On Becoming A Woman Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Secrets About Boys

The contents of this chapter are very similar to chapter 3 of OBAM, but not the same, so, let’s get started.

The differences between a teenage girl and a teenage boy are much more fundamental than appears externally.

Oh boy, here we go.

A girl thinks feminine thoughts, is domestic in her inclinations, and is fundamentally gentle in her relation to others.

What does that even mean? Thinks feminine thoughts? What sort of thoughts are feminine, and who decides this? Who decides what thoughts are feminine and which ones are masculine?

The author does not stop to think that not all girls are the same. As a child, I was confused when reading things like this, because I was not like this at all.

Even if this was true, is it nature or nurture? Are females naturally like this, or are we socialized to be so? Shryock never gets into this, and I don’t think he believes he needs to. Part of this was 1960s sexism, but I think a greater part of it is religious bullcrap that insists that men and women think differently, and shoves men and women into their tiny little boxes.


A teenage boy is masculine in his attitudes and somewhat rough and ready in his relations to the outside world.

What does this even mean? Masculine in his attitudes? Rough and ready in his relations to the outside world? I feel like Shryock just cobbled together a bunch of words, put them in a sentence, and waited to see if anyone would notice they don’t make sense.

These differences, when traced back to their fundamental cause, result from the fact that a young woman’s body is designed to enable her to become a wife and mother, whereas a young man’s body is designed so that he may become a husband and father.

God designed a woman to be a mother, so a woman is “domestically inclined” and a man is designed to be a father, so he is “rough and ready.”

I’m not sure what rough and ready has to do with being a father, but, um, ok?

Either way, this is faulty logic and bad science, and I am quite sure that by 1968 this was outdated. It sounds like Victorian logic to me.

The male reproductive organs have nothing to do with maintaining an unborn baby. Their functions are, rather, to produce the spermatozoa and to implant these in the vagina of the wife at the time parenthood is in prospect.

There, Shryock finally got around to explaining sex! The male shoves his “reproductive organs” in a woman’s vagina! Phew, I was worried this book wasn’t going to explain anything!

The male organs that produce the male germ cells are called testes.

So, the male is going to shove his testes into my vagina?

We get a few paragraphs about the testes, where they are located, and that they also have substance for the sperm to reside in.

The testes are placed loosely within the scrotum and are able to move about quite freely within this fleshy sac, and thereby they are protected from injury.

Wait, really? These “testes” things are just floating around the scrotum? The scrotum, btw, is outside the body, and definitely does not offer much in the way of protection from injury.

The testes are abundantly supplied with delicate nerve filaments, which produce a warning signal of intense pain whenever they are bumped or compressed.

Yet another reason an intelligent designer would have made it so that the sperm could survive at higher temperatures and put the gonads inside the body rather than outside.

Shryock goes on to describe the penis. It makes more sense for him to have included this description in OBAW than it does in OBAM. I assume men already know what their penises look like.

The penis is finger shaped and ordinarily hangs loosely just in front of the scrotum. Running the full length of the penis, within its substance, is the urethra, the tube which carries urine from the bladder to the outside.

So, that’s the penis. It’s basically a finger dangling between a man’s legs. Wonder if it works like one too.

Whereas female germ cells are produced at the rate of one a month, male germ cells are produced in tremendous numbers (billions) more or less continuously.

Wow, that sounds horribly wasteful and over productive. It must be tiring on a body to constantly be producing sperm. This does not make it seem like we were designed by a perfect creator. If we were designed by a perfect creator, men would have a cycle and women would have a cycle and when they got married something would cause their cycles to match up. How would this work exactly? I dunno, I’m not God. God is all powerful and can do anything, so, he can make the husband and wife’s cycles match up.

The urethra of the male, therefore, has 2 functions: to void urine from the bladder and to convey seminal fluid from the vesicles. Nature has provided a valve like mechanism that prevents the two functions from being carried on at the same time.

A waste dump is running through a recreational facility. Okay then.

At least a man isn’t capable of doing both at once. You have no idea how many times I used to wonder if it was possible to get peed on during sex.

Just as in the teenager girl the production of female germ cells and the function of menstruation begin at a much earlier age than it is appropriate for a girl to become a mother, so in the case of a teenage boy the production of male germ cells begins at an earlier age than is appropriate for a boy to become a father.

Yes, perfect design right there.

This period of a few years allows time enough for a young man to become adjusted to being grown up.

That’s your reasoning for this horrible bullshit of a design? So we’ll be more used to it by the time we’re grown up? No. No a good designer would have had all this begin no later than age 20 and we could spend our early 20s when we are wanting to reproduce. The teen years have enough adjustments without bringing in periods and nocturnal emissions.

Nature has made provision for the disposal of the seminal fluid that is produced before a young man becomes a husband.

It’s called “masturbation.” (No, that’s not what the book says.)

When the seminal vesicles become filled to capacity with seminal fluid they are automatically emptied in a process spoken of as seminal emission.

See guys, “nature” has provided a release for your semen overflow! And it doesn’t involve touching your naughty bits! Isn’t God GOOD?

Even though containing billions of male germ cells the amount of seminal fluid that escapes is not very great and leaves only a small soiled spot on the bedclothes.

This still doesn’t tell me exactly how much gets spilled. How small is “a small spot?” Whatever I’m done trying to understand Shycock’s vagueness.

We have just described the plan by which the seminal fluid is expelled prior to the time when a young man becomes a husband. We will next consider nature’s provision for the discharge of seminal fluid after marriage.

We’re gonna talk about sex, kids! Finally!

In erection the penis becomes enlarged and firm, and thus adapted to the function of introducing seminal fluid into the vagina of the wife.

There ya go kids, that is what mommies and daddies do to make babies. It only took me 4 chapters. You’re welcome.

The nervous mechanism by which erection is produced is a very delicate and sensitive mechanism. It occurs not only in response to the physical contact between husband and wife, but also whenever a man’s thoughts focus on things feminine.

What exactly is meant by “things feminine?” Housekeeping is supposedly (according to Shrycock) a feminine thing, does a man get an erection thinking of housework? Does he get an erection when he thinks about girl toys like dolls? Does his penis become enlarged when he thinks about sewing? Is that why a woman is the one who has to do all the housework, because otherwise a man would be walking around with a constant erection?

Partial erections occur very easily in young men. Even seeing a picture that displays the female figure may produce a mild erection.

This is why OBAM/OBAW has no pictures. It might lead men to getting erections.

Conversing about intimate physical matters has also the same effect.

Is that why you won’t come out and spell out the manner of which sex works?

the stimulus is particularly strong when a young man is sitting close to the girl he admires, especially when they are by themselves.

This is why we don’t let you sit next to your boyfriend in church boys and girls. You can’t sit too close to a young man, he might get a boner.

From these remarks you will see that the average young man is more sensitive in his physical response to the attraction of a girl than the average girl is in her physical response to a boy.

This actually varies person to person. I’ve known a lot of women who say they get physically aroused very easily. Guys are less likely to talk about it, but there are some women who say that their husbands are very hard to arouse. This whole “men are very very VERY physical and women are just not” is a load of horse shit.

Erection is fundamentally a pleasurable experience and if allowed free reign tends to be progressive…but for his respect for womanhood and his standards of morals, a young man’s powerful reflexes would cause him to seek liberties beyond what are right and proper for unmarried young people.

Translation: he might want to have sex with you.

You will understand how it is that a young woman carries a personal responsibility, in her associations with a young man, to avoid those intimate conversations, gestures, or habits of dress that would tend to arouse and augment his physical attraction to her.

Girls, you don’t want to give a man a pleasurable erection do you? Then stop acting and dressing like shameless hussies! You are going to cause a man to seek premarital sex!

You can now understand why it is not advisable for a young woman to sit on a young man’s lap or to permit other forms of physical intimacy.

According to some people at summer camp, this rule also applies to small children. Small children of the opposite gender shouldn’t be allowed to sit on my lap because ZOMG YOUR GENITALS ARE RIGHT UNDERNEATH HIS! It was kind of a disturbing attitude.

Kissing and familiar fondling of a young woman’s person can never be an innocent past time if a high moral and spiritual character is to be maintained as an ideal.

Saving your first kiss for marriage, not a new concept created by Joshua Harris. You heard it here first, kids.

A Christian girl will learn to resist such familiarities by young men in such a gracious way as not to create offense, but rather an increased respect.

Not only are you expected to refuse these offers, ladies, you must do so nicely. This won’t at all lead to men thinking they just need to be persistent and who won’t leave you alone. No, not at all.

You may ask why this responsibility rests more heavily upon the young woman than it does upon the young man.

Yes, yes I do ask that. And no answer you give me is going to suffice, because ultimately I am not the one responsible for a man’s actions. He is.

In terms of moral responsibility I am sure it is just as wrong for a young man to allow himself to take unwarranted liberties with a young woman as it is for her to permit these liberties.

Assuming a woman is actually permitting them, that is.

I further believe that a young man is not excusable in such matters merely because his own reflex mechanisms may be more sensitive than those of a young woman.

This is promising. Maybe you should stop here.

The fact, however, that a young woman’s physical reflex mechanisms are not so quickly aroused as those of a young man implies easier self control on her part, and therefore greater responsibility for maintaining proper standards in her relationships with the opposite sex.

I’m not saying a woman has more responsibility than a man does… but I’m saying that a woman has more responsibility than a man does.

Fuck you Shryock, and fuck everyone who agrees with this! No literally, go fuck yourselves, you’ll all feel better after a good wank.

the best way, therefore, to ensure control of these powerful mechanisms is to avoid the circumstances under which they become active.

Don’t even look at a man, ladies. He might get an erection, he’s so sensitive.

In establishing and upholding such a policy a young woman’s greater natural reserve places her in a position to exert the greater stabilizing influence.

If I wasn’t reading the kindle version of this, I would have thrown this book against the wall 3 times by now.

This chapter was very hard to get through, I had to keep going away and coming back. I also had an event going on this weekend, which I may or may not write about later. This means that all my blog posts are kind of backed up.

I will be unable to write Tomorrow or the day after. I’ll try to schedule some posts, but honestly it could take up to a week for me to catch up.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.



Sugar Creek Shenanigans Chapters 3&4

Welcome back, it’s time for another episode of “I need a distraction from OBAW/OBAM! In today’s episode of the show, not much is going to happen but we’re gonna talk about it anyway.

We left off with the Sugar Creek gang heading off to visit Old Man Paddler, who is probably not going to paddle them. To get to his house, they walk through the woods, then go through a cave which leads into his basement, then knock on the trap door.

As they are walking through the woods, Little Jim tells Tom to be ready to go to church extra early the next morning, because of choir practice.

[Pg 19]Little Tom answered Little Jim by saying, “O de koke,” which is the same as saying, “Okey doke,” which means “O.K.” which is what most anybody says when he means “All right,” meaning Tom Till would be ready early, and that when Little Jim’s folks came driving up to their front gate tomorrow, Little Tom, with his best clothes on, would come running out of their dilapidated old unpainted house, carrying his New Testament, which Old Man Paddler had bought for him…. Then they’d all swish away together to Sunday School.

I’m sure we all know what “okey doke” means. You could have put the  period right there to end the sentence instead of going on to tell us what it all means.

A New Testament? Old Man Paddler couldn’t spring for the rest of the Bible? Were Bibles that expensive back in 1947?

I don’t know what the …. is doing there in the last sentence. I didn’t put it there, and it irks me that Project Gutenberg may have left something out.

Then I heard Little Jim ask something else which showed what a grand little guy he was. “S’pose maybe your mother would like to go with us, too?”

Yes. Grand is the word for this. If the kid’s mother doesn’t wish to go to church, it’s probably best not to mention it.

“My mother would like to go with us,” Tom said to Little Jim, “but she doesn’t have any clothes that’re good enough.” And knowing the reason why was because her husband drank up nearly all the money he made in the Sugar Creek beer taverns, and also drank whiskey which he bought in the liquor store—knowing that, I felt my teeth gritting hard and I took a fierce swing with the stick I was carrying, at a little maple tree beside me…. I socked that tree so fierce with my stick, that my hands stung so bad they were almost numb; the stick broke in the middle and one end of it flew ahead to where Circus and Dragonfly were and nearly hit them.

Wow. Um, ok. Is divorce a hard thing to get under these circumstances in 1947? Because I would’ve divorced my husband a long ass time ago if he was like this.

Also, it is really unfortunate that one has to feel the need for nice clothes to go to church. I think one should be able to go to church in whatever clothes one is wearing, so long as they are deemed acceptable for leaving the house. Strangely, this is one of the areas Ellen White agrees with me. She thinks it’s a right shame that a woman like Tom’s mom would feel she needed to miss out on church due to not having nice enough clothes.

Bill also has a rather strong reaction to hearing this I get that he feels angry on account of his friend’s mother, but this just seems like a stronger reaction than normal “anger on account of my friend.” Bill is angry enough over this to hit a poor, innocent tree hard enough to break the stick. That seems more like a reaction Little Tom should be having.

Note also that I am having a hard time keeping all these characters straight. They are so alike that I keep calling Tom “Jim,” and who are Dragonfly and Poetry again and which one of them is this a picture of?






“What on earth!” Circus yelled back to me, and I stood looking at the broken end of the rest of the stick in my hand, then turned like a flash and whirled around and threw it as hard as I could straight toward another tree about twenty feet away. That broken stick hit the tree right in the center of its trunk, with a loud whack.

I didn’t answer them in words at all. I was so mad at Tom’s pop and at beer and whiskey and stuff.

If I were Tom, I would be more scared of Bill’s reaction than anything.

They reach the cave, then the trap door in the old man’s basement, and knock. He doesn’t respond, and they can hear voices, so two boys put their ears to the floor. They’re worried, because they know the old man has been robbed before, but, relieved, they find out that he is just praying.

I knew what the kind man was doing all right, ’cause I’d seen and heard him do it many a time in our little white church, and also I’d seen him doing it once down on his knees behind the old sycamore tree all by himself…. When I heard him mention my name, I gulped, and some crazy tears got into my eyes and into my voice…. I had to swallow to keep from choking out a word that would have let the gang know I was about to cry…. Like a flash I thought of something and I whirled around and grabbed Little Tom Till and shoved his ear down to the crack in the door and put my own ear just above his so I could hear too, and this is what the old man was saying up there in the cabin, “And also bless the new member of the gang, Tom Till, whose father is an infidel and spends his money on liquor and gambling…. Oh God, how can John Till expect his boys to keep from turning out to be criminals…. Bless his boy, Bob, whose life has been so bent and twisted by his father…. And bless the boys’ poor mother, who hasn’t had a chance in life…. Lord, you know she’d go to church and be a Christian if John would let her…. And please….”

