Lessons from Boston

I woke up this morning to discover that the explosions in Boston have created a version of a real-life “Die Hard” movie, with suspects engaging in shoot-outs and throwing pressure cookers at police. It’s surreal. As the nation continues to reel from this terrible tragedy, it’s depressing to watch some public figures attempt to use these acts of terror to further their own puny political purposes.

The day after the attacks, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank took to the airwaves to ludicrously claim that “no tax cut would have helped us deal with this.” How on earth is this hideous event in any way correlated with tax cuts, or tax increases, or taxes at all? Such blatant partisanship immediately after a tragedy is extremely unsettling, yet that didn’t stop former presidential advisor David Axelrod from appearing on MSNBC and insinuating that conservatives opposed to high taxes chose “tax day” to carry out this deadly terrorist attack. Because, you know, conservatives like blowing people up on Tax Day.

That’s worse than foolish. It’s vicious nonsense, and it has no proper place in our public discourse.

Any political manipulation of this tragedy is disrespectful to the victims of the attack, and it diminishes the integrity of those who engage in it. But it doesn’t seem to be going away. “Normally domestic terrorists, people, tend to be on the far right,” said MSNBC host Chris Matthews, ignoring groups like the Weather Underground or individuals like Ted Kaczynski, AKA the “Unabomber,” and other domestic terrorists who used bombs to further their far left agendas. Indeed, bombs were the weapon of choice for 60s-era radicals. Normally domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers and such tend to be on the far left. But such examples are conveniently flushed down the Matthews memory hole.

Others have been unabashed in their attempts to leverage this calamity to further their own policy positions. Many have suggested that this increases the likelihood of passing stricter gun control legislation. On Twitter, actor and comedian Jay Mohr tweeted that this is the moment that proves that the “2nd amendment must go.” That’s an absurd premise. This attack has absolutely nothing to do with the Second Amendment or guns. It was carried out with makeshift explosives fashioned by ordinary pressure cookers, which, barring the banning of common household appliances, would not have been thwarted in any way by legislation, least of all new gun laws.

In times of crisis, it is natural for people to turn to their leaders for guidance. It is therefore the responsibility of our leaders to provide the kind of prudent governance that sets politics aside in order to meet the needs of the public. Tragedy is a terrible platform for demagoguery

And, no, I didn’t forget about Retro Friday!retro
That graphic is going to get old pretty quickly, isn’t it?

Anyway, here we go…


HAPPY LABOR DAYposted September 3, 2007

My shortest post to date. It says “Unions suck. That is all.” This link blurb is about three times longer than the original post.

SWEET BABY JAMES posted September 4, 2007


More Q&A about LDS, following up on my Mormon weirdness post.

FRED, RUDY, AND A BLOCK OF CHEESEposted September 6, 2007

A rather dated and quaint assessment of the 2008 presidential race, where I fretted about Rudy Giuliani winning the Republican nomination. He got a single delegate that year. Simpler times, simpler worries.

HOOEYposted September 7, 2007

Exactly as advertised. A series of random thoughts on disparate subjects from global warming to Martin Short to cascading style sheets.

ON REQUEST: WEIRD MORMON STUFFposted August 29, 2007

Just what it says. A reader asked about the more Galactica-esque points of Mormon doctrine, notably Kolob and human deification, and I do my best to answer him without sounding like a lunatic.

MISSING LANGYposted September 8, 2007

I posted a video about the history of my battle with Languatron to the tune of Diana Ross’ “Missing You.”Herein I explain all the inside joke references. Kind of stupid, really, but still mildly amusing. YouTube blocked the video on copyright grounds, so I had to reembed it. Unfortunately, I can only find the earliest version that doesn’t include half the video, so this edit feels incomplete.


I complain about a proposed anti-American GI Joe movie that never ended up happening, and then I worry about the lunatics who commented about this over at Ain’t It Cool News.

posted September 10, 2007

One of my anti- “Happy Holidays” rants. This has actually gotten better over the years as “Merry Christmas” has come back in style.

posted September 11, 2007

An unapologetically pro-American 9/11 post.

Tune in next week for:




And much more!


Tolkien Grousing on Retro Friday

Over spring break, the Cornells huddled together and watched all twelve hours of the Extended Editions of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen them, and I’m pleased to report that they’ve aged rather well. The CGI still holds up, although the trickery to make the hobbits look tiny does not. “Oh, look!  A body double! Wow! Bad digital shrinkage! Neat! Forced perspective!” It’s very, very obvious once you look for it.

