You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Fell Beast, The Wiccan and the Possessed Cupboard

There are some who say...that The Chronicles of Narnia are an allegory of the Chrsitian story, and embody many positive virtues...but The Last Trumpet does not think so.

I could write endlessly on such material, but instead, I will draw the reader's attention to the author's address ...
Beaver Dam, WI 53916.

As we all know, Beavers are represented in the Narnia source material, but have been toned down and sanitised for younger audiences, but the careful and astute reader will knoiw what Beavers really mean.

The use of the beaver as a place name is surely a sign of influence by demonic forces, as beavers must certainly symbolise those who work at undermining God's true law - and do their work underwater - a short move away from being UPSIDE DOWN - AND they build lodges, like Masons. Evil, evil I say!

Let us not forget that it is the Beavers in Lewis' work who suggest that Aslan is "not a tame lion". In the light of the Last Trumpet ministries reconstuction of Aslan as Satan instead of the commonly (erroroneosly) held belief that he is a Christ-figure, the reader is invited to draw their own conclusions as to what not being a "tame lion" means. Let us not forget the warning of Peter Tthe Apostle, who writes, "
Be sober, vigilant, because your opponent the devil, as a roaring lion, doth walkabout, seeking whom he may swallow up." 1 Peter 5:8



The story of the Narnian Chronicle known as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of clandestine occult mysticism and is not Sunday School material unless your Sunday School is a defacto witch coven. The story involves a child from the normal everyday or mundane world. This girl, Lucy, who hides in a wardrobe as she is playing a game, suddenly finds herself transported to another world very unlike her own. It is a world of intelligent, talking animals and strange creatures. The little girl soon finds herself having tea with a faun. In witchcraft and ancient Roman pagan mythology, a faun is any of a group of rural deities, which have the bodies of men and the horns, ears, tails, and legs of a goat. The Roman god Faunus was also the god of nature and fertility and was connected to sexual lust. Here let it be noted that in the Narnian Chronicle Prince Caspian, this same strange land the little girl finds herself in is also populated by gods and goddesses; such as Bacchus, the god of drunken orgies, and the Maenads, who were frenzied women driven to madness in the orgiastic cult of Bacchus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Federation to attack the Dominion?

No, not that Dominion:

November 24, 2005 – A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three non-governmental organisations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics – relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr Hellyer and these organisations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilisations that may now be visiting Earth.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: “UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head.”

Mr Hellyer went on to say, “I’m so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something.”

Hellyer revealed, “The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of US officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop.”

Hellyer warned, “The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, “The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.”

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, “The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today.” ...

- Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked [sic] To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien “ET” Civilisations', Yahoo News (Thursday 24 November, 7:00 AM ET

Boy, Canadians are lucky their politics aren't controlled by credulous fundo hicks, like in the Great Wasteland to the south...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"They sang as they slew..."

Some grumblings at Amy Wellborn's blog:

"The many children in the cinema actually burst out laughing when the older sister finally shot an arrow and killed the dwarf about to axe her injured brother. Why did they laugh?"

And ditto with Rock Wren:

"The most troubling scene for me was near the end when Susan, in some nod to feminism outside the text of the book, took up her bow and killed the Witch's drawf as it tried to crush Edmund (or Peter, I forget which). The children in the theater, mine included, laughed as the drawf fell over dead with an arrow in his chest. He was a mean and unlikeable character, but it bothered me that kids laughed at the death and that Susan appeared to have no remorse or tears or pain at having to take a life, even if it was a just killing."

Very anti-Lewisian, no? Ad fontes, citoyens!

"War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken. What I cannot understand is this sort of semi-pacifism you get nowadays which gives people the idea that though you have to fight, you ought to do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it. It is that feeling that robs lots of magnificent young Christians in the [Armed] Services of something they have a right to, something which is the natural accompaniment of courage – a kind of gaiety and wholeheartedness."
- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book Three ("Christian Behaviour: The Three Parts of Morality")

Thursday, December 08, 2005

iPod Chav

Will we see the next episode of 'A Current Affair" focusing on dodgy builders, diet pills, and iPod wearing lower socio-economic class bevans (Aussie slang for the UK's "Chav")? Maybe...

iPod shuffle is top Chav Gadget

Put on your Burberry scarf and switch on your iPod Shuffle. While the iPod nano may be the king of cool, a panel of the UK’s top gadget experts and the staff of Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny have voted its budget sibling the iPod shuffle this year’s ‘Must Chav Gadget.’

'The shuffle is perfect for chavs,' said the judge's citation. 'It’s cheap. It’s by a cool brand, and you can let others know you have one as it is designed to be worn round your neck. As it is white it also accessorises well with those classy gold chains Chavs wear.

The sad part is that the shuffle is the worst player in the Apple range – more like some dodgy back street knock-off than the excellent other iPods. The fact it has no screen so you can’t program it or choose a track – it chooses the music for you – also saves Chav brain cells for the much more important business of, ahem, ‘pimping their rides.’

Runner up in Chav Gadget of the year is the ultra skinny Motorola phone the RAZR. 'Once the height of cool, this has now become standard fixture for every Tom Dick and Chav. Motorola has done it pink, maybe they should be thinking of a Burberry version.'

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nicolae'd and Dimed

LISA SIMPSON: Dad, we love you, but we just don't think the world is coming to an end. Yet.

BART SIMPSON: Sure, in a hundred years, global warming-- we're goners, but for now, do you think you could lighten up on this "Left Below" stuff?

Slate recently published Grady Hendrix's review of the "Left Behind" movies. Now, I haven't seen any of these because I live outside the Deep South of the USA and my local video stores don't stock any of these opus-es. And every attempt I've made to actually read a LB book has failed: I have a princess-and-the-pea-like intolerance for corny writing. So Hendrix can blast LB all he likes for its hokey dialogue, its plot twists, and its espousal of Dispensationalism in contravention of ye plain and perspicuous teaching of Scripture.

But GH does make three (3) unfair criticisms, though:

[1] Low budget

"... While each installment's budget is estimated to be around $17.4 million, I think that number might be off by $16 million or so. In Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, for example, Kirk Cameron has to take Ben Judah, a respected rabbi, to the Wailing Wall so that he can tell Jews everywhere that Jesus Christ is Lord. Israel is represented by a few stone walls obviously made of plywood, some Christmas-tree lights, and 500 volunteer extras wearing leftover costumes from a Nativity pageant. The Wailing Wall is patrolled by soldiers dressed in World War II army uniforms. The producers have also dubbed in the sound of goats during scenes set in downtown Jerusalem, which leads to the unusual notion that modern-day Israel is populated by WWII re-enactors, nervous-looking people in bathrobes, and goats. In low-budget movies there are just some things that you can't portray convincingly..."

Okay... so Dogville and Edward II were bad movies then, because of their low-budget, unconvincing sets? Or do they get a pass because their ideological message is more with-it?

[2] Bad guys

"... The United Nations can't even take a leadership role in getting rid of its parking tickets, but in the "Left Behind" universe, the UN wants nothing more than to disarm the world's armies, eliminate famine, and bring about a global peace. This, confusingly, makes them the bad guys...."

You would think anyone allowed to publish articles in Slate would have first been made to write out, four or five hundred times, "REMOVING SADDAM FROM POWER WAS A GOOD THING BUT THAT DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE IRAQ INVASION". Ends, means, etc.

[3] Switching actors

But the dumbest criticism of all is...

"Did the [producers] really think no one would notice that they've replaced Clarence Gilyard, a black actor who played a resistance minister in both previous movies, with a totally different black actor? Do they think that all black actors look alike?"

