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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Romeo Dhakhotah" was already taken

"A Pennsylvania man has complained a local grocery store refused to decorate a birthday cake with his young son's name: Adolf Hitler Campbell. Heath Campbell, 35, who denies the Holocaust took place and decorated his home with swastikas and Nazi paraphernalia, said The ShopRite supermarket in Greenwich Township refused to print his son's name on a cake to mark his third birthday, the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Express-Times reported Monday. Campbell said the store has also refused to decorate cakes with his 1-year-old daughter's name -- JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell...."
- UPI News, "Store: No cake for Hitler" (15 December 2008)

"Och, yeer damned right theeere, mon", the supermarket's manager, Angus Ian MacDonald, told press Monday. "I'd sooner defile yon cake with tha poop of a wee doggie than with that accursed name - Campbell."

Monday, December 08, 2008

... And It Will All Happen Again

We've all seen Exhibit A a zillion times since August '08. Exhibit B,
however, shows that this thing is really getting out of hand....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Life, alas, imitates art

Well, kitsch pop art, anyway:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Clone Wars

Couple of thoughts on the new "Clone Wars" series (after seeing the
pilot at the movies, and chunks of the first 2 episodes on TV today):

1. Good move to take control off Lucas and let others have a crack at it - this was how "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica" both improved enormously, by changing the guard (NPI) (and you don't even need Ron Moore to take over, as I earlier thought!).

2. Also good to have SW episodes that are just meant to be an entertaining Saturday-afternoon adventure serial - crashes on jungle planets, secret plans, kidnappings, battered spice freighters, pirates, etc - as it was originally supposed to be in 1977-78, unlike the films where, after 'ESB' in 1980, every episode had to be Great Art freighted with heavy moral and historic symbolism (ie, Joseph Campbell; Jedi Temple = 9/11; Anakin = Dubya Bush; etc). CW reminds me of the SW comics (Marvel, pre-Dark Horse, ie costing less than an actual horse) which I used to buy religiously (NPI) back in 1982-83. Intelligent good fun, but no pretensions. Screen science fiction is never going to be critically acclaimed like "Taxi Driver", no matter how waaaaay dark you make it. So just give us Senator Palpatine, not Senator Palatine.

3. Lucas would have put enormous attention into, eg, making the spaceships look a certain way (to pay homage to some obscure detail in "Forbidden Planet"), but would not have thought up the entertaining human character touches that Dave Filoni did - eg, that the Clone Troopers, despite being identical copies of Jake The Muss, have expressed their individuality by giving themselves different haircuts, from bald to Milhouse-style bleaches to Marines jarheads.

4. Don't confuse "Clone Wars" with "THE Clone Wars" - entirely
different Star Wars-based animated TV series. (That stray definite article can make a big difference. Ask Scorsese whether anyone went to see "God the Father, Part II").

PS: Speaking of The Godfather... "Filoni." "Jabba's wicked uncle plotting to have him killed." Hmmm.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Beatles' Tribute to 'Father McKenzie'"

"FOLLOWING last week's Guardian report on Northwich Memorial Hall's 40th birthday celebrations, tributes have poured in for one man who was at the heart of everything good during the early days. Tommy McKenzie was the hall's first compere and was responsible for bringing many of the top acts to perform at the venue. He lived in Rudheath, but originally came from Liverpool where he befriended The Beatles. Such was the bond between them, that the most famous band in music history called Tommy 'father'. The more avid Beatles fans will spot how much Tommy meant to the band. He was Father McKenzie in the song Eleanor Rigby..."

- "Beatles' Tribute to 'Father McKenzie'," Northwich Guardian (8 June 2000)

Let all men [sic] know, that this blog does not endorse non-centuries-old transgressions of Jesus' command in Matthew 23:9.

Sorry we ever doubted you, Ira Levin

No word yet of Templars, aliens or Kali-sacrificing Thuggee, but there's still much excavating to do.

And here I was thinking Douglas V Duff's On the World's Roof had conclusively located them in Tibet. Cancel Brad Pitt!

Nazi graveyards have been rediscovered deep in the Amazon rainforest during research for a book that chronicles the fanatical regime's plan to create a secret colony for a master race in the 1930s.

Totem-pole like wooden structures, standing at around 2.75m tall and with swastikas carved into them, mark the graves of the Nazis at Jari River, a northern tributary in the Amazon river.

The grave markers are believed to have been built by the Nazis but were forgotten about for decades, the UK's Daily Mail reports.

It wasn't until Jens Gluessing, author of The Guayana-Projekt: A German Adventure On The Amazon, began investigating the sites that he uncovered the wartime graves.

His book claims Hitler's henchmen believed they were destined to start a super colony in the jungle and that they were destined to settle the world like pioneers of America's wild west.

On one of the graves, an inscription says: "Joseph Greiner died here on 2.1.1936, a death from fever in the service of German Research Work."

Mr Gluessing discovered Greiner was one of three explorers sent to the jungle by the secret service to explore the region with the idea the Reich would eventually populate it.

Greiner's team sent information back to the Nazi headquarters in Berlin detailing how soldiers could live in Brazil, even though their cover story was that they were collecting wildlife samples.

In his notes to Heinrich Himmler, he said: "The two largest scantly populated, but rich in resources, areas on earth are in Siberia and South America,' he wrote to Himmler.

"They alone offer spacious immigration and settlement possibilities for the Nordic peoples."

"Amazonia" was the best place to begin colonising, he wrote.

"For the more advanced white race it offers outstanding possibilities for exploitation."

"Nazis 'hatched master race plan in Amazon'," NineMSN (Friday 24 October 2008)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cor! Wiv' 'Is Best Mate, Draco Weasley, Also 'Elpin' 'Im Catch (Despite Ministry Stonewalling) The Blokes What Poisoned the City's Water Supply

No, really. Shouldn't joke about this. It's sad. But the kid deserves respect for this initiative...

"Two men in Britain have been arrested after the son of a murder victim set up a website, dedicated to solving the 11-year-old case. 16-year-old Daniel Grainger pleaded with police to re-open the case, when he launched the website, two months ago...."

- Annika Burgess, "Two arrested after teen launches website to catch mum's killers," LiveNews (16 October 2008)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When priests attack!

UPDATE: "Warring monks threaten destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," Sheera Frenkel, The Times (15 October 2008).

While this incident of course in no way compares to the disunity among the fragmented Protestant sects - how sadly often have we witnessed roving gangs of Baptists raiding Lutheran services armed with baseball bats - it is nonetheless intriguing to try to reconstruct the ipsissima verba ...

"St Mary's is a living faith community dedicated to peace, justice and non-violent dispute resolution! We are thoroughly sick of you RadTrads spying on our services and taking photos so you can report us to the Inquisitorial Office in Rome! So if you take any more photos I shall thump you!"

"But you're disregarding the Great Commission! Did not Our Lord say, 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but only of course while wearing the correct vestment, such as the Greater Habit!'?"

THE parish priest of the South Brisbane St Mary's Catholic Church will fight allegations of assault after an incident at Sunday mass. Fr Kennedy is alleged to have knocked a mobile phone camera out of a man's hand during the service. Speaking on behalf of Fr Peter Kennedy, parishioner Karen Walsh unequivocally denied that Caboolture man Richard Stokes had been assaulted when Fr Kennedy tried to stop him taking photos of a baptism. "The shots had children in the frame and were unauthorised," Ms Walsh said. Mr Stokes and several supporters marched from the church to the West End police station afterwards to file a complaint. Mr Stokes was not injured and police are regarding the incident as "minor"... It is understood Mr Stokes was taking the photos because he was outraged the baptism was being conducted by a priest not wearing a vestment.

- Anna Caldwell, "Baptism photographer alleges attack by St Mary's priest," Courier-Mail (13 October 2008)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hold me now

"The New South Wales Opposition's police spokesman, Mike Gallacher, says people with criminal convictions are being accepted into the police force to try and boost numbers. New figures show 133 serving officers have criminal convictions, including three senior constables and two detectives who have kept their jobs despite more than one conviction..."

