind him. The back of her short skirt was pinned to the scooter seat, but the sides were freely blowing in the wind. I idly thought, with the sort of perfunctory prurience which still strikes me from time to time even though it's been quite a long time since I was twelve years old, "I wish she would shift a bit in her seat and the wind would blow the whole skirt up. Maybe if I will it to happen, it'll happen." It was a shameful and ridiculous thing to think, and of course it didn't happen. At the next light, the scooter continued straight, and I turned right to go to the market.

Before going out, I had just finished reading the novel The Unseen by Mike Clelland, an author I discovered last year when I read his non-fiction book The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity, and the UFO Abductee. Owls in connection with gray aliens are Clelland's specialty; he is known in paranormal circles as "the owl guy." Central to the plot of The Unseen (which of course also features owls and aliens) is a peyote-inspired painting called The Dream and a black T-shirt with the word dream printed on it. I discussed synchronicities related to this "dream" theme, and to the name Freeman, in my last post.

Almost the first thing I saw upon entering the night market was a man whose T-shirt had an enormous owl printed on it, covering almost the whole torso, and then a woman with a black T-shirt that said dream, exactly as in the novel. Less than a minute later, a man walked past with a gray alien head printed on his baseball cap, and then a Vietnamese woman with three gray alien heads tattooed across her cleavage. "Oh," I though, "it's going to be one of those nights," and it was. I wandered around the market for about an hour, and in that time I counted six different owl-themed T-shirts, plus a stand that was selling owl-themed ceramic chopstick rests, and so many instances of the English word dream -- in a Chinese-speaking country, remember -- that I lost count. Most of these were on people's clothing, so I didn't get a chance to photograph most of them, but I got a few. The first one I saw was this bath mat:

Immediately after I photographed that, two people with English T-shirts walked past. The first said "FREEMAN"; the second, "CHOOSE." All dreams come true, freeman, so choose your dreams well.

Here are two others I managed to capture, both on the backs of T-shirts:

There were lots more like this. These are just the ones I managed to snap photos of. Everywhere I looked, owls, aliens, and dreams coming true. "Where Dreamers Become Doers" made me think of my earlier thought about the woman on the scooter: "Maybe if I will it to happen, it'll happen" -- if our thoughts affect reality, then dreaming becomes a kind of doing.

After finishing at the night market, I was going to go home, but then I thought, "No, I think I'll still go to that coffee shop after all." On my way there, I was thinking about all the crazy synchronicities I had just experienced and wasn't paying overmuch attention to my surroundings. While stopped at a red light, though, I became aware of the scooter in front of me and -- you've got to be kidding me! Yes, it was that scooter again. I had been behind them when I was on my way to the night market and they were on their way to wherever they were going, and now an hour later we were both on our way back, and I was behind them again!

The light turned green, and I guess she was sitting a little differently this time, because her whole skirt immediately blew up in the wind, revealing -- whoop-de-doo, some random lady's underpants, not the slightest bit interesting or titillating. In fact, it made me angry. I felt like the sync fairies were mocking me: "Sure, we'll make your dreams come true. It's not our fault if you happen to have the dreams of a retarded twelve-year-old!" I pulled the throttle and passed the scooter, leaving it behind me as fast as I could. "Choose, freeman." Okay, here's my choice, you sick fucks: not this.

I arrived at the coffee shop, got my coffee, and sat down to read the Book of Mormon. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony here.) As fate would have it, my bookmark was near the end of the Book of Alma, and I proceeded to read about the final victory of the Nephite faction known as -- of all things -- the freemen.

At one point I got up and went to a sideboard to get some paper napkins. There was a brochure there about the different kinds of cakes you can order. I hadn't the slightest interest in cake, but I felt a sudden compulsion to open it. I opened right up to an owl staring at me:

I remember last time I read a Mike Clelland book, it triggered a sync-storm, too. But hey, it was my choice to read it, right?

Friday, September 29, 2023

Syncs: Tropical dreams and not-dreams, 555, Freeman and not-Freeman

On August 29, I changed the wallpaper image on my phone from the Ace of Swords to the White Tree of Gondor. The next day, I happened to pick up my phone at precisely 5:55 p.m., which struck me as significant, so I took a screenshot. One week later -- and I mean exactly one week later, to the minute -- it happened again.

On September 24, I bought and began reading Mike Clelland's novel The Unseen. Central to the plot is a picture the main character painted while tripping on peyote. The painting is called The Dream, and portrays "a thin, scruffy tree with a blue ball of light centered in the branches." This syncs with my wallpaper image shown above: a tree which could be described as thin and scruffy, with stars in its branches.

I started reading The Unseen immediately after posting "The Moody Blues, Embody the Soul, snails and ammonites, stars and stones, blue ball of light," and I mention it in the comments. That post had featured both a "blue ball of light" and the number 555.