It’s interesting to watch them after having seen the cinematic adaptation of “The Hobbit,” because, even in the extended versions, they lack the bloat and padding that marred the retelling of Bilbo’s adventure. They’re tightly constructed, well performed, and, for the most part, true to Tolkien’s vision.

Unless, of course, you ask a Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien, that is, the curator of his father’s legacy who, at the age of 87, recently granted his first lengthy interview ever in which he complained that Jackson’s films “eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25.”


At the age of 44, I’m sad to learn that I don’t fall into the film’s demographic. And I first saw the trilogy when I was apparently too old to appreciate them, too, so accept these musings from someone who is obviously too immature to have anything substantive to say.

But still, ol’ Chris Tolkien needs to pull his head out.



I have some problems with the movies, yes, particularly in the areas where Jackson went too far afield in altering the original story to make it more cinematic. I find the character arc of Faramir to be particularly grating, although I understand why Jackson did it that way, as, literarily, Faramir had no character arc – he was a saint from the get go, and saints aren’t as much fun to watch on screen.

That doesn’t excuse the moment in “The Return of the King” when Frodo sends Sam home, though, particularly since Sam actually leaves. The same Sam who risked his life to jump on board Frodo’s boat at the end of “Fellowship of the Ring” and swears never to abandon Frodo voluntarily starts back home from the border of Mordor? Ridiculous. And I would have liked to have seen Sam struggle with the ring, as well as a few other additions and subtractions.

But other changes made an awful lot of sense. No Tom Bombadil? That’s Tom Bomba-tastic! And the absence of the Scouring of the Shire is absolutely fine with me – it’s a long, tedious, undramatic section that undermines just about everything that went before. Those who complain that the movie version of “The Return of the King” has too many endings don’t remember that there are over a hundred pages left in the book after Frodo destroys the ring. Tolkien’s story is a wonder, but it’s also overlong, plodding, filled with tangential weirdness, and largely uncinematic.

That’s not a criticism so much as a straightforward assessment. Tolkien was not writing with movies in mind, and any adaptation has to prune and focus all of his narrative cul-de-sacs and poetic indulgences into something watchable. The fact that Jackson was able to do this and still maintain both thematic and narrative consistency with Tolkien’s work is nothing short of miraculous. It is, in its own way, an act of creativity on par with Tolkien’s book. So to hear Christopher Tolkien grouse that it’s some sort of evisceration strikes me as petty and vindictive.

Honestly, what did Christopher Tolkien expect? Would he have preferred a sequel to Ralph Bakshi’s lamentable LOTR cartoon? Maybe a few more Rankin-Bass kiddie versions with very unTolkieny songs thrown in? (“Where there’s a whip, there’s a way…”) Actually, he’s stated he’d prefer none of the above, as he doesn’t consider his father’s work filmable. And he’s right. It’s not filmable in its original state – it needs to be adapted to suit a new medium, which is what Peter Jackson did so well.

He also complains that he has not been adequately compensated for the movies, since the film rights were sold for a relative pittance way back in the day. Well, boo hoo. The movies increased sales of the books by 1000% in the three years they were in theatres, with a whopping 25 million copies of the books flying off the shelves between 2001 and 2003. These “eviscerations” sparked a renaissance of interest in the source material from whence they sprang. Surely that’s a good thing, Chris? And surely your father’s estate profited handsomely thereby?

I love the books. I love the films. And I have little patience for multimillionaire whiners.

And now, of course, it’s time for round two of…


retroAs I mentioned previously, I’m editing, categorizing, and tagging all my blog posts, ten per week beginning at the beginning, in order to better manage the info. I’m also posting links to the spruced-up posts to those who are deranged enough to want to read or reread them.

And here they are! Although I’m scrapping the whole thumnbnail picture thing I started last week- they’re too much work, and they’re really not necessary for what I’m trying to accomplish.


Really enjoyed rereading this little gem about vampire novelist Ann Rice’s warped perspective on abortion and the redistribution of wealth. This piece has proven to be prescient, methinks.

SOMETIMES LANGY’S RIGHT – posted August 25, 2007

MORMONS AREN’T VICTIMS – posted August 26, 2007

Discussion of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and its context in Mormon history, as well as a warning against the MMM-themed movie “September Dawn,” which nobody ended up seeing anyway.