- "Police 'need criminals to boost numbers'," ABC News (29 September 2008)

Giving positions of public responsibility to former convicted criminals?  Contrary to every principle that New South Wales was founded on!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Every "Ross Schultz" on the Planet Starts to Feel Nervous

Moral: don't risk sharing a name with someone who's pissed off any heavies of the New South Wales Right faction of the Australian Labor Party.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Downsizing a man's operation (so to speak)

"An 84-year-old Nigerian man with 86 wives and 170 children has accepted a decree issued by Islamic authorities that he must divorce 82 of them. The BBC, quoting a local emir, reported that Mohammadu Bello Abubakar agreed to the mass divorce at the weekend. Abubakar, a former teacher and preacher, faced the death penalty under Sharia law, which was reintroduced to the Muslim-majority Niger state in northwest Nigeria in 2000. While the death sentence was lifted, Abubakar still faced eviction from his home. Nigerian media and the BBC interviewed Abubakar several weeks previously, when he claimed there was no punishment in the Koran for having more than four wives. However, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs said that Sharia law clearly limited a man to four wives."

- NineMSN, "Nigerian man agrees to divorce 82 wives" (2 September 2008)

"Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is reportedly getting married to one of the stars of Girls Next Door, according to reports on Wednesday. Hefner, 82, will reportedly marry Holly Madison, 28, who has been one of Hefner's girlfriends since 2001. Despite Hef's plans to get married to Madison, he is still married to Kimberley Conrad.  [...] Soon after Hef's separation from Conrad, Hefner began having a bevy of girlfriends, all of which were blondes between 18 and 28 years old and lived with him in the Playboy Mansion. Hefner had a rotation of around seven girlfriends until 2003 when Madison and Bridget Marquardt were his only two girlfriends."

- TransWorldNews, "Hugh Hefner Reportedly to Marry 'Girls Next Door' Star Holly Madison" (27 August 2008)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bolshie rag

In conversation today I used the phrase "Bolshie rag" when describing a certain industry publication. I am not sure if my colleagues who heard me actually undertsood what I was saying, so I decide to google the phrase when I got home. The result: only six entries for the phrase "bolshie rag" and no wikipedian in sight. After my last attempt to edit Wikipedia (my ham-fisted efforts were viciously maligned by a pedantic Wiki-Nazi who insisted I has plagiarised my content. Au contraire! I was merely editing), I shall post my interpretation on the blog.

Bolshie rag: A derogatory term used of left-wing newspapers and the like, such as The Guardian (UK). Or any Australian newspaper containing a column written by Phillip Adams. From "Bolshevik" (abbreviated as Bolshie), original Russian revolutionaries, and "rag" for newsprint.

This definition is made up out of my ownhead and if you would like to correct or amend it, join the beg the Wiki-Fuhrer for permission to stain the beautifully polished marble floors of his palace with you mud-sodden boots. So there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some inspiration...

... for the Paradise Lost Lucifer film's CGI. Apologies to the respective original copyright-holders - I used to download any interesting clips I came across, without recording the site they came from. These are too good not to disseminate. Contact me if you are the copyright holder.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paradise Lost to be filmed

I agree with this blogger: Rufus Sewell for Satan. ("But then I looked at his name again and saw it backwards: LLEWES SUFUR....Was this guy born to play the Prince of Darkness?")

[AE Hochner (Paul Newman's spaghetti-sauce-making partner) records in his Blown Away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties that one Michael Jagger Esq was once sounded out, four decades ago, to play Lucifer in a proposed film (based on a novel by Herman Hesse or Gunter Grass or Carlos Castenada or Michael Mann or one of those guys), and he initially agreed, but after "Sympathy for the Devil" attracted some criticism from the usual enraged vicars (gee! Who'da predicted that! Why not just call yourself "bigger than Jesus" and be done with it?!), Mick decided he needed to, ah, de-Satanise his public image, and started ostentatiously wearing gold crosses in public.]

James Earl Jones, of course, for the voice of God. Essential to get right away from all the "talking lion king" associations that Liam Neeson would bring.

My preferred fallback for depicting God on screen (First Commandment issues and all) is "a bright light shining down from a cloud and three voices talking in unison", but since Milton was a neo-Arian (in modern terms, a Jehovah's Witness avant la lettre), his estate might veto.

Imagine the most evil creature that ever existed, a villain who commits atrocity after atrocity, who has scarred the world and each and every creature in it, a scoundrel so heinous he makes Heath Ledger's anarchist Joker look like Mother Teresa. Now imagine that you like him.
Director Scott Derrickson says that when you see his upcoming adaptation of "Paradise Lost," the epic 17th-century poem by John Milton about the Fall of Man, you won't be able to help but have sympathy for its bad guy: the devil.
"What's interesting to me is that you cannot help but feel that his initial feelings of being disgruntled are merited, and I feel a lot of empathy for the Lucifer character in the beginning of the story," said Derrickson, who wrote and directed "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." "I would want the audience to be sympathetic with him at the beginning, and what happens - what he's up against and what he's wrestling and struggling with - you certainly feel that."
The poem, praised by secular and religious scholars alike, opens with Satan's fall from heaven. He is surrounded by utter darkness before coming to rest in the fiery pits of hell. Defeated in his war against God, and with like-minded fallen comrades in his service, Satan soon concocts a plan to belittle the Creator by desecrating his most recent, and most prized, creation: mankind.
Given that setup (a remarkably futile one at that, since Satan can never actually defeat God), how is it that so many people most identify with the devil? It's a complex theological explanation that Derrickson can only sketch in the film but one that, if you are Christian, essentially boils down to this: "Because you are fallen too."
"In the movie, Satan goes from being a completely good being [an angel] to becoming the most heinous kind of evil, and you really have a hard time knowing exactly where he crossed that line because you were with him," the director said. "What is interesting about that story, in the way Milton laid it out, is that people jump off with him at different points and some never at all. Properly done, it's a story that tells readers a lot about themselves.
"You have to respect that Milton created the first anti-hero with that poem, and certainly this was preserved in the script," Derrickson added. "At what point does love turn to jealousy, jealousy turn into hate and hate into evil?"
For Milton, and for religious thinkers who follow similar beliefs, that point comes when Satan commits the sin of pride, when he begins to set himself up as separate from and in opposition to God. It's a transgression that is mirrored later, of course, by Adam and Eve. Much later, actually: Milton's sprawling poem isn't just dense, it's remarkably long as well, spanning tens of thousands of lines.
Fitting the entire poem into a movie is actually one of the biggest challenges, Derrickson said, but one he hopes to accomplish.
"The screenplay takes aspects of the entire arc," he said. "What it encompasses is still a fraction of the poem and has to be, because you could make a 50-hour miniseries out of it if you wanted to. But it really covers end to end the basic events of the poem."
That means showing not just the highlights, but also the building of Pandemonium (the chamber for the devil and his minions), the revolt of the angels and the battle of heaven. At this stage, much of Derrickson's work on the film is in trying to figure out how to do exactly that, he admitted.
"That's a big part of the process I'm in right now in terms of working on both artwork and just conceptualizing how to do something," he said. "There's CGI and then there's versions that are blends of the two, live-action and CG, and I think the best version of the movie is going to have a lot of blending in it."
Add up all the challenges - the evil character at its heart, the theology, the visuals, the epic story line - and adapting "Paradise Lost" is no easy task. For his part, though, Derrickson can't wait for the opportunity.
"It would not be an easy movie to make, but it would be ground-breaking," he said. "It's really worthy of the attempt."

- Shawn Adler, "Scott Derrickson Says His 'Paradise Lost' Film Might Lead To Sympathy For The Devil', MTV. com (23 July 2008)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"When I find myself/ In times of troubleborough..."

This was prophesied:

"The city of Maryborough, in south-east Queensland, could have its own anthem within the next six to 12 months. The Maryborough Regional Arts Development Fund Committee has allocated $13,000 of funding to compose a city song...."
- "Maryborough looks to own anthem", ABC News (9 July 2007)
Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!

Maryborough! Mighty town of ancient awnings
Bringer of life, mother to us all
We swell with pride when the Mayor lets off
The ceremonial cannon every Saturday during the markets
Maryborough! Where they filmed "The Delinquents"
A story set in Bundaberg, but that town "looked too modern"
O Maryborough! We shed our blood for you
A thousand swords leap into our hands
Next time the bogans from accursed Gympie and Monto
Dare to drive donuts through our sacred burg
On their migration to Hervey Bay...

Take it from there.

