Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Claw over New York City

There is a scene in the movie Toy Story where Woody and Buzz end up inside a machine at an arcade.

Buzz asks, "Who is in charge here?"

The cute little aliens all look up and say, "The claw! The claw is our master.  The claw chooses who will go and who will stay."

Living in New York City sort of feels like that.  When you arrive you don't really know what is going on or who is in charge.  And you never know when the claw will come down and send you away.

I was warned when we first moved to New York City that we'd always have a temporary feeling but to live like this would be our home forever.  I took that advice to heart and have tried my best to do so.

Whenever we went back to visit Utah, where we kept our home, the number one question we were asked was,

"How long are you going to live
 in New York City?"  

Which is sort of like asking, "When is the claw going to pick you?"

My reply was always the same, "For as long as we can."

Well, last month the claw swooped down and picked us.  We ended up packing up our apartment in 3 days and spent 5 days driving a moving truck with our belongings back to Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Devastation does not even begin to describe how I feel that our adventure in New York City is over.  I have shed so many tears that I think I'm permanently dehydrated.

Leaving so quickly didn't give me adequate time say a proper goodbye to all the dear friends I made.  But I tried my best.  I would say the number one response was,

"You'll be back."  

I hope that is true. 

I didn't have much time for mental preparation, so right now I feel like I'm in a period of mourning.  Here is a list of things I already miss about living in New York City:

  • Friendly doorman welcoming me back when I return home.  
  • Someone to pick up my packages for me so they don't get stolen.
  • Several grocery stores within a 10-minute walk from my apartment, one just across the street. 
  • Being able to read while on the subway.
  • Hearing languages from all over the world as I walk down the sidewalk. 
  • Taking less than 10 minutes and 3 steps to clean my whole kitchen.
  • Being able to do more than one load of laundry at once.
  • Having boxes and large items magically disappear.
  • Meeting several visitors when I go to church. 
  • Meeting new investigators when I go to church.
  • Feeding the missionaries whenever I want. 
  • Museums, exhibits, pop up stores, festivals, and events on any given day.  
  • The parks, so many parks everywhere I turn. 
  • POPS (Privately owned Public Spaces) where you can sit and watch people go by. 
  • The food, mostly bagels and pizza. 
  • Restaurant week that last 3 weeks. 
  • Being able to help tourists who are lost or confused, or even just to assure them if they are scared. 
But the number one thing I miss already are the amazing friends I made in New York City.   These are people who are willing to live in a crazy, crowded, fast-paced metropolitan area. This creates an instant connection that forms friendships quite quickly.  Since no one knows when they'll get selected by the claw, you don't waste time with the "let's get to know each other for a while before we decide whether to be friends" phase. 

Fortunately, with cell phones and social media, my NYC friends never feel that far away.  But it doesn't keep me from sobbing all the time.  

Now we are in the process of trying to figure out how to merge all of our NYC household items into our Utah suburban home.  Which piece do I love more?  What should go?  What can stay?  Do these look good together?  My home is becoming kind of a mid-century/farmhouse blend, which are two styles I never would have thought to put together.  (I just googled it, apparently it is a thing.)

As I unpack and try to find a new home for my NYC wares, the symbolism is not lost on me.  I learned tons in the short time I was in NYC.  Some of my new knowledge won't do me any good back in the suburbs of Utah. (Like making sure you exit a car on the side closest to the sidewalk so that a taxi doesn't hit you as you get out.)  

But just like with my furniture, I hope there are some lessons I learned that I can keep with me and never forget. 


Monday, January 22, 2018

Toolulah and the Millionaire Soldier in Afghanistan

Toolulah got a letter from a soldier in Afghanistan. 

Is it just me or does she have a lot of makeup on her dresser while living in Afghanistan?  
Meet Sgt. Rosine Smith.  She's fighting for our freedom... or trying to take all my money.  One of those two.  My thoughts within her emails are in all caps.

Nice to meet you , I am Sgt. Rosine Smith from the South Eastern State of the United State (Kentucky) THAT IS DEFINITELY WHAT WE CALL KENTUCKY, THE SOUTH EASTERN STATE based in Kabul Afghanistan, I hope all is well with you? CONSIDERING I'M NOT IN KABUL AFGHANISTAN, I'D SAY I'M DOING PRETTY WELL I am working with the United States Air Force peace keeping troop in Afghanistan, on war against terrorism. I need your help. OF COURSE, THAT MAKES SENSE THAT THE USAF WOULD ASK RANDOM CITIZENS TO HELP FIGHT THE WAR ON TERRORISM.

I have in my possession the sum of $ 3.5 million dollars (three million five hundred thousand United States dollars) that I made here in Afghanistan. WAIT A MINUTE, JUST HOW MUCH ARE WE PAYING OUR SOLDIERS? 

I deposited this money with an agent of the Red Cross. WHAT IS A RED CROSS AGENT?   I want you to remain my beneficiary and receive the fund and keep it safe until I can meet with you. ISN'T THE AGENT KEEPING IT SAFE? I have an urgent need to get this box out of here because they are planning to take some troops out of Afghanistan and I am among them, now I have no choice but to move this box to a safe place, that's why I contacted you and I believe in you . 

