Questions for Fellow Conference Watchers

Why, oh why, does the Church refuse to broadcast the Priesthood Session live to the public at large?

It’s not like there’s secret goings on. They publish the whole thing in the Ensign the next month. They broadcast the Women’s Conference just in case there are any dudes who want to watch. Why not do the same for the ladies?
This means that I have to actually clean up and show up at a meetinghouse wearing a tie and monkey suit and sit on hard benches when I could watch Priesthood the same way I watch the other sessions – looking like an unshaven slob as I lounge about on my very comfortable king-sized bed, drifting off only when absolutely necessary. 
Yessir, when I’m President of the Church, there’s gonna be some changes around here. Big, big changes. 

Oh, and for you who believed Ted the Idiot

From the BBC:

Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

The World Meteorological Organization’s secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

Cannibalism may have to wait another decade or so.

GINO Review: “He Who Believeth in Me”

Season 4 of the new Battlestar Galactica began last night. Those of us who are still fans of the original series refer to it as GINO, or Galactica In Name Only. Since the show began, I’ve been reviewing it episode by episode, and I post the reviews at the Moist Board, Tombs of Kobol, and the official SciFi Channel website. And, now that I have a blog and everything, I’ll post them here, too.

Beware of spoilers.

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Well, the show is back. And so am I. Why?

Many of you have wisely pointed out that I clearly don’t like it much, so why do I bother to watch and review it? Well, I’m not even sure why myself. I guess it’s because I’ve been a part of the revival discussion for so long that I feel invested in the thing, and I’m still enough of a fan of Battlestar Galactica that I think someone ought to chronicle this dismal show as it dances on Galactica’s grave. I feel I ought to – what? I don’t know. Keep a record. Or, to use Gaius Baltarian terms, to “bear witness.”

Or maybe I’m just a jerk. That’s probably the best explanation.

Anyway, on to the show.

Rumor is that Michael Hogan, who plays the curmudgeonly Tigh-turned-Redeye, is supposedly perturbed by the fact that his character is a Cylon, because it doesn’t fit the way he’s played the character over three seasons. Glad to see that someone else has noticed. Nothing much fits anymore – this show is filled with fervent brainstorms and wild-eyed conceits, none of which can be combined into a cohesive whole. There’s lots of motion and no substance. The strategy, it seems, in this fourth and blessedly final season, is to keep things moving at such a frenetic pace that nobody has time to notice. Although it’s nice that they’ve finally dropped the reference to the Cylon plan from the opening montage. Since they abandoned even the pretense of having a plan about two years ago, it’s high time that the credits should follow suit.

Switching gears for a moment: Robert Reed, AKA Galactica 1980’s mad scientist and, more illustriously, the man named Brady who was busy with three boys of his own, once wrote a letter to the Brady Bunch producers complaining about the inconsistency in tone of how that silly little show was written. He compared it to a scenario where the surgeons from M*A*S*H are in the operating room, when, suddenly, who should burst in but Adam West’s Batman. Now, it’s conceivable that this M*A*S*H Batman is a mental patient, deluded and tragic, but it can’t really be the same Batman from the world of that TV series and still exist in the grimmer, more naturalistic world of M*A*S*H. Conversely, Alan Alda’s Hawkeye and Cesar Romero’s Joker with makeup over his moustache couldn’t meet up on the streets of Gotham City and start plotting Batman’s demise in a giant cream puff, at least not without fundamentally altering who Hawkeye is. These characters exist in different universes; they function by different rules.

Yet GINO is chock filled with Batmen in the OR.

When we last saw our heros, the Final Four-out-of-Five heard a Dylan/Hendrix tune and mangled everything we knew about these characters, and now “everything’s changed.” Anders can look at a centurion in a raider through the vastness of space – yes, raiders used to be unmanned, but go with it – and their red eyes blink in unison and suddenly they call off the attack. Wouldn’t such a recognition sequence have been useful for Colonel Tigh when his fellow toasters were scraping out his eye? I guess that was pre-All Along the Watchtower, so it doesn’t count. If they’d only had a classic rock station on New Caprica. Then we would have known that this characters, who defy everything we know and understand about Moore’s Cylons, are just M*A*S*H- style Adam Wests without the cowls.

