Sunday, February 24, 2013

When Bad Roles Happen to Good Actors

As I've had occasion to whine in the past, the Oscars are held just a couple of blocks away from us. Which means that the street is closed down, sidewalks are blocked, and a big, armored, LAPD Bomb Squad truck is parked on our doorstep.  So this is a day we traditionally observe by barricading ourselves inside and hoping the cops don't mistake us for the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Still, it's the 85th Academy Awards, a glamorous night of double-sided tape and bomb-sniffing dogs, so let's turn to our Hollywood Minute Reporter Bill S., with Bill S's S'Oscars!

For many years now, I've admired actor Bradley Cooper, as a promising film star. At the same time, I've been dismayed he hadn't yet landed a great film role. After all, what can you say about a resume where one of the high points was a film in which he gets his junk tased by Rob Riggle? So I was happy to see him land a role worthy of his acting chops, and an Oscar nod, in "Silver Linings Playbook". 
Just about every actor had a few clunkers on their way to success. And sometimes, once they do find success, they take a really wrong turn. With that in mind, I offer what may or may not be an annual tradition, the candidates for "MOST EMBARRASSING PRIOR ROLE OF A CURRENT OSCAR NOMINEE":

Bradley Cooper's co-star, JENNIFER LAWRENCE might seem to be an overnight sensation, but prior to "The Hunger Games" and "Winter's Bone", her most notable prior role was on "The Bill Engvall Show".  Engvall's best known for being one of the comics on the Blue Collar Comedy tour. No, not the one who warned about the early warning signs of being a redneck, and not the one who asked us to "Git er done", whatever that means. He was the one with the catchphrase "Here's your sign", alluding to the idea that stupid people should be forced to wear one. Too bad the producers of that show didn't have one of those.

(and they only get worse from here...)

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. One of the most dependable character actors in movies today, just seeing his name in the credits makes one perk up. (It's a testament to his talents that he made Lester Bangs a relatable human being and not somebody I wanted to punch) You'd have to scroll pretty far down his resume to find something really bad. But scroll I did, and found:
My Boyfriend's Back (1993), a Disney comedy about a teenage girl whose recently deceased boyfriend rises from the grave. And hilarity, one assumes, ensues. Philip plays a school bully.
[a really clumsy school bully]

SALLY FIELD. With a career that now spans six decades, we all know her path to stardom from a spunky ingenue in silly '60's era sitcoms to a highly respected dramatic actress. Today those early roles on "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun" are looked on with some affection, because in their own way, they're iconic. Of course, they're only iconic because she played them -- it may seem like a backhanded compliment to call Sally Field the definitive Gidget, but, hey, she is! But there's another early sitcom role that she, and we, would all like to forget (and probably have.  Until now.  Sorry):
 "The Girl With Something Extra"

Airing in 1973, "Girl..." followed the wacky adventures of a young woman with E.S.P.,  and the efforts of her and her husband (John Davidson, a guy so generically white bread he makes Ted McGinley look like a Sweathog) to pass for a normal married couple. Hmmm...a housewife with supernatural powers married to a dull square who tries to curb them? Now where might we have seen that before?
[From Scott:  Great.  Now I'm Bothered and Bewildered, too!]
The fact the "Bewitched" had been gone off the air a year before should have been a tip-off that nobody wanted a rip-off, and "The Girl With Something Extra" was canceled after one season. It's probably just as well. After 8 years on "Bewitched", Elizabeth Montgomery was so eager to get away from the role she leapt at the chance to play Lizzie Bordon.
And I really, really don't want to see Sister Bertrille wielding an ax.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX. Under the name "Leaf Phoenix", Joaquin started as a child actor, making his professional debut at the age of 8 in the TV series "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" in 1982. In the '90's, he began using his real name, first in the black comedy To Die For, playing a creepy teen who helps a woman murder her husband. It established him as a quirky, off-kilter presence (kind of like a bangable Crispen Glover). He stole the scenes in Gladiator that weren't stolen by Oliver Reed, did a credible job playing Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, and in general enlivened a number of stale projects (if Signs had just been two hours of Joaquin Phoenix clubbing aliens with a baseball bat -- or clubbing the director with one-I might have enjoyed the damn thing). But there was one movie he couldn't save: It's All About Love (2003). 
 I haven't seen it, but is has been the subject of a World O' Crap review, and the case for it being his worst film is pretty convincing.

NAOMI WATTS. Naomi made her film debut in the 1990 coming-of-age drama Flirting, alongside Nicole Kidman, Thandie Newton and Noah Taylor. Not a bad start, kind of the Australian equivalent to American Graffiti.  But then, four years later...she was in Tank Girl.  What the fuck? No, wait, that doesn't cover it, NAOMI WATTS WAS IN FUCKING TANK GIRL?  And she wasn't the star? Some casting director, or producer, or whoever, looked at Naomi Watts, and looked at Lori Petty, who's like a chipmunk on crack, and said, "Let's make Petty the star of this thing!"
[if there was an award for "Best acting in an otherwise shitty film", Naomi would have won for this.]

ANNE HATHWAY. Like several other actors on this list, Anne began as a teen on a sitcom, in this case the FOX series "Get Real", which, unfortunately, isn't an American spinoff of the 1998 British film. Her track record's been erratic -- for every quality film she's been in, ther have been two or three turkeys. So it's not surprising that, in the same year she landed what may be her best role, in the edgy indie flick Rachel Getting Married, she also appeared in her worst film, Get Smart. I have a question: why do we keep getting subjected to big-scren remakes of old TV shows? It'd be one thing if they made money, but most of them bomb, and bomb spectacularly. This movie had no reason to exist whatsoever. Unless they were hoping it might resurrect the ghost of Don Adams.  Which, I'll concede, would have been a worthy endeavor.

