Saturday, January 31, 2009

A few more movies

My continuing roundup of the movies we've watched since Christmas.

Fox Horror Classics vol. 2 - The main attraction in this collection is Dragonwyk, finally released to home video for the first time. I saw it years and years ago on TV, and always wanted to see it again. It features a very young and handsome Vincent Price as Nicholas van Ryn, and Gene Tierney as Miranda Wells, the distant cousin who comes to Dragonwyk to care for the daughter of her rich relations, and ends up marrying the master after the suspicious death of his wife. I suppose it's technically a horror film, but it's more of a gothic thriller with touches of the supernatural. Nicholas is a lot more captivating than he is in the book; you can see why a naive farmgirl might be taken in by him and fall in love. In the book, he was a real sociopath, and only a fool would get involved with him. I think there are hints still persisting in the movie about Miranda's motivation: Magda notices how she enjoys being waited upon, and how impressed she is by the richness of Dragonwyk, while after a few months in her gilded surroundings, even the admiring Dr. Turner says that they don't have anything to say to each other anymore, in contrast to the quick rapport they established when they first met. Miranda is sort of a sell-out; just as her father warned, she's led astray by the luxury of her rich relations, and she wants it for herself. But this theme is rather lost in the movie; Gene Tierney is just too sweet and beautiful to really be guilty of the misery that befalls her, and her father is too boxed into the "fundamentalist bigot" mold to be allowed to have insight and truth on his side. Though I must say, Walter Huston manages to make Ephraim Wells rise above the stereotype in places. We know that a Bible-thumping, ascetic father must be hopelessly out of touch, even if he isn't straight out evil, and Miranda obviously can't wait to get out from under his thumb. But we can't entirely shake the feeling that there's something admirable about him - an ogre couldn't have such a strong and impressive wife, (Anne Revere), and the fact that SHE respects and supports him tells us that he has qualities that perhaps the superficial don't immediately appreciate. Even Miranda, in spite of herself, finds herself quoting her father to the ignorant, snobbish ladies she meets at Dragonwyk, so on some level, she appreciates his strength and honor, even if she finds it confining.

Vincent Price is really great in this movie. Even if Nicholas didn't really love Miranda, and only married her to get an heir, there's a moment when the baby dies where Price manages to convey something emotional under his cold exterior. It's just a little muscular twitch in his throat, and then he turns away, but you can just feel something breaking inside. That's the moment when everything is over - there will never be a son, and Miranda will never be given another chance. His descent into drug addiction isn't sordid enough, but I think that was because of the censorship movie-makers operated under in the 40s; they just couldn't portray things like drug addiction very openly - even the murder of Johanna had to be soft-pedalled, for fear of shocking the audience.

I wasn't too happy with the way the movie ended, but I think the filmmakers weren't quite sure how to end it and did the best they could. Nicholas had to die somehow, but a bullet from a former tenant-farmer seemed a bit anti-climactic. He should have died facing the elements, as he did in the book - it had to be something big that could defeat that ego. and one little bullet didn't seem quite right.

There are two more movies in this set: Chandu the Magician and Dr. Renault's Secret. Chandu is the better movie, and it has Bela Lugosi as a completely over-the-top villain named Roxor. Edmund Lowe plays the hero, Frank Chandler, aka Chandu, who has learned the mysteries of the Yogi in India and now has supernatural abilities. Chandu has to rescue his brother-in-law, Robert Regent, from the clutches of the evil Roxor. Robert is a brilliant scientist and we see his lovable family - mom and the two kids - fretting over his disappearance. Roxor has kidnapped him because he wants the secret of his newly-invented death ray, so he can rule the world. It's interesting that Robert is someone we are supposed to be sympathetically rooting for - he's married to Chandu's sister, after all - and yet he has invented...a Death Ray. I mean, really. It's not even "an invention that has the power to do good, but, in the wrong hands, blah blah blah". No, it's a Death Ray, pure and simple.

Edmund Lowe just isn't right for the role of Chandu. Maybe it's that cummerbund wrapped around his waist and that neat little moustache, but he looks as if he should be sitting on the porch knocking back gin and tonics instead of creeping around in dark passages and escaping from coffins. He just looks too sedentary for that adventurous stuff. Bela Lugosi, on the other hand, gives a wild and weird performance as the power-mad Roxor. Every line sounds like it was poured out of a bottle of sulphuric acid. Someone on YouTube made a nice photo montage of the movie, with a bit of Roxor's great monologue at the beginning. It actually works pretty well, since this movie wasn't that far away from the era of silent movies, and the photos accompanied by the music give a nice impression of the acting and the crucial moments of the story.

