Clintons and Communist Clothing

We had to fold clothes last night. That means we haul huge piles of laundry up to the bedroom and fold like the wind whilst watching whatever’s on the tube.

That’s why I was unfortunate enough to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech last night.

Let’s get a few things on the table. I do not want Barack Obama as our next president. But watching that harpy screech about how great she is while her WC Fields/ Warren Harding hubby mouthed “I love you forever” to the camera, I said my own silent American Prayer of gratitude that this harridan and her Lothario spouse got their butts handed to them in the primaries.

Beginning with the “Look How Cool I Am!” intro video narrated preciously by harridan-in-waiting Chelsea Clinton, the entire presentation was a self-congratulatory one-woman love fest. Every mention of Barack Obama was a throwaway; every sentence had a subject of “I” or “Me.” She’s cracked the glass ceiling! She’s saved the world! She’s waiting for Obama to get mauled by McCain so she can build her own Greek Temple and become the Female Messiah! (Have you seen the Greek Temple Obama’s building to himself for his nomination acceptance speech? Yikes.)


This is not a woman trying to unite a party. This is a lady who is providing the bare minimum of Obama support to avoid the Democrats disdain while, at the same time, submarining the Almighty Obama at every turn. She’s the greatest asset the McCain campaign could ever have. Has there ever been a more contemptible couple than Bill and Hillary? What will it take to get these slimeballs to finally go away?

Speaking of things that never go away, a fellow Languatron detractor and frequent blog commenter sent me a link to this video he took in a Burlington Coat Factory in his hometown that’s now become the talk of his local talk radio market.

You can read more about this here. Apparently, the store is selling old Soviet military uniforms. My guess is that they’re in the racks next to the Klan hoods and the jackboots. Can you imagine Burlington selling anything with a swastika on it? Fascism killed tens of millions and is rightfully considered deplorable; Communism killed hundreds of millions and is inexplicably chic.

These outfits would look great with one of Hillary’s pantsuits.

American Prayer to Almighty Obama

This has to be seen to be believed.

What on earth is the message of this video? Vote for Obama, because Barry Manilow and George Costanza pray to him? All of the Rush Limbaugh-style jokes about the Lord Messiah Obama underestimate the ludicrous, over-the-top worshipping at the altar of the Church of Barack embodied in this laughable display of celebrity cluelessness.

Come on, folks. This is beyond vapid. “This is my American prayer?” Gobbledygook. Dave Stewart, the author of these insipid lyrics who looks vaguely like Eric Clapton throughout the video, is British, for the love of mud! Does his British prayer look anything like his American prayer? I wonder if Cyndi Lauper and Joan Baez can pray in Belgian, too.

“American Prayer” is written and performed by people who seem entirely unfamiliar with genuine prayer. The ditty uses religion childishly, like a talisman or a lucky charm, to invoke a sense of spiritual heft to a decidedly secular purpose. Amid pleas for huddled masses to finally breathe free under an Obama administration, there’s also an implicit call for lower gas prices. You know what lowers gas prices, Whoopi and Cyndi and Forrest and Macy? Drilling! Maybe you should start praying to Exxon-Mobil for that one. (Lord Obama’s only going to answer your prayers by inflating your tires.)

Every time some pile of celebrity has-beens injects themselves forcibly into the national conversation, I have to ask: Is there anyone on this planet who was waiting to see how Whoopi Goldberg was going to vote before making their decision? Was anybody wondering which way the guitarist for the Eurythmics was going to fall in 2008? Does Jason Alexander really think he can move political opinion in this country? I mean, that guy can’t even be master of his own domain, if you know what I mean.

What these guys don’t realize is that they do move public opinion – in the opposite direction. I live by the Streisand Touchstone – whatever Barbra’s for, I’m against. Babs didn’t show up for this one, though, so they had to settle for famed pundit and political analyst Pamela Anderson. I lost all respect for her when she refused to marry Borat. (Actually, I never had any respect for her, so I didn’t really lose anything.)

I hope this American Prayer goes into heavy rotation on MTV alongside this piece of crap from the fat, ugly, and/or aged McCain Girls.

