Despite the Deseret Morning News breaking ground with its “Mormon Times” (serving the poor underrepresented LDS in the margins), Salt Lake City’s thoughtful LDS-issues magazine Sunstone remains a stalwart testament of how to walk the line between faithful apologia and candid examination of LDS Church issues. The magazine’s features range from philosophical analyses of Joseph Smith’s world view to confronting Mormon urban myths of the war on terror to timely interviews with figures like Helen Whitney, creator of the controversial PBS Frontline documentary series The Mormons. When the religious divide between the Momo lovers and haters seems wider than the gap between the Terrestrial and Celestial kingdoms, it’s good to know the folks at Sunstone are working hard at keeping religious news real in the land of Zion.
BEST NEW WORD
As far as we can tell, the word, used to describe an area of town with a predominant GLBT population, was introduced by QSaltLake editor Michael Aaron. Having more positive connotations than “gay ghetto” or “enclave,” it was eventually picked up by The Salt Lake Tribune in an article about Salt Lake City’s up-and-coming Marmalade district. Soon it was on the lips of developers, city planners and even a few people who couldn’t figure out how such a word could be allowed in Utah.
|BEST LOCAL ON-AIR PERFORMANCES
Circus Brown’s Not a Sideshow, KRCL 90.9
Thanks to Circus Brown, keeping up on local music is as easy as turning your radio dial to KRCL 90.9 FM. Every Saturday night, the Salt Lake City DJ/Seth Rogen impersonator whips up a fresh playlist featuring tunes by national acts and Utah bands (Mercury Rev or Vampire Weekend, say, followed by Cavedoll and The Furs). Brown frequently invites local groups to perform live in the studio, and featured acts often debut brand-spankin’ new material. Best of all, the resulting recordings are surprisingly tight—crisp, raw and good enough to package. Once a year, Brown does just that with his Snackbox compilation featuring choice cuts from former Sideshow guests. The 2007 edition included tasty gems by Blackhole, Elbo Finn, Vile Blue Shades, The High Beams and others—enough to hold us over until the forthcoming 2008 release. Stay hungry.
Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., MySpace.com/CircusBrown
BEST HEADLINE EVER
Deseret Morning News: “The Nasty Taint of Porn”
A July 10, 2007, Deseret Morning News editorial about the evils of adult on-demand movies available on Marriott hotel TVs probably had the best of intentions, but the unfortunate (and hilarious) choice of headline undercut the gravitas of the message. Slang-wise, “taint” just ain’t what it used to be, D-News editorial board—Wiki it sometime. Or, better yet, don’t.
BEST RADICALLY FAITHFUL BLOG
LDS Anarchy Blog
There’s a growing mass of LDS faithful out there who miss the ol’ time religion of the day when Brigham Young and early church founders dabbled in experimental communities based on quasi-socialist principles of the United Order and the Law of Consecration. The LDS Anarchy blog creator, a proud church member and anarchist, posts regular entries challenging the usual orthodox perception of the church by advocating the anarchistic heritage of the LDS scriptures. A tribute on the blog to the late church President Gordon B. Hinckley, for example, commended Hinckley for his adherence to scripture in the 1995 decentralizing of church authority by dismantling regional representatives and creating more localized area authorities. The LDS Anarchy blog is taking a proud part in the revolution to put the “radical” back into CTR.
BEST COMMENTS OF DISDAIN
SLWeekly.com Message Boards
In response to a Dec. 6, 2007, Hits & Misses item “Taco Talks,” about a City Council proposal to tighten regulations on downtown food carts, one eloquent (if unhinged) member of the Weberati had this response for a City Weekly reporter: “FUCK YOU YA MEXICAN LOVING TACO FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT.”
BEST HEART & BMI ON SLEEVE
Sheena McFarland, Salt Lake Tribune
Few of us would dare post our weight online, much less chronicle each and every moment of weakness en route to “skinny jeans.” That’s why our hats are off to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Sheena McFarland, who bares all but her physical naked self in the newspaper-hosted blog “The Incredibly Shrinking Sheena.” McFarland didn’t quite reach her goal of shedding 130 pounds by her 25th birthday, but she came a long way, baby. She learned to recognize her weaknesses and cope with failure; she joined a gym and began attending Food Addicts Recovery meetings, maintained a diet log and fessed up when she fell off the wagon. Her brutal honesty is impressive and reassuring. This is what it truly means to “get real.”
BEST LOCAL BLOGGER
Heather Armstrong, Dooce.com
Unlike 80 percent of blogs littering the Internet, the “About Me” section of Heather B. Armstrong’s Dooce.com alone is a great read: From her top-of-class high school graduation (“No one ever hired me because I was valedictorian. The lesson to be learned from this is: AIM LOW”) to her BYU days and disillusionment (“I am no longer a practicing Mormon or someone who believes that Rush Limbaugh speaks to God. My family is understandably disappointed.”) to her rise and fall as a Los Angeles Web designer to Salt Lake City domesticity and motherhood, she riffs as effortlessly as a novelist. The daily-ish meat of Dooce.com is everything bloggers should aspire to: Well-written, personal, tastefully illustrated and witty (upon discovering that MTV’s Rob & Big is her new guilty TV pleasure, Armstrong notes “I totally wanted to break up with me”). A Best of Utah win may pale in comparison to the four awards she took home in the 2008 Bloggies (it’s a big deal, off-liners), but at least, she’ll have something new to write about today.
2. Atropos, X96
SPC Zack Campbell, Utah National Guard
Never heard of him? X96 Radio From Hell show re-capper/blogger Atropos, who suggested the nomination for air, explains: “I met Zack over e-mail through RFH. He’s currently stationed in Iraq at Camp Bucca, performing Iraqi detainee operations. He enjoys loud punk music, Radio From Hell podcasts and good coffee. I sent the suggestion because I feel that he and Utah National Guard deserve some kind of positive recognition for what they’re doing. I, like most liberal, God-hating hippies who read City Weekly, think it’s a bullshit war. I don’t know how Zack feels about it, because I haven’t asked. I don’t think it matters right now. After writing back and forth with Zack, I tried to imagine myself doing what he’s doing, where he’s doing it. I couldn’t. He and the rest of the Guard in Iraq have brass balls the size of church bells.”
2. Rocky Anderson
3. Pamela Atkinson
BEST BYU EVENT
Dick Cheney Protest, April 2007
Many of us were surprised to hear that good, old-fashioned campus protests are alive and well at BYU—for a few students, anyway, during a certain time frame within the bounds of a so-called “free-speech zone.” But even the squeaky-clean Cougars couldn’t just stand by silently when Vice President Dick Cheney, party to so many of the wrong turns this country has taken over the past seven years, was invited as 2007 commencement speaker. A group of students pulled together a polite protest, which went off without a hitch until the free-speech zone disappeared at the allotted time—then, as the students tried to leave, they were hassled by campus security.