Oh, those horrible, racist fundamentalists! -- Not. Duh. Film series-es change actors all the time, for all sorts of reasons: actors die, or fall out with the director, or fall pregnant, or whatever. "The Oracle" in The Matrix, for one. "Lady Jessica Atreides" in the Dune and Children of Dune mini-series-es, for another. You want a white Anglo-male as proof? Batman, played by no fewer than four different actors in the past 16 years, three of them in the same franchised series.

So do movie producers think Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney all look alike, then? Did they think we wouldn't notice if Michael Gambon substitutes for the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore? Get real.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI - The greatest postmodern art film ever

Interesting (if a little excitable) article about Star Wars and Po-mo on MSN's Slate. Quote:

"With the release of Episode III Revenge of the Sith on DVD today, George Lucas' audience can finally see all six Star Wars films back-to-back, as a single text. This is how Lucas himself regards the series, often joking that, including his 1973 hit American Graffiti, he has made only three movies in his career. One of the surprises in store after a marathon viewing is how much of the young Lucas, the self-conscious avant-gardist of THX1138, is actually visible onscreen, peeking out from behind the endless sequences of digitally enhanced space battles and ritualized light-saber duels. Looking at these familiar films with fresh eyes, unfiltered by the lens of nostalgia and sentiment—and it was, admittedly, a resonant moment this summer to watch the final episode with my father, who had taken me to see the original film in 1977 when I was 8—we start to see just how deeply weird they really are. Three decades on, the kids who grew up playing with Luke Skywalker action figures and carrying Princess Leia lunchboxes may be startled to discover that Star Wars is really just one big elephantine postmodern art film." ...more

I enjoyed this - quite a good analysis - except - in my opinion, the author is reading a little too much order into Lucas' chaotic, inconsistent and downright bizarro work. Many "postmodernists" celebrate Star Wars precisely because it is so incoherent - the post modern identy on celuloid, if you will. And what of the argument that no work has a single, controlling author - not just books, whose authors are embedded in their socio-cultural mileau, but also films, the products of many, many hands and thousands of hours of labour (and in the case of the costumers on LOTR, unpaid).

All narrative is heavily dependent on "coincidence"- the clumsy author demonstres a lack of skill by having them shine like beaconss, the better author makes them seem more plausible. Think of the many "coincidences" in the narrative of your own life. Jung didn't invent the term "synchronicity" for nothing! That's what makes a fictional coincidence plausible (it resembles what may happen in real life) rather than a giant leap of logic that's impossible to swallow (ala Lucas).

An audience can only suspend disbelief on so many fronts. Talking robots, flying cars, intergalactic space battles, sure, but Luke Skywalker crashing his plane directly opposite Yoda's hut of Dagobah? Come on! What are the odds? Maybe that's why many "conventional" film reviewers reject much of what passes as science fiction - too narratively implausible, rather than imaginatively outrageous.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Episode III DVD

I have received the most recent "Homing Beacon", promoting the latest release of the (hopefully last) Star wars movie on DVD (Epidoes III of VI, of course!).

With interst I saw that Lucas had decided to include

" a brand-new full-length documentary produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. as well as two new featurettes -- one that explores the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One, and the other that looks at the movie's amazing stunts. "

The real amazing stunt is how Lucas got his audience to swallow the prophecy line. Maybe this was the footage edited out of the movies that helped them all make sense - instead we had lingering scenes of Tatooine's twin suns melting into the horizon, more steely glares and pouts from Hayden Christiansen than we care to remember, and a hundred gazillion costume changes for poor Natalie Portman, along with some stupid droid sub-plot / backstory that went nowhere and added nothing.

George, a reminder from one of your now less-strong-with-the-force fans: story is at the heart of a movie, and science fiction movies demand this probably more than any other as there is so much disbelief to suspend. A prophecy about a boy conceived by midi-chlorians, conjured by Darth Sidious using the 11 secret herbs and spices recipe of Darth Sanders, is pretty central to an understanding of how the first three films tie together. Not backstory material. Unless, George, you are planning a Tolikienesque Silmarillion pre-prequel, with Eldar, Istar and Numenorians.

Too bad I'll have to be springing for the $30 needed to buy this so I can finally make sense of the previous $300 I have already thrown at the movies, DVDs books and games. Let's hope it's all been worth it. Maybe the prophecy will tell me to hand over my bank account details to George Lucas. Already done.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005


Chavista? A female, Hispanic-heritage inspired Chav, no?

Check out this ad image as seen on the Green Left weakly site (copied to google for reference but available here):

Note the writing on the headband "CHAVISTA" - (David Attenborough voice) "...although the hair-style and clothing do not resemble any yet known descriptions of Chavs, perhaps we have a new, sub-grouping here, as yet undiscovered by Science."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Do As Thou Wilt, But Harm None

Robert Kiley owns, he claims, upwards of 30 firearms. (They're in storage.) He smokes marijuana at night to help himself fall asleep, and to ease the pain, he says, of a herniated disk. [...] Kiley, age 54, is a libertarian living in federally subsidized housing, in the McQueeney Apartments on Orange Street. [...]

- "The Kiley Factor: 7th ward independent aldermanic candidate Robert J. Kiley brings his libertarian message to the masses", New Haven Advocate (6 October 2005)

CHEYENNE, Wyoming – After attempting to contain a living-room blaze started by a cigarette, card-carrying Libertarian Trent Jacobs reluctantly called the Cheyenne Fire Department Monday. “Although the community would do better to rely on an efficient, free-market fire-fighting service, the fact is that expensive, unnecessary public fire departments do exist”, Jacobs said. “Also, my house was burning down”. Jacobs did not offer to pay fire-fighters for their service.

- “Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department”, The Onion, Vol 40 No 16 (21 April 2004)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Axel-rods and broomsticks

Some years ago, I read that PL (Pamela) Travers, author of the much-loved Mary Poppins, was born in the town of Maryborough (pronounced "Merraburra"), in south-east Queensland.

Knowing the politics of that town, I got wondering about how Disney’s classic cartoon musical might have been different had Ms Travers lived in Maryborough her entire life...

Super one-world-government will one day try enslave us
Sex Ed. (with no carols) in our schools will soon deprave us
Pauline and the Freedom Scouts with axle-rods must save us
Super one-world-government will one day try enslave us
[umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye… umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye…]

Because I voted Whitlamite when I was but a youth
I sold our nation into debt and helped to hide The Truth
About the Holocaust and how the Jews had faked the whole thing
And Hitler was a "Socialist", which means that he was left-wing
[umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye… umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye…]

I’ve lectured all around the Downs, and everywhere I went
I met a lot of single men whose anger up is pent
Your good old Aussie bloke without a ponytail’s distraught
They took away his kids, so now he’ll bomb the Family Court
[umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye… umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye…]

Our Constitution shan’t be changed by Canberra, but the facts is
Since 1920 it’s been void, so you need pay no taxes
When kooks and self-styled colonels pass the time of day with me
I give my URL to tell them who shot Kennedy
[umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye… umm-diddle-iddle-iddle, umm-diddle-eye…]

"Guilfuss went down to Victoria..."

John Moe has "Thirty-nine Questions For Charlie Daniels Upon Hearing 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' for the First Time in 25 Years" (link via Eugene Volokh).

This got me a-fixin' to dig up the following, composed in honour of a legendary gun-lobbyist from North Queensland, possibly one of the very few English-Mass-will-do-at-a-pinch-but-the-Latin-Mass-is-the-real-deal Catholics in the world who regards the UK's 1688 Bill of Rights - Article 7 and all - as sacro-bloody-sanct. If you can imagine "The Man From Ironbark" being filmed by director John Milius, you're part of the way to picturing Guilfuss.

