The Year’s Worst Commentary

I’m not really a big fan of celebrating the New Year. The actual holiday always strikes me as a waste of time – It’s a fresh new year! That’s why everything’s closed and you can’t do anything! – and I have no interest in staying up until midnight for any reason unless I can sleep in until noon the next day. (I suppose that New Year’s Day works well for the hangover crowd, but as a teetotalling Mormon with kids who jump on him before 8:00 AM, I can’t do much with that.) We did watch an unexpected rerun of “Rudolph’s Shiny New Near” on television last night, and it’s just as delightfully dopey as I remember it, but beyond that one weird Christmasish special, the celebration of the calendar’s relentless trek onward leaves me cold.

I do, however, enjoy all the best/worst lists that crop up this time of year. They’ve lost some of their luster with me these days, in that I’ve usually only seen one or two of the movies that show up on those lists, and rarely, if ever, have I seen or heard any of the TV shows, music, or other entertainment offerings.

I do, however, read a lot of commentary. And I stumbled across one item that showed up on the Internet yesterday that qualifies as the most bone-headed assessment of the world today that I have read in many a moon. It’s by noted film critic Roger Ebert, and it’s just all sorts of dumb. It’s grandiosely stupid; asininity on a global scale. Allow me to share excerpts with you, complete with running commentary/mockery.

It’s entitled “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” and right at the outset, you know that the British spelling of the word “centre” means this is seriously self-important business. It also black geometric shapes that end with a red octagon, which makes far more sense than the commentary itself.

It begins thusly:

It’s all coming to pieces, isn’t it — the world we live in, the continuity we thought we could count on, the climate, the economy, the fragile peace. The 20th century was called “the American Century,” with some reason. I do not believe the 21st century will belong to anybody, and it may not last for 100 years of human witness.

You see where this is going, don’t you? Maybe not. Sure, it’s apocalyptic, but here at the outset, you don’t get the full flavor of what it is that’s going to ensure that America will fall and that humans won’t be here to witness the outset of the 22nd Century. Indeed, Ebert makes some token references to issues that are legitimately frightening – Iran with nukes, a collapsing economy – in the hopes that you don’t notice the real boogieman that has him clutching his blankie and sucking his one thumb up on those dark, windy Chicago nights.

So let’s start with paragraph #2 from Ebert’s ponderous thoughts.

The weather is unhinged. It is no longer a question of global warming. It is a question of what in the hell is happening? I do not have to rehearse for you the details of this horrible American autumn, and a winter not yet half over. The tornadoes, the hurricanes, the floods, the blizzards, the wild fires, the heat waves, the water shortages, the power blackouts.

What? Winter is not yet half over? Noooooooo!

I think rehearsing the details might be a good idea, Rog, if only because I can recall nothing about this past year that is markedly different from life on Earth for millenia. Winter doesn’t end in December not because the planet is spiralling out of control, but because – let me think – Winter never ends in December.

The other reason, of course, that it’s no longer a question of global warming is that the globe isn’t warming, and it hasn’t since 1998. The cooling trend of the past two years has knocked out almost a century’s worth of warming, so alarmists like Ebert have to cling to other straws if they’re going to make us tremble in our booties. And so, to scare us fully, Ebert references events that did not happen. What was so horrible about this past autumn? It was a relatively mild hurricane season, coming off of a hurricane season the year previously that was one of the most tepid on record, despite the warnings from Gore and Co. who insisted that Katrina was the harbinger of deadly hurricanes for decades to come.

Tornadoes? Floods? Blizzards? Wild fires? Heat waves? They have ever been with us, and this year wasn’t any different. We can do next to nothing to stop them, and, despite Ebert’s frothing at the mouth, we can’t do much to start them, either. As for water shortages and power blackouts, those are less nature and more nabobbery – the product of Leftist environmental political hackery that Ebert himself applauds.

You want more reliable power and water, Roger? Dam up some rivers. Drill, baby, drill.

The demagoguery continues, shifting temporarily to international events:

The economy is going to get worse. We may have no idea how much worse. The greed and corruption at the economy’s core reached a scale unimaginable at the time of the Great Depression.

Nonsense. Those Roaring Twenties tycoons were plenty greedy. And I couldn’t care less.

