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Friday, December 20, 2002


United States: Empire of Darkness

I try to avoid hearing what actors have to say about politics. Stupid (e.g., Ed Asner) or evil (e.g., Vanessa Redgrave) views ruin my ability to enjoy an actor's work. By chance I turned on Charlie Rose last night. He was interviewing Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo in the films, and Viggo Mortensen, who plays Aragorn.

Oh, how I wish I had gone to bed early. Viggo had made himself a little t-shirt for the interview. It said, "No more blood for oil."

This, I am sad to say, was the best part of his appearance, at least the part that I saw before turning off the television in disgust. Viggo is upset that some people are comparing the U.S., in its war on terror, to the forces of good in the movie. According to him, it is actually the reverse: the U.S. is Sarumon, its rapacious (his word) government unleashing forces of destruction on innocent civilians huddled at Helm's Deep.

In short, Viggo is a bloody idiot.

More wisdom from Viggo: the upcoming war against Iraq is a diversion, to distract people from the "fact" that the U.S. has been bombing civilians in Afghanistan for a year, and has killed more innocents than were killed in the Trade Center attacks. It is also a vendetta spawned by Bush's father.

In case you are tuning in late, the point is that Viggo is a bloody idiot.

The entertaining element in this interview, which was supposed to be about the movie, was imagining the reactions of the movie's marketers. Let's put it this way: I'm betting the pucker factor was pretty high. Depending on what kind of press this gets, two days into the opening of the second movie in the trilogy, the pucker factor could go higher.

"You were supposed to talk about the movie, pretty boy, not your paranoid personal politics. Who are you, freaking Ed Begley, Jr. all of a sudden?" I'm sure right now the marketers are meeting with the PR flaks, to figure out how best to position themselves if this hits the fan. And let's hope that it does.

Not, mind you, because Viggo's insipid views matter. What should be most insulting to American fans of the wonderful movies is that Viggo felt he should speak out in order to set us all straight on what the movie does and does not mean. Deep-thinking Viggo, who by his own admission didn't even open the first Tolkien book until he was on his way to filming. He learned some lines and play-acted some fight scenes, so now he's an expert on the symbolism of good and evil, and their interconnections with global politics.

This isn't surprising, to be sure, Hollywood is chock full of stupid people with ridiculous, trendy little views. The worst part of this spectacle, however, was that Viggo trotted out the "I'm just trying to be an independent voice" line. "Nobody questions U.S. policy, or asks why we need to kill all of these innocent civilians," he exclaimed.

So here's what will happen next. If this gets much press, Viggo will say that oppressive conservatives are trying to silence him and others who agree with him. This is a tactic of the self-pitying, irrational Left. Sling out ridiculous accusations, exclaim that you are really just trying to inject truth into the debate, and then run hiding at the first sign of critique.

Viggo couldn't even withstand the gentlest of questioning from Rose ("What would you have done differently after 9/11," Rose asked. "Well, I wouldn't have killed all those innocent people in Afghanistan," was the evasive answer). There's no way he can maintain his assertions in the face of a detailed rebuttal. Not that people like him ever have any intention of doing so. Instead, they equate rebuttal with efforts to crush their rare flower of an opinion.

The second movie, by the way, is well worth seeing, especially the battle scenes. You might find yourself rooting a little for the Orcs, however. Imagine what an insufferable little kingdom this Aragorn would build for himself. Tolkien's work is art, and it is beautiful in its portrayal of the eternal battles in and around man. It is a pity Viggo Mortensen isn't more worthy of the tale.

UPDATE:
Oh, it just keeps getting better. this thread is just one of many on the Charlie Rose website. A sample from one of Viggo Mortensen's fans:

"Viggo Mortensen demonstrated admirable courage in wearing his homade (sic) "no more blood for oil tee shirt on Charlie�s show. I thought he handled himself very well under the inquisition that Charlie presented regarding the meaning it represented."

And another fan:

"I also applaud to Viggo for his T-shirt and Charlie for letting him discuss it. This kind of intelligent discussion is so lacking in main stream TV these days. It might have been a digression from the discussion of the movie, but I loved the spontaneity and that Charlies allowed the digression.

Now if Charlie would bring Noam Chomsky for an hour discussion."

Noam Chomsky. Oh. Dear. God.

I'm thinking of a scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Aragorn and Gimli leap into a crowd of orcs and send bodies flying left and right. This close-minded little cabal on the Rose website suggests a similar opportunity...

Update
Comments are closed. Now all of you just . . . go away. Scoot. Be gone. Enjoy yourselves on someone else's website.


posted by Woodlief | link | (62) comments


Thursday, December 19, 2002


Plop, Plop; Fizz, Fizz

I used to look forward to getting a bad cold. This wasn't just because I could then watch "Dumb and Dumber" in the middle of the day and not feel terribly guilty about it. It wasn't just because my sweet woman would bring me chicken noodle soup and Wheat Thins and little slices of cheddar cheese in bed. And it wasn't just because being sick allowed me to take a nice long nap in the middle of the day without ruining my nighttime sleep.

No, what I used to like about the cold was that it offered me the opportunity to take the greatest cold-fighting medication known to man -- orange-flavored Alka-Seltzer Cold and Flu remedy. Plop plop fizz fizz, baby. A shot of fizzy orange tonic, and then lie down on the couch and fall asleep to the gentle sound of Jim Carrey asking, "Hey, want to hear the most annoying sound in the entire world?"

But then they took it off the market. Seems it was giving too many people coronaries. I have been very bitter about this. I mean, so do jogging shoes, but you don't see any overweaning government agency yanking them off the market, now do you? So the Feds deprived me of my meds. Overnight, the cold became less inviting.

