You’re going home.

Man, I’m looking forward to the end of “American Idol.” I don’t know how much more false empathy I can muster. Although the show has its entirely unexpected pleasures — Priscilla Presley being this week’s. I notice they never showed her in anything tighter than a long-medium shot, and that was a wise choice. She really is frightful-looking.

And what a tragedy. That woman was a rare beauty, and now…this. I’ve always thought being born beautiful was like being born rich — something over which you have no control, but unquestionably a real born-on-third-base deal. I know both situations have their downside, but ultimately, if you ask yourself, “Would I trade the set of problems attached to being rich/beautiful for the set of problems attached to being poor/ugly?” — the answer is obvious. Looks, like money, fade with time. Priscilla Presley’s 60 years old, a grandmother, financially fixed for this and five more lifetimes, has no discernible “career” to maintain, so, you know, come to terms with a few wrinkles. If you choose to turn yourself into The Joker, well, too bad.

And I can’t believe Chris went home last night. I had him at 5-2 to win the whole thing. Now it’s an Elliott/Taylor finale, IF THERE’S A JUST GOD IN THE HEAVENS, and we can all stop yakking about this in two weeks.

Someone else asked what I thought of “Big Love,” now that it’s in the homestretch. Verily, it hath grown on me. As a lifelong Midwesterner, where there are so few Mormons they’re probably outnumbered by Hare Krishnas, I find the look at that culture interesting. (Oh, I know that polygamy isn’t LDS-approved, not anymore; I’m talking about the general vibe.) I love the outfits, especially at the Compound. I’m queered by how barnyard-y the whole polygamous-in-the-suburbs scene is. But I like how the show, which I feared would ultimately sell polygamy as an alternative lifestyle, is pretty honest about how much it really sucks, along with whatever pleasures it might hold. Three squabbling women trying desperately to get the attention of the grumpy sperm fountain who lives among, but not with, any of them — it’s not my idea of family, but then, I’m no fundamentalist latter-day saint.

My favorite question about LDS was from the daffy wife in “Angels in America.” Paraphrasing, “If our divine angel was named Moroni, why are we Mormons? Why aren’t we Morons?”

Good question.

Posted at 10:15 am in Television |

34 responses to “You’re going home.”

  1. Danny said on May 11, 2006 at 11:07 am

    Nancy, have you ever read “Roughing It” by Twain? He has a few chapters dedicated to his travels in Utah back in the days of Brigham Young. It is a pretty hilarious account. And the book is very well worth reading for the rest of it too.

    For those of you not familiar, it is an autobiography, but embellished with some fiction and lots of humor. Twain puts it something like this: ‘In this book, I mostly tell the truth.’ Or something to that effect.

    A very worthy read. And especially for those of you with teenagers, it should hold their attention too.

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  2. 4dbirds said on May 11, 2006 at 11:21 am

    This blogging doc thinks Priscilla had a midface lift.

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  3. mary said on May 11, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer is a good read about Mormons and polygamy.

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  4. mary said on May 11, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    …and while I really don’t care at this point who gets kicked off AI, I’m pretty sick of the grey haired guy and his lame soul patrol stuff. I thought Chris was going to win. Right now I bet it will be Katharine.

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  5. ashley said on May 11, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Priscilla is a Scientologist. That can explain mondo-bizarre behavior (see: Cruise, Tom).

    More on her surgery:

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  6. brian stouder said on May 11, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    And speaking of Scientologists with bad plastic surgery, I was disappointed to learn that great Greta VanSusteren is a Scientologist, too.

    I always liked her, even after the semi-botched revamp of her visage…and I don’t want to be prejudiced – but dammit, that just crashed my opinion of her

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  7. Jeff said on May 11, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Far be it from a reader of Psalms and Leviticus to cast stones, but since someone else brought up Twain and “Roughing It,” that’s where he came up with the immortal line about “The Book of Mormon” — “chloroform in print.”