Jane Eyre (1970), with George C. Scott and Susannah York. Oh boy. Where to start on this trainwreck? This is the WORST version of Jane Eyre I've ever seen - and yet, according to the comments on IMDb, there are some people who think that it's the best. The simple things first: George C. Scott isn't totally unqualified for the role of Rochester, but he just doesn't do it right. He's really too old, for one thing - Rochester is supposed to be nearing 40, and Scott looks like he's in his late 50s. He doesn't have that strangely playful, teasing quality that Jane brings out in Rochester. Mrs. Fairfax says (in the book) that he's hard to read, and one does not always know if he is serious or joking when he speaks. There's none of that in Scott - he's gruff and rude (and drunk his first night at home) but not amused or mischievous, which is his attitude to Jane at the beginning, and what intrigues and draws her in.

Susannah York is also too old, but she's also too pretty for the role. Her perpetually grumpy expression doesn't equal plainness, and just makes her personality as repellent as Rochester's. They are not supposed to be well-suited to each other in that way. The whole early part of Jane's childhood is omitted, but that's not unusual in film treatments - it starts with her arrival at Lowood. But the movie turns the place into a female Devil's Island, with Miss Skatchard as a sadistic screw who tortures Helen Burns to death for no reason but malice. There's no Miss Temple to be a positive role model, no typhus epidemic which results in Mr. Brocklehurst losing control of the school, just 8 years that pass somehow until Jane is herself a teacher. In the book, Jane learns a great deal at Lowood, and achieves a level of happiness and acceptance. Helen's martyrdom has a huge effect upon Jane, and she learns about Christian patience and acceptance of suffering, lessons which are reinforced throughout the book. Here, she is shown bitterly telling off Mr. Brocklehurst before leaving the school - an exchange which takes place over Helen's grave! So much for Christian patience and forgiveness. They might as well have had Helen gasp "Avenge me!" with her last breath, instead of telling Jane to trust in God.

The scenes at Thornfield would naturally have to be shortened to fit into a single movie, but there was one example of compression that I thought was pretty extreme. Before we're barely aware that Jane is becoming attracted to Mr. Rochester, he races off and comes back with Blanche Ingram and all her friends and family for a party at Thornfield. OK, so things are moving a bit fast, but it's still within reason. Mason then arrives, is attacked at night and leaves, all within about 3 minutes. Then, as his carriage is rolling down the driveway, Rochester tells Jane that he loves her! All I could think was, "Blanche is still in the house and he's kissing the governess on the front lawn!" How did he get rid of all those people? What did he tell them? We never hear of them again.

The most blatant indication that the filmmaker didn't know what to make of 'Jane Eyre' comes after the big reveal scene, when we discover that Rochester already has an insane wife living in the attic. He tells Jane "I loved her once as I love you." No, no, no, NO!! That was NEVER part of the story. The whole point is that Rochester was tricked into marrying a crazy woman he didn't even know and certainly never loved. He's a victim, trapped in a marriage in name only through the selfish manoeuverings and deception of his relatives. Changing this turns him into a cad. "I promised 'For better or for worse' but I've changed my mind and found someone I like better." Why would Jane marry him? She might as well be his mistress, since the promise means nothing to him; he could dump her just as easily when he's tired of her. It makes their entire conflict meaningless, but it's very much in tune with 1970s amorality, where feelings trump everything else.

The corruption of Bronte's theme continues with the St. John Rivers episode. The actor is far too passionate for Rivers; it's hard to believe that he DOESN'T love Jane, he's so earnest and insistent. This is the way Rochester should be played, not St. John. And when Jane refuses his offer of marriage, it isn't just because she knows it's wrong to marry without love, even in a good cause. No, she has to turn on him the way she did Mr. Brocklehurst at the beginning, and tell him that his religion is full of crap. SHE is the one who follows the true faith and really knows God, because she's got sentiment and emotion on her side, and that's what's really important. St. John is just a phony, with all his missionary work and talk of duty; the fluttering diaphragm and transports of ecstasy are where God is to be found. This is so absurd and contrary to the original text I hardly know what to say. Bronte NEVER treated St. John with scorn - he is portrayed as something close to a saint, with his single-hearted devotion to God. He's almost too pure - trying to keep up with him is like trying to breathe very thin atmosphere on top of a mountain. Jane can't do it, but it's not because there's something wrong with him; she just knows herself better than he does, and prevents them both from making a serious mistake. I think the last page of the book mentions St. John, and speaks of his approaching death in the missionary field - not only a saint, but a martyr! Jane has great love and admiration for him, as she did for Helen Burns.