Granted, finding "life imitates The Onion" stories in the Fairfax papers is like finding stray thongs on the beach, but still

'NEW YORK - Miguel Nunez, a Brooklyn-based artist, has sparked protest and outrage within the art community with his "Jesus Rising #4," a non-controversial, non-feces-smeared painting that in no way defiles or blasphemes Jesus Christ. "Jesus Rising #4," included in Nunez's new Divinity exhibition at the Whitney Museum, has received harsh criticism from artists and academics since its June 6 debut. The painting has been picketed nearly around the clock by angry protesters, who say they are stunned by its lack of obscene imagery metaphorically conveying a provocative, highly charged theopolitical message. "Why isn't this [painting] splattered with donkey semen?" asked sculptor India Jackson, one of the protesters. "And I defy anyone to find a trace of urine, human or otherwise, on this entire canvas. The piece does not appear to be an enraged howl against Christian patriarchal hegemony at all. Frankly, I'm shocked"...'

- "Non-Controversial Christ Painting Under Fire From Art Community", 37(22) The Onion (13 June 2001)

THE nation's top prize for religious art is again embroiled in controversy after one of its judges resigned in protest over the inclusion of a crucifixion painted by the artist Adam Cullen.

The Sydney academic Dr Christopher Allen has resigned from the judging panel for the Blake Prize for Religious Art over his vehement objections to Cullen's work. The triptych shows Christ on the cross and the inscription "only woman bleed", a line inspired by a song by the shock-rocker Alice Cooper.

Cullen said the organisers contacted him yesterday and told him Dr Allen had resigned in protest over the work's selection for consideration for the $20,000 prize.

"It's just a Jew on the cross," said Cullen, who won the Archibald Prize in 2000. "All the other entries would be of a Jew on two bits of wood. It's a very left-wing, almost pseudo-femme, artwork. How can he be offended?"

Dr Allen could not be contacted yesterday. But at a judging session on Friday he admitted he was not a fan of Cullen's work. "I've never even met him - I just don't like his work," Dr Allen said. "It has a kind of deliberate ugliness which has been exploited as a gimmick. This isn't a personal preference, it's a judgment."

Prize organisers were hoping to avoid controversy this year after entries last year, including a statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded in a burqa and a hologram of Christ morphing with Osama bin Laden, angered the then prime minister, John Howard, and the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. Mr Howard called them "gratuitously offensive".

Most of this year's entries are benign, but the more provocative works include the party boy Corey Worthington as Jesus Christ. "Jesus was crucified to pay for the sins of man, and Corey was crucified by the media to pay for the sins of the MySpace generation," said the image's creator, Dean Sewell, a photographer who also works for the Herald.

The Blake Prize's chairman, Rod Pattenden, confirmed that Dr Allen had quit the judging panel. "Christopher Allen resigned due to his objection towards a particular work included in the exhibition. That was related to his training as an academic and it was an aesthetic objection."

Cullen's entry was condemned by another judge, the academic Dr Kathleen McPhillips, who described it as "really offensive". But another member of the judging panel, the Blake Prize-winning artist Lachlan Warner, was more supportive. "We knew that work was Adam's," he said. "It couldn't have been anyone else's. I decided to throw it in there. I put in a vote for it. I wanted to look at it again." Cullen has become used to strong reactions to his work. "Sometimes I think all I have to do is wake up in the morning - I just have to fart and there's flames."

- Erik Jensen, Louise Schwartzkoff and Richard Jinman, "Religious art prize judge quits in disgust," Sydney Morning Herald (Wednesday 6 August 2008)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Just reading over at MetaLutheran a whinge about RTFM. Having offered this advice in desperation on the past, here's my two cents:

Josh (and many like him) are confusing _effort_ in searching with
_effectiveness_ in searching.

Example #1:

Child: Where are my school socks?

Mother: Where have you looked for them?

Child: Everywhere!

Mother: Here they are, in your sock drawer!

Take it as given that the child has indeed searched literally everywhere, but not found what they were looking for because of an ineffective search strategy. Searching exhaustively in and of itself will not necessarily find you what you are looking for - you have to know _how_ to look. And, you often have to know _what_to look for.

Example #2:
In the bush, you can look and look and look and not see a person standing near you because they are camouflaged. But if you look for a camouflaged person, "through the trees" instead of "at the trees" you will see them.

The manual is the best place to look for the right thing, but you still have to know what you are looking for and how to read it.

Testy techs do grab for this too quickly in my opinion, because many users are very needy and will often play helpless because they are too lazy to find out for themselves, and a tech support call will given a guaranteed iron-clad answer. Some people by habit just pick up the phone and call or send an email because that's how they learn - by asking someone else - rather than trying to find out for themselves. And others just want to get back to being productive rather than wasting time trying to sort out a problem that is not their department anyway (and they might make it worse- best to log a tech call).

Proper training of staff about their proper area of responsibilities (Should you call tech support to help you make a bulleted list in MS Word? No. Should you manager send you on an MS Word course to teach you how to use the tools of your trade? Yes), and of tech about how to speak to humans (Grunts, sneers, sarcastic remarks and long periods of silence are typically not regarded as helpful), goes a long way.

By the way, many manuals written by techs with poor communication skills are fairly useless. It is the synthesis of technical ability and communication skills that makes a tech an asset to both the computers and the people who work with them. They can act as a kind of priestly interpreter, divining the true gnosis generated by the 999th iteration of the Deep Thought project for the congregants at large.

And if they still don't understand, they can always RTFM.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mark of McKain

'In case their Plantation Bend neighbors had any questions about how Doug and Wendy McKain feel about Barack Obama, the bumper sticker on their pickup could be a clue. But when Chynethia Gragg spotted the sticker -  depicting someone urinating on the name "Obama" - Sugar Land police say, she stopped to express her disapproval, and that's when things got ugly...'

- Eric Hanson, "Sticky Obama issue with these McKains leads to arrest," Houston Chronicle (24 July 2008)

"Sugar Land police"? Did twenty of them pour out of the same crazy car, waving their batons? Did Mayor McCheese turn up wearing his official sash?

And what's this "someone"? Surely Mr Hanson reads The Onion:

'Throughout its 224-year history, America has had many channels of discourse, its citizens expressing themselves by means ranging from pamphlets to protests, newspaper editorials to televised debates. In recent years, however, a significant new avenue of expression has emerged: "Peeing Calvin" decals.
Originally appearing on trucks as a salvo in the age-old Ford-Chevy debate, the popular stickers - which feature a bootlegged image of "Calvin" from the Bill Watterson comic strip Calvin & Hobbes urinating on a rival brand - have expanded to depict Calvin expressing urinary disapproval of a dazzling array of offenders.

Today, at the dawn of a new millennium, the terse but expressive decals are a vital part of our national dialogue, used by millions of Americans to exchange viewpoints and ideas about the important issues of the day.

"I used to devote hours to reading newspapers and magazines in an effort to understand my world and the issues that shape it," said Tuscaloosa, AL, resident Elvin Crosley, who proudly sports decals of Calvin urinating on a Democratic Party donkey and Greenpeace logo in the rear window of his pick-up truck. "But that became a tremendous expenditure of time I simply couldn't afford. These decals make a concise, digestible point in approximately two seconds and reach a far wider audience than I could by writing letters to my local paper or congressman." [...]

The [law]suit was denounced by ACLU president Nadine Strossen, who called it "an unconscionable attempt to gag free speech in America." "Watterson and the Universal Press Syndicate are attempting to block citizens from exercising their constitutional right to freely express ideas and opinions," Strossen said. "Peeing Calvin stickers may not have existed in 1789, but they are precisely the sort of thing the Framers had in mind when authoring the First Amendment."

- "'Peeing Calvin' Decals Now Recognized As Vital Channel Of National Discourse," 36(12) The Onion (5 April 2000)

"Peeing Aquinas", "Peeing Maimonides", "Peeing Ibn-Rushd" and "Peeing Rick Osteen" stickers also available on request for members of the other great living world faiths.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Belief system debunked by T-shirt"

Churches around the nation have reported a sharp decline in attendance following the revelation of a dogma-shattering item of clothing. The T-shirt, which bears a humorously blasphemous slogan, is believed to have undermined the core tenets of 2000 years of Christianity. "Our faith has survived persecution, child abuse allegations and the Spanish Inquisition," said Archbishop George Pell. "But this garment has proven too strong for Jesus Christ." 

Even more troubling than the impending dissolution of the church, says Reverend John Buchanan, is the ignominy of its downfall at the hands of a t-shirt saying 'Christianity is stupid, give up.' "I wouldn't mind if decades of research and deep philosophical musing on the numerous inconsistencies of the Bible had eventually made a mockery of the system. But that t-shirt isn't even trying to be witty," he said. "It's enough to shake your faith in the existence of an benevolent God."