ANDREW FOGELSON’S MAGIC KISS – posted August 27, 2007

Still one of my most frequently-viewed posts, wherein I tell the story of my obnoxious behavior in my role as the lead of 1985’s Calabasas High School production of “The Music Man.” Andrew Fogelson’s son is now the Chairman of Universal Pictures, so this was kind of a stupid bridge for me to burn.

THE LOST ART OF THE CRANK CALL – posted August 28, 2007

The first mention of My Esteemed Colleague and the story of how we hounded an innocent man into madness because he used to answer the phone by saying “HOWWWWWDY!” Also uses the phrase “Frog Hopkins Joe Joe Joe Joe.”

ON REQUEST: WEIRD MORMON STUFFposted August 29, 2007

Just what it says. A reader asked about the more Galactica-esque points of Mormon doctrine, notably Kolob and human deification, and I do my best to answer him without sounding like a lunatic.

ON HATINGposted August 30, 2007

The first in a series of discussions about the multitudes of people who hate my guts. The focus here is Bill and Jacqui Landrum, who originated the phrase “These are my jewels. You don’t like them? I take them back.” Devolves into a discussion of My Esteemed Colleague’s little raccoon.

LEARNING FROM LARRY posted August 31, 2007

Poor Former Senator Larry Craig. This post recounts the downfall of the Idaho legislator who solicited gay sex in a restroom, plead guilty to doing so, and then tried to take it back. It also laments the fact that I don’t know how to solicit sex or buy illegal drugs.

posted September 1, 2007

The story of a Kids of the Century girl who nursed a grudge for over a decade because I used to make fun of her making out in public. I think the main reason this bothered me is that when I was mocking her, I wasn’t making out with anybody.

posted September 2, 2007

The Stallion Cornell family tree is explored in depth here as I recount the story of Richard, the reluctant pioneer who came to Utah only because all his money burned up and he couldn’t afford to go back to Birmingham, England.

Tune in next week for:




And much more!



Announcing Retro Friday

“Are you saving all your newspaper columns?”

That was the question my mother asked me on the phone the other day. I pointed out that, no, I wasn’t, because all of them are online, and saving newsprint is no longer the thing to do. (You can read my latest column, which appeared in hard copy today, online here. List of columns here.)

“Well, I want a copy of them,” she said. “Put them altogether for me and print them up in a book and give it to me for Christmas.”

I decided that was a good idea. But I haven’t written enough of them to constitute a book of any heft. So I thought I would pepper my book of columns with stuff from this blog, which has been running, off and on, for over five years, complete with hundreds of thousands of words that could now fill an encyclopedia, if there were such a thing anymore.

What I realized in doing this, however, is that this blog isn’t very well organized. I’ve never bothered to categorize or tag any of the more than 700 posts that have accumulated like virtual barnacles on the hull of cyberspace. I can search for specific posts and usually find them, but the archive has become quite voluminous, and it would be nice if things therein were more easily accessed. In addition, every time I dig out an old post, I find typos and such that ought to be spruced up. I’m quite proud of the body of work I’ve almost inadvertently created, and it would be nice if I brushed it off and cleaned it up.

Which gave me the idea of Retro Friday.

Every Friday for the next few months, I will revisit ten old blog posts, beginning at the beginning. I will post links, short summaries, and, where possible, pictures that describe these ancient posts. In the process, I will read through the old stuff, clean it up, and tag and categorize it. It will be slow going, but in a couple of years, this blog will be perfectly organized, assuming North Korea doesn’t blow us all up. Who knows? We might even have some fun along the way.

Some ground rules: I will fix broken links and bad punctuation/typos, and maybe even add a few links here and there if necessary, but I’m not going to re-edit for content or make modern editorial comments. I want these posts to be the best posts they can be, but they also need to remain representative of my frame of mind when I wrote them.

Ready? No? Well, tough. Because I even created my own Retro Friday logo!

retroI didn’t say it was a good logo, mind you.

Anyway, let’s kick off our first Retro Friday by beginning at the beginning.

ON BEING STALLION CORNELLposted August 15, 2007


HEY, ROVE! DIVIDE THIS!posted August 16, 2007


WHY? BECAUSE I’M A (D-WORD)!posted August 17, 2007
Recounting my time as a movie reviewer counting profanities for the Entertainment Research Report. This was also the subject of one of my far-more-recent newspaper columns.