AMY ADAMS.  For the past decade, Amy's been a bright spot in many pictures -- Catch Me If You Can, Junebug, Doubt, Julie & Julia, The Fighter... but there's one early role almost nobody has seen, and with good reason, because it went straight to video, and from there, to the 99 cents bin:

"This film was originally a tv series based on Cruel Intentions, titled "Manchester Prep", with three hour-long episodes filmed...They were scheduled to air on the FOX network in the fall of 1999, but the show was canceled before any of the episodesaired. The scene where Cherie has orgasms on the horse in Episode 3.1 reportedly outraged FOX chairman Rupert Murdoch. New explicit scenes and dialogue were added to footage from the pilot and the first two episodes to make this film. The plot was re-worked to serve as a prequal to Cruel Intentions  rather than a re-telling."

I can't add much more to that. The original film was a rip-off of Dangerous Liasons without much to recommend it but a decent soundtrack single. This thing was a rip-off of a rip-off. It's a Bitter Sweet Travesty.

HELEN HUNT. Helen got her start as a child actress in the '70's, making her professional debut at age 10 in the tv movie "Pioneer Woman". most of her roles in that period were respectable enough-she even played Murray's daughter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". But before land the part of Morrison's girlfriend on "St. Elsewhere", her transition to more mature roles was...well, awkward, to say the least. Particularly the 1982 tv movie "Desperate Lives". The title may not ring a bell, but, I'm sure thi scene does:
[just say "No" to drugs...and creepy guys with feathered hair...and bad teen melodramas.]

ROBERT DE NIRO. For movie fans, few things are more soul-crushing than seeing a great actor dumb down their talents to such a degree you can't even look at them. Richard Burton had The Exorcist II (Electric Boogaloo), Laurence Olivier had The Jazz Singer, Shirley MacLaine had Cannonball Run 2 (Your Agent and Fire His Ass), Michael Caine and Jane Fonda BOTH had Hurry Sundown. Faye Dunaway was in that one too, but sadly it's not her most embarrassing role, as anyone who watched her waving a magic branch at Helen Slater in Supergirl  can tell you. Which brings us to Robert DeNiro, the man who gave us young Vito Corleone, Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Al Capone and....Fearless Leader in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.  Why, Bobby, why? WHY DID YOU DO THIS THING THAT YOU DID?
 [this cannot possibly be the same actor who figured in enough women's masturbation fantasies for there to be a Bananarama song about it.]

ALAN ARKIN. Alan began acting in the '50's, and was also a folk singer, as a member of the Tarriers (he's credited with co-writing "The Banana boat Song"). He'd already had two Oscar nominations by the time he made what even he regards as his worst film, Freebie & the Bean (1974). Full disclosure: my parents took me and my younger brothers to see this when we were kids, thinking it was a kid-friendly comedy, probably from the title. What we instead got treated to was a violent, stupid cop-buddy flick:
It also contained one of the most offensive depictions of a gay character in movies, which you'll notice isn't in the trailer, because even in 1974, the studios knew that shit wouldn't fly. Six years later it was adapted into a sitcom, and while it lacked the violence and misogyny and homophobia of the film (and lacked any stars), it preserved the stupidity.
[Note from Scott:  For more on just how amazingly homophobic this mid-Seventies buddy cop film is, check out this review written by the Fabulous Stacia for the Queer Film Blogathon.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS. Daniel made his movie debut at 13 in Sunday, Bloody Sunday, appearing in one scene as a boy who vandalizes expensive cars with a broken bottle. He later admitted he had fun doing it (as any kid might.) As an adult he's established himself as one the best actors around -- just listing his movies makes me want to load up my NetFlix queue: A Room With a View, My Beautiful Laundrette, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Stars & Bars, My Left Foot, The Last of the Mohicans, The Age of Innocence, In the Names of the Fa-
wait a sec. Back up...what was that one between The Unbearable Lightness of Being and My Left Foot?
Stars & Bars? What the hell was that, you might rightly ask, since it's not available on DVD, and just about nobody has seen it. I  actually have, and here a taste of it:
The rest of it is exactly as stupid. How bad was it? Let me put it this way: there's a scene in which Daniel's character, having spent the night with a young woman, flees from a bedroom window to escape detection without getting dressed. We see him in all his naked glory (hallelujah!)...and not even that was enough to keep this thing from plummeting into total obscurity.

Which brings us now, to the last entry on this list, and the "winner" for the single most embarrassing prior role from this year's Oscar nominees:

Denzel has a great track record -- he might be the only person this year who could wrestle an Oscar away from Daniel Day-Lewis, with his brilliant turn in Flight. Add his work in Cry Freedom, Glory, The Mighty Quinn, Malcolm X, Philadelphia, Courage Under Fire, The Hurricane, Training Day -- hell, even his work on "St. Elsewhere"(it's a testament to the show's quality that it made Howie Mandel a relatable human being instead of somebody I want to punch). I list all of those roles to remind myself of how far he's come. Because his worst film was also his first film. If you're ever in a debate with friends as to who had the most embarrassing film debut, and they offer up Paul Newman in The Silver Chalice, or John Travolta in The Devil's Rain, or Tom Cruise in Endless Love, you can silence all comers with the following five words:
Denzel Washington in Carbon Copy.
Released in 1981, this move tells the story of a successful white business executive (George Segal) , who learns that a romance he had with a black woman in his college days produced a son (Washington). His life becomes a mess: his marriage falls apart, he loses his job, and he becomes a complete social outcast. Did I happen to mention this is supposed to be taking place in 1981, and not 30 years earlier? Here's the trailer, and keep in mind, these are scenes intended to make you want to see this film:
No, you didn't just dream that. This wasn't a fake trailer from a sketch comedy show. This thing really exists, and got made, and was booked into theaters. I actually saw it when it aired on cable a year later. Or more likely, a few months later. In any case, I can't imagine why any actor, even a struggling actor looking for his first break, would take this role -- surely there were porn producers making better offers. I come to the conclusion that Denzel took this role on the assumption that once he took it, there was no other possible direction to go but up.
He was right. So I guess that's the hopeful thing to take away from this.