Look, I can’t find too many silver linings in our current meltdown, either. But I do know that ignoring the real causes of this thing is useful in scapegoating, but not much else. Ebert attributes this all to “greed and corruption at the economy’s core” and later cites “$100 million bonuses” given to the CEOs of failing banks. Ebert doesn’t know it, but he’s right in line with John “Beavis” McCain, who thinks the entire federal deficit is the result of earmarks.

Earmarks are an easy target, but they account for a tiny fraction of total spending. As crass as massive CEO bonuses are, they remain an infinitesimal part of the current debacle, which is the result, not of greed and corruption as Ebert defines it, but of well-intentioned, kind-hearted Leftists insisting that billions upon billions of dollars be loaned to people without the means to pay it back. Ebert no doubt applauded that compassion when its consequences weren’t visible; now that the law of supply and demand is being enforced, Ebert struggles clumsily to shift the blame.

Ebert then proposes we should all be the Amish, growing our own food and spurning modernity, which may limit Ebert’s movie review choices. He sees all kinds of weird scenarios where the oil supply falls apart overnight and we’re drawn into every nuclear war imaginable.

But it’s global warming that gives him real fits.

I wonder if we are living in the End of Days. I do not mean that in a biblical sense. I mean that we seem to be irrevocably screwing things up. In the case of the global warming problem, we may have already done so. Please, please, don’t tell me global warming is Al Gore’s fantasy. I am reminded of a great line by Saul Bellow. A dying man tells his brother: “Look for me in the weather reports.”

As for me, I am reminded of a great line by Rodney Dangerfield: “What, did somebody step on a duck?” It makes about as much sense as the Bellows line does, and it’s funnier, besides.

It’s nice that he pointed out that he wasn’t speaking Biblically, because a modicum of faith in something bigger than Mr. Ebert might temper the rhetorical extremes here. But how do you respond to something this vapid? Perhaps if he had said “pretty please with sugar on top,” I might have been persuaded. But since the evidence of the globe’s actual temperature flies in the face of Ebert’s pleas, all he can do is whine.

And now witness what he whines about in the beginning of the next paragraph!

Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Typhoons. Volcanoes. Melting icecaps. Dead zones in the sea.

Excuse me? Earthquakes?! Volcanoes?! Would you mind telling me how reducing carbon emissions can keep tectonic plates from shifting? Would Mt. St. Helens have stayed dormant if everyone drove a hybrid? This is Chicken Little-type stuff. How can anyone take it seriously?

It’s earthquakes, incidentally, that cause tsunamis, and we covered the mildness of this year’s typhoons earlier in the post. As for the melting icecaps, it’s pure fiction, especially in the south, where the Antarctic ice is noticeably thickening.

He then whines that nobody really reported on the fact that there was a power blackout on Oahu while Obama was vacationing there, which Ebert attributes to a freak lightning storm. Even assuming that’s true, I think the reason nobody cared is that the power came back on. We’re far more resilient than Ebert gives us credit for, and so is Spaceship Earth.

His final plea:

If you are a member of the U.S. Congress, you should not give a damn if you are a Democrat or a Republican. You should discard ideology and partisanship. You should be searching only for what works, or gives promise of working. You should be listening to the best counsel of the wisest people you can find. This is no time for playing to the crowd. That is all over with. This is the hour to seek what might lead us back from the brink.

This is like that Saturday Night Live character who comes on the news and screams “Fix it!” over and over again. It’s supposed to be funny when he does it; Ebert is unintentionally funny here. You want to do “what works, or gives promise of working,” Rog? Okay. Open up the Outer Continental Shelf and drill like a madman. Build nuclear plants and more oil refineries. Stop worrying that leaving the lights on overnight is somehow going to make a volcano explode, because it isn’t. Lend money only to people who can afford to pay it back. Let uncompetitive businesses fail so that the money is freed up for business that succeeds. And use big sticks and big guns to scare the bejeebers out of anyone who might want to blow us up.

All of that stuff works, Roger. It’s stuff you hate, much the same way you seem to hate the very world you live in, what with its typhoons and earthquakes and unhinged weather and all.

Happy New Year.

Now what?