That was as far as I got to listen right that minute cause I heard somebody choke and gulp and all of a sudden Little Tom Till was sniffling like he had tears in his eyes and in his voice, and then that little guy who was the grandest little guy who ever had a drunkard for a father, started to sob out-loud like he was heart-broken, and couldn’t help himself.



Er, what? You felt like crying when the Old Man prayed for you, so you shoved your little friend’s ear to the door so he could cry too? And then you act surprised when he does? I am very confused.

Who prays like this, out loud? It’s odd, but I’ll give it a pass. The old man thinks he’s alone, so he’s free to pray out loud if he so chooses.

As far as John letting his wife be a Christian? Wtf, old man. Even with 1940s sexism, it was agreed that one could be a Christian regardless of whether or not one’s husband allowed it. Going to church may be another story, but one could love the Lord regardless.

This feels a little odd, too. When I prayed for people, I never said things like, “bless Brutus, who’s father is a worthless drunk.” I’d say things like, “be with Brutus. His father is giving him a hard time about church. And be also with Brutus’ father….”

It just feels weird to me that, in praying for him, all the old man could think of to say was that Tom’s father is a drunk.

Everyone asks Tom what’s wrong, Tom says he wants to go home. The gang says they’ll all go with him. Tom tries to go home alone, but they won’t let him, and anyway here comes Old Man Paddler.  How annoying. If Tom wants to be alone right now he should be able to. I don’t like these boys much.

Well, it would have been impolite to run away now, and so I whispered to Tom, “Me and Little Jim are the only ones who heard him praying and—and we—we like you anyway.” I gave Tom a kinda fierce half a hug around his shoulder,

Not helping, Bill. That’s not the point.

This next paragraph is weird. I know it’s meant to show us the strong friendship Bill and Tom have, but, umm…..

All of a sudden, I got the strangest warm feeling inside of me, and I felt so good, something just bubbled up in my heart…. It was the queerest feeling, and made me feel good all over, ’cause right that second one of Little Tom’s arms reached out and gave me a very awkward half a hug real quick, like he was very bashful or something, but like he was saying, “You’re my best friend, Bill…. I’d lick the stuffin’s out of the biggest bum in the world for you, in fact I’d do anything.”


The first sentence of that paragraph is just weird. Close friendships are hard to describe,and if you try too hard, you end up writing sentences that make it seem like Bill is literally falling in love with Tom.

As to the last sentence, this is an example of how words in a language can change over time. I do not think it means what my 21st century brain thinks it means.

But his arm didn’t stay more’n just time enough for him to let it fall to his side again, but I knew he liked me a lot and it was a wonderful feeling.

Nope. This boy doesn’t sound gay at all.

The chapter ends with them scurrying up out of the basement and into Old Man Paddler’s home “a jiffy later.” The next chapter begins with “It didn’t take more than several jiffies for us to be inside that cabin.”

I’ve heard the phrase “in a jiffy” before, but I’ve never seen the word “Jiffy” thrown around as much as it is in this book.

Old Man Paddler makes them sassafras tea, which I’ve never heard of but seems to be a big deal for these boys. Bill notices that Old Man Paddler’s Bible is open to the Sunday school lesson. He goes on for a paragraph about how his parents are firm believers in studying the lesson early in the week, so that thoughts about it can pop into their heads when they’re otherwise supposed to be doing something else.

I was really bad about this sort of thing. I never studied the Sabbath School lesson. Like, ever. It was boring, and frankly, I preferred to just read the Bible myself. In any case, I got enough bible class at school, why did I want homework from church?

Bill looks out the window and decides they’d better get a move on if Poetry wants to take a picture of the snowman. First, though, the old man asks for them to get him some water from the spring.

Little Jim goes with him, and notices that there’s a lot of snow on the roof of the woodshed, and wonders why there is no snow on the roof of the old man’s house.

Because the old man’s house is warmer than the woodshed, perhaps? I don’t know, it seems an odd thing to go on for a whole paragraph about.

Then the boys all leave old Man Paddler’s house so Poetry can get his picture. Bill goes on for an entire long paragraph about how they would have gotten home if it was summer. Yawn. I don’t care.

This book is excellent medicine for insomnia. Literally nothing happens.

Bill and Poetry reach Poetry’s house, and his mother his waiting for him.

“Well, well,” Poetry’s mother said to us when we stopped beside their big maple tree, and I waited a jiffy for him to go in the house and get the camera, “where have you boys been? I’ve been phoning all over for you, Leslie”—meaning she had been phoning all over for Poetry, Leslie being the name which his parents used and which he had to use himself when he signed his name in school … but he would rather be called Poetry.


Yeah, I can’t say I’d blame him. I know Leslie is technically a gender neutral name, but it still sounds more like a girl’s name to me.

Poetry’s mom tells him that Mr. Black has been by. Poetry wants to know what Mr. Black wanted.

“He didn’t seem to want anything in particular. He was out exercising his horse. Such a beautiful big brown saddle horse!” Poetry’s mother said. “And such a very beautiful saddle. He looks very stunning in his brown leather jacket and riding boots.”

Wait, the horse is wearing a brown leather jacket and riding boots?

Poetry repeats the question “what did he want?” And again Poetry’s mom repeats her answer, and one wonders why he asked it twice if he knew the answer would be the same.

Mrs Poetry invites Bill and Poetry in for some pie, which they accept. Bill reminds Poetry that the sun will be shining on “Mr. Black,” and that he might melt if they don’t hurry. Mrs Poetry asks what Bill is talking about, and he says, “the sun is shining through the window on my blackberry pie.”

Just then, Mrs Poetry gets a call from Mrs Mansfield. Mrs Mansfield asks to borrow The Hoosier Schoolmaster, and Poetry’s mom says she’ll have him bring it over for her.

Poetry goes upstairs to get his camera.

Then Poetry’s mom called up to him and asked, “Find it, Leslie?” which of course he hadn’t and couldn’t, anyway, not upstairs, ’cause right that minute it was lying open on two sticks stuck into Mr. Black’s stomach at the bottom of Bumblebee hill. For some reason it didn’t seem as if we wanted to tell Mrs. Thompson where it was, but it looked like we were in for it.

Wait. They seriously left the book in the arms of a snowman?

Books are way easier for us to get ahold of in the 21st century, yet no 21st century person I know of would be that careless! They should have taken the book with them, jeez. What if it fell and landed in the snow?

Poetry grabs the camera, then runs out the door before his mom can notice that he doesn’t have the book.

But Poetry’s mother called to us from the back door and said, “Where are you going? Mrs. Mansfield doesn’t live in that direction.”

Poetry and I stopped and looked at each other.

All of a sudden we knew we were caught, so Poetry said to me, “What’ll we tell her?”

And remembering something my pop had taught me to do when I was caught in a trap, I said all of a sudden, quoting my pop, “Tell her the truth.”

Poetry scowled, “You tell her,” he said, which I did

I love how this book is shoehorning in a lesson about honesty. Not.

Anyway, Bill tells Mrs Poetry where the book is, and instead of scolding the boys for being so careless, she thanks them for telling her and goes to call Mrs. Mansfield to tell her that the book will be coming a little later than she had intended. Mrs. Poetry also tells the boys they might run into Mr. Black. Black had apparently asked where they were, and she told them.

Poetry and I both yelled back to her, saying, “You told him WHAT!” and without another word or waiting to hear what she said, we started like lightning as fast as we could go, straight for Sugar Creek and Bumblebee hill, wondering if by taking a short cut we could get there before Mr. Black did

I don’t get the urgency? I mean, what’s Mr. Black going to do if he finds the snowman? It’s not like they did it on school property or during school hours, and even if they had, would they really have been breaking any rules?

The chapter ends with Bill describing just how fast they are running. For once, this chapter ends on a cliff hanger where we kinda sorta have some tension. I’m actually kinda sorta impressed. This feels like a vast improvement in the book so far.

This book could have absolutely benefited from a decent editor, who probably would have cut out a lot of the paragraphs where Bill goes on and on about things that don’t really matter. The scene at Old Man Paddler’s house was kind of boring, and was clearly only there so he could tell us all about what a hopeless drunk Tom’s father is. Which I wish they’d just shown rather than told about. There could have been a scene where Bill walked in on Tom’s father drunkenly stumbling around. Or something, I dunno, this isn’t my job, it’s the author’s.







On Becoming A Man Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Evidences of Motherhood

If you are confused about where chapter 2 went, it’s because I didn’t feel a need to do a separate post. Chapter 2 of this book is identical, word for word, to Chapter 2 of On Becoming A Woman. I therefore direct you to this link, if you happen to not be reading OBAW simultaneously.

My darling cat, highlighting the next passage she thinks I should focus on. When they made touch screens, they didn’t think about differentiating between human fingers and animal paws.

Disclaimer: I have not studied the male reproductive system nearly as extensively as the female one, for obvious reasons, I won’t necessarily know if Shryock is giving us correct information, be it deliberate misinformation or merely out of date information. This post will probably be less scientific than I would like, but that’s life I suppose.

Chapter 3, for some reason, is titled “evidences of motherhood.” I can’t figure out why, because nothing in this chapter has anything at all to do with mothers.

Even when a small boy, there was one thing you desired above all else, and that was to become a man.

Actually what I desired was to remain a child for the rest of my life. If that couldn’t be accomplished, I wanted Jesus to come and take me to heaven before I reached adulthood. If that wasn’t going to happen, it was my goal in life to kill myself before I reached that scary age. If all that couldn’t be accomplished, and I had to grow up, then yes, it was my desire to be a man.

One of the reasons you admired your father was that he typified manhood, and stood as a symbol of those accomplishments that you hoped someday to realize.

I…. did admire my father as a child, but, I never thought to admire him for his, um, manhood. That’s a new one for me, I’ve never heard this before.

During your childhood the evidences of your development accumulated so slowly that many times you became impatient and wished you could skip over the remaining years of your childhood and become a man promptly.

Eh, not really, I rather enjoyed my childhood, and clung to it as long as possible. Too long, probably. Now I enjoy adulthood, though I have not, sadly, become a man.

Next, Shryock talks about some of the changes a boy’s body goes through at puberty; exponential growth, shoulders getting wider, acne, shoe size.*

He talks about teenage boys being clumsy, and says that the reason for this is that teenage boys are growing faster than their minds can keep up with. Their arms are longer than they were just a few months ago, and they don’t know their own strength.

As a teenager, you must be patient with yourself. In due course you will reach your complete growth and will have the opportunity to learn how far your arms can reach and how strong you really are.

Next the author talks about boys who grow facial hair, and I hate him, because women grow facial hair too dammit. Ask me how I know.

You have found, however, that your father really does not object to your borrowing his razor,just so you don’t leave it too dull.

Possibly you have found occasion to buy a razor of your own, or it may be that father has reassuringly made you a present of one–probably one that he had discarded.

This must be a 1960s thing. I can’t think of why anybody  would give someone a discarded razor. I’m going to chalk this up to cultural differences I don’t know about and move on.

Shryock talks about pimples and the science behind them for a paragraph, then goes right back to hair growth. I feel like some editing would have moved the pimple discussion to after the hair discussion, instead of splitting up the hair discussion, but never mind.

Members of your family…advise you that you have been eating too much candy, or that you have not kept the skin of your face perfectly clean. These are probably factors…. but another factor is that the tiny glands in your skin have increased their function in response to the stimulus of new manhood. As these overactive glands discharge their secretion onto the surface of the skin, some of their tiny ducts become obstructed, with resulting mild infections and pimples.

OBAW was published later than this book, so, by then maybe Shryock had found out that candy contributes nothing at all to the development of pimples? I mean, I wasn’t really a huge fan of candy, and I had terrible acne.

I am also sitting here giggling at the phrase “stimulus of new manhood” because I am still 12.

Shryock tells us that hair may develop in the pits and pubic area and why does he not tell females this? We get hair there too, you know. Actually, I’ve always been curious as to why, from a creationist perspective, we even have hair there at all. I’ve heard some evolutionists say that we have hair there because it is leftover from when we used to have hair all over, but creationists believe God put that hair there on purpose. Why?** No one ever gave me an answer, and I’m an atheist now so I’m not going to try and come up with one either.

Shryock talks about the Adams apple, moving from there to a talk about something he really should have included also in the female book.

You have been accustomed, throughout the years of your childhood, to pitching your voice within the range that is typical of a child. but now that your voice box is larger and your vocal cords are longer, it is only natural that your voice should be deeper, as is typical of a man.

Granted a woman’s voice will not deepen, but it will change. Female voices, like male ones, also change when they transition from their child to their adult forms, and it would have been nice if someone had told me about it before it happened.

Shyrock reassures us some squeaking is normal as your voice box adjusts, and then we move on further down the body.

The changes that occur in a boy’s body at the time of his transition from boyhood to manhood are brought about and controlled by the testes.

I thought it was the pituitary gland, but whatever.

In any case, like the ovaries, the testes don’t do anything in childhood.

In occasional cases where the testes have been removed before adulthood (as in the eunuchs of historical times) masculine characteristics do not develop.

Fascinating. That I did not know. Of course, the eunuchs I see on TV are probably not played by actual eunuchs, so this could be why I never noticed that they have child-like voices and no facial hair.

Even though 30 or 40 years of age, such an individual is not a man; he is a eunuch.

I have a problem with this. I know gender identity wasn’t really acknowledged much in the 1960s, but even without considering the fact that Gender Identity doesn’t always match up with a person’s genitals, I still have a problem with this.

An adult male is called a man. Even if he doesn’t go through puberty, he is still a man. To call him anything but a man is, or at least, would be in 1960s, dehumanizing.***

What causes the testes to start secreting chemicals that allow puberty to start? Why, the pituitary gland, of course. At least, that is what we think “in light of present knowledge of the various glands within the body.”

Did they really not know, for sure, the function of the pituitary gland in the 1960s, or is this just more misinformation? I have no idea.

Really, I have not answered the question completely, because you might next ask, “what is it that causes the pituitary gland to signal the testes?” I cannot answer this latter question except to say that the power of the creator, as manifested through nature’s laws, is responsible for causing such things to occur at just the right time.

The enemy of scientific though everywhere: Goddidit. How sad. In this case, a simple “we don’t know” would suffice.

The creator has made provision by which the testes are protected from injury. The scrotum is designed in such a way that the testes can glide easily from place to place within it. Also, they are abundantly supplied with delicate nerves, which produce a danger signal of excruciating pain whenever the testes are struck or compressed.

