A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you, my jolly friend? Not well, and not jolly, if this video you made is any indication.

First off, could you be more specific as to where this was filmed?

Every other movie where I’ve seen your digs has shown me bright, colorful, charming mansions with high ceilings and ample lighting. Yet there you are, sweating in some creepy, dank basement with water dripping everywhere and only a flashlight for illumination. I’m not quite sure how that works, given that the Weather Channel tells me the current temperature up around your parts is a balmy -15°F, and that it hasn’t been warm enough to melt anything for weeks on end.

Has your furnace gone haywire?

How else to explain your ragged appearance with your red coat hanging open and your sticky, soiled undershirt on full display? If the furnace is cranked up, that means your electricity is probably working, too. Why the flashlight? Where is the video crew getting the juice to power the camera you’re using?

Look, why don’t you go upstairs?

I think we’re supposed to presume that your workshop is washed out, or something like that, except your backdrop looks more like a subterranean bunker than high ground, and no doubt the strange, isolated tropical weather that’s put you out of business would’ve flooded that space first. So what gives? After all, you’re Santa Claus. Jolly ol’ St. Nicholas.

Sainthood is not compatible with dishonesty.

I hate to accuse you of skirting the truth. I really do. Your centuries of reindeer-fueled philanthropy have built you a stellar reputation, which is clearly what Greenpeace wanted to exploit by featuring you in this dreadful propaganda piece. The weird, Unabomber-meets-Blair-Witch setting you’ve created here isn’t the only thing that’s false in this video.

The bottom line is that you’ve got your facts all wrong.

“My home in the Arctic is fast disappearing,” you tell us. Except it isn’t. Ice in the arctic grew 29% in a single year. And down south, the Antarctic ice sheet is at a 36-year high and continues to grow. We got ice coming out our eyeballs, so maybe you should see a plumber about all that dripping.

Fact is, the globe hasn’t warmed at all for 15+ years or so. Even the alarmists at the UN have been forced to admit that. Your new friends at Greenpeace tend to respond to these awkward facts by citing the hoary 97% statistic that has been misrepresented to show unanimity among climate scientists that agree the planet is boiling over, and it’s all our fault. Except none of their models predicted the current decade-and-a-half pause in warming. So if 97% of scientists have now been proven wrong, what good is it to know that they’re all wrong together?

It seems none of these facts have deterred you from your alarmism. “Unless we all act urgently,” you warn us, everyone’s going to have “an empty stocking forevermore.” But even that’s bullplop. Scientists are 100% in agreement that there isn’t any proposal on the table that would actually lower global temperatures. So even if “we all act urgently,” the climate’s going to continue to do what it’s going to do. And what it’s going to do is change. It’s been changing for millions of years before humans appeared on the scene, and it will likely change for millions of years after we’re gone. The hubris of assuming that humanity has the power to set a global thermostat one way or the other is pretty galling, especially in light of how hopelessly wrong “the consensus” has been up to this point.

Sorry to beat up on you, Mr. Kringle, but what we’re left with here is an alarmist organization willing to lie repeatedly. Greenpeace resorts to threatening the demise of a fictional character to support their provably false premise, yet, somehow, it’s the Republicans who are “deniers” and “hostile to science. ” Not quite sure how that works.

I’d suggest coal in your stocking, Santa, but I know how Greenpeace feels about fossil fuels. But I just wanted to let you know that this creepy, sour video was a really stupid idea.

XXOO,

Little Stallion

P.S. I want a pretend horsey and a choo-choo train.  Also multiple fracking permits on BLM land.

Why is it okay to mock the Mormons?

Years ago, noted actor Dustin Hoffman played the role of Shylock in a Broadway production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” That generated a certain amount of controversy, given the fact that “The Merchant of Venice” is a decidedly anti-Semitic play. Shylock is nothing but a collection of hoary Jewish stereotypes, as well as a melodramatic stock villain a la Snidely Whiplash. It’s not hard to imagine audiences in Shakespeare’s day booing and hissing at him as he performed the Elizabethan equivalent of tying a damsel in distress to the railroad tracks.

But Hoffman, himself Jewish, was lauded for performing the role in a way that turned Shylock into a three-dimensional person, generating a degree of sympathy for the character and his cultural plight. Ever since then, every production of “The Merchant of Venice” has taken a similar approach, which is entirely appropriate. Modern audiences, to their credit, refuse to tolerate ignorant slander of groups of people because of their race or religion.

There is, however, at least one glaring exception.

I was watching a late night rerun of “The Simpsons,” in which Homer and his family find themselves in an indoor play place, with a huge slide that leads to a dark hole in the ground. “Where does that slide go?” Bart asks. The answer comes as we follow a young boy down the slide as it empties into a room filled with dead-eyed children wearing white shirts and ties and standing in rows. The boy finds himself wearing a white shirt and tie, too, and he hears a voice over a loudspeaker saying, “Welcome to the Mormon Church, America’s most respectable cult.”

