Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Week In Mormons In The Media

It's been a while and this is hardly even news anymore, but it's an issue worth discussing.

The USA Today posted a story recently about the influx of illegal immigrants in the church, and our efforts to bring them into the fold. I promised myself I was done dwelling on the whole gay marriage issue, but I couldn't help but find numerous hypocritical statements made by church leaders in this article that remind me of Prop 8. I'll keep it all on the up and up, but here's a breakdown.

Unlike most of my Democratic brethren, I am passionately against illegal immigrants. I've mellowed out over the years a little, I get now that they do the jobs American's won't do, but I feel we are on the verge of losing our culture. So, the article makes the case that the church basically has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to baptizing illegals. It also says we're sending more and more Spanish speaking missionaries into the country to convert them. I'll tackle these one at a time starting with the second issue.

I'm not aware of any additional efforts or specific marketing agenda laid out by the church meant to appeal to these people. The church has always been attractive to Latin Americans and, with more and more coming into this country, my guess is the effort has expanded as demand has dictated it. Latins are probably joining the church in America at rates that equate to their entrance into the country. The increase in Spanish speaking missionaries is, I suppose, a response to the need, as are the increase in Spanish speaking branches and wards in heavily populated Latin areas. So, I think they're stretching on that one.

Now, for the first issue. Why are we knowingly baptizing people who are breaking the law? Maybe it isn't seen as a "life or death" type of law, but we are still inviting people who are, basically, known criminals. I can't quite remember, but isn't one of the questions in the pre-baptism screening interview something about whether or not they're obeying the law? I remember it asks about abortions which, while not being favorable to any Christian religion, is not technically "unlawful" in most states, but is still raised as a red flag. It seems to me we're picking and choosing our own lawfulness. We won't allow you to be gay and married, whether you want to join our church or not, but we feel we have a moral obligation to help and support all the illegal immigrants saturating our country. What hypocritical BS. Granted, this article focuses on Arizona and not California, but where was your "so-called" compassion last fall?

My favorite is the quote from Mesa Mission President Mark Bassett, "We don't know what their immigration status is. We are not the government or the police." Riiiiiight. Pull this leg and it plays "Jingle Bells". (Name the movie!) The other gem comes from a Mesa Spanish Branch President, Pablo Felix, "The Lord doesn't look at documentation. He just looks at our faith as members." My guess is, the Lord does look at your criminal record. Maybe you just haven't been caught yet.

If we see this as an issue of compassion and helping families stay together, why are we stepping in when it was the family itself that tore itself apart when it chose to high-tail it for the border in the first place? It isn't like there was a war and we're looking after the widows. So, as long as moral issues aren't being compromised, it looks like we're happy to be on the front lines? But, if "perverts" are involved, we hang back judging and demanding repentance? Whatever.

If we truly handled this situation logically and fairly, we would teach them, but then expect them to make changes before baptizing them. That's what we do if someone is living in sin. You can't get baptized until you get married. We wouldn't allow it if someone hadn't quit smoking. We wouldn't allow it if someone hadn't quit drinking. So, again, we place our moral laws above the laws of the land. The 12th Article of Faith, which every child is expected to memorize, states emphatically that is not the way we claim to live. Yet, we're doing it anyway.

Bottom line: we're as full of crap as anyone else.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Icon Loyalty

These are people I just can’t say no to. I watch everything of theirs I can get my hands on. Well, that’s a bit strong. Makes it sound like I’m feverishly searching for every last morsel or bootleg copy. It isn’t that bad. Let’s just say, if one of their lesser offerings airs on Lifetime or Hallmark, I record it. This point was driven home this week by something currently in my DVR queue, which leads me to the first icon…

