33rd Ask Josh – Thinking

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2008 at 12:18 pm

The Captain said…

You have to be kidding me. How on earth do you think of these things Josh?


Dear Captain,

I knew you wouldn’t be satisfied with just a mere definition of the word independent.  But it is so nice to receive one of your questions again.

My ability to “think of these things” is unattributable to any originality on my part.  I maintain that I have never thought of an original joke in my entire lifetime save one.  I will tell it to you right now:

“It may work at first, but if he wears a helmet, it will take much more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away.”

As you can tell, the one joke I credit to myself is not really a joke at all, but more of an ironic commentary on a piece of old wives’ wisdom.

That said, here are some of the sources I sift through to obtain ideas and knowledge about their respective medium.

Movies – I follow the lists published by the American Film Institute.  I once made it a goal of mine to watch the entire list of “The Top 100 American Films” ever made.  I also love International Cinema on campus as well as the Classic Cinema and the Library’s Classic Movies Series.

Books – Once again, whenever I see a list saying, “The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written,” I like to analyze it and more or less internalize the books listed.  Every 6 months, during General Conference weekend, I go to my favorite store in the world: Sam Weller’s.  It is a used bookstore with miles and miles of shelves. I make a point to get at least a couple books by apostles, one book on western philosopy, one on eastern philosophy, a play, a novel, etc.  I usually drop around $80 there on books and I just move through them whenever I find cracks in my schedule. 

Speeches – For Gospel speeches I love going to, for looking at BYU devotionals and firesides.  I love general conference addresses found at and I also like reading the ones that are no longer online but may be found in the periodicals section of the BYU library.  I also enjoy reading the Journal of Discourses online.  For non-gospel speeches I like books like, “Speeches That Changed the World.”  I also enjoy reading volumes compiled of individuals speakers such as Cicero, the many characters in Shakespeare’s works, and I am currently reading “The Essential Abraham Lincoln” and I have been working through the two fat volumes of “Discourses of Gordon B. Hinckley.” 

Periodicals – I am up every morning before the Wall Street Journal hits my doormat.  I go over the Wall Street Journal as I eat breakfast.  Later in the day I read the New York Times and the Washington Post online.  I at least pick up the Daily Universe every day if for no reason other than to do the crossword puzzle.  At least once or twice I week I look at the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, Mormon Times, and any other newspaper available online for places of interest such as the Moscow Times, the Boston Globe, LA Times, North Korean News, the Jerusalem Post, or even Klamath Falls’ Herald and News.

Music – My father has compiled a collection of over 2000 compact discs that cover more than two walls in our home.  I have hardly dented the collection, but you can be assured that I have listened to a lot of Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, MoTown, movie soundtracks, broadway soundtracks, classical music, the whole shebang.

Television – I can’t say I watch much television these days.  I follow The Office during the school year, So You Think You Can Dance during the summer.  Other than that I have to watch other sitcoms like Friends, Simpsons, Seinfeld, and Cheers during the summer on DVD.

Gospel – My day can neither begin nor end without some scripture reading.  I am almost always moving two or three books at a time by various apostles (living or deceased), I am currently working on a book by President Eyring, and two by Elder Neal A. Maxwell.  I like to listen to General Conference in my car several times between April and October. I like to read the works of Catholic thinkers like Malcolm Muggeridge, Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus. I also love reading C.S. Lewis, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other spiritual commentators.  I also like ancient non-scriptural texts like the Apocrypha, the Quran, and anything else I can get my hands on.

Plays – When they’re in town, I watch them.  If I doubt I’ll ever watch them, I look them up and read their scripts (not often though).  I think musicals are great.

Art – I spend as much time as I have available going to museums as long as I have someone to go with.  This last summer I would have stayed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for another 3 or 4 hours if the rest of my group let me.  I have been sorely tempted to change my major to Humanities several times, but I have found that looking at art is a better fit as a hobby rather than a profession, at least in my case.

Trivia – The Uncle John’s series of Bathroom Readers.  It has everything! I also love Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations.

 But why would anyone want to read, see, listen to, and watch that much?  Well, Elder Eric B. Shumway put it just right:

“Read out of the best books, beginning with the scriptures.  Get to know the great and noble human spirits in history and literature.  Reading will open the world to you and and make your mind a repository of things you can draw from later.  Enjoy the beauties of the earth, of nature, and of the arts.”[Ensign, October 2008, 56]

I’d like to talk more, but I am afraid this article is cutting into my precious reading time.  President Lincoln awaits.


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