Yes, the lord made such excellent provision for the testes! He put them outside the body where they could be kicked, hit, or otherwise injured!

I can’t remember if it was Richard Dawkins of Jerry Coyne who was talking about this. I’ve searched their books for it but can’t find the quote. In any case, Dawkins or Coyne was talking about what a terrible designer God apparently is, if he were to exist. One of their reasons is that the testes are outside the body. If God were so great, he would have put them inside the body.

Creationist: but Mr. Dawkins/Coyne, god couldn’t do that! If the testes were inside the body, the temperature would be too hot for sperm to live!

Ok Mr. Creationist, but you also tell me God can do anything he wants and is a God of the impossible. So, why didn’t he just make it so that the sperm could survive in the higher temperatures? Then the gonads could be inside the body where an angry female couldn’t kick them.

Creationist: You’re just don’t like God because you don’t want to submit to him!

Yeah, whatever.

Shryock then talks about the penis, which is “a finger shaped organ attached in the mid-line and ordinarily hanging loosely downward.”

Pretty sure everyone reading this knows what a penis is. Adventist parents don’t tend to be that obnoxious.

We get a paragraph of explanation about the urine system, and how the penis expels waste, and then Shryock talks about “spermatozoa.”

Spermatozoa is the male germ cell, which combines with the female germ cell to form a pregnancy.

But an infant must have both a mother and a father. The creator has therefore arranged it so that the life of an infant begins only when the male germ cell (spermato-zoan) produced by the father’s testes unites with a female germ cell (ovum) produced in the mother’s body.

No gay sex for you! You must reproduce, and you can only do that when you, uh, marry, a woman.

The only function of a male germ cell is to unite with a female germ cell as a means of initiating the development of an infant. Since in the course of a lifetime only a very few of these germ cells ever serve this purpose, the large numbers of germ cells the testes produce are, unused.(sic)

Seems like a lot of waste. Wouldn’t a Creator have designed the male reproductive system so they didn’t waste so much sperm?

Set that aside. What I want to talk about is that, in the next paragraph, we are told the penis is an outlet for the sperm.

In chapter 2 we were told that the male germ cell enters the woman by way of the vagina. In this chapter, we are told that the “male germ cells,” aka sperm, comes out of the penis. Therefore, the male reader is able to put two and two together and realize that in order to reproduce, a man must shove his penis up a woman’s vagina.

Chapter 3 of OBAW does not have this information. The female reader is not able to put two and two together because Shyrock does not give her 2 and 2.

I want to bring attention to this: the male gets more information about sex than the female.

And that’s disturbing.

Shryock, seeming unaware that he has given the teenage male the tools to put 2 and 2 together, goes on to discuss that it would be awful, if males were releasing sperm continuously, so there are ways to deal with this.

There are tiny reservoirs that have been arranged in connection with the small tubes just mentioned. these are called the seminal vesicles. They are located near the base of the bladder. The spermatozoa, which are produced more or less constantly, are stores in the seminal vesicles….

When the seminal vesicles become filled to capacity with seminal fluid, they overflow, discharging the seminal fluid into the urethra and thus to the outside. These occasions…occur once every few days, beginning during the early teens. These occasions are known as seminal emissions, or night losses.


These people think we were designed perfectly by a creator. Yet they are now also telling me that males produce sperm constantly, whereas women only produce one egg a month? This does not seem like a perfect system, for a huge number of reasons. It also seems incredibly wasteful.

Actually, as a child, I think I just found this explanation confusing. I kind of had an idea of what a scrotum was (my mom wasn’t really shy about matters of anatomy, and allowed me to help change my little brother’s diapers) but I hadn’t seen any tiny pools full of sperm, and I was confused.

Shryock tells us that these nocturnal emissions leave boys covered in semen, and I think it sounded to 12 year old me like the boy had just wet the bed. Which sounded really terrible.

Unfortunately, some persons take delight in trying to terrorize the uninformed teenager about the meaning of his seminal emissions.

Yeah, I remember wondering whether or not it was ok to have wet dreams, because it all sounded very sinful to me and I think I may have overheard someone saying as much when I tried to sneak into the all boys meetings at camp (It didn’t work, for the record, but I overheard some stuff.)

The healthy attitude for you to take toward the evidences of manhood…is to recognize that these are perfectly proper and normal, and that they should not attract any undue attention.

Even a stopped clock…

Seminal emissions will scarcely awaken you from sleep, and even though they do rouse you momentarily, you will be able to return to sleep promptly without any significant interruption of your rest.

Talk to me, males: is this true? I feel like if I had just squirted semen all over myself, I would wake up fully, and feel a need to change my clothes.

So basically, the penis does two things: expels urine, expels semen. There’s apparently a little valve that makes it impossible to pee and eject semen at the same time, which is something I always wondered about. What if, when I grew up and had sex, I got peed on? Yuck.

This valve is turned on, apparently, by the penis becoming engorged with blood. This is known as an erection. I did read this as a child, so I must have known about erections at least in theory, but I must have forgotten all about them because I don’t remember learning about boners until I was 19. That is not a typo.

It is the process of erection that transforms the penis into an organ of shape, size, and position suitable to be introduced into the wife’s body.

Hang on, what? I’m supposed to put my penis where? I mean, I wondered if that’s what you meant before, but you seriously mean that? Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?

This information is absolutely missing from chapter 3 of OBAW. So we have a situation where the male is told, in this book, where to put his penis, but the woman is not told in OBAW where the male is going to put it. If these teenagers don’t go off right now to find better information, their wedding night is going to be the worst night of their lives.

As you come to understand the various functions of your body, you will be profoundly impressed with the Creator’s kindness to his human children in making provisions for their various needs.

Ha. Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA. No. I’m not. Sorry.

It makes us realize that the form and functions of the body have been designed for proper purposes and with the best interests of mankind in view.

I… what? No, they haven’t. These systems work, but they are far from perfect, and if they had been designed by a designer, I would say that he or she needed to be fired.

I have a hard time accepting evolution, but at least it makes some sense to me because evolution doesn’t always get things perfect. Evolution makes things functional.

Tell me that all of this was designed by a creator, and I have to go through some mental gymnastics. Thank God I was finally able to stop. That was exhausting.




*That’s not a metaphor, Shryock really is talking about boys who need new shoes every 5 minutes in their teens.

**Especially since God knew that women were going to be expected to shave it off, he could have just designed us without that hair.

*** I’m aware that there are individuals who don’t fit binary genders who wouldn’t want to be called a man or a woman. I have no issues with this, I have an issue with calling a grown ass male “not a man” just because he doesn’t have hair around his naughty parts.









On Becoming A Woman, Chapter 3



This book. THIS FUCKING BOOK. Gah. I’m sorry everyone. I am SORRY that you had to read this. Even for 1968 this was bad.

Chapter 3 is titled Evidences of Womanhood

Throughout childhood a girls’ physique is about the same as a boy’s…but in her early teens–sometimes at about 11 years of age, sometimes 2 or 3 years later, a girl begins to blossom into a woman.

I know it’s considered “normal” to start developing at age 11, but I still think this isn’t, this shouldn’t be normal. What 11 year old girl is ready to bare children for Satan’s sake?

This period is one of rapid growth, where a woman gets taller (theoretically), her chest fills out, she she becomes round and soft instead of angular like a man. In other words, her body betrays her and all starts of horrible things start happening.

Of course, even if they don’t do anything, the reproductive organs are still present in childhood.

A teenager is clumsy and awkward because he or she has grown so rapidly that their brains can’t keep up. The teen isn’t expecting his or her arms to be so long, so they swing about awkwardly. Eventually, the teenager gets used to their adult body.

Shryock goes on to talk about pimples, and how they’re not really the result of too much candy. He does not inform us, unfortunately, that birth control is an excellent way to deal with pimples. Birth control was around by the late 1960s, so he has no excuse for this.

The changes that occur in a girl’s body at the time of her transition from girlhood to womanhood are brought out and controlled by her ovaries.

Eh, what? I thought it was the pituitary gland.

You mean, my ovaries decided when I was going to grow breasts and bleed? Then why didn’t anyone remove them?!

The Ovaries have 2 functions to perform. The first is to produce chemical substances which circulate throughout the body and bring on the many changes…they also stimulate the further development of the other reproductive organs such as the breasts and the uterus.

Quick, someone, remove my ovaries STAT. Preferably 20 years ago.

It may be asked, what is it that causes the ovaries to begin their production of these mysterious chemical substances at just the right time–about 11-14 years of age?

11-14 is not the right time. I get that it’s considered normal now, but 11-14 is not the time to be getting pregnant, so, why so early?

It may be said that the pituitary gland has a controlling influence over the ovaries.

Oh, so it does play a role. It stimulates the ovaries. “Welp, this child is 11 years old, time for her to grow useless lumps of chest flesh and start making babies. Yessirree, it’s definitely that time! The Creator designed us this way!”



Really, I haven’t answered the question completely, because it might next be asked, “what is it that causes the pituitary gland to signal the ovaries?” This latter question cannot be answered except to say that the power of the Creator, as manifested through nature’s laws, is responsible for causing such things to occur at just the right time.

In other words, we start developing when we do because Goddidit.

And people wonder why I was angry at God for years. This wasn’t the only reason but it was one of the reasons. At age 11, I clearly was not ready to start having children, so why did I have to grow breasts and start bleeding? Shoot, if someone got pregnant at age 11 I’d be all for them having an abortion, because I seriously doubt it’s safe for an 11 year old to have a child.

It makes no sense for us to have evolved the ability to start menstruating at earlier ages, and I can only guess that this is because natural selection no longer plays a part in who lives or dies. If an 11 year old gets pregnant today, she is far more likely to survive than she was 400 years ago. To be clear, I think this is a good thing.

Shryock could just admit to us that medical science doesn’t (yet) have an answer to the question, “what tells the pituitary gland to start pituitarying?” In science, “I don’t know is considered an acceptable answer. It is not an acceptable answer in Creation Science. If a cause is unknown, Goddidit.

The second function of the ovaries is to reproduce female germ cells called ova.

Ovaries, basically, make eggs, only he doesn’t call them eggs, he calls them “ova.” Because reasons?

But a baby must have both a mother and a father.

Yes. This is a biological fact. Biologically speaking there must be a male and a female. Ok, I can agree with that.

The Creator has therefore arranged it so that the life of a baby begins only when the female germ cell, an ovum, produced by one of the mother’s ovaries, is joined, that is, impregnated, by a male germ cell, a spermatozoon.

A what? Wow, I guess that’s what they used to call Sperm? God it sounds like a disease. “I have Spermatozoon.”

When such a union between an ovum and a spermatozoon occurs, a new life is started within the mother’s body and she is said to be pregnant.

Conception does not equal pregnancy. Conception plus implantation in the uterus is what makes a person pregnant.

But I like even less what he’s really saying here. Shryock doesn’t spell it out, but is’ clear he believes that The creator designed reproduction this way because he didn’t want children to have two mommies. That would just be horrible! This is a dig at gay parents. God clearly didn’t want that or he’d have made 2 mommies able to reproduce.

Shyrock goes on to tell us that the ovaries usually take turns producing eggs, unless one of them is removed, in which case, the other ovary does double duty. Damn. There went my strategy for only having a period once every 2 months!

When we say that womanhood begins in the early teens we mean that from this time on it is possible for a girl to become a mother.

If she doesn’t die in childbirth, which, at age 11, is more likely to happen if she carries the pregnancy to term.

Next he talks about the uterus. It’s hollow, shaped like a pear, and it automatically starts contracting whenever you try to put something in it. Shryock doesn’t say that last part, I added it.

He goes on to talk about how uteri are for cooking babies, and that babies take nourishment from the uterine wall.

So it is that the Creator has provided that at the proper time the lining of the uterus becomes loaded with those nourishing substances necessary for the growth of a new baby.

I hope you weren’t wondering what these “nourishing substances” are, because he doesn’t tell us. I could have broccoli in my uterus for all I know!

Inasmuch as a baby must have both a mother and a father, the only proper time for a union to occur between a female germ cell and a male germ cell is after marriage.

Wait, what? I’m confused. A male and female germ cell only combine when one gets married? That’s it? Only once in your life, since Adventists believe you’re only supposed to get married once?

So, basically, you get married, and then a “male germ cell” is somehow inserted into the vagina to make a baby. That’s your definition of sex ed? Oh god, I am about to start crying. The poor people that had to read this instead of The Care and Keeping of You. I feel so terribly bad for you right now.

Having a biological male and a biological female (we are talking sex here rather than gender identity) is a necessity. That’s a scientific fact. Waiting till marriage, however, is not. I wish that Shryock had not mixed scientific fact in the same paragraph with christian dogma. He should have told us about sex, and then said, “the proper time for sex is after marriage.” I would still disagree and criticize it heavily, but at least that would make sense and be accurate.

Kids, if you have sex before marriage, that sperm could still join with that egg and there could be a baby. It’s not like the sperm and egg will pass each other by if they find out the mother is having sex outside of marriage.

Marriage is not a scientific requirement for reproduction.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any kittens in our lives, and that would be sad.

The thickened lining of the uterus is not needed until a pregnancy develops.  The lining therefore becomes detached from the wall of the uterus, breaks up into small pieces, and is eliminated over a period of about 4 days through the vagina. Naturally, these fragments of the lining membrane contain considerable blood.

These nutritious substances are blood? What, is my baby a vampire? Why is my unborn child eating blood? How is that nutritious?!

Menstruation is somewhat painful Feels like someone is stabbing you in the uterus with a sharp knife over and over again until you die-a little more so in the teenage girl than in the older woman. Sometimes it gets better as you age, but don’t count on it. This discomfort is the result of two things…

Somewhat painful? Discomfort? Nope. I’m going to go back and fix that paragraph. There. That’s more accurate.

During menstruation a woman must wear some type of sanitary napkin to keep herself tidy and avoid the embarrassment of being offensive.

Tampons were a thing when my grandma was in Academy– in 1954. This book was written in 1968, and Shryock is a physician. He should not only know that tampons exist, but that there’s nothing wrong with using them. Also, by 1950, the first menstrual cup was totally a thing.

Also, how is a menstruating woman who’s protection failed offensive? I can see embarrassing, but offensive? Maybe if someone was running around refusing to use anything and just bleeding all over the place (so me at age 11 before I discovered the tampon*) that would be offensive. Otherwise, if my cup leaks, I’m not seeing how that’s offensive.