So as family members in Utah discovered at Christmas, I finished my novel and had five copies printed by, the vanity publishing house that has produced Languatron’s masterworks over the years. I wanted to print more copies, but I didn’t want to do it until I saw what it would look like in print. The thing comes in at 102,000 words and 400 pages in a too-small 11-point Garamond type.

My parents have one copy, which they have subsequently lost. My wife has one, which she’s read and marked up, and her sister has one, which she has read, along with her 16-year-old son. My 17-year-old nephew has read it, and everyone has noticed the various typos and crap, but for the most part, reviews have been positive.
The cover looks like this:

I drew it myself! If you’re impressed, you shouldn’t be. I’m not sure if I’m set on this particular title, either. I’m still open to suggestions.
Anyway, I’m happy to provide people who want it with a digital copy, but I think it’s easier and more satisfyingly read in print. After fixing some typos and some minor revisions, I’m going to print up another batch and give that one away to interested parties. Rest assured that the new ones will have a more readable font.
I can’t tell you how invaluable all the comments and such have been in the course of preparing this thing. If you doubt me, witness the blurbs I put on the back cover:

You can click on that image to get a larger version. I have lovingly dedicated the book to anyone willing to bother to read it all the way through.
If you want to read the thing digitally, I can send you an electronic copy, but it’s much more satisfying to read the thing in print. I can whip up a Kinkos-style wirebound 8 1/2 x 11 version quickly for anyone anxious to read it right away. Or you can wait for the secound round of vanity published versions, which will probably come off the presses in late January.
But here’s the thing – what do I do next? Any literary agents out there who have read some of this online and are convinced of the Genius of the Cornell? Getting the book disgorged from my brain was a long and tedious exercise, but it’s done. I fear that getting the book actually published may prove to be a more daunting task. If anyone has any ideas as to how to jumpstart that process, I’m all ears.

Christmas Report

Two days before Christmas, I was discussing our Christmas Eve celebration with my father. The celebration takes place up at my parents’ home, and Cornells from hither and yon gather to eat, yak, and listen to little kids sing and/or play their piano recital pieces. The performance part of the Christmas Eve program ranges from the wildly talents (i.e. my kids) to the somewhat talented (i.,e. most of the other kids) to the spectacularly untalented (i.e. weird kids I don’t know.) I asked my father if I could use the occasion to croon “The Miracle of the Christmas Poo” to the rest of the Cornell clan.

“No,” he said flatly.

“But I sang it for a ward party, and it went over OK.”

“No,” he said again.

“But I don’t get into describing the poo per se…”




I sang it anyway.

After considerable goading from my sisters, I changed the line that said “I dreamed of pretty flowers” to “I dreamed of all my presents.” Heather O., who was present for the performance, welcomed the alteration and gave the whole thing a thumbs up. Afterward, my father stood up and said, “In most families, a story like that would be written down and buried in a journal somewhere.” Not with the Cornells, baby!

Christmas itself was delightful, as always. Readers of this blog will take special note of the gifts I received from my sister wbpraw, who gave me a notepad with a caricature of Yul Brynner in the corner that said “From the desk of Stallion Cornell.” I also received a set of address labels with the same pic and the return address “Stallion Cornell/The Hearts of All Decent Folk” printed on top, followed by my home address which I will not reveal here. She also gave me a deck of Yul Brynner playing cards, and, my favorite, a t-shirt for my youngest son with a picture of Yul Brynner in pirate garb and the name “Stalliondo!” written in bold letters.

Stalliondo does not fully appreciate how cool this was, but I do, and I thank them publicly therefore.

For the most part, Christmas came and went without incident, although I can’t say the same for my son Corbin’s faith in Santa Claus.

As I’ve chronicled here, I believe in Santa Claus, and I think Christmas is much more fun for other who do, too. Cleta, our oldest, admitted that a conversation with a carpool friend in 1st grade made believing difficult for her, and evidence suggests that Chloe is simply putting up a good front. Three-year-old Stalliondo believes, I guess, but he’s still pretty unclear on the whole concept.

“Santa’s coming because it’s my birthday?” he would ask. No, we patiently explained, people get presents on Christmas, too.

“Christmas is my birthday? I’ll be four?”