She returns to Rochester - oddly enough, without the inheritance that made her an independent woman in the book. A movie that seemed to be edging toward a feminist reading of Jane missed the nice transformation at the end, where she is finally free from constraint and for the first time can choose where she wishes to go. I was left wondering if she had to borrow the coach fare back to Thornfield from St. John and his sisters.

Don't waste your time on this version. The best one is the 1973 BBC version with Michael Jayston and Sorcha Cusack. It's the most faithful adaptation ever made; most of the dialogue comes straight from the book, and the principals are perfectly cast. Here's a clip of one of the most enjoyable scenes, with plenty of repartee between Jane and Rochester:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parliament returns

Yesterday, Parliament returned from its unusual 7-week suspension.  Americans may not be up-to-date on what happened up here in December (and they've had other things - i.e., inaugurating a new president - on their minds since then), but here is a typical news article outlining what happened. The Conservatives won a minority government, and that is always vulnerable - to stay in power, they have to cater to the other side, at least far enough to persuade some opposition members to keep voting with them in order win votes in Parliament. Once that stops happening, once the opposition deserts the government, the combined votes of all the opposition members outweighs those of the government, and the government falls. In a majority situation (where the ruling party has straight-out won enough votes to pass its legislation by itself, without opposition help) this only happens in really extreme cases, where actual ruling party members themselves refuse to vote for their own leaders - you'd have to have some really abominable scandal or crime to make that happen.

When a government falls like this, the Governor General has the option of calling a new election, or asking the other side if they can collect enough votes on their side to take the place of the government. This just doesn't happen in the U.S., because you only have two parties, but if you have 3 or more, the way the vote divides can lead to just this kind of intricate balancing act.

Priscilla pointed me to this American blogger's view on the differences between Canada and U.S. highlighted by this episode, but there was one point that I think he missed. The "economic crisis" that has swept across the world has hit Canada too. Not quite in the same way (our banks weren't as exposed to danger as those in the U.S.), but our stock exchange has fallen, the fall in the price of oil has affected us, and the fall in the housing market is already resulting in layoffs and bankruptcies, just to mention the most obvious highlights.

However, in all this, our government basically "disappeared" for almost two months. The politicians have continued to talk about "crisis" and "emergency" and teetering on the brink of disaster, but unlike the U.S., they've pretty much sat on the sidelines, waiting for Parliament to return. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the politicians have barged their way to the front of the crowd, waving their arms and insisting that everyone get behind them as they "do something", which has turned out to be throwing astronomical sums of money around, week after week. Has all this flailing activity produced anything very different from Canada's enforced inaction? Here, our stock market has inched up a little, just like the Dow Jones, and we hear bad news about this or that company laying off workers, but there has been no catastrophe, people are not starving or homeless. For a "crisis", this is a very well-behaved one, and it's patiently waited around for almost 2 months for someone to attend to it. It makes me wonder if all the hysterical arm-waving in the U.S. has really made much difference after all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How much is your life worth?

Nothing, according to Mr. Joe Hart, a passenger on the US Airways flight that miraculously landed in the Hudson River on Jan. 15 without loss of life. His life was saved, but he doesn't feel he owes anybody anything for that. Instead, he's considering suing US Air for his bloody nose, his bruises and for"feeling tense" on the SIX flights he's been alive to take since the accidents.
In addition to recovering losses, Hart says he's concerned about having trouble flying. He's flown on six planes since the accident, and each flight has gotten "progressively more difficult."

He says he was tense, sweated and "felt every bit of turbulence" on a Los Angeles-to-Philadelphia flight last week, though it wasn't that turbulent a flight.

Hart says he has talked to a lawyer in North Carolina but hasn't decided whether to take any legal action.

"I want to see how things play out with US Airways," he says. "I'm hopeful US Airways understands the significance of the incident."

Kreindler & Kreindler, a New York law firm that has represented plaintiffs in crashes, says it has been contacted by several passengers on the US Airways flight.
As Horace Greeley said, "The darkest day of any man's life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it. "

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More work for Canada's fascist Human Rights industry

Another "human rights" complaint, this time out of Winnipeg:
A same-sex couple has filed a human-rights complaint against a Winnipeg doctor, claiming she refused to treat them because she doesn't know how to treat lesbians.

Andrea and Ginette Markowski were stunned when the doctor suggested the legally married couple look for another physician since homosexuality violates her religious beliefs.
Thanks for the "legally married" qualification; a not-so-subtle reminder that as the State goes, so goes the world. As for the assertion that the doctor rejected the pair because of her religious beliefs, there is nothing anywhere else in the story to support that claim. The doctor in question said that "she's never treated lesbians before" and declared that she was unwilling to deal with people "who sometimes have "sexual problems" and other diseases." Whether that's true or not is irrelevant to the fact that THIS is the excuse she gave, not that she disapproves of homosexuals.
Ms. Markowski also said she asked Dr. Elias whether treating a same-sex couple was a problem for her, and alleges she said yes.
But we don't have to pay any attention to what she says are her reasons for this "problem" - there is only ONE reason for saying no to a lesbian patient, and that's benighted religious superstition. And once you've decided a person is a religious bigot, why scruple to call her a liar as well? It's good practice for the trial, where nothing Dr. Elias says will make any difference anyway.