It will help me to invest in a good profitable company, GOOD PROFITABLE COMPANIES TYPICALLY AREN'T LOOKING FOR INVESTORS, IT'S THE ONES WHO HOPE TO BECOME PROFITABLE WHO LIKE INVESTORS I will give you 20% of the fund for your assistance after you have received the cash. You will send a response kindly WHAT HAPPENS IF I RESPOND MEANLY? if you are willing to work with me to be able to send you the information where the money was deposited, BUT YOU ALREADY TOLD ME THAT THE CASH IS WITH THE RED CROSS your urgent response is needed. Everything I need from you is honest and trustworthy.


Well this seems pretty legit.  A soldier in Afghanistan, who has time to do her hair and makeup each day, has made $3.5 million working with the USAF peace keeping troop. Toolulah is in. 

Wow!  What a story.
How did you make $3.5 million in the army?

Because, you know, that's a pretty good gig.  Maybe Toolulah should join the army. 

She responds,

Due to the United Nation policy on Afghanistan, there is a plan to move some troops out of Afghanistan... BLAH BLAH BLAH, LET'S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF... 

I must not fail to explain to you how I came across this fund I want you to use for investment.  OKAY LAY IT ON ME.  our soldiers had encounter and exchanged bullets with some gunmen YOU TRADED BULLETS WITH SOME GUNMEN?  and eventually three of our soldiers were injured in the event while over sixteen of the gunmen were killed, as a nurse in the army. THE GUNMEN WERE NURSES IN THE ARMY?  YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T EXCHANGE BULLETS WITH THEM THEN.  

I and my group rushed to give medical attention to our men WAIT, WHY DIDN'T THE NURSES GIVE MEDICAL ATTENTION?  OH YEAH, THEY WERE THE GUNMEN who were injure at the spot where the sixteen gun men were shot to dead, SHOT TO DEAD?  IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE SHOT TO LIVE?  I saw two trunks and showed it to my fellow YOUR FELLOW?  DO YOU HAVE A BOYFRIEND FROM THE 1950'S?  and we decided to force of the trunks open and discovered huge amount of dollars in it  and we did the same to the other trunk and saw the same thing and we quickly took the trunks.  AND THEN YOU SHOT THE FELLOW TO DEAD RIGHT?  IF YOU DIDN'T, YOU BETTER SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN. 

Finally, I want you to stand as the beneficiary and receive the fund and keep it safe so that as soon as i come to your country, MY COUNTRY?  ISN'T THE UNITED STATES YOUR COUNTRY TOO? you will assist me to invest it in a good profitable venture,I will give you 20% of the total money for the assistance after you have receive the money. SO AFTER I GET 100% OF THE MONEY FROM THE RED CROSS AGENT, YOU ARE THEN GOING TO GIVE ME 20% OF IT?  NO, I'LL JUST KEEP THE 100%, THANKS. 

Where we are now we can only communicate through our military communication facilities, which are secured so no body can monitor our emails, BODIES CAN'T MONITOR EMAILS, BECAUSE YOU KNOW, THEY ARE BODIES then I can explain in details to you. I will only reach you through email, because the control unit monitor all calls, I HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU BUT EMAILS ARE PRETTY EASY TO MONITOR TOO I just have to be sure whom I am dealing with. OH HONEY, YOU HAVE NO IDEA Please if you can handle it, let me know so that i will furnish you on the way forward. 

Okay, so to sum up.  You and another soldier stole $3.5M and gave it to the Red Cross but I am the only one you can trust.  So you are going to give me all of it, I'll tell you where it is, you'll come pick it up and let me keep 20%. 

Amazing!  And they were in US dollars in the trunk?
Because exchanging Afghanistan currency in Utah can be tricky. 


Who looted them? Toolulah asks.  

hi, we traced and figured out that the trunk was being moved by ISIS members HERE'S A THOUGHT, INSTEAD OF TRACING DOWN THE MONEY, GO GET THE ISIS MEMBERS! 

Toolulah doesn't like ISIS.  

Oh, I don’t want ISIS money. They are bad dudes.

She has a great response. 

this money was recovered, RECOVERED?  I DO NOT THINK THAT WORD MEANS WHAT YOU THINKS IT  MEANS so i am the owner of the money as we speak, and i am urgency to move the box THE BOX?  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER BOX? out of here before my troop gets transferred...

Toolulah asks, 

When does your troop get transferred?

the information that cam was the my troop is to move in less than 4 months. the exact time was not stated, thta is the more reason i have to move the box as quick as possible 

Rosine must be in a hurry, she doesn't have time to capitalize anymore.  

i will send the diplomat information so you can contact him and let him know where the box will be delivered

Diplomat?  I thought it was a Red Cross Agent. 

Oh let’s not waste time with all of that.

First you need to try to find more boxes.
Seven days goes by and I don't hear from Rosine.  I get worried.  

Hello?  Did you die?

She finally starts to get suspicious. 