No, Christmas is not your birthday. You’re still three. We told him this many times, but he didn’t believe us. But he did believe Santa was coming, so we took what we could get.

The kids who are on the cusp, however, are seven-year-old twins Corbin and Cornelius.

Cornelius didn’t say or do anything to indicate that he was uncertain, but Corbin asked a lot of questions, up to and including, “Are you Santa?” When he asked this of his mother, she said, as I would have, “I believe in Santa Claus.” That wasn’t the answer Corbin was looking for, but it’s the one she repeatedly gave, and it didn’t satisfy him at all.

On Christmas Eve, we faced another problem.

In Mrs. Cornell’s family, every family member gets to open one present on Christmas Eve. This was heresy in the Cornell family, and I resisted this tradition infecting my own progeny for as long as I could. However, Santa used to leave the Cornell children a new set of pajamas. So, as a compromise measure, we’ve arranged to have our two cats give us each a new pair of pajamas every year, which is the one present we get to open the night before Christmas. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s one everyone can live with. And it gives me a reason not to hate my cats.

As we performed this annual ritual, Corbin came up to Mrs. Cornell, and, in a very sheepish voice, said, “There’s something I have to tell you.”

See, the goal of Mr. and Mrs. Cornell for the past several years has been to get preparations for Santa’s visit out of the way prior to the wee hours of Christmas morning. In light of that goal, I had taken the kids roller skating – another Cornell Christmas Eve tradition – so she could accomplish certain wrapping procedures that Santa specifies. (In our house, Santa always uses a wrapping paper different from the ones our own presents come wrapped in.)

Well, it turns out that Corbin had walked into our walk-in closet, discovering a mound of wrapped presents that had not yet been placed under the tree. He wasn’t sure why they were there, and he left quickly, as he sensed he was seeing something he wasn’t supposed to have seen.

As it turned out, the Cornells were up past 1:00 AM redoing some of the wrapping preparations that had been made previously, in the hopes that Corbin wouldn’t lose faith. I even made a trip to Walgreens in my new pajamas, only to discover everyone in the neighborhood was there to greet me.

We made great efforts. Yet I doubt we were successful.

Corbin asked his “Are you Santa?” question the next morning. He also overheard us discussing one of the presents that Santa brought. Mrs. Cornell told Heather O. that, “We got these blue BYU wigs for Corbin and Cornelius,” not realizing that Corbin was within earshot.

You got them!” Corbin said, pouncing on the admission. “That’s what you said! Not Santa! You!”

“I said ‘we got them,’” Mrs. Cornell explained. “You know, like, ‘we got them for Christmas.’ And we got them for Christmas because Santa brought them.”

That didn’t quite work, either.

I don’t think there’s much we can do to prevent them from growing skeptical. And I’m somewhat suspicious that Cornelius’ silence on the issue means he’s already gone over to the other side. That’s all right. People have to go through decades of skepticism before they start believing again.

And there’s always Stalliondo. Santa brings him presents on his birthday, you know.

More Christmas Movies

I’m up early on Christmas Eve, so I thought I’d blog quickly and then avoid the wrath of a wife who thinks I ought to be spending time with children instead of my computer. I shan’t be blogging on Christmas Day, unless absolutely necessary. (What is wrong with me?)