This is only partly a complaint about the way disaffected and disappointed people in Canada instantly seize upon the brute power of the State to bludgeon their opponents into submission. It's partly a gripe about the state of medicine in this country.
Andrea Markowski said she and her partner of 18 years made an appointment with Dr. Kamelia Elias after they heard she was accepting new patients.
Now, THAT'S a familiar story for Canadians! Many people prowl the new developments going up on the outskirts of Ottawa, watching the shopping centers taking shape, because they almost always have a clinic. And as soon as the sign goes up "New Patients Welcome" the phone lines light up with people telling their friends and relatives who have not been able to find a personal physician to hurry down and sign up, no matter how inconvenient the location. That's what socialized medicine has reduced us to.

Doctors know it too; they don't have to worry about starving for patients, they can have a full roster within a week of advertising. It's the equivalent of a seller's market in real estate; they don't have to settle for whoever comes through the door, they can pick and choose their patients, and the tendency among doctors is to sign up the "easy" patients, who won't cause trouble or take up lots of time, because they can squeeze in lots of little appointments and get paid for each one, instead of getting stuck all morning on one troublesome patient with a complicated problem. That's what happened in this case, even though the lesbians are too outraged to believe it. The doctor thinks that they'd be bothersome patients, and there's easier money to be made.

When our kids were diagnosed with autism, they were basically shut out from the pediatricians of Ottawa. In Boston we had no trouble - a doctor who was interested in their condition took them on. But back in Ottawa, no one wanted them. Even Emma was rejected by our family doctor, who'd been seeing us for over 15 years - too troublesome to have a patient with an underlying condition, even though it had no particular physical symptoms. We were lucky to find ONE doctor who finally accepted Thomas and James, and we managed to slip Emma in with us when we moved to another doctor out of town. I don't think he even realized she had Asperger's Syndrome until she'd become a regular patient.

Now, I guess WE could have filed a Human Rights complaint against those doctors, but what would be the point? I remember in 'I Claudius', they quoted a supposed Roman proverb: "Better to go on foot than ride an unwilling horse." Do you really want your doctor to be a subjugated slave? Doesn't that worry anyone, just a little? Who feels confident that he would get the very best care from a doctor who has been beaten up by the State and dragged to one's bedside?

If we didn't have such a crappy, rationed medical system, this problem wouldn't have arisen. The lesbian couple MIGHT, by sheer bad luck, have happened on a doctor who had strong religious objections to them. But it's more likely that they'd have friends who could recommend them to THEIR doctors - doctors with no such difficulties, or maybe even with opposite opinions, or perhaps who maybe even specialized in homosexual patients. This is impossible now - patients have no opportunity to choose their doctors, they have to grab anyone who comes along.

Knowing the way these tribunals have worked in the past, I doubt the lesbian couple has any intention of really setting up a doctor-patient relationship with Dr. Elias, no matter what happens. They're just the latest to discover how easy it is to get into the shakedown business in Canada, and are out to punish the doctor for inconveniencing them in a way that hurts their pride. We'll hear that this all ends with a little dough applied to the tender bruised egos of the two women, who will have long since moved on to another doctor anyway.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bishop Kong breaks loose

I see that the ACI bitter-enders have issued another flustered missive in the wake of the Dio. of Colorado promoting an active homosexual to the status of leader and example. What they did exactly hardly matters; the pixels were no sooner dry on this message than Virginia elbowed its way to the front of the crowd, waving its new scripts for homosexual weddings. The same complaint can do for both events, and for the one that will happen next week, and the week after that, etc.

ACI reminds me of a Charlie Brown strip - not the usual Lucy and the Football one, but a baseball one. In one episode, Charlie Brown's perpetually losing team got so fed up they finally quit. One minor character (I think it was Shermy) said, as he handed in his ball cap, "I guess I'm quitting too. I'm the kind who needs to win once in a while. It's different for you, Charlie Brown - I think you get some sort of neurotic pleasure out of losing all the time." Just as Charlie Brown reacted by yelling "Quitters!" at his departing team, Radner's letter passes quickly from the deeds of the derelict TEC to reproaches against the departed and departing conservatives who didn't stay to fight.
Bp. O’Neill has, since becoming bishop in 2003, made a public commitment to refuse such ordinations (of homosexuals)...Yet yesterday, he changed course.