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  8. MarkH said on May 11, 2006 at 6:28 pm

    Having lived and worked among Mormons for the last 25 years out here, I can tell you that there is a lot of truth in Big Love. My wife’s first husband was Mormon, and Roman reminds all of us of his dad. Those feuds still go on in Utah, especially southern UT, and to a lesser degree, other concentrated Mormon enclaves in Idaho and Western Wyoming.

    For an extreme example of this sort of thing, go to the CourtTV website and look up Ervil Lebaron. Twisted, disgusting, evil and all true. Another good critical look at the LDS church is “The Godmakers”, by Ed Decker. Amazon has it.

    And, Ashley beat me to the punch! One of my favorite on-line guilty pleasure time wasters is It’s worth a visit once a month for updates. I’m waiting for the day they blow the lid off Tom Cruise’s enhancement. In the last 7-8 years he seems to have grown a new jaw chin. Compare him in Top Gun and Color of Money to his later films starting with Magnolia.

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  9. joodyb said on May 11, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    thanks for the luxurious and thought-provoking post.
    just as i am pondering the groundbreaking writing of “Big Love” and its fact/fantasy/behind-closed-doors exposition, Mormon “elders” visit me, for the first time in 15 years. (Our Dan Kelly refers to this as Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.) i wanted to invite them in, but they were about 13 (though their nametags proclaimed ELDER), and i didn’t think it would be fair to pick a fight with them.
    seriously: when a person young enough to be your grandchild tells you he possesses “information” that might be of help to you, and he tells you this despite the fact that you have never met before and he knows nothing about you or your life, isn’t it ok to tell him that you don’t have time to talk? because neither of them had a halo over their heads or radiated any kind of aura, and, besides, i really didn’t.
    they were surprised to learn, upon offering me a coupon for my own free copy of the Book of Mormon, that i already possess one.

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  10. Michael G said on May 11, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Just got back from down south. Earlier this afternoon, at Burbank Airport, I saw a plastic surgery queen. She seemed young: 30-35. She had on a low cut blouse that revealed too much of her implants. Her eyes had that cat’s eye effect that some of them get, her lips were grotesque, her nose was odd she had also had had something done to her jaw. Altogether the effect was very creepy. It was plainly all elective. There were no underlying defects from accident or whatever. Poor kid. She was a poster girl for plastic surgery abuse. Somebody should shoot her doc.

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  11. nancy said on May 11, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    I have no problems whatsoever with giving people the Heisman these days. I was always taught that pestering anyone, uninvited, about their religion was the height of rudeness. I know it’s what THEIR religion requires, but working odd hours these last couple of years, I’ve become very aware of phone calls and knocks on the door that interrupt my sleep.

    I used to say, “I already have a church home, thanks very much,” and sometimes these folks (not Mormons but pentecostals, mainly) would want to know the details. Now I just say, “Not interested” and close the door on them. The nerve.

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  12. nancy said on May 11, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    This is Lily Burana, writer and journalist. A few years ago, New York magazine sent her on look-sees with about a dozen plastic surgeons who advertise in their magazine (good for them) and only one, ONE, had the ethics to tell her she already looked like the “after” picture that any one of his clients would be thrilled to have, and sent her on her way.

    The rest told her they could fix, augment, lift, tone or shape this or that “flaw,” “imperfection” and “deformity.”

    Whenever I’ve talked to plastics as part of my own journalism, they all stress how they fix faces that go through windshields and rebuild breasts lost to cancer. All true. But someone is doing stuff like Priscilla’s Joker face, and you’d think their colleagues would call them on it. As if.

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  13. Connie said on May 11, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    Joodyb, were those elders your neighborhood Mormon missionaries? There are always a few around here, very recognizable as such. Especially when they are riding side by side on bikes wearing that black suit and white shirt. My friend tells a story about his son interviewing for a job with the IU Foundation which mostly involved calling alumni and asking for donations. One of the interview questions was: Are you able to handle rejection? His answer: I just spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Germany, I have lots of experience handling rejection.

