Typing

I have never had a fresh fish tell me what time it was. If that had happened, an locusts were present for the funeral, she might be all severe and treat me like the goose. Oh, to long for open fields of papaya, straining for the sun! Pinto beans have got nothing on me. Nothing. Only when I hath troubadoured in the woods for a very, very long time, and then even for shame! For shame! You doubt me? I don’t care what YOU want, fella.

Abraham Lincoln was dead once. I wasn’t sad, since it happened long, long, long before they invented bowling. Chaps often warn me of the jejune manner in which the table cloth was served. I tell them to order up a fried steak batter and let the good times frolic, frolic, so many swordsmen, so little…

Oh, this is a waste of time. If you read that, I apologize. But not much.

We watched the Incredible Hulk TV pilot as a family last night. It’s very sad, you know. It’s also surprisingly well written and acted. Bill Bixby doesn’t get enough credit for what a stalwart, gravitas-laden actor he was. It’s hard to take someone seriously when their last name is Bixby.

The Utah Treasurer’s race is heating up, and there’s a lot of mud being slung. I know one of the candidates – Mark Walker, who’s accused of offering a job to his opponent, Richard Ellis, in order to get him out of the race. I think what really happened is that Ellis essentially ambushed Walker in a breakfast meeting and demanded to know whether Ellis would keep his job in the treasurer’s office if Walker was elected, and Walker said “yeah, sure.” That’s a very different kettle of fish. Walker’s a good guy, and he doesn’t deserve to be beaten up like this.

Bottom line? It’s a freakin’ treasurer‘s race, people! Really, who cares?

Worst. Movie. Ever.

I walked out in the middle of a movie last night.

Sadly, that’s a first for me. I cannot recall ever having done that in the past. And I’ve seen some pretty bad movies. I’ve seen some wretchedly offensive movies – Reservoir Dogs springs to mind. I would have walked out on that one, except I was getting paid to review it. Now, when I only see movies that I choose to see, I think I’m generally pretty good at avoiding the fouler stuff.

I can remember turning off movies in the middle when I’m watching them at home. But if I take the effort to get in a car, buy a ticket, and sit down in a darkened theatre to watch a flick, I’ve always been willing to tough it out.

Last night, though, I discovered a film so repugnant, so mindless, so reptilian, so achingly offensive, that I couldn’t stomach ingesting another second of that bile into my system.

What was the movie? None other than Adam Sandler’s latest magnum opus, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

I know, I know. I should have known better. The reviews are wretched. But I ignore reviews when it comes to Adam Sandler movies. For the most part, Sandler is adept at delivering dumb, silly fun that doesn’t click with critics, and, usually, his stuff makes me laugh. I like his pseudo chick flicks with Drew Barrymore – The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. I really like his dumb macho idiot movies – Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy. I even liked the really stupid Mr. Deeds. There’s a genuine warmth to much of what Sandler does, and the childish gross-out humor usually fits within the framework of my own stunted adolescent sense of humor.

Sandler has disappointed me at least once before, though – his son of Satan comedy, Little Nicky, was a laugh-free exercise in grotesquerie. And Zohan makes Little Nicky look like a Merchant Ivory film.

The premise is that Zohan is a superheroic Israeli commando who wants to be a hairdresser, and, for reasons unexplained and unexplainable, he bangs every old lady that comes into his salon. That’s it. That’s the whole movie. Minus the elderly sex, it might be a reasonably funny premise for a four minute Saturday Night Live skit, but there’s just not enough Hamburger Helper in the world that can reasonably pad this sucker out for an hour and a half.

The first twenty minutes, which require spending too much time staring at Sandler’s naked butt and his artificially enhanced “package,” actually have their moments. But once Zohan arrives in New York and starts humping every geezer chick he meets, the whole thing loses its appeal very, very quickly.