Later in The Unseen, the main character, John, has abandoned his life as a successful artist in New Mexico and is working as a dishwasher in a coffee shop in a tiny town in southern Utah. (They're lax Mormons who drink coffee.) A woman he knew as a child, who has recently reappeared in his life, walks into the coffee shop wearing "a black t-shirt with the single word 'dream' centered on her chest." This T-shirt also becomes important to the plot.

Yesterday, September 28, I was in a coffee shop (I'm a lax Mormon who drinks coffee), and they had this hanging on the wall:

The Unseen features a painting called The Dream in which a blue ball of light is in the branches of a tree, and a black T-shirt with the word dream on it. This wall hanging has the word dream in the branches of a tree (or in the foliage of a large plant at any rate), against a black background.

Last night, I read some more in William Fairfield Warren's Paradise Found, which I started some time ago but hadn't picked up recently. On page 120, the text refers the reader to "the diagram which constitutes the frontispiece of this work," so I flipped back to look at it. That's when I noticed for the first time that the "tropical" part of the globe is labeled "5 5 5."

The very first sentence in Paradise Found is, as noted in my September 13 post "Syncfest: 'Wake Up Time,' dreaming in a forest, AE, golden apples, Klein bottle, etc.," is "This book is not the work of a dreamer."

I wanted to include the above image of Warren's frontispiece in this post, so rather than photographing my own copy, I went to to get a screenshot of it. When I started to type the address into my browser, autocomplete suggested (click at your own risk), which serves up a randomly selected thread from /x/, the "paranormal" board on 4chan. I thought what the hell and pressed enter. It gave me an old 2015 thread about, of all things, not dreaming:

The first reply mentions Morgan Freeman, Just last night I read a passage in The Unseen where John meets the leader of a mysterious operation and asks his name. He says, "I don't use my name here. The team calls me The Freeman." A few paragraphs later, he explains, "I answer to one man, and he gives me a lot of freedom" -- oh, I think, so that's why they call him The Freeman.

Only it turns out I didn't read that. Wanting to quote the passage correctly just now, I put freeman into the Kindle search function and got -- zero results! Had I remembered it wrong? Had it been Freedman, maybe? Or was it hyphenated? I tried various things, including just searching for the string free, but couldn't find what I was looking for. Finally, I just flipped back through the pages manually and found it. It had never said Freeman. It said Foreman. How could I have misread that?

The "I don't dream" /x/ post started a song playing in my head: "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House.

One of the verses begins "Now I'm walking again." The 21st chapter of The Unseen begins with the sentence "I was walking again."

Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Moody Blues, Embody the Soul, snails and ammonites, stars and stones, blue ball of light

Yesterday, September 23, I happened to see a bright blue scooter with the license plate MDY-0098. I thought that MDY-00 was the best way of encoding the word moody in the ABC-1234 format (keeping in mind that there are no Os on license plates, only zeroes), and this combined with the color of the scooter made me think of the Moody Blues -- the very first band I got into as a teenager. The remainder of the plate number was 98, and I was pretty sure that in '98 the Moody Blues were in Italy, recording their album Strange Times. This was released in 1999, during a time when I had no access to secular music, but buying it was almost the first thing I did after returning to secular life in 2000. It served as my main soundtrack during that in-between time, after my mission and before entering the linguistics program at Ohio State. I used to play it in the car on my many drives from Kirtland out to Lake Erie to wander around the saltless, surfless beaches, meditate, and compose not-very-good verses on the metaphysical significance of erosion.

The cover of Strange Times shows the Earth inside what looks like a transparent snail or ammonite shell, on a beach.

Anagrams were very much my stock in trade at that time in my life (almost as much as synchronicities are now), and of course I had subjected the Moody Blues to the treatment. Their band name yielded such pleasing anagrams as The Bloody Muse and Embody the Soul. As for this album, Strange Times is an anagram of Granite Stems -- i.e., crinoid fossils, complementing the possible ammonite fossil on the cover.

Running into a license plate that evoked Strange Times was a bit of a sync because just two days previous (September 21), in my Book of Mormon post "Lehi, Nephi, and the pillar of fire that 'dwelt upon a rock,'" I had revisited my 2022 post "Snail on shingles," about a remote-viewing image of an enormous snail shell on a shingled roof. At the end of the post, I note a sync with the Mock Turtle's Song from Alice in Wonderland, which mentions a "snail . . . on the shingle" -- meaning of course not roofing shingles but pebbles on the seashore.

On September 22, one day after revisiting "Snail on shingles" and one day before the Strange Times sync, I received an email from a correspondent who always emails me about synchronicities related to the number 555. This time it was about a rock shop where most of the items had been labeled "555." He sent me several photos of these items, but the one that got my attention -- and the only one I mentioned in my reply -- was a rock with fossils of Orthoceras, a primitive genus of ammonites.