Well, Guilfuss went down to Victoria – he was lookin’ for a place to rent, see
But this cove he’d picked as a fellow Mick, he turned out to be a closet Pentie
Al’s tone was curt ‘cuz he was huntin’ skirt, and was willing to risk great harms
To hisself and his heart, just to get a fresh start, in his quest for the Right Two Bare Arms

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
“This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria…”

So Al sought a lass at a Charo Mass, but turned out 'twas a Commo trap
He thought: “Them sheilas, they’re all feelers, and they’d just give a bloke the ‘clap
I been hoping to share in (and stock up my merit with) some transubstantiation
But the only good work takin’ place in this kirk is a heap a’ self-flagellation..."

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria…”

As Al looked around he scowled, and he growled to himself: "This mob are loonier
Than some ABC journo who’d fawn over Kernot but mock Bob Katter Junior
If them PC jerks invade me Church, then it’s b*** well time to tell them
That they’d best think again or they’ll soon see their heads on spikes next ter Johnny Calvin’s..."

So Albert waxed his pencil-mo and drew his breath in hard
"Ter say the least, yer parish priest seems just a mere Lollard
It's time ter fight, like Menzies savin' Aussie from ther Huns
'Cos if we lose, the Feds'll take our guns..."

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria..."

Well, you’ve heard about Christ in the Temple – now, here’s the latter days’ own sequel
For Jesus, he lived long before Sam Colt made all men equal
And a whip would sound kinky for Al, don’t you think? He’d prefer a more... Tradition-al solution
So fired off a blast from his .303 when they started Third Rite Absolution...

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria..."

Once he’d got their attention, Al went to the pulpit and announced: "Time to hear some new sermons!
Yuz are pawns in a plot stretchin’ back to the Thirties, when the Jews took the guns off the Germans
Yuz are richly blessed with two Rights already – the Right to Bear Arms and Stay Silent
So if yuz get greedy and want a Third Rite… well, yuz leave us no choice but turn violent."

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria..."

"If yuz let ’em ban guns from yer churches, I fear, yuz’ll really be past any hope
Next they’ll want to abolish yer common-law right to directly elect yer own Pope
Yuz of course know the Third Great Commandment Christ left: 'Never yield up thy gun or munition'
And yer got no excuse to ignore this command, since it doesn’t conflict with Tradition..."

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria..."

Al said: "Ask the Pope – this ain’t no Oprah
Show with no rovin' mike
So don’t go teary on us, dearie
I don’t care if that’s what yuz like…
Yuz see what I drive at? Faith should be private,
Between a person and his or her God
And if yuz don’t yet profess this, yuz’ll b*** soon confess this
In an audience with me cattle-prod..."

[CHORUS:] Fire on the Proddoes – run, Prods, run
Al’s on the prowl with a big-bore gun
"This ancient Faith ain’t no Catholic cafeteria
Where yuz kin choose à la carte to partake a’ Mass hysteria..."

Monday, October 17, 2005

UN 1, Smurfs 0

How they annihilated the Smurfs

By David Rennie
October 9, 2005

THE people of Belgium are reeling at the first adults-only episode of The Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The short but chilling film is the work of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement.

The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo".

Belgian TV viewers had a preview of the 25-second film last week, when it was shown on the main evening news. Reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw it by accident, wailing terror.

UNICEF and the family company IMPS, which controls rights to the Smurfs, have stipulated that it is not to be broadcast before 9pm.

The short film pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing hand-in-hand around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter by and rabbits gambol about their village until, without warning, bombs rain from the sky.

Smurfs scatter and run before being felled by blast waves and explosions. The final scene shows a scorched Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably.

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."

I was just thinking this morning what UNICEF UK or Australia or US might do to shock the viewers out of their complacency towards innocent victims of war-like aggression.

In Australia, we might see Blinky Bill, Angelina Wallaby, Mrs Magpie and Jacko the Kookaburra on holidays in a Bali nightclub and getting blown to bits by a suicide bomber. Not once, but twice.

In the UK, we might see the Teletubbies on the Tube and Bob the Builder on the Number 26 Bus getting blown to smithereerns - also by a suicide bomber.

In the US, we would see the Simpsons take a family holiday to New York, and Homer racing up to the top of both Twin towers to use a toilet, only to die in an incendiary of avgas as a suicide pilot slams a planeload of a passengers into the side of the building.

Yes, war is hard on the little ones.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chapter Eight: Chiefly Concerning Rilstone, Rilian and Jahiliyah

Andrew Rilstone is mildly optimistic about the forthcoming Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie, but Mark Shea is less sanguine:

Shea here with today’s “Uh oh”. The director of the forthcoming The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe holds forth: "So I’ve really tried to make the story about a family which is disenfranchised and disempowered in World War II, that on entering Narnia, through their unity as a family become empowered at the end of the story. It’s really bringing the humanity of the characters into what is effectively a symbolic story."

Yeah. That’s Lewis alright: asserting the power of human potential to save ourselves though the mutual affirmation of our Us-ness. This remind me of Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, and Sean Astin explaining how the Lord of the Rings is really an anti-war film. Uh huh. My hope remains in the fact that artists often don’t really understand their own work and that the director, after saying all this dumb crap about Narnia, will still manage to make a good film that he himself does not understand. It happens. Peter Jackson, after all, declared he had no interest whatever in the Catholic theology that informed Lord of the Rings. But he still managed to make a deeply Catholic film. The Spirit blows where it will.

Apart from one minor quibble (any story whose central message is "Yes, it may be a beautiful thing made of fine gold; and maybe the idea of unifying the whole world under one leader is well-intentioned; but the fact remains that it was made by the bad guys and remains evil, so you must cast it into the fire" is not "deeply" Catholic, whatever Professor Tolkien's subjective intentions), I agree with Mark.

Shrekboy's interpretation of the message of The Cat, the Conjuress and the Cupboard is deeply fatuous. So fatuous, in fact, that -- ultimate insult here -- it reminds me of Homer Simpson. (Homer: "I’m going to take revenge on that bear!" Lisa: “Dad! You can’t take revenge on an animal. That’s the message of Moby-Dick!” Homer, patronisingly: “No, Lisa. The message of Moby-Dick is: ‘Be Yourself’.”)

I wonder whether Adamson & co plan to film all seven Narnia stories? Of course, true Ludovician fans will remember that LW&W has been filmed before, most memorably by the BBC in 1988. (I also once caught a bad American cartoon version of it on TV one lo-o-o-ong 24 December, years ago). In fact, the BBC went further and turned three other Narnia books into telemovies: Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair.

Now this raises a puzzle and, as Professor Digory Kirk would say: Dear me, why don’t we use logic to figure out the answer. Why did the Beeb film only four of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books? Why not go for the full seven? It’s not as if they could have reasonably feared that kids wouldn’t want to watch the other three: anyone who likes one Narnia book will usually like all of them, not necessarily with equal intensity, but certainly no one can love one book and detest another: all are of roughly equal quality, unlike (say) the Dune and Star Wars sagas.

What’s that you say? The BBC’s special effects budget ran out after filming four books and they couldn’t have kept up paying for the high quality of special effects shown on the first four telemovies? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… Excuse me while I compose myself.

No, I subscribe to a different theory. What’s the common thread that links two of the three Narnia books – The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, and The Last Battle – that the Beeb didn’t put on screen? Hmmm… Let's see...

(1) Because none of those three books feature Prince/King Caspian? It’s true the Beeb did film all three of the books that show Narnia under Middle Telmarine Dynasty rule, with Caspian as a boy, a young man, and finally an old man. It’s true he’s not in LW&W, but it’s pretty much non-negotiable that if you’re going to film any Narnia book, you must start with LW&W or at least get around to it later. But I can’t see any reason why the Beeb’s governors would say “We’re only going to film Lion plus the Narnia stories that include Caspian.” He’s hardly the most compelling character in the saga, and in Silver Chair he appears only in passing, and largely as an aged, tragic figure.

