Monday, February 27, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Pledge
for Thin-Skinned Christians

Article I.

This coming May Sony Pictures will release a film version of The Da Vinci Code based on the novel by Dan Brown. It stars Tom Hanks and is directed by Ron Howard.

Dan Brown prefaces his book with a page bearing the boldface headline “FACT”; on it appear three short paragraphs comprised of claims about various persons, institutions and objects treated in the book’s subject matter. The most charitable interpretation of the content of this page is that it is the clearest possible evidence of Brown’s monumental ignorance, since most of what is stated there is false, or at best a matter of opinion and not fact.

[For example, the Priory of Sion is a proven hoax. Opus Dei is not a “sect” — the Catholic Church does not have sects. “Mortification of the flesh” (the correct term), a mild form of which is preserved by Opus Dei, has a long mainstream history within Catholic practice. Calling it “dangerous” is a subjective characterization, not a “fact”.]

The less charitable interpretation of the FACT page is that it is a brazen mask for the brazen lies which are the scaffolding upon which Brown has draped his inflammatory novel.

[Spoiler Alert! -- pledge plot twist in Article IV!]

Article II.

The Da Vinci Code is a book which is grievously offensive, on several grounds, to a great number of people. Among these are:

A. Christians

The subject matter of The Da Vinci Code is the blasphemous and fantastical notion that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and produced a female child who subsequently gave birth to a family line which became the Merovingian kings of France; and that this entire sequence of events is an obsessively-guarded secret buried for 2000 years by Catholic secret societies from the medieval Knights Templar to the modern Opus Dei, all of whom would stop at nothing, including murder, to suppress this “truth.” These postulations constitute the highest possible level of blasphemy to Christian believers, for whom Jesus Christ is not simply a great prophet but is the Incarnation of the One God.

For Catholics, Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the only definitive sources of information about the life and nature of Jesus. For other Christians, the sole inerrant source of information is the text of Holy Scripture. The historical existence of Jesus is confirmed beyond doubt in a handful of non-religious sources, but these provide no details whatsoever regarding his personal life. Any elaboration upon the life history of Jesus beyond what is held to be true in Christian doctrine is speculative at best, and in the case of The Da Vinci Code, is rank fabrication.

Whereas earlier Christians did speculate and elaborate creatively upon the bare bones of the Gospel narratives, (producing narratives usually relegated to the category of pious legend and apocrypha), their imaginations worked in the service of increasing faith and devotion to the Son of God. The blasphemous fantasies which form the substance of The Da Vinci Code have always been promulgated in service of undermining Christian faith. The word “always” is used here because Dan Brown’s book contains no original theories. It is all old news.

B. Roman Catholics

The most important doctrines which The Da Vinci Code dismisses as pious nonsense are beliefs commonly held by all Christians. But the conspiracies, lies, and perverse hypocrisies in the book, not to mention the taste for homicide and other crimes, are attributed to people and institutions that are wholly Roman Catholic. This book is relentlessly, virulently, and systemically anti-Catholic, perpetuating some of the most outlandish and bigoted (not to mention desperate and pathetic) libels with which the Church has historically been tarred. Uniquely Roman Catholic traditions regarding sacraments, veneration of saints, the teaching authority of the Church, and the whole history of its governance and doctrinal development are dismissed as jokes, adhered to only by dupes and slaves.

On the subject of Opus Dei, Dan Brown’s malicious fantasies reach their zenith. This lay prelature has existed for less than 80 years, and would thus be a curious choice to guard the millennia-old earth-shattering secrets that are the subject of The Da Vinci Code— especially since there are several orders of Catholic knights in existence today that are the direct descendents of the medieval orders Brown would have us believe were custodians of the secrets in centuries past: still with us are the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Knights of Malta (St. John’s Hospitallers of Jerusalem), the Knights of the Cross, and even a Portuguese-based Order of the Knights of Christ, the sole chapter of the Knights Templar permitted to continue (under its new name) after the Templars were suppressed in the 14th century. Even the 19th-century American Knights of Columbus are older than Opus Dei!—Brown’s thesis regarding Opus Dei’s alleged secret mission not only reflects ignorance and bias, it is brainless.

About the only straight fact on Brown’s FACT page is that Opus Dei has been controversial. But whatever differences or suspicions any person may have had with Opus Dei, no accusation has ever come close to the deliberate, twisted evil with which Brown cavalierly smears this group. Opus Dei is a lay-persons’ institution, not a religious order—no monks, no hooded robes, no blood-letting. (The membership, including the vowed numeraries, carry on day-to-day jobs of every description—that is the whole raison d’être of the prelature— with their token mortification of the flesh utterly undetectable.) Brown’s lodging of a deranged, religiously-motivated murderer within the bosom of Opus Dei is itself nothing short of a blood libel—a literary axe-murder which disgraces everyone associated with the book’s publication (by Doubleday), and is soon to disgrace Sony Films.

C. Art Historians

The most ridiculous item on the FACT page is Brown’s claims that “all descriptions of artwork [and] architecture… are accurate.” It would have been a simple matter for him to see to it that they were—dimensions, materials, floorplans, etc., are all observable and measurable things. Moreover, errors about any of these things are easily exposed. So it is needless, bizarre, and inexcusable that The Da Vinci Code is riddled with errors of fact about works of art and architecture, as well as absurd and insupportable interpretations of their meaning.

These mistakes are legion, and well-documented elsewhere. One example serves to stand for the sloppiness and fraudulence of the book as a whole: the artistic centerpiece of the entire novel is that most famous among the thousands of paintings of The Last Supper, the one by Leonardo Da Vinci, painted on the wall of the refectory at the Dominican convent of Santa Marie delle Grazie in Milan, between 1496 and 1500. It supposedly contains visually encoded secrets which prove that the core of Christian belief is a myth. One of the book’s main characters, grail expert Sir Leigh Teabing, introduces The Last Supper into the story (at p. 235) with the question, “I assume you recognize this fresco?”

The Last Supper, as art historians well know, is not a fresco. If it were, it would not have begun to deteriorate beyond repair within fifty years of its completion. When he gets this one wrong, there is little reason to believe that any of Brown’s “descriptions of artwork [and] architecture… are accurate.” On the same scale is Brown’s persistent use, from the title on down, of the name “Da Vinci” to refer to the master. He is called “Leonardo,” universally, in any creditable work of art history one can pull off the library shelf.