Run both these unintentionally hilarious nightmare videos from now until Election Day and Jacques Cousteau is a shoe-in.

Deep Thoughts from Stalliondo

While putting my three-year-old little Stalliondo to bed tonight, we had the following exchange.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said.

He paused for a moment.

“Ummm… a dinosaur!” he finally answered.

“Why do you want to be a dinosaur?” I asked him.

He smiled. “So I can kill all my friends.”

Biden, Boats, and Backpacks

There’s a story that’s been passed around the Senate about a Catholic bishop who wants to deny communion to all Democrats, due to their party’s embrace of abortion rights.

“We need to take action, beginning with Joe Biden,” the bishop says.

“Why Biden?” answers one of his colleagues.

“Because he’s the only one who would care,” the bishop responds.

Joe Biden is a genuinely religious man, a solid Catholic who opposes partial-birth abortion and meanders into pro-life territory every once in awhile. He’s a leftie, but he’s not a loon. He’s a serious, intelligent lawmaker who brings plenty of heft to Obama’s ticket. Conservatives who cackle with glee over his many gaffes – calling Obama “clean,” plagiarizing Neil Kinnock, mocking Indians working in convenience stores – are missing the point. Biden has been in the fray for forty years, and he’s thrived under pressure. He’s everything Obama isn’t – including being somewhat reasonable.

I think this improves Barack’s chances of being elected. It also improves Mitt’s chances of getting on McCain’s ticket, too.

Intrade now has Mitt as VP trading about thirty points ahead of everyone else. Where Biden brings a tremendous amount of foreign policy credentials to the Dems, Mitt becomes the economic guru the GOP is looking for. Biden fills in Obama’s gaps, and Mitt could do the same for Beavis. The only drawback – and it’s considerable – is Mitt’s Mormon faith. I’m not the one to gauge just how big a deal that is, as I woefully underestimated this issue when Satan’s Brother used it to knock Mitt out of the race.

I plan on ignoring the convention for the most part, much as I ignored the Biden announcement, which came as I was camping with the fam up at Bear Lake on the Utah/Idaho border. It was a good time, except when I went to pick up a rented boat and couldn’t get it up to more than 10 miles per hour without nearly capsizing it in the massive early morning waves. I also picked up the boat while wearing jeans, thinking I would step onto the boat from some kind of pier. Instead, I had to wade out into the water in denim and sit in moist clothing for over an hour.

I was less than pleased.

The two kids who came with me – my son Corbin and a friend from another family – learned a few interesting words that morning. The friend later asked my other children whether or not I was a Mormon, since she had never heard a Mormon use such colorful metaphors.

I may have scarred both of them for life, but such is the way of things. Today is the first day of school for the Cornell clan, and they awoke and dressed and got lunches made and, with backpacks firmly in place, sallied forth out the door. Cleta is now in 6th grade; Chloe is in 4th; Corbin and Cornelius are starting grade #2, and Stalliondo begins preschool next week.

I would say it reminds me of that ABBA song “Slipping Through My Fingers,” but then everyone would accuse me of being gay.

The Olympics and Patriotism

I haven’t mentioned the Olympics yet in this blog, which is strange, as the Cornells are watching them semi-religiously. Twins Corbin and Cornelius have been up far past their bedtimes to cheer on the Americans and Michael Phelps and the gymnasts and whatnot, and it’s been a whole lot of fun.

What’s delightful about the Olympics is that it’s based solely on excellence. There’s no forgiveness, no feel-good consolation prize, no margin for error. Political correctness had yet to infect the Olympic process with “everyone is special” self-esteem-boosting pap. Not everyone is Michael Phelps-style special. I like to think I can eat 12,000 calories per day and still look great, but my gut says otherwise.

The other thing remarkable about the Olympics is that it’s patriotic as all git out. You spend your time cheering for your country and celebrating American achievement. In everyday life, Democrats moan and whine that Republicans are always “questioning their patriotism,” yet they think that they can slice down their country at every opportunity and demand that be considered equally as patriotic as those who want the USA to succeed. That dynamic is stripped to its essence in the Olympics – either you want the American gymnast to win, or you want the “16-year-old” Chinese infant to win. One choice is clearly more patriotic than the other.