BOLTONTwenty-one years after its release, I finally watch and review the movie version of “Dune.” In my defense, I had just finished reading the book. I liked both printed and cinematic version, even though the movie, objectively, is awful.


A RELIGIOUS TREATISEposted August 19, 2007

imagesA bit of false advertising. For my first Sunday blog post, I wanted to write something profoundly pious, but I end up telling the story of how, as a missionary, I fell asleep in front of a warm Scottish fire and embarrassed myself in the home of a member of the LDS church.


WISTposted August 20, 2007

landruA post where I ponder my mortality and life choices after my 39th birthday and recall the counsel of the late, great Charles Macaulay, who played Landru in the original “Star Trek” episode “The Return of the Archons.”



evolutionMy first blogging foray into science I’m not qualified to discuss, although the focus is more on the hysterical reactions of atheists who brand any question about evolution to be a religious heresy. The title comes from atheist Christopher Hitchens’ book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

NEVERLAND posted August 22, 2007

peter-pan-thumbI wrote a musical. Later, I started adapting that musical into a novel. But here’s the post where I provide links to demo recordings to four of the songs. The recordings are really, really good, and, still, I hold out hope that, someday, this show will get the production it deserves. I’ve just reproduced this post as a page that is linked in the top menu bar in the hopes that some Broadway producer stumbles on it and says, “Hey, why not give this thing a shot?”

LANGUATRON’S BOOK: A REVIEW posted August 23, 2007

langToo much of this blog is devoted to my rivalry with one Andrew Fullen of Chicago, AKA Languatron and the author of several vanity publications about Battlestar Galactica. I review one of those books here. You can find a similar review on Amazon.com, and, if you’re a little drunk, you can also pick up a copy of the book in question.

LANGUATRON REVIEWS MY REVIEW also posted August 23, 2007

lang No sooner did I post my review than Langy himself posted his incoherent response. That was fine with me – it gave me an excuse to post a second blog post in a single day, which helped me build up my content without having to come up with too much original material. Kind of like this whole Retro Friday dealie.

And that’s that! The first Retro Friday is over, and ten posts have been proofread, edited, tagged, and categorized. Tune in next week for such gems as:

Legislating Morality with Vampire Ladies

Sometimes Langy’s Right

Mormons Aren’t Victims

And seven more!



I hate Cascading Style Sheets.

Someone who wants to make a fortune will invent a reliable, easy-to-use CSS WYSIWIG editor. If you’ve got one, would you please get it to me by noon today?

Thank you.

I also hate doing dishes and/or laundry, especially at the same time. I’ve never done them at the same time, but I’m sure that would be bad.

Folding clothes is a pain in the rear. I used to just shove them all, unfolded, in a drawer. But nooooooo! That “wrinkles” them. Oh, for the days when wrinkled clothing was a sign of artistic rebellion and not just pure sloth…

Who likes cats, raise your hand. You’ll notice my hand isn’t up.

Why, at 10:00 PM, when I’m watching the only television I watch all day, do all three shows I flip through have commercials on at the same time?

I want to commit crabgrass genocide.

I’m enjoying my rediscovery of the Travelling Wilburys. I think George Harrison is the most underrated Beatle, and John Lennon is the most overrated. Ringo is still the luckiest man on earth.

If I want to feel old, I ask people if they can name all four Beatles. Very few people under 30 can do that. I have yet to meet anyone besides me who can name all of the Rolling Stones. Except that’s a trick question, anyway, because Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Bill Wyman were all Rolling Stones but aren’t anymore. Only Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts have always been Rolling Stones. Ron Wood is a Rolling Stone now, but he didn’t used to be.

I heard “Roundabout” by Yes on the radio yesterday. Is there a more pretentious, boring band on the planet? I’ll save you time. No, there isn’t. Their “90125” album was good, though, but that was Trevor Rabin, not Yes.

Martin Short was funny on the 1984-1985 season of “Saturday Night Live” and in the movie “Three Amigos.” That’s about it.

Glenn Beck is the least tedious talk radio host.

Global warming is dishonest – not because it isn’t happening, but because the alarmists are using it to further an unrelated political agenda that they can’t pursue openly. And if global warming is happening, it’s not our fault.

I hate parking.

That is all. For now…