During the 3 or 4 days of menstruation a young woman… may not posses her usual optimism and becomes somewhat downcast and perhaps sensitive and irritable….this situation is a normal part of these monthly events int he life of every healthy woman. There need therefore be no alarm over any of these conditions.

Women are just going to become sensitive and irritable around this time, no need to do anything about it. Dick. I’m soooo glad we now have medication that can regulate our moods during that time, or even eliminate that time altogether.

This next paragraph is just faulty science.

A young woman should avoid strenuous activities such as horseback riding and tennis during the period of her menstruation. She should also abstain from swimming.

If one is wearing a pad, I suppose I could see why you wouldn’t want to go swimming. Like I said though, tampons were a thing in the 1960s along with menstrual cups. But even if I concede that Shryock may be somewhat right about swimming, what’s wrong with horseback riding and tennis?

Shryock goes on to tell us that the menstrual cycle can be disrupted by stress or disease, and that in most women it ends by 45 or so.

As you come to understand the various functions of your body, you will be increasingly impressed with the Creator’s kindness to his human children in making provisions for their comfort, happiness, and welfare.

Yes, every time I had period cramps as a Christian, my first reaction was to be impressed with God’s kindness toward me for making provisions for my comfort. By giving me a mother who wouldn’t allow me to go on birth control and end my suffering.

I’ve actually done a lot of thinking, even as a Christian, about how God could have designed all this better. When Richard Dawkins talked about how poor a designer God was, I kept waiting for him to mention the female reproductive system. Alas, he only talked about the male one. Typical man, only thinking about man parts.

The form and functions of your body have been designed…with your best interests and happiness in view.


Yes, God totally had my best interests and happiness in mind when he decided I would bleed once a month starting at age 11 and that it was going to be the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Praise the Lord.

Surely you are fearfully and wonderfully made!





*Mom didn’t actually prevent me from using tampons. It just honestly never occurred to her that I might want to use them, until she found out I had been stealing them from the other girls at school for months. She was more upset about the stealing part than the tampon part, to her credit, and went out and bought me my own box.






On Becoming A Woman/Man Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Where Did You Come From?

This chapter is, word for word, the exact same as chapter two in On Becoming A Man (OBAM). So consider this post as applying to both books equally.

This is the chapter in which Shryock makes sure we all have a solid understanding of…well, I’m not entirely sure.

Brushing aside all the stories and fairy tales about babies being brought by the stork or in the doctor’s black bag, the present chapter is intended to give you a simple and matter of fact explanation of the beginning of life.

Spoiler alert: it fails.

Doubtless you understand a considerable amount of this subject already. It may be that you have read books, or that your parents have discussed the matter with you. Also, your general observations have given you considerable insight into the principles of the origin of life.

Um, what? My general observations… of what? Did children of the 1960s frequently walk in on their parents without knocking? Is Shryock referring to children who work with animals a lot? What does he mean “general observations?”

Personally, my parents, well, mother, actually, talked with me about inserting tab A into slot B, and when I was properly horrified, gave me a book on the subject.* For the record, “General observations” played no part in it and I am genuinely confused as to what the hell that means.

In any case, Shryock wants to make sure we are getting correct information, so he is going to talk to us about “where we came from.” And no, he doesn’t mean which pre-historic ancestor we most likely evolved from.

First off, every person has two parents, a mother and a father, even if said father or mother are no longer living/otherwise out of the picture. A person may look like their mother or have their father’s temper. Sometimes characteristics aren’t from the mother or father at all, but from grandparents or great grandparents. Also, you get an equal amount of genetic information from your father and mother.

That’s a very simplistic explanation, but in essence correct. I just got done reading about this in The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Fascinating stuff, at least in my opinion.  I debated going on for 3 or 4 paragraphs about it but ultimately decided that might be too rambly.

Each parent possess glands capable of producing specialized germ cells that make it possible to start the life of a child. These cells are called Germ cells simply because they function in a similar matter to the germ in a kernel of wheat. It only takes one germ cell from each parent to start the life of a child….the cell from the mother’s body must be joined by a cell from the father.

According to the great and all knowing Wikipedia

A germ cell is any biological cell that gives rise to the gametes of an organism that reproduces sexually.

That being said, I can’t figure out why Shryock is using the term “germ cells” instead of “sperm” and “egg.” Did these terms not exist in 1968? I kind of doubt it. This seems incredibly vague to me, and isn’t actually explaining much.

So, Germ cells. Ok, how exactly does one go about combining a male germ cell with a female one? Hold your horses, we’ll get there… sort of. In a few more pages.

Each germ cell contains genes, which determine features and traits. The union of the germ cells is called conception. Because one cell from the mother is combined with another from the father, the child inherits genes equally from both sides.

These same cells likewise determine whether the new child will be a boy or a girl. The gender is decreed by chance and depends upon the particular genes that are present.

Isn’t sex (not gender, sex) determined by the father’s “germ cell?” I’m not sure of the science behind it (Dawkins didn’t cover that in his book) but I seem to recall reading that somewhere.

The union of the two germ cells occurs within the body of the mother, the cell from the father having been implanted within the mother’s body.

How? How are the “germ cells” implanted in the mother’s body? We’ll get to that in a few pages, calm down, sheesh. Yanno, I don’t think this book is very well organized.

Here [in the uterus] the cells grow and multiply in a truly remarkable fashion.

Oh yeah, I read about embryology in Dawkins’ book too. It’s pretty interesting, and way more detail than we are going to get into here.

At first all the cells that result from the growth of the original two sperm cells are exactly alike. Within a few days, however, certain cells begin to develop in such a way as to produce muscle, bone, nerves…within a very few weeks the tiny body of the newly formed infant is quite well defined, with head, face, arms, legs, even fingers and toes.

Creationists will deny that humans could evolve from a couple of cells, yet they freely admit that every single one of us has already done so. And we only took 9 months to do it.

I’m not sure what Shyrock means by “a few weeks.” We’ll assume he means 8 weeks:

I don’t think it’s quite done growing yet. I’m seeing fingers, but not really any toes. Shryock kept embryological development quite vague, which is odd for a pro-lifer.

Shryock goes on to talk about how the fetus gets nourishment and oxygen, while also expelling waste. Infants are ready to be born 9 months after conception

As one thinks of this remarkable process by which a new life comes into existence, he is forced to a greater appreciation of the marvelous work of creation and God’s kindness to his human children.

Yes, every time I contemplate the pain of childbirth, I am forced to wonder at the kindness God shows towards me.

It’s important that parents guard their health, so they can pass on “a favorable legacy” to their child.

Even though the heredity of an infant is determined at the time of its conception, its personality must be molded by the influence of the parents throughout the years of childhood. Let me appeal to you, a teenage youth, to order your life and habits in such ways that when it later becomes your privilege to be a parent, you will need make no apologies but will be able to pass on to your son or daughter the best of health, the best of mentality, and the best of spiritual development.

Develop good characteristics now, children, because you will be a mother or father someday! At least this warning is the same across both books, so this advice isn’t just given to women. However, I think this is shitty advice. Not everyone wants to have children. You should tell me why I need to develop good characteristics for my own personal benefit, in case I wind up childless, either by choice or by chance.

Now back to our story of the developing infant.

Maybe you should’ve just edited the manuscript and moved the text around so you wouldn’t have to “go back” to anything.

But we’re actually not talking about embryology, so we’re not talking about developing infants. We’re talking instead about childbirth.

the birth canal consists of the vagina and the surrounding structures of the mother’s pelvis. At times other than childbirth the vagina is a slender passage which leads from the lower part of the uterus to the outside, opening between the mother’s thighs. It was by way of the vagina that the original sperm cell from the father was implanted in the mother’s body. At the time of childbirth the vagina becomes tremendously enlarged so as to accommodate the body of the infant as it is born. Immediately after the infant is born…

Emphasis mine.

This, right here, is the only clue we get as to how the “germ cell” from the father got into the mother’s body in the first place. But the book never specifies what the germ cell is, or exactly how it is put in there.

Now, most people who read this are probably smart enough to figure this all out for themselves. But what about those teenagers who, though very intelligent, are simply uneducated. How exactly does this book help to educate them?

Shryock, remember what you said in the last chapter about it being a bad idea to be evasive or give out misinformation? You are being evasive right here, right now, and the teenagers who read this are going to go out of their way to find the real knowledge, and from your perspective it won’t be pretty.

In any case, after the infant is born the doctor cuts the umbilical cord, which leaves a stump. This scar known as the belly button.

 Admittedly the process of childbirth is painful to the mother. The pain results, principally, from the stretching of the tissues that form the birth canal. Also, the powerful contractions of the muscles in the wall of the uterus produce considerable discomfort.

What he really means is “hurts like hell” and “feels like you are being ripped apart from the inside out.”

I’ve never experienced the pain of childbirth, but if it is anything like the pain of getting my IUD, I will absolutely not be doing this naturally. You will give me my painkiller and you will give me a double dose and you will give it to me yesterday.

Childbirth is a normal process, however, and the mother soon forgets the pain and discomfort. A healthy mother with a wholesome outlook on life finds great pleasure in the knowledge that she has had an important part of bringing a new life into existence.

Not every woman wants children.

The chapter ends with Shryock telling us that love for her newborn child makes the mother quickly forget the pain. I won’t speak to that because I have no experience on the topic.

So, that was chapter 2 of OBAW/OBAM. It’s…. bad. It’s very vague, and I am disappointed. I was at least expecting a basic textbook explanation of “insert tab A into slot B,” and  “sperm+ egg+implantation=baby.” But we don’t even get that. Instead we get vague terms like “Germ cells” and “the vagina is how the father puts his germ cells into the mother.”

My mother actually felt it was very important that us children get a basic understanding of the birds and the bees, so she talked to us and gave us books. I disliked this topic greatly as a child, but now I am grateful that somebody out there did their best to give me correct information. Heaven help me if I had had to rely on this book. I would have been totally and completely lost and confused.


*I’m not actually sure if the book was on sex, actually, but it was an American Girl book called The Care and Keeping of You.







The Sugar Creek Gang: Shenanigans at Sugar Creek (Chapters 1&2)

The other day a friend still in the Adventist church (yes, I apparently still have those) texted me to say she has been reading my blog. I was surprised, but pleased, to know that she had (mostly) been enjoying my critiques (except for all the swearing.) She told me she had been watching a movie and it was really terrible, and had I ever heard of the Sugar Creek gang?

Now, is it as bad as it sounds? Worse, apparently. We’re going to save the review of the movie for when I can find a way to get it for free, but not to worry, there are 36 whole books for me to snark on!

We’re probably not going to do all of them.

The Sugar Creek Gang was published by Moody Press, and was apparently a staple of Christian literature for children in the 1950s till roughly the 1970s. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that the movies are based on the books, and I wonder how much material those movies are borrowing.

In any case, the only book I have been able to find for free is available on Project Gutenberg. If we’re interested in doing more of these I could possibly see if any library in Michigan has them.

For some reason, the title of this one got changed to “Teacher Trouble” somewhere along the line, but was originally published as Sugar Creek Shenanigans in 1947.

Chapter 1 starts out with Bill, our narrator, telling us about school.

One tough guy in the Sugar Creek territory was enough to keep us all on the lookout all the time for different kinds of trouble. We’d certainly had plenty with Big Bob Till, who, as you maybe know, was the big brother of Little Tom Till, our newest gang member.


Little Tom Till is about the worst nickname for a boy and I don’t know why he puts up with it.

Why is the Sugar Creek Gang on the lookout for trouble? Are they looking to start trouble, get away from trouble, or sit there with popcorn and watch the trouble?

Bill, and I only know it is Bill narrating because Wikipedia, tells us that there’s a new kid in school Shorty Long. I take back what I said about Little Tom Till being a terrible nickname. I’d take that over “Shorty Long.” Shorty long and Big Bob Till apparently get into fights a lot.

On top of all this, the gang has a new teacher. A man teacher, oh the HORROR! Nobody likes him, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with him personally. They just liked their other teacher better. The way he says it, it sounds kind of creepy.

Poetry, who is the barrel-shaped member of our gang, had made up a poem about our new teacher, whom not a one of us liked very well, on account of not wanting a new teacher when we’d liked our pretty lady other teacher so extra well.

All gangs must have a barrel shaped member. It is a rule of gangs. In my mind, Poetry looks like this:
Posted Image
He frequently goes over Niagra falls, just as he is.

This is the way the poem went:

The Sugar Creek Gang had the worst of teachers And ‘Black’ his named was called,
His round, red face had the homeliest of features, He was fat and forty and bald.


Well, I assume talent will come eventually, with practice. Bill tells us that Poetry is always either writing or quoting…well, Poetry.

I hate this kid already.

Bill says that the events of this particular story were triggered by a library book, The Hoosier Schoolmaster.

In the book there is a story about how the bigger boys locked the teacher out of the one room schoolhouse. So the schoolteacher went up to the roof and put a board across the chimney, causing the schoolhouse to fill up with smoke. That sounds kinda dangerous, but fortunately the boys all survive, exiting the school just in time to escape lung damage.

Poetry and Bill are inspired by the story (why??) and around Christmas time, Bill wants to go sledding with his friends. There’s a few paragraphs about how his mom wants him to wash dishes instead, despite the fact that these dishes aren’t even dirty. His mom wants to wash them anyway because the guests need to see how pretty they can be in the .5 seconds they will have to glance at them before plopping on a scoop of mashed potatoes.

Yeah I’m kinda with Bill on this one, provided the dishes haven’t gathered actual dust.

Bill asks who’s coming to dinner, and mom says she is surprising him. Bill hopes it’s not his “homely” red headed cousin, but that if it is, he brings the dog.

We are then introduced to another member of the gang: Dragonfly, who has just come in with “barrel shaped” Poetry.

There was another boy there, who… was Dragonfly, on account of he is spindle-legged and has large eyes like a dragonfly’s eyes are. Dragonfly had on a brand new cap with ear-muffs on it. As you maybe know, Dragonfly was always getting the gang into trouble, on account of he always was doing such crazy things without thinking. He also was allergic to nearly everything and was always sneezing at the wrong time, just when we were supposed to be quiet. Also, he was about the only one in the gang whose mother was superstitious,—such as thinking itis bad luck if a black cat crosses the road in front of you, or good luck if you find a horseshoe and hang it above one of the doors in your house.

There’s a few paragraphs about Dragonfly swinging on the gate when he shouldn’t, and Bill rushing out to stop him. Bill still has his mother’s good plate in his hands, and his mother is pissed that he invited the boys in when she has just scrubbed the floor.

God, what a witch.