That may be the reason why Beavis McCain is coming back in the polls. In their hearts, most Americans are rooting for America. They’re not Michelle Obamas who think their nation is downright mean or that they can’t be proud of their country. They’re not Barack Obamas who worry about what the rest of the world will think if we keep driving SUVs and turn our thermostats down to 72 during the summer. I loathe McCain, but I will say the unspeakable, which is that McCain is obviously more patriotic than Obama is. The reason this statement makes the Left so sputteringly angry is that it’s demonstrably true, and they have no argument in response other than to call people names.

Blatant expressions of patriotism always make Lefties feel uncomfortable, like someone sitting in a damp swimming suit. When everyone was sporting the American flag after 9/11, the Bill Moyers crowd was wringing its hands about the dangers of the flag lapel pin and little flag logos in the corner of TV screens. Displaying the flag is the first step down the road to fascism, doncha know, and don’t you dare call me unpatriotic for saying so!

The fact is that the word “patriotism” means something, and the defensive of the Democrats demonstrates that they’re less comfortable with the definition than the Republicans are.

Speaking of being uncomfortable with patriotism, I found the goofiest current example of an unpatriotic boob in the latest online edition of Newsweek, which features a diatribe by this pinhead, pictured here:

Said pinhead is named Sameer Reddy, and he states that the U.S. Olympic uniforms are – wait for it – racist, classist, and evidence that Ralph Lauren is a self-hating Jew. Don’t believe me? Here’s the money quote:

The biggest sports-related news stateside has been the redesign of the U.S. uniforms by Ralph Lauren, who took the reins from Canadian company Roots. Lauren has built an empire by becoming the unofficial outfitter of the American Dream, marketing an idealized image of America’s former ruling class to the nation at large. However, the WASP aesthetic he sells-think of characters from “The Great Gatsby,” clothed in tennis whites and delicate tea dresses-has come to represent a classist and racist set of ideals, hardly representative of the current multicultural social fabric of the United States. A strange choice then, to redefine the U.S. team’s visual identity in this way, even as it marches further away from the 20th century, when WASP power reached its peak. But if one stops to consider America’s shaky status as the world’s preeminent superpower, Lauren’s nostalgic, retro creations begin to make more sense.

But wait! There’s more! It seems the NeoCons who are too stupid to see the bigotry here. Here’s more from said dweeb:

Social conservatives would probably fail to read anything insidious into these outfits-after all, at least the U.S. team looked pulled-together and semi-formal-but the clothes, in and of themselves, are not the problem. The issue is that the Polo brand is built upon an aesthetic intended to communicate to the world, the wearer’s successful assimilation into the traditional institutions of upwardly-mobile American culture-the elitist world of typically WASP-only country clubs, prep schools and cotillions. (Never mind that Ralph Lauren, née Lifshitz, was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants who most certainly would not have been allowed into the country clubs that many of his designs seem destined for.)

Oh, yeah? At least Ralph Lauren isn’t unpatriotic, dweeb boy. And you are.

Loons

Once upon a time, I was part of a group of artsy-fartsy types trying to put together a major performing arts center in Salt Lake City. (I’m now a member of a new group trying to do the sam thing, but that’s beside the point.) Back then, a prominent local developer told us that he could fully fund our project immediately, due to the investment of two wealthy angels who were building an even larger center near the same site.

Sound too good to be true? Yes it did, considering we were looking for about $50 million to get the thing going.

So we sat down at the meeting, and we met these two investors who are both 60+ year-old women who look like they’ve just walked out of an Amway convention. They’re wearing way too much jewelry and make-up, and they’re clearly trying to pretend they’re bigger deals than they really are. Neither one of them can speak coherently – one finished every sentence with the word “eckcetera” (sp) – and another was missing two of her molars. They proceeded to tell us that they were going to buy 700 acres (!) of land and build – stuff.

Weird stuff.

Like a rotating restaurant in the shape of a baseball on top of a 200-foot tall baseball bat. Or a massive waterpark that leads people past the pyramids of Egypt. And a Western town where visitors could come pretend they’re Jesse James. And a full service movie studio. And a “wellness center” that will feature new, anti-aging treatments and drugs. And, as an afterthought, our fun little $50 million performing arts complex.