I kept hoping that he’d move on from the joke, that the idea of seeing a seventy-year-old woman licking Adam Sandler’s foam-covered nipples or lingering camera shots of Lainie Kazan’s massive naked buttocks would fade as we got into the real plot. But after a solid half hour of this, it became clear that this was the movie. All of it. And it just kept getting worse. He was simulating ejaculation with conditioner bottles, all the while fondling and groping and diddling. And the licking! So much licking! Somebody stop the licking!

The saddest part was watching these ladies degrade and demean themselves for cheap laughs. Ha ha! You’re old! Who would want to lick you? Many of these women have had respectable careers in Hollywood – I recognized Charlotte Rae from The Facts of Life, for instance – and they don’t seem to mind being the butt of a filthy joke, which usually involves their own very old butts. I guess there might be a natural audience for this – if you’ve always wanted to see Adam Sandler rub up against Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life like a dog in heat, then this is the movie you’ve been waiting for.

It’s rated PG-13, which demonstrates that the rating system is a complete and utter waste of time. I would rather have sat through a slew of F words than five minutes of geriatric canoodling. I went with my brother-in-law, who has an equally juvenile sense of humor. He was the one who first suggested we leave, although I would have been happy to get out of there long before I finally did.

The irony is that Sandler himself isn’t getting any younger. He’s already in his 40s, and he’d do well to attempt a transition to roles that don’t require so much footage of his tuckus. Mocking the elderly doesn’t work as well when you hit middle age.

Kung Fu Panda is still good, though. Go see that.

Seeing Colors at 1:00 AM

Let me take you back in time to the mid 1990s, when I was running a summer stock theatre in Jackson Hole. During the off-season, we donated the space to a local production company that had free reign of the place for next to nothing. They generally abused the privilege, damaged our equipment, and made life miserable on just about every front.

We were struggling financially, so we eventually acquired projection equipment to allow movie screenings in the theatre, and we started showing midnight movies during the summer and throughout the year. That meant that this theatre group was going to be somewhat inconvenienced – they’d have to end rehearsal earlier than they were used to, and there were new limitations on the timing of when they performed.

So how do you think they responded?

Remember, folks, these were artists. Or at least, they thought they were artists. What they lacked in talent they made up for in ego. And despite the fact that the space was still being given to them for free, they were absolutely up in arms. They called me into a meeting where they excoriated me for “betraying” them and for being a soulless, corporate raider with no appreciation for the delicate genius that was necessary to produce a community production of Annie or The Wizard of Oz.

I tried to patiently explain that we were still giving the space to them and we were doing so at a financial loss, and all this meant was that rehearsal would have to end by 9:00 PM, and their performances would have to be scheduled further in advance. We would like to have just kicked them out entirely, but I wasn’t willing to go that far if they were willing to be reasonable.

“How can we end a rehearsal at 9:00 PM?” one of the Granola People asked. “Sometimes it’s 1:00 in the morning before I can see the colors the director sees and can bring them to life.”

Swell.

She and her colors were booted out entirely about a week later, along with the rest of the group.

Folks, I don’t know what it is about artists that makes them think they’re somehow immune from the practical responsibilities that bedevil the rest of us. I don’t understand what it is about talent that makes people think they can treat others cruelly; that they can walk out on family commitments that “stifle” them; that they can indulge every excess in the name of artistic freedom and expect the world to bow to their whims.

I once fancied myself as being something of an artist, but I never fully felt at home among the granola set – I was always a bit of a stuffed shirt in their eyes. Then I went back to business school, and suddenly I was the wild-eyed bohemian in the group. The difference, which I found refreshing, is that the supposedly staid and uptight business folks were much more tolerant of a real weirdo like me than the Official Weirdos were of squares and suits. Orthodoxy and rigidity are far more strictly enforced among the Elite who advertise themselves as being enlightened and tolerant.

And yet, in all of this, I keep being drawn back to a theatrical world that has essentially rejected me time and again. I’m never quite comfortable where I am. I have yet to find a middle ground where I truly belong, where I can finally paint with all the colors of my wind. Where shall I find my bliss? When shall my soul sing? When shall my bowels be unloosed?

Whoooosh. That answers the last question, anyway.