-Bill S

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The New Compleat Official State Religions List: Now With Flavor Crystals!

And finally, Flashback Friday brings you the culmination of S.Z.'s Official State Religions saga.  Enjoy, then call up U-Haul and get thee to a nunnery or equivalent in your newly assigned jurisdiction.  All sales are final.

In Order To Form A More Perfect Union

       We thought that the Official State Religion matter was settled.  We assumed that you'd all just convert to your state's assigned faith, or move to a state offering a religion, philosophy, or high-pressure marking scheme that you could live with.  However, your comments, plus some vital new information we have uncovered, made it seem advisable to update this for a final time, thus ensuring that the Constitution is well-served, and the Dittoheads aren't preyed upon by their cunning Zombie neighbors. 

So, on to vital new imformation: As we noted a couple of days ago, Ann Coulter recently addressed the University of NC School of Law.  She was paid $20,000 for her appearance, with the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies paying $12,000 of that.  As you may know, the Federalist Society is Ken Starr's old gang, "a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order."  It is heavily funded by "eccentric" billionaire, Richard Scaife Mellon, Ann's patron and alter-ego.  And what does this have to do with Official State Religions?  Well, the Federalist Society IS really high on states' rights, traditional values, and returning religion to public forums.  So, we're hoping that they will give us $12,000 to talk to some college about our new plan.  

But anyway, on to Ann's message to the law students: after preaching the gospel of Racial Profiling (it's key tenent: only swarthy men do bad stuff, so blonde women should be exempt from airport security checks), Ann said:
"Liberals don't think of themselves as Americans. They aren't betraying America because they don't think of America as their own country."
A rather outlandish comment on the face of it, but when you put it with other things which Ann has said in the past, it all points to her advocacy of our Official States Religion plan.

You see, back in 2001, Ann said (in the seminal Disestablish the Cult of Liberalism ):
It's well past time for liberalism to be declared a religion and banned from public schools.
We're told the First Amendment requires a separation of church and state, which, just as an incidental matter, is completely false. The whole point of the Constitution is to separate the federal government from the individual. In keeping with the general theme, the First Amendment provides that Congress cannot establish a religion -- but nor can it stop the states from establishing religions.
It's hard to imagine now, but before the official government religion was liberalism -- devoted to class warfare, ethnic hatred and intolerance -- Americans were kind to one another. They managed to get along even without ACLU lawsuits.
So, Ann has previously advocated the establishment of official state religions, and she's already recognized "Liberalism" as the nation's first official religion.  And under Ann's plan, each state gets to make its own laws on "important" issues so eventually everybody feels more loyalty to the state than to the nation.  Ann was just using her patented technique of "lying" when she told the law students that this has happened, and liberals don't feel America is their country anymore.

But now the question becomes: which state gets Liberalism for its official religion.  I have to say New York.  Mainly because that's where Ann lives, and it would annoy her no end.  But also because New York is our third most populous state, and from the way Ann carries on, EVERYBODY is a liberal (and a traitor) but her, and so Liberalism should get one of bigger states, population-wise. 

Also, per Ann, before Liberalism became an official religion, everybody was nice to each other.  I think Ann would approve of making the rest of the country kinder by segregating all of the liberals in New York, where Ann should show them how tolerance, kindness, and civility are done. 

(Note to Albany: State boundaries are elastic, so if New York State isn't big enough for all of you, take whatever territory you need -- the other states, being non-liberal, and therefore polite and kind, will give you whatever you want.)  

And if we are giving Liberalism its own state, then it seems only fair to give a territory to Conservatism.  But if we don't, it's just because we're liberals, and widely known for our evil.

Also, while looking up Ann stuff, we came upon this quote in a piece advocating Roy Mooreism (Rocks Vs Trees) :
Those most basic of rights exist outside of, beyond and prior to any government.  They are unalienable, and come from their (all citizen's) creator.  In a word, God.  The God of the Jews, the Moslems, the Christians and a number of other faiths.  (If you worship trees, feel free to imagine that they gave you your inalienable rights.  But, if your tree religion forces you to demand the removal of a symbol related to those faiths listed above, then to provide equal justice for all we must remove all trees from public property.  Besides removing the trees from all the courthouse lawns in every city, and pulling them out by the roots from every state, county and city park, that would include clearcutting every square foot of every national park in America.)
So, if those hypothetical Tree Worshippers demand the removal of ANYTHING, especially Roy's Rock, this guy has a plan to fix 'em GOOD!  And this reminded us that we hadn't included Druidism on our list.

Okay, now on to your comments, and my concessions to your brilliance, logic, and wit:
Thanks so much from a Washington resident! When asked, I say I'm a non-believer. When pressed to dissemble, I say "Frisbetarian" - I believe when you die your soul gets caught on the roof and no one can get it down. -- Phil
LOL, Phil.  I'm adding Frisbetarian as an alternate Washington State religion (in case people want to believe in something, but something light--Frisbetarian can be kind of like the Jell-O of religions, in that there's always room for it.
Wouldn't Utah just naturally be the Mormons? -- twig • 
Oh wait, same thing. Sorry, blame 7 am. -- twig •
Hey, no problem, Twig.  We thought the same thing, when we were first assigning the religions, but it got too hard, and that's why we relied on SCIENCE! to do the job for us.  Since the Mormons do have a lot of stuff (food storeage, geneology, Temple Square) in Utah, they might want to do some kind of religion swap, so they didn't have to move it all.  (The Mormons would get Utah, and the Seventh-Day Adventists would get Indiana).  We'll see how this plays out.
1. Haven't you missed out the Muslims? Perhaps they could have Guam.
2. Couldn't you put the Catholics and the lapsed Catholics a little closer? Florida to Alaska is such a long way to move when you lapse.