Anthony Michael Hall
He will always be the poster child for my inner sense of self thanks to his part as Brian the nerd in Breakfast Club. I’m pretty sure I saw that before Sixteen Candles, so it was the first image to burn on my brain. I related so well to his desire to fit in and make friends in spite of his lack of ability to do so. All of us growing up at that time would have to agree that whether it was Rusty in Vacation or Gary in Weird Science, he was our guy. Sadly, it all went very very wrong with Johnny Be Good (1988). Not only was that a lame movie, but his character was the stud! It went against everything he stood for and everything he meant to us. AND, to make matters worse, his “cool guy” personality, which he hasn’t shed since, was off-putting and unlikable. Sadly, he’s never shown the signs that he’s still the guy we all related to 25 years ago when he was Farmer Ted, nor has he chosen to utilize the comedic talents that made him the youngest cast member of “Saturday Night Live” in history. He doesn’t even look the same. His face looks like it’s been Mickey Rourke’d. Where his mouth used to have a certain horse quality to it, now his upper lip is always curled into a smirk and seems indented under his nose. Plus, his eyebrow looks permanently cocked.

This week I recorded some made for TV movie he was in two years ago called Final Approach. Whether it’s good or not isn’t the point. I don’t even care what it’s about. I just want to support him. Btw, seeing him have even a small role in the Dark Knight was one of my proudest moments of 2008. It wasn’t much, but it beats made for TV movies like Final Approach, I’m sure.

Justine Bateman
Shouldn’t she have gone further? One day she’s the hot, clueless older sister on “Family Ties” and the next she… disappears. She had so much more going for her than Tina Yothers did, yet she exacted the same fate. How did this happen? And don’t say it’s that terrible movie she did, Satisfaction. I just watched it again recently and it wasn’t all her fault. Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson were in that too, and they made it out unscathed.

Aside from some bad made for TV movies, all of which I watch if I see they’re coming on, including something currently on the DVR called To Have and To Hold, she’s been long gone. Maybe a little too much Leif Garrett rubbed off on her after their relationship ended in the early 90s. The sad thing is she’s aged beautifully! I purposely stuck it out with "Men In Trees" because she was in a few episodes. Also, she was in a very good, but totally forgotten, Showtime mini-series called "Out of Order" with Eric Stoltz a couple years back and showed her boobs! Why was Mallory Keaton getting naked not on the front page of the New York Times? Plus, her persona these days is very cool. She seems like this very smart, very accepting, kinda bohemian type that would always greet you with a hug. I like that. She’s a much deeper actress now with some miles on her than she was in the 80s. Time’s been good to her.

Her brother Jason is enjoying a renaissance thanks to “Arrested Development” (which she guest-starred on) so isn’t it about time for a Justine revival too? The guys at “Psych” might be keyed into this because she recently made a cameo, even though it didn’t remotely showcase her like it should have.

Curtis Armstrong
One word: Booger. That role in Revenge of the Nerds alone grants you the key to the city! Add to that Risky Business, Better off Dead, and One Crazy Summer and you have someone deserving of an 80s movie Mount Rushmore. If he never made another film, which many probably assume he hasn’t, he would live for eternity on those alone.

But, he’s still kicking. He had a small role in Ray (another one of those proud moments for me), and a decent little mainstream movie called Akeelah and the Bee. Most of it has been B-movie stuff though that plays on his 80s image. He did have a recurring role in “Moonlighting” back in the day. Too bad someone hasn’t casted him in a series that could play to his strengths as comic relief and as a good actor. Not the star, but the amusing sidekick. Think Paul Giamatti. He also showed up in an episode of “Psych” recently. I believe the Psych guys and I need to become BFFs because it’s clear we share the same brain.

I’ve always had a surefire idea for a TV series revolving around L.A. therapists called “Shrinks”. Think of it as the Melfi scenes from “the Sopranos” mixed with “Nip/Tuck”. You have an office of 3 or 4 therapists and sit in like a fly on the wall on the crazy lives of their patients, as well as how they manage their own lives which, naturally, are often more messed up than the people they treat. The contrast between their work and home mixed with the neuroses of L.A. wannabes sounds bullet proof, no? You also mix in legitimately academic prognoses like House does. HBO’s “In Treatment” is along the same lines, but way too highbrow. This is L.A., home of the self-possessed! Well, my idea was to have at least one actor playing himself as a patient and my ideal would be Curtis Armstrong. I think his bottled mania and roller coaster resume makes him the perfect person to have his id diagnosed every week. You’ll laugh with him, you’ll cry with him, you’ll feel bad for him, and you’ll root for him. I’m telling you, it can’t miss. Now, someone get me a meeting with Universal and show me how to copyright this idea so no one steals it.