Their proposed budget? 3.5 billion dollars. That’s “billion” with a B. And, according to them, it was all their own money.

Where did this money come from, you may ask? Well, one woman claimed to have invented the disposable diaper. “But the idea was stolen and they had to settle with me out of court,” she said, so that’s why nobody knows she’s the Queen of Pampers. The other woman said she owned a multi-million dollar bowling ball company that uses her own patented bowling ball design. (Near as I can tell, the design on bowling balls hasn’t changed much in over a millenia. Three holes, one ball, ten pins. Am I missing something?)

One of them had created a bunch of goofy cartoon characters, the primary one of which is an extraterrestrial worm named Spacey. Thoughts of Languatron went through my mind as this woman detailed her extensive negotiations with Universal Studios, which desperately wanted to make a feature film about Spacey, but this lady “walked away from the table” because they were going to “compromise the integrity of the character,” which looked like it had been traced from the back of a cereal box.

They’ve also invented golf clubs and traded international real estate and probably driven to the moon in a Mustang convertible. (OK, so I made the last one up. But given the circumstances, it’s hard to tell.)

I probably would have left the meeting after about ten minutes if this developer guy hadn’t been there. He was legit, and he was treating these loonbats as if they were legit, too. My question was: how do you live to be 60+ years old and say you have $3.5 billion on hand and still get any human being to take you seriously when its patently obvious you’re a fraud?

Plus, if you’ve got that kind of money, why can’t you get your teeth fixed?

Things continued for awhile, and there were a couple more meetings that I attended, until I got fed up and called the landowners that these people were supposedly negotiating with. They were very friendly, and they told me they’d met these loony ladies, and that they were wackjobs, and don’t bother with them any more than is absolutely necessary. The head of the group I was with got really mad and kicked me out of his club, because I’d “upset the investors.” So I moved on and never looked back. (Until now, of course, because it’s a funny story.)

Of course, if anyone sees the rotating baseball restaurant somewhere, let me know. I’ll bet they have good fries.

Tron. Crap. Synonyms.

Tron 2 is in development.

They’re not calling it Tron 2, though. They’re calling it TR2N. Which is unreadable and annoying, much like the first Tron movie.

Make no mistake – Tron blows.

I had a vague recollection of seeing this thing when it was in theatres and not liking it, but I also remembered playing the video game with the speeding light cycles and liking that. As buzz for TR2N began to build, and as the likes of Harry Knowles at AintItCoolNews began to sing the praises of the original, I managed to convince myself that my memories of the film were somehow inaccurate, and, convoluted as those memories were, I ought to give Tron another chance.

So we Netflixed it. Not a good plan.

It’s not just that the movie looks like it’s been filmed through a muddy digital lens with only twelve pixels. Indeed, the attempt at computer animation, made back when Asteroids was still a hot video game in arcades, has to be accepted for the ambitious breakthrough that it was. My complaints aren’t technical – they’re logical. The movie is filled with dated, convoluted jargon, and to say that its premise is stupid is to say that using wallpaper paste for shampoo is stupid. It’s so obviously boneheaded that its not worth mentioning.

Apparently, all of our computer programs have complex, emotionally satisfying lives within the confines of our hard disks. They have genders; they fall in love; they get high drinking virtual water; they have religions; they have bad fashion sense and a wide variety of driving skills, and they look like the people who program them. Groovy, no? 

No. 

See, back in 1982, when Tron came out, I was actually writing computer programs in BASIC on my Atari 400 that I’d purchased with hard-earned paper route money. They involved statistical comparisons to determine which girls were the hottest and roughly pixilated explosions to simulate nuclear war. I had to save them on cassette tapes that took about half an hour to load while making horribly twisted screeching sounds. They were all about a hundred lines or so, and I guarantee you that none of them were catching any nookie in their virtual downtime.

Even now, the idea that programs are complex enough to simulate human life is silly, but in 1982, when the Commodore 64 was state-of-the-art, it’s like saying a piece of dog chow could compose Handel’s Messiah. And then to put a real human in the mix, as Tron does with Jeff Bridges’ Flynn character, you have to hurl your brain out the window to begin to take the thing seriously.