3. Rastafarianism for Wyoming is just...perfect. -- Diane
I SWEAR, the Muslims did have a State when I started the list.  Somebody must have invaded them and converted them to Christianity.  (Ann Coulter, please report to the principal's office.)  I'll make sure they're on the list this time, though.

And good point about the distance you have to travel if you lapse from Catholicism.  We could give the Lapsed Catholics the neighboring state of Georgia (I think Ivan would find them humorous enough), but we don't want to ENCOURAGE lapsing by making it too easy, now do we?  We'll have to think about this for a minute. 
1. "Haven't you missed out the Muslims? Perhaps they could have Guam." 
Forget that. I just remembered that under Patriot II all Muslims will probably be jailed or deported anyway, so won't need a state. Maybe give Guam to the Promise Keepers instead? -- Diane •
Diane, you're right about the Patriot Act, but this still just doesn't seem fair.  I still want to give the Muslims something.  And the Promise Keepers too, since they did have that Six Million-Dollar Man rally and everything, which shows that they believe strongly in bionics.  Maybe we could give them the Silicon Valley portion of Christian California.
So...the price for Texas getting football is that we have to take Bush back? Couldn't you just give us the Scientologists? -- Pete
Pete, buddy, I feel your pain, but SOMEBODY has to have him.  But I did some research and found that the State of Texas GOP Platform of 2002 included the following aims:
Dispel the "myth" of the separation of church and state.   
Oppose any form of gun control
Since Secular Humanism is recognized by the United States Supreme Court as a religion ... Secular Humanism should be subjected to the same state and federal laws as any other recognized religions. 
So, since Texas is apparently the only state where Republicans are making it a goal to recognize Secular Humanism as a religion, I think it's only fair to make it Texas's NEW official State Religion.  Along with Gun Worship.  We'll find somewhere else for Bush, though -- we don't trust him around guns.
Actually having spent some time in Alaska and having friends from there. The state religion in Alaska should be guns, guns, and more guns. Charleton Heston could be the high priest. You've never seen so many street signs with bullet holes until you visit Alaska.  Great state. Gun crazy people.  -- JimJ
Hmm, I bow to experience here.  Okay, Texas has to give Gun Worship to Alaska, but in return, Texas gets Football back.  But I'll still find somewhere other than Texas for Bush.

Scott provides us with many interesting ideas:
Ann's Words O' Wisdom: "[snip] States and localities would be free to sculpt themselves into whatever kind of place the denizens prefer. If an individual feels unduly oppressed by those laws, he can move."

Plainly, Ann's vision of the future includes an America similar to 18th century Italy: a patchwork of Principalities, duchies, papal holdings and city-states. We're going to have to revise our national motto (Version 2.0 will probably read: "E Unum Pluribus") but now we won't be limited to awarding entire states to religious sects.

For instance, if Hollywood becomes a Venetian-style republic, then they can get the Scientologists. This is convenient, because the Hubbardites already own 60% of the buildings on Hollywood Boulevard anyway, and because it will keep them within easy extortion distance of their flock, i.e., bone-headed celebrities.
Cool!  I was wondering what to do with the Scientologists ever since Pete brought them up.  They can have a Scientologist Duchy in Hollywood. 

Also, when reading the blurb for Laura Ingrahams new book, Shut Up, Bitch, I noted that it reveals much about the all-powerful elites, including the following:
"Entertainer" Madonna: how she and other figures revered by the elites implicitly (and often explicitly) establish themselves as their own gods.
So, since Hollywood seems to be the center of this phenomenon, maybe the Scientologists will have to share their turf with a pluralistic religion which features a pantheon of celebrities who have established themselves as their own god (and the god of their obsessive fans).  We see this as similar to classic Greek mythology, in that there is a bevy of gods and godesses to reflect any particular taste and lifestyle, and the attributes of these god and goddesses are changeable over time.  For example, Madonna used to be Aphrodite, goddess of sex, but has recently remade herself into a Hera-like goddess of hearth, home, and lesbian kissing. 

So, each god or goddess will have his or her own small cult, just like they do now, and when these gods fall from favor and are no longer worshipped, they will have to move, probably to athesistic Idaho.

Scott adds:
So I think S.Z. should feel free to draw new and arbitrary borders through and between the states, regardless of history, traditional affiliations, or demographics.  Look how well it worked out when the British did it in the Middle East and Africa.

Speaking of which, since Iraq is on it's way to becoming the 51st state, we'll need to assign them a religion. Something fresh and kicky. Something that requires worshipping Tom Jones, or wearing a beret and Danskin on days of Holy Obligation. That way, when the Christians of California conquer Nevada, the refugee Las Vegans will be able to move to Iraq. The climates are similar, and because of the lax firearms laws in Nevada, the refugees will be comfortable with the easily availability of automatic weapons.
I like it!  And since we are spending, like $60 billion to rebuild Iraq, we should own them at the end (much like how those "Rent to Own" appliance places finally let you keep something after you've paid five times what it's worth).  And Iraq should be FORCED to become a state, so the Iraqis will have to pay taxes and eventually repay the $60 billion (they can keep the Halliburton and other administration-connected company consultants as our free gift to them).  I like Scott's idea for their Official Religion too: I don't know if Show Girls is a religion yet (it DOES have a cult following, of course), but unless I can think of something better, that can be their new faith.
Hold up. First, I have to know if the Mormons will be able to reinstate polygamy. And if my Senior Wife won't go along with that we'll have to sell our house to some Latter-Day Saints, who, it is well known, travel with a copy of the Ten Commandments and a $20 bill and don't break either. Then we'll have to move somewhere with a higher cost of living and a different cable system. I'm gonna need some Federal assistance. Or do I have to move to Iraq for that? -- Doghouse Riley
Of course the Mormons will be able to reinstate polygamy.  Ann Coulter encourages, nay DEMANDS, that each state, county, or Neighborhood Watch make it's own laws based on whatever it believes.  However, the Mormons may choose not to do it, since they're kind of out of practice, and have too many kids already. 
By telling them about my recently introduced "Swapping States" policy, maybe you can get the Mormons and the Seventh-Day Adventists to trade.  However, the Seventh-Day Adventists are equally strict about stuff, adding eating meat to the list of "Thous Shalt Nots", so possibly you're better off with the Mormons -- they are indeed a thrifty people, and not a lot of fun at parties, but they do make a mean Jell-O salad. 