Questions were raised in the comments about other Christmas movies, such as Scrooged, which is arguably the most rancid Christmas movie ever made. Bill Murray is usually very good at making unlikable characters likable, but he can’t do the impossible. This movie is so nasty, so mean-spirited, that Murray’s ultimate redemption rings utterly hollow. This came out when I was a missionary in Scotland, so I thankfully never saw it in theatres. I turn the channel every time it tries to inflict itself on me on television. 
Miracle on 34th Street is a favorite of many, but I’ve never gotten into it. Natalie Wood’s character always strikes me as something of a spoiled brat, and the movie feels dated in a way that It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t. The remake is entirely forgettable, although Richard Attenborough makes for a very twinkly Santa. 
I don’t much like The Nightmare Before Christmas, either, although the animation is delightfully creepy. It’s fun to see such elaborate stop-motion stuff made before the age of CGI. The story is pretty thin, though, and Danny Elfman’s songs are surprisingly leaden and clumsy. The whole thing works better as an amusement park ride, which is what happens to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion every Christmas season. Unlike the movie, it only lasts about fifteen minutes, which is pretty much all I can take. 
My kids are fans of The Polar Express, which is a great piece of whimsy on paper but a bloated mess on screen. The children’s book is about twenty pages long, which can’t sustain a feature length movie. So they pad that sucker out with lots and lots of business that gives the whole enterprise a cluttered feel. Lots of people complain about the computer animation and the deadness of the character’s eyes, but that doesn’t bother me so much as the absence of any real justification for stretching the thing out over an hour and a half. 
Jim Carrey’s Grinch movie has the same problem and an even worse solution. Instead of just adding Hamburger Helper to bulk up the story, they add a new, tedious backstory that contradicts everything that was so delightful about Dr. Seuss’ original. Suddenly, the Whos aren’t the kind, gentle creatures that Seuss intended them to be; they’re consumerist Nazis, while the Grinch is a misunderstood outcast in yet another precious and preachy Hollywood fable about tolerance. Blech. And it doesn’t help that Carrey is insufferable in the title role. 
Foodleking mentioned the Governator’s Jingle All the Way, which is not worth mentioning. Home Alone, however, is worth mentioning, and it has much to recommend it, but it’s not nearly as family friendly as you might think. Was it really necessary to have Macaulay Culkin call one of the burglar’s a horse’s ass? And the comic violence goes so far over the top as to be painful, not cartoonish. Still, a lot of it is pretty funny, and the subplot with the old man and his estranged son is handled with restraint, something missing from most of Hollywood’s seasonal offerings. 
To sum up, the best Christmas movies are, in order:
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
2. A Christmas Story
3. Elf
You can pretty much avoid just about everything else. 
Merry Christmas!

Christmas Movies

I thought I had more to say about Christmas specials, but reading back over yesterday’s post, I realized I had pretty much covered it. Year Without a Santa Claus is probably my favorite of the stop motion thingees, but they went and ruined it with a live action version a couple of years ago.

Which brings me to today’s subject: Christmas movies. Most of them really, really stink.

I can’t stand movies where it’s all about fights and Christmas debacles and things breaking. I saw the promos for Four Christmases and decided I’d rather have my bowels removed with an ice cream scoop before having to sit through something like that. Real Christmas celebrations are hectic enough without having to derive entertainment from the sufferings of others. Which is why I’ve never understood the appeal of Christmas Vacation, which I rewatched the other day with the ad agency that sent me the urine-themed Christmas card.

What about Christmas Vacation is funny?

It begins with Chevy Chase, who is easily the least talented Saturday Night Live alum with a movie career. Chase’s contempt for the characters he plays is so unwatchably smug that I can’t understand who would find it entertaining. As a real-life family man, I have no patience for watching Chase attempt to mock me without benefit of wit or affection. Every second he’s on screen is like nails on a chalkboard.

The rest of the movie is exhausting. Things explode. Things break. Cats are fried. We get ten minutes on emptying the s—ter in an RV. It’s busy, not funny. And it’s mean. Old people are all buffoons. Christmas sentiment is ridiculed. Religion is a punchline. No thanks.

Much better is A Christmas Story, which, unlike Chase’s atrocity, actually has affection for the things it mocks. Darren McGavin is delightful as the crusty midwestern Dad, even though he’s too old for the part by about thirty years. The humor here is much gentler, yet much more on target. It feels like a real Christmas, even though it’s entirely unlike any Christmas I’ve ever had.

I also love It’s a Wonderful Life for all the reasons everyone loves it, but I also love the Beavis and Butthead version where an angel shows Butthead how much better the world would be without him. I enjoy Patrick Stewart’s version of A Christmas Carol, mainly because I saw him perform his one-man version live back in the early ’90s. Most versions of A Christmas Carol aren’t really that good, although, surprisingly, obne of my favorites is Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, which has some fun songs and a very faithful rendition of the classic tale. I know most of the songs from the musical Scrooge, but I can’t stand sitting through the actual movie, because the songs stop the action and just get in the way.