Force Fields, Ray Guns, and Kung Fu Panda

Only two things are necessary for a perfect life: a force field and a ray gun.

With a force field and a ray gun, you could secede from the union and set up a sovereign nation on your own personal estate, driving away tax collectors and forcing the government to send ambassadors to come and treat with you. Washington would end up giving you crap if you would only please, please not sell the force field or ray gun technology to the bad guys, and we’ll give you anything you want. So you demand a billion dollars annually, tax free, and you go from there. And instead of throwing you in jail for being an extortionist and a blackmailer, the simpering weasels will be all too happy to appease you like crazy and praise your wisdom and statesmanlike conduct.

And if someone gets into office who actually has some spine, just turn up the settings on the force field, and even nukes will bounce off it. Or aim the ray gun at something expensive that nobody will ever miss, like a casino or Paris Hilton. You wouldn’t have to kill anyone – just set it to stun, but fry off her hair as a warning shot. Save the maximum setting for people like Keith Olbermann or Michael Moore. No, I’m not calling for the murder of Keith Olbermann or Michael Moore. Unless you have a really cool ray gun that you absolutely can’t test any other way.

It’s just been pointed out to me that the force field would have to allow beams from the ray gun to shoot out, but not allow return fire to come in. That’s absolutely correct. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that a force field that does not allow outgoing fire would be part of a perfect life. Because that’s wrong. Entirely wrong. It couldn’t be any more wrong.

With a one-way mirror style force field, it’s all good. Besides, I hear the chicks dig force fields and ray guns.
_________

Took the young’uns to see Kung Fu Panda this weekend. I was very pleasantly surprised at how very good it was. I was expecting something Shrekkish – you know, lots of smarmy pop culture references, plenty of flatulence, a saccharine sort of feel-good ending where we all learn how to love again. I feel the same way after seeing those movies that I feel after eating a gallon of week-old cotton candy – sickly sweet, stale, and vaguely nauseous.

Kung Fu Panda is nothing like that.

No pop culture smarm. No bowel humor. Nothing sacharrine about it. And Jack Black gives a remarkably restrained, clever vocal performance. The story is focused and fun, and the kung fu action is really, really cool. I don’t know how they could have marketed this any differently, because no one expects a panda doing kung fu to have as much substance as this movie ended up with. But, when all is said and done, it’s still a movie about a panda that does kung fu.  The theatre wasn’t particularly full, though, so I hope word of mouth will push this one over the top.

My 11-year old daughter didn’t like it, though. I think she’s too cool for school. Don’t listen to her. Listen to me. I’m the one with ray gun.

Ender’s Game Sequels

So I’m a “little late with the blogpost today, Blogboy,” according to some anonymous commenter on yesterday’s post. One would think that savoring the lyrics to “Cannibal Eyes” would take a true arts connoisseur a week or two, but since no true arts connoisseurs read this blog, I’m not surprised that many of you lack the appreciation for lyrical perfection. Especially where I internally rhyme “bug me” with “ugly,” or where I refer to eyes that salivate.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been savoring some great stuff, too – I’m rereading the Ender’s Game series, which remain Orson Scott Card’s best books by far. (Ten years ago, I’d have said that distinction belongs to the Tales of Alvin Maker series, but back then he’d only written the first three books, and now the storyline has run out of steam. I’m not all that anxious for the next installment. )

If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, read it. Right now. Seriously. Throw your laptop to the floor and go read it. It’s certainly the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read, and maybe one of the very best books of any genre. I will say nothing of the book’s plot as I don’t want to even hint at any spoilers, only to say it’s a perfectly realized story, beautifully told. And it’s butt-kicking exciting. It’ll make a great movie, too, if they can find child actors who can carry the load.

What I didn’t remember is that the three sequels – Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind – are great, too. It’s hard to say if they’re as good as Ender’s Game, because, as Card himself has noted on many, many occasions, they’re not exactly true sequels. The tone of the later books is radically different; they’re not “action packed,” and Ender, who is a preteen in the first book, is middle-aged in all the other ones. They take place 3,000 years after Ender’s Game, and they deal with thorny philosophical issues rather than interstellar war.