The Da Vinci Code, and its author, exude from every pore a claim to esoteric knowledge of art, religion, and history (and guns and cars and urban geography, among other things), even as they reveal an embarrassing lack of the most rudimentary familiarity with much of the subject matter. This book is a particular insult to art historians and to their field of expertise, because a charlatan has profited from a comic-book version of their life’s work.

D. Historians and historical novel buffs

Historical theories and their application in novels have some obligation to be at least plausible if they are to be marketed and sold for money to the book-buying public at a level above that of the Harlequin Romance. The Da Vinci Code is, by that standard, a laughable fraud. It is a sad comment on the state of general historical knowledge that something approaching 30 million copies of this book have been sold without at least some millions of readers raising outraged howls at having been hoodwinked out of their twenty-five bucks.

The book is full of subjective conclusions or assertions about the meaning of historical events, many of which can be refuted into dust, but worse, like the art component, there are blatant, inexcusable errors of historical fact.

A few examples: there was no “new Vatican power base” (p.233) under Constantine I, since the Papal court did not abandon the Lateran palace complex and move to Vatican Hill for another 1000 years; Constantine could not have “upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death” (p. 234) because Constantine died three centuries after, in 337 A.D.; the coronation of William the Conqueror (1066) and the canonization of Edward the Confessor (1091) could not have been “hosted” or “witnessed to” by the “dazzling sanctuary” (p.395) of Westminster Abbey since the current structure was built in 1245.

There are dozens of similar demonstrable errors and falsehoods in this book. Historians should give no quarter to the cheap sale of pre-modern history as a vast dark-age wash of undifferentiated “olden days” – that is rightly the province of Monty Python. This is less a matter of accumulated mistakes than of an attitude. The Da Vinci Code is not a history mystery—it is a fairy tale—a five-dollar Rolex—a work of sloth. It is also the most successful literary con-job of the new millennium. Lovers of history should have no patience with it.

D. Detective fiction fans:

Is there any mystery-novel fan in the English-speaking world who could not read every single word of the “cryptic” text on page 298, without aid of a mirror, in about 6 seconds? The book-reviewers who most betrayed their profession were those who described The Da Vinci Code as a “page-turner” or “thriller”. What mysteries it does contain rely substantially on characters who are “experts” either forgetting or failing to notice what should be obvious to them, only to realize it all at a later moment more convenient to the plot.

There is no genuine suspense in the book—there is only the regular interruption of the narrative to switch the scene to the sub-plot, returning to the main plot at the next chapter heading.

Clearly the book was written to be filmed, but Brown’s ambitions did not seem to reach beyond a television movie-of-the-week — you can smell the commercial breaks all through the book, tarted up as suspense. Had this mildly successful pop-novelist, or his publisher, suspected that such crudely-executed Catholic-bashings would be ripe for Hollywood treatment at the hands of Academy Award-winning talent, they might have seen fit to invest in the services of an editor before sending Brown’s scribblings to the printer.

E. People who like good books:

The Da Vinci Code is not a good book. In fact it is dreadfully written, in a wooden, oafish style with paper-thin clichéd characters, stilted and implausible dialogue, an exhibitionistic larding on of irrelevant details, and a fatally bloated sense of its own self-importance. It pretends to gnosis even as it parades the author’s ignorance; it exudes snobbery even as it betrays that the author is an uncultured rube. It contains one lone instant of irony, where the main character makes the embarrassing claim that he is “a Harvard historian, for God’s sake, not a pop schlockmeister looking for a quick buck.” (p. 163) This petulant foot-stamp in quest of gravitas is in fact Brown’s Curriculum Vitae—minus the Harvard part, of course. He is the King, the Emperor, dare we say, the Pope of Pop Schlockmeistering, and he has made more quick bucks than God.

This book is unrelieved crap. The only thing more distressing than its sky-high sales (outnumbering the lifetime sales of To Kill A Mockingbird by three to one) is the fact that so many book-reviewers gave it a pass for no other discernible reason than that they liked its message: that Christianity is a global hoax based on misogyny, sexual repression, and (in the Catholic Church) a lust for power so overwhelming that it will stop at nothing, including mass murder, to consolidate and preserve it. While many critics declined to endorse the book’s idiot theories, they sheltered their approval behind claims that it is a suspenseful thriller. This has to constitute one of the largest collective abdications of critical faculties in the history of literary criticism. In their eagerness to nourish any weed that might choke off the roots of Christian belief, did they really think no one would notice what an utterly lousy book this is?

* * * * *

Article III.

For myself, as a Catholic Christian, a friend to adherents and projects associated with Opus Dei, a historical novel buff, and an art history aficionado, I am offended to my very soul by Dan Brown’s work The Da Vinci Code, in every possible respect.

That this talentless ignoramus has prospered through the mass acceptance of his dull, clumsy, transparently fake piece of junior-high-grade literary schlock is an offense to any decently-educated person capable of putting pen to paper and producing lucid, original communication.

That Brown’s success is based entirely on the eagerness of the book-reviewing and book-buying public to devour any collection of anti-Catholic, anti-Christian scandalmongering conspiracy theories is a sickening grief to all sincere Christians on the planet.

That such a work of naked blasphemy has been re-packaged in a commercial film by people with genuine talent, for far wider circulation than achieved by the book, is both a moral outrage and a fearful prospect— an event which the Christian believer can only anticipate with feelings of anger, frustration, intimidation, and insult. No one involved in the making of this film can be unaware that Christians regard it as an overt and deliberate act of hostility and bigotry against everything they hold most sacred.

* * * * *

Article IV.

Therefore, in the face of this conscious insult to one third of the earth’s population, Christians have no choice but to band together and


We will NOT be issuing death threats against director Ron Howard, his family, his production company, or anyone associated with him now or ever.

Because we are capable of distinguishing between what is relevant to our complaints and what is not, we will not advocate the beheading of Andy Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show), nor will the gravestones of Aunt Bea, Barney Fife, Otis, and Floyd the Barber be desecrated (may they rest in peace). George Lucas and Harrison Ford (American Graffiti) need not fear for their lives and livelihoods —likewise Henry Winkler, Anson Williams, Penny Marshall, and Scott Baio (Happy Days); Gary Sinise, Bill Paxton, and Tom Hanks (Apollo XIII); Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man), Tom and Nicole (Far and Away), or Curious George the Monkey.

