The Bracketology of Mormon Culture

If you recall, back in the doldrums of November, we proposed a contest: A battle royale between various elements of Mormon culture. We took suggestions regarding what should be discussed and retreated to the bat cave in order to put the pieces together. Our efforts have been rewarded. We have a bracket!

For each of the two entities pitted one against another, you must vote in a poll that answers one question: “Who wins?” Polls begin on Friday, lasting for 24 hours. This gives you two days to prepare your bracket.

Why should you prepare your bracket? Because there is a fabulous prize (a CD containing all the winners of the Playlist Thunderdome contest at our sister blog, Kulturblog). Because you will earn bragging rights. Because you can!

Behold the bracket: bracket-1.pdf

Enjoy yourself. Post comments on the seeding, the selections, and the joy of crushing your opponents below.


  1. Arnold Friberg is a Number 1 seed?

    In other words, he’s the Duke University of Mormon culture?

  2. For those of us “non-bracketed, seeding-stuff” ignorant, please tell me what to do with the little lovely I just printed out… Looks interesting, though!

  3. This is just sooooo cool.

  4. Tracy, predict all of the winners in head-to-head votes. The whole thing is a big, fun, meaningless set of polls regarding which of two elements of Mormon culture is more “important.” Really, the whole thing is an excuse for a bunch of arbitrary contests and a little friendly arguing about whether Steve Young is more important than Cheerios or whatever.

  5. Who is Arnold Friberg?

  6. J. Daniel Crawford says:

    Tim, I think his influence is pretty pervasive, so I think he deserves the spot.

    Tracy, you need to choose who you think will win each matchup. The lines are meant to show you who will play who as the tournament progresses (yes, this is loosely based on the NCAA basketball tournaments). So the winner of the 1/16 game will meet the winner of the 8/9 game in the next round.

    One thing that the bracket may not make clear is that the two groups on the left will play each other before they play the two groups on the right.

  7. J. Daniel Crawford says:

    Veritas, go here.

  8. aaahhhhhh….ok…how sad I never knew who the painter was of all those.

  9. Wow, you put the Christus and Angel Moroni in the same bracket, that is some tough competition.

    Anyway, being from San Antonio, I have to root for the home team.

  10. Cheerios. All the way.

  11. woohoo, my suggestion made the list. :)

  12. S. P. Bailey says:

    heck, fetch, flip and … Shiz?

    “And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.”

  13. S. P. Bailey says:

    HBLL Hawaii Five-0? What the …

  14. “And the fear of Shiz spread throughout the land”

  15. HBLL Hawaii Five-O refers to the practice of playing loud music to clear people out of the HBLL when it is about to close. It used to be just the Hawaii Five-O song, but now they have mixed it up with other songs.

  16. S. P. Bailey says:

    Oh, and one more thing: are we all on the honor system? Don’t you think we should somehow put locks on the temple lockers? I mean, what’s to stop me from filling out my bracket as the thing goes along? (I won’t even ask whether you got the reproduction rights to all the playlist thunderdome winners.)

  17. yeah, we are honor systeming it. And…uh…pay no attention to the man behind the CD curtain.

  18. Can’t we scan in our brackets, paste them into the comment box and nuke the server?

  19. S. P. Bailey says:

    I was going to propose that we all mail our brackets to Steve E. I understand that he has all kinds of time on his hands.

  20. a random John says:

    I propose encoded your bracket as a 63 bit value and then representing it as a . Use a zero as the entry that is spatially higher in the bracket winning and a one as the lower one winning. So if in the first round I pick:
    old BSG
    Trunk or Treat
    3 Nephite
    Pioneer Day
    Gold and Green
    Johnny Lingo
    Heck, etc
    Green Jello

    this would be 10110111, which is B7 in hex or 187 in decimal. Concatenate additional strings for the other four brackets and then for the add on rounds. Thus we can compactly represent the entire bracket in a very short comment.

    Oh, and those are in fact my real first round picks for that region.

  21. Dude, arJ, you are so going down. Behold the true winners:

    Funeral Potatoes
    Trunk or Treat
    Handcart Reinactment
    Pioneer Day
    Short Sleeved Shirts and Ties

  22. so how are the winners judged? based on the responses here?

    well, for the first region, my picks are:

    Funeral Potatoes (though I am not familiar with that particular Mormon idiosyncrasy).
    Trunk or Treat
    3 Nephite Stories
    Pioneer Day
    Gold and Green Balls
    Johnny Lingo
    Heck, fetch, flip, shiz
    Green Jello

  23. a random John says:

    Frak you, J. Stapley and frak funeral potatoes!

  24. Steve Evans says:

    Green Jello shall conquer all. Saints and angels preserve us.