(2) Because Magician’s Nephew and Last Battle depict the Creation of Narnia and its Armageddon, respectively, they would cost a fortune in special effects to produce…? Well, maybe. But this is the BBC -- see above. If Tri-Star Columbia Pictures can manage a decent-looking Pegasus for their trailers, surely the BBC could handle Fledge. Nor would the apocalyptic ending of Narnia be much harder. Lewis practically hands them this one: the dinosaurs and dragons eat up the trees "as if they were sticks of rhubarb". Do nip down to t' corner shop and get us five sticks of rhubarb and three rubber dinosaurs, eh loov?

(3) Because Magician’s Nephew and Last Battle depict the Creation of Narnia and its Armageddon, respectively, they’re the most explicitly “religious” of the books...? Hmmm. But what about Horse then? Nonetheless, I think we’re getting warmer…

(3) Because The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle depict Calormenes. And usually not very favourably. Bingo, I'd say.

Now, of course we're shown good Calormenes too. Aravis becomes a naturalised Narnian by marriage, and Emeth finds he’s been a Rähner-style “anonymous Aslanite” during all his years of serving Tash. Even Calormene villains have some admirable qualities, in their own villainous way; Lewis emphasises that Rishda Tarkaan is brave in battle, and that Prince Rabadash despises the fawning flattery of his father’s vizier. Compared to how Lewis depicts his fellow Britons (see, for example, Uncle Andrew, or for that matter most of Lewis' villains in That Hideous Strength), the Calormenes come off fairly well.

Nonetheless, the Calormenes are most undoubtedly Middle Easterners. They dress like Arabs, Persians or Turks; they carry curved scimitars and round shields; their currency is called the “crescent.” A few of Lewis’ descriptions of them, mainly centering on their food tastes (“in Calormen, you nearly always get oil instead of butter..." and "smelling of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces...") do go over the top, and modern reprints of Horse and Last Battle could perhaps (if Douglas Gresham and Walter Hooper agreed) omit these few brief passages with no loss to any reader. However, one of the more criticised descriptions of the Calormenes – as “Darkies” – should remain, since Lewis puts it in the mouths of the uncouth and chauvinistic Dwarfs. That Griffle, Duffle and co are rude to everyone (even Jill, Lucy, and Aslan) makes it consistent for them to use a moderately offensive epithet for dark-skinned people. (I say “moderately” only because, if someone wanted to seriously insult a dark-skinned person, a lot of other words would be more insulting than “Darkies”).

However, what must be noted is that although the Calormenes are Middle Easterners, they are not Muslims. In particular, their religion -- the cult of Tash-worship -- is almost diametrically anti-Muslim, even more (if that were possible) than it is anti-Christian. We learn that Calormene temples have statues of Tash and altars on which they sacrifice men to him. All of these central elements of Tash-worship are not just absent from Islam but particularly abhorred by it. Indeed, Muslims often criticise the Christian doctrine of the Atonement as being too close to “human sacrifice” for Islam’s liking.

Lewis would have known about this, and presumably did intend this. If he had really wanted to make the Calormene religion stand in the same relation to Narnian Aslan-devotion as Islam stands to Christianity in our world, he would, for example, have had the Calormenes worship a god who was stern but unbendingly just: one who would never have offered his innocent self as substitute victim for a guilty traitor like Edmund. The Calormenes would consider it insufferable blasphemy for the Narnians to insist that the Emperor-Over-Sea himself had walked among them in the physical form of a lion.

Lewis only mentioned Islam a few times in his theological writings, not exactly positively but with a certain degree of respect for what it did and did not profess to be:

If you had gone to Socrates and asked, “Are you Zeus?” he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, “Are you Allah?” he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. -- “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” Rep in Walter Hooper (ed) God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (London, Collins).

This “natural religion”, [some] maintained, had been vitiated by superstition and dogma] and the late HG Wells. But where are the saints, the consolations, the ecstasies? The greatest of such attempts was that simplification of Jewish and Christian traditions which we call Islam. But it retained many elements which [his debating opponent] Professor [HH] Price would regard as mythical and barbaric, and its culture is by no means one of the richest or most progressive." -- "Religion Without Dogma?" (1946), rep in Walter Hooper (ed) Compelling Reason: Essays on Ethics and Theology (London, HarperCollins, 1996), p 100.

And even by implication:

"If all this West part of the world is apostate, might it not be lawful, in our great need, to look farther... beyond Christendom? Should we not find some even among the heathen who are not wholly corrupt? There were tales in my day of some such: men who knew not the articles of our most holy Faith, but who worshipped God as they could and acknowledged the Law of Nature. Sir, I believe it would be lawful to seek [their] help..." -- Merlin, in That Hideous Strength (London, Bodley Head, 1946), p 293.

Furthermore, Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments by Lewis' wife Joy Davidman – a book that seems clearly influenced by Lewis, particularly in its style – gives Islam a surprsingly positive mention in its chapter on monotheism:

“HEAR, O ISRAEL; The Lord our God is one Lord!” What a surprise! What an incredible thing to say! Everyone knew that the universe was a wild and chaotic thing, a jungle of warring powers... There was a god of the spring planting and another god of the harvest... Now along comes a fool, from an insignificant tribe of desert wanderers, and shouts that all these processes are one process from a single source, that the obvious many are the unthinkable One! Whoever he was, he shouted it so loud that it has echoed down all the time. From the minarets where the muezzin cries that God is God; from the synagogues where the cantor calls in sonorous and unchanged Hebrew; from the churches of Christendom, the voice is the same, and the word the same. The universe is one process, created by one Maker. -- Chapter One, "God Comes First", p 21.

There are two opposing ways Christians can interpret the fact that Calormene religion is far more evil, by Aslanite standards, compared to Aslan-ism than Islam is, by Christian standards, compared to Christianity.

The first way is to hold that Tash-ism is what Islam is really like. Certainly there are many Christians who would not hesitate to assert bluntly that Allah, the God of the Muslims, is no true [G]od, but rather a demon or at best an illusion. Those who take this negative interpretation would read Lewis as saying that, whatever Muslims may claim (or even think), Islam is really a religion of idol-worship and human blood-sacrifice. (Other Christians, by contrast, would concede that Muslims worship the same God as Christians do, but have missed the subtleties of His true character: like someone who, from distance or poor eyesight, thinks that a cluster of three lights is really one single light, or that a triangular shape is really a circle.)

This first interpretation would be appealing to many Christians, especially evangelicals. However, I can guarantee that no movie of The Horse and His Boy or The Last Battle that depicts Calormene Tash-worship as thinly disguised Islam is going to get produced, released or screened in the foreseeable future. The era of pre-September 11 films (True Lies, The Siege) with Middle Eastern and/or Muslim villains (who generally are allowed a few minutes of screen-time to rail at the hypocrisy of the West -- "you call us terrorists, yet you bomb women and children!" etc -- before the hero dispatches them) is now officially over.

A second, more positive interpretation would acknowledge that the Calormenes are Middle Easterners, but make it quite clear that they are not Muslims. There is even a way the producers could work this, quite handily, into the script, early on. (I offer this suggestion free of charge and with all copyright claims forever waived and renounced. You can include my name in the credits…)

The idea is that a sympathetic Calormene character – possibly Aravis in Horse, since that book comes earlier in the Chronicles both in Narnian time and in ours than does Last Battle – explains how the Calormenes came from our world to the Narnian universe. There is a precedent for this in the last chapter of Prince Caspian, where Aslan explains how the Telmarines originated. So: Aravis, or else Emeth, gives the Narnians some back-story along the following lines:

“We of Calormen have always worshipped Tash, not only because we fear him but also because his wings shelter us and his claws drive away our enemies. We were once his followers in another world, in a city where his temple held a golden statue of him twenty feet tall. But one day a man and his followers conquered our city, and smashed all our statues, and forbade us to bow any more before Tash, or before any other god but one we could not see. So in obedience to our lord and protector, we fled into the desert beyond our city. Tash in his mercy led us to a cave and to a gap between rocks that was a doorway between that world and this. After we passed through that gap, it closed. In this world we have built many cities, conquered many provinces, and prospered as a great empire, all under the protection of Tash.”