Trust me, I can do stupid if it’s fun. This is not fun. It’s the polar opposite of fun. The dialogue is so joyless and wooden that you keep waiting for Anakin Skywalker to show up to explain how love is blind and sand is not smooth. George Lucas writes better than this, and that’s saying something. (Hint: What it’s saying is not good.)

We’re continually trying to find new and innovative ways to punish our children when they’re unruly. Sometimes we make them do wall sits or put a drop of Tobasco on their tongues if they say something nasty. But now, we’ve determined that threatening to make them watch Tron all the way through is a surefire bad behavior deterrent.

So don’t look for me waiting in line to catch the opening of TR2N. I’ll be at home, scrubbing the wallpaper paste out of my hair.

P.S. Tron does have David Warner in it, though, so that’s something. David Warner is the consummate bad guy. He was great in every piece of crap he’s ever been in, including Tron. You don’t see him much anymore, though. I hope he’s not dead. 

Mormon Cultural Oddities

One of the first Mormon meetinghouses in Scotland was built in the city of Dundee in the mid-fifties and dedicated by then-church president David O. McKay. It was the largest LDS building I had seen when I served my mission there, and I would wager it’s probably still the largest meetinghouse in the country. However, if it were magically transported across the ocean and relocated somewhere along the Wasatch Front, I doubt anyone would think it unusual in any way. It’s about the size of most modern stake centers, and it looks exactly like every other Mormon church in America, complete with a full-size basketball court in the center of the building.

There’s only one problem. Most Scots have never seen a basketball, except in stories and legends.

The only people who used the court were missionaries, 90%+ of whom were American. Locals used the court to play indoor football – sorry, “soccer” to us culturally unenlightened Yanks – and it was hard to even find a basketball on that side of the pond. More recent buildings have foregone the basketball standards and better reflect the preferences of the local populace.

This is the most benign illustration I can think of that demonstrates the quirkiness of Mormon culture.

As I prepared for my 40th birthday – yes, I’m 40, had a nice dinner and played laser tag, big whoop – I had a chance to reconnect with some old friends to invite them to my shindig. One is now a Church employee, and this anonymous friend resents the fact that he’s unable to comment about any peculiarities in Mormon life for fear of reprisal from his employer. My musings on temple marriage would likely have gotten this pal of mine into hot water if he’d posted it himself, and I think that’s unfortunate. I think there’s a lot of room for discussion and disagreement within the church, and I don’t think it’s faithless to join in the dialogue every once in awhile.

Where we get into trouble is when we confuse church doctrine with church culture. One is inspired; the other ain’t necessarily so. For instance, if one were to publicly preach that Jesus is not the Christ or that baptism is for losers, perhaps they’d be stepping out of bounds. But if you write a blog post that says building church basketball courts in Scotland is really, really stupid, I think you’d be making a valid cultural point while standing on firm doctrinal ground.

Doctrine changes only by revelation. Church culture, on the other hand, is, over time, remarkably fluid. Don’t believe me? Consider this, then: Brigham Young would have a very tough time getting tenure at today’s Brigham Young University unless he shaved his beard. Indeed, David O. McKay once told his wife that he’d never be called into high church leadership because he was incapable of growing facial hair. Nowadays, even a Richard L. Evans moustache would get you tossed out of the BYU Testing Center. And it’s an unwritten rule that bishops, stake presidents, and other church leaders must be clean-shaven. The Holy Ghost, apparently, now finds it impossible to penetrate through a thick sit of whiskers.

Why? Show me the doctrine on this, guys. It’s just not there.

When I was at USC, our bishop stood up in priesthood meeting and told us all the necessity of attending all of our church meetings while wearing a white shirt. Thankfully, I was wearing a white shirt at the time, but only because my cool black shirt was lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom of a clothes hamper. I wore a white shirt from that point forward out of respect for that bishop – who is a great man and a wonderful leader – but I have yet to receive a spiritual confirmation from heaven that God is displeased with colored textiles.