  25. Brad Kramer says:

    Bracket 1:
    Funeral Potatoes
    Trunk or Treat
    Handcart Reenactments
    Pioneer Day
    Short-sleeved Shirt & Tie (in a seminal upset!)
    Johnny Lingo
    EFY (defeating, ironically, the 4 words most heard during EFY)
    Green Jello

    Bracket 2:
    J. Golden Kimball
    Lock Your Heart
    Ken Jennings
    Saturday’s Warrior
    Steve Young

    Bracket 3:
    Arnold Friberg (In overtime)
    Dear John
    Scripture Marking
    Harry Anderson (by forfeit)
    JKP (by a landslide)
    Large Families

    Bracket 4:
    Gladys Knight (in a classic 5/12 upset)
    Home Teaching
    Knee Length Shorts (another stunning upset)
    Temple Square
    Lengthen Your Stride
    I am a Child of God (my early pick as a cinderella)
    Angel Moroni

  26. Remember that the winner will be determined by poll at BCC asking the relevant question: “Who wins?”

    Also remember that one potatoe will rule them all (assuming it is joined by its buddies, slathered with melted cheese and cream of mushroom sauce, and lightly dusted with corn flakes)

  27. erg…potato

  28. a random John says:

    Is that the sacred (not secret) potato kept in the Idaho Falls Temple?

  29. Steve Evans says:

    What’s “taters,” preciousss?

  30. No man knows my tater.

  31. Now BOYS….

  32. I filled out a bracket this morning and have lost it and don’t remember every battle, but I did have all four number 1’s making it to the final 4. Moroni beat Funeral Potatoes for the title.

  33. Brad Kramer says:


    Trunk or Treat (in a stunning upset)
    Pioneer Day (victory by assimilation/co-optation)
    Johnny Lingo (an overtime victory ending with a controversial call by referee Brad Wilcox)
    EFY (an easy victory in a game Wilcox was banned from officiating)

    Missions (by default after Kimball was thrown out for profanity by official Sherry Dew)
    Ken Jennings (LyH was evidently shaken by behind-the-bench heckling from Richard and Claudia Bushman)
    MoTab (109-year-old veteran Robert Cundick came off the bench to clinch victory with his backcourt play and some old school defense)
    FSY (FSY’s trash-talking appears to have gotten the best of late-marrying Young)

    Friberg (himself once the recipient of such a fateful letter)
    Scripture Marking (Ironically, also by forfeit)
    JKP (appears to be poised to go far)
    Large Families (another controversial ending, involving a hard foul by team captain Greg Olsen)

    Christus (a come-from-behind victory that announcer Hot Rod Hinckley described as miraculous)
    Home Teaching (in an audacious, but ultimately unsuccessful move, Knee Shorts started an all-female squad)
    Lengthen Your Stride (another game ending on a controversial call by Dew)
    I am a Child of God (continues its Cinderella run, holding the heavily favored 10-footer to just 14 points and 6 rebounds)

  34. a random John says:

    Moroni beat Funeral Potatoes for the title.

    Beat it over the head with a golden trumpet!

  35. Give Said the Little String
    Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbean

  36. My Final Four are Angel Moroni, Pioneer Day, Large Families, and Missions, with Missions winning out.

  37. arJ (#20)–can’t slashdot do that automatically??

  38. Funeral Potatoes at Large Families… Bring it on!
    (man, any lurkers who thought we might be weird, now no have no doubt)

  39. Brad Kramer says:


    Pioneer Day def. Trunk or Treat (ToT came out strong early, but the wearing off of the sugar combined with the endurance, grittiness , and semi-deified status of the Pioneers to bring an easy victory)

    EFY def. Johnny Lingo (another victory by assimilation)

    Ken Jennings def. Missions (Jennings managed this narrow victory when Coach Ballard’s “raise-the-bar” recruiting methods left him with a depleted bench late in the 4th quarter)

    MoTab def. FSY (CBA Commissoner Burton disqualified FSY for an undisclosed technicality after revelations that the pamphlet encouraged young viewers to “turn off [their] television set” in the event of “offensive” or “suggestive” content caused several of the KSL’s sponsors to threaten to withdraw advertising)

    Scripture Marking def. Arnold Friburg (SM continues its quiet but impressive run with this stunning upset–though some have suggested that the presence of official Greg Olson was also a factor here)

    Large Families def. Janice Kapp Perry (in what has been described by some as a shocking and by others as a heroic gesture, JKP withdrew herself from the tournament. Speculation continues to circulate that long-time colleague Orrin Hatch convinced Perry that positioning herself as a threat to families might adversely affect sales of their upcoming collaborative album)

    Home Teaching def. Christus (the emphasis on numbers, statistics, and shame-motivation proved superior to what many have described as the cushy, self-effacing, non-aggressive approach of the Savior, who dismissed accusations that His opponents in fact padded their stats by praising their efforts and calling their detractors hypocrites)

    I am a Child of God def. Lengthen Your Stride (After seven overtimes, doctrinal controversy finally yielded to doctrinal purity as Coach Kimball graciously conceded to his unusually young but indefatigable opponents)

  40. Brad Kramer says:

    The last three rounds come tomorrow.

  41. Hah! Pioneer Day over Gentiles = Non-Mormons in the title bout!

    Old BSG was just so much old BS and went down in the first round, as did Trunk or Treat, Handcarts, Short-sleeved shirts and Heck, Fetch, etc.