Meanwhile, back in the Church of Baltar, where only hot chicks are allowed to worship, Gaius is praying to some tramp in a red cocktail dress and curing viruses by allowing angry ex-constituents to go all Sweeney Todd on him. This Baltar subplot is arguably the silliest element in a show that’s gone whole hog on the silly scale, because the writers clearly think they’re dabbling in something profound. In real life, weird cultists aren’t all fashion models, and religion is not solely the province of damaged, disturbed people. I don’t know where they’re going with all this, and neither do they. Yet they probably think they do, which makes it all the more incoherent.

The same could be said about the rest of the show. How can I get worked up about Starbuck’s return one way or the other? I’m not convinced that the writers have figured it out, so my guess is as good as theirs. I’m not sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what they finally pull out of their butt, because every indication is that it will be the same kind of sloppy storytelling shoehorned in to fit whatever cool new idea Moore and Co. had while eating cantaloupe for breakfast. Maybe she’ll turn out to be the lost 13th Cylon model.

But how can that be? Don’t the Cylon only have twelve models? Well, yes, they do now. But we still have 19 more episodes to go. Anything can happen! See, it turns out that there were really 13 all along, and didn’t you see the signs? Because, see, all the paper in the colonies have the corners cut off, which, according to Pithia, means that 12 is really 13. So everything you knew is wrong, and just pretend it didn’t happen, and the Cylons don’t have a plan, but don’t you want to know who the last of the Final Five is? I mean, Final Six? Or, maybe I should say, Secret Six? Because there are only six left, except the Subterranean Seven, who will come to life when Demigod Baltar plays “I Got A Brand New Pair of Roller Skates” on his sacred piccolo? But who has the brand new key? WHO HAS THE BRAND NEW KEY?!!!

Maybe Batman does. Look, he’s swinging into Sickbay right now.

Checking the Enviro Track Record

Philip, who is a great dude if you get to know him, insists that Idiot is “correct on all accounts” with regard to his prophecy that within three to four decades, the earth will be eight degrees warmer, crops will be unable to grow, most of the population will be dead, and the rest of us will be eating each other.

There’s no way to conclusively prove him right or wrong, I suppose, but it’s worth examining the track record of similar statements made by alarmist blowhards over the years.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Let’s begin with easy pickins:

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.
—Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)


No population control. And no worldwide famines, either. Go figure. 

I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.
—Paul Ehrlich (1969)
Wish I would have taken that bet. 

In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.
—Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)


Umm… ok. The only time anyone evacuates the coastline is if they see a fat guy in a mankini. 

In the coming decade, we could expect to lose all of Florida, Washington D.C., and the Los Angeles basin…we’ll be in rising waters with no ark in sight.
-Paul Ehrlich on global warming floods, May 1989

Dammit. Los Angeles is still there. If it’ll make Ehrlich feel better, I don’t think anyone’s really happy about it. 
I could fill this post up with nothing but stupid Paul Ehrlich quotes. He’s been wrong about everything. Not just wrong, but spectacularly, mind-boggingly wrong. Lest you think he’s an outlying loon, know that he’s still one of the most respected environmental commentators alive today. Al Gore, on the dust cover for one of Ehrlich’s books, wrote “The time for action is due, and past due. Ehrlich has written the prescription.”

Moving on:

“This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.”
—Lowell Ponte in “The Cooling”, 1976

Could, but it didn’t. Not even close. Next:

“If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.”
—Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, Earth Day, 1970

I love that phrase “If present trends continue.” It sounds so scientific, but it’s so preposterous. 

You know, if present trends continue, and the days keep getting longer, we will eventually have no more night time! Ever! Of course, present trends don’t continue, and the days start to get shorter again after the Summer Solstice. But then, if those present trends continue, the days will continue to get shorter, and then we’ll have no more daytime! Ever!