I like them, though. A lot.

A mutual friend of mine and Card’s had loaned me a copy of Xenocide several months before the book was actually published, so this is the first time I’m reading my own hardbound version which Card signed himself, in which he added the date – July of ’91 – and the question “Did you wash your hands?” That will make sense if you read the story, but it didn’t make sense to my daughter Cleta, who asked me why Orson Scott Card was demanding that his books only be handled by people with good hygiene.

What’s interesting this time around is rediscovering just how Mormon these books are, even though they take place in a Catholic colony. Card, as you may or may not know, is a practicing Mormon himself, and he served an LDS mission to Brazil. So almost all of his characters in this story speak Portuguese and have Portuguese names, which tends to be somewhat confusing for pathetic monoglots like myself.

What isn’t confusing, at least to me, is the LDS concept of intelligence, which is eternal and preexistent. Card incorporates the doctrine into the idea of “auias” and “philotes,” which exist Outside and are called Inside to inhabit physical bodies through mortality. He also slips up once and has Ender as a converted Catholic quoting Jesus as saying “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men,” which is a passage from the Doctrine and Covenants, not the New Testament. When he asks his wife where that passage comes from, she responds by saying “I don’t know. I’m not a scriptorian.”

For those of you who don’t realize this, “scriptorian” is a word entirely of Mormon invention. Other Christians might say “theologian” or “Bible scholar.” Mormons needed a word that was inclusive of all their standard works along with the Bible, so “scriptorian” came into being.
Just like a brand new auia pulled from the Outside.

Or this blog post, conjured up out of the ether, albeit too late for the anonymous guy who calls me Blogboy.

Or the most beautiful song ever written to be sung at weddings, funerals, and Bar Mitzvahs.
“They taste like cherry pies to Cannibal Eyes…”

Cannibal Eyes

Paul McCartney claims that the tune for “Yesterday” came to him in a dream. The lyrics didn’t arrive until later – the working title for the song was originally “Scrambled Eggs.” It began with the following couplet:

Scrambled Eggs
Oh my baby, how I love your legs…

I’m betting it all goes downhill from there.

Well, I had my own Paul McCartney experience last night. I was dreaming of a wedding – not sure who’s it was; maybe it was mine? – where the groom began singing to his lovely bride, and the tune was a croony, Sinatra-style standard out of the classic American songbook called “Cannibal Eyes.” I can only remember snatches of it from the dream, but this morning in the shower and on the way to work, I came up with three verses and a chorus. It probably needs more, but I think this is a pretty good start for a Thursday morning.

I obviously can’t provide the melody via a blog post, so imagine your own, sung in the style of a Bill Murray-esque lounge lizard:

Cannibal Eyes!
You know it’s true that I have Cannibal Eyes
Feel them devour you – your lips, your heart, your thighs
Your neck’s a tasty prize
For Cannibal Eyes

Cannibal Eyes!
You’ll never bug me with my Cannibal Eyes
‘Cause even ugly body parts you may despise
They taste like cherry pies
To Cannibal Eyes

CHORUS:
These eyes, they find you amazing
If you were mine, I’d spend all day grazing
Want to dine upon your fine glazing
Over Cannibal Eyes

Cannibal Eyes!
You know they’re waiting – they’re my Cannibal Eyes
They’re salivating as they serve you up with fries
It’s love that satisfies
My Cannibal Eyes

I think I should submit this to the American Idol songwriting contest next year.

Obama = Carter with Better Teeth

Almost all Washingtonian stupidity can somehow be traced back to the presidential administration of one James Earl Carter.

By effectively abandoning the Shah of Iran in the name of human rights piety, Carter emboldened the radical Islamist movement and gave lunatics and thugs a permanent foothold in the Middle East. 9/11 happened because Clinton ignored Bin Laden, but Bin Laden happened because Carter created a world where such monsters had legitimacy on the world stage. He responded to the hostage crisis and Soviet aggression by wringing his hands, boycotting the Olympics, and begging tyrants to be nice to us. His only attempted military response was when he micromanaged a botched hostage rescue attempt that ended up with eight dead Marine dumped unceremoniously into the desert.