The company have been waiting for my beneficiary, YOU HAVE A COMPANY?  but I have failed to get someone so far WHAT?  NO ONE IS GOING FOR THIS?  I'M SHOCKED! and I am not sure if your serious or playing with me in this issue,  I'M DEFINITELY PLAYING WITH YOU that is the reason. I had to let you to be.. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Questions for a Certain Englishman About a Certain Englishman's Wife

What is something I say a lot?  
"Here's something I learned today..." or "Did you know?" 

What makes me happy?

Did I have any pets growing up?
"You did. Ponderosa.  It was an Irish setter." 

What makes me sad?
"That so many people in the nation believe Trump is an honest man." [I DON'T KNOW HOW SAD THAT MAKES ME, MORE LIKE MAD.]

How tall am I?
"5'2 and 3/4" 

What's my favorite thing to do?
"You have lots of favorite things to do.  You love to write.  You love to walk along the Hudson river.  You love to hear the ocean waves crashing." 

What is my favorite food?
"You love a good rare steak.  A certain pizza in New York City.  A certain burrito from your childhood. And you love finding and creating new dishes." 

What is my favorite drink?
"There are a number.  Grape juice on crushed ice. Strawberry-kiwi Shasta.  Dr. Pepper. All kinds of Italian sodas." [BUT OF ALL OF THESE, GRAPEFRUIT PERRIER IS THE TOP.]
What is my favorite candy bar?
"Peanut butter M&M's. Oh, Twix would be your favorite candy bar."
If I could go anywhere, where would it be?

What is my dream car?

What does my dream house look like?

Do you think you could live without me?
(Long pause). "Yeah, I do.  For how long, I don't know."  [MEANING HE'LL GET REMARRIED RIGHT AWAY????]

What scares me the most?

What do I make that you love to eat?
"I love eating your new creations.  I love your salads.  In the last year, the cookies you make. Your burritos."  [SINCE MY FRIEND DIED, I'VE BEEN MAKING HER COOKIE RECIPE A LOT.]
How do I annoy you?
(He snorts.) "I was just thinking about waking you up." (Long pause) "I'm trying to remember some times when I've been frustrated.  You'll say something or do something and I'm like 'C'mon!' but I can't remember what triggered that." [NICE SAVE.]
What is my favorite tv show?
"West Wing."
What is my favorite music to listen to?
"Music that is cducational that has powerful messages like Brave by Sara Barailles or I Lived by One Republic.  There is a common theme in the music you like, positive messages that are uplifting and inspiring." [I ALSO LIKE TRY BY COLBIE CAILLAT AND TRY BY P!NK]

If the house was on fire, what is the one thing I would grab before running out of the house (assuming all family members are safe)?
"Whatever family history stories that are written and not available electronically." [THAT'S SO TRUE, I NEED TO DO MORE SCANNING.]
What is my job?
(Long pause.) "What is your job?  CEO of the Pack clan in addition to your writing and serving communities at large over the same period of time."
How old am I?
"You're 48." (Long pause)  "You're a young 48." 

What's my favorite color?
How much do you love me?
"More than words can say and beyond how far my arms can stretch."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Toolulah's Back! And She's Getting Reported to the FBI!

It's been a while since I've had time to do some scambaiting, but getting sick over the holidays freed up my schedule to stir up some trouble.  There are just so many Hallmark movies one can watch.

So one day, I was looking through Toolulah's emails and found this gem: [MY THOUGHTS ARE
IN BRACKETS AND IN ALL CAPS. I bolded the words that jumped out at me as funny.]

From United States Former Ambassador to the Republic of Benin: [I'M CONFUSED IS THIS ADDRESSED TO ME OR TO THE REPUBLIC OF BENIN?]

 This is Mr Frank Edward. the Former United States [ARE WE NO LONGER THE UNITED STATES???] Ambassador to Republic of Benin, [NO FRANK EDWARD WAS EVER AN AMBASSADOR TO BENIN, I LOOKED]

 I came down here in Cotonou Benin Republic for an ECOWAS meeting [ECOWAS SHOWS NO RECORD OF ANY MEETINGS IN BENIN IN 2017] and I was searching for some files that I left in this office before I left [JUST HOW MESSY IS THIS OFFICE?] and found out that you have not received your fund, and I asked the present ambassador Mr James Knight


what happened that you have not receive your fund since months ago, [SHE'S BEEN THE AMBASSADOR FOR YEARS] and he said that you refused to pay the required fee for the delivery of your ATM CARD. [I LOVE HOW HE MAKES ME FEEL LIKE IT'S MY FAULT FOR REFUSING TO PAY THE FEE. THIS SHOULD GIVE YOU A HINT AS TO HOW THINGS ARE GOING TO GO.]

  I'm contacting you this morning because the director of the ATM CARD center here in Benin Republic [WHY WOULD THIS GUY BOTHER TO CONTACT THE DIRECTOR OF THE ATM CARD CENTER?] said that they will divert your ATM CARD to the Government Treasury [THE TREASURY USES ATMS?]  just because that you cannot pay for the service fee of your ATM CARD which is $105.00 only according to them. [SO ONLY THE DIRECTOR THINKS THE FEE IS $105.00? WHAT DOES EVERYONE ELSE THINK?]

