Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself
I’ve been thinking that since this site does not have an “About Me” page, I probably ought to offer up a some kind of profile of myself. Although I’m 98% certain that the only folks who are reading this blog already know me, I am out there on that InterWeb-thingie now, so you never can tell. Besides, my friends (and you know who you are) might not know some of this stuff. So, without further ado, I offer up the following list of autobiographical tidbits:
- My full name, for those who don’t know, is Reginald Jason Bennion.
Don’t laugh. “Reginald” is a fairly common and perfectly respectable name in my ancestral homelands. It is also my father’s name – which is one reason why I prefer to be known as “Jason.”
(The other reason is that being called Reginald has always been something of a burden. You see, I grew up in an ethnically homogenous white-bread environment in which any unusual name produced great fear and consternation in the villagers, like it was a dreaded word of powerful magicks that, if uttered correctly, could damn one’s soul and curdle the cat’s milk. Alright, it wasn’t that bad, but there was always a lot of confusion surrounding the name. When I was little, I used to dread the first day of school because I would inevitably have to break in a new teacher on the proper pronunciation of the name. It was almost comical to watch an educated grown-up confidently read off the handful of Michaels, Davids and Johns that preceded me in the roll, then suddenly stop, clear his or her throat, and attempt to sound out this alien word like a pre-schooler just introduced to Spot and the blue ball. I say that this process was almost comical, because this exercise in linguistics would inevitably embarrass both the teacher and myself before it was over. I was often called “Rehinalday,” on the assumption that any foreign-looking name must surely be Spanish in origin. I’ve also been called “Regina,” which is the feminine version of the name, and heard my name pronounced with a hard “g,” like in the word “regular.” I once had a teacher call me “Richard,” apparently believing that he was looking at the biggest typo in the history of student records. These manglings of my good and proper Anglo-Saxon designator always produced gales of laughter from the other students, most of whom remembered me going through this same ritual the previous year. Damn small town schools, anyway…)
- As of this moment, I am 34 years old.
That means that I was a child in the 1970s and a teenager in the 1980s, and that I remember what things were like before the world was conquered by silicon. Yes, that’s right kids, I’m talking about the world before cable TV and video games, the world as it was when computers were large metal cabinets that contained spinning tape reels and lots of blinky lights (at least that’s how they looked in the movies) and you had to actually get out of your chair to change the channel. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that my sense of aesthetics was largely formed in that long-lost epoch and that the modern era is, in many ways, absolutely baffling to me. I’m even willing to admit, in the time-honored tradition of grumpy old coots everywhere, that the world seemed like a better place back then. I think my friend Eric summed it up best for me over lunch one afternoon when he called me an analog kind of guy in a digital world.
None of which means that I am a technophobe or a neo-Luddite. After all, I am griping about the digital age on my very own Web page, right? I freely admit that DVD technology is manna from heaven to a movie fan like myself, and that my favorite films of recent years, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, could never have been attempted without computer-generated special effects. And I’d be a fool to try and convince you that a vinyl LP sounds better than a compact disc. Even so, I sometimes miss the way those vinyl records sounded. It wasn't better by any stretch of the imagination, but it was different, and it was good in its own way. In the same spirit, I also miss the ringing of an actual bell when someone calls me on the telephone, and the simple stop-motion animations in a Ray Harryhausen film, and the way everyone could talk about shared media experiences like the first broadcast of Roots when there were only three TV networks. There are a hundred similar little details of life that have vanished, most of them in the last ten or fifteen years, that I miss. It isn’t that I can’t let go of the past or that I don’t appreciate the conveniences of the present. But I do believe in Golden Ages and I am prone to feelings of nostalgia, and the 21st Century that we’re living in isn’t the one that we were promised, damn it!
I intend to explore more of these ideas in subsequent entries. But for now, let’s move along…
- I grew up and still live in the general vicinity of Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the Mormon Church, the 2002 Olympics, and (according to our license plates) The Greatest Snow on Earth.
This is the homogenous white-bread environment I mentioned earlier. Or at least it used to be. The Salt Lake Valley, and especially my hometown of Riverton, has changed a great deal since I was a child, which is simultaneously good and bad. This valley has nearly doubled its population in the last ten years, and a good percentage of the growth – although not the majority of it, contrary to local belief -- has come from outsiders moving into the area. Diversity has increased and my state’s provincial little capitol city is dangerously close to becoming genuinely cosmopolitan. However, this transformation hasn’t come without its costs. The comfortable, rural atmosphere I grew up in is gone, replaced by sprawling suburbia, traffic bottlenecks, and a freakin’ Olive Garden restaurant every five miles. In addition, a culture war now rages as Mormon stalwarts and long-time residents battle with the newcomers and the forces of liberalism to determine what Salt Lake is going to look like in the future. Again, this is a topic I plan to write more about in later posts…
- I am not married, but I am in a long-term relationship with a lovely lady named Anne.
Anne is two years younger than me, grew up just south of me in a town called Bluffdale, and attended the same schools I did while growing up. We knew each other for years before we got involved romantically, and, even though our arrangement is a bit unconventional, we’ve been good together for a very long time. I’m sure she’ll be making further appearances in this space, especially once I get a few photos scanned and prepped for the gallery page…
(Watch out, dear, I might use that Opus photo you’re so fond of!)
I think that’s enough for now. This post has grown far longer than I was planning when I started typing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve lost what few readers I have. :)
Next time, I’m going to start delving into some of my hobbies and interests by discussing my all-time favorite movies. Until we meet again…