We pledge no threat of harm or death to Da Vinci Code star Tom Hanks (again), his family, friends, and co-stars (again: relevance!), from Peter Scolari (Bosom Buddies), to Gary Sinise (again) (Forest Gump), Matt Damon (Saving Private Ryan), Denzel Washington (Philadelphia), Shelley Long (The Money Pit), Buzz Lightyear, or Smiley the Soccer Ball. [offensive cartoon alert?]

We solemnly pledge NOT to burn a single Blockbuster Video or Best Buy store for providing rental or purchase of movies associated with any of these persons and the equipment for watching them, nor shall we boycott Wal-Mart for selling the stuff cheaper.

We shall issue NO fatwas against Bill Maher, Al Franken, Christopher Hitchens, or anyone else who we think might one day possibly express their disdain for Christians who object to blasphemous films.

We pledge in all good faith NEVER to behead, explode, stone, starve, rape, or vivisect any of the above-named persons or their associates, nor shall we mandate that all Hollywood plastic surgeons first perform clitorectomies when starlets come in for botox and collagen.

We shall not burn their flags, boycott their cheese, or stab and shoot their favorite documentary filmmakers.

We shall not refuse to educate their daughters.

Upon the release into the public theatres of the filmed version of The Da Vinci Code, a book we have deemed blasphemous, dishonest, historically fraudulent and literarily worthless, WE SHALL REFRAIN FROM ANY AND ALL OF THE HEINOUS ACTS CATALOGUED ABOVE.


Article V.

The Da Vinci Code is a tissue of lies and slanders motivated by the desire to convince the undereducated of that which is patently untrue. Jesus Christ said that “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matt 18:6] We’ll leave that to Him—He can handle it.

Adapt. Disseminate. Enjoy.

Advisory: What to DO?

See the film, or don't see the film-- wait for the reviews (from all sources) to decide.

Whatever you do, don't waste your money on the book.

In my New Year's post I reported that President Bush had read Imperial Grunts over Christmas, which was a good thing.

However, a couple of Christmases ago it was reported that he and Laura had both read and enjoyed The Da Vinci Code.

Now THAT scares me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

in preview
(officially opening March 23)

Princess of Wales Theatre
Toronto, Ontario

Some said it couldn’t be done. Some said it shouldn’t be done. It’s been done.

My Initial Prediction: It will SUCK.

Now that I’ve seen it: A flawed but pleasing entertainment.

Updated Prediction:It will tank. Critics will be unkind.

For starters, it’s 3 ½ hours long, plus two intermissions. But then, how could it be otherwise?

It's impossible for me to say, but for someone coming to it without knowledge of the books and/or films, this show just might be utterly incoherent. However, one of our guests, who hasn’t seen any of the films and has only distant memories of the books, enjoyed the musical very much—so who knows?

In terms of characterization and many of the visual effects, this new stage version generally imitates the films, and one ends up admiring it (or not) to the degree that the imitation is successful.

Unfortunately there is not a single acting performance that can be said to take hold of the audience with anything approaching the power of the movies acting ensemble.This is not to say that the acting is really bad—far from it.

(Only one role, Arwen, is a complete disaster. With underemployed actresses available in droves, it is inexplicable that this woman was cast. Her performance is breathy and affected, and totally annoying.) But for all their noble effort, the cast overall is under par.

This includes Brent Carver, one of two performers with [Canadian] name recognition, who is surprisingly weak. One would have expected such an experienced actor to overcome his own relative youth and slightness of voice and body, to fully inhabit the ancient wizard Gandalf. But he never manages it. Richard MacMillan, as Saruman, is a strong presence, but neither complex nor especially frightening. Sadly, Evan Buliung as Aragorn is entirely unremarkable, which makes for an even bigger void at the story’s centre than a weak Gandalf.

Victor Young (Elrond), James Love (Frodo), Michael Therriault (Gollum), and the other hobbits (Owen Sharpe, Dylan Roberts, Peter Howe) work hard and are solid.It's just too difficult to know how much credit to give them, since their performances are largely derivative from the films.

Yet I’m glad to have seen this show. It was like a visit with old friends, or maybe a long session with an old photo album, where deep memories have been preserved, so vivid as to be easily brought alive again. My worst fears—visions of dancing Ents, Orcs doing routines out of “Stomp,” and the road to Mordor taking on shades of “yellow brick”—did not in the least materialize. In fact, it is barely a musical—that genre in which song lyrics, musical styles, and dance routines do the work of dialogue by developing characters, defining relationships, relaying information, and advancing the plot.

LOTR:M featured a few character duets (Frodo and Sam, plus the obligatory Aragorn/Arwen love song), but on the whole the singing served as a kind of sound-track: solo reflections (Galadriel singing—not well!—about Lothlarien); scene-setting choruses (elves in odd costumes sounding like a church choir as Rivendell and Lothlarien are introduced—the former dark and indistinguishable from other locations, but the latter magically beautiful); mass sound effects for dramatic scenes, like the battles; and lots and lots of “traveling music.” People were forever charging around in overland circuits.The plot sort of demands this, but considering how many scenes and characters had to be cut, all the running in circles didn’t seem like time well-invested.

The music itself was never memorable (with the exception of the second Sam/Frodo duet)—definitely a show where you leave the theatre “humming the scenery” (which was exquisite). The most standard ensemble number was a barroom song and dance at the Prancing Pony in Bree, which was almost successful—the song was cute and hobbity (though the lyrics, like most of the rest in the show, were largely inaudible), but the costumes suggested an old west saloon (because…?).Other costumes were equally strange, like those of the itinerant human “props” (tree trunks and such) dressed like a chorus of Shi'ite imams.

Still, as I say, the ludicrous possibilities that a musical LOTR conjures up were mercifully absent, and I respect the producers for that.

The show had two HUGE problems, one unavoidable (way too much material—how to edit?) and one entirely avoidable (does anyone understand what this story is really about?).

Any stage show in which an epic tale is to be delivered with masses of spectacular special effects runs the risk of submerging its story in lights and smoke and shifting set pieces. To minimize this risk it helps to have a clear vision of the story’s vital themes, train your eyes on them, and never let go. Had the creative team for this production fixed upon such a vision it would have inspired the actors and been reflected in every performance. From where I sat, they just plain missed it.

Lord of the Rings is about the cosmic war between good and evil, the ultimate battle for the survival of freedom, order, virtue, and life itself. It is not just a societal power struggle (Tolkien was quite clear on that)—it is about whether the continued existence of the Good will be possible.

