Wednesday, November 28, 2012

He Wouldn't Have Made A Great Mormon

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Larry Hagman, 1931-2012

As an English major at BYU, I sat through countless classroom discussions in which devout believers claimed that whomever we were studying would make "a great Mormon." I heard this theory applied to Emerson, Thoreau, Dostoyevsky, Emily Dickinson, Orwell, Hemingway, Eugene O'Neill and Mark Twain.

In the broader BYU community the range of potential converts expanded to include various headliners of the day, such as President Jimmy Carter, President Ronald Reagan, Alexander Haig, Walter Cronkite, Johnny Carson, the cast of Three's Company and Barry Manilow.

But there was one celebrity of the late '70's and early '80's that, in my recollection, never earned this accolade: Larry Hagman.

I was a junior at BYU when the TV series Dallas premiered and propelled the wheeling and dealing J.R. Ewing into the American consciousness. The show was immediately denigrated by the campus devout as a filthy, disgusting, demoralizing program that no virtuous LDS coed would ever be seen watching.

My roommates and I never missed an episode.

It was--and perhaps still is--the best of bad TV. Classic soap opera schlock in an outrageous fashion era, with frame after frame of big hair, big diamonds, shoulder pads, ruffled tuxedo shirts, and silk breast pocket handkerchiefs. It helped that it was set in the locale of conspicuous consumption at the moment America was poised to embark on its own era of conspicuous consumption.

Did Americans love greedy, scheming, corrupt capitalists bent on depleting the planet's oil reserves? We must have. How else does one explain the past 30 years of U.S. fiscal policy?

But it was also the cast and characters. Larry Hagman played the villainous J.R. with just the right hint of irony. He was evil, to be sure, but there was also a smile and wink implied at the end of every line. Linda Grey was superb as Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R.'s long suffering alcoholic wife who dressed in couture and somehow managed to make the DT's look elegant. Also worth noting were J.R.'s various paramours. A lengthy list that included a former Stepford Wife (and cast member of Gilligan's Island), a Bond girl, a Miss USA, and a Ford Model. It seemed at the time that all the talent wanted to get into bed with good ol' J.R.

Then there were the over the top plots. A shooting that had the entire country on edge during the rerun season. Annual Ewing Barbecues and Oil Barons' Balls that culminated in either a corporate takeover or a brawl, or at the very least a few drinks tossed in some faces. Big gaudy weddings where the attendees collectively held their breath when the preacher asked if "anyone has just cause to believe these two should not be married." Calamitous pregnancies that were rushed to emergency rooms where hunky doctors asked distraught husbands, "If it comes down to me having to make a choice." Kidnappings, nervous breakdowns, bouts of amnesia, and hotheads barging into offices with the secretaries running behind saying, "I'm sorry, sir I tried to stop him." Awesome.

Even when it was at its worst it was good. Who can forget that disastrous "it was all a dream" device employed in Season 10 to resurrect Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing? Universally panned, the bad plot only served to draw bigger publicity via continual spoofing. The best example being the finale of Newhart when Dick (played by Bob Newhart) is knocked unconscious outside of his Vermont inn then, in the next scene, wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette on the set of The Bob Newhart Show.

Linda Grey as Sue Ellen
My roommates and I claimed we never took Dallas seriously. It's true we laughed our asses off most weeks. But I admit I got sucked in now and then. How could I not be sucked in when Sue Ellen, disgusted with her husband's philandering, secretly bought a lingerie company. Knowing of J.R.'s aversion to "trashy" women, she then deviously employed his current mistress as the company pinup girl. -- I should mention that Sue Ellen also had her own string of male paramours that included an Armani model and Chippendale dancer. -- This was a world away from a BYU singles' dance.

In real life, Larry Hagman was a family man, married to his wife Maj for 59 years. He was a member of the Peace and Freedom Party and an advocate for solar power, the legalization of marijuana and other left-leaning causes.

With Henry Fonda in Fail Safe
He also played rolls outside of the series, Dallas. He starred in I Dream of Jeannie opposite Barbara Eden, of course, but he also gave a fantastic performance as the president's Russian interpreter in the film, Fail Safe. After Dallas, he did more impressive work in films such as JFK and Primary Colors. He was in the midst of filming a sequel to Dallas when he died in Dallas, Texas on Friday, November 23, 2012. At his bedside were his wife and his family, also Linda Grey and Patrick Duffy.

Larry Hagman said that the real success of Dallas was that more people now associate Dallas, Texas with the television series than with the Kennedy assassination. Likewise, there are pundits who claim that Dallas was so popular in Eastern Europe that it led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I'm not sure that Dallas deserves much credit for ending the Cold War, any more than Dallas, Texas deserves much blame for the Kennedy assassination.