So: a spiel something like this would establish that the Calormenes are not Muslims, nor descendants of Muslims, but descendants of the Meccan polytheists and idolaters who were driven out by the conquering armies of Muhammad. Tash is not a thinly-disguised Allah, but one of the demonic small-G gods whose temples and statues the Muslims destroyed. No Muslim could reasonably object to such a harsh portrayal of their own pre-Islamic history, the pagan era that Muslims themselves dismiss as Jahiliyah, ie, “ignorance” or “barbarism.” (That won't guarantee, of course, that no Muslims will in fact object, but this way the onus will be on the objectors to prove "anti-Muslim prejudice", despite the producers clearly offering an olive branch by making the Narnians’ enemy the same as their Prophet’s enemy.)

Granted, this would involve a slight deviation, not from any of the "scriptures" once and for all by Lewis delivered, but from his "apocrypha": in an unpublished timeline that Lewis prepared for his own use as author, he apparently wrote that "Calormen [was] created in Narnian year 204, when outlaws from Archenland flee south across the desert and set up the kingdom". [UPDATE: sorry, that URL is now as dead as Charn's pool in the Wood Between the Worlds. I saved that article and its URL to disc back in 1999. UPDATE TO UPDATE: Wikipedia reprints Lewis' Narnian timeline here. Thanks to Thorley Winston.] But with all respect to the master, my interpretation is more plausible. If Archenlanders -- who are presented as first cousins of Narnians, and co-descendants of King Frank and Queen Helen, an English cabbie and his English wife -- did ever fall into paganism, they would have evolved a religion far more akin to Norse Odinism than to Islam.

PS 1: Curiously, Aslan [H]imself uses the temple and altar of Tash as the objective instrument for Prince Rabadash's release from his metamorphosis into a donkey...

PS 2: And yes, I acknowledge that my "No one wants to film Narnian stories that depict the evil Calormenes as Muslims" theory doesn't explain why the Beeb omitted The Magician's Nephew. Fear of cruelty to guinea-pigs, perhaps?

PS 3: [UPDATE: At GetReligion, Doug LeBlanc quotes Ross Douthat's piece "The Apocalypse, Rated PG" in the May '05 Atlantic Monthly (subscription required):

... A successful Lion would also mean that [the films' bankroller, reclusive Christian billionaire Philip] Anschutz could start gearing up for the next six Narnia movies — probably culminating around 2015 or so with The Last Battle, a Narnian Armageddon that features Muslim-like villains; subtle riffs on faith, atheism, and damnation; and a decidedly biblical Last Judgment. It’s the best children’s story about the Apocalypse ever written, and it might just be the movie that Philip Anschutz was born to make...]

PS 4: Thanks to Kathryn B for a perceptive comment. There is one other way, of course, by which the filmmakers could depict Calormenes without provoking a response somewhere between The Siege and The Satanic Verses, and that's the "Everett McGill/ Steven Berkoff" gambit -- to have the Tisroc, Rabadash, Arsheesh, Ahoshta, Rishda Tarkaan, Emeth, et al, played by WASP actors who don't look OMEA in the slightest. The Steven Berkoff Fremen are not only all Caucasians (okay, Chani is played by a Hungarian actress, but that’s about as exotic as they get), but their Muad’Dib cult has a temple... with priests... and giant, faux-Coruscant (or faux-Helsinki) human statues adorning it. Ie, about as non-Islamic as you could get.

Or else, as a via media, actors who are not WASPs but are also not of Middle Eastern (Arabic/ Persian/ Turkish/ Kurdish) background either... Parminder Nagra or Aishwarya Rai as Aravis and Alexander Siddigh as Emeth? Any more gratuitous (or more-gratuitous) casting suggestions?

PS 5: Or they could cast Israeli actors to play the Calormenes: they can pass for Arabs or Persians at a pinch...

PS 6: Kathryn also suggests that "the fundamentalists might just panic a little too much about someone treading on their precious Creationism" in a filmed Magician's Nephew. One thing that's always puzzled me is the seven-day creationist wing of fundamentalist Christianity's dislike for an author who uses the phrase "son of Adam" and/or "daughter of Eve" at least four times per chapter...

PS 7: Guess we can rule out casting Jessica Alba as Aravis then..

"For one thing, they [a visiting Narnian delegation] were as fair-skinned as [Shasta] himself, and most of them had fair hair... And instead of being grave and mysterious like most Calormenes, they walked with a swing and let their arms and shoulders go free." - The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 4.

"Alba prefers to talk about her career-boosting decision to go blonde... Alba clearly feels there has been too much emphasis on her either being Latin or playing dark and mysterious." - interview with Garth Pearce, Weekend Australian (9-10 July 2005), magazine p 33.

(Pearce really means "Latina". If she really were "Latin", she'd have the same initials as another J. Alba.)

PS 8: "However successful the film of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may be, it is hard to see how The Horse and His Boy could be made into a sequel today without serious political repercussions." - Alison Lurie, "His dark materials," The Grauniad (3 December 2005).

PS 9: This issue's come up again at chez Rilstone, with much deep discussion:

[a] "... And I agree that Hollywood adaptation of Last Battle or Magician's Nephew is inconceivable. Aunty Beeb made her excuses and left after the Silver Chair. My money would be on Uncle Walt filming the basic trilogy and leaving it at that."

[b] "... Unless the very rich Christian businessman who's apparently involved in this project pushes the point. But I think (from quite distant memories) that a viable and somewhat agnostic movie could be made out of Magician's Nephew. Sure, the religious symbolism is increasingly explicit, but you've also got some nifty landscapes and generally plenty of scope for the FX department to blow the budget, coupled with the kernel of a straight adventure story about unhappy children, wicked uncles, cross-dimensional adventuring, and magical super-weapons. I think that a competent scriptwriter could handle this.

I also think that Horse and His Boy could be less of a problem than some people expect. A lot of the objectionable material seems to come in authorial asides or incidental descriptions which can simply be quietly lost, leaving another adventure story with at least one heroic Calormene and lots of Arabian Nights scenery. (Lewisites who object to the loss of incidental racist or sexist material can be very, very safely ignored)..."

Well, Disney did make Aladdin, although that was a whole 13-14 years ago.

PS 10: Cathy Seipp, "Narnia and its enemies" (posted 9 December 2005):

Speaking of those Calormenes, [Charles] McGrath’s complaint in the New York Times that they "are oily cartoon Muslims" is typical, if not quite correct; actually, they are pre-Islamic Islamofascists who keep slaves, oppress women, and worship a Baal-like god named Tash. That they have dark complexions, which Lewis’s critics harp on more than Lewis did, really isn’t the problem. As it happens, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's evil White Witch, interpreted by Tilda Swinton as an Aryan goddess in the movie, is "not merely pale," as the book describes her, "but white like snow or paper or icing-sugar...proud and cold and stern."

The Calormenes speak in a flowery, Arabian Nights-style manner worthy of Osama bin Laden, but Lewis gives them their due for that. In Calormen, he explains in The Horse and His Boy, story-telling "is a thing you’re taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays."...