Domestically, Carter essentially destroyed the value of U.S. currency. Rampant inflation, crushing double-digit interest rates, and soaring oil prices decimated the economy, and Carter responded by going on television and blaming the American people in his famous “malaise” speech. Defenders point out that he never actually used the word “malaise,” but malaise by any other name is still malaisey.

Fade out, fade in. Barack Obama, the newly christened nominee for the Democrats, wants us to know that “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.” This is your hero, America! He’s here to tell you that the days of wine and roses are over. Morning in America was back in 1984. We’re heading into twilight now, so be sure to wear a sweater so you don’t have to turn up the thermostat.

Can we restore the era of malaise? Giddy Obama supporters scream in unison: yes, we can!

Obama is a younger, hipper Jimmy Carter, and too many Americans have forgotten just how terrifying that is. Cap and trade legislation, which gives the government the power to lift trillions of dollars out of the private sector to symbolically fight a problem that doesn’t exist, will likely double present fuel costs. Fireside chats with lunatic madmen will make Obama feel righteous and provide plenty of reassurance to the animals who welcome the emergence of a weaker America. They won’t be our friends, though. They’ll just be glad of the license to kill more Jews.

The only real difference between Carter and Obama is that Carter wasn’t the president of 57 states.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpGH02DtIws&hl=en]

The Carter comparisons have some in the conservative media salivating, because they think electing another Carter will mean that the GOP will have finally hit bottom and elect another Reagan to replace him.

Maybe so. Except I have no idea who that Reagan is. It certainly won’t be Mitt Romney if he saddles himself to John McCain as his veep. As the number 2 guy, Mitt would have to support McCain’s “Obama Lite” agenda, which includes the same cap and trade nonsense, a contempt for genuine conservative principles, and a willingness to throw Republicans under the bus if it gets him lauded in the editorial pages of the New York Times.

And in the meantime, think of the damage that another Carter will be able to inflict this time. The next conservative president will have to dismantle a brand new socialized health care system, the aforementioned cap and trade debacle, and will have to deal with at least two new wild-eyed liberals permanently ensconced on the Supreme Court.

I can’t see a silver lining in any of this. Somebody please talk me off of the ledge.

Why Fools Fall in Love

My wife was more than OK with it, but I’m taking some heat from commenters on yesterday’s post in which I depicted my future wife as a “human sewer” who, when I first met her, had “likely dipped her hair in an oil slick.” Foodleking insisted that the blog must have been ghostwritten by someone with malicious intent, and RobotontheToilet said that he would have been “a double dead man” if he’d told the same story. The Wiz, who had heard the story before, simply wanted to know when things turned positive and when I made the transition from “hey, this girl stinks” to “hey, this girl is spousal material.”

First off, I want to point out that the story is not particularly flattering to me, either. The Hollywood Bowl incident rightly makes me seem like a major buffoon, and it’s clear she had a much harder time overlooking my considerable flaws than I did in overlooking hers, which were easily remedied by some quality time with a little soap and water. It turned out that she cleans up pretty well, and I can’t recall any follow-up incident where she would fit the description I provided yesterday.

In fact, the initial follow-up to the story is pretty uneventful. We pretty much ignored each other for several months, not out of spite or resentment, but rather out of disinterest. We just weren’t on each other’s radar screens. She started dating another guy in the ward, and I owed my own social life to the fact that as they got older, Mormon women got more and more desperate.

It wasn’t until Christmas vacation that year that I really noticed her again. A number of USC types were up in Utah over the break, and we all spent a day on the slopes at the Alta resort, which is still the best place to ski around these parts. To say I’m a better skier now than I was then isn’t really saying much, considering just how inept I was at the time. The best instruction I had received on the subject of skiing came from the guy who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds when he showed up in the movie Better Off Dead.