The prospect of losing this war should be a sickening horror—and those who are evil should horrify, and sicken, on sight. Orcs should be terrifying, their physical deformity a symbol of a moral deformity,on the part of Sauron and his minions, which is more frightening still. (The LOTR:M Orcs didn’t even come close.)

Tolkien is also very clear that, more than anything else, his story is about death—how each life will come, go, and perhaps leave something behind, but maybe not. The fact that when we pass, all the good we have done may pass away too, might break our hearts. But this in no way diminishes our sacred duty to do battle for what is right, whether across vast kingdoms or just in the courtyard of our small corner of the Shire. There is an agony in this, one which for Tolkien was only relieved by his faith, which, however veiled, informs every syllable of his great novel.

Agony of this kind—of the desperate war between good and evil—did not inform Lord of the Rings: the Musical. Without it, everything suffered from a hollowness at its heart which lights and smoke and scenery cannot fill.I was never for a moment afraid that the universe was in danger of decimation and deformity, or that evil would triumph, or even that anyone would die.

I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare of trying to decide what to include and what to jettison from Tolkien’s massive saga. It seems clear that the writers and director of this musical version were, not unexpectedly, so immersed in the material that they had trouble selecting, and in the end they attempted to include too many pieces of information that flew by unexplained or undeveloped.

This could easily be the most ambitious commercial musical production ever undertaken, even if it had not been laboring under the shadow of three staggeringly successful and brilliant (and lengthy) film versions of the same material. Factor in the book/movie/expectations burden, and you have to give these people full marks just for having the gall—as well as due credit for doing as spectacular a job as they did.

Generally I felt content but detached while watching this show. But in one respect it won my heart, that being that it had the wisdom to include the pivotal episode of “The Scouring of the Shire.” To this day I cannot fathom how Peter Jackson could have left it out of the films—to have done so , I think, reveals a critical hole in Jackson’s comprehension of the story.

The Scouring is the expression, in full bloom, of Tolkien’s themes of our passage toward death— the irreversibility of the wounds, the transformations, and the resignation that time brings to all of us, no matter how much we appear to have gone back to “how it once was.” We don’t-- we can’t-- and others coming after us may live to see all resolutions and restorations quite undone. The musical LOTR paid its tribute to this vital element of the story's conclusion, and of all the painstaking selections that a stage production compelled, this was the best.

So, just like my friend Gwyneth’s movie at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, I got to see Lord of the Rings: The Musical for free. And again, I’d gladly have paid.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And now for today's totally gratuitous and uncalled-for exercise in the politics of personal destruction:


Wa-a-a-a-y looney newly politicized
Hamas/ter of Terror, Ismail

And Wa-a-a-y lefty
political actor/ivist,
George Clooney

Co-inky-dink? I think not!

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Afternoon, Cape Spear

Views from our house, as weather changes

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ain't this a RIOT??? ---- Aw-w, shoot....

The Gospel according to
Kanye West

(some sample lyrics to his unique brand of psalm):

Crack my head on the steering wheel and I ain't even dead
If I could go through all that and still be breathing

Bitch bend over, I'm here for a reason

E-mailin me at 11:26, tellin me that she 36-26, plus double-d
You know how girls on black planet be when they get bubblee/
Birth Controls stuck to they arm like Nicorette
You really f***in that much, you tryin to get off cigarettes?

Does it make you want to get together with 3000 of your closest friends and burn down the local HMV? No? Whasswrongwichyew, you heart-numbed pig-dog, you?

Watch this space for my "Da Vinci Code Pledge for Thin-skinned Christians"-- I'm
hard at work on it.

NEWSFLASH!!! Lock and Load!
Mainstream Media gets scoop on Tempest in a Teapot!

Tony Blankley of the Washington Times puts the whole Great Quail Massacre into perspective:

In the absence of any pressing news these days — other than Iran's nuclear weapons development crisis, the election of Hamas terrorists in Palestine, ongoing worldwide Muslim riots and killing in reaction to a cartoon, Al Gore's near sedition while speaking in Saudi Arabia, the turning over of our East Coast ports to be managed by a United Arab Emirates firm, the criminal leaking of vital NSA secrets to the New York Times, Mexican military incursions across our southern border, the Iraqi crisis, Congress's refusal to deal with the developing financial collapse of Social Security and Medicare, inter alia — the White House press corp has exploded in righteous fury over the question of the vice president's little shooting party last weekend.
... the hallmark of the Washington Press corps these days is mediocrity, groupthink, a lack of curiosity and rampant careerism. These attributes were all on show in the shooting party incident. But this is just a trivial incident — except for the poor, shot gentleman who suffered a heart attack, may he recover fully and quickly.

We live at a moment of revolutionary change in the international order. The rise an
d violence of radical, possibly caliphate-forming Islam and the huge, culture-changing, unexamined consequences of rampant globalization make the present one of the least predictable moments to be alive.... Should they ever have a truly daring, creative, productive, hard-researched idea about what is going on in this dangerous world, they should alert the media.
I believe it was Rush Limbaugh who tagged the image at right with the sentiment, "At least Cheney takes his victims to the hospital."

Speaking of Tony Blankley, I must sieze the too-long neglected opportunity to congratulate him on coining an insult so meaty and delicious as to have been unmatched in the annals of prose composition since the days of the Bard of Avon. It was Blankley who famously described the Congressional Democrats as "
these fish-eyed sacks of loathsome bile and infamy: unwholesome in their birth; repugnant and stench-forming in their decline," in a piece from last November appropriately entitled An Incontinent Congress. Kudos-- you are the master.


It's not very feminist of me, but I tend to side with journalist and military brat Kate O'Beirne on the subject of women's role in the military, an opinion which found a moment of justification when it was revealed that the highest ranking officer at Abu Ghraib prison at the time (that is to say the day, for it was but one) when the abuses recorded in the infamous photographs occurred, was a female Brigadier General, Janis Karpinski. My knee-jerk smirk was set more firmly when she wasted no time in living up to sexist weenie-woman stereotype by immediately whining and finger-pointing, like a cross between Adam in the Garden and Hogan's Sergeant Schultz, to the effect that it was all someone else's fault and she "see nothing, nothing."