PS 11: Judith Shulevitz, "Don’t Mess With Aslan", New York Times (26 August 2001):

"... Muslims also haunt Narnia – or rather, cartoon infidels, a turbaned, dark-skinned people called Calormenes, who live to the south of Narnia. The Calormenes are a greedy, cruel, proud, enslaved and enslaving race. Their god is a murderous demon named Tash. They speak an argot filled with cloying, ingratiating phrases and live in cities that reek of dung [?] and sweat. The Narnians, by contrast, are fair, blond, noble and free: 'They walked with a swing and let their arms and shoulders go free, and chatted and laughed... You could see that they were ready to be friends with anyone who was friendly and didn’t give a fig for anyone who wasn’t.' The Calormene boy who sees this and admires them turns out to be a Narnian foundling. As a Calormene warrior points out to the boy’s adoptive father, 'your cheek is as dark as mine but the boy is fair and white like the accursed but beautiful barbarians who inhabit the remote North.'..."
PS 12: Gee, I wonder why only those five.
... Plans for the next movies in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise have been outlined by Walden Media president Cary Granat.... Though Walden could produce a seven-movie series, Granat has only committed publicly to four or five pictures, and told Variety that The Silver Chair is the most likely fourth film. While he made the rather-obvious comment that "there are a lot of stories to be taken from the books", it seems most likely that film five will be The Magician's Nephew, meaning that The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle might never make the silver screen... "Narnia plans set in stone" (Monday, 8 October 2007)

PS 13: After seeing how much in the Prince Caspian film was added to the original book, I have to say that my suggested fanwank script-doctoring above would be relatively small beer (NPI) in comparison. Turning the Calormenes into Meccan polytheistic idolators is less of a stretch than turning the Telmarines (who in the book have red hair, say "Bloomin' heck" and don't have Antonio Banderas and Xanana Gusmao sitting on the royal council of Lords) into Hispaniards. Yes, it was an improvement and it did make sense of why descendants of marooned pirates would wear big gold earrings. Just saying: it did depart from the original text.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Comment Spam

The options on this blog have now been changed to protect it from "Comment Spam" (not that we get many comments anyway!) Anyone can now post, you will just have to pass the "word verification" option. Any known comment spam will be forwarded to Google for their attention - perhaps they, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the whole Linux community can get together and rid the world of spam. Or Not.

What is the word verification option?

The "word verification" option can be found on the Settings | Comments tab for your blog, and it looks like this:

If you choose "yes" for this setting, then people leaving comments on your blog will be required to complete a word verification step, similar to the one presented when you create a blog:

What this does is to prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step. If you've ever received a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments.

(By the way this is called a CAPTCHA - a cutesy acronym that stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart".

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Until the coalition split because one mocked the city walls the other had built...

Move over, Kemp brothers (both sets of you):

GDANSK, Poland -- When they were kids, the Kaczynski twins were a pair of tricksters. Friends could barely tell them apart, let alone teachers. Jaroslaw, the older by 45 minutes, would take science tests for his brother, Lech, who would return the favor on language exams.

Today, the Kaczynski brothers are teaming up again, this time in a bid to take over the Polish government. Lech is running for president on Oct 9. Jaroslaw is mounting a separate campaign to become prime minister in parliamentary elections [on] Sunday [...]

-- Craig Whitlock, "In Poland, Twins Shoot for Moon: Siblings Run in Pair of National Elections", Washington Post (Sunday 25 September 2005), p A-27.

A talented pair. All that on top of directing the Matrix trilogy.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"By the gods, not ANOTHER son of Zeus!..."

UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong about LL's character's name.

UPDATE: Speaking of Apollo... Core Command, please tell Dr Paye to countermand that last request, repeat, countermand that last request...

UPDATE: The blasts from the past just got bigger and louder...

Elisabeth Sladen resumes her role as the iconic character Sarah Jane Smith, remembered by a whole generation of Doctor Who fans as the assistant to both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. The [Dr Who] Christmas Special will be screened later this year and series two is scheduled for spring 2006.

Sounds like the Colonial Fleet is to undergo a crash course in Xena-biology:
Lucy Lawless, best known for her performance as the lead character in the syndicated smash-hit series, Xena, Warrior Princess, will be appearing in several episodes of the second season of Battlestar Galactica, as confirmed by TV Guide. Lawless will be playing a journalist and will appear in more than one episode, according to the report in In a recent "Ask Ausiello" column at, Michael Ausiello said that the name of the character Lawless will be playing has not yet been released, nor any other details. [...]

- Wayne Hall, "'BSG' Gets Lawless In Second Season", syfyportal (13 June 2005)

Hmmmmm... Journalist... hint, hint. Doubtless she'll play one of the, aah, serener [scratches nose] characters in CSI: Caprica. [Cough! Cough!]

In the old Seventies Galactica, LL's character would have been named something like "Avardia" or "Fortrella", but knowing Ron Moore, in the new Noughties Battlestar: JAG she'll get either a moniker like "Artemisia" or else a moniker like "Lynette Smith".

Addendum: Given the new Galactica's predilection for both (1) cameos and shout-outs, and (2) a Graeco-Roman rather than an Egyptian "feel" (begone you von Danikenesque nutters!), it can only be a matter of time before we see a character named "Belisarius".

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wilson Fisk

Okay, I'm stumped. Is it politically correct to admire Woodrow Wilson, or not? For the "Yes" case, Mungo MacCallum:

...John Howard has received the Woodrow Wilson Award for public service. The former president Wilson was everything John Howard isn’t: an internationalist who was the driving force behind the League of Nations, a visionary, an idealist and above all, a man of peace. He will now be spinning in his grave...

-- Mungo MacCallum, "Telstra sale’s shiny baubles not worth a tinker’s cuss," 11(34) Northern Rivers Echo (25 August 2005), p 14.

But for the "No" side, John Pilger:

... the [US] Democrats' "tough-minded internationalism" began with Woodrow Wilson, a Christian megalomaniac who believed that America had been chosen by God "to show the way to the nations of this world, how they shall walk in the paths of liberty"...

-- John Pilger, "Bush or Kerry? No Difference," New Statesman (5 March 2004).

Two of the keenest left-wing intellects Australia has ever birthed, now at loggerheads over the Wilsonian legacy. A "Christian megalomaniac" (one assumes that, for Pilger, the adjective here describes rather than qualifies)? Or a "visionary", an "idealist", and a "man of peace"? Choices, choices... Being on the Left is not always easy, although at least it saves you from viewing the world in simplistic black-and-white terms, like those Manichaean neocons do.


Scene from last Saturday evening: Spouse and I watching the Monk double-episode treat. In the first one, Lolita Davidovich plays a Natasha-Fatale-style circus gypsy. In the second, Glenne Hedly plays Stottlemeyer's wife in her usual loopy way.

Me during an ad-break in the second episode: "You know, there's something about those two guest stars..."

Spouse: "Well, I better not catch you looking at them too closely."

Me (musing): "Lolita Davidovich... Hmmmm... She's not the gal from The Fifth Element, is she?"

Spouse: "Someone has way too much spare time. Have you done your tax return yet?"

Me during next ad break: "Got it! The first time I saw Lolita Davidovich in a movie was Leap of Faith, while the first time I saw Glenne Hedly in a movie was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels! In other words, they've both played romantic leads to Steve Martin!"

Spouse: "All right, that's it -- you've been watching way too much Monk."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dark Satanic Mills

Letter to the Editor, The Courier Mail, in response to One employee's loss is another employee's gain

Dr Gruen's contempt for the ordinary worker comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the "enterprising" nature of unfettered free market capitalism.

The glorification of employer rights at the expense of workers reduces the employee to a disempowered victim "churned" into the unemployment queues as the boss sees fit.

A job is not a favour graciously dispensed from the hand of a benevolent management as a sign of the company's largesse like some form of corporate welfare.

The work that an employee does should be essential to the efficient operation of any organisation, otherwise, according to Dr Gruen's own logic, it will succumb to the inexorable law of the free market and fail.