Ah. He lied.
The issue here is not to lodge a complaint.

No indeed, since we already know how pointless that would be. A 'bishop' who lies is not about to become a man of honour just because some words of complaint are directed toward him. But we have to talk to SOMEONE so let's write a summary of why we're right to feel aggrieved and then do a little wondering.
So why would someone like Bp O’Neill go forward in contradicting these affirmations and at this time, given his previous willingness to hold back in the context of these kinds of common views? What has changed? Certainly not the “mind” of the Communion as earlier articulated; nor the burdens of common life within the Communion. I am not certain of his motives, since he offered no public explanation before his actions (although he did speak personally to some, though hardly all, of his clergy) and chose to let drop his moratorium without any explanatory warning to his larger flock.
Who knows? Who cares? Maybe the gay church is giving out prizes to bishops who demonstrate their loyalty. Maybe there's a fine for slowpokes, and nobody wants to be the last diocese to authorize gay weddings. What does it matter?
But I can state one very clear change in his own diocesan context: the disappearance of traditionalist clergy and lay leadership.
Ah, so you see, it's all YOUR fault, you conservatives! It's interesting that no one even bothers trying to tell the truth to the corrupted leaders of TEC, even when it's their own acts that are under discussion. Everyone recognizes that they are incurable. I always thought that Total Depravity was something humans started with; now we see that it's what you end up with after a lifetime in the Episcopal Church. This leaves the only people left to talk to as the people on one's own side.
From the time of his consecration (and before) to the present, the major conservative congregations of Colorado – as in many places in the United States — have either dispersed through departures from TEC (to AMiA or Common Cause-related groups), or departures from the diocese and/or active ministry of conservative clergy leaders. In the last year, for instance, the last 3 or 4 larger conservative congregations in Colorado have lost their pastors, some for reasons that have nothing to do with diocesan policies, some with the bishop’s at least passive encouragement. In other words, there is no more local political penalty to pay for new dismissals of Communion requests.
If the conservatives hadn't left, they'd still have enough power in Colorado to "make the bishop pay" for his liberalism. Like King Kong, he could have been kept from running wild, if only the conservatives had stayed to keep making bigger and heavier chains to hold him down. Maybe the question should be how a big, smelly ape got into a position where he has the power to do this sort of damage, instead of why normal people aren't willing to devote their lives to keeping him penned up. But it's so much easier to talk to people who you know are sane instead of triumphant savages who are gleefully following Kong as he rampages through the city.

People are getting on with their lives, and Radner and co. are yelling "Quitters! You're all a bunch of QUITTERS!" because they're working on a brand-new, UNBREAKABLE set of shackles for Kong, and all everyone else has to do is put up with being brutalized for a few more years until they're ready.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Which Biblical character?

Celebrities show unusual restraint when asked which Biblical character Obama most resembles:
President Barack Obama is similar to the Biblical character of Joshua and Martin Luther King Jr. was like Moses, boxing promoter Don King told on Tuesday.

Celebrities, including Jay-Z, Smokey Robinson, Don King, Denzel Washington, and Oprah Winfrey, spoke with in the hours before the inauguration just a few feet from the rostrum where Obama was sworn-in as the nation’s 44th president. They spoke about how Obama had changed their lives and which Biblical character they think he most resembles.

“I would say that he would be Joshua going across to the Promised Land,” King told “Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop like Moses, and he said, ‘I might not get there with you, but I can see the Promised Land.’ But we gonna’ get to the Promised Land. So Joshua carried them across. Martin Luther King, Jr. was prevented from going into the Promised Land.”

“There are so many Biblical figures who had the same task,” popular R&B singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson told “I really don’t know. I just think he is himself and he will go down in world history – not Biblical history – as a world leader who brought people together. Look around you. The world is here.”

“I would say any one of the Biblical leaders,” said Denzel Washington’s mother, Lennis Washington, who was attending the inauguration with her son on Tuesday. “The apostle Paul, Moses, John the Baptist – any one of them. Seriously, he is like one of those apostles for our day. He came to lead us to the original design of what we are supposed to do on this earth.”

My vote: Belshazzar.

'Misterios de Ultratumba' (1959)

I saw this dvd at CD Warehouse, under its fanciful English title: 'The Black Pit of Dr. M.' It's a Mexican horror flick from 1959, and I was curious to see if it followed in any way the Dr. Mabuse canon. There are vague similarities, but I think they're coincidental: the main character IS a Doctor M. - Doctor Mazali - and he is a psychiatrist and runs an insane asylum. But although you can stretch the similarities a little way - Doctor Mazali is excessively ambitious and unscrupulous - I don't think he's a proper Mabusian anti-hero. He's not really evil, despite the often-repeated fact that he's an atheist. He's not trying to conquer anyone or rule the world, he's really an unbalanced scientist, trying to acquire more knowledge than is good.