And as to the Federal assistance, I don't think Ann Coutler would approve (she's against all forms of public assistance).  So, you'll just have to show your self-reliance by either robbing a gas station or getting a large grant from the Federalist Society. 
I think we need to give Delaware to the Muslims. Here is my reasoning: even if Patriot II jails many of the non judeo-christians, a significant portion of Muslims will still be free. Why? Because Ashcroft's "Justice" Department will have also filled the jails with Sikhs, Latinos, Mormons and Amway reps all of whom are occasionally mistaken for Muslim. Since many, many Muslims are caucasian and thus will escape the internal sweeps of the department of "Justice" they need a state. Delaware makes the most sense since it is close to the eastern airports which will facilitate the pilgrimages to Mecca.  Also, they will (eventually) get along quite well with their neighbors, the Evangelicals (Penn), Southern Baptists (NJ) and the Eastern Orthodox (MD).  I'd say that the addition of the Muslims would make that a vibrant corner in the nation, leading to the establishment of wonderfully diverse theological colleges, and to the eventual opening of coffeehouses on every corner.

The Jedis? Since theirs is an asexual crowd of boys/men (similar to the Shakers) I think they should be sent either to Guam (where, at least, the fresh air and sun will do them good) or to Iowa to learn new ceremonies and meditation techniques from the Hindus. I think the Jedis and Hindus would hit it off pretty well, and help to develop each other's beliefs in new and interesting ways.

update--when I said the Shakers are similar to the Jedis, I meant in that they are asexual, not that Shakers are all men.  The difference is that Shakers do not have sex by choice. -- chica toxica
Chica has brought up several excellent points.  I defer to her wisdom regarding the Muslims, and hereby give them Delaware.  And I agree that the Hindus and the Jedi would make fine roommates.  As Chica said, they can teach each other meditation techniques and mind tricks ("Those aren't the nuclear weapons you're seeking.  Move along").  And since we didn't give the Shakers any territory (and they do make such nice furniture), they can share Iowa with the Jedi and Hindus (they shouldn't take up much room, since they practiced asexuality all too well).  But they have to promise to help the Jedi master that chastity thing, because we all know what happened with Anakin defied Jedi law and did it with Senator Amidala--yes, we got the promise of another crappy Star Wars movie to look forward to.
Native American is the old religion on Maine; we saved the upkeep on a church and paying a minister by communing with the Great Spirit, Miller's, in the woods. But sadly, the current religion of Maine is coffee brandy, marijuana, and oxycotin. We're trying to get us some casino gambling, so at least our folks have a chance to work the twenty-dollar blow job game. -- Tabitha King •
Tabitha, I feel your pain.  We'll see if there is any remedy available to your state, like eliminating the state tax on Millers, once it becomes your Official State Sacrament.   Or maybe we could make it an alternate State Religion, and you could get corporate sponsorship.
So we get Idaho now? Sweet. I wasn't really looking forward to Mississippi. Plus, in Idaho I'll be right next door to Wyoming and the Rastafarians, ensuring a ready supply of quality...reggae. Yeah, that's it, love that reggae music. But the drive would be complicated by having to avoid all the Dittoheads wandering aimlessly in the streets, unsure of what to do, think, or say while their god is in the slammer. Couldn't we cut off a portion of some other state for them? How about the north woods of Maine? According to Tabitha, OxyContin is already part of the religion, so it should be an easy move. -- Dave
Now, now, Dave--nobody wants the Dittoheads in their backyard, but they have to live somewhere (or DO they?)  While your idea of letting them loose in a state where OxyContin is plentiful is tempting, from what Tabitha said, Maine has enough problems with their own rednecks there.  But I'll see what I can do about moving the Dittoheads for you, because once their leader is gone, being unaccustomed to thinking for themselves, they'll inevitably get fleeced by the telemarketers in neighboring Montana, and eaten by the Zombies of North Dakota.
Wait, wait, wait!!! As a lapsed Catholic I have to protest! Yes, we worry about burning in hell, but Dante says the center of the Inferno is a block of ice, so you can't put us in Alaska! We need a nice, temperate, limbo sort of state. Something like Maryland. -- susan •
Hmm, you make a valid point about Dante and stuff.  And I guess Maryland IS far away enough from Florida to keep people from lapsing out of convenience.  Okay, Maryland is yours--I'll find someplace further East for the Eastern Orthodox.
As a Canadian, I bitterly resent being left out of these proceedings. Being Canadian, as you well know, IS a very popular religion and I think it only fair you grant the thousands of us you have so callously ignored up till now a piece of land we can call our own. Wait a minute .... -- Alison
Wow, we have left out the Canadians, and that wasn't very kind of us (gee, you'd almost think we were LIBERALS or something).  And yes, Canadianism IS a popular religion (well, some call it a cult), and it does promote many positive values, such as politeness, decency, not littering, and alternative spelling.  Okay, you guys can have a state--well, you'll have to SHARE a state, 'cause we're running out.  I'll try to find you one of the less-developed ones, so you'll feel right at home.  Well, to make you feel right at home, well give you two states--one for the English speakers, and one for the French speakers.
In the interest of completeness, and to avoid possible misunderstandings at a later date, I think it would be best to establish religions for all of the US's territories, as enumeratedhere: .
Incidentally, I think it would be cool to have a Taoist state. Cheers! -- GeoX
EXCELLENT, GeoX.  I was running out of places to put some of these weirdos (not to cast aspersions on the Canadians or anything).  This gives us additional creative scope too.  Thanks!  In return for your bounty, you will have your Taoist state.