I admit that I was fairly quick to judge her character (or lack of it) at the time, and I'm sure I was not alone. Frankly, it was shocking that someone could rise so high in the military and lack the fundamental principle that the buck stops with the ranking officer. (But then, let's remember who was president when the fast-track promotion of women was in play...) Sadly, it seems that first bad impression of Karpinski was justified-- not only did she persist in taking no responsibility for the outrages of her underlings, she is now, Cindy Sheehan-like, making the circuit of anti-war gripe-ins (like "Not in Our Name" mock war-crime trials) flogging a preposterous story of women soldiers dying of dehydration because they were so fearful of rape by their comrades-in-arms during night-time potty trips, that they didn't drink enough water to stay alive. (hat-tip Mudville Gazette)

This would seem to be proof not only of this woman's weakness of character but of her fundamental stupidity (she has that in common with the unfortunate Mrs. Sheehan too) about small matters such as the medical impossibility of what she is swearing took place, not to mention the fact that she has referred specifically to a female Master Sergeant who suffered this fate, when in fact not a single female Master Sergeant has died of any cause over the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Karpinski (now Colonel, having escaped with mere demotion-- she could, and probably should, have fared much worse) has also unwittingly fallen into a trap of making the case for keeping women out of combat-- not just because of the danger of rape (rare but possible from their fellow soldiers, but a virtual certainty from the enemy should the women be captured), but because, if one is to believe the Colonel, women who have received the same training as men are too weak to protect themselves and to insist on equal treatment under military regulations, and are too fearful and foolish to look after their own welfare by following the inviolable rule of self-preservation in desert war: drink water.

Mudville Gazzeteer puts a cap on the Karpinski saga, by saying that as assinine as it is, it's important to cover it because it has traction among the Bush-haters/anti-militarists. Nevertheless, he concludes, "I propose the following theory: Regardless of the number of individuals in the group, the combined IQ of people who believe this story will never exceed 10."

As far as I know, Kate O'Beirne does not include Janis Karpinski in her new controversial book Women Who Make the World Worse but as far as I'm concerned she's worth a footnote. She is a disgrace to all women in the military, and she makes me ashamed.


A small follow-up to the possibly over-the-top quote from Henry V at the end of my New Year's Post regarding the current conflict in Iraq.

(You'll recall:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here.
I was checking in on my bookmarked mil-blogs and came upon the homecoming post of Rusten Currie at Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum obviously a thinking man's soldier. His reflections on the December 15 Iraqi election are especially moving (and they back me up!); and he ends the post with a tribute to the wife he will soon see again, closing it with these words:

When this is over and I hang this faded uniform I hope to spend the rest of my life with you and when we grow old together, and reflect on this war and our time apart as with soldiers in all wars I’ll be able to smile and say; “I was there."

What will I miss about Iraq? Nothing…everything.

On the election itself, he writes:

December 15th 2005, was one of the greatest days of my life, I was witness to the birth of democracy in Iraq. It is a rarity to be a part of such an historic event. Despite any and all arguments about the why we are here; by some accounts 75% of Iraqis registered to vote did so (Imagine who or groups of who, would not be in office if 75% of American voters turned out!). Despite threats (very real threats) of violence Iraqi men and women lined up and waited; some for hours, to vote. They waited patiently in lines that would have driven me mad! They have never before had such an opportunity to vote and have a say in their own nation....

The day passed without incident, save for the aforementioned self-determination of the nation by its citizens. All was quiet on virtually all fronts of the war in Iraq. In fact, I can honestly say I was bored. Being bored in war is a good thing, and as of late, I have been blissfully bored to no end.
On the war he writes:
Looking back at the last year, I remember so much and so many people I have met, and had the honor of serving with. I have seen some wonderful things here and I have seen some of the worst violence, and the darkness of the human soul. I have seen vicious acts of hatred, and I have seen selflessness I never thought possible.

This war is different from other wars… This war is exactly the same as every other war. War devours everything in its path; there is no mercy to it. There is no reason in it, it exists to destroy, and as long as there are governments run by mortals there will always be war. Yet, even in war the brighter side of humanity can shine through, I have seen it. Average Iraqis handing me a bottle of cold water in the blistering heat, a little girl holding the hand of a grieving soldier whose friend had been mortally wounded in an IED attack. Defiant Iraqi civilians standing in line to vote, so that their voice is heard.

This is Rusten Currie. Why isn't he on the cover of Rolling Stone? Perhaps it's because he's too thoughtful, too dignified, and too true for those who are more comfortable with the Lie.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Before my vast reading public is all over me for it, allow me to trumpet that I had a mental lapse and called Toronto by the antique name "Byetown" [in the post below], which is, of course, the antique name for Ottawa, Toronto's being "Muddy York." I was seduced by the lure of alliteration-- what can I say?

Speaking of Ottawa, my periodic chum, daily correspondent, and fellow foot-dragger on respective books waiting to be written, David Warren, has unearthed the following salient details (with an assist to the Wall Street Journal) on the pedigree of the current anti-Danish Islamist rage, to be published in tomorrow's Ottawa Citizen. It 'splains a lot (emphases added):
The cartoons were nearly ignored when they first appeared: there was one death threat from a Muslim immigrant, but police determined the man was mentally ill. Trouble began stirring when imams called attention to the cartoons, with incendiary sermons in Danish mosques. An imam in Aarhus publicly reminded the editor of Jyllands-Posten of what had happened to the Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh. But even that could have blown over.

From several sources, we now know that word of the cartoons was then carried systematically through the Muslim world -- to principal mosques, madrasahs, and government offices starting in Egypt. This was done by delegations sent by Ahmed Abu-Laban, the Saudi-supported Imam of Copenhagen. And in addition to the dozen cartoons that had actually appeared in that obscure provincial newspaper -- most fairly innocent, and one actually satirizing opposition to Islam -- the delegation's "media kit" included 30 graphics that had never appeared, and by their nature would never appear, in a Western mainstream newspaper. For instance, a photo of a man dressed as a pig, over the caption, "This is the real Mohammad."

The fake pictures not only outnumbered the real ones, they were much nastier. Many were in the style of anti-Semitic cartoons that appear frequently in Arab papers, but turned around to target Muslims instead of Jews. And the covering letter, which I have read in translation, was full of outrageous lies about events in Denmark, and misrepresentations of what had been said by Danish journalists and politicians.

It is this document, and not any copy of Jyllands-Posten from Sept. 30th, 2005, that is at the root of the Muslim riots, the Saudi-sponsored pan-Arab boycott of Danish goods, and various fatwas and other acts that put Danes and other Europeans, who had never previously heard of Jyllands-Posten, in peril for their lives.
Score one for the Orcs-- that rampaging, stampeding, swarming hoard of lies.

to Newfoundland tomorrow, where the only true blasphemy is taking cod's name in vain.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


[Brief blogging while blowing back into Byetown, before boogie-ing off to the Bight] --

[translation: I’ve been gone, I’m back, but only a for few days, then away again, leaving Toronto for Newfoundland, till Valentine’s Day.]