Bill finally finishes, but just before he can leave, his dad comes out and scolds Dragonfly for riding the gate. He then tells the gang that Mr. Black is going to continue to teach at the school, despite the fact that the boys don’t like him and that he uses the old fashioned beech switches.

I officially dislike this teacher as well. What the fuck. By the 1940s/50s I kinda thought spanking in schools had died down a little. I know it was still permissible when my dad was in school in the 60s/70s, but he went to a Christian school and I’d wondered if the public schools weren’t more permissive. (All this is assuming we are talking about fairly liberal states. I know that in some  states spanking is still very much allowed in schools.)

This is the weirdest paragraph I’ve read so far.

Well, we coasted for a long time, all of us. Even Little Tom Till, the red-haired, freckled-faced little brother of Big Bob Till who was Big Jim’s worst enemy, was there. Time flew faster than anything, when all of a sudden Circus who had rolled a big snowball down the hill, said, “Let’s make a snow man—let’s make Mr. Black”—which sounded like more fun, so we all started in, not knowing that Circus was going to make a comic snow man, the most ridiculous looking snow man I’d ever seen, and not knowing something else very exciting which I’m going to tell you about just as quick as I can get to it in this story.

This is where the chapter ends. I know that this was written in 1947, but I’ve read books from that time period, and even books that originated before this time period, and neither one of them was as clunkily written as this is. I mean for god’s sake, we have an entire paragraph about  Bill and his mom’s dish washing process. Yawn.

And at what point are we going to come back to the story Bill read in The Hoosier Schoolmaster? You can’t just tell us about that and leave us hanging at the end of the chapter, god. Or is that the point of the whole book?

These chapters are so short, I think we’ll do two at a time, at least for now.

Chapter 2 begins where we left off, with the boys making a comical snowman and naming it Mr. Black. I predict Mr. Black comes along and sees it, predictably with no sense of humor.

Little Jim stands by a tree, and Bill tells us it’s likely he is thinking. Little Jim, apparently, is the best christian in the Gang, and he is always saying something he’s learned from church or that “his parents have taught him from the Bible.”

How old are these gang members? Shouldn’t they be above parroting their parents by now? How about “Little Jim was always thinking about something he had read in the bible?” I would find that way less problematic. Even 6 year olds are capable of thinking original thoughts about the Bible. There’s a few sentences about the beech tree Little Jim is  thinking under. I’m skipping most of it.

It was the same tree where one summer day, there had been a big old mother bear and her cub. I, all of a sudden, while I was sitting there on my stack of sleds was remembering that fight we’d had with the old fierce old mad old mother bear.

What? I want to hear this story. This story is much more interesting than the story we are currently in. What the fuck?

Bill asks Little Jim if he is thinking about the time he killed a bear and –hang on, how old is Little Jim? Also, this is an interesting story, you can’t just leave it out. Honestly, the author would ramble on about a certain beech tree and dish washing techniques, then he just drops this bombshell on us and doesn’t even bother explaining it.

Little Jim disagrees. He is not thinking about the bear he killed.

Poetry spoke up from where he was standing beside Mr. Black’s snow statue, and said, “I’ll bet you’re thinking about the little cub which you had for a pet after you killed the bear.”

Little Jim killed a mama bear? And kept the cub as a pet? How old is this child? I can not suspend my disbelief for this if Little Jim is one day younger than 16. And is allowed to carry a gun.

Tom Till says Little Jim is probably thinking about the fight they all had that day.

What day is this? What fight?


It was in that fight that I licked Little red-haired Tom Till, who with his big brother Bob had belonged to the other gang…. But now Little Tom’s parents lived in our neighborhood and Tom had joined the gang, and also went to our Sunday School, and was a swell little guy; and as you maybe know, Bob was still a tough guy, and hated Big Jim and all of us, and we never knew when he was going to start some new trouble in the Sugar Creek territory….

This is confusing. When Bill says “the gang,” which gang is he referring to? The Sugar Creek Gang, or “the other gang,” whichever gang that was. And what would changing neighborhoods have to do with it? Are these gangs divided up  by neighborhoods like school districts? I thought that when you joined a gang, you stayed in that gang.

“Well,” I said, to Little Jim who was looking up into the tree again like he was still thinking something important, “what are you thinking about?” and he said, “I was just thinking about all the leaves, and wondering why they didn’t fall off like the ones on the maple trees do. Don’t they know they’re dead?”

You are supposed to start a new paragraph every time a new character starts talking. This author never got the memo. Either that or the formatting got screwed up when this book got uploaded to PG.

Just then, Dragonfly comes up to them with some beech sticks he’s been carving into switches. He puts them in the snowman’s hands.

The children stand back to admire their work, and Poetry says, in “his duck voice” (So, he quacks?) that it’s lacking. You can’t quite tell who the snowman is supposed to be.

“What are you going to do?” I said to Poetry, and he said, “Nothing,” and right away was doing it, which was sticking two sticks in the snow man’s stomach side by side and then opening The Hoosier Schoolmaster to the place where there was the picture of the teacher on the roof, and laying the book flat open across the two sticks.

Now that the snowman is perfect, the kids want to start throwing snowballs. At a snowman holding a library book. I wouldn’t do that today, and weren’t people more careful with their books back in the 1940s, especially library books?

Dragonfly wants to get a picture, so he runs back to his house to get his camera. Meanwhile, the other children go to see Old Man Paddler, whoever he is. Is he like, the village whip man or something? I mean, Old Man Paddler sounds like something I’d call a disciplinarian father if I was a kid.

Speaking of which, how old are these kids? Even Wikipedia won’t tell me.

“Or he might get stung on the head by a bumblebee,” Circus said, and Little Jim spoke up all of a sudden and said, like he was almost[Pg 17] mad at us, “Can anybody help it that he gets bald? My pop’s beginning to lose some of his hair on top….” Then he grabbed his stick which he had leaned up against the beech tree for a jiffy, and struck very fiercely at a tall brown mullein stalk that was standing there in a little open space, and the seeds scattered in every direction, one of them hitting me hard right on my freckled face just below my right eye, and stung like everything; then Little Jim started running as fast as he could go in the direction of the sycamore tree, like he had been mad at us for something we’d done wrong. In fact, when he said that, I felt a kind of a sickish feeling inside of me, like maybe I had done something wrong. I grabbed my stick and started off on the run after Little Jim, calling out to the rest of the gang to hurry up, and saying, “Last one to the sycamore tree is a cow’s tail,” and in a jiffy we were running and jumping and diving around bushes and trees and leaping over snow-covered brushpiles toward the old sycamore tree and the mouth of the cave, which was there, and which as you know is a very long cave, and comes out at the other end in the cellar of Old Man Paddler’s cabin.


Did… did we just wrap up the “story” of how the boys were inspired by the Hoosier book? They read about a teacher the students in Hoosier didn’t like, and they put it in the “arms” of a snowman representing a teacher they didn’t like? That’s it? I had a feeling they were literally going to smoke the teacher out of… did they still have one room schoolhouses in 1947?

Wikipedia says that these books are based on the author’s childhood, but I have to wonder if this book, at least, is based on The Hoosier Schoolmaster, at least a little. Having never read Hoosier, I couldn’t say for sure. I think I’ll put it on my “to read sometime” list.

I have to admit, this book is hard to read. Parts of it are confusing, and parts of it I just don’t really care about. The story is not quite interesting enough for me to care. It is easy to put down.

I’m not sure yet if this is meant to be a series of little stories about the boys and their doings, or if there’s supposed to be an actual multiple chapter story arc.

I guess I’ll have to keep reading to find out. That… that doesn’t bode well.






VeggieTales: Josh and The Big Wall

I’m supposed to be doing chapter 3 of OBAW, but reading that book is just too much for me right now, so you all are going to join me on a distraction. We’re going to go over a nice, Sabbath appropriate video, Veggie Tales!

Veggie Tales has been popular for years, and was developed by Big Idea. The main characters, Bob and Larry, are actually fruit. Originally the creator of Veggie Tales made one of the characters a candy bar, but it was suggested to him that parents might prefer something healthier. I think this show actually would discourage one from eating vegetables because who wants to be eating Bob and Larry? We used to make jokes about that at the academy cafeteria. “Oh, I’m cutting up Bob, we’re going to eat him today in a salad.”

Overall I like VeggieTales. It’s the only Christian show that even compares to mainstream media. Yes it’s preachy, but it’s not over the top, and one doesn’t get the feeling that one is being beaten over the head with the message. Or at least, I didn’t as a child, we’ll see how I feel about it as an adult.

In any case, I can’t do too many Veggie Tales reviews because it’s actually pretty hard to get ahold of copies for free. The DVD I have now was generously provided by the public library. So, while I will be able to do a few VeggieTales reviews, I will not be able to do all of them. Sorry.

After the theme song, Bob the Tomato and Junior Asparagus are hosting from the kitchen counter. Larry was a little tired from the last show, so they’re letting him sleep in a bit. Junior is helping Bob for now. Junior’s so cute. He’s clearly a little kid on TV for the first time and loving it.

Bob tells us we have a letter from Victor, who has a problem. This kid named Louis hit him in class yesterday. If this were the 1940s/50s, the advice would be to punch him back. This being the 1990s, conventional wisdom is closer to “be nice to the bully and it will all be ok” bullshit. At least if you hit someone back they know they can’t just hit you whenever they want with no consequences.

Victor wants to hit Louis back, but God says to be nice to Louis. What should Victor do. I put a period instead of a ? there because this really isn’t a question.

Junior: I know exactly how you feel Victor. Sometimes the things I learn in church don’t sound like very much fun

That’s because they’re not.

Bob says he has a story for that, and tells Junior to close his eyes. The do, and when they open them, they’re in a desert.

Junior: How did we get here?

Bob: We’re using our imagination

I’m… less of a fan of this particular plot device, but, eh, we’ll work with it.

Bob gives Junior a rundown on the story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, nodding to the fact that God gave them shitty directions.

Seriously, Bible students all over the place have noticed that, if you trace out the Israelites’ travels on a map, it doesn’t really make sense. God didn’t exactly lead them to the Promised Land very well, and it’s good to see the show acknowledge this, even slightly.

God gives directions like a dyscalculiac.

Bob: All the Israelite’s had to do was follow God’s directions, and they’d go right to the promised land!

Bob says, as he shows us this map. These, apparently, were God’s directions. Which makes Bob’s next sentence

“but they didn’t always follow God’s directions”

seem like a good thing. God punished the Israelites for not wanting to follow these ridiculous directions by making them wait 40 years in the desert.

In the meantime, Joshua has replaced Moses as the leader of the Israelites.

Bob: they were wandering around in the desert, but now it’s time–

Gourd: It’s time? It’s time? He really say it’s time?

This starts off a song about how great the promised land is going to be because the desert is so awful. This song is mostly about food. The Israelites are dreaming and singing about the good food they’re going to be able to eat now that they’re finally going to the promised land.

May I remind the audience that the last time the Israelites complained about Manna and dreamed about better food, many of them got the death penalty.

That’s not why this isn’t my favorite VeggieTales song, it just isn’t my favorite VT song. It’s… largely forgettable.

In any case, as Joshua tries to lead his people to the promised land, but Jericho is kind of in the way.


And I mean that literally. There’s no real reason that I can see that they don’t just go around Jericho. It is surrounded on all sides by open desert, which is kind of silly because a city like that is practically indefensible.

We cut from this scene to Silly Songs with Larry, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song. This time it’s The Song of the Cebu, which is one of my favorite Veggietales songs, and I’m probably not the only one who thinks that.

Larry starts telling the story of the 3 Cebus, a sad cebu, a mute cebu, and a sick cebu. And also a hippo.

Archibald the asparagus comes in and is skeptical.

Archibald: Hold it! You call this a multimedia event? This is a slide
projector and a bed sheet! And what on Earth is a cebu, anyway?
Larry: It’s kind of like a cow. See?
Archibald: Yes. Well, very good. This could be interesting. Carry on!

And so they continue singing, until Larry says “uh-oh,” and clicks his projector. The next few slides are blank.
At this point, Archibald comes in and starts doing my job for me.
Archibald: Wait! What happens next?
Larry: Um …
Archibald: Does the hippo see them? Is the poor mute cebu successful in
communicating the imminent danger to the other passengers? Is the boy
injured? Why is the sad cebu sad? Is the canoe wood or aluminum?

I used to think Archibald was ridiculous here, but now I think he kinda sounds like me when watching most Christian movies.

Larry clicks the projector desperately, and finds more vacation pictures. There’s one of him and Bob at sea world, another one of the bullfight and….

Another movie reviewer I like pointed out that in this part of the slideshow, he clicks the projector and says. “Oh, I forgot about that one.” We don’t get to see what it’s a picture of, but we do get to see everyone’s reaction to it.

Headcanon: Larry did something sexual.


The song ends with the audience standing and leaving, singing: bye bye moo moo bye bye moo moo moo moo.

Back at the Monty Python reference, we have The Israelites arguing with the french peas. The peas react to Joshua and the Israelites the same way I react to meeting new people.

Jean-Claude: It was nice to meet you. Now go away.

Then Joshua tells Jean-Claude and Phillipe the words that are the main cause of a lot of wars.

Joshua: No, you don’t understand. God gave us this land to be our new home. So you’re gonna have to leave.

Basically, Joshua comes to their castle (in the middle of the desert) and tells them they have to leave, because God said so.

Yanno, Joshua’s kind of a jerk in this story, as is God. If there were people already living there, why would God direct the Israelites there? Why not take them to a land that was unoccupied?

My issues with VeggieTales usually don’t have to do with the actual show. They have to do with the source material, and I have a problem with this Bible story. Joshua, here, along with his God, are basically committing genocide.

Joshua is supposed to be the good guy here.

In any case, Jean-Claude and Phillipe refuse to let the Israelites in, so the Israelites leave, Jean-Claude and Phillipe laughing at them.

You may have your God, but we have our wall!

The Jerchoites have something right. I’d definitely rather be protected by a wall that actually exists than a sky daddy who doesn’t. Of course that is not the lesson I’m supposed to take from this movie.

The lesson I am supposed to take from this movie is to follow God’s directions, even if they lead me to wander around in the desert for 40 years.

Pa Grape tells them they should go back to Egypt.

Snorkeling in the Nile, 3 square meals a day, plenty of exercise, oh! it was paradise!

Other grape: We were in slavery!

Pa Grape: nothing is perfect.

I….get what they’re trying to do here, but if you’re not thinking along the lines of “deep spiritual lesson,” this just sounds odd. Although it is true to the Biblical story, so, props, I guess?