And while implementing all of your suggestions, I thought of some other groups who needed homelands too, and added them to the list.

So, with no further ado, I give you:

The New IMPROVED Official State Religion List

1.  California:                 Christian, but within its borders will be the Independent Hubbardite Duchy of Hollywood, and the Cult of Fame (centered in the Los Angeles area), with its many temples devoted to the worship of various actors, pop stars, and other celebrities
2. Texas:                        Secular Humanism, Football
3. New York:                 Liberalism
4. Florida:                      Catholic 
5. Illinois:                      Protestantism
6. Pennsylvania:            "Born again" or "evangelical"
7. Ohio:                          Evangelical (theologically),  Avon
8. Michigan:                   Methodist, United Methodist Church
9. New Jersey:              Baptist, Southern Baptist
10. Georgia:                   Judaism
11. North Carolina:        Sikhism, Mimes
12. Virginia:                   Presbyterian, Lord of the Ringism
13. Massachusetts:        Eastern Orthodox
14. Indiana:                   Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
15. Washington:            Non-religious, Frisbetarians
16. Tennessee:              gay/lesbian
17. Missouri:                  Episcopalian, Satanists
18. Wisconsin:               Lutheran, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
19. Maryland:                 Lapsed Catholics
20. Arizona:                   Pentecostal
21. Minnesota:              Buddhist
22. Louisiana:               Non-denominational
23. Alabama:                 French Speakers , French Speaking Canadians
24. Colorado:                Megachurch attendance, Sports (non-football denomination)
25. Kentucky:                Jehovah's Witnesses
26. South Carolina        United Church of Christ, Martha Stewartentalism
27. Oklahoma:              Mennonite Church USA
28. Oregon:                   agnostic, Druids
29. Connecticut             Churches of Christ
30. Iowa:                       Hindu, Jedi, Shaker
31. Mississippi:              Baha'i, Harry Potter-style Witchcraft
32. Kansas:                    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
33. Arkansas:                 Unitarian Universalist
34. Utah:                        Seventh-day Adventists
35. Nevada:                   Neo-pagan (incl. Wiccans)
36. New Mexico:            Church of the Nazarene
37. West Virginia:          Reformed Church in America (RCA); Zenith, Magnovox
38. Nebraska:                Zoroastrianism, Regular-speaking Canadians
39. Idaho:                      Atheists
40. Maine:                      Native American Religionists, Millerites (Who want to remind you, It's Always Miller Time!)
41. New Hampshire:      Libertarian party members
42. Hawaii:                     Deism
43. Rhode Island:           Weight Watchers
44. Montana:                  Amway, Herbal Life, Telemarketers
45. Delaware:                Muslims
46. South Dakota:          Royites, Moonies.
47. North Dakota:          Zombies, Excommunicated Royites
48. Alaska:                     Gun Worshippers United (led by Charleton Heston)
49. Vermont:                  Ba'al
50. District of Columbia: primal-indigenous
51. Wyoming:                Rastafarianism
Guam:                              Taoism
Iraq:                                 Showgirlism
American Samoa:            Palm Pilotism 
Johnston Island/Atoll:    Promise Keepers
Midway Island:                Jewish Mysticism, as practiced by ditsy celebrities
N. Mariana Islands:         Dittoheads
Panama Canal Zone:       Mel Gibsons Passion of Christ-ites         
Puerto Rico:                    UFOlogy
U.S. Virgin Islands:         Conservatives
Wake Island:                  George Bush

Well, there you have it.  I hope everybody can find something to their liking on this list, and either convert to it or move to it's assigned location by 1 January, because that's what makes America great: The Constitution.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Official State Religions List: Episode II: Attack of the Clones!

As you can see, after proposing the original Official State Religions list (that changed America forever!),  S.Z. opened the floor to public comment, assimilated the suggestions of various readers (IvanMark Hoback!  Me!) and made some adjustments to the Master Plan...

(Originally published October 2, 2003)

Constitutionality, Religion, Interstate Holy Wars: This Plan Has Them All! 

Okay, I did some more research on the Constitutionality of this new Official State Church thing, and learned that it really is what our Founding Fathers wanted.  First, here's David Limbaugh himself (The myth of church-state separation):
There is nothing in the Constitution mandating a separation of church and state. (The phrase originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson.) When you hear people talking about the supposed "separation of church and state," what they usually mean is "The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment requires a separation." But it doesn't. Aside from the fact that the Establishment Clause has been erroneously extended to apply to the states as well as Congress, let's look how far the scope of "establishment" has been stretched on both the state and federal levels.
Now seriously, just how far do we have to suspend our disbelief to conclude that the Framers intended to prohibit such an election merely facilitated -- not initiated -- by a public school? Well, first we have to ignore that the First Amendment restricted the federal Congress only. Second, we have to disregard that it also prohibited Congress from intruding on the states' right to establish religion if they so chose.  
Thus, as fellow scholar Alan Keyes said, the Constitution just prohibits the Federal Government from establishing a state-religion, leaving this power to the states. 

And here's Ann Coulter asking the question Must Christian conservatives be fascists? (her answer is YES, 'cause the Constitution says so).  In this article, she states that the the Federal Goverment shouldn't make ANY laws about important stuff, like religion, gay marriage,  or abortion, because these things should be left up to the individual states, towns, or co-op boards.  (Besides it being the only Constitutional thing to do, she says that Conservatives have power in the heartland, but always lose on the national level --  thus, they could reinstate those Jim Crow laws, if it weren't for those meddling feds.) 