What Dr Gruen proposes is a race to the bottom, where employees are regarded as chattel, relying solely on the good feelings of their boss for their livelihood, and exploited and disposed of on a whim.

Such retrograde attitudes have already been tried in the dark satanic mills of yesteryear, where workers were plentiful,life was cheap and
the ancestors of Dr Gruen's dystopian ideology gorged themselves on the sorrow and misery of thousands of innocents in the pursuit of "profit".

The real propaganda, the real spin, comes from tired old ideologues like Dr Gruen and their outdated policies of despair.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Crazy Frog PM fashion faux pas

The Prime Ministerial personage pontificates proudly, resplendant in his sartorial elegance, like a dwarfish thief in a giant's cloak. Note the pants, and the carefully orchestrated balance of faun and buff, in perfect concert with the chrome-dome topping kevlar, this year's fashion masterpiece.

and note the uncanny similarity to the crazy frog

Monday, July 25, 2005

D. A. Carson on The Emerging Church

The current online issue of Modern Reformation covers the Emerging Church phenom.

Read in full what D. A. Carson has to say about it. Here's an excerpt:

At the heart of the Emergent Church movement—or as some of its leaders prefer to call it, the “conversation”—lies the conviction that changes in the culture signal that a new church is “emerging.” Christian leaders must therefore adapt to this emerging church. Those who fail to do so are blind to the cultural accretions that hide the gospel behind forms of thought and modes of expression that no longer communicate with the new generation, the emerging generation.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

iPod Shuffle food sculpture

A picture tells a thousand words...the WINNER! ipod banana and spaghetti

Revenge of the Mullet

Amongst all the wranglings and legal goings-on with Schapelle Corby, and amidst the controversy over her bogan heritage, finally the ABC has come to the party and used the dreaded M-word to identify Corby's ostentatious new legal adviser, HOTMAN PARIS.

Still there was support for the latest theory from the heavily mulleted new player in the Corby legal team, Hotman Paris Hutapea, making his first courtroom appearance for Schapelle Corby, he backs the claim that there's a new mystery witness who'd come forward if only Australia's government allowed him. And he says he's spoken to the man.

Ah, to be an ABC journo and throw mullets around heedlessly. Next, we'll here the confessions of the mystery witness wearing an "Achy Breaky Big Mistakey", the new evidence from the mystery witness sporting a "Kentucky waterfall" and the mystery owner of "Business at the front, party at the back" will reveal the truth of Schapelle's innocence. Billy-Ray Virus, look out.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Miss (Juris)Prudence

Got dragged along by the spouse to see Miss Congeniality II: Armed and Fabulous a few weeks ago. Enjoyable at the time but forgettable since - apart from one curious detail: the jurisprudential undertones of Sandra Bullock's acting oeuvre. Her character is named Gracie Hart, while her offsider (added to the film, no doubt, to keep up the US Screen Actors Guild's quotas of "Screeching In-Your-Face African-American Women") is named Sam Fuller. And yes, they do engage in their own Hart-Fuller debate throughout the film.

This is not Ms Bullock's first excursion into the murky waters of jurisprudence. In Two Weeks' Notice, her character was named "Lucy Kelson". Clearly the "Lucy" was an attempt to regain the lost cachet of While You Were Sleeping, but "Kels[e]n"? Sandra did play a lawyer, so maybe one of the scriptwriters was having fun. "Norm is, like, so, you know, totally NORM, like, whatoever, omigod omigod OMIGOD".

Thursday, July 14, 2005


UPDATE: Instead of dating Leia Organa, Ben Affleck has ended up marrying her sister, Jenniff.

Seems Carrie dropped him once she realised she was mistaken in thinking he was the legendary Obi-Wan Affleck...

UPDATE 2: If you've seen Sarah Michelle Geller dressed as Arwen in her Fellowship of the Ring spoof with Jack Black (originally screened at the MTV music awards, now immortalised as a hidden "Easter egg" on the FotR DVD -- click on the ring at the bottom of the table of contents), you will have to agree she would make an excellent Leia.

ANOTHER THERE IS... Just when you thought the galaxy had been saved from the threat of the two-headed monster named Benifer, another rises, Glenn Close-like, to take its place: Ben Affleck has been romantically linked to none other than Carrie Fisher. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. Not only is Lei-O a whole sixteen earth-years older than The Enervator is, but she is secretly pledged to another (we know not yet whom, but every male child born between 1965 and 1973 is a contender). Someone needs to tell the Nerffleckherder ASAP: "Your sister she is! Date her not!"

News is, by the way, that Lucas has decided not to make the promised final trilogy of the Star Wars saga (the post-Endor sequels) after all. Which is probably just as well, since the actors from Episodes IV, V and VI are getting too old now to play anything but a brief "Admiral McCoy" cameo. (Plus Harrison Ford is into, y'know, serious acting these days, and doesn't want to be filmed anywhere except the White House these days. Hey, don't blame Lucas and his scripts, Ha-Fo: no one forced you at blasterpoint to ham it up in Empire and Jedi.) My nominees for their replacements are: Tobey Maguire as Luke, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Leia, Dennis Quaid as Solo, Will Smith as Lando (with Snoop Doggy Dog a close second after his role in Starsky and Hutch). Man, that would rock.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


"Uh, young people of Springfield, as your mayor I'd like to welcome you to our annual funny book convention. And thank you for pumping almost three hundred dollars into the local economy". [waves to crowd] "Your youthful high spirits have imparted a glow into this old warhorse, you might say I feel like Radiation Man."

Jimbo: "That's 'Radioative Man', jerk !"

"I, uh, stand corrected."

- "Diamond Joe" Quimby, Mayor of Springfield, in The Simpsons

"Star Wars tickets are snapped up at warp speed [sic]" -- The Scotsman (26 April 2005)

STAR Wars fans awaiting the final film in George Lucas’s mammoth series received more good news today after it was announced a TV series is planned. [...] But Mr Lucas has revealed that plans are afoot for a live-action television series focusing on events between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars [A New Hope]. The film-maker didn’t give away any details of the plot, other than to suggest that it may involve some characters from the original trilogy. And there’s a bonus for any fantasy-lovers - Lucas also hopes to launch a television spin-off of dwarf classic Willow.

- "Delight for Star Wars fans as Lucas announces TV series", The Scotsman (26 April 2005)

Ah, that beloved film genre -- the dwarf classic. "Judge me by my size, would you?!"

"Relativist Sith"

Rmmmm, of Master Benedict's "dictatorship of reletavism," the source have I located:

ANAKIN: The Jedi use their power for good.

PALPATINE: Good is a point of view, Anakin. And the Jedi point of view is not the only valid one. The Dark Lords of the Sith believe in security and justice also, yet they are considered by the Jedi to be...

ANAKIN:... evil.

PALPATINE:... from a Jedi's point of view. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power. The difference between the two is the Sith are not afraid of the dark side of the Force. That is why they are more powerful.

And later...

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over...

OBI-WAN: From the Sith!!! Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.

ANAKIN: From the Jedi point of view! From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

Of course, that also raises the possibility that the "dictatorship of virtue" talk is an attempt at misdirection from a secret identity.

-- Posted by Julian Sanchez 25 April 2005

"You fundoes are ignorant, fearful people, and what's more, you vilify and stereotype whole religious groups!"

"Why vilification is such a blight: Fear and ignorance drive those opposing the vilification laws, writes Helen Skoze", Melbourne Age (23 June 2005)

Tom Lehrer's already covered this ground, forty years ago...

"There are some people in this world who are intolerant of others... and I HATE PEOPLE LIKE THAT!"