I thought this might be a funny/bad movie (what are your first thoughts when you hear the words 'Mexican horror film'?) but I was surprised to find that it's really a quite artistic straight horror film. It doesn't have expensive special effects, as you might expect, but it makes up for it with spooky, atmospheric sets and really excellent photography.

The movie starts out at Dr. Mazali's insane asylum, where his colleague, Dr. Aldama is on the point of death. Dr. Mazali reminds him that they had made a pact - whichever of the doctors was the first to die, would find a way to come back and tell the others the secret of how to go to the next world while remaining alive. No sooner is Dr. Aldama dead than Dr. Mazali, Dr. Jimenez and a medium are busily conjuring him up from the grave. Dr. Aldama does return (invisible to everyone in the room) and through the medium tells Dr. Mazali that there is a way to do what he wishes, but it will entail great suffering and punishment. Dr. Mazali is resolved to go through with it, and the spectre disappears. I have to say, the scenes of Dr. Aldama as a ghost are very effective, even though they're so simple - just a lingering fade-out - but these appearances and disappearances happen in the courtyard full of shifting moonlight on hanging mist, and they're quite eerie. Throughout the movie, there are very effective night scenes full of moving shadows and mist; the shadows of tree branches reach out and wave over walls, through windows and over faces, as if there were a storm going on, even though the scene is quite still.

The next important event is the "treatment" of a mad gypsy woman, who is tranquillized by a music box. Unfortunately, the box lid closes at the most inappropriate time, and she goes berserk, fighting off doctors and orderlies before flinging a bottle of acid into the face of Elmer, one of the orderlies. He becomes terribly disfigured, and the face makeup is really quite repulsive, even if it looks a bit like sheets of cotton with plaster over them have been applied to his face. It doesn't matter too much, though, because the actor playing the role is very effective in his horrified reaction when the bandages come off - a nice slow process, building up the suspense - we see him from the back, then he leaves the scene, screams, breaks a mirror which STILL doesn't show us what the damage is, then we see him from the back again, then FINALLY he turns round.

In comes a girl, Dr. Aldama's estranged daughter, and also the hero, a young doctor joining Dr. Mazali's practice. They provide the obligatory romance angle, but don't affect the plot too much. The main plot is how is Dr. Aldama's promise going to be fulfilled? It happens through a very nice "inevitable" series of events - Elmer murders the gypsy in revenge for his disfigurement, and Dr. Mazali gets the blame. He is tried and convicted of murder (offscreen - we're just told that several months have gone by and all the appeals have been exhausted) but is convinced that he will not die, because he trusts Dr. Aldama's promise. Then comes the best scene in the whole movie, as Dr. Mazali is led to the gallows. It's all spooky silhouettes against a sharp backlighting, with the gallows and noose floating in black shadows. I guess this is a sort of film noir effect, but it seems almost too stylized. It reminds me of a 'Twilight Zone' episode called 'The Obsolete Man', with long, sharp shadows and a feeling of doom and hopelessness. I don't know just what sort of style you'd call this - expressionist/noir maybe, but it looked very original.

Meanwhile, Elmer is racked with guilt because an innocent man is about to be executed, so he writes a letter to the governor confessing that HE is the real murderer, but...he collapses from a heart attack at the top of the stairs and falls to his death, and the exculpatory letter blows away! Elmer is quickly buried without a coffin (at his own request, apparently). Back to the gallows, and Dr. Mazali is freaking out at his approaching death, and the trapdoor cuts off his screams as he demands that the real murderer pay for his crime. I'm sure you can guess what happens next: Dr. Aldama's promise comes true, as Dr. Mazali is reincarnated in Elmer's body, and proceeds to claw his way out of the grave in the best zombie fashion.

When he comes stumbling back to the insane asylum, nobody is very glad to see him, and he has some work to do to convince the young hero doctor that he really is Dr. Mazali in Elmer's body. The final twist comes - Elmer's letter confessing to the crime is found, and Elmer/Mazali is seized so that he can pay for the murder of the gypsy!

It's really quite a good little horror film.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

I refer, of course, to the return of Fringe to Tuesday night TV. Tomorrow at 9:00PM I will be watching the first new episode since Fringe went on its winter hiatus, and a dreary 5 weeks it has been. The last episode ended with a cliffhanger - Olivia has been captured and Mr. Jones has been sprung from Wissenschaft Prison in Germany, with the help of Walter's reconstructed "beaming" device.