Theologians claim this conflict has been a long time coming. "Shirts with jokes like 'I found Jesus: he was hidden behind the couch the whole time' printed on them seemed to be nothing more than harmless ribbing, but such is the way Satan works - hiding sin behind a façade of innocence," says Professor Adam Frankland. "Or at least that's the way he would work, if he was real." 

The shirt's designer, Steve Holkins, has gone into hiding to work on his next range of humorous attire, after receiving death threats from American fundamentalist Christians. In addition, a group of extremist Muslims has warned Holkins to "stay away from Allah puns".  

Some church officials have refused to give up the fight, deciding the best way to combat the T-shirt is with some catchy slogans of their own. "Our 'God Doesn't Believe In Atheists' range is really going to put a rocket up those soulless heathens," said Gerald Bündchen, who also came up with the 'Want To Know My Sign? It's a Cross' advertising campaign. 

This is not the first time a garment has brought down a system - political scientists have found strong parallels between the fall of the Soviet Union and red shirt bearing a picture of Karl Marx with a lampshade on his head, entitled 'Communist Party'.

"A witty slogan is very powerful," said Professor Frankland. "Think of all the world governments toppled by protesters with clever placards and rhyming chants."

- "Belief system debunked by T-shirt," The Chaser (Saturday 8 March 2008)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Still preoccupied with/ 1984

1984... Red Sails in the Sunset reached #1 in the Australian record charts. The Terminator, the original movie, was booming at the box office. And the domestication of the dog continued unabated.

But now, in 2008...

(".... the open box contains the sword from the movie Conan The Barbarian....")

At last I get why, when I was a kid, grown-ups laughed at the idea of Ronald Reagan being elected US President. ("And I suppose Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury?" - George McFly).

"Italy's metal brother"; or, Brown Sabbath

Putting the "priest" into Judas Priest.... Surely Australia's own Religious could match this Italian Dumbledore wannabe. Father Michael Motörhead? The Blue Öyster Cultus? Historically speaking, the Dominicans have a much stronger claim on the words "Iron Maiden" than does some hairy-chested son of a Michigan army sergeant in Fabio hair and tight leather pants. And Ignaz von Döllinger, Hans Küng and Bernard Häring could give most metallista bands a good run for their money in terms of umlauts. Next: the Anglican version - "Deep Purple".

MILAN - Dressed in his traditional brown robe, sandals and twirling the rope around his waist, 62-year old Friar Cesare Bonizzi is no ordinary heavy metal rocker.

But as guitarists around him grind out heavy notes, the long-white-bearded Capuchin, a former missionary in Ivory Coast, has no qualms bobbing his head and shouting lyrics about alcohol, sex, tobacco and life in general into his microphone.

Describing himself as a "preacher-singer," Bonizzi has been singing for over a decade, and last month wowed heavy metal fans at Italy's "Gods of Metal" festival, where he performed with his band Fratello Metallo (Metal Brother) alongside groups such as Iron Maiden.

"About 14-15 years ago, I went to a Metallica concert and fell in love with heavy metal after I saw all the energy there," Bonizzi said after a rehearsal in a Milan recording studio. "I find (heavy metal) the most energetic, the most alive music."

A member of the Catholic Capuchin order in Milan, Bonizzi began singing heavy metal after having first started with what he calls "light music with slight rock influence."

This month punk label Tre Accordi Records, whose Web site offers titles including "Life Stinks of Human Beings" by The Valentines, released his second heavy metal album "Misteri," or mysteries, inspired by a group of southern Italian women who sang about Jesus' mother Mary.

Bonizzi, whose car even has a poster of his album and "preacher-singer" scrawled on the side, is not the only musical monk enjoying fame.

In Austria, Cistercian monks released an album of Gregorian chants on the same record label as Amy Winehouse and Eminem.

The monks were signed up by Universal Music -- beating more than 200 entries from around the world -- after they sent in a YouTube video in response to its advertisement for a choir.

Bonizzi has heard of them and compared heavy metal with Gregorian chant, one of the oldest known forms of written music.

"Gregorian has the same roots as (heavy metal)," he said.

A heavy metal version of the song about Mary features on his album. Bonizzi also sings about how alcohol can warm the heart but damage the liver if drunk in excess, as well as how important sex is to man but has to be done in the right way.

"I saw these 200 grandmothers singing and I told them 'Ladies, you will end up in heavy metal,"' he said referring to the Calabrian women. "My first (rock) CD was light because I mainly sing for grandmothers ... in fact I named the group then

'Metalluminium'. This one is stronger, fuller."

Bonizzi, who names bands such as rockers Megadeth and Dream Theater as favorites, also sings about God and faith but says he has no intention of converting listeners to Christianity.

"I never did it to preach, I did it because music is beautiful ... If I want to convert people, I simply want to convert them to life, to welcome life, to enjoy life," he said.

"I am religious and I am a priest but I am not doing this to convert people to Christ, to faith or the Church, but for them to try to understand life, to be able to enjoy it. Nothing more."

One of 10 children, Bonizzi grew up near the northern Italian town of Cremona. He worked as a hairdresser, welder and in a factory before a brief military stint and then joined the Capuchin order at age 29.

The friar, who performs about 100-150 concerts a year, says heavy metal fans have warmly welcomed him and he distances the music genre from Satanism.

"About 90 percent are very good, they accept (me), the other 10 percent are more extreme," he said.

"They say 'We don't want people from the Church.' There are those who profess to be Satanists but there are only two or three groups that explicitly claim to be so. I do not really know whether they really are, they claim to be."

Bonizzi sings in Italian and Latin, but "Misteri," his 18th CD, is being translated into English. So far, he only performs in Italy, but he says he has received invitations to put on shows in Japan and Brazil: "I would like to do a world tour."

Unsurprisingly, his singing has attracted much attention. At the "Gods of Metal" festival, fans were screaming his name even before he began performing.

"We do not understand what has happened. It's not as if we had done any publicity, the CD wasn't even out yet. I've sung three times at 'Gods of Metal' already," he said. "I've been doing this for 10 years, and it's only really now that it has taken off."

The friar, who was even given a "heavy metal rosary" by a non-believer fan, performs with three other guitarists and a drummer, who are much younger than him.

"At first I was a bit skeptical about this project because I thought it was weird to have a mix of heavy metal and a Capuchin friar," said 38 year-old guitarist Cesare Zanotti.
"But after two minutes with him, you forget he is a friar -- his age -- you forget everything and he becomes a member of the group. He gave me more energy than bandmates who are my age or younger are able to. When you play with him, there are smiles and a lot of energy which is fundamental for heavy metal."

The Vatican has not voiced an opinion on Bonizzi's singing but he says his superiors have not said anything negative to him about it. He says his fellow Capuchin friars accept what he does, although he does not play for them: "I could sing this (heavy metal), but they would say it's too loud."

- Reuters, "He ain't heavy... Italy's metal brother: Capuchin monk rocks out with festival performances, CDs, possible tour", MSNBC (17 July 2008)

Friday, July 18, 2008

"... Kombeart to zee CHEENIUS of... DOKTOR KOLOSSUS! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

NEW YORK - Determined to circumvent Justice Department action forestalling the release of his powerful new operating system, Microsoft CEO and evil genius Bill Gates dropped Windows 98, coded into liquid form, into New York City's water supply sometime this past weekend.
"Excellent," said Gates, watching his scheme unfold on a 30-foot video screen deep within Microsoft's Redmond, WA, compound. "Everything is going exactly according to plan."
Doctors say the risk to New Yorkers who consume Windows-tainted water is considerable. "As little as three ounces of water can carry the entire Windows 98 installer file into the drinker's cerebral cortex," said Dr. Terry Braithwaite of New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital. "Once this insidious operating system enters a person's brain, it may take years to fully rebuild his or her original neurological programming, and even then, old files can remain in their memories for years."
According to New York water commissioner Glenn Portnoy, the Susquehanna and Catskill reservoirs were contaminated with the software in question late Saturday night, rendering 100 percent of the city's taps Windows-compatible only. Those living in any of the city's five boroughs, Portnoy said, are now at risk of having the system installed in their bodies by drinking, cooking with, or even showering with New York City water.
"Residents of New York!" said Gates in a televised address early Monday morning. "Some of your neighbors, your friends, your own family members have not yet joined us in operating within our glorious system. Why not? Is something affecting their judgment? Are they perhaps... thirsty?"
"Water," Gates added. "The source of all life."
Gates then emitted a sinister, high-pitched laugh and faded out, returning televisions across New York to their regular programming with the push of a button.
Justice Department officials said they plan to come down hard on the software giant for its latest controversial move. "Not only is tampering with a major metropolitan area's water supply illegal," U.S. attorney Joel Klein said, "but mass, involuntary bio-installation of operating-system software is a gross violation of federal antitrust law."