Though the shell on the Strange Times cover has the familiar shape of a snail shell, the rough edge at its mouth makes it look more like a fossil, suggesting that in fact it is an ammonite. I suppose the word Plates is also a sync with the Book of Mormon context in which I revisited my remote-viewed snail shell. Come to think of it, Orthoceras is "straight horn," a standard iconographic attribute of the Angel Moroni.

That was all yesterday, and I didn't think it quite synchy enough to be worth posting.

Today (September 24), I unexpectedly had an hour to kill while away from home, so I camped at a coffee shop and read Joshua Cutchin's Ecology of Souls -- to which I have recently returned after taking a break to read all eight volumes of Daymon Smith's Cultural History of the Book of Mormon.

Almost all of the background music they were playing in the coffee shop was unfamiliar to me. As soon as I sat down, a song started which repeated "Time to wake up, time to wake up" an inordinate number of times. Given the recent syncs related to "Wake Up Time" by Tom Petty, this got my attention. I looked it up on my phone and found that it was a song by the band Cacti, called -- no points for guessing! -- "Time to Wake Up."

"Wake Up Time," as you will know if you've read the linked post above, was connected by William Wright with a dream he had about a man who called himself El-Anor ("sun-star"), and who Mr. Wright thought represented simultaneously a man and a stone. Just as the song "Time to Wake Up" was ending, I read this in Ecology of Souls:

One informant living in Belize told Ardy Sixkiller Clarke that he met the "stone woman" of Mayan legend . . . describing her as "magnificent," "beautiful," "glow[ing] like a star," . . . .

A stone woman like a star is an obvious sync with the stone man who called himself Sun-Star. Note also that yesterday I posted "Who were the 13 luminous beings Lehi saw in his Jerusalem vision?" -- about a vision of one whose "luster was above that of the sun at noon-day" and "twelve others" whose "brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament." The popular Mormon imagination associates the Book of Mormon peoples with the Maya and other Mesoamerican civilizations.

(Incidentally, in writing my post on the 13 luminous beings, I considered, but did not end up committing to writing, the possibility that the brightest being was the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is traditionally depicted with a crown of twelve stars.)

Some minutes later, I read in Ecology of Souls a long quotation from Suzy Hansen, about "the incarnation process":

The familiar soul, the blue ball of light, would accompany me in this life, as would two others from the group of souls present . . . . We would all become part of something together, but the blue soul is the one I have had a long connection with . . . .

The incarnating soul is depicted as a "blue ball of light." Just yesterday I had been remembering my old anagram habit: The Moody Blues = Embody the Soul. Furthermore, the cover of Strange Times depicts a literal blue ball, encased in rough shell as if it were a soul incarnate in crude matter.

Just then, another unfamiliar song came on in the coffee shop. The only lyrics I could make out were the repeated line "Would you turn to stone?" This syncs with the ammonite fossils, the "stone woman," and the man who was also a stone, so I tried to look it up. I had no luck finding the song itself. The only thing that came up was a song called "Losing My Shit" by a band called Breakfast In Silence. Here are the lyrics in full:

Feel a little crazy like I wanna shave my head
but their music makes me wanna grow out my hair again
Do I have much to lose?
I just want my head to cut it out.

Will you turn to stone if I put another hole in my head?
Got a Medusa last week --
Will you care if I still can't get out of bed?
I'm so moody, and I forget a lot of shit,
I'm so moody, and I forget a lot of shit.

I'm so moody -- you've got to be kidding me! Scrolling down their bandcamp page just now, I see that Breakfast In Silence is based in Salt Lake City, which syncs with the general "Mormon" theme (Ammonite is another Book of Mormon word, by the way) and with my specific mention earlier in this post of the saltlessness of Lake Erie.

I suppose it's also worth mentioning that I shaved my head today (as I do about once a week), and that I used to be called Tom Petty in college because my long blond hair made me look like him.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Ukraine is everything, Russia is just Russia

It occurred to me today that I hadn't checked The Babylon Bee in a good long time, so I opened it up in a new tab. Then I realized that I hadn't checked the last generation's Bee, the original Onion, in even longer -- because it hasn't been funny in ages, but who knows, maybe today -- so I opened that up, too. And then I thought it might be funny to see how the left-wing news-and-views site Daily Kos is spinning whatever is supposedly going on in the world these days, so I opened that up, too.

Having got all my tabs up, I started with the Bee, found nothing particularly chuckleworthy, turned to the Onion, and saw this was the featured story:

Huh, I thought. That's actually kind of funny. The picture is pitch-perfect, too. (Well, almost. Why would they show him wearing a shirt with a collar?) Maybe the Onion's still got it after all?

Then I saw the byline and did a double take. This wasn't The Onion; it was Daily Kos!

People always joke about not being able to tell truth from satire anymore, but in this case I quite literally couldn't tell.

New Book of Mormon posts

I have a couple more posts on my Book of Mormon blog which I haven't linked here yet, so here they are: " The Nephites knew nothin...