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  14. Gene said on May 11, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    OK, this snippiness over Prescilla’s face must be a woman thing. She looks like any 60-year-old woman to me. Granted, a 60-year-old who can afford top of the line hair and makeup, but still. Isn’t comparing her to the Joker just a touch over the top?

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  15. brian stouder said on May 11, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    “Isn’t comparing her to the Joker just a touch over the top?”

    Nope. Mary Tyler Moore is another example; she was a beautiful woman in 1963, and she would be a beautiful woman now IF she hadn’t rearranged her facial flesh like a circus tent.

    We all know people who age gracefully; as Mother’s Day approaches I am reminded that my mom – and my mother-in-law, too – are both sublimely beautful women who wear their age with forthright dignity.

    What is to fear?

    If I had unlimited money, I would fear looking old and stupid, more than I would fear simply looking old

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  16. Gene said on May 11, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Eye of the beholder and all that. I guess I’m the only one here who doesn’t think she looks particularly odd or outlandish. I guess I was expecting a Phyllis Diller clone or something when I clicked over to the photos. I still say she looks like a rich 60-year-old woman. Since we have a lot of those here in DC/Northern Virginia, maybe I can’t see it any more, but I doubt it.

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  17. MarkH said on May 12, 2006 at 12:55 am

    More to Gene’s point, Priscilla’s work is obvious, but not near as radical as some others. As cosmetic surgery goes, she looks ok, sort of. At least someone may have said, “ENOUGH!”

    Mary Tyler Moore is (or was) married to a cosmetic surgeon, so that may explain the REPEATED procedures she has had. Look at pictures of her spread over previous decades and you’ll notice frequent (for cosmetic surgery) changes. Same with Barbara Walters. Take a look at her neck for true age reference.

    Personally, the idea scares the s**t outta me, and I wouldn’t risk it on an elective basis. I’m with Brian.

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  18. Maureen said on May 12, 2006 at 1:19 am

    I lived in Salt Lake for four years. It is really quite a fascinating place, and I could fill the page with Mormon stories. But the one that sticks in my mind is not of SLC at all. It was a feature in Sports Illustrated of some BYU football players. They had taken time out of their collegiate careers to go on a two year mission. One of them was assigned to what was considered the worst mission – Brazil. In a section of the piece titled, “The picture tells the story” there were two photos that have stuck with me for many years.

    The first was the belt of the formerly robust linebacker. As the parasites indigenous to the region took their toll on his G.I. track, he became progressively weaker and smaller. There was at least a foot of belt past the regular belt holes that had been jaggedly pieced with some sharp instrument to accommodate his shrinking body. The second was a truly classic picture – three gorgeous, tan, practically naked Brazilian young women staring and giggling at two absolutely rigid Missionaries who had their backs turned against that manifestation of the devil’s temptations.

    The poor, young LDS men sent there spent their days fighting on two fronts.

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  19. ashley said on May 12, 2006 at 1:57 am

    At this point, I have to put in a plug for Carl Hiaasen’s Skin Tight. Armando Flemm does a great expose on plastic surgery…or does he?

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  20. Kirk said on May 12, 2006 at 8:25 am

    i had to look at the “after” priscilla pictures for a while to figure out that i wasn’t looking at lisa marie

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  21. Dorothy said on May 12, 2006 at 8:43 am

    The rigidity of Priscilla’s face (and others like her who have undergone such procedures) is what appalls me. They stretch their skin to erase “laugh lines” or other such facial milestones, and then lose the ability to show any real emotion. It’s got to be pure vanity and fear of aging that drives people to this (not only women do this, you know). Mary Tyler Moore’s transformation is just so very sad. Can’t these people see what they really look like when they gaze into a mirror?!

    I agree with Brian about his mother and m-i-l. A person’s face is a reflection of who they are, inside and out, and the real beauty and truth of them shows in his or her face. To alter that is just a crime, to me. A sad and pathetic crime. It also seems like a sickness that they can’t control, like bulimia.