Elisabeth Shue
The crush just never went away. From those first glimpses on the beach in Karate Kid, I’ve been as spellbound as Ralph Macchio was (remember him standing there staring at her for like 30 awkward seconds while the soccer ball goes whizzing by? Still can’t believe she dated him after that!). Her career slowly progressed from there with the occasional success popping up like Adventures in Babysitting (one of the few 80s movies I should like and don’t) until it topped off at it’s apex with an Oscar nom for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. Sadly, it fell into freefall after that when she was unable to attract a following that paid money at the box office. She tried with roles in big films like The Saint and Hollow Man, but neither of those were quite big enough. And, the films that hung directly on her new movie star shoulders (Molly, Palmetto, Cousin Bette) tanked. Of course, this didn’t stop me from watching some terrible thing called First Born from 2007 that she was in and I recorded off Oxygen or something. Hey, she still looks great, even if her movies blow.

These days, she only works occasionally. I don’t know if that’s by choice or not. Her husband won the Oscar for Inconvenient Truth and they have a family. Plus, she produced a little seen movie called Gracie about girls playing soccer, so maybe she’s more of a behind the camera type now. It’s too bad, she should still be working. Maybe you don’t bankroll a 50 million dollar film with only her name attached, but guys from my generation wouldn’t mind seeing more of her. Until then, we always have our DVDs of Leaving Las Vegas which, blessedly, shows A LOT more of her.

Tim Matheson
He’s fairly new to the list and I can’t even give you a good reason why. Maybe it’s the fact that I bought Fletch on DVD a year or so ago and was reminded what a great flick it was. It certainly isn’t anything to do with Animal House. I don’t get the appeal of that movie at all. Or, maybe it’s that he’s been directing and appearing in episodes of “Psych” (see what I mean?!) and “Burn Notice” lately. Whatever it is, he’s just someone who has the kind of screen presence that puts me at ease. I see him and it’s like seeing my favorite uncle.

Because of this, I’ve been gobbling up all kinds of obscure films of his. Weird movie channels like Plex and Fox Movie Channel play some of his made-for-tv movies from the 70s and 80s and, of course, I sit through all of them. One, called Dreamer from 1979, depicts him as a small town bowler with a dream to make it big on the circuit. Yes, they made a movie about that and showed it on TV and I watched it. One thing I’m finding out now that I’m paying attention is that he’s been in the biz almost his whole life. He was in a couple episodes of "Leave it to Beaver"! The guy’s resume is a mile long. And, like Kevin Bacon who has that same uncle quality, most of what he’s done just isn’t very good like Drop Dead Fred and Black Sheep. Still, he’ll always be the “hey, I like that guy” guy. I guess that’s something to build a career on.

Ione Skye
She’ll always be Diane Court in Say Anything, my, at the time, dream girl. The funny thing is, that character is the anomaly. She followed that up with getting naked in The Rachel Papers (excellent British romantic comedy from the 80s) and in Gas, Food Lodging, and Four Rooms, the list goes on. Clearly, Diane Court was not who she was in real life. And, she was married to a Beastie Boy! It’s kind of like Mandy Moore now marrying Ryan Adams or Natalie Portman and Devandra Banhart. Your persona may say clean and sweet, but clearly you like the drugs, especially the weed. Now she’s married to Ben Lee, which makes absolutely no sense. He looks 12! I can’t deny there’s a part of me that feels like I missed out. You know when a hot chick marries a gomer, it’s natural to say to yourself, “man, if I’d known she was that desperate, I would have tried harder!” We don’t know each other, obviously, but I’m pretty sure she’d dig me because I KNOW I could take Ben Lee!

