Beware Uncharted Islands – The Beast Below and Enduring in the Old Ship Zion

[Cross-posted from Sixteen Small Stones]


Last month, my daughter sent out an email query to the members of our family asking for each of us to respond as quickly as possible with the name our favorite magical creature of all time. I didn’t respond immediately and so her question slipped off my radar. She followed up with an email reminder, and then a verbal reminder. I didn’t understand why it was so important, but after a little thought, I told her that my favorite mythical creature was Fastitocalon.

Like most people, she had never heard of Fastitocalon.

Fastitocalon is the name of a gigantic mythological sea monster that floats at the surface of the ocean and deceives seafarers. The wicked beast waits for sea travelers, who easily mistake it’s huge carapace for an uncharted island, to secure their ships to its shell and disembark for a rest from their journey. Just when they are starting to feel safe and enjoying themselves, Fastitocalon dives into the sea, sinking the ships and drowning all the travelers.

For Christmas, my daughter gave each member of the family an original drawing of the creature they had told her was their favorite. And she gave me a wonderful drawing of Fastitocalon, a photo of which I have included at the top of this post.

I love my daughter’s conceptualization of Fastitocalon as a giant turtle. I like the line between what appears above the surface and what is below; the change in lighting and color. The welcoming island above and the beast below.

My first encounter with Fastitocalon was through J.R.R. Tolkien’s delightful poem of the same name in “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil“: Continue reading

Mormon Monuments at the U.S. Capitol and Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

Statue of Lady Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol BuildingMy family visited Washington D.C. for a vacation this October. We had a wonderful time exploring the National Monuments and Smithsonian Museums. There is so much to learn, think about, and do, and never enough time for all of it. It was also a great time to talk with our children about our country, its history, and its founding documents and principles.

I want to highlight a couple of unexpected encounters with Mormonism and LDS related ideas we had while there, with photos I took myself.

LDS visitors to Washington D.C. may be interested in going out of their way to see some of these Mormon monuments. And should Mitt Romney be successful in winning the election for President of the United States, interest in some of these may increase among those who are not members of the LDS church as well.

The U.S. Capitol Building is beautiful. The room where the House of Representatives used to meet from 1819 to 1857 is now the National Statuary Hall, where they display statues of prominent Americans. Each state of the Union is allowed to send two statues, of either bronze or marble, to be displayed at the Capitol, many in the statuary hall. Continue reading

Unrated vs Clean: It’s Time to Demand Choose-Your-Own-Rating DVD Options

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

A few years ago a film came out that my wife and I had wanted to see, but we didn’t get around to seeing it in the theatre. So when it came out on DVD, I stopped by a local video rental and picked it up. In our family, we don’t watch R-rated films. Since I knew that this particular film had been rated PG-13, I hadn’t bothered looking at the rating on the DVD when I rented it, I just hurriedly found the title and picked it up.

Even though we both wanted to see it, my wife ended up watching the movie without me while I was at work. She called me, shocked, because the film contained a scene full of gratuitous nudity and explicit sexual activity. Embarrassed, I double checked that the film had been PG-13 using an Internet search. A closer look at the DVD container showed that the DVD contained an “Unrated” version of the movie. We had fallen for a bait-and-switch! The theatrical version had been rated PG-13, but it was not available to be rented on DVD. You could only rent the “Unrated” version.

Continue reading