I don't know about you mugs, but this will put the crown on an otherwise drab and uneventful day.

UPDATE: It was a good episode, even though I don't consider that it actually started until about 15 minutes in. The whole first section was divided into two parts: Olivia in the laboratory with her mysterious captors, which finished with a good butt-kicking fight when she escaped. Then her interview with the obnoxious Agent Harris, who has now gained supervisory power over the whole Fringe project. This devolved into a lengthy recap of the whole series to date, which got a little tedious. It's one thing to recap the last episode, so people seeing Olivia tied down on a gurney can recall how she was captured back in December. But it's a waste of time to recap the whole series at this point; anyone who hasn't seen the first episodes, introducing the main characters, isn't going to be able to follow the show from this starting point. There's just too much info to absorb, and too many sneaky subplots. They couldn't even touch on the fact that Loeb is a double agent, so what was the use of it? A person who'd start watching tonight would learn about Peter and Walter, but they'd have no idea who Loeb was or what he'd been doing in the past 4 episodes.

The "monster of the week" was pretty loathsome - a spiny slug that came out of the victims' mouths, and turned out to be a single gargantuan cell of the common cold virus. Still, I think the early episode where the woman gave birth to some...thing, without anything being visible at all, was more horrifying. They're always scarier when you can't really see them, but can imagine the worst.

There was one obvious failure of logic that stood out for me: when they took the second scientist into protective custody, he was left alone in a room. When they get back, he's got a slug crawling out of his mouth. Meanwhile, Olivia has just learned that the first scientist died because he ingested the slug virus with water, and when it hit his stomach it developed into a full-grown monster. So why wasn't the first question, "How was scientist #2 exposed to the virus?" We know, because we saw Loeb go into the room and give him a glass of water. Why didn't these smart FBI agents check the waterglass in the room for fingerprints? It's pretty obvious someone must have brought it in, and the method of administration is pretty limited.

Now the Loeb subplot has been resolved, but he's left Olivia with one little puzzle: he claims she was captured because "they" were trying to "save" her. I suspect this is going to turn out to be a variation on the 'Threshold' plot. There, aliens were genetically altering human beings in order to improve them. Of course, they were also turning them into monsters, but it was a compelling idea, that in order to fight this threat we were consciously choosing to remain weaker than our enemy. It left a nagging doubt as to whether humanity COULD win such a contest - Darwinism and all that. I suspect that the bad guys in this story are using the Fringe science to destroy or enslave humanity, with themselves exempt and immune, and thus the rulers. Olivia was going to be allowed to join the supermen, but she fought back and ruined their plans for her.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recent movies

It's been very VERY cold here the last few weeks - too cold and too much snow to even get out into the backyard with the dog. As a result, we've been watching a fair number of movies since Christmas, and I thought I'd write some little descriptions of them.

I got Dean the last of the Fox Charlie Chan movies -these are the early Sidney Toler ones. Fox stopped producing the series after Pearl Harbour. I can see why they stopped the Mr. Moto series at the same time, but I was surprised that the documentary on the last dvd stated that Fox didn't think an Asian detective would be appropriate. Charlie Chan had always been an American, unlike Mr. Moto, and the Chinese were the victims in WWII. Perhaps they were worried that the public wouldn't be able to tell the difference? Hard to believe. Anyway, the series did continue under a different studio but the wartime and post-war movies weren't as good.

We weren't expecting to enjoy the Sidney Toler Chans as much as the Warner Oland ones, but we were pleasantly surprised. I like Oland's personality as Chan better than Toler's but the transition was pretty smooth. Oland always had a fatherly sort of warmth and humour about him; Toler was much more hard-edged and cagy. I can easily see criminals underestimating Oland's Chan - a similar dynamic was used for Columbo, of the diffident, self-effacing detective who pretends that he's easily confused but really is sharp as a tack. By contrast, Sidney Toler played Chan much more like a poker player, hiding his thoughts from everyone instead of luring the villain into a feeling of complacency. I can't imagine anyone feeling relaxed and complacent around Sidney Toler.

Maybe that's why there's a different atmosphere to these movies, more dark shadows and gloom. Part of it must be attributable to budget, of course. The early Chans were high-class productions; the first one even was shot on location in Honolulu. The sets were nice, the settings were exotic - Egypt, Shanghai, Paris, Monte Carlo, London. You could almost group them as "Charlie Chan's World Tour", as Chan seemed to go from one exciting location to another, and the movies were sometimes even linked by means of a passing line - 'Heard about that case you solved in London, Charlie' as the great detective arrives in the new location.