Cartoons are much in the news these days (and I’m not talking about the two Senators from Massachusetts, though they certainly qualify).

Scroll on for latest scoops on Military movies, Tolkein musicals, and notes on Cheese.

I'll have a CHEESED DANISH, please -- TO GO

The Danes had been among the first of Old Europe’s societies to publicly wake up to the idea that they have something to lose by being indifferent to Muslim immigrants transporting and implanting in the Danes’ social soil the religious and cultural customs of whatever country they couldn’t be bothered to remain in.

Too much of Europe (notably Scandinavia) has looked the other way while the denizens of Muslim enclaves have routinely violated European norms, most especially in their treatment of girls and women (through polygamy, honor killings, and gang rapes, among other things). Denmark stood up and expressed its recognition of the threat posed by this situation, in various ways, not least through its support for the American-led War on Terrorism—a stand which has not gone unnoticed or unpunished by the Islamist-jihadist movement.

Fed up with increased bullying and threats from that quarter, one Danish journal (not very high-profile) published some sketches and cartoons (hat-tip Michelle Malkin) portraying the prophet Mohammed’s face— a well-known taboo among Muslims— some of which were artful portraits, but several of which were intended as criticism and ridicule. (Here's one of them, just so I don't get accused of cowering in CYA-mode, like CNN and various other major news media did, claiming a desire not offend, when they probably more motivated by a desire not to be vaporized.)

Personally, I don’t approve of that-- having been, as a Catholic, on the receiving end of countless mean-spirited cartoon insults to both the doctrines and the membership of my Church. Had I been the editor of the Danish paper, I‘d have scotched the publication of the insulting cartoons on general principles of good taste and manners and the social responsibilities they imply. (Apparently Hugh Hewitt agrees.) It both infuriates and wounds me when Christianity is wantonly derided by bigots who think they are both clever and superior, while the wider world adds insult to injury by dismissing Christian victims of bigotry as (a) thin-skinned, and (b) in no position to complain, since Christianity is a force for evil in the world, responsible for an infinite list of historical crimes, blah, blah, blah……

I was thus quite sympathetic to the Muslim resentment of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and fully understood the sense in which it was blasphemous. Nevertheless I thought the fatwa against Rushdie was stupid, primitive, and completely self-destructive of the Muslim position in the argument—though I vocally supported the right of any bookstore to decline to carry the book. That’s just the free market at work, as far as I’m concerned. Few bookstores took that route, and there was much posturing about “censorship,” and condemnation of the “cowardice” of any that did. But as far as I’m concerned, the independent bookseller should be able to carry or not carry according to his own inclinations, just as a toy-store owner should be free refuse to carry toy guns or soldiers, bloat-breasted female dolls and action figures, or whatever the owner feels the world is better without. If selecting inventory based on the owner’s principles means lost business, so be it— it’s everybody’s free choice all ‘round. (I'm a big fan of boycotts, too, no matter what side of the spectrum you're on-- it is an exercise of consumer free-market power, and it speaks volumes without institutionalized coercion or manipulation of public systems-- left or right, go for it!)

But back in Denmark: the paper proceeded with publication and, predictably, all hell broke loose.

“All hell” has been known to break loose when Catholics and other Christians are publicly mocked, especially through publicly-funded institutions like art galleries.

"All hell" regularly breaks loose against anti-Semitism from a busy Anti-Defamation League (which once upon a time could count on the support of the cultural and political elites of the West, but more recently has become a voice crying in the wilderness, abandoned by everyone but certain segments of conservative Christians, even as the elites now come to the aid of the Jew-bashers).

And “all hell,” Muslim-style, certainly broke loose in the wake of the Danish cartoon affair, escalating when other European journals (in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands) reprinted the offending Danish cartoons in a deliberate, in-your-face defiance of the threats, intimidation, and acts of violence perpetrated against Danes in their own country and at their diplomatic missions across the world.

While I don’t favour any publication of cartoons which have nothing to say that rises above mere ridicule of religious tradition, this whole incident has underscored the inescapable truth that what constitutes "all hell” is just one point of doctrine on which Islam differs radically from the Judeo-Christian tradition. (And we are talking about “doctrine” here—make no mistake about it.) Christian and Jewish “all hell” breaks loose in the form of public condemnations, letter writing campaigns, boycotts, filing of formal complaints, and, occasionally in extreme circumstances, legal action for compensatory remedy or prosecution of a hate crime (always unsuccessful for Christians, btw).

By contrast, Islamist “all hell” involves calls for political and bodily harm. When the old-fashioned avenues of protest are employed— such as boycotts and denunciations— it is in the service of communicating threats of mass murder, chaos, and destruction—threats which are not idle. This is not opinion. It is fact; it is merely quoting the parties themselves.

This whole affair of the cartoons has been an odd thing. As I mentioned, the Danes seem to have been a little ahead of their continental comrades in waking up to the potential for erosion of their national and cultural institutions represented by a thriving unassimilated Muslim immigrant minority, one that is determined not only to persist in living according to the customs of the native country they left behind (not in itself a dreadful thing), but to demand increased official tolerance and then institutionalizing of these customs in their adopted foreign home, with the openly-stated aim of eventually re-configuring the foreign nation into their native one, to be first culturally and then politically annexed into a new Islamic regime. The Danes have taken this once-far-fetched scenario seriously, and the cartoon rebellion is a symptom of their growing indignation at the planned overthrow of their national identity.

I was about to write “ancient identity,” but I was reminded of an idea (floated by Mort Kondracke on FOX, I believe) that what’s really going on with this pan-European publishing tantrum is that the Islamists have finally threatened something very highly valued in Europe, that is, a not-so-very-old freedom to dump on religion.

Europeans are not actually all that wedded to "freedom of expression" as a philosophical principle—how else does one explain the suppression of all religious symbols and attire in French public schools, for instance? A spokesman for the German paper Die Welt referred to a dearly-held tradition of being able to “mock what is holiest.” How noble! It’s what freedom’s all about!— kinda gets ya, right here (thump).