I wonder at the veracity of it though. Assuming the Exodus ever even happened (another thing scholars doubt), I think everyone agreed that they were better off wandering in the desert than they were as enslaved Egyptians.

Joshua goes out to the desert, and meets an angel, who tells him to march around the city once with all his men, once a day for 6 days. On the 7th day, March around the city 7 times with the priests sounding the trumpets. The tune to Battle Hymn of the Republic plays as Archib–the angel tells him this.

Angel: Well, have fun.

Joshua and the Israelites think these instructions are… interesting.

Jimmy Gourd: Well, I’m sure that would work great. If the walls were made out of Jell-O!

He’s got a point.

Jimmy Gourd tells everyone that he and Jerry have a better plan. They have a large rocket missile they plan to launch at the wall. How did they make that they are in a desert what the–never mind.

Everyone claps.

Young Grape: How are we clapping?

Pa Grape: I have no idea

I love that the characters in this show are self aware enough to realize that they don’t have arms, legs, or hands. It’s almost like they’re doing my job for me; pointing things out about this movie that don’t make sense. But the show doesn’t feel the need to explain itself to me. It’s just like, yeah, we know, these people don’t have hands so they can’t be clapping. Oh look kids, a rocket!

Junior: Oh no! It looks like they’re gonna ignore God’s directions again!

Because that would be a bad thing.

Joshua sings a song about how God knows what he’s doing and that he will take care of them. He says they should give God’s way a try first.

The next day, the Israelites go to march.

Jean-Claude: What are you doing

Jimmy Gourd: We’re going to knock your wall down

Jean-Claude: by walking around in circles??

Jimmy Gourd: Yes. It’s not because we’re crazy, it’s because God told us to

Because telling him that will make you sound any less crazy.

Jean-Claude: Oh, that’s a great idea. You go ahead and keep walking

Jean-Claude and Phillipe start singing:

Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall

Keep walking, but she isn’t going to fall

It’s plain to see, your brains are very small

to think walking will be knocking down our wall

After their song, the guards start throwing slushees at the Israelites, who try to dodge. I’m surprised they don’t try to catch them if they’re that starved for good food. Also, it’s the desert. A slushee to the head would probably feel quite refreshing.

Back at the camp that night, the Israelites are complaining that this whole march around the city plan isn’t going so well, and Pa Grape talks about organizing tours of the Egyptian pyramids.

At this point in the story Junior jumps in to preach at the Israelites about doing things our own way when we should be following God’s directions.  I take it back, this movie is overly preachy. It’s kind of painful, actually, to watch Junior sermonize like this. Junior and Bob have been talking, throughout this whole movie, about the Israelites following or not following God’s directions.

I hate the message of this movie. “Do things God’s way even though God’s way doesn’t seem to make sense.” You hear stories about this a lot growing up in Adventism. “I didn’t want to do X, but God told me to, and here’s how it all worked out” are common stories. The stories you don’t hear, however, are stories like mine. “God told me he wanted me to go to Bible school even though it makes more sense for me to be in college. So I applied to 4 different Bible schools and got rejected from all 5 of them.” (Yes, I’m aware I changed the number, no it is not a typo, don’t ask.)

Stories like this are, I’m sure, even more common than the ones that end “and it all worked out great.” But you’re not going to hear them at church during testimony time because no one wants to admit they got rejected from all 5 SDA Bible schools in existence (that I know of).

Movies like this encourage kids to make stupid decisions because “God” told them to. Sometimes these decisions don’t have huge impacts on their lives…and sometimes they do. Even if God actually existed, maybe he wants you to use your own brain and develop a “Wallinator 5000.”

After the song and speech, everyone is pumped to go kill those Jerichites knock down that wall.

Grape Junior: Well Pa, do you still wanna see the pyramids

Pa Grape: Ah, I’ve seen the pyramids. I built the pyramids

Actually, I’ve been reading somewhere that there is evidence that slaves did not build the pyramids. The pyramids were built by farmers who needed jobs in the off season when there were no crops to take care of, and it was an honor to say you had helped build them. I don’t have a good citation for that, though.

Bob narrates as the Israelites march around the City of Jericho while the Jerichites try to hit them with slushies. Which makes me wonder if the real Jericho guards shot them with something else and how many Israelites died in this campaign?

In any case, on day 7, the priests blow their horns, playing “Oh when the Saints go marching in” which is kind of hilarious.

This causes the walls of Jericho to fall, and the Jerichites run away. Which I can see why they did that instead of going with a more Biblical version of events, because this is a kid’s movie.

We return to the kitchen counter, where Bob talks about how some parts of the story–building a rocket and having slushies dropped on their heads–were creative license. I think people watching this know that and I hate it when movies talk down to the audience. You lose cookie points, VT!

The ending theme music plays

And so what we have learned applies to move our lives today

God has a lot to say in his book

you see we know that God’s word is for everyone

and now that our song is done we’ll take a look.

Bob hates this song, and so do I.

After the song, Junior preaches another sermon which is basically just the stuff he already said before about God’s ways being the best way and that we need to follow his instructions. Even if they do leave us wandering around in the desert for 40 years.

The Bible message are absolutely repetitive and annoying in this series. How did I not remember this? Look, even if they’re just kids, you can trust your audience to remember if you only explain the message once. And most times you didn’t even need to do it that much.

Qwerty shows us all a Bible verse: 2 Samuel 22:31A “As for God, his way is perfect.”

No, it is not. The ways God tells us to do things in the Bible are not perfect. Otherwise, we’d still be selling our daughters into slavery. We’d still have slavery.

Bob: So Victor, I know that being nice to someone who hasn’t been nice to you doesn’t sound like very much fun but following God’s directions is always the best idea. And maybe Louis doesn’t need a punch in the nose. Maybe he needs a friend.

I hate messages like these. I’ve been bullied a lot, and this is rarely ever true. In hindsight, I should have punched those bullies in the nose. Actually, what should have happened is that my parents should have taken me out of the school and allowed me to go to a different one, but parents don’t always do the right thing. Sending me to an Adventist school, after all, was them following God’s directions.  And look how well that turned out for me.

So remember kids, use your fucking brains when you make decisions. Don’t just trust some invisible sky daddy to tell you what to do.

Junior: Remember, God made you special and he loves you very much!

And with that we close.

Like I said, the issues I have with this show have more to do with the source material than with the actual show. Do I think they should have done this particular story, no.

Frankly, though, the Bible isn’t exactly abounding with stories that are appropriate for children. If you think about it, most stories that are commonly told to children from the Bible are actually really violent. Sometimes stories have to be adapted so the violence and sex is either offscreen or left out of the story entirely. Esther was not in a beauty pageant, and  the story of Noah’s Ark is mostly about genocide.

So the bar is set pretty low as far as how much violence and implied sex you can have in a children’s story if the story comes from the Bible.

What I can’t figure out is why no one working on the movie ever sat back in their chair and asked. “Do you think we’re the bad guys?”

This is especially true in the episode since there was no real reason to go through Jericho. Jericho is just this big wall surrounded on all sides by desert. By all means, the Israelites could have just gone around it. Not only did Joshua come in and destroy the Jerichites home and city because God told him to, which would make him enough of a villain, he did it for no good reason. Biblical Joshua was a genocidal dick, but at least he did it because they legitimately needed to get through Jericho. Cucumber Joshua just did this because…?

And that’s the main issue I have with the way this movie chose to interpret the Bible story.





On Becoming A Man Chapter 1

Because we are doing On Becoming a Woman, I thought it would be fun to simultaneously do On Becoming a Man as well, so that we can compare and contrast the advice given to the sexes.

Warning: this book will not actually turn you into a man if you do not have a penis.  I know, because that’s what I told everyone when they asked why I was reading it, and boy did I get an earful!

This chapter is basically the same as OBAW, but with different wording and a few changes.

Like the previous book, this one starts out with Shryock jabbering on about how awesome teenagerhood is.

By the flip of a switch, as it were, you can choose to be a businessman, or a craftsman, or a member of one of the professions.  You can choose to spend your life accumulating a fortune, or you can choose to spend it in the service of humanity.

This is the major difference in this chapter from On Becoming A Woman (OBAW): the women are told they all dream of being housewives and mothers. There isn’t one shred of text saying that women could have careers too, or even jobs before marriage.

Thus far you have been following the pattern mapped out for children. Thus pattern is almost the same for one child as for another.

Eh, not really. Different things are expected of different children across different times and cultures.

Your life is  custom built, and you can have it the way you want it.

Because you’re becoming a man, and men can pretty much have things the way they want them.

Shryock tells us how the tools we have used in childhood to get along with others and learn things will help us in adulthood.

Just now your horizons are broad, and the sky is your limit. but a few years from now your opportunities will be restricted, depending upon how you have chosen during your teens.

That’s not a scary paragraph to read! Shryock says that if you become a tradesman and then later decide to go into something requiring higher education, it will be very difficult to transition. He says that the reverse is true, but from what I’m reading, college educated individuals have no problems deciding they want to become tradesmen.

It seems that life is built backwards. You have to make the major choices of life before you have had experience enough to form good judgement.

This chapter is pretty much the same advice we relieved in OBAW, just worded differently. Shryock goes on to tell us that we don’t need to choose a career right away, but that we can put this off till our early 20s. Well, kind of, not really. Of course, I’m in my late 20s, there’s probably no hope for me. Don’t think this all doesn’t scare me.

In OBAW, Shryock compares the teen years to a new dress. Here, he compares them to a car.

Because reducing humans to objects is cool, kids!

In any case, a car, if taken care of, will last for years and “give good service.” If the car is not well taken care of and if one drives recklessly, the car is more likely to break down a lot and you’ll need a new one sooner rather than later.

As a teenager you are in your “breaking in” period. As far as mental alertness and physical energies are concerned, you are superior to those who are older.

I’m not sure what he means by mental alertness. If he means “you have a built in bullshit detector that hasn’t yet been socially conditioned to ignore certain types of bullshit,” then yes, teenagers are way more mentally alert than most adults I know. Does he mean that teenagers have a greater capacity to learn than most adults? Because I could agree with him there, younger brains are way more absorbent. But teenagers often make really stupid decisions. This is all very normal, but I wouldn’t say it gives them an advantage over adults.

As for physical energies (again, something missing in OBAW), yes, I agree. A teenager is way more physically superior to me because oh my god I just about DIED walking around in this heat today and there’s these young punks just running around in 31C heat. Where do they get all this energy from anyway, jeez!

The author goes on from this to warn us that, if we develop bad habits in our teens, our characters will be “permanently blemished.”

Blemishes that are permitted to develop during the teens are prone to persist throughout life.

Yes, my blemishes as a teen are still with me today. I questioned my religion, I frequently stole things, and I rarely paid attention in class. So, Shryock is 1/3rd right, I guess.

Shryock goes on to say that children often argue about whether it’s better to be a boy or a girl, with boys usually being glad they are boys and girls being glad they are girls.

Is, is that how the argument usually turns out? It was not like this for me at all. I knew that it was better to be a boy. I envied the abilities of boys to run around shirtless, to never grow breasts or bleed, and to pee standing up. I also envied them their….boyness. Less was expected of them, and they had way more freedom.

I am still jealous and wish I was a man, with manly parts and a manly life…in fact, if I had been born a man, I likely would have been able to remain Adventist.

Shryock tells us that there’s very little difference between young boys and girls, except anatomically and that they usually keep  segregated and play different games, though sometimes they will crossover.

A teenage boy and girl are going to be way more different than a 9 year old boy and girl. Anatomically speaking this is true, but I think the way children were socialized in the 60s made this statement patently false. Heck, the way children are socialized today makes this statement very false.

Shryock isn’t just talking about anatomy. Teenage boys think very differently from teenage girls, and he doesn’t think socialization has anything to do with it.

In a boy’s early teens, he may not want to be seen socializing with girls. This will change by his late teens, as he becomes very interested in girls.

This curiosity is perfectly natural and proper. Curiosity about this and many other things is one of the advantages of the teenage period.

Shryock then talks about handling your curiosity wisely, whatever the fuck that means.

One of the principle purposes of this book is to help you satisfy your curiosity about the changes that have occurred in your own body since you were a child. Mention will also be made of the similar changes that have occurred in girls.

Whoa, slow down there Shryock. You’re telling boys about the female development, but you mention nothing to the girls about male development?

Sexist prick.

It has been many years now since I passed through the teenage period of my own life. But I still have vivid memories of the thoughts I used to think at the time.

I’ll bet you do.

Shryock also mentions his relationship with his son and daughter, who he says “have already passed through their early teens.” In OBAW, his children have just left their teens behind. So, he wrote this book first, then.

His other credentials include seeking advice from friends, and also people who render service to the youth, whatever the fuck that means.

I trust you will find the book both interesting arid profitable(sic).

So far, Shryock, I already have.





McGee and Me Episode 9: Twas The Fight Before Christmas

This is the last episode of season 1, the only real season the show had before they brought it back for a reboot. Because it was the last season, it is a Christmas special. This was probably timed to come out Christmas the year it was released.

This episode is…over the top, unrealistic, and cheesy as fuck.

But it’s still a Christmas show, so I’m probably still going to cry at some point. Yes, I’m a sucker for cheesy Christmas shows. Except that one movie that I can’t remember the name of.

As the opening credits roll, we see McGee sledding down a hill very fast being chased by the robot whatshisname draws. The robot is labeled “ski patrol,” and I guess he’s trying to give McGee a speeding ticket? For sledding too fast?

Anyway, he knocks an old lady off the chairlift, who falls and lands on top of “fat guy with a cigar.” That was very rude of McGee to knock her off like that. Asswhipe.

There’s a lot more people he runs into and it all ends when they crash into a big snowball at the bottom of a cliff. An alligator comes by in a Santa sled and says, “eh, whatever.”

Nick’s voice over tells us that the best time of the year is Christmas. After all, when else can you get presents, peace on earth, and excused from class for play rehearsals?

Ah, play rehearsals. These usually started in September or October, ish. Great way to get out of actual class time. Even when I wasn’t the one involved in the rehearsal, I used to lie there on one of the pews in the sanctuary and imagine the roof was a whole nother world with people living up there walking around upside down.* Or I would sneak off and explore the church’s nooks and crannies.

As the camera pans over children getting into their costumes, Nick tells us that participation in the play is “what you might call required.”

Renee: Look at the waistline on this thing. I mean, I’ve heard of baggy clothes, but I look like a big overgrown raisin.


Yes. I can really see the resemblance.


Girls. Only care about their looks, amiright? Seriously, this is the show’s attempt at comedy.