Cue uproarious laughter.

My guess is that, unless you’ve seen that particular episode, this is the first you’re hearing about this snotty little dig at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The broadcast was not followed by protests or outrage. Members of the church who saw it took it in stride. I wonder if the same thing would’ve been true if Shylock–style stereotypes were hauled out of mothballs for a throwaway sitcom gag. There’s really no way of knowing, because no producer would ever do something so disrespectful to the Jewish community, and furthermore, no audience would find it funny. But when the Mormons are the butt of the joke, laughing is acceptable and indignation is absent.

If you doubt that, look no further than the Broadway stage, where an extraordinarily vulgar musical portraying Mormons as deluded, albeit well-intentioned imbeciles is the toast of New York, hauling in big box office and winning hordes of prestigious awards. Now imagine if the show were called “The Koran” instead of “The Book of Mormon,” and it depicted the Prophet Mohammed having zany adventures alongside some of his most dimwitted followers. How many Tonys do you think that would win?

My point in bringing this to light is not to lobby for Mormon victim status. To the contrary, there’s something positive about the fact that Mormons are now considered worthy of ridicule and no longer ignored. It’s also a credit to members of my church that the specter of violence is never raised when Mormons are mocked like this.

At the same time, I wonder if the people who would recoil at Shylock but laugh heartily at a performance rife with Mormon caricatures even notice the double standard. I would hope so, but I also know that it took hundreds of years before Shylock stopped being funny.

State of the Stallion

A moribund blog is not the product of a feeble mind. Or, that is to say, a feeble mind is not the only excuse for a moribund blog, nor should this blog in any way be used as evidence that my mind is not feeble. Capice?

Yes, it’s been over a month since I posted anything, and longer still since I posted anything without videos of pooping animals in them. My apologies. The fact is that any spare time devoted to writing has been directed toward my book, which is finally in the hands of an agent at the moment. It used to be in the hands of two agents, but one has turned it down via the following verbiage:

Thanks for giving us another shot at GODS, MONSTERS, AND JEFF DOWNEY. You’re certainly got a very original and intriguing premise here, and Jeff Downey is a likeable hero, but I’m afraid we weren’t feeling fully invested in his story overall. We’ll step aside, but thanks again for the look, and best of luck!

Hear that? They’ll “step aside.” They don’t want to stand in the way of the book’s greatness! At least, that’s how I’m trying to take this. The truth is that I think the book is now in strong enough shape to actually work, but I’m also so bone-tired of revising it that such weariness may now be showing in the latest drafts. If the other agent turns it down, I may sit on it for awhile before I can look at it with fresh eyes.

So now, for the first time in forever, I feel interested enough in writing something else that I’m taking a crack at blogging again. But what to blog about? I could inflict several stale pieces I’ve written that were rejected by the Deseret News, but they “stepped aside” from them because, frankly, they weren’t good. So I thought I’d start fresh and begin at the beginning.

And thus… THE STATE OF THE STALLION

Behold! I shall break my first annual, and perhaps last annual, State of the Unionesque pronouncements unto various categories, beginning from the broadest view and zooming in as we get closer to stuff.

THE STATE OF THE WORLD

Well, it’s kind of a mess. Isn’t that to be expected, though? From a religious perspective, we’re told that Christ will return to a wicked and debased world that has descended into utter chaos, so it’s not particularly surprising to see the descent in process. As I’ve considered this over the years, my temptation has been to be fatalistic – everything’s going to suck, so why fight it? Except that isn’t necessarily the case. The polarization between the world and God will mean that as the bad gets badder, the good will get gooder.

What this does mean, though, is that I find myself increasingly skeptical of political solutions that promise to stem the tide of suckiness. While I remain more conservative than liberal, I doubt the ability of any party or politician to stop or even slow the spiral into a world of utter crap. This doesn’t mean I’m nihilistic, but rather that God, not the state, is where I am placing my faith.

THE STATE OF THE NATION

Interesting stuff happening on the homefront, no? Frequently I have lamented the utter ineptitude and small-mindedness of the GOP, and the government shutdown debacle had me convinced that Republicans had essentially resigned themselves to permanent regional minority status.

And then Obamacare came out and sucked far beyond anyone’s expectations of possible suckitude.

I find this fascinating, only because it’s becoming clear to all but the most stubbornly partisan leftists that Obamacare doesn’t work, nor can it work. I’m not just talking about the website, which may, eventually, sort of work. I’m talking about a system that combines all the waste of government bureaucracy with the most egregious excesses of the free market to produce the worst of all possible worlds. Never mind the hundreds of policies already canceled – wait until tens of millions of employer plans go down the drain when the business mandate finally kicks in. If you like it, you can’t keep it – and you’ll pay through the nose for lousier coverage.