Klein said Microsoft has also taken steps to prevent rival Netscape from placing its web browser in New York's reservoirs, an act he said may constitute a further illegal monopolistic trade practice. If found guilty of dispatching winged Microsoft henchmen to block Netscape's access to the reservoirs, Microsoft may face fines of up to $670 million.
Gates refused to respond to the allegations, but spoke directly to the people of New York via Microsoft's Windows 98 brainwave transmitter, saying, "Command priority reformat unit sub-Klein-delete//DELETE: A-Priority." Klein's whereabouts are currently unknown.
Despite Microsoft's tainting of their water supply, New Yorkers seem relatively unfazed.
"There is nothing wrong with having Windows 98 in my body," said a glassy-eyed Queens woman identifying herself as "7398473289348390-98.01." "Windows 98 is good. Where do I want to go today, O Gateslord?"
Added the woman: "Invalid sector error Type-41."
-  "Evil Genius Gates Drops Windows 98 Into NYC Water Supply," 33(21) The Onion (3 June 1998)

A disgruntled computer engineer has been sitting in a prison cell for four days after locking out everyone but himself from a city computer system.
Terry Childs is accused of tampering with San Francisco's new computer network to give himself exclusive access. He has refused to hand over the password and is being held on $5 million bail while officials try to crack his code.
The Department of Technology employee, 43, allegedly created a secret password to the city government's data network. The multimillion-dollar network stores records such as officials' e-mails, city payroll files, confidential law enforcement documents and jail bookings....
The network administrator, who lives in Pittsburg, has been working for the Department of Technology for five years and has a basic salary of just over $126,000. Police said that Mr Childs had recently been disciplined at work. Reports suggest that officials then discovered that Mr Childs had put together a tracing system to monitor what other administrators were saying and doing in relation to his disciplinary case.
Last weekend he allegedly locked out all administrators except himself. Before his arrest he gave pass codes to police, but they did not work. "They weren't able to do it," an official said. "This was kind of his insurance policy."
It was feared that although Mr Childs is in jail, he may have enabled someone else to access the system by telephone or other electronic device and order the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents....
He said that Mr Childs had been a highly regarded member of staff but was now a "rogue employee that got a bit maniacal"....

- Mike Harvey, "'Maniacal' computer engineer Terry Childs takes city network hostage, " Times Online (17 July 2008)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cinematic S[ci-]F[i]. From JJ Adams to JJ Abrams

Two mashes involving Nathan Fillion (or, as he is known to those who practice the Latin or Western Rite of Cathodoxy, Natham Phillium).


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

First "The Glass House", now the BB House; Or, killeen the aspirations of the Young People of Australia

Yes, yes, Mr Jonathon. There'll now be a huge hole in the 16-24s' understanding of the big issues in our world...

The axing of Big Brother will deny its young audience exposure to a range of social issues, according to a former housemate. Big Brother 2005 runner-up Tim Brunero says that despite much of the show being based on "titillation", it still provokes valuable discussion on serious topics.
"From Merlin's 'free the refugees' campaign, to racism, bullying, homosexuality, citizenship, sexism and harassment, it's all been covered," Brunero says. "Every time the show did that, it was challenging people to think about something different. People who watch Big Brother don't watch Kerry O'Brien on the ABC ... it's added a forum where people can explore these important ideas." [...]
"The ripples go further than just the show," Brunero says. "Breakfast radio is going to lose about a fifth of their talking points. Gossip columns, magazines and websites are going to lose a great chunk of their content, and the men's magazines are going to lose half of their pin-up girls." But the vast majority of NineMSN readers who voted in a poll yesterday said they were glad to see the back of Big Brother. More than 115,000 people said they were glad the show had been axed, while fewer than 20,000 people wanted it to continue.

- AAP, "Big Brother's demise 'will hurt young viewers'," NineMSN News (Tuesday 15 July 2008)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

One workday per wife...

"Utah will be the first American state to embrace the four-day working week, in a bid to reduce the state's energy consumption and fuel costs."

Hmm. Presumably, with the Garden of Eden located in Missouri instead of Mesopotamia, the relevant deity needed two fewer work days...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Yglesias, Ecclesias, and Aliens

"I was watching Star Wars IV: A New Hope last night on television, and somehow it occurred to me for the first time that a new generation who watches the six movie cycle starting with The Phantom Menace is going to wind up with a very different perception of the story than the original audience got. This is true in terms of a few big plot points, like that whole thing about Darth Vader being Luke's father, but also in terms of some broader atmospheric points. The beginning [of] A New Hope is cloaked in a sense of mystery. For all we know old Ben Kenobi really is just a crazy old man and Han Solo's skepticism about "hokey religions" is justified. The audience rides along with Luke throughout the film, learning to trust in the power of the Force. New audiences won't have that experience, they'll already know much much more than Luke does about the Jedi, the Empire, the Skywalker clan, etc."

- Matthew Yglesias, "Star Wars In Order" (3 July 2008), .

(One reader references this:

"Gay groups say police are unnecessarily scrutinising them over activities planned for Sydney's World Youth Day, as civil libertarians rile at new police powers for this month's week-long event. Lapsed Catholic Luke Roberts is a homosexual activist and performer who goes by the stage name Pope Alice, a character best described as a celestial being of indeterminate gender. Along with Pope Benedict, Pope Alice will also be in Sydney during World Youth Day, hosting a "kiss-in" along Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. ..."

- "Police investigate WYD queer kiss-in", ABC News (Friday 4 July 2008),

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Narnia" in different languages

Albanian: Narnijë

Arabic: Narniyat

Czech: Narznija

English: Narny

Danish/ Norwegian: Nårnige

Esperanto: Narnio

Finnish: Näärniiää

French: le Nargne

Gaelic: Náchairnhiadh

German: Närnien

Greek: Narneia

Hebrew: Narniah

Hungarian: Nãrnyörszãg

Indonesian: Narniyah

Italian: Nargnia

Latin: Narnia

Polish: Narnija

Portuguese: Narnha

Romanian: Nearnea

Russian: Narniya

Sindharin: Narnië

Spanish: Narña

Turkish: Narniyet

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In thuh SECOND season

The impending release of the animated 2008 film Star Wars Episode VII: The Clone Wars [*] fills us with great joy, not only because it uses Lucas' characters and universe while carefully keeping him away from any involvement with writing the script or dialogue, but also because, at last, the circle that joins the Lucasverse with the Larsonverse is now complete.

[*] Not to be confused with Star Wars: Clone Wars, the 2003 animated TV series. With no "The". Just plain "Clone Wars" after the colon. This series was produced by a Russian. Whose native language lacks a definite article. Remember how the gorilla in Tim Burton's 2001 Planet of the Apes remake took great offence when Lee Adama called the apes "monkeys"? Well, in the original French that Pierre Boulle [**] wrote in, singes means both.

[**] And speaking of Pierre Boulle and Star Wars...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Dear Mr President: There are too many States these days. Please eliminate at least five. Yours truly, Abraham J Simpson."

'... Robert Miller, 72, who lives in a government subsidized room in
Bedford, said the Constitution should be amended so it will "not let
any colored people run for the White House." He seemed unsure about
his voting record in recent elections, but vividly recalled voting
for Dwight Eisenhower in 1956...'

"Racial attitudes pose challenge for Obama"
Charles Babington, Associated Press
Yahoo! News (Monday 9 June 2008);_ylt=AlCFJffgs7MkcArNwYZyYxis0NUE

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Smurf Movie is coming!

I nominate Daniel Craig to play Azreel...

We've been half-expecting this for a few years (ever since the whole Smurfette argument in Donnie Darko) but now news has finally reached us that a live action/animated outing for The Smurfs is coming our way soon.