    Gold and Green Balls went far (I mean, what do we have that nobody else has), only to lose in the quarters to Pioneer Day.

    And Minerva Teichert–that’s a bad seed, boys. Not a grain of mustard in that number 2.

  42. Kramer has obviously got no job–I guess after the debacle at the Laugh Factory he’s on the unemployment line. :-)

  43. If Friberg is the Duke of the tournament, which character from his paintings gets to be Christian Laettner?

  44. I think the concept of Mormon culture is different with 45-year-olds and the current BYU crop. Seriously, you’ve got Saturday’s Warrior — which hasn’t been heard from in about 15 years.

    And what happened to DONNY AND MARIE?!!! Or the Mormon Rap? And is Steve Young a representation of BYU football or the 49ers? Where is Lavell Edwards? Where is the singles ward? God’s Army?

  45. What are gold and green balls?

  46. Ivan A. Wolfe says:

    It should be “Classic Battlestar Galactica” not “Old.”

  47. Don’t be a tater hater!

  48. Matt, I’m only familiar with the blue kind.

  49. Back in the days of my youth, we had Gold and Green balls, which were dances held every year to commemorate something. Something that was never explained to me. But they had them every year. You were supposed to dress up. That’s all I’ve got.

    We’ve got to save something for next year (also, I was working mostly with the suggestions given). Besides, if I included Battlestar Galactica and Saturday’s Warrior, doesn’t that mean that 70’s Mormon culture is covered?

  50. Brad Kramer says:

    Gold and Green Balls

    Balls as in Dances, as in “let’s go to the ball.”

    I think once upon a time gold and green were the official colors of the YM YW programs (or whatever they were called then). Gold stood for purity while green stood for, uh, youth (maybe fertility?). Gold and Green Balls were youth events where teenage sociality and chastity could coexist.

  51. Brad Kramer says:

    sorry to cross post, JDC

  52. I think you’re right about the colors of the YMMIA and the YWMIA, but the Gold and Green Balls (at least in 1960’s Provo) were dances for the adults–even for married people.

  53. Christopher Smith says:

    It’s a toss-up between Moroni and green jello.

  54. There is some serious potatoes/jello smack talk going on behind the scenes here. Its chaos, I tell you.

  55. a random John says:

    no Relief Society Grapes????? Those things are deadly weapons. In a fight they’d beat anything on the list. Except for Classic BSG. Classic BSG would shoot them once with a laser blast, and then show the same footage of it exploding twice per episode for the entire season.

  56. Gold and Green Balls survived at least into the mid 70s in Cache Valley, and in my ward, everyone attended. I might have this mixed up, but I think that the young single adults were called M-Men and Gleaners, and they were still considered part of MIA. I don’t know what the upper age range was for this, or when it was discontinued.

  57. A post on a history of the Gold and Green balls has been on one of my backburners for some time. I know of wards that still do them.

  58. We call it “Mormon Prom” In Texas, I guess. Never heard the gold and green bit, must be a “new and living” thing… Definitely not making it past the first round…

  59. You’re right about the M-Men and Gleaners, Paula. And, as an extension of the Individual Awards that could be earned by the girls in the YWMIA, the Gleaners could win the Golden Gleaner award.

    (As an aside, you have to wonder who came up with the name Gleaners for the unmarried women of the church. You know, the harvest is over. All the good stuff is gone. But the Gleaners are there to pick up the last unwanted bits of grain that were skipped over by the initial wave of harvesters.)

  60. Kevin Barney says:

    Our stake still does a Gold and Green Ball every spring.

  61. I had forgotten about the Golden Gleaner award, but I remember hearing the term when I was little. Anyone know when M-men and Gleaners was discontinued? And it is a horrible, hilarious name for the women.

  62. Kevin Barney says:

    The Mutual Improvement Association was revised and renamed Young Men and Young Women starting in 1974. (Young Women’s Mutual program was originally called “The Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association.”) “M-Men and Gleaners” groups started in 1921 to serve young people ages 17-23, and continued until 1974.

  63. “But the Gleaners are there to pick up the last unwanted bits of grain that were skipped over by the initial wave of harvesters.”

    Yeah–you’d think people might have had second thoughts about suggesting Ruth as a role model for young single women. Climbing into bed with someone and then demanding that he marry you isn’t really an approved method anymore…

  64. Hmm, 1974. My teenagers still refer to Young Mens as “Mutual”, and a lot of other kids in the ward do too. Funny how some things just won’t die.

  65. My home stake, the one I grew up in still does
    golden green balls. And nothing much else has changed since the seventies, including the gold velvet pew cusions. . It was the golden age.

    Does anyone else have the problem of your comment box spilling over into the grey sidebar so you can’t see what you’re tying? (On the right?)

  66. typing
    that is


  1. […] Kim Siever tells us that a Green and Gold Ball is a formal dance.  Bah, what does he know.  Look here for the most extensive online discussion of the Green and Gold Ball that I could find. […]

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