There are plenty of other rules that seem equally ridiculous. Never applaud in a chapel. Woodwinds are acceptable in church meetings, but brass instruments are not. Missionaries must never go swimming. The Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board has a mandate from heaven. Church attendees must never stray from their self-assigned pews. Visual aids must be banished from sacrament meeting and confined solely to General Conference. Saying “you” instead of “thee” in prayers is almost as bad as swearing, but ending a sermon “in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen,” is appropriate, even if the people you’re speaking to don’t have a son by that name. She who births the most kids wins. Using wheat bread for the sacrament may occasionally be necessary, but that doesn’t make it right. And partaking of the sacrament with your left hand will make you go blind.

It all seems kind of silly to me.

I decided a long time ago, though, that none of this weirdness was enough to drive me away. I still wear a white shirt most of the time, and I’m usually clean-shaven. I’ve grown a beard on occasion, but I shave it off after a month or two, largely because I don’t care enough about the issue to start a crusade over it. I don’t really want to be “The Beard Guy,” striking a blow for Mormon goatees everywhere. If it’s not a big deal, then what’s wrong with going with the flow? Bishops have enough problems as it is – they don’t need a batch of beard crusaders making trouble.

My brother-in-law has a beard. He’s evil, you know.

Watchmen

I stopped reading comic books about five years before Watchmen, the “greatest graphic novel of all time,” came on the scene in 1985. I resumed reading them circa 1991, and it wasn’t until this week that I finally decided to supplement my geek education and prepare for the upcoming Watchmen movie by actually reading it myself. I came to it with tremendous expectations – according to the accolades quoted on its covers, it’s supposed to “turn the superhero genre on its head” and “redefine the medium,” whatever `that means. It’s long been a target for a Hollywood adaptation, but its writer, a very hairy British fellow named Alan Moore, has called the thing “unfilmable” and has refused to lend his name or his assistance to the film version, which has gone through many drafts and potential scribes since its publication.

I think Moore has resisted the adaptation because he knows, deep in his gut, that Watchmen, stripped of its excess sex, blood, profanity, and psychological pretentions, is a fairly ordinary superhero story. Someone’s killing heroes, and as the surviving folks in capes dig deeper, they uncover a conspiracy that leads to a wild-eyed James Bond-style villain bent on taking over the world. He even has a cool lair, complete with a glass dome and everything! I think we’re probably supposed to see this as irony or satire, but it doesn’t quite cut it on that level. As a conventional superhero story, though, it’s pretty decent.

What isn’t decent is the worldview that fuels the characters who clearly share the writer’s perspective. We have a killer vigilante Rorschach driving most of the narrative, and he’s a guy who wears a mask that has shapes that constantly shift. He comes to the conclusion that God is dead and you make your own rules. And then there’s the Comedian, who actually dies at the beginning of the book and whose whole life is told in flashback. He’s a thug, a rapist, and a guy who casually guns down a woman pregnant with his own child without thinking twice. Every protagonist in the story ends up praising this thug for “getting the joke,” which is that life is a dark, miasmic pit of despair, and thus violent cynicism is the only sane response.

The nihilism in this story is black, gooey, and rancid. You can almost smell its foul odor rising from its pages.

It’s also hopelessly dated. It takes place in an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon is President-for-Life, and war with the Soviet Union is inevitable, because chaos reins supreme, and there’s nothing we can do about it. That looks pretty silly in light of Reagan’s victory in the Cold War, although the doings in Russia today make it somewhat less ridiculous. The idea that the West was right and the Soviets were wrong doesn’t occur to this hairy British guy. They both have nukes, so they’re both bad. That’s like saying the rapist and the one who’s raped are both equally responsible.

This may have been the first mainstream comic where superheroes swear and stuff, so maybe that was considered bold and daring. Annoying would be a better word. The book is also far too busy – the panels are cluttered, and our hairy pal is intent on telling two stories at the same time throughout, including a completely irrelevant tale about a pirate who makes a raft out of dead bodies, eats raw seagulls, and comes home to kill people. In addition, each chapter begins with several pages of non-illustrated text that is a chore to read. It’s an unwieldy, often clumsy piece of literature.

I’ll probably see the movie, though. The trailer looks cool.