Maybe that could go on Victoria's licence plates as the state slogan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How to know when you've been attending a Presbyterian church too long

UPDATE 2: I meant this (below) as a parody, but for the pure milk of Calvinist humour, which is not that far off, see the real thing here.

24. Even though you consider television a prohibited graven image, and do reject, despise and ab[h]ominate Big Brother for its shameless sex, nudity, mixed bathing,and Sabbath-breaking... you couldn't not vote for a contestant named Geneva.


1. You want to bring formal heresy charges against Tim Allen because he's played selfish yuppies named "Scott Calvin" and "Michael Cromwell". (Wasn't there a Swiss Reformer named "Desiderius Lightyear"? Maybe "Buzz" is the non-Latinicised original of "Bucer"…) That's religious vilification, sir!

[Update: The heretic Allen completes his arc of anti-Protestantism by playing a "Luther Krank" in his latest oeuvre. Can't he at least partially atone by getting hitched on-screen to an attractive Calvin?]

2. You believe that the Roman Catholic Church reads far too much into Matthew 16:18-19 - yea, far more than the text thereof can rightly warrant. For, far from establishing an infallible Papacy, it is plain to even the most unlettered reader that, when He said "upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it", Jesus was simply identifying the Antichrist as Bill Gates.

3. You ban Cold Chisel because you're certain than in at least one of their singles you can distinctly hear Barnesey singing "Good Bahá'í"…

4. You think Amy Grant's been a bit theologically dodgy - not because she got divorced in 1998, or because she went commercial in 1991 - but because in 1982 she espoused semi-Pelagianism by releasing "I Have Decided".

5. You don't eat yoghurt because that's tantamount to worshipping Krishna.

6. Every Microsoft Word document you print has the text aligned to the left-hand margin, just so it isn't justified by Works.

7. You formally charge R.F [you know who you are, R.F! - ed] with error - yea, with gross heresy - specifically, that of the Sabellians or Modalists - because in prayer she addresses the Triune God as "youse".

8. You formally charge J.M [you know who you are, J.M! - ed] with falling into the error of Docetism - because when asked "Have YOU accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?" she replies "Umm, yeah, Jesus… He was, um, like, a man who, um, lived two thousand years ago…"

9. You're not letting your kids go to any Wiggles concerts until they replace "Dorothy the Dinosaur" with "Theodore the Leviathan".

10. You get very angry about subliminal messages hidden in popular music - not just the backmasking in Stairway To Heaven, but the fact that The Lion Sleeps Tonight contains thinly-concealed Pentecostal propaganda for "the Wimber Way".

11. After an initial misunderstanding, you walk out of Election fifteen minutes into the movie once it becomes apparent Matthew Broderick ain't about to start preaching the most sweet and godly doctrine thereof.

12. You were actually relieved to find out that the Beatles' Let It Be is about marijuana.

13. Since the Uniting Church in Australia is led by a Moderator and their magazine is called "Journey", you think the Presbyterians should be led by an Immoderator (whose office is to rouse the congregation with three-hour sermons denouncing Popery) and their magazine should be named "Staying Put" (or, for the WezPrez, "Reversing At 60 Miles Per Hour").

14. Your two most fundamental articles of theology are (a) support for the death penalty, so that murderers, thieves, rapists and Sabbath-breakers will suffer just punishment on account of their own free and voluntary choices; and (b) belief in double predestination, not only of the elect, but of the damned also.

15. You decide that under your planned Christian Reconstructionist regime, the city of Darwin will be renamed "Bob Jones"… and that the whole cast of Will & Grace will be put to death for promoting homosexuality, except for Debra Messing because she played Mary Magdalene in Jesus: The Miniseries.

16. Out of sheer habit, you always refer to hypnotist Barry St James as "Barry James" and the capital of Minnesota as "Paul, Minnesota".

17. Unlike all other fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you like "Wesley Crusher" - what a great name!

18. You believe the Anglican Church to be an apostate harlot daughter of its Roman mother, governed by corrupted bishops… You also believe that the King James Version (KJV) is the only accurate and reliable translation of Holy Writ in the English language.

19. You bring a lawsuit for slander against the (engineering or computing) firm you work for, because in the company newsletter they describe you as "charismatic" and say you're "quite an enthusiast" who's "advancing through the corporate hierarchy".

20. You cancel your policy with your insurance company because their thinking is so infected by Arminianism that they won't count deliberate damage by vandals as an "Act of God".

21. When someone asks "Do you know any of the St Kilda Demons?", you answer: "Only some of them - so far I've named Ashgaggerroth, Zordunakulon, and Hamoshphitophel as operating in or around that particular suburb…"

22. You publicly question the much-touted Calvinist orthodoxy of Dr Graeme Goldsworthy himself, because he keeps rejecting your written demands that he officially change his name to "Graeme OnlytheslainLambsworthy".

23. You wasted thousands of dollars on a crash-hot new personal computer because you misinterpreted the salesman's promise about how it was "good for burning CDs really quickly."

24. You have Matthew 5:22-based objections to the For Dummies how-to books.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Karla and Karma

Canada -- being a far more civilised, humane and progressive society than the barbarians to its south, 38 of whose 50 States still employ capital punishment -- abolished the death penalty 29 years ago. Partly as a result of this, Karla Homolka, a.k.a Karla Teale -- who helped her husband Paul Bernardo rape and kill at least three young girls, including Karla's own sister [1] -- has just walked free, at the relatively young age of 35, after serving 12 years in jail. Bernardo is "unlikely" to ever be released, which is reassuring. (Of course they can't say "absolutely positively will never be released", since only a Sith thinks in absolutes).

But as often happens, the nuttiness of one form of political correctness is cancelled out by another. While Canada is too progressive, humane and compassionate to execute Karla for her crimes, it is also too progressive, humane and compassionate to stop her -- even while in imprisoned -- from acquiring a new boyfriend. -- Who's doing time for murdering his own ex. What odds, then, that history may repeat?

Not that I'm endorsing such an outcome, of course; I remain personally opposed, as an article of faith, to all forms of murder. I'm just saying, certain outcomes are foreseeable.

Another alternative is that Karla may leave Canada to make a new life somewhere else. So memorise that face, just in case she chooses Australia.

[1] To be fair, Karla only intended to drug her sister so Paul could have sex with her unawares; the death was an accident.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Labor swaps the soapbox for a pulpit

These letters are reproduced from The Australian's Letter page today (Thursday & July 2005), in case it disappears offline and into archives forever.

Labor swaps the soapbox for a pulpit
07 July 2005

"LABOR'S God Squad" (6/7) really takes the cake for sheer effrontery. The prospect of Labor smarming round the newly noticed churchgoing voter is an exercise in classical amnesia.

It was the Whitlam-appointed Lionel Murphy who introduced the Family Law Act, where de facto is equated with marriage.

The socially destructive Human Rights Bills, the Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Opportunity Bills were high-sounding disguises for the removal of the moral and social values of Christianity – create poverty by encouraging single parenthood and then appoint counsellors to bypass church teachings to form a whole new welfare underclass.

It will require dissimulation on a gigantic scale to re-write this history. However, I am sure it is not beyond Labor's PR skills to do just that. I advise churchgoers to invest in a good supply of long spoons and many, many grains of salt.
Rosemary de Meyrick
Benalla, Vic

KEVIN Rudd is quoted as saying "On those so-called 'life' isues, the Labor Party, like the Liberals, has a conscience vote for individual MPs".

Of course, all policital parties make similar claims. The obvious, and worrying, corollary to that statement is that, on all other matters before the parliaments of Australia, the members do not necessarily vote according their conscience. This is a matter of serious concern for all thinking voters.
L. Allen Warren
Mansfield, Qld

Costello and Carr should remember that politicians who grandstand at religious gatherings appear to ooze genuine insincerity.
Clive Troy
Beecroft, NSW