A few days ago, the wife and I have collapsed in front of the television to watch a show we are too tired to see, but which we watch anyway, because the prospect of going to sleep only to wake up seemingly instantaneously for another day of labor is more than either of us can bear.

"Look honey," says the wife, gesturing to a commercial running across our television screen, "they've brought back your Alka-Seltzer." She pats me on the shoulder. "Now you can get sick again."

"No," I reply with a surly voice, "it's not the same. They've reformulated it. I need the stuff that can give me a heart attack."

"You don't know -- this could be just as good."

"It's never just as good."

"How do you know that?"

"Two words for you, my friend: New. Coke."

This evokes a visible shudder. I've made my point clear.


posted by Woodlief | link | (7) comments


Tuesday, December 17, 2002


News Through The Ages

PBS, last week: Many in Baghdad are struggling to survive after years of U.S. sanctions. Ali Ali-Saud, a local vendor, sells CD's of American music, and worries about what war will mean for his business. Saud sells his CD's for only a few dollars each, because he forges them. He has no qualms about this.

"Right now, the Iraqi people need this music. We are all very afraid of what America will soon do to us."

CNN, yesterday: "I'm here with Farouk Al-Flaki, president of the Arab Anti-Defamation Alliance. Mr. Flaki, how great is the extent of Arab unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy?"

"Well, many Americans just don't understand how much business the Arab world has with the West, including the U.S. Many of our members have purchased billions of dollars worth of electronics, chemicals, explosives, munitions, and other humanitarian supplies from the West, especially the French. War in Iraq could be very bad for my, I mean, their business."

"Of course, Mr. Flaki. Tell us, how will Arab people respond if the Bush Administration sends troops against Iraq . . ."


PBS, 1982: Many people here in Gdansk are struggling after weeks of strife prompted, some in the Polish administration say, by a divisive Pope and his backers in the Reagan Administration. Talech Valuski sells work permits in a local government office. He is able to do so for half-price because the increasingly liberal Jaruzelski administration permits graft.

"It will be very hard if this Lech Walesa continues to make trouble. I have two kids in college in France. How will I continue to pay for their education if the Communist Party is no longer permitted to rationally allocate labor? I thought Americans supported education. This proves that they are simply hypocrites."


CNN, 1969: "I'm in a POW camp in an undisclosed location near Hanoi with Nguyen Spinwai, president of the North Vietnamese Anti-Defamation Alliance. Mr. Spinwai, how great is the extent of Vietnamese unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy?"

"America is very bad for disturbing our peaceful transition to communism. We are all about peace. That is why we built these Protection-Outside-the-War camps, in order to safeguard wayward American soldiers."

"Of course, Mr. Spinwai. Tell us, how will the Vietnamese people respond if the Johnson Administration sends still more troops against Vietnam . . ."


PBS, 1944: Many people here in Berlin are struggling to make ends meet after years of U.S. attacks. Deitrich Dormeister sells books on a local street corner, for only pennies a copy. He is able to do this because he contracts with a local labor cooperative near the quaint little town of Auschwitz.

"We Germans are very big fans of American writers, especially Joseph Kennedy and Rev. Charles Coughlin. If only they were more respected in their own country."


CNN, 1945: "I'm in a bomb shelter outside Tokyo with Shoshimo Haki, president of the Japanese Anti-Defamation Alliance. Mr. Haki, how great is the extent of Japanese unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy?"

"Well, we don't appreciate the firebombings, if that's what you mean. This is typical American failure to recognize cultural differences. That thing in Pearl Harbor that you call a "sneak attack," we call "pre-emptive self-defense" -- and I think current U.S. hostilities against us bear that out."

"Of course, Mr. Haki. Tell us, how will Japanese people respond if the Truman Administration sends troops onto Japanese soil . . ."


PBS, 1776: Many people in London are struggling to make sense of a world turned upside-down by, many say, unreasonable hostility from American colonists. The rates of suicide, depression, and eating disorders are on the rise, especially within the Royal Family. James Pennington sells hot drinks on the street corner. He used to be able to sell these for only a half-pence. But now, his prices have doubled.

"Things used to be a lot better for me an' the little ones before all this hub-bub, what? These colonists are right cheeky, I think, to say they don't need our protection. Taxation without representation -- they should be more realistic. Next thing you know, they'll be asking for free speech and a bicameral legislature!"


CNN, -0000: "I'm here in Hell with Snarltooth Angst, president of the Demonic Anti-Defamation Alliance. Mr. Angst, how great is the extent of Demonic unhappiness with Heavenly foreign policy?"

"Well, He Whose Name Cannot Be Uttered Here is totally intolerant. I mean, all Satan was asking for was a little more equitable distribution of power, and the next thing you know, he and all of his supporters have been completely marginalized. This is segregation, there's no two ways about it. We can't wait until Alan Dershowitz gets down here so he can take on our case."


posted by Woodlief | link | (3) comments


Monday, December 16, 2002


Stolen Baby Jesus

I think I may have sparked something unholy in my recent post on yard adornments. Alert reader Janis Gore sends this link to the Trentonian. It appears that three thieves have stolen the plastic baby Jesus from the front yard of Tom and Candy Konczos.

The ransom note reads:

"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: WE HAVE YOUR BABY JESUS. IF YOU EVER WANNA SEE YOUR BABY JESUS AGAIN, LEAVE 800 DOLLARS IN SMALL BILLS, NOT TRACEABLE, IN THE MAILBOX OF ... WE WILL CONTACT YOU LATER WITH FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS. YOURS TRULY."

We know there were three of them because the note was signed: "Me, him and the other kid who was really scared and didn’t want to take your baby Jesus and the whole time all he did was say stuff like you’re going to hell, this isn’t right, stop."

Indeed.


posted by Woodlief | link | (1) comments