But I told them to wait until I hear from you today [THAT WAS GENEROUS OF YOU.] so that I will know the reason why you rejected such amount of money $5.5 Million which will change your life [HOW DO YOU KNOW $5.5M WILL CHANGE MY LIFE?  MAYBE I'M ALREADY REALLY RICH AND DIDN'T WANT TO BE BOTHERED!]  just because of $105.OO [ARE THOSE ZEROES OR THE LETTER "O"?]

I want your urgent response as soon as you receive this email and explain to me the reason why you have abandon your ATM CARD [IS MY ATM CARD ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WITH A CARDBOARD SIGN BEGGING FOR FOOD?]  because of $105.OO But if you don't need it then I can change your name to another person [MAYBE TO MR FRANK EDWARD?] so that this Government will not claim this money but I know that you will love to have it. [MAYBE I DON'T LOVE MY ATM CARD, MAYBE THAT'S WHY I ABANDONED IT!]

 My dear [I THINK MR FRANK EDWARD HAS A CRUSH ON ME.]  I want to help you to receive this fund because it was a big shock to me [HE'S REALLY EMOTIONALLY INVESTED IN THIS ATM CARD!] that you have not receive your ATM CARD and withdraw your money since months ago you will receive your fund before the end of this meeting. [WAIT, WHAT?  I WILL RECEIVE MY FUNDS MONTHS AGO?  CAN THIS ATM CARD TIME TRAVEL?]

   This is where you should send the fee today and don't fail to do that as I have said.

   Receiver Name==== Frank Chi [WHAT A MINUTE, THAT'S YOUR NAME!]
   Country =======Benin Republic
   City ============= Cotonou
   Text Question ===== When
   Answer ============ Now
   Am ount ======== $105.00
   Mtcn ====

 I will wait to hear from you today with the mtcn number.

  Your Sincerely [MY SINCERELY WHAT?]
  Mr Frank Edward
  Tale: +22968074155 [YOU NUMBER YOUR STORIES?]

I have learned to hook a scammer so they go off  script, I have to keep my email short.
I say, "$105 is too much money I don’t have it" 

He took the bait and went off script immediately.  

How much can you be able to come up with? 
Am waiting for your urgent respond. 

Hmmm... looks like this $105 fee is negotiable.  I decide to lowball him.  

If I sell my pet, I think I could come up with $10.

If you recall, I have a goat that has been causing me problems.  

If you are interested in receiving your funds then you have to try and come up with $75

This guy is tough.  He's only knocked off $30 from the initial fee.  Wait a minute!  Didn't he say the director of the ATM Center told him what the fee was?  How is he able to negotiate the fee?  

Before I can respond, he sends me another email. 

You will send the fee through Money Gram or western union  with this information's below.

Receiver name ---Yaron Gwanda [WHY IS IT NOW A DIFFERENT RECEIVER?]
Country----------BENIN REPUBLIC
Test Question----GOD
Test Answer------GOOD
I am waiting to hear from you today with the payment slip. 

Based on the test question and test answer, I think he's getting frustrated with me. I try to talk him down. 

$75 is too much. 

How about $25? 

Maybe I could round up some more cats or something. 
He definitely is off script now.  

Hello i received your email and i want u to try as much as you can to send $50 today. 
Am waiting to hear from you today with the payment slip. 

It's at this point I want to go out of character and ask "try as much as I can? Do you think being poor comes from not trying hard enough?"  Ugh!  But I resist.  

I can’t do $50. Maybe we could come up with a different plan. 

Now I've got him confused. 

How do u mean? 

I ask, "Is there something else I could do besides pay the money?"  Within reason of course.  

He answers: 

No,  you have to try as much as you can to raise the $50 because your first payment is ready and the only delay right now is the transfer fee. 
So you have to try and send the fee today.

Again with the trying!  This IS me trying.  He writes again.  

You will send the fee through Money Gram with this information's below. [SO I CAN'T USE WESTERN UNION ANYMORE?]

Receiver name ---Yaron Gwanda
Country----------BENIN REPUBLIC
Test Question----GOD
Test Answer------GOOD


Am waiting to receive the payment slip as soon as u made the payment.

I write back "Do you have any suggestions as to how I can try to come up with $50?" 

I always like to see how creative these scammers are.  Turns out this guy isn't very creative.  

Sell your property 

Dude!  I live in New York City.  If I owned property, I wouldn't be worried about getting a $5.5 million ATM CARD!!! 

I don’t own any property. 

Then he calls my bluff.  

In that case you have to send the $25 immediately i will help you with the remaining balance. 
Am waiting to hear from you with the payment slip. 

Now this gets me thinking.  If he's in a position to help me with the remaining balance, why wouldn't he be willing to pay the whole thing?  After all, I could pay him back.  I mean I will have $5.5 million after all.  

Maybe you could lend me the $25? 

This is when I woke the beast.  He got really angry.  Here's the edited version.  

[BLEEP] you and stop contacting me. 
I am reporting you to the united state FBI right now. 
Stupid fool

Oh, I'm sorry!  Do strangers asking you for money via email make you angry? You poor thing!  Sheesh! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Attending the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Back in November 2017 I decided to try to get tickets to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (from now on I'll just call it TLS).  I figured I'd have a better chance in early January when there are fewer tourists, so I requested January 8, 2018.  It worked and we got priority tickets.