John Cusack asks Booger the best way to navigate a particularly difficult run, and Booger gives him this sage advice:

“Go down the hill really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.”

At some point in the day, a number of us found ourselves at the top of a very large bowl, and the future Mrs. Cornell made her way down first. I followed just a little later, and while I managed the “go down the hill really fast” part, I was struggling mightily with the “turn” part. I was barreling down directly toward Mrs. Cornell at about 300 miles per hour, screaming, “Watch out! Watch out! I can’t stop! AAAAAAARGH!” She leapt off to the side and I missed her by just a few feet and a few milliseconds.

Later, when we were all sitting back in the lodge, she had her hat off and her hair pulled back, wearing her powder blue jumpsuit, and I was struck by just how pretty she was, and I was surprised that I hadn’t really noticed before. I couldn’t very well make a move, though, as she was still dating this other dude, and I had just about killed her a few hours earlier.

I don’t know exactly when she started to warm to me, but we had our first non-date date a while later, when she had to go to a friend’s wedding reception and needed a date “who wouldn’t think it was a date.” Her roommate suggested me as a nonthreatening possibility, and she asked, I accepted, and off we went. And I don’t know about her, but I had a great time. I asked her out for real within a day or so, and pretty soon we were smooching on a bench at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. Except when we broke up. And during our long-distance engagement, which sucked. I doubt that many of those stories are for public consumption, unless Mrs. Cornell wants to tell them herself. Which she might, if for no other reason than to make me uncomfortable.

Needless to say, I love her; I’m incredibly fortunate that she agreed to marry me, and I can’t imagine my life without her. On the plus side, she’s pretty much perfect. On the minus side, she’s short, and I can’t kiss her standing up.

All in all, a pretty good deal.

Love at First Stench

Defying her Luddite traditions, Mrs. Cornell has now become a regular reader of this blog, and therefore its harshest critic. She thinks it needs to be funny on a daily basis, which may prove difficult, as she’s not a fan of fat jokes and/or bowel humor, which constitute well over ninety percent of my comedic repertoire.

She learned that early on when we first met, or, at least, the first time she remembers meeting me, which is not the first time I remember meeting her. Her first foray into the life of Stallion Cornell was at the Hollywood Bowl in September of 1992, when she first arrived in Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California in pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. She also began attending the USC Student Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and on this occasion, the ward had organized a group outing to the Bowl to see the LA Philharmonic accompanying old Warner Brothers cartoons. Dubbed “Bugs Bunny on Broadway,” it was all in honor of animator Chuck Jones’ 80th birthday. Jones himself was in attendance and told some really fun, funny stories about the early days of the studio, when Jack Warner said, “All I know about our animation department is that we make all those Mickey Mouse cartoons.”

This was at the beginning of my own senior year as a theatre major, and I confess that I was a full-on geek at the height of my artsy-fartsiness. Along with a freshman theatre geek who’s name I can’t recall – Jonathan something, I think – I proceeded to make a complete ass of myself, yelling loud, pseudo-profound things and singing at inopportune moments.

According to Mrs. Cornell, and I do not deny it, I was also jovially asking random women to marry me, including her. Was it ironic that we were married almost two years later to the day? If you ask her, it certainly was. This was her first social interaction with the ward, and the future Mrs. Cornell was woefully discouraged thereby. I’ll never fit in here, she thought, because some tall, goofy blowhard was dominating everything, and, even worse, everybody seemed to like him and think he was funny.

Since she was but one of dozens of my female admirers on that occasion, I cannot recall any interaction between us that evening. The first time I took notice of her was during a Sunday service, when she came in late and found the only chair available was right next to me. What I didn’t know was that she had driven all night long to get back to LA so she could hook up with some guy with a motorcycle that she had the hots for. No, all I knew was that she clearly hadn’t showered; she smelled rank, and she had likely dipped her hair in an oil slick. I had come to this service to ponder the deep things of eternity, which was made far more difficult by the human sewer seated directly to my left.

And then, yadda, yadda, yadda, we got married and lived happily ever after. Ain’t love grand?