But Dallas sure contributed to the future liberation of this former BYU coed. And I agree with my devout friends. Larry Hagman would have made a lousy Mormon.

Although I'd have paid big money to see him play Satan in the temple movie.

May he rest in peace.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Opportunity For Wealthy Republican Donors

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: T. Loren Dunn, Ward Financial Clerk
Subject: Convert your wealthy Republican friends!

Disappointing as they were, the results of the recent national election have uncovered a new demographic of potential converts. And just in time for tithing settlement!

In light of this exciting discovery, the Brethren in Salt Lake City have sent the following mailing out to all wealthy Republican donors:

Not interested in paying your fair share of taxes but eager to give billions to a super-pac with a contrived world view and virtually no relationship with math and science? Eager to invest in an organization that doesn't explain how it spends your money and does seemingly nothing for you in return? Do you believe that the definition of legitimate rape is the pressing moral issue of our time? In other words, have you enjoyed being a Republican these past 4 years? Then you'll LOVE being a Mormon! Contact your local LDS ward meetinghouse for details.

Be ready, Abbottsville Fourth, for what is sure to be a mythic influx of membership in the coming weeks!

If you would like to stop receiving these emails, call the ward meetinghouse and have your credit card handy. Also, check out this nifty post on ExMormon Mavens!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keep Campaigning Abbottsville Fourth!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Dennis Newsome, Stake Public Affairs Council
Subject: Keep up Appearances!

Dear Abbottsville Fourth,

I feel your pain. The election is over and the Lord's candidate lost. The white male patriarchy that was divinely called to lead our once righteous nation has been overthrown by a bunch of multicolored men and women who want to expand the definition of legitimate rape and let any 2 consenting adults get married "just because they love each other."

Of course you're angry. The Brethren are too. And the fight for righteousness will go on.

But for now I remind all of us to love our neighbors. Not because we do, necessarily, and certainly not because Heavenly Father wants us to. But because if we don't at least act like we do, the nonmember community might think that we're a bunch of misogynistic, homophobic, small minded sore losers.

Remember, the election may be over, but the LDS PR campaign continues!

In that spirit, I encourage all ward members to bake a batch of cookies and take them over to the feminist, gay, intellectual or otherwise immoral nonmembers next door and tell them that they're special.

If you would like to stop receiving these emails we want you to know how special we think you are.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

LDS Rush In To Help Storm "Victims" (Even Though It's Their Fault)

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Brother J. "Bull" Barton, Ward Preparedness Specialist
Subject: Ward Preparedness Update -- The "victims" of Hurricane Sandy

Due to the disastrous East Coast super storm that was brought on by the region's feminists, gays, and intellectuals, I have decided to maintain the Ward Threat Level at RED.

As always, every ward member should have on hand a 1 year supply of food, a hazmat suit, at least 2 handguns, 4 rolls of duct tape, and a gallon of consecrated oil. Also scriptures, the Ensign, dominoes,Yahtzee!, Twister, and other diversions to help kill time in the bunker.

After all, we reside in that infamous hotbed of evil sinners, otherwise known as the Left Coast, and must take extreme measures to protect our way of life. The feminists, gays, and intellectuals have us surrounded, and they are up to their usual mischief: looting, murdering, masturbating, causing high tides, torrential rain and flooding, and then blaming the whole thing on global warming.

Nevertheless, it seems there are an alarming number of bleeding hearts in our ward who actually want to send help to the "victims" on the East Coast who caused the whole thing in the first place. Even more alarming, I hear that many of you are prepared to give to what is surely the most scurrilous and sleazy scam ever concocted: The American Red Cross.

Don't Do It Abbottsville Fourth!

Think about it. The American Red Cross is asking people to donate money and give blood. HA! Who do they think they're fooling? Not Brother J. "Bull" Barton, that's for sure.

Instead of the Red Cross, I urge members of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward to donate to a far more honest and responsible relief organization: The Romney Campaign.

Even as we speak, the former governor is tirelessly collecting canned goods to send to the "victims" -- in open defiance of the selfish requests of the Red Cross. 

Send a check to the Red Cross and you've no idea where the money will go. Send a check to Romney and you can supply a displaced family in Queens with an entire case of creamed corn.

In that spirit, I advise all members to search their food storage for leftovers to send to the "victims." (This could be a great way to weed out items that are past their expiration date.) In addition to food, I will also be collecting hazmat suits, duct tape, gallon jugs of consecrated oil, spare handguns, back issues of The Ensign, and Yahtzee!

Finally, thanks to us, real relief will be on its way to the "victims." Even though they caused the whole thing themselves.

If you would like to stop receiving these emails, we'll assume it's because you're exhausted after causing the hurricane.

**Also thanks to Ahab for posting the above link that in turn helped to inspire this post.