A little girl in a white tutu passes by, and I wonder what a ballerina is doing in a Christmas pageant. Derek calls her “Flake!” And it takes me a good 3 minutes to realize that she is a snow flake.

In a Christmas pageant?


That tutu is soooo against the dress code. That skirt doesn’t go to the tips of her fingers.

Nick, Louis, and Derek are to be the three wise men.

Derek, btw, is the only person not enjoying this. Their teacher, Miss Harlan, comes by.

Miss Harlan: Well, don’t we look….. uh….. precious.

There’s some “comedy” where a “donkey” (two students in a costume) crash into one of the backdrops, ripping it in two.

McGee says that if these people don’t get their act together, he and Mona will have to carry the show themselves.

Hey, it’s tough finding sheep this time of year.

Another teacher is trying to teach Phillip (who has lost his glasses, his high water pants, and every single shred of dorkiness he ever had, btw) to say “Ho ho ho.” She gets more of a  “Ho Ho HACHEW!”

This kid shouldn’t be in the play, he should be home in BED! Not infecting the other students!

Actually this is the most realistic part of the story. I remember being made to be in the Christmas program even when I was running a fever one year, even though I was not allowed to go to the Christmas party at school due to my illness.

Louis asks Derek why he’s not wearing his wise man hat thing.

Derek: You two morons actually think I’m gonna do this junk? You two guys are going to be the only ones out there once the curtain goes up.

Miss Harlan: The script calls for three wisemen, and three wisemen we will have. Unless you want to be the first person in the history of Eastfield to fail my class three times.

Seriously? Derek’s probably embarrassed enough at having to repeat a grade. Now he has to have his teacher mock him for it in front of his peers.

Worst. Teacher. Ever.

Also, what the fuck? She is going to hold him back a whole year just because he didn’t want to be in some stupid play? Give him an F in Drama class or something and move the hell on with your life, lady.

Derek: hey, that’s like blackmail

Miss Harlan: That’s right. Merry Christmas.

Wow, what a bitch.

This is bitchy, but it’s not blackmail. Telling a student that if he doesn’t put in the work he will fail a class (a class, mind you, not the entire fucking grade) isn’t blackmail, it’s called teaching.

Nick’s voiceover: It’s true that Derek had never been known as “the happy hood”

The happy what?!

Nick’s Voiceover: but this time, he seemed worse than ever. Like he really hated all this. I mean, how could a guy hate Christmas?

Not everyone is required to love Christmas, Nicholas. And not everyone needs to have a reason they hate it.  Derek may have some good reasons for hating Christmas, but even if he does not, that does not mean he is obligated to see it as “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Our next scene is Louis and Nick ooing and ahhing and smiling over a small wooden music box Nick wants to get his mother, As soon as he gets the rest of his allowance. Ok, fine, but no 12 year old boys are going to stand there smiling over a music box like that.

As they are standing there smiling over the music box like weirdos, a group of loud men laugh, talk loudly, and one of them obviously slips something into his coat. Because big bad tough guys love to steal music boxes!

The shop owner yells at them for a while, then gives up. Like, doesn’t even bother to call the police or anything, just yells at them. They aren’t even wearing masks, you could have these guys arrested and charged within 24 hours. Especially because one of them, not the one who stole anything, is Derek.

You even have Nicholas and Louis right there to identify him.

Nope. If yelling doesn’t work, nothing will, so the storekeeper gives up.

He deserves to be robbed.

Nick’s voiceover: I guess I always thought Derek would end up in real trouble one day. In fact, I kinda counted on it. But now, I couldn’t believe it was really happening.

Holy shit, Nicholas. Derek didn’t even steal anything, he was just with the person who did it and he knows it. Which, yes, does make him an accomplice, but still, an accomplice to theft, while serious, isn’t exactly what I would consider “real trouble.” This is the sort of trouble a lot of teenage boys get into, and something he could move past fairly easily. It’s not like Derek’s murdering or raping anyone.

Meanwhile, back at the Martin family home, grandma and Jamie are with us again, with no explanation as to why they were gone in the first place. Sara tries to eat some popcorn, but her mom tells her to save some for the tree.

Has no one remembered the Martin family has a dog? Let me tell you how well decorating a tree with popcorn works when you have a dog, ok? Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end well.

McGee pokes into an empty light socket on a string of Christmas lights with a cartoon screwdriver, muttering some nonsense words. He electrocutes himself. I’m sad it didn’t kill him.

“So,” Nicholas asks. “How’s that ‘scatterfratz?'”

McGee gets up, smoking. “Go peddle your eggnog.”

What the fuck does that even mean? This is what you get when you can’t have your characters swear in a movie. You can’t even let them veggie swear. McGee can’t even say “darn you to heck.”

Nobody seems to notice Nicholas talking to his imaginary friend, possibly because everyone is distracted by his dad lighting up too many Christmas lights and blowing a fuse. Good thing they already had some candles lit! In fact, they like the candles so much, they decide not to run the lights back on right away.

Nicholas sits staring into the fire, looking sad. Unlike reality, his mom actually notices and asks what’s wrong. She says Christmas is for everybody, even thieves. It’s kind of odd for her to mention thieves specifically when Nicholas hasn’t told her what’s going on, but nevermind. She reminds Nicholas of the thief on the cross, who God definitely forgave.

There’s a clunky bit where Jamie can’t find the 3rd wise man doll for the miniature nativity set. She pouts and worries about the 3rd wiseman being lost.

We get it, movie. Derek is a lost wise man. No need to bash us over the head with it.

Back at school, Miss Harlan tells Phillip, playing Santa Clause, to use lots of enthusiasm. So he proceeds to half shout, in monotone, about how glad he is that everyone could make it to the Christmas play.

This is the most realistic part of the whole episode: most children in play monologue their lines. Not me, though. I never monotoned. In fact, I was quite overdramatic. Crushed my little soul when I realized I was a terrible actor.

In any case, Phillip’s sled is being pulled by a student cleverly disguised as a reindeer. The camera focuses in on a shiny gold object. In case we didn’t see it, the editors give it an obviously fake sparkle.

Derek has put a tack right where the reindeer will step on it! What an evil meanie!

Unfortunately, this is the only thing he does to make this dress rehearsal hilarious. I was kind of looking forward to having Derek sabotage the show in every way possible. I was hoping the writers were going with that angle, but alas.

Oh wow. I missed it on my first watch through. During his monologue, Phillip rolls his eyes. Even HE thinks this is stupid.

In any case, Miss Harlan announces a 10 minute break, during which Nick overhears this:

Principle: Now there’s no cause for alarm, we don’t know for certain, I just thought you oughta know.

Miss Harlan: You’re telling me we don’t have a third wise man.

Principle: Now I don’t know that for sure. I just think you need to know that Derek is having some very serious problems at home right now.

Miss Harlan: I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do?

Principle: Well, we could get together and–

What kind of problems at home would cause Derek to have a legitimate excuse for missing a school function like this? Is his great aunt Irma (no there is no great aunt Irma I made her up) really sick? In that case, why wouldn’t he just say that? But if Mr. Principle knows about Derek’s dad beating him up (Oh come on, we all knew that reveal was coming), then why doesn’t he inform social services? They did exist back in the 80s.

Also, it’s not a big deal to have to find a new wise man. It’s not like the wise men have any speaking lines in this play. How hard can it possibly be to find someone willing to stand there for a few minutes in a doofy costume while the narrator reads the Bible story?

In any case, Nicholas is curious as to what sort of problems Derek is having at home, so he decides to investigate.

Nicholas: Me, what could I tell him?

McGee(dressed as an angel, complete with wings that really work): It’s Christmas, you’ll think of something.

Right. Because Christmas is magic. Shouldn’t the line actually be, “God will tell you what to say?” I would still think it was cliche writing, but at least that would be Biblical.

Nicholas, wise man costume in hand, walks down the hall to Derek’s apartment. Nick’s voiceover tells us that Derek is about to find out “what Christmas is all about.”

Because Derek’s never heard that before. There’s plenty of people over the age of 10 who have never heard the Biblical Christmas story before! Sure, in a parallel universe, maybe.

As we approach Derek’s apartment, we hear loud voices and a sound that is supposed to imitate flesh striking flesh, but just sounds to me like a fake ass big bang.

Derek slams the door to his apartment. He looks like he has  a bit of a black eye, and he is wiping away tears.

I fully expect him to go full on hulk rage on Nicholas and chase him 4 blocks down the street.  I probably would, if someone saw me like that.

It turns out that “problems at home” mean “Derek is being physically abused, and the real moral of the story is that someone should fucking call child services.” This being Focus on the Family, of course, that’s never gonna happen.

Derek: What are you doing here? I said what are you doing here Squid?

Squid? Really? This, kids, is what we get when we are not allowed to use actual insults in a movie.

The scene is really really awkward. If this were a normal movie, an awkward scene like this would be cut down to about 45 seconds. This is not a normal movie.

Nicholas(stammering): I… uh..We all missed you today at rehearsal

Nicholas, stop. Stop right there. No one likes a liar, and Derek knows you are lying. No one missed him, and he knows it.

Nicholas keeps talking.

and I just thought I’d stop by on my way home….ok maybe that’s not the real reason, but….well yeah, it’s part of the…

We hear a car honking and someone’s angry voice calling out.

Nicholas keeps stammering his way through an explanation, and I wonder why Derek doesn’t just put everyone out of their misery and punch him.

Derek(angrily): Why’d you really come here?

Nicholas: It’s Christmas

I wouldn’t care about you otherwise!

Derek: What?!

See, even Derek agrees with me that this is the most ridiculous explanation I have ever heard.

The car is still honking. A car honked in real life as I wrote that. That was creepy.

Nicholas: Christmas is supposed to be a time to care about other people, and…. that’s the whole reason for Christmas in the first place, right?

Oh god. please end this. Please end this awkward, godawful scene!

Because, because God loved us, and uh

This is about the look I have on my face whenever somebody starts spouting god crap at me.

The scene drags on for an agonizing 2 more minutes before a man comes in and says, “let’s go, Cryder, we ain’t got all night.”

It’s one of Derek’s friends, the Merry Prankster Thieves. The first man proceeds to behave like a cartoonish villain, harassing Derek about hanging out with Nick (which they weren’t.)

Ray picks the costume out of Nick’s arms.

Ray: Nice Dress

Derek: Ray

Ray(getting into Nicholas’ face and staring him in the eye): I don’t know who your friend is, but you better tell him if I ever see his sweet little face again, I’m gonna have to kick it all the way to the other side of town.

Ray turns to Derek and yells, “You got that?”

Derek: yeah, I got it Come on, my dad might come out.”

Ray(to Nicholas): Chow. Chicken.


This scene shows us Derek is being physically abused by his father, and is joining…what, a gang? For the family relationships that he is clearly missing from his real father.

The moral of the story here is that Derek needs Jesus. Not that, yanno, Nick should really tell someone. Like an adult, who should then call child protective services.

This show came out in the 1980s/1999s. Things had drastically improved since the 1960s. People cared about child abuse by this time. Except people like those who worked at Focus on the Family, who believe that a parent’s right to treat a child like crap trumps the child’s right not to be treated like crap. And they still believe that today.

In any case, this is a very cliche background. It’s over the top, cartoonish, and beats us over the head with the message about the root of Derek’s behavior problems.

I want you all to imagine that Derek, instead of Nicholas, is the show’s protagonist. It’s established that Derek likes to draw. What if, instead of McGee coming alive for Nicholas, he comes alive for Derek? This not only gives Derek some much needed companionship, it could make McGee relevant to the plot.

“So, Derek,” McGee said, panting and out of breath.
“I ran up to the apartment to check, and your dad’s been drinking again. You might want to wait a while before going up there.”

I would still find McGee the most annoying character on the show, but I would be able to set that aside if he was Derek’s only real friend.

Nicholas has friends. He has parents who love him. He has family. Nicholas isn’t the one who needs McGee. Derek is. And yet Derek feels no need of an imaginary friend, like Nicholas does. Kind of makes one wonder.

Derek tries to say something to Nicholas, then leaves after Ray.

The Christmas program is starting, and Nicholas talks about remembering his lines. Why, is he the narrator or something? We’re never shown anyone but Phillip having lines.

Nicholas’ dad slips backstage to give him some money. After the play, he’ll take the family out for ice cream, so Nicholas can slip off and buy the music box. His mom will be totally oblivious to the fact that Nicholas is missing while they get their ice cream and will never know the difference.

Are they trying to portray Nicholas’ mom as an inattentive woman who doesn’t care? I would absolutely notice if my only son wasn’t there to eat ice cream. That said, this is Christmas, so she probably fills in the blanks herself.

As the cast is about to take their place on stage and Phillip monologues the introduction–

Actually, I want to point something out in Phillip’s introduction. He says something like, “we are so glad that you and the Mrs could come and see the Eastfield production…”

You and the Mrs.? Ouch. What if you are “the Mrs?” God, its like they don’t view women as people, just wives. Accessories who belong to their husbands.

In any case, as the cast walks up to take their places on stage, Derek shows up. Miss Harlan is thrilled, and tells Derek she is glad that he could make it.

Derek: Yeah, well, somebody said you were *unintelligble* quizzes this semester, so…

I think he said “giving fewer quizzes?” I can’t actually tell what Derek is saying. The subtitles on Youtube videos are a joke, and I doubt FoTF provided closed captioning anyway.

Miss Harlan (smiling): That’s blackmail!

You people keep using that word. I do not think you know what it means.

We get shots of the audience fading in and out, presumably signifying the passage of time. Jamie tells us, “Nick’s next” because we were too stupid to figure it out for ourselves.

They had to give the kid some lines, I guess.

In any case, as someone narrates the Bible story, we get shots of Nicholas, Louis, and Derek standing in the nativity interbcut with shots of the audience. We get some closeups of Derek’s face. He looks like he’s about to cry, and we’re probably supposed to think he’s being affected by the message being “preached” (people who do these plays really think they are preaching, in a way). But given the scene we saw earlier it’s more likely his dad hit him again.

We get some reaction shots of the children in the audience, who look like they are falling asleep.

After the play, Nicholas is in the store buying the music box. We cut to a shot of Ray, who has Derek by the lapels. Derek tells Ray he wants out, and Ray pushes him around a bit but doesn’t seriously hurt him. This isn’t realistic at all. If you’re going to include one of your characters joining a gang, for the love of God, at least make it seem like Ray’s threats are real. Have the violence happen off camera and use makeup to make it look like Derek has a black eye and swollen lip.

“If I ever see you or that dumb punk again, you’re history man. Ok? You got me man?” *pushes Derek against a fence*

Yeah… Ray is very threatening. He gets into his car and drives away.