I also heartily recommend Elf, the best Christmas movie of the 21st century, due mainly to its deft and breezy scripty, as well as the flawless performances by all players involved, especially Will Ferrell in the title role. Ferrell is the anti-Chase – he plays Buddy the Elf without a whiff of cynicism. James Caan as his father centers the movie with his worldly disdain, and the whole thing works better than it should.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be cleaning the house. So Merry Christmas.

Christmas Specials

I watched the new Muppet Christmas special with the whole clan the other night, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It was silly, hokey, and unabashedly sentimental, and A-list stars like Nathan Lane and Uma Thurman showed up and cheerfully made fools out of themselves. (Actually, are they considered A-list? I can never tell anymore. And I’ve never thought Uma Thurman was attractive. But I’ve never thought Nathan Lane was attractive, either.)

It got me thinking about the Christmas specials of yore that I enjoyed so much every season, and I’m surprised that the same ones that were popular when I was a kid are still the only ones my kids enjoy. We have most of them on DVD, and the ones with the crummiest animation are the ones we love the most. A Charlie Brown Christmas is so clumsily delightful after all these years, because of its flaws, not in spite of them. The children who are voicing the characters have no idea what they’re saying half the time. Watch as Sally says “All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share,” and you’ll realize that the little girl probably learned the lined phonetically. If that’s the best take they have, I’d be interested in seeing what they left on the cutting room floor.

Of course, Linus’ recitation of the Luke chapter 2 is by the far the most moving moment in all Christmaspecialdom, and the kid who played Linus, now a man in his late forties, admits it all went over his head when he recorded the part, and now it moves him to tears every time he sees it. The special was considered very innovative for its time – no laugh track, a jazz music soundtrack, and real kids doing the voices instead of Caillou-style adult abominations. This one shows its age more than any of the the others, and yet it never gets old.

I’d say that Charlie Brown is my favorite special, except we just watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas for the first time this year – the Boris Karloff masterpiece, not the Jim Carrey nightmare – and the thing is flawless. Absolutely flawless. The narration, the animation, Max the kind-hearted, put-upon dog who gets whipped mercilessly – imagine doing THAT in today’s PC world – and, above all, the music.

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it. The lines are subversively brilliant: “You have termites in your smile,” “Your heart is full of unwashed socks/Your soul is full of gunk” and, of course, “I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole.” This special also manages to be with religious without really being religious. Christ is never mentioned or even implied – all it says is that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, and that it’s “a little bit more.” It’s up to the viewer to decide what that little bit more is, but the story of redemption and forgiveness fits perfectly with the Christian tradition wthout offending the nonreligious. It’s the most spiritual secular Christmas story of them all.

I have a soft spot in my heart for all the Rankin/Bass stop motion specials, although for reasons other than they were intended. Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer again and marvel at what a racist Santa is in the very beginning when he discovers Rudolph’s unique schnozz. Gay characters abound in these pieces – Rudolph‘s Herbie the Dentist, the Burgermeister Meisterburger’s faux Smithers character in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and the squabbling elf lovers Jingle and Jangle Bells from The Year Without a Santa Claus, which also has dueling gay stepbrothers Snow Miser and Heat Miser, which implies that their mommy, Mother Nature herself, is a swinging divorcee.

Anyway, I’m out of time and I’ve got to go. Merry Christmas – more tomorrow, hopefully.

Get Ready for Senator Franken

I have a deep, abiding faith that there is a God. But as Al Franken is now just two votes away from stealing a US Senate seat, atheists could make a pretty strong case with me right about now.

On Election Night, Coleman was over 700 votes ahead. Then, suddenly, ballots started appearing from out of nowhere, and – surprise! – Franken gained over 500 votes. One jurisdiction came up with 100 ballots, all for Franken. The miraculous number of “corrections” and “updates” in Franken’s favor is greater than all other ballot corrections in the state for all other Minnesota races combined.

Consider the case of the precinct in Minneapolis where one packet of 133 votes was fed through the machine twice on election night. When the recount demonstrated that those votes didn’t exist in the physical world, Franken succeeded in getting the election night tally included in the recount, netting him 46 votes. Fine, Al. Does Coleman get to choose a precinct where the original count trumps the recount, too? No. The vote-stealing ratchet only goes one way.