Having turned a blind eye and not lost any too much sleep over Shar’ia-sanctioned oppression, rape and murder of women in Muslim ghettoes, public incitement to violent political insurrection from the mosques and madrassahs, and even assassination of outspoken non-Muslims like Theo van Gogh, suddenly the Europeans experience an attack on something truly sacred to their society— the license to engage in mockery of religion— and they lash out with a widespread act of rather puerile journalistic spitefulness, a sort of swaggering double-dare-ya' and damn-the-consequences – only to find that the consequences could truly start a world war.

It's my suspicion that behind all this righteous posturing about free speech, most of the European pundit class really knew that they were engaging in a fairly childish provocation, and couldn’t permit themselves conceive of it escalating into that Clash of Civilizations they had regarded as a bellicose academic conceit. Well, wake up and smell the burning flesh and rubber, oh Continental neighbors. These people are not kidding around—and you don’t have to be the empire of Bush-Chimpy W. McHitlerburton to bring down their pop-eyed lunatic wrath upon yourselves. Perhaps you noticed that about 800 Americans died at the hands of jihadist terrorism before Bush had gotten any further than the governor’s mansion in Austin.

Many thought that the suburban rioting in France was the harbinger of "the big one"-- the great populist Muslim wave which would bring Europe to its knees through nasty but non-nuclear mayhem. But that never quite reached maximum boil. Time will tell whether a bunch of lame-o editorial cartoons will yet prove to be the fateful fire-bomb (hardly likely to be non-nuclear at this point). In a way it almost doesn't matter why we start fighting-- there's a refreshing sense of honesty in what we're seeing, the sheer frothing lunatic animal hatred of it all. Now at least there are fewer people pretending that one side of the argument has any right to call itself a "Religion of Peace."

TAKE NOTE: Muslims are free to boycott -- frankly, it should be recommended to them over car-bombings and riots. So they're making the Danes suffer at the grocery store cash register-- and we're free to bite back, literally -- here's an opportunity for immediate action to address the world's ills! Take a big bite out of terrorism! Have a hearty hunk o' HAVARTI! Buy Danish! Fight the international Islamist boycott of Danish products! Bring on the Butter cookies!

Half-Danish Hollywood leftist moonbat Viggo Mortensen must have found this cartoon affair a little squirmish, what with the third-worldy opprobrium being heaped upon the heartland of his second passport, when he's much more comfortable with opprobrium being heaped upon the arrogant American empire.

However, he managed to excavate words of comfort from the far reaches of global journalism to post on the web-page of Perceval Press, his art-house publishing company. A hat-tip to Perceval for the link to an extraordinarily craven (even for the Guardian) editorial rationalizing the suppression of the cartoons based on "context"-- i.e. you have to make editorial decisions with an eye to whether your white supremacist political parties might be able to exploit what you print to their advantage. PUKE.

Also for linking to the International Herald Tribune (that's the New York Times on vacation) interview with a few Danes who have picked their poses along the same lines. "I will fight in the name of free speech," says Danish Muslim writer Rushy Rashid, "but not without respect for the consequences." [I believe I just spotted a Laura Ingraham "But Monkey!"] And then there's

Tim Jensen [professor of religions, University of Southern Denmark] who thinks that the dispute over the cartoons may help Muslims. 'They have managed to prove that they want to be respected. They don't want to be second-class citizens.'

...Indeed, after the publication of the cartoons, there is talk - some of it divisive - of spending public money on a grand new mosque to show Danes' respect for Muslims... At the Betty Nansen theater here, a show running since last month entitled "The Headscarf Monologues" seeks to explore the experience of 80 Muslim women living in Denmark.
The Headscarf Monologues. Can you make this stuff up, people? No, you cannot. Rodney Dangerfield always complained that he couldn't get no respect-- apparently the formula for this is to burn down buildings and threaten mass murder of people you've never met.

Mortensen was recently quoted characterizing "Cindy Sheehan, and how badly Katrina was bungled" as "two shots to the heart. I assumed he was talking about his own, which, owing to his solid-gold liberal credentials, can reasonably be expected to be bleeding at any given moment. But the expanded version of the quote concludes with “I hope the beast does fall down soon." Less generous folks than I have speculated that this is a veiled desire for a convenient assassination, but I'm prepared to read it as metaphorical, with impeachment being the desideratum of maximum disruption. Since both the Cirque de Sheehan and most of the complaints about the federal role in the Katrina debacle have been definitively stamped and filed in the "BOGUS" drawer, Mortensen had better hang his hopes on something else. [Oh it was so tempting to pair "half-Danish" with "half-wit" but I think he's actually somewhat smarter than that, which is the sad part.]

[Wonder how those Viggo-designed t-shirts that say "Support the Troops -- bring them home" are selling now that L.A. Times writer/whippersnapper Joel Stein has thrown cold water on that particular leftist posture. Stein has taken immense heat for his article about not supporting the troops if you don't support the war. I'm in the camp that found it a more honest position than the one he criticizes as hypocritical. Hugh Hewitt pretty much had Stein for lunch on his radio show, not so much for his dismissive attitude towards the military but for the utter poverty of thought and paucity of world-experience behind his position. Basically he's kind of a dumb kid writing about people and places and situations of which he knows absolutely nothing. But he has some of the right instincts about the Hollywood left.]

SUPPORT THE TROOPS? Nah, not so much.
Another cartoon made waves this past week, emanating not from the Religion of Peace from the religion of American Journalism, an interesting faith in which every adherent is also a god. Hence the defense of Tom Toles' right to publish the following in one of the country's three most-read newspapers, the Washington Post:

The cartoonist claimed that he did not intend to offend anyone in the military (only intended to offend Rumsfeld, he said, blinkeredly). Well, he may be quite sincere in that claim, but so what? All it means is that he is sincerely obtuse, and so partisan that he has managed to cauterize the most normal nerve-ends of human decency and compassion. His human feelings now benumbed, he exhibits in full flower the same syndrome as Christiane Amanpour and the other media types who went all postal when news anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman got wounded: "The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it," wailed Christiane in an unguarded moment of consummate journo-narcissism.

There's only one way stuff like this flows spontaneously from your mouth, and that's if our soldiers and Marines are simply not real to you. Many prominent journalists, as we have long suspected, have dehumanized and objectified the military into a nameless, faceless mass about whom stereotypes and generalizations will do nicely to fill up the news copy. Specific identities, units, campaigns, and (most especially) victories are of no interest.