Anyway, here's where she points out your remedy if you don't like your local laws or theocracy :
Moreover, the states and towns would create a perpetual marketplace of laws, regulations and ideas. If you don't like porno being sold at the corner market, you could move. If you don't like porno not being sold at the corner market, you could move. (And then at the end of the year, we'll tabulate which town has more crime, venereal disease, rape and unwanted pregnancies.) States and localities would be free to sculpt themselves into whatever kind of place the denizens prefer. If an individual feels unduly oppressed by those laws, he can move. And it's a lot easier to move to the town next door, or even the state next door, than to move to Canada. That's how federalism creates the maximum freedom possible.
So, now that it's established by two of our nation's finest legal scholars that the States CAN (and should) establish their own official religions, and that these states can (and should) base their laws on their official religions, I will now address some comments which came in response to the first draft of the Official State Religion List.

First, Ivan said,
I hate to nitpick, but as a resident of Georgia I must protest the choice of Lutheran. Here's why: Many years ago, a woman asked my comedy idol Jack Benny why so many Jews were comedians in show business. Benny's response: "Madam...have you ever met a funny Lutheran?"This should not be interpreted as a slam at Lutherans, by the way, who are probably decent people who live in sedate neighborhoods and pay their taxes and sleep with each other's wives. I consider myself an Agnostifarian, but I don't think I want to subject the people of the Peach State to that.
Ivan, I have to stress that this assignment of state religons wasn't done willy-nilly.  No, it was done by demographics, which is a SCIENCE (I think).  Georgia, being the 10th most populous state, got Lutherans, the 10th most populous religious demographic.  That said, when I looked at the list again, I noted that the Lutherans and the Evangelical Lutheran church each had a state, which didn't seem right, since they seem like they should be pretty similar.  Same for the Methodists and the United Methodists.  So, since I was already changing things around, I decided "What the heck?" and assigned the Jews to Georgia, since they're known for their humor, and are used to moving around.  Hope this meets with your approval.
Now, here's Pete:
Actually, the state religion of Texas is football. This is according to my highly scientific analysis contrasting the number of football bumper stickers to those metal fish thingies on area pickups. 
Kellie concurred, so I guess this is indeed the case.  But the point of this assignment wasn't to identify the pre-eminent religion of each state, it was to assign each state a religion, based on science!  Texas, being the second most populous state, got Protestantism, the second-most populous religion.  The fine people of Texas should either convert to Protestantism, or move. 

But then I thought about it, and realized that the Texans, loving football the way they do, probably have satellite dishes in place, and they wouldn't like having to move them.  And Texans have guns.  So, I decided that we could forego the scientific method this once, and make Football the Official State Religion of Texas.  I talked to the Protestants, and they were okay with going to New York instead.  (In fact, they were quite happy about it).  But in return, Texas has to take Bush back (consider it a 50-yard penalty.)
Kellie had a bunch more excellent points to bring up:
I see that you've put Unitarians in Arkansas and Mennonites right next door in Oklahoma. That can work since Unitarians like nice hand crafted items. You put the Gay/Lesbian religion in Tennessee- which is also fine since Unitarians, gays and lesbians get along fine and are sometimes the same people.
I wish you'd put atheists, non-religionists and agnostics in a cluster near some beautiful mountains or an ocean or something instead of spread all out in Mississippi, Oregon and Pennsylvania. (The Gulf coast of Mississippi doesn't count as an ocean view.)
And why do the Deists get Hawaii??? That is so no fair.
I really think the French Speakers should be in Louisiana, but Louisiana is also Catholic, so you'll have to make a decision... perhaps another dual religion state.
And the Libertarians ... well, hey... I guess they do need their own state. That sounds right. Nebraska is a fine place for them.
I have a question. Why is there a state religion called Weight Watchers, but none for Amway? I'm all for WW... we can go to Rhode Island every year after Thanksgiving and trim down, but you should put some Gold's Gyms there, too.
1.  I'm hadn't realized it until you pointed it out, but I'm glad that America will now have an Arts 'n Crafts Belt.  I suggest you all attend their Fall Festival this weekend. 

2.  Re your request for a nonreligious/atheist/agnostic bloc, remember: demographics, scientific, no-refunds, etc.  But since you guys already had Oregon, and since I'd already moved somebody out of Washington State (I think it was the one of the Methodists), you can have that one.  And Idaho, so you'll have a monopoly and can build hotels; the Ba'ahi, a peace-loving people, were easy to kick out.  (Hey, in return I gave them a more populous state with temperate winters--they will thank me.)  So, you know have the Pacific Northwest, known for its mountains, seacoast, rain, and mega-billionaire Microsoft owners.  If only you believed in tithing, your religion could be the richest in the land!

3.  The Deists get Hawaii to honor the Founding Fathers, who could use a little sun.  However, if your nonreligious bloc wants to move in on them, you could probably easily crush them, since they're a pretty small religion these days. 

And that brings up another point: states like California, which got all the  Christians (I mean, the ones, when asked what religion they were, said "Christian," either meaning that they identify more with that description that with a demoninational label, or else they're basically non-religious but too ashamed to say so), may find things a little cramped.  So, there's always a Holy War with neighboring Nevada (in fact, you Christians SHOULD invade those neo-pagans and Wiccans).  This Official State Religion plan not only allows for Manifest Destiny, but also invading other lands, killing leaders, and forcible conversions.  That's why Ann Coulter recommends it so highly.

4.  Yes, the French speakers would feel more home in Lousiana, but I think it will be good for the people of Alabama to learn to speak French, whether they want to or not.  And yes, some people will belong to more than one demographic group (for example, you can be a Libertarian party member AND Satanist), but you just have to choose which is more important to you.