We cut to a shot of Nicholas leaving the music box store, which is surrounded by carolers. They start singing The Carol of the Bells, which I have to admit is one of my favorites. We see Nicholas walking home with the Carol of the bells playing in the background.

And we are not the only one’s watching. Ray and his friend, Gang Member #2,  see Nicholas walking by.

Ray: Drive ahead to the alley and wait

The car comes to a stop a street or so ahead, and we hear a car door slam as Ray gets out.

The Carol of the Bells takes on a more ominous tone as Nicholas is walking down the street, switching from acapella by the carolers to actual music on tape, complete with violins. The musical montage in this episode is actually well done. I am heavily biased towards Christmas music, but I think, as well, that this is the only decent source music to work with. The other musical montages we’ve seen have been songs written by 80s Christian Pop artists. Carol of the Bells is a classic. And too, this is the only music set to footage that couldn’t just be cut from the film. In the first episode ever, the music is played to Nicholas walking home from the theatre. You could’ve cut those shots and it wouldn’t affect the episode in any way whatsoever. Credit where credit is due, the music is well done, and the scene is plot relevent.

As the music plays, getting faster and faster and the voices getting lower pitched, we see Ray take his place inside an alley, which Nicholas is about to pass. Some shots of Ray’s clenched fist, shots of Nicholas, and then Ray reaches out, grabs Nicholas, and shoves him against some trash bags. The music box drops to the ground, somehow managing not to break. I mean, that’s a fragile looking music box, it should have broke in half. It should not still be tinkling. The real music has faded, and the music box is now playing The Carol of the Bells. It’s kinda creepy, which is probably what they were going for, so, yay for that.

This scene is, for its budget and scope, pretty well done. I got the sense that Nicholas was in real danger, the music was actually right for once, and I sort of felt afraid for Nicholas.

The music box continues to tinkle as Ray’s friend approaches–and Derek knocks him down. The real music playing Carol of the Bells comes back, with the tune tweaked a little bit to seem more ominous and be better background music for a fight.

I’m not explaining this well at all, but then, I’m not a musician.

Derek fights Ray for Nicholas, and I’m a little confused. There are 2 bad guys here, Ray and Whatshisname. This is stupid of Derek. He should go call someone in to help him rather than get beat up himself.

Somebody offscreen says something about calling the cops, and the two bad guys flee. Derek hands Nicholas the music box, which by all rights should at least be a little bit broken.

Nicholas: Are you ok?

Derek: yeah

Nicholas: Why did you… I mean… I don’t understand?

Because Derek is a decent person. Sure he’ll steal a few music boxes with the guys, he may steal the little kids’ milk money, he may even punch someone a few times.  But he doesn’t want anyone actually getting seriously hurt. And those men would have seriously hurt Nicholas. Let’s not pretend they would have beaten him up a little and sent him on his merry way.

If this were a better movie, Nicholas would be about to learn that people aren’t black and white. (Unless we’re ticking off boxes on government forms.)

Derek: I don’t really know either. Maybe I’m just starting to see things… different. I gotta go.

Nicholas: Derek, thanks.

Derek: Merry Christmas.

This is Focus On the Family. I should not have been expecting this to be better… but I was expecting this to be better. When Nicholas asks Derek why he helped him, Derek could’ve just shrugged, said, “Merry Christmas,” and then left. We still would’ve gotten the character growth and change, but we wouldn’t be hit over the head with it, nor would we have to sit through this awkward scene.

There’s a shot of the Martin’s house. Someone throws fake snow over the camera as Nicholas’s voiceover talks to us. We get a shot of him and his family is sitting around the tree exchanging presents.

Nicholas: That Christmas, Derek Cryder changed. And somehow, that made Christmas seem more real than ever. It’s like, no matter who you are, or what you have to offer, god sent his son, so that all of us could know his love, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

Nicholas gives his mom the music box, and she looks like she’s about to cry, probably because it’s broken from the time he dropped it after being grabbed by Ray. She opens her arms and Nicholas gives her a big hug.

The movie could have done way better without the voiceover at the end. First off, no one needs to be told what Christmas is all about from your perspective yet again. Second, don’t tell us Derek changed. Leave exactly what happened to him up in the air, make us wonder. Get us curious for season 2. I do not know yet if the writers knew there wouldn’t be a season 2 and that that is why they tacked on this ending, or if they just didn’t care.

The episode closes (or tries to) on a shot of Nicholas’ family smiling by their Christmas tree with their presents.

McGee: And god bless us every one. *blows out candle*

Well, it almost had a halfway decent ending, anyway.

This… was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as usual. As far as McGee and Me episodes go, this one was honestly the best. It had an actual story line, one of the characters got some character development and even without being told Derek changed we saw some growth. And, the best part, McGee was hardly even in it.

In any case, that’s it for this season. We’re done. Happy Christmas in July, everyone.



*I was a really strange child









On Becoming A Woman Chapter 1


(Caution: This book is NOT for transgender women. It will not tell you how to actually become a physical woman. Such a book would, I have no doubt, be useful, but alas, it is not this one.)

The book that won the vote for next Snarktastic SDA book is On Becoming A Woman, by Harold Shryock, which I  keep reading as “shy cock.”It was originally published in 1968 by the Review and Herald. In 2013 Pacific Press formatted it for the kindle. For this reason, I do not think I am snarking on some outdated book that nobody takes seriously anymore. This book was clearly meant to be read by modern teenagers. It is therefore my duty to pick apart the errors and point and laugh at the outrageous claims.

Harold Shryock died fairly recently, in 2004. Here is his obituary:

Harold Shryock, M.D., 97, died March 3, 2004, at Loma Linda, California. He was a respected medical educator, college administrator, author, counselor, public speaker, and family patriarch.

Born Edwin Harold on April 14, 1906, in Seattle, Washington, Shryock grew up at Loma Linda, where his father, Alfred, became the sixth physician at the newly established College of Medical Evangelists (CME, now Loma Linda University). Harold married Daisy Bagwell in 1929, graduated from Pacific Union College, and completed his medical training at CME in 1933. He was asked to teach at CME three years later and did so for more than 40 years. He served as dean of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine from 1951-54 and chaired the Department of Anatomy from 1957-69.*


Author of more than 600 magazine articles and 13 books, Shryock may be best remembered among Adventists for two volumes: On Becoming a Man and On Becoming a Woman.


Right. So, with that background knowledge in mind, on to chapter 1!



Chapter 1

The Teen-Age Girl


The teens are the most colorful years of life. No other period surpasses the teens for the sheer joy of living.

Oh boy. He’s one of those adults.

Shryock goes on to talk about how, when you’re a child, you’re still learning about the world around you and don’t really have a whole lot of choice in your activities. He refers to being a teenager as a “thrilling adventure,” and I wonder what drugs he’s been smoking.

Now that you have reached this happy period of life you have the advantage of having already learned…how to get along reasonably well with people.

Well… some teenagers have learned this, I’m sure…

Shryock talks about how a woman will obtain physical developments, an awakening of the mental powers, and a maturing of one’s personality.

It is up to you to choose the way you will use these newly acquired assets, and thus determine what kind of person you will be for the remainder of your life.

As he refers to “physical developments” as an “Asset,” I’m going to assume that this is giving me permission to use my physical assets as I see fit. Quick, must find out how to use female assets.

In your 20s and 30s you will experience the realities of becoming bride, housewife, and mother.

This was clearly written in the 1960s. My mother has had those experience. I’m 3 years away from 30, and I have yet to experience either one of those things. Thank whatever diety does or doesn’t exist that being a single female has become less frowned upon, or I’d have been divorced like 4 times by now and probably killed myself after husband #3.

Shryock tells us that we’ll be so busy as adults that we won’t have time to realize that our cherished daydreams have come true.

My cherished daydreams involve being the first human on Mars, financial stability, and getting a dog. Neither one of those things has happened yet, Shryock. When are my cherished daydreams coming true?

In middle life you will be very busy and will find yourself even more the victim of circumstances.

Well, yes… and no. Yes in some ways I am a victim of circumstances I can’t control, and I have no way of knowing right now if there’s any way out. However, as an adult, I have way more options for trying to find the way out than I would have as a teenager.

…but living will take on a somber hue in contrast to the brilliance of adolescent years.

I wonder how many people killed themselves after reading that? No seriously, when I read shit like this I cried, because being a teenager was so horrible, and I was scared it would never get better. When adults would say something to confirm this, I would feel suicidal.

If any teenagers are reading this blog, please know that you can disregard such statements. Life is so much better after High School, I promise. I’m glad I stuck it out to live this long.

Shryock compares being a teenager to wearing a new dress. At first we are careful not to ruin said dress, then afterwards we stop taking such special care and just run about in it doing whatever.

Our lives are new, and we need to take care of our mental and physical assets. If we do, they’ll last us a long time. If not, they could cause handicap that could stick with you for the rest of your life.

Fear mongering much? I made some idiotic mistakes as a teenager, but fortunately, they don’t really affect my life right now.

Shryock talks about how being a teenager is difficult because you have to make major life choices before you’ve really had a chance to live. Fortunately, we are not alone in this endeavor, because we have parents and friends.

During your teens you are mentally alert and able to think clearly.

I was?

I’m not saying teenagers are bad thinkers. That’s not necessarily the case. However, they are inexperienced thinkers, and often don’t necessarily think long term. That’s ok, that’s normal. Normal as it is, I’m not sure I’d call it clear thinking.

We may not know our future exactly, but we still must make major decisions. Shryock talks about how we need to make good decisions so that we can become persons of integrity throughout the rest of our lives.

No, he doesn’t say “persons,” I added that.

It is largely during these teen years that you will become stabilized in your religious beliefs and will develop a philosophy of life.

There was nothing that was related to religion that was stable in my teen years. My religious beliefs were shaken when I entered academy at age 14, and continued to remain unstable till I was 25. Most teenagers I know, in fact, are questioning their religious beliefs. Do these beliefs stabilize by age 20? I don’t know. Maybe?

Shryock also tells us that during our teen years are when we develop habits that will help us to keep attractive homes and make us look nice. Um, I never got that memo either, actually.

He also tells us that the teen years are a framework into which our later lives must fit, and that the character and personality we are developing now is going to determine what kind of husband (of course the word is husband, none of you are lesbians, you silly geese) you will marry, along with whether or not you are going to be a selfish person or a person who does good things for others. Wow, all of that is determined by how I acted as a teenager? Good grief, how am I not a mass murderer?

Children are surprisingly alike. There is not much real difference even between boys and girls. Yes, there are minor anatomical differences; but as far as external appearances go, the obvious difference is that boys have short haircuts and wear trousers, whereas girls have long hair and wear dresses.

This is suprisingly liberal for the late 1960s, especially for an Adventist 1960s book. I half expected him to babble on and on about how different boys and girls are. I still have issues with the passage, of course, but credit where credit is due; Shryock does say, in the following paragraph, that sometimes boys will play “girl” games and girls will play “boy” games. I wasn’t expecting that kind of liberal (for the times and culture) thinking, so, cookie points? I guess?

In any case, most girls, during the tween years, lose contact with the boys they played with as children. I only agree with this because my family moved a lot. Otherwise, I was always way more comfortable playing with boys, and would not likely have lost track of them the way Shryock is saying we do.

But now, now that we are on the verge of womanhood, we are about to have a different attitude toward boys. We are about to start noticing the opposite sex.

You have put away childish things and have become concerned with feminine interests. You have even begun to think and dream about love and about the time when you will have a home of your own.

I only did this because religious books told me I should. I never really wanted to. Not all females are into “feminine interests.” I also never daydreamed about romantic love.

But now you have become curious, both as to the meaning of the changes in your own body and as to the changes that make men out of boys. This curiosity is perfectly natural.

Color me kind of shocked. Wasn’t expecting that one. Well, you know what they say about stopped clocks, I suppose…

It is the purpose of this book to help you satisfy this curiosity by providing wholesome answers to your questions.

I’m actually mildly curious now to know what these “wholesome answers” are. But then, the pressing questions I had as a developing teenager were very much off the beaten path of what is considered normal, and I doubt very much that Shryock plans to address them. Will this book tell me how normal tween/teen girls thought as they, um, developed?

Curiosity, when under proper control, is an asset. When not properly controlled it can lead to unwholesome experimentation and inquiry.

He doesn’t come out and say it, but I’m sure he means masturbation.

I also don’t like this. Controlled curiosity? I don’t even know what that could possibly mean, except to repress a desire for knowledge. Maybe Shryock means only get your knowledge from selected sources like parents or trusted Christian adults?

It’s kind of a red flag, to me. Discouraging people from following up on each and every question they have and things they wonder about is a terrible thing to do to a child. As is telling them they must filter all their answers through the filter of Adventist Christianity. It’s heartbreaking, how they brainwash the children.

There was a time a generation or 2 ago when a false sense of modesty kept young people ignorant…questions were often met with evasions or with prudish misinformation that drove young people to find the truth elsewhere, often from unwholesome sources.

Let me translate this for you: the adults wouldn’t tell them, so they asked their non Adventist friends, who told them all about inserting tab A into slot B. These worldly friends also probably taught the good little SDA children how to masturbate, the dirty heathens!

All that aside, I’m actually kind of surprised the author is aware of this at all. Credit where credit is due, this is spot on.

Now, I’m sure all of you are wondering something: how is Harold Shryock qualified to talk to us womenfolk? After all, he is the possessor of an almighty penis, what can he possibly know what it’s like to have a vagina?

Well, first off, he’s got a daughter who has just gotten out of her teens. I’m too lazy to look up exactly how old his daughter would’ve been at the time of this writing but if she just got done being a teenager I’m going to guess 20-23.

Shryock believes that this friendship with his daughter has given him special insight onto how girls this age think. Because one teenage girls speaks for all teenage girls, of course! We’re all alike, after all.

Shryock has also asked his friends who work with teenagers how they think, and they’ve given him some advice on what subjects to include. He phrases it that way, too. He doesn’t say, “I went to a child psychologist,” or “I talked to a social worker” or even a pediatrician.

Speaking of pediatricians, I’m actually surprised Shryock doesn’t bring up his medical credentials. I’d still prefer a female author, but if it was a doctor telling me about how my reproductive organs worked, I’d still take him seriously, because I assume they learn about all this in medical school. In my eyes, at least, this does give him a shred more credibility than, say, the local youth pastor.

I have attempted to prepare the book in such a way that it will be both informative and interesting. I believe you will enjoy it.

Well, thank you, Mr. Shryock, I do believe I will enjoy it. I always enjoy a good snark read.