Bottom line on the Toles cartoon: Had the multiple amputee been wearing a standard-issue army fatigue shirt with a pocket name-tape bearing the word "CLELAND" on it, there would have been no ripple of laughter, and not one word uttered in defense of this vile caricature, anywhere in the country-- a place where Toles is free to be a heartless, brain-numbed jerk, and we are free to call him one.

It's a conservative canard that a right to speak does not automatically imply a right to be heard. But there is a degree to which freedom of speech becomes meaningless when there is a stranglehold on the flow of information, such as has been enjoyed by the leftist-oriented mainstream media in recent times past. Their monopoly cost the United States what should have been (and nearly was) a clear ride to victory in Vietnam, and the effort to re-enact this media-generated surrender in Iraq has been powerful. But it will not prevail, because information is now flowing in countless healthy capillaries within the body politic. Freedom of information is really more important than an established right to vote-- only because it will inevitably lead to the demand for that right.

Jonathan Steele in Britain's Guardian writes an amusingly illusion-based piece (hat-tip to Perceval Press again), hilariously titled "Bush just has to face it: he is wrong and Chirac is right," in which he describes President Bush's demeanour during the State of the Union address (quoting the L.A. Times) as "chastened, deferential, modest." It's amazing what you see when you want to see it. Au contraire, Mr. Steele, there doesn't seem to be much doubt that at times Bush was downright scolding, giving obstructionist Democrats the big spank-- I was quite stunned, in fact-- figured it would be interpreted as injudiciously unconciliatory. Steele goes on:
Bush's speech was remarkable for the number of times he called on his fellow Americans not to retreat, not to give up, not to succumb to pessimism, not to be defeatist. If his policies were not floundering, these pleas would not have been necessary.
Well, no, not the case. In fact, he was just issuing a needed corrective to the relentless media lying about how we're getting smashed over there-- which we aren't. It is truer to say that if Bush had taken the bullsh*t by the horn months and months ago, as he should have, these exhortations would not have been necessary. "They were markedly different from the confident tone of last year's address," continues Steele. Well, yeah-- because the media and the Democrats have spent the past year engaged in an unconscionable campaign of anti-Bush, anti-military, and fundamentally anti-American propoganda which history will gasp at one day.

[And no, I'm not saying that "anti-Bush" is synonymous with "anti-American." But "anti-military" -- when we have troops in combat and avowed enemies going after us and killing our citizens in a series of attacks (all but one prior to the Bush administration) -- yes, I think that's synonymous with "anti-American."]

Speaking of Vietnam, anyone out there still feeling romantic about Communism? Here's a timely report from middle son, just visiting Cambodia during his long Chinese New Year holiday:
Our first stop yesterday was the S-21 detention and torture facility, the most lethal one of the Rouge's and in a typical twist of genocidal irony, a former high school...the facility has since been turned into a museum, with all of the structures still intact and many of the beds and instruments of torture on display...thousands and thousands of pictures of the victims adorn the walls and there are dozens of leftover blood stains all over the floors, walls and even the ceilings of some of the rooms...
following our visit to the museum, we made the 15 km trek or so to the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, so named for their use as mass gravesites during the genocide...there were two dozen or so dug-out pits of every shape and size at the site with sign posts indicating the number of victims and sometimes their manner of death...a huge stupa memorial containing 8000 skulls or so was located right in the centre of it all...

perhaps the most gut and heart-wrenching sight at the fields, though, were the impoverished local children, whose playgrounds and begging grounds are the grave site itself...their outstretched hands greeted us as soon as we arrived and it was enough to make you burst into tears seeing their condition...fortunately, we managed to spend about 30-45 minutes just recreating with them and goofing around, teaching each other different games and the like - definitely the most rewarding experience of the vacation thus far, but also the most saddening...
Nothing like a visit to one of the world's great Worker's Paradise states to give you some perspective! Too bad he wasn't accompanied by those venerable fans of the Marxist experiment like, say, George Galloway, Ward Churchill, George Soros, Noam Chomsky, and most of the political science department faculty at most major universities of the Western World. Too bad Joan Baez wasn't along for the trip-- I'm sure she could have found someplace to play the Glad Game.

I'm in the happy position of being mother to a jarhead (that's the standard Marine Corps haircut) who could tell me exactly what he and his comrades thought of the movie "Jarhead"-- and I'm the aunt of a graduate of the U.S.Naval Academy at Annapolis (class of 2005) who can also tell me what he and his fellow tars think of "Annapolis." Real jarheads, on the whole, thought "Jarhead" was boring, incoherent, and, where it really counted, totally at odds with reality. Of "Annapolis" I only know that the administration of the Academy took one look at the script and said, "You won't be filiming this HERE." I guess I'll see it myself, but the only up-or-down thumbs that will count will be those of the former mid-shipmen. (My nephew in fact broke both his thumbs while at the Academy-- not in the line of duty-- but I think they will be found in working order regarding the movie.) Verdict pending-- watch this space!

ON STAGE: Another verdict pending: someone in my hometown got the bright idea to create a musical version of Lord of the Rings, to premiere in our fair city this very month. The thought of someone cramming this three-volume literary masterpiece into a two-hour stage slow, interrupted by singing and dancing hobbits, ents, and orcs, was too too sick-making, and I had vowed to steer clear of it at all costs.

Not to be. I am compelled as a matter of wifely duty to accompany my husband and some of his clients to this dubious theatrical undertaking, in a matter of mere weeks. As a public service, therefore, I shall transmit on these pages my considered opinion of the proceedings (urp, gag, shuffle-off-to-Rivendell). Naturally, my critique shall be completely #$£&@!-ing objective.

at Kingsway-Lambton United Church:
My first reaction was to wonder how this would read had it been written in English. Did we mean: "To answer disrespect with blasphemy is the real essence (or a genuine act) of violence and hatred"? If that's what was meant, it's a pity that's not what it said.

However, rendered into standard English I still don't get what it's trying to say-- or maybe I do, and it's just too stupid to process. In any case, it's been put out there for all to see, in safe suburban side-street Etobicoke, where white people with large cars will feel... something... And, no doubt, congratulate themselves for it. And wonder how those scary Conservatives won that election.

[Being celebrated with particular vigor this year because the new President (Fr. Brian Shanley) of Providence College, where two of the three sons have gone, just put the total hob-nailed mendicant boot to the increasingly mainstreamed "underground" performance of the execrable Vagina Monologues on the campus. Congratulations, Fr. Shanley! You're a mensch!]