Today, after reviewing a number of challenges, Coleman’s lead has dwindled to two votes. Two votes. And Franken has succeeded in opening a can of worms by getting the state to consider a bunch of “improperly” rejected absentee ballots, most of which will likely come from Franken-friendly jurisdictions. Two votes ain’t gonna cut it.

Guys, this is voter fraud. Blatant voter fraud. And nobody seems to care. And the most venomous, nasty human being to run for federal office in my lifetime is soon going to be a U.S. Senator as a result of this crap .

Merry freakin‘ Christmas.

Christmas Poo in Concert

So I recorded a rough demo of “The Miracle of the Christmas Poo.” It’s a big hit with my Facebook friends, so I thought I’d be bold enough to share it here. I’d like to do a legit studio recording thereof, but I doubt I’ll have time before Christmas. 

I have since discovered, however, that South Park has a character named Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo (pictured left.)  My song is in no way affiliated with South Park, and it saddens me that anyone would mix poo and Christmas in such a manner, mainly because it means I didn’t think of it first.
Anyway, without further ado, I give you Daniel H. Wells starring in …

The Miracle of the Christmas Poo

Cleta and Christmas Scatology

It’s getting very hard to keep up with this blog as Christmas gets ever closer, as preparations for Christmas start becoming more and more like a full time job. The decorations and lights are up; the cards are sent; about 75% of the presents are bought. But now there are the parties and the neighbor gifts and the recitals and the choir concerts and everything that makes this season so blastedly cheerful. I’m not complaining; I’m just making excuses. (I’m not sure which is worse.)

I did find time on Saturday, however, to immortalize my own Christmas miracle in song, which made its debut at the ward Christmas party as “The Miracle of the Christmas Poo.” I’m going to record a version, and I’ll be happy to post that here on my blog. (I sincerely doubt, however, that such a recording will take place prior to Christmas.)  I’m pretty sure it’s the first Christmas tune to combine yuletide cheer and excrement with faith-building results. I’m absolutely sure that it’s the first time such a song has been sung in a church. I’d like the ward choir to come up with their own arrangement, but that’s proving to be a tough sell.

As I get older, however, I become more of an embarrassment to my children. I practiced this little ditty throughout the day, and my oldest daughter Cleta was morbidly aghast.

“You can’t sing that in public!” she wailed.

“Why not?” I said.

“Because it’s about poo!”

That should have been self-evident, I suppose, but I’m not sure it’s an automatic disqualifier. I asked if I could sing Spinal Tap’s “Christmas with the Devil” instead, whereupon I was told to choose something “more appropriate.” So by that standard, I’m on solid ground.

I note, however, that Cleta’s aversion to Christmas scatology is hard won. Not long before I started crooning of Stalliondo’s dirty diaper, we received a Christmas card from an ad agency I work with that had a faux urine stain on the front of the envelope. On the cover of the actual card were four members of the agency standing in front of snow banks with phrases like “Happy Holidays,” “Feliz Navidad,” and “Season’s Greetings” written in yellow behind them. The fourth member just stood there looking angry, and behind her was a big yellow splotch. When you opened the card, a line of people in front of a snowy cabin stood with their backs to you, with their names written in yellow-snow cursive directly in front of them.

The headline of the card? “Wizzing you a Merry Christmas.”

Cleta has been hanging all of our cards up in the kitchen, but this particular one didn’t make it on the wall.

Almost-12-year-old Cleta is becoming a bit of a Grinch, announcing that Santa Claus is a “stalker” who should not be encouraged. So we let her know that Santa doesn’t bring presents to those who do not believe in him, so she dutifully wrote her letter to Santa Claus, thereby allowing her greed to get the better of her skepticism.

Still, the letter was not without its Grinchy charms.

It begins thusly:


Hello, my parents say you need a letter. Can’t you just read minds or something?

She proceeds to detail her wish list, and then she closes with the following two post-scripts:

P.S. If you can see us when you’re sleeping, and you know when we’re awake, what was I doing at 11:47 AM on February 9, 2008? I expect an answer by Dec. 25. Buh-bye!

P.P.S. Does Rudolph take steroids to make his nose glow?

I have no idea where she gets this from.