Variety reports that Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation are bringing those blue-faced forest dwellers to life after obtaining the rights for the characters from their Belgian creators a few years back.
The Smurfs (or Les Schtroumpfs as they're known in France) have already made their cinematic debut in animated form following the Saturday-morning cartoon which ran from 1981 to 1990, but the new movie is set to be a wholly 3-D CG affair.

No word on cast or script details yet but we'll keep our ears to the ground for you.

- Glen Ferris, "The Smurfs Movie Is Go: Boys (and girl) in blue on big screen", Variety (11 June 2008)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Britons [is] too busy to peel oranges"

Every second "William" [*] story I read as a child had him exclaiming
"Cor! A blimin' orange!", in a Ron Weasley voice, whenever he scored
one of these rare wartime treats. Since I was growing up in
south-east Queensland - where farmers put free buckets of excess,
ripe fruit and vegies out by the roadside so passing motorists can
help themselves - this made 1940s Britain seem even more an alien planet.

[*] For those who don't know the "William" books by Richmal
Crompton... imagine Bart Simpson crossed with Agatha Christie and
written by the author of Biggles, and you're in the general ballpark.

Note this vivid comment from the Wikipedia entry

>"As was often the case with popular radio shows, there was a big
>push to put it on the stage, where audiences could get to actually
>put a face to the famous voices, and the actors could get to earn
>decent money after the frugal pay checks offered by the BBC -
>William was paid 4 guineas a show, standard pay for juveniles back
>then, one line or star, didn't matter."

You can almost hear this contributor thinking "A shoe box! In the
middle of the road!!!" as he writes this...

>"Britons too busy to peel oranges"
>Tue Jun 3, 2008 11:27am EDT
>By Avril Ormsby
> LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are too busy to eat oranges in their lunch breaks nowadays and are opting instead for "easy to peel" fruit like satsumas, according to a survey. For the third year in a row, orange consumption has fallen. It was down 2 percent at some 600 million compared with the previous year, market researchers TNS said. Although still popular with the health-conscious over-45s seeking their 5-a-day fruit and veg intake, oranges are being replaced by the smaller and more manageable satsumas and tangerines among young adults. Both are easier to carry in lunch boxes, quicker to peel and less messy to eat. Consumption of satsumas rose 35 percent over the past year to about 460 million and the number of tangerines jumped 60 percent to about 62 million. "Satsumas are the key growth area," a TNS spokeswoman said. "Seven in every 10 times oranges are consumed for health reasons," she added. But while adults cannot find the time for oranges, they do encourage children to have them. Consumption among children is about 15 percent up. (Editing by Steve Addison)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Textus receptus; or, "i m d trditn"

Who said the Popes are semper et ubique opposed to Artificial Methods of doing things?

Pilgrims at this year's World Youth Day in Sydney will receive inspirational text messages from the Pope in an effort to better connect with the event's technologically-savvy participants. The messages are just one of a number of new digital services that will feature during the week-long event. World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher says a number of new services are being introduced to the event for the first time. "For the week of World Youth Day, while the young people are here, those who've given their mobile phone numbers to us will receive a message each day," he said. "There's going to be digital prayer walls at the event sites where the young people can put up their own messages asking people to pray for their intentions," he said. "There's also going to be a social networking site, a kind of Catholic Facebook if you like." Bishop Fraser says the new services are about better connecting with young people. "We very much want to use the best of the modern technologies and the language of the young people when we are communicating with them during this coming World Youth Day," he said.

" 'God b wth u': Pope to text Sydney pilgrims," ABC News (Wednesday 7 May 2008)

Next: Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem to announce the Wailing Funwall.

Friday, May 02, 2008

You think? A princess and a guy like him?

Before there was Bennifer, TomKat, Brangelina and Adamanda, there could have been... Carrison Forsh. Brrrrhhhh. And that could have been assimilated into Bennifisher two decades later. Double brrrrhhhh.

No wonder Ford acquired a liking for women with SW Expanded Universe-sounding names like "Callista Flockhart". This episode makes Carrie Fisher sound much less like her character. OTOH, it makes Messrs Ford and Hamill sound even more like their characters.

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher - who played Princess Leia in the original hit trilogy - has told for the first time how she and Harrison Ford had a steamy affair while making the movies.
Harrison was married to first wife Mary Marquardt while filming the first Star Wars movie in 1977. The couple later divorced in 1979.
"I went on the film saying, 'I'm going to have an affair', like it was a kiwi, an exotic fruit - because I'd never had one,'" boasts Carrie.
Contrary to his conservative image, Harrison had few inhibitions in private Carrie says.
"Harrison is great fun when he's had a few drinks ... once I left the room and came back, and he was in the closet not wearing a lot of clothes."
A brutally frank Carrie has also revealed the bitter jealousy between Harrison and Mark Hamill - who played Luke Skywalker.
"Harrison had this enormous career by the second or third film - that was tough for Mark," she reveals. "He was like, 'This wasn't supposed to happen - it's the adventures of Luke Skywalker'."

"Carrie and Harrison's steamy affair", Women's Day (Friday, 2 May 2008)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shameful ethnic and social-class stereotyping in Howard's Australia

You Know You're REALLY Politically Correct When...
#19. … you absolutely despise John Howard, darl, because you're deeply committed to opposing to all forms of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination, and that boring little Methodist midget isn't.

( 23 September 2003)

"... No doubt the same good Australians a week or so later were celebrating our national day with 'mates' over a lamb-laden BBQ and a game of backyard cricket fuelled by a Cold Chisel CD...."

- Tom Cranitch, " Nationalist zealots stealing Australia Day" 8(2) Eureka Street (24 January 2008),

Monday, April 21, 2008

More fighting monks

Armenians: "Those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects for the ordinance of Baptism!" Greeks: "Sez you! But rather, not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized!" Armenians: "Right! That doth it! Have at thee, heretic!"

The monkomachy at the shrine continueth...

A scuffle broke out at the traditional site of Jesus's burial on Sunday, when Greek Orthodox and Armenian believers, who fiercely protect their hold over sections of the shrine, traded blows.
Police said a fight broke out after Armenian worshippers yanked a Greek Orthodox cleric away from a tomb in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.
A spokesman said he did know the precise cause of the scuffle. Fights are not uncommon among the representatives of Christian sects who jealously guard their rights to parts of the centuries-old church.
"There is always tension there between the different sides," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. "That's why police were on scene ahead of time to prevent any arguments or disturbances from breaking out."
No injuries were reported but two Armenians were briefly detained.
Worshippers had gathered at the church in the Old City for Orthodox Palm Sunday, when eastern churches celebrate Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. Western churches celebrated Palm Sunday and Easter last month.
About 100 Armenians gathered at a Jerusalem police station to protest the detention of the two men but were later dispersed.

- Reuters, " Christians brawl inside Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre" (21 April 2008)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The hand... controls me!

A "happy-go-lucky" man who killed himself with a shotgun died in the same manner and using the same method as the man from whom he received a transplanted heart over a decade earlier. Sonny Graham was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the throat in his backyard shed last Tuesday, US media reports....
        Mr Graham, 69, never met Terry Cottle, who fatally shot himself 13 years ago, but took the heart of the 33-year-old South Carolina man in an organ transplant operation when on the verge of congestive heart failure. Mr Graham contacted widow Cheryl Cottle a year later expressing his gratitude. They continued their correspondence before meeting in person and eventually falling in love.
        The couple married in 2004 and moved to the US state of Georgia with the six children they had from previous marriages.  In a 2006 interview with a local newspaper, Mr Graham said he felt an instant and unusual attachment when he met his donor's widow. "I felt like I had known her for years," Mr Graham was quoted by The Island Packet as saying. "I couldn't keep my eyes off her — I just stared"...
- Erin Tennant, "Man's mystery suicide mirrors that of organ donor", NineMSN News (9 April 2008)
Orlac, call your office.

"YOUR Empire?!"; or, Shouldn't they be settling this by lightsabre instead?

"Lucas takes Star Wars fight to UK court"

Wednesday 9 April 2008, 05:55 AEST

A judge in a wig and gown gazed down on a Stormtrooper costume and
nine masks from the Star Wars films at London's High Court at the
start of a high-profile copyright case.

George Lucas, creator of the blockbuster intergalactic sagas, and his
billion-dollar merchandising arm are suing Andrew Ainsworth, a
small-scale prop designer who sells replicas of the film characters
from his south-west London studio.