I was worried that a certain Englishman wouldn't want to join me so I told him that the tickets were his Christmas present.  (Sneaky I know)  Such is the life when a Democrat is married to a Republican.

I've never gone to anything like this, the only "taping" of a television show I've ever attended is Music and the Spoken Word, but since that's not filmed in a television studio, I don't really count it.

Our tickets said to arrive after 3:00 p.m. and that our deadline was at 4:00 p.m.  We got there before 3:30 but didn't have to wait outside hardly at all, which is good since NYC is freaking cold in January.  First they asked to see our ticket, then we had to show our state ID's, and then we were given a purple wristband.  When we were escorted into the building we had to raise our hand to show we had a wristband on, and then we went through a metal detector.

After entering the Ed Sullivan theater we snaked through the lobby into 3 main columns.  There were televisions hanging from the ceiling showing funny clips from the Colbert show.  Whenever the sound from the TVs was muted, it meant we were about to get an announcement.

The announcements were mostly in the form of interns screaming at us to go to the bathroom.  Honestly, I think they are hiring the wrong people for this job.  They should bring in women who have had multiple children.  No one can scare the bodily fluids out of a person like a mother yelling at her children, "Go to the bathroom, now!  I'm not pulling this car over until we get to grandma's."

Those who had "to go" were allowed to go to the bathroom column by column and return to their place in line.  I don't know how long we stood there waiting to be seated in the theater, probably an hour or so, but I could see people waiting outside, so I wasn't complaining.

At one point the interns told us how the day was going to go.  After we entered the theater, we were going to be entertained by the great comedian Paul Mecurio (who?), get a private concert from Jon Batiste's band, have a Q&A with Stephen Colbert, and then the show would begin.  We were warned not to ask Stephen where he lived or if we could have a job.

It was finally time to enter the theater and we were told to turn off our cell phones.  If we were caught with our phones, we would have to leave the theater.  Again, they need to hire someone other than college interns for this job.  One girl was stupidly giving away ideas for hiding our cell phones.  She said, "I went to high school so I know all the tricks.  Don't text in your purse, don't text under your leg, I will find you and remove you."  I thought, "I never thought of texting in my purse!"

Walking up to the theater doors, I noticed an intern stood at the entrance and sent us either left or right.  I didn't think much of this.  A couple somehow got in front of us in line and got sent to the left, we were sent to the right.  Had I known what I know now, I would have let another couple go ahead of us because you definitely want to go left, not right.

We entered into the right side of the theater and another intern told us where to sit.  We ended up on the very back row on the right hand side on the middle.  This means that when the camera pans over to the audience, we are hidden behind a screen.  Sorry kids, you don't get to see your parents on TV!

I noticed a security-guard-looking dude was walking up the left hand side of the theater talking to the people on the edges.  He never came over to our side.  At the end of night I found out why.  When Stephen Colbert ends TLS he runs up the left aisle and high fives the audience.  This explains why the couple jumped in front of us most likely.  My guess is that the guard was saying to the people, "Don't grope Stephen Colbert.  In case you haven't heard, Time's Up!"

We had been warned the theater would be cool, but when I saw the crew and interns dressed in knit caps and parkas, I questioned my wardrobe choice.  All I had was a blouse and a puff coat.  Thankfully I run hot and didn't get cold until the very end.

The "famous" Paul Mecurio came out and looked like he was absolutely miserable.  He told us that the musical act was going to perform.  He told us that we need to cheer really loud as they come out.  Then he announced them.

They didn't come out.

He told us that we need to cheer really really loud and announced the musical guest.

They didn't come out.

He then started making fun of us for cheering believing that they were coming out on stage.  While he was talking, the musical act came out on stage.

Andra Day and Common

A certain Englishman nudged me and said, "Look it's Stephen Colbert."  Sure enough he appeared out of a corner and walked over to the musical act.  He told the lead singer that his wife had heard her perform at some festival somewhere.  The cut their mics so they could have a private conversation.  Then he walked up to the camera and started mumbling and making these strange sounds.  (His mic was back on.)  I was thinking, "What on earth is he doing?"

Suddenly the lights turned off, someone threw him an album cover, and he stood before the camera and announced the musical act.  He then disappeared again.

During the song I realized what the mumbling was.  He was actually going over the words of the teleprompter "practicing" what he was going to say.  Except he was doing it so fast and pretty much just in his head.  Kind of thinking out loud.   When it was time to go "on air" (it's actually called live-to-tape) he read the words of the teleprompter smoothly and without any problems.  This guy is good!

After the musical act, we waited as the crew removed all of their musical instruments.  Then it was time to be "warmed up" by the comedian.

Apparently in order to be warmed up, we need to be insulted.  He kept telling us how we weren't screaming loud enough and had us shout this weird laugh.  It was like saying, "Ha!"  He kept telling us how Stephen's mic was twice as loud as ours so we need to be twice as loud to be heard.  I'm thinking, "Fix the mics then."