Present trends don’t tend to continue into the territory the doomsayers anticipate.

“In a decade, America’s mighty rivers will have reached the boiling point.”
-Edwin Newman, Earth Day 1970

And this was back when the earth was cooling! Not sure how this genius came up with that one, but there you go.

“Quickly capping 363 oil well fires in a war zone is impossible. The resulting soot might well stretch over all of South Asia. Beneath such a pall sunlight would be dimmed, temperatures lowered and droughts more frequent. Spring and summer frosts may be expected… This endangerment of the food supplies… appears to be likely enough that it should affect the war plans…”

 – Carl Sagan, 1991, warning of a nuclear winter if Kuwait’s oil wells were set ablaze. 

Well, they were set ablaze, and billyuns and billyuns of gallons were burned, but they were quickly capped with minimal environmental damage. (Actually, I doubt it was billyuns. Maybe just millyuns.)

“We have ten years to save the world’s oceans.”
– Ted Danson, 1988.

At last check, twenty years on, the oceans seems to be doing fine. Wish I could say the same for Danson’s career.

“The environment is in trouble – and the more it suffers, the tougher it is on your skin….”
Seventeen magazine, 1991, warning about the dangers of the then-disappearing, now-reappearing ozone layer.

Do they still print Seventeen magazine? At least something’s disappearing, anyway. 

I could go on, but you get the point.I’m not sure if Philip or yesterday’s Idiot will, but Philip is still a good guy.

Idiot

We’re too many people. That’s why we have global warming. Too many people are using too much stuff. On a voluntary basis, everybody in the world’s got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it.

We’ll be eight degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable.

It’s been a long time since anybody caught me saying something stupid.

Oh, by the way, this is Stallion. I didn’t write anything in the preceding paragraphs. No, those are the words, transcribed verbatim, of an idiot. He’s a wealthy idiot, to be sure, with a tremendous amount of power and influence – he founded CNN, for heaven’s sake – but he’s demonstrably imbecilic.

Still haven’t figured it out? You’ve just seen the world through the eyes of Jane Fonda’s tomcatting ex, the repugnant Mr. Ted Turner. Businessman. Mogul. Idiot.


Look, Ma! An idiot!

Let’s break it down, shall we?

We’re too many people.

Really, Idiot? When, precisely, did we cross the threshold from “just right” to “too many?” How much smaller ought we to be? How many of the “too many people” should we mow down? Should we focus on the poor brown folks or should we just start nuking continents at random? You may want to rethink your call to dismantle the military, because that’s really going to make things awkward when it comes time to start thinning the herd.

That’s why we have global warming.

Globe’s too warm for you, Idiot? How warm ought it be? Back before the crowds started to show up, like maybe during the ice age? How about during the impending ice age of the 1970s? And if it’s the “too many people’s” fault, what will it take to turn the thermostat up or down? How much blood will we need to shed per degree?

Too many people are using too much stuff.

Billionaire idiots have the most stuff. Will you stop using it, please, Idiot? Or is your amount of stuff just right, and it’s just those poor blighted furriners who ought to forego the use of stuff and keep living in jungles if they know what’s good for ’em?

On a voluntary basis, everybody in the world’s got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it.

Well, you’re in luck, Idiot. Europe has volunteered, thereby dooming their culture and their population to virtual demographic extinction in three generations. Of course, those pesky Arabs and such just keep on breeding. What’s the punishment for those who don’t volunteer? You know, people have had great results drowning their excess cats – you might want to look into that.

We’ll be eight degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow.

That’s surprising, Idiot, especially in light of the fact that when we actually WERE eight or nine degrees hotter, places like Greenland were growing crops like crazy. See, warm weather is actually good for crops, Idiot. But since not even the looniest alarmists anticipate any more than a one degree change in temperature over the next hundred years, it’s a moot point anyway. You ought to know that, but since you’re an idiot, I’ll cut you some slack.

Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals.

Glad to see you anticipate being part of the “rest of us” who’ll be still around, Idiot. I can only hope that I’m still around then, because I bet you taste like chicken.

Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable.

Say, Idiot, you know what might help people in those intolerable conditions? Stuff. You know, the stuff that we’re using too much of. But won’t it be sad when we run out of stuff and people and it gets cold again? Oh, wait. That’s good, then, right? Because the crops start growing again, but then who’s going to make sure we don’t breed ourselves back into trouble? Think what that will do to meat prices once cannibals have a wider selection. I’ll bet they’ll be a run on the supermarket for Norwegians.

It’s been a long time since anybody caught me saying something stupid.

Yeah, well, I’ve got news for you, Idiot. Time to reset the clock.

An Awkward Business Lunch… and More!

So today, I went on a business lunch to the Red Iguana, a greasy spoon near the Salt Lake Airport that serves really yummy Mexican food, and I order the Red Plate Special, which is tiger prawns in a gooey, spicy brown sauce. The only problem is that the tiger prawns still have their tails on them, so I’m trying to indiscreetly remove the tails with my fingers. I know, I know, I should have just cut the tails off, but there’s a lot of good shrimp meat in those tails. 

Anyway, one of my attempts went awry and splattered brown, gooey greasy stuff all over my nice shirt. Luckily it didn’t splatter on anyone else, but I had to go through the rest of the meal looking like I’d slept in an oil slick. 
Yessir. I’m a real professional, I am.
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Having watched all three seasons of The Office that are available on DVD, we started to catch up on Season 4 by watching episodes online at NBC.com. The problem, though, is that NBC insists on inserting a minute’s worth of ads into every commercial break, which is jarring when you’re used to watching the show with no commercials at all. Even worse, it’s the same commercials over and over and over – one for Citibank and one for Disney. 
A much better solution is hulu.com, which is owned by NBC, too, apparently. They show The Office: Season 4 with commercials as well, but none of the ads are longer than 30 seconds, and they’re different, so you don’t want to throw something at the screen when the same stupid ad pops up again. Even better, some of the ads are only 15 seconds long, and that goes by really quickly. 
The show is still great. Jim and Pam are now dating, which is fun. I really hope the writers can keep their relationship interesting without breaking them up over and over again, a la Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel, and every other long-running TV couple you can think of. 
One thing that’s getting increasingly hard to understand, though, is whether or not we, the audience, are supposed to assume there’s really a camera crew following all of these people around on a daily basis. I prefer to think of the mockumentary style as just a storytelling device, they way it was used in movies like Waiting for Guffman. That film was loosely modeled after the ultimate mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap, which pretended to be a real documentary, and the filmmaker was a part of the action. In Guffman, they talk to the camera to reveal their inner thoughts as a sort of pseudo-narration, not as a solid depiction of what’s really happening. 
The Office can’t make up its mind which side of this divide it falls into. 
On the one hand, we have cameras following people into places that make no sense – Jim transfers to Stamford in Season 3 and seemingly takes a camera crew with him; a camera crew follow Dwight to his new job at Staples and even interviews his fellow minimum-wage employees. Cameras show up in people’s homes and bathrooms and bedrooms. Nobody seems bothered that there’s a camera poking their nose into everyone’s business, so it’s easy to assume that this is just how the story is being told, and we’re not supposed to believe that there’s a camera following everyone anymore than we would in a show like, say, Bewitched
But then characters reference the camera crew every once in awhile, and it throws everything off. Jan gets bugged when she’s caught kissing on camera; the cameraman tips Pam off to Dwight and Angela’s budding tryst, and, most blatantly, the camera crew captures evidence that forces Jim and Pam to reveal that they’re dating. Which is it, guys? Is the camera crew part of the story, or isn’t it? Make up your minds. 
If it’s any consolation, I have this same problem with Broadway musicals. Are we supposed to believe they live in a world where someone might say “Remember yesterday, when you sang to me ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?'” Or are we supposed to assume that the music is sort of a heightened representation of a more mundane reality, and the people in musicals actually are living in a world much like our own? I vote for the latter, but the rule isn’t always consistently applied. 
Now you can see one of the many reasons why chicks didn’t dig me in high school.
____________________
Speaking of musicals, I’m having a hard time with the soundtrack for Sweeney Todd. I saw the movie and loved it, despite the gore, so I went and got the soundtrack to it, which has proven to be a disappointment. Divorced from the visual images, the vocals are depressingly thin, especially the wispy, breathless delivery of Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. Johnny Depp is much better, but that’s not saying much given how lousy Bonham Carter is, and while I was pleasantly surprised by Depp’s vocal performance on screen, isolated on the soundtrack he’s adequate at best. 
So I wanted to get a new copy of the original broadway soundtrack, but I couldn’t find it. Instead, I picked up a copy of the 2005 revival with Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone, but I don’t like it much either, albeit for different reasons. LuPone is a solid, masterful Mrs. Lovett, but Cerveris is an overwrought, heavily vibrattoed Sweeney, and his performance begins to grate very quickly. Even worse, though, is the “innovative” musical arrangement, which consists of the show’s ten actors playing all their own instruments on stage. I suppose some might see that as a clever conceit – seems labored and too clever by half to me, but to each his own – yet it means the show has been re-orchestrated for a ten-piece orchestra, and there are times when only piano is used to accompany the thing. Given a show of Sweeney’s scale and fortitude, the “jazz combo” accompaniment seems almost criminal. 
And the movie’s Toby is much better than the revival Tony, who sings everything down an octave. And what’s with the revival Pirelli, played by – gasp – a woman? Why? Doesn’t work. 
If anyone has a bead on the Angela Lansbury/Len Cariou 1979 version, let me know. 