Lucasfilm and related parties have already won a 2006 court case
against Ainsworth in California, where the judge awarded the firm
$US20 million ($A21.63 million) in damages, and they are now seeking
to have a similar ruling enforced in Britain.

According to a short summary of the case provided by Ainsworth's
lawyers, he argues that the copyright on the items in the courtroom
has expired, and even if it has not, that he owns it, and not Lucas.

"Hence the defendants are counter-claiming in respect of unauthorised
making and issue, distribution and sale of toys and costumes which
are copies of the disputed items."

Michael Bloch, lawyer for Lucasfilm Ltd, opened proceedings by
arguing that the design for the Stormtroopers and other key
characters from the films were well advanced by the time Ainsworth
was asked to produce the costumes in 1976.

"By the time Mr Ainsworth was brought in to make the Stormtrooper
helmet, the look to be created had been worked on by a large number
of people for perhaps more than a year," he said.

The designs "were pretty well fixed in 1975 and they involve the
initial idea of George Lucas worked on then by Ralph McQuarrie and
others". McQuarrie was the conceptual artist and design consultant
for the original Star Wars trilogy.

At stake are the rights to merchandise worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Total merchandising revenue since the first Star Wars movie in 1977
is estimated at around $US12 billion ($A12.98 billion), and total box
office takings from the six movies is about $US4 billion ($A4.33 billion).

As well as the full Stormtrooper costume, masks of characters
including a TIE fighter pilot and Tusken Raider were arranged on the
front bench of the court room.

Ainsworth sells his replicas of the Stormtrooper helmet and armour,
as well the masks for an array of other key characters, from
Shepperton Design Studios.

The full set of armour normally retails at 995 pounds ($A2,137),
although the company does not supply US customers.

Lucas' side is expected to argue that Ainsworth was working for the
studio under an implied contract, whereas the prop designer counters
that "no written contract was entered into and Andrew Ainsworth was
not employed by Lucasfilm".

There may also be legal debate over whether the uniforms were
industrial design or works of art, which could affect the length of
copyright protection.

The case, expected to last for 10 days, continues.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Of the sauce of the goose, neither shall you eat, for it is an abomination

'Were [the ex-Catholic convert to Protestantism] as convinced of the value of his new life as he claims, would he feel so driven to try to play down the old?'

-  Fr Paul Stenhouse, "Catholicism -  The Untried Faith," Annals Australia (April 1990), p 11.

'... at the Easter Vigil at St Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI baptized and received into the Catholic Church Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism... [W]hen the pope personally baptizes a Muslim man who is a famous public critic of Islam and does so on international television, well, it seems pretty obvious that the Holy Father is giving radical Islam one in the eye. But then Reuters reports that Cardinal Re tells an Italian newspaper, "Conversion is a private matter, a personal thing, and we hope that the baptism will not be interpreted negatively by Islam." A private matter? When it takes place at the Easter Vigil at St Peter's Basilica and on international television? Good luck with that one, Eminence. Not surprisingly, the conversion of Mr Allam was big news in the Italian press, and the Vatican certainly foresaw this result... Now, if the [P]ope wants to send a message to bin Laden and his ilk that he will not be intimidated by their threats and that he will preach the Gospel in season and out, including to Muslims, then well and good. That's a message of which I heartily approve. But the Vatican should be straightforward about it....'

- Robert T Miller, " Re: A Muslim Converts", First Things (26 March 2008)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Con i bogani dello Parco Bossli, è forte la Forza, si?

"... police received reports of an infrared laser light being shone from the Bossley Park area at a plane believed to have been travelling from Cairns to Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport. The Virgin Blue plane landed without incident and no one was injured. Last Friday six passenger planes were targeted, forcing the aircraft to alter their flight paths and delay their landings into Sydney. The planes had to changed their flight paths into Sydney after pilots were targeted in a co-ordinated attack by four green lasers..."

- Daniel Emerson, " Sydney plane zapped with laser," Sydney Morning Herald
(Wednesday 2 April 2008)

Hrrrrmmmm... Green lasers, says the Herald Sydney Morning? Curious and disturbing this puzzle is. If red lasers they had employed, then Sith they would have revealed themselves to be, hrrrrmmmm, yes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Now would be a good time to turn invisible...

... before an angry mob of rural monarchists and carbon-aware same-sex retired couples grab their pitchforks and burn down the handful of cinemas that will be screening Fantastic Four III:

"And I love that Australia is so sustainable- you don't get a lot of foreign influences or products. Everything seems to be made in Australia, or New Zealand or Tasmania."
- "Celeb Getaway: Jessica Alba", NineMSN (Wednesday, 12 March 2008)

Didn't a similar snub spark riots after the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Milton, thou should'st be running for office at this hour

Just what the hey is it with legally blind politicians and their mojo levels? Have lobbyists, staffers, interns and other political groupies all been watching Red Dragon or something?!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Nelson defends 9 per cent poll rating"

These opinion polls must, of course, be taken with a crayon of assault. Firstly, because it is widely recognised that journalists and the media are Secular Humanists. Secondly, because in many cases, the very second the pollster asks the typical householder "Do you wish your nation to be governed by Dr Brendan -" the said householder, outraged at the very idea thereof, will hear no more, but orders the pollster off the premises, usually turning the sprinklers or the dogs on them for good measure and yelling at them never to come back.

Nonetheless, the Nelson/ Warren Truss team doesn't seem to warrant much trust, or indeed to have much electoral traction at all against the Rudd/ Gillard juggernaut. I suggest the Nats boot their soporific leader and reach back to their glory days under Joh in Queensland, the height of their power, to resurrect this legendary vote catcher. After all, "The Nelson-Muntz team" has a definite cachet unto it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lorkink voor ze TRUTF abort Zarah GON nor

Okay - so how does this fit with the concurrent TV series that stars the photogenic Queen Gorgo as Sarah Connor and Summer "Me? Typecast? Schmypecast!" Glau as another deceptively petite trained combat machine? Has the Terminator franchise splintered irreparably among different media or for different works, as have James Bond, Middle Earth and Batman before it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

No, but Goering created Jar-Jar Binks

[UPDATE: How could I have forgotten? It was Jar-Jar himself who helped, sort of, to create the Stormtroopers.]

"Roger Myers senior, the gentle genius behind Itchy and Scratchy, loved and cared about almost all the peoples of the world. And he, in turn, was beloved by the world... except in 1938, when he was criticized for his controversial cartoon 'Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors'."

"Did Adolf Hitler draw Disney characters?"

The Telegraph (UK) 23 February 2008)

The director of a Norwegian museum claimed yesterday to have discovered cartoons drawn by Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

William Hakvaag, the director of a war museum in northern Norway, said he found the drawings hidden in a painting signed "A Hitler" that he bought at an auction in Germany.

The Snow White characters Bashful and Doc, which the museum director William Hakvaag believes were drawn by Hitler, along with a sketch of Pinocchio

He found coloured cartoons of the characters Bashful and Doc from the 1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which were signed AH, and an unsigned sketch of Pinocchio as he appeared in the 1940 Disney film.

Hitler tried to make a living as an artist before his rise to power. While there was no independent confirmation yesterday that the drawings were the work of the Nazi leader, Hitler is known to have owned a copy of Snow White, the classic animated adaptation of a German fairy tale, and to have viewed it in his private cinema.

Mr Hakvaag, who said he had performed tests on the paintings which suggested that they dated from 1940, said: "I am 100 per cent sure that these are drawings by Hitler. If one wanted to make a forgery, one would never hide it in the back of a picture, where it might never be discovered."

The initials on the sketches, and the signature on the painting, matched other copies of Hitler's handwriting, he claimed.

"Hitler had a copy of Snow White," he said. "He thought this was one of the best movies ever made."

Discoveries of Nazi-era memorabilia have repeatedly turned out to be mistaken or the result of a hoax. However, art attributed to Hitler continues to sell at auction, even if its provenance is far from complete.

Nineteen watercolours and two sketches said to be by Hitler were sold in Britain two years ago for a total of £118,000.

The auction firm Jefferys said the seller did everything possible to authenticate the works.

The pictures of cottages and rural scenes were found in a farmhouse in Belgium and were believed to have been painted while Hitler was a young soldier in the country during the First World War.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"The suggestion that gamma rays would make the fridge redundant was voted the worst."