Anyway he then pulled random people up on the stage and made us laugh by making fun of them.  It was really strange.  But when he brought up a second set of people, one girl was ready.

He asked her what she did for a living.  She said, "I'm an academic advisor."

"What kinds of questions are kids asking these days?" he said.

"What should I do with my life?" she answered.

He then made some joke about how angry she sounded about that.  She didn't react.  He then asked, "So what do you tell them?"

She said, "I tell them to quit school and get a job."

This of course brought tons of laughter from the audience.  He acted like this was stupidest thing he had ever heard and made a joke about how she was like a car dealer selling bus tickets.  She stood tall and unapologetic.  He then revealed that he used to be a lawyer on Wall Street and quit his job to become a comedian.  (Ah, so that is why you look so miserable.)

She said totally deadpan, "If you had met me sooner, I could have saved you all that time and money you wasted in law school."  The audience went nuts.  Now that I think about it, was that the plan all along?  To get us not to like this guy, and create a plant so that we would finally warm up?

The comedian finally left and Jon Batiste came out with his band.  They played a song that was supposed to get us off our feet and start dancing.  First of all, jazz is a hard genre to dance to.  And second of all, if you want an audience dancing, play Waterloo by Abba.  It works for Mamma Mia.

But overall the band was pretty good and the music had our hearts pumping.

Finally, the moment we have been waiting for.  Stephen Colbert runs out on stage.  We all get really loud and chant "Stephen, Stephen!"  He thanks us and tells us to save some of the energy for when we are actually live.  He then opens it up to questions.  Hopefully I can remember them.

Q. "If you could be a fruit, what would you be?"
A. "A banana because I like monkeys."
Q. "Does the entire band have to be good Catholics like you?"
A. "I actually have no idea what religion the band members are.  They don't have to be good Catholics to work here."  He then turned away from the band and whispered, "Yes they do."  Then in his normal voice he said, "Actually, I'm not even a good Catholic, I'm a bad one."
Q. "Where is (some old character of his) now?"
A. "Probably hiding from his wife somewhere."
Q. "On the night of the election, did you really think that Trump might win?"
A. "We wrote jokes for four different outcomes.  1. Hillary wins and we know it. 2. Hillary wins and the results aren't sure.  3. Trump wins and the results aren't sure. and 4. Trump wins and we know it.  We actually didn't write any jokes for the fourth outcome because we knew there would be nothing funny to say.  And we were right.  The entire audience was weeping and so was I."

Those are all the Q & A's I can remember.

Then he told us he was going to come back out again and that we needed to pretend like it wasn't the third time we had seen him.  He said that the energy of the audience is important because it affects how they perform during the show.  (I later found out how true that was.)
Stephen Colbert then asked his Stage Manager what they were doing for the cold open.  They told him and he asked a couple questions that they couldn't answer.  He turned to us and said that we were all going to be surprised together.

Stephen Colbert left and the screens started the cold open. 

 After it aired, Stephen ran out and we all went crazy cheering.  He then started into his monologue.  He began talking about Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes and they played a clip.

After the clip ended, Colbert then looked into the camera and completely flubbed his line.  We all laughed in an effort to support him but I was thinking, "Wait, what did he say?"

He then stopped and said, "We need to show that clip again.  I really messed up.  I got emotional watching her speech again." He turned to us and said, "I'm sure you all are tweeting about what I just did. Try to laugh like you haven't heard it before."

We saw the clip again and he delivered his joke flawlessly.  As far as I can remember that was the only repeat for the rest of the night.

After his monologue ended, they announced that they were going to show the cold open again.  They said it had a new joke in there.  They asked us to laugh like we hadn't seen it before.  They showed the cold open and the new inserted joke was actually pretty funny.  Much funnier than how it ended.

When the show pauses for a commercial break, which initially confused me because if it's live to tape why stop for commercials, the band would play to keep our energy up.

If I can I'd like to take a commercial break from this post and make another observation.  That night on stage we saw many people, crew members, performers, interns, roadies, etc.  I don't claim to be 100% right, but it seemed to me like it was pretty obvious who loved their job and who was collecting a paycheck.  If I had to distill into one observation I would say the difference was whether they smiled "with their eyes" or not.  A genuine smile comes from the eyes, you can't fake it. 

I think it's hard to fake whether you love what you do or not.

I wonder if that comedian can get his old job back on Wall Street.

Back to our show...

Stephen Colbert is someone who smiles with his eyes by the way, and so does Jon Batiste.

Just before each segment begins we are told to cheer and get loud.  This is usually when the camera sweeps around to show the audience.  Again, in the future go left not right.  Colbert did a bit about Miller again and then another commercial break.

The first guest was Liam Neeson.  He walked out on stage and I almost gasped.

He looked sickly and way too skinny.  Not at all how I picture Liam Neeson.  I guess even celebrities are allowed to age.  They chatted, commercial break, clip of movie he's promoting, more chatting, commercial break.  They visited at the desk a little longer and then he waved good bye to all of us and he left.