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  22. Danny said on May 12, 2006 at 9:44 am

    Far be it from a reader of Psalms and Leviticus to cast stones, but since someone else brought up Twain and “Roughing It,�? that’s where he came up with the immortal line about “The Book of Mormon�? — “chloroform in print.�?

    Jeff, thanks for that reminder. It has been a while since I read that book. A good one though. And I can agree with you about parts of Leviticus (Temple building comes to mind), but Pslams is a favorite of mine.

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  23. mary said on May 12, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Mary Tyler Moore’s husband is a cardiologist, not a plastic surgeon, but I bet he gets a courtesy rate from a colleague.

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  24. Dorothy said on May 12, 2006 at 10:57 am

    Yeah she met him when he was treating her mother years ago. He’s much younger than she is. Maybe that’s the motivation in her quest for a younger face?

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  25. Danny said on May 12, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Mary Tyler Moore’s husband is a cardiologist, not a plastic surgeon, but I bet he gets a courtesy rate from a colleague.

    Mary, no pressure, but just so you know, we at nn.c expect the entire backstory by this afternoon, since it is likely that this colleague is one of your neighbors.

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  26. nancy said on May 12, 2006 at 11:07 am

    It ain’t just the stretching, it’s the Botox, too. I read an interview with Martin Scorsese a few years ago where he said some actresses are simply off-limits for any part requiring them to show grief or anger, because everything above their noses was petrified. But they look great in those In Style layouts!

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  27. mary said on May 12, 2006 at 11:13 am

    She lives in NYC, so she probably used to be my neighbor before I moved to LA.

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  28. joodyb said on May 12, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Connie: My once blue-collar hood is the core of a Crosier parish – a turn-of-the-century Catholic church complete w/K-8 and the priest’s digs. full of desirable starter real estate for single wage-earner families with at least 3 kids. Mormons steered clear of it decades ago (though not the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the SDAs). Exurb tabernacles have sprung up at alarming rates.
    I was mostly taken aback at their immaturity. I saw no bikes (though that is common here too). They were in the standard short-sleeve white shirts, black ties and slacks. i knew who they were before they got to the door.
    when my college roommate’s sister joined the LDS, it became a sensation for us. her family was desperate to dissuade her from the move. Everyone did a lot of reading. there’s certainly a lot more to it than geneaology, the Choir and the Osmonds. ask the average citizen and that’s about the extent of it. of course, there is a reason for that, too.
    Oddest thing was that my new and somewhat jumpy dog did not bark at them.

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  29. Danny said on May 12, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Oddest thing was that my new and somewhat jumpy dog did not bark at them.

    Maybe you dog had LDS that day: Lazy Dog Syndrome

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  30. 4dbirds said on May 12, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    Not everyone can be Susan Sarandon and look great at 60. I think some modest plastic surgery CAN make one look better. I’ve been before and afters of lower face lifts where the neck and jowls are tightened up. Some nose jobs are good also. I think disaster happens when the eyes are fooled around with. Unless there is hanging skin preventing one from seeing, most should leave their eyes alone.

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  31. 4dbirds said on May 12, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    My kids all know that they are out of the will if they become Mormons. Yes it is petty and silly of me, but it is my (modest amount of) money and I’m not letting the LDS church get a single cent of it.

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  32. Michael G said on May 12, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    I looked great at 60. Still do. Heh, heh, heh.

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  33. mary said on May 12, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    I think the nose job, lip inflation combo looks bad. There’s too much space between the nose and the upper lip, and it somehow makes the middle part of the face look a little caved in.

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  34. MarkH said on May 12, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    I (humbly) stand corrected on the mis-statement of Dr. Robert Levine’s medical specialty. He is indeed a cardiologist, and they met while he treated her mother. FACT CHECK, PLEASE!:)

    But, I would think a courtesy discount applied….

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