Very, Very Interesting Things

So apparently yesterday’s blog post was boring. What is it with you people? I give and I give, and what do I get in return? Huh? Don’t tell me about your “needs.” Your needs? Your needs?! YOUR NEEDS?!! What about MY needs?!!!!!

Yeah, well, whatever. I have some more boring stuff to get out of the way here at the outset. 
I’m now the author of yet another blog, one considerably less colorful than this one. Actually, it’s a mite too colorful, and the white on blue motif is a little hard on the eyes. But visit theprosceniumsandy.com’s blog and you’ll find your humble blogger as the anonymous voice of a vast, corporate empire. Cool, no?
No? Well, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!!!
Anyway, my daughter Cleta won the regional history fair for her documentary on Susan. B Anthony. I’m sure all of you want to watch it, so here it is. 
Well, what do you think?
LOOK, CUT SOME SLACK. I’m stressed out here. You can tell when I TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. That’s online yelling, you know. 
Foodleking wanted me to tell you about stage sleeping, because he thought that would be interesting.  I actually can’t think of anything less interesting. When I was a freshman at USC in the theatre program, I had only one class on Fridays. The name of it was “the Feldenkrais Method,” but we called it “stage sleeping,” because you spent the entire hour on the floor, lying down, doing nothing. The goal was to be “self aware” and “feel the points of contact of your body with the floor.” Usually, that involved sleeping, as the class was at 9:00 AM. According to our Feldenkrais instructor, that was OK, because that was what our bodies needed. I could have gotten a much better experience feeling the points of contact of my body with my own bed, but attendance at Feldenkrais was mandatory. Because, really, how else are they going to grade you other than whether you show up or not? By how well you sleep? 
We had another equally pointless class in the “Alexander Technique,” which involved lengthening the distance from the middle of your back to the top of your spine.  This, too, was stupid, but the instructor actually insisted, after we came back from Spring Break, that we each take a moment to explain how the Alexander Technique had improved our lives. The problem was that the Alexander Technique hadn’t, in fact, improved our lives, so we each made something up. The stories began simply enough – I had less back pain, I felt more “in command” of my body – but they got sillier and sillier as all the simple stuff was taken. Finally, one student described how he had unwrapped a Snickers bar and was about to eat it, and then he suddenly remembered the Alexander Technique, and the “Snickers bar tasted ten times better.”
Well, that’s all I got. If you didn’t like it, try feeling the points of contact of your body with the floor.