The second guest was Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury.  Colbert made some jokes about how this was an "exclusive" interview when this guy has been on camera for almost 5 days straight.  The book was originally scheduled to be released on Jan. 9 but because of the cease and desist order they  decided to release it early.  I wonder if TLS was the original booking.  Anyway it was honestly kind of anti-climatic to have him on the show.  And I think Colbert knew it.

It's a good thing Wolff picked a career in writing.  He really struggles as a speaker.  As soon as he started to talk, the energy in the room pretty much disappeared.  I remember thinking, "Good thing this is the last segment of the night" because the musical act had been filmed long before.  At one point in the interview, Wolff's answer to Colbert's question "Do you really think 100% of the White House staff are considering the 25th Amendment?" got so convoluted that he forgot what he was talking about.  He finally stopped and asked Colbert "What was the question again?"  Colbert said he couldn't remember.  Yeah, the audience was pretty much done at that point.

We had another commercial break, and then Stephen Colbert stood with the audience (left side) and announced the show for tomorrow.  Just before taping, he looked at the teleprompter and did the mumble thing again.  He said his lines perfectly and then ran up the aisle and into a room where there was a fake presidential campaign going on for Oprah.  We put on our coats and left the building.

That night I watched the show to remind myself of the experience and to try to notice any differences while the show was fresh in my mind.  I noticed two.

1. With the cold open, they showed the new joke they had inserted that got a good laugh.  It stopped before the ending.  I realize we had been used to test market the bit.

2. The portion of the Wolff interview where he had forgotten the question was seamlessly edited out.

Other than that, it was pretty much what we had seen with the exception of Colbert flubbing the Oprah joke of course.

I'm glad that I made the effort to get tickets and to go see the show.  A certain Englishman and I watch Colbert often so we knew content wise what we were in for.  We found him to be very professional, funny, and kind to the audience.  I would think it would be hard to stay in the business long if you are rude to the audience who cheers for you.

If you want to hire people to scream at an audience, employ moms.

I wish I had brought a sweater, or even a scarf.

Sitting in a live studio audience is more thrilling than I thought it would be.  If someone is traveling to NYC or LA, I think it would be worth taking an afternoon or a morning to do.  I'm not sure I would have stood in line outside the theater for the privilege, but the hour inside the theater didn't seem too bad.

Until my dying day, I'll never be able to figure out how entertainers can get up each morning and do the same thing day after day after day.  Broadway shows probably baffle me the most.  To say the exact same lines over and over?  I'd rather stand in the middle of Times Square and fight with the unlicensed Disney characters who refuse to keep their mask on.  But for those who do, props to you.

Go left.

Thanks to a certain Englishman for coming with me!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why did Joseph Smith translate the Bible?

This article is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The majority of this post contains information from two articles:
"Joseph Smith's Inspired Translation of the Bible" by Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, December 1972. 
"The Joseph Smith Translation" by David Rolph Seely, Ensign, August 1997.

Joseph Smith loved the Bible.  He read it often when he was young.  In fact, it was because he read the Bible as much as he did that he noticed different preachers were interpreting the same verse differently.  This observation is what caused him to question which religion was correct and go into a grove a trees to pray to find out.

To read what happened when Joseph Smith prayed to know which religion was true, click here. 

Three years later, Joseph Smith received a visitation from an angel who quoted Malachi.  Joseph noticed that what the Angel Moroni was saying was slightly different than the book of Malachi he had read in the King James Version (KJV).  Read Joseph Smith--History 1:36-40. This made Joseph realize that there must be errors in the KJV.

He said that he believed the Bible to be true as it was originally written but that the errors were a result of:

  • ignorant translators
  • careless transcribers
  • corrupt and designing priests
Basically he was saying some errors were made accidentally and others were made on purpose.  The plain and precious truths needed to be restored.

In June 1830 he was directed by God to use inspiration and revelation to revise the book of Genesis.  This is how we have the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.  

While his work today is called a "translation," Joseph Smith did not translate the Bible in the traditional sense.  Meaning he did not go back to the Greek and Hebrew transcripts and render them in English from scratch.  Rather, he used the KJV to make 1. corrections, 2. additions, and 3. revisions to the biblical text.  

After he finished translating Genesis, the Lord instructed him to begin translating the New Testament. Later he translated the Old Testament and the Apocrypha mentioned in the D&C.  After he finished translating, which took him 3 1/2 years, he continued to work on the translation until he died.  

According to Robert J. Matthews (more on this amazing man later), Joseph Smith made 4 types of changes to the KJV Bible.  

1. Restored content once deleted from the Bible 
2. Recorded actual historical events that were never recorded or included in the Bible
3. Inspired commentary by Joseph Smith either enlarge, elaborated or adapted to a latter-day situation
4. Harmonization of doctrinal concepts revealed to him outside of translating the Bible but then discovered a Biblical passage was inaccurate

Joseph Smith never said specifically how he did this work, but looking at the final product, scholars can get an idea of the process.  

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery purchased a Bible from E.B. Grandin.  This Bible was marked in ink and pencil by Joseph Smith.  He would cross out words and write symbols on the pages.  Additionally, there were five handwritten transcriptions in the handwriting of various scribes.  At the beginning they wrote out the entire passage whether it was altered or not.  That became too tedious so passages would be written that had been altered by the Prophet's inspiration and revelation.  