Another weird thing about her is she kind of disappeared too. After Say Anything, I only see a couple movies on her resume that were even a blip on the radar and she had small roles in them (Wayne’s World and Fever Pitch which was almost 15 years later). She also showed up in “Arrested Development”, but not much else. Where’d she go? Did she let her Beastie Boy do all the work? Is she going to tour with Ben now and leave celluloid behind? She looks as good as Justine does now too. Someone create a show where they play sisters in Berkeley or Austin or Savannah that own an antique second-hand store and the goings on of locals in an arty town. Kind of like "Northern Exposure" mixed with … something where hot sisters run a store in a cool town. Something like "Men In Trees" or "Gilmore Girls". I’d watch. Course, that doesn’t mean much. Obviously, I’ll watch anything.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

6 Years

Saturday was our 6th Anniversary. We were able to go out to dinner and a movie by ourselves and what was, when you're single, the least creative date idea in history, is now the most lavishly wonderful night ever created. Having kids does weird things to a marriage, as most of you know. You become more bonded as a team, but slightly more distanced as friends. Every day, from start to finish, revolves around schedules and trade-offs. There are those beautiful moments at night, when they're all asleep and you finally have time to talk or watch your favorite shows together, but by then you're often too tired or wanting to catch up on everything else you were putting off all day. It's all so necessary, but not very fun.

So, this year my commitment to Farrah is to make more time to spend together just the two of us. When we first had Graham, so many family members came to visit that we were afforded the occasional luxury of going out by ourselves. It must have spoiled me because I crave it every weekend now. So, we've committed to getting over our opposition to sitters (they charge like 8 bucks an hour to sit in our house and watch TV while the kids sleep. That is too easy money.) and splurge more often for our own sanity, if nothing else. I want my friend back. Too often now, I love the woman who raises my kids. I want to love the Farrah I had to myself first.

So, I wanted to list my 6 favorite things about her.

1) I wish it was something sexier, but, going back to what I've been harping on, the thing I'm most appreciative of now is her ability to keep our house in order. The bills are paid, the kids are fed, the house is clean, the laundry is done, it's miraculous. Mind you, I don't expect any of this. I'm not one of those husbands who feels entitled to a person like this. She's assumed the role on her own and I couldn't be more grateful. I'm amazed and truly humbled by it. In fact, the one downside is that I feel like a total bum now. I come home and try and do my part, but it never seems to be enough now. She has me beat by miles.

2) I love when she supports me when I need it most. She can be tough and it's often hard to know how she really feels about something. I, on the other hand, am an emotional wreck all day. I'm sure she's begun to lump me in with the kids as one more person to take care of. So, her support often comes from the school of tough love. I don't like it, but I know I need it and she pushes me to do better, toughen up, and quit crying. The best is when she senses it isn't the time for tough love and intuitively gives me the kid gloves. Either way, it keeps me on track.

3) I love that, for the most part, we love to do the same things together. Whether it's go to the movies, go out to eat, hit the gym, or just watch our shows on DVR, we always have that special little thing that brings us together. We're very good at just hanging out with each other. That's a major blessing, I think. It also helps that neither of us are the most overtly social people around.

4) Conversely, we also allow each other to do their own thing. I gave up trying to take her to concerts with me years ago and she knows I'm not going to be much help on shopping excursions. These may be the most vital pieces to a marriage that works. It's the balance of enjoying things together, and allowing each other to enjoy their time alone. That balance is crucial. Oh, and making sure that time alone isn't spent shopping with money we don't have or watching porn also helps a lot.

5) She's a great cook. We aren't a dinner on the table every night kind of family, but she makes thoughtful meals a couple times a week and she does it mostly for me and I'm always grateful. I haven't quite figured out the easiest way to tell her when I don't like the recipe she's testing out, especially not after she just spent an hour making it, but we're getting there. I hope by me doing the dishes every time, I'm earning my keep.

6) Her patience, which has improved dramatically since we first got married. Motherhood, being the Relief Society President, and being married to me would force anyone into submission, but she has matured gracefully.

I hope I'm worthy of another 6 years, babe!