5.  The Libertarians DO deserve a state, an untamed, out-of-the-way one.  One where they can roam wild and free, as nature intended.

6.  You're right--fair is fair, and if Weight Watchers get a state, so should Amway.  More about this later.

7.  About the Gold Gym's Religion: I think Weight Watchers will just have to be ecumenical about this, and tell its followers that working out is also a way to salvation. 
Now, let's hear some more comments.  This one is from Mark.
You lost me when i saw I'd have to live in Mississippi. mark h. 
Mark, you're now going to Idaho.  Sure, it's the same as Mississippi in many ways, but it does have nice mountains, good fishing, and world-famous potatoes.  If you don't like it, convert to nonreligion and you can live in Washington State, which has the Space Needle.
And here are a couple more comments, both addressing Amway:
I hate to admit it, but the Amway HQ is here in Michigan, so maybe they should be dual-religion too. With that said, I'm packing my bags for Pennsylvania. -- Jennifer 
Actually, since we've already got Evangelicals, having Amway would be redundant. However, so far as proselytizing faiths based on multi-tiered marketing schemes go, I think America could make room for the persecuted congregants of Herbalife. They are much like the Pilgrims, willing to endure scorn and privation so that their descendants will be free to worship the powdered weight loss product of their choice. I say we let them split Guam with the Hare Krishnas.  -- Scott
Jennifer and Scott, I gave the Amway matter much thought, and decided that they (and the plucky Herbalifers) should get a state to share.  But since there is currently much concern about the laid-off telemarketeers, done out of honest work by the "No Call" list, these unfortunates will be assimiliated into the Amway and Herbalife flocks, and together they will form a mighty pyramid scheme that will sell, sell, sell! to all the celebrities with summer homes in Montana.  (I'm counting on the nonreligious block to keep an eye on them, and keep them from spreading).   
But Scott has more excellent Constitutional points:
As for New Hampshire, they already have a state religion: a rock-worshipping faith similar to Roy Moore's, in which they venerate that granite face on the mountain. However, since their god recently fell down, the state is probably a pretty hospitable environment for atheism at the moment. Also, I think lapsed Catholics should get Vegas. -- Scott •  
1.  Scott, the atheists have been relocated to Idaho, and I'm not moving them again.  But you're right about the Royites deserving a Homeland, where they can worhip Rocks in peace.  I'm giving them South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore. 

2.  Lapsed Catholics ARE a substantial demographic group, much more significant than, say, Libertarian party members.  But Vegas, being part of Nevada, is awfully hot, and since most of them have deep-seated fears of burning in hell, caused by years of Catholic school, I don't think this would be a good place for them.  Plus, the Christians in CA would surely invade them, after they they were done conquering the neo-pagans and Wiccans.  So, I gave the lapsed Catholics someplace far away from the onward march of the Christian soldiers, and somewhere cool.
And last but not least, here's Tony:
Given that the Free State Project voted to move enmass to New Hampshire, perhaps the state religion should be Libertarian party members. Tony 
Yes, I think you're right.  They can run plenty wild and free in New Hampshire (and drive the pollsters crazy).  Consider it done.
Okay, with these changes made, and a few others that seemed appropriate, I give you:

The New Official State Religion List
1.  California:                    Christian 
2.  Texas:                          Football, Bushites
3.  New York:                    Protestant
4.  Florida:                        Catholic
5.  Illinois:                        Baptist
6. Pennsylvania:                "Born again" or "evangelical"
7. Ohio:                            Evangelical (theologically)
8. Michigan:                      Methodist  and United Methodist Church
9. New Jersey:                  Southern Baptist
10. Georgia:                      Judaism
11. North Carolina:          Sikhism, Mimes
12. Virginia:                     Presbyterian
13. Massachusetts:         Pentecostal
14. Indiana:                    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
15. Washington:              Non-religious
16. Tennessee:                gay/lesbian
17. Missouri:                    Episcopalian
18. Wisconsin:                 Lutheran, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
19. Maryland:                  Eastern Orthodox
20. Arizona                      Satanism (or Juche--they can have their pick)

21. Minnesota:                Buddhist
22. Louisiana:                 Non-denominational
23. Alabama:                   French speakers
24. Colorado:                  Megachurch attendance, Sports (non-football denomination)
25. Kentucky:                  Jehovah's Witnesses
26. South Carolina          United Church of Christ
27. Oklahoma:                Mennonite Church USA
28. Oregon:                    agnostic
29. Connecticut               Churches of Christ
30. Iowa:                        Hindu
31. Mississippi:               Baha'i
32. Kansas:                    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
33. Arkansas:                 Unitarian Universalist
34. Utah:                        Seventh-day Adventists
35. Nevada:                   Neo-pagan (incl. Wiccans)
36. New Mexico              Church of the Nazarene
37. West Virginia            Reformed Church in America (RCA)
38. Nebraska:                Zoroastrianism
39. Idaho:                      Atheists
40. Maine:                      Native American Religionists
41. New Hampshire:       Libertarian party members
42. Hawaii:                     Deism
43. Rhode Island:           Weight Watchers
44. Montana:                  Amway, Herbal Life, Telemarketers
45. Delaware:                Jedi
46. South Dakota:          Royites, Moonies.
47. North Dakota:          Zombies, Excommunicated Royites
48. Alaska:                     Lapsed Catholics
49. Vermont:                  Ba'al
50. District of Columbia: Primal-indigenous
51. Wyoming:                 Rastafarianism, Dittoheads
Guam:                           Up for Grabs: Best new religion takes it.

You have until January 1, 2004 to either convert to your current state's official religion, or to move to a state that suits you better.  And remember, since this plan was approved by David Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, you know it's Constitutional.  And good!