When the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed, there were almost 500 manuscript pages and 3,410 verses altered in the KJV Bible.  

After he died, Emma took the pages and the Bible as she considered them to Smith property and not Church property.  Brigham Young asked to take them to Utah with him and she refused.  They stayed in Nauvoo with her.  This single decision would result in a series of miraculous events and change Robert J. Matthews life.  

Here are two examples of how Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible restores plain and precious truths (changes are in bold):  

King James Version, Matthew 16:24–25: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
New translation, Matthew 16:25–28: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
“And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.
“Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come.
“And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.”


King James Version, Mark 9:43–44: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
New translation, Mark 9:40–41: “Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.
“For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What's Inside Today's Pearl of Great Price

This article is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The contents of the Pearl of Great Price has changed through the years.  

To see the first Table of Contents, click here.  

The current Table of Contents is much shorter and simpler than when it was a pamphlet for the LDS British Saints.  

To read about the origin of the Pearl of Great Price, click here.  

The Table of Contents are: 
Joseph Smith--Matthew
Joseph Smith--History
The Articles of Faith

This year I'll be studying each of these books in more depth.  But I'd first like to give a summary of what is inside each book in the Pearl of Great Price and a synopsis of the doctrine it contains*.  


The book of Moses is actually the Joseph Smith translation of the first 8 chapters of the Book of Genesis.  It is outlined as follows*: 

Chapter 1 - Three parts
Part 1 - Moses is caught up in an exceedingly high mountain and sees the glory of God
Part 2 - Moses is tempted by Satan
Part 3 - Moses withstands the temptation and is invited to see the visions like at the beginning of the chapter. 

Chapters 2&3
Account of the Creation 

Chapter 4 - Two parts
Part 1 - Flashback to the pre-mortal existence
Part 2 - The Fall (meaning the Fall of Adam and Eve) 

Chapter 5
The dispensation of Adam since the Fall 

Chapter 6&7
Writings of Enoch from his day to the Millennium 

Chapter 8 
Writings of Noah prior to the flood 


The book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith beginning in 1835 from some Egyptian papyri that was obtained.  (More on this later) It comprises 5 chapters and 3 facsimiles.

Chapter 1 
Abraham seeks temple and priesthood blessings

Chapter 2 
Account of the Abrahamic Covenant

Chapter 3 - Two-part lesson on the Priesthood
Part 1 - Order of Heaven
Part 2 - Order of Spirits

Chapter 4 & 5 
Account of the Creation, but different from what is found in the book of Moses.  It contains a description of the a Council of Gods creating a blueprint of how the earth was to be formed. 

Facsimile 1 
Abraham almost being sacrificed 

Facsimile 2 
What takes place in a temple 

Facsimile 3 
Abraham sitting on the throne of Pharoh 

Joseph Smith--Matthew

This is a Joseph Smith translation of the last verse of Matthew 23 and Matthew 24.  It is an account of Jesus Christ's last day of public ministry where he answers questions of the apostles at the Garden of Gethsemane.  He gives an account of what will happen before he comes again, known as the Second Coming.  

Joseph Smith--History

This is a personal history written by Joseph Smith.  He gives an account of the following: 

The first vision
The coming of the Angel Moroni
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon
The coming of John the Baptist and restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood
Oliver Cowdery's account of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

The Articles of Faith

The 13 articles of Faith were written because of a request made by John Wentworth, the editor and proprietor of the Chicago Democrat.  Joseph Smith's response is known as the Wentworth Letter.  This is the last portion of that letter and outlines the beliefs of the LDS faith.  

To read the entire Wentworth letter, click here. 

A different way to look at the contents of the Pearl of Great Price is as a narrative from before the world was to the Restoration.  Imagine reading the Pearl of Great Price in this order: 

1- Pre-mortal Council with God - Moses 4, Abraham 3
2- Council of Creation - Abraham 4 & 5
3 - Creation  of the Earth - Moses 2&3
4 - Fall of Adam of Eve - Moses 4
5- Law of Sacrifice and the Atonement - Moses 5
6- Dispensation of Adam - Moses 5
7- Dispensation of Enoch - Moses 6&7
8- Dispensation of Noah - Moses 8
9- Abrahamic Covenant - Abraham 2
10- Dispensation of Moses - Moses 1 
11- Meridian of Time - JST-Matthew 
12- Joseph Smith - restored the fullness of all dispensations - Joseph Smith History, Articles of Faith 

Listing the contents of the Pearl of Great Price in chronological order helps me to see more clearly the vision that Franklin D. Richards had for the Saints living England and Wales.  What is contained in this narrative is what separates us from other religions.  

For example: In the New Testament Enoch only has one sentence.  The Pearl of Great Price contains 100 times more information about the prophet of Enoch.  

A certain Englishman said to me "It's the Cliffnotes of our doctrine."  Considering the Pearl of Great Price is only 61 pages, I think he's right.  

*The synopsis and outline provided comes from a discussion by Joseph McConkie, a BYU religion professor.  To see the full discussion online, click here.