I don’t think America is going to stand for that.

That shifts the political landscape considerably. Prior to the Orwellianly-monikered Affordable Care Act’s splattering, the long-term forecast was Democrats with a slight chance of Commies. The Electoral College was so heavily skewed to growing Democratic demographics that the idea of a Republican in the White House again in my lifetime seemed like a pipe dream.

But then Obamacare blew out and left its skid marks all over the place.

It’s not insignificant that, for the first time, people see Obama as a liar. And by “people,” I mean “me.” I have always respected and liked the president personally, even as I watched his well-intentioned incompetence dig the nation deeper into debt, idleness, and despair. But his “you can keep your plan” lie was so egregious that even lefties can’t defend it, and it’s so clearly deliberate that it’s hard to fall back on the “gosh, he just didn’t know” excuse that has shielded from legitimate questions about the IRS, the NSA, Benghazi, etc. No longer can his defenders scream “racism!” when people point out that this guy’s doing a lousy job. And when the best defense against charges of dishonesty is that he’s just monumentally inept, you know he’s in trouble.

The implosion of Obamacare, then, has a huge silver lining. It’s the newest of America’s bloated entitlements, but it’s also the first to fall. Possibly, this may spur people on both sides of the aisle to prevent the slo-mo train wreck that is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and then maybe – gasp! – fix these programs before the country collapses. Because, remember, if they don’t fix them, the country will collapse.

A month or two ago, I thought such a collapse inevitable. Now I’m cautiously less dismal.

THE STATE OF UTAH

John Swallow, Utah’s corrupt attorney general has resigned. He did so claiming that his resignation had nothing to do with the impending criminal charges being brought to bear against him, and the fact that he postponed his resignation until the day when he would be eligible for a state pension never seems to have crossed his mind.

This guy is so extraordinarily dirty.

For the better part of a year, Utahns have been inundated with stories about Swallow’s shadowy meetings with seedy characters, the gifts and vacations he accepted from people with business before the Attorney General’s office, his incomplete and inaccurate financial disclosures, and, most recently, the massive amount of electronic data pertinent to the state’s investigation that has mysteriously disappeared.  When John Swallow asked Jeremy Johnson if there was a “paper trail” connecting him to the personal use of Johnson’s million-dollar houseboat for a family vacation, Swallow acknowledged that what he had done was wrong, even if it may have been legal.  But at his press conference, he insisted he was not only legally above board, but also “100% ethical,” which assumes “ethical” now means “really, really not ethical.”

Nice to have him gone.

THE STATE OF THE CULTURE

I’ve seen a bunch of movies since I last wrote about any of them. I generally write my reviews for the Deseret News, so I feel less motivated to spew much of them here. To sum up,  I liked-but-didn’t-love “Ender’s Game,” I thought “Catching Fire” was exponentially better than “The Hunger Games,” and I thought “Thor: The Dark World” was pointless, although not as pointless as “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” which now has half a dozen or so unwatched episodes cluttering up my DVR.

“Agents of Shield” has really disappointed me. Every time I try to give that show another chance – and I so wanted it to be adequate – I end up turning it off after about fifteen minutes. It feels episodic in a 1970s sort of way, and that’s not a good thing. Nothing that happens in one week seems to impact what happens the next, and there’s no need to watch the thing in order to know what’s going on. Which means, of course, that there’s nothing that’s going on to hold your attention from week to week.

I binge-watched “Breaking Bad” and wrote a nasty column about it, a column that I hereby disavow, as the series, in total, addresses every one of my concerns, and you sure as crap aren’t rooting for Walter White by the end of the thing. It’s amazing how well thought out and executed that series was, and it only got better as the seasons rolled on. How many other shows can make that claim? By my count, none, really.

THE STATE OF THE MOIST BOARD

It seems dead. I can’t restore the database. If anyone knows how to kickstart a dead database, I’m happy to get it up and running again. I’ve run out of options.

THE STATE OF ME

I weight thirty-five to forty pounds less than I did before I started the Somae plan. I fluctuate about five pounds here or there, but I’ve more or less kept off the lard for the past six months. That’s a good thing, right?

I’ve been cast in “A Few Good Men” at Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City, and I’m pretty excited. Pioneer Theatre is the only year-round professional theatre in Utah, and I auditioned without any expectations that I’d actually get a role. But I’m going to be playing a guy named Whittaker who I know nothing about. He has a couple of decent scenes. It will be fun to stick my toe back in the theatrical waters.

My family is doing well; we’re happy and healthy, and we’re going on a Caribbean cruise at the end of this month. So, you know, there is too much in my life that doesn’t suck.

There. Does this count as a real blog entry? Can we all be friends again?