'... Back in the '50s, Hollywood assumed that by 2000 the American cities would be utopias served by an army of robot servants. So we shouldn’t exactly be bursting with pride over the fact that here in the future we’ve replaced "robots" with "grossly underpaid immigrants"...' (Cracked)


'... If you'd asked someone 30 years ago what the future would hold, their list might have included: (A) Personal hoverpacks; (B) Roast dinner and vanilla ice-cream flavoured protein pills; and (C) Silver unisex body-suits. If you ask someone today, the list is (A) Global warming; (B) Massive species extinction including the hideous drowning of all polar bears; and (C) Violent, desperate, escalating wars over oil and water.
Let's face it, if the future were a holiday destination, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would have issued a high-alert travel warning...'

- Fiona Scott-Norman, "A seriously good giggle: Many of the performers at this year's Comedy Festival are striving for social relevance along with laughs," Melbourne Age (14 March 2008).

* * * * * *

Take that, Curto! Climb aboard the atomic helicopter parked on the roof of your 300-story high apartment block on the Great Barrier Reef and fly off to Moon City One to hide yourself in shame!


Future homeowners: Two models in 1956 in a mock-up of future housework. Step into your nylon tights, pull a polyester chair near to the popup table and relax. Because this is the luxury of 21stcentury living - Fifties style.
Half a century ago, the Daily Mail's Ideal Home Show included its first House of the Future.
Designed by radical architects Alison and Peter Smithson, it was their prediction for the style of living we would enjoy today. And how very backward it makes us look.
In their house, there was no refrigerator. Instead, gamma rays blasted meat, fish and dairy products to kill germs. The kitchen hob was a thing of the past - electric pans made supper on any surface.
And although most of us believe a particularly squishy sofa is a must for modern living, the designers thought soft furnishing would be history by now.
They predicted that we would relax on glass reinforced polyester chairs - and tables would rise from the floor at the press of a switch.
Showers would wash the user - and then blow him or her dry, while thermostatic controls around the house would allow us to abandon our different togs of duvets and sleep under one nylon sheet.
In fact, designers predicted nylon would be our favourite material. Even the male model, Peter, wears thick nylon tights. Sportswear designer Teddy Tinling who designed the models' clothing, said at the time: "The clothes worn by the man are plain and unembellished. This is in keeping with the times, a kind of Superman trend to fit in with the Space Age."
To mark the show's centenary, show organisers looked back at some of the most memorable predictions from the 1956 House of the Future.
The suggestion that gamma rays would make the fridge redundant was voted the worst.
But because many homes did not have a fridge in 1956, perhaps it is understandable that the designers did not predict our modern reliance on it.
The furniture and fittings in the one-bedroom showhouse were made from materials available since the Second World War, such as moulded plastics, stainless steel and glass fibre. Although we do use those materials at home today, the prediction that we would live in a series of plastic pods joined by passageways proved a little extreme.
Other worst predictions include electric folding front doors and a warm air curtain to remove dust.
But there are a few, such as the self-cleaning bath and the dishwasher that scrapes the plates, that we might wish had become a part of life.
Others will strike a chord with today's innovators. The roof was curved and dished to allow sunlight to penetrate and rainwater would flow to a central point to water a central patio garden.
Some predictions were spot-on. The designers thought we would use shortwave transmitters to turn on the TV and high-frequency ovens for cooking at high speeds - now remote controls and microwave ovens.
Spokesman for the show Maxine Soghmanian said it had "launched countless household products from the first-ever electric kettle (1920) to the largest home plasma screen (2006), but we have to admit some of the predictions in the Fifties were a bit off the mark."...
- Beth Hale, " Folding front doors and blow-dry showers: How a 1956 vision of today's homes got it wrong", Daily Mail (UK) (13 February 2008)

"Gag me" - Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon wants her children to be bullied at school. The Legally Blonde actress... says being teased in school helps build character. She said: "I wouldn't want my children to miss out on any of that teasing and bullying - don't you think it kind of makes you who you are? I distinctly recall the two weeks of crying because I didn't make the softball team. It made me interesting. Hopefully, it helps kids really understand who they are. You know, figure out who they are."...

- "Bullying good for kids - Witherspoon," Melbourne Age (13 February 2008)

Memo... Reese? Being bullied is, like, seau teautally UNlike not making the softball team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How the names of popular music bands have evolved


"[Full Name] and the [Plural Nouns]"


"Billy Jones and the Refrigerators", "Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Trio"


"The [Plural Nouns]"


"The Beatles," "The Byrds," "The Rolling Stones," "The Mamas and Papas", "The Tremeloes"


"[Adjective] [Completely Unrelated Noun]" (as two separate words)


"Deep Purple," "Led Zeppelin," "Def Leppard"


"The [Random Singular Noun]" (definite article optional)


"The Knack," "The Verve," "Queen", "Prince", "King", "Princess"


Wistful, gazing-at-departed-sister"s-abandoned-swing-set name, to go with sleeve artwork showing drawful of random toys filmed in sepia


"Something For Kate", "Rebecca"s Empire", "Fairground Attraction"


"[Adjective/Unrelated Noun]" (as one single composite word)


"Wolfcartridge," "Guncider," "Howlmother," "Stinkfinger"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Liam Neeson meets Doc Neeson

... inasmuch as intergalactic wars are herein combined with offensive rock-song lyrics, in the same posting, probably first time in history.

Aliens could misinterpret earth's classic songs as declarations of war if they are recklessly broadcast into space, some scientists say.
Last week NASA broadcast a Beatles song, Across the Universe, towards the North Star, in the hope it would be noticed by extra-terrestrial beings.

But scientists have urged NASA to be more cautious, saying aliens could misinterpret the song, and even take it as a battle cry.

"Before sending out even symbolic messages, we need an open discussion about the potential risks," New Scientist magazine reported Dr Douglas Vakoch of the SETI Institute as saying.

Professor Barrie Jones of Open University said: "the chances are slight, but the consequences would be huge - the end of life on Earth".

"If they have the technology to cross interstellar space to reach us, they will be so much in advance of us humans that there is nothing we could do to resist them," he said.
SETI - the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - has been listening to the skies for the last 20 years.

The program uses radio telescopes to scan for any messages or noises that may indicate the existence of life on other planets.

Scientist Ainin De Horta, from the SETI Australia Centre, said the there could be dangers in broadcasting songs into deep space.

But he didn't think it would lead to an intergalactic war.

"I think the chances are pretty unlikely that it'll lead to an alien invasion, but I do think there is a point that this should be discussed by the whole world, because who knows what'll happen," Mr De Horta said.

"I think it's highly unlikely that this message will cause a reaction, and that it'll cause a reaction in our lifetime."

Radio waves travel through space at the speed of light or nearly 300,000 km per second.

The first radio transmission, sent in the 1920s, would have travelled nearly 90 light years by now.

"It's not like picking up the phone and ringing me for instance," Mr De Horta said.

"We're talking about vast distances and a response would take years from even the closet star."

SETI has had a few close calls, or what they call "candidates", but Mr De Horta says any authentic messages would have been identified.

"We get what we call candidates every so often, but none of them turn out to be something that can't be explained, like a statistical anomaly or equipment glitch."

The nearest star to Earth, Alpha Proxima, is four light years away.

- Phil Han, "Space songs 'could attract alien danger'," NineMSN News (Friday 8 February 2008)
Yeah, right. Like anyone, no matter how removed from normal Terrestrial life, could ever misinterpret a simple, straightforward Beatles song like, say, "Helter-Skelter."

"Phil Han"... what, shouldn't his nom-de-plume be "Solo K Dick"?

And couldn't de Horta just explain to the aliens "I'm a rock singer, dammit, not a galactic warrior!"?.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stonagal vs McGonagall

"... The little similarities go on. Both books present the media as corrupt or easily corruptible. The Left Behind tribulation takes seven years; so does Hogwarts'. [Nicolae] Carpathia takes the form of a snake; Voldemort takes the form of a lizard, and Harry is able to tap into the evil world by speaking snake (parseltongue). And in both, the good guys bear a special "mark" - on their foreheads! - that protects them...

"Bad guys' wormy sidekicks. Voldemort's helper is Wormtail. In Left Behind, it's the foppish Leon Fortunato and one named Cankerworm. Presumably they were influenced by CS Lewis' Wormwood [in The Screwtape Letters], or Grima Wormtongue in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings..."

- Steven Waldman, "No Wizard Left Behind: Harry Potter and Left Behind are more alike than you might think," Slate (18 May 2004).