The Toler movies seem a lot darker, almost with film noir elements in the sets and lighting. Some of them seem to take place in a perpetual gloom. 'City in Darkness' takes place in Paris, during air-raid rehearsals. Not just the sets are dark, but the whole atmosphere is fearful and tense. 'Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum' also takes place entirely at night, and it is unusual in that almost the whole thing takes place inside the wax museum, producing a very claustrophobic atmosphere. 'Dead Men Tell' is another nighttime mystery - I think it's taking place in San Francisco, so it's all dark and foggy, and the story takes place on board a boat in harbour and on the wharves at night. One thing I found interesting about these movies was the way the secondary characters (mostly suspects) were made largely unpleasant, unappealing people. They still had the usual romance between the young woman and young man (one or both of whom are suspected of the murder) but they no longer bother giving these people very strong personalities, so not only do they come across as cardboard characters, they can't create much sympathy. In 'Dead Men Tell', I'd have been happy to find out that any of them was the killer. Only the Captain had a strong personality, the others were all variations on shifty/selfish/superficial.

I think 'Wax Museum' was the one of best of the Fox Toler movies. Some of it was genuinely spooky, like the working electric chair rigged to fry Chan in a revenge plot. And the criminal who's had a face lift and is hiding out in the museum goes about with his head completely wrapped in bandages; seeing that white bandaged face staring out from the shadows is rather creepy - rather like 'The Invisible Man'. The one I really liked best was 'Charlie Chan at Treasure Island', which revolves around a magician trying to expose a fake psychic. Interesting that the psychic was called 'The Great Radhini' - maybe that's where 'The Amazing Randi' got his stage name. It was interesting to see that it very matter-of-factly exposed stage magic tricks; it's become traditional in murder mysteries that a stage magician must "refuse to reveal the secrets of his trade", and there's usually a rigmarole about forcing him to do it, or else the detective has to figure out how himself. In this movie, they just show the way the table flips over and a dummy takes the place of the volunteer for levitation, and an elevator carries the girl out of the mysterious Egyptian mummy case into the basement, so everyone can think she's disappeared.

The other thing I watched was a nostalgic return to a show I saw as a kid: the British TV series "Doctor In The House" about the misadventures of British medical students at St. Swithin's teaching hospital. I saw the first two seasons, and I once again had the all too frequent experience of revisiting something that I remembered as hilarious, only to find that it wasn't that great after all. That's not to say that it wasn't funny - I actually did laugh a fair bit, which is the main point of such light entertainment after all. But the humour and the topics had dated. Though not, to my great surprise, the clothes and hairstyles, at least for the first season (1969). The men's hair looked a bit shaggy, but the clothes were really pretty normal, and rather formal - they almost always wore jackets and ties, and didn't take the ties off even at home! By 1970 (season 2), things were going downhill style-wise; Paul Collyer's hair looked like a black hairsprayed helmet - maybe this is where Eugene Levy got the idea for Bobby Bittman's solid hairdo. And the psychedelic designs were starting to make an appearance, mostly in shiny, sleazy-looking fabrics. In one scene, a character was wearing an orange swirly shirt, with a matching tie. And when I say matching, I mean MATCHING - the tie was made from the exact same fabric!

I wouldn't say all the episodes revolved around chasing girls, but there were definitely a lot of girls around to chase, and precious little else to do with them. Someone's Swedish girlfriend seemed to turn up in her undies every few episodes. The writing was generally on the lame side, with more booze and booby jokes than I remembered. For all the talk about how the Pythons were responsible for writing this show, I noticed that John Cleese and Graham Chapman together wrote exactly ONE episode - the first one, and the writing was noticeably better than anything else in the two seasons. I think Chapman collaborated on another two episodes, but they weren't anything special. The writing was basically the sort of thing college boys would find funny - not surprising, as they wrote and acted the show. I was astounded, though, by the sort of basic filmmaking mistakes in most of the episodes. Really simple stuff, like boom mics showing up all the time, or else setting the lighting so the microphone shadows fall on the sets. The sort of stuff that got on TV in Britain in the '70s! It was like handing production over to a bunch of college cinema students.

The first episode was good because it introduced the great Professor Loftus, and provided enough personality for him to carry through the rest of the series. Now that I think about it, I realize that he really was a very Cleeseian character, almost an early draft for Basil Fawlty (Lofty/Fawlty? Hmmmm) He really owns this episode; he was good as the withering panelist during Upton's entrance exam, but he was really great during the "welcoming" lecture, when he goes from a laconic and contemptuous drawl to an explosion of vituperation in about .5 seconds, because he sees a student slouching in his seat. Not only is it disrespectful and unprofessional, it's bad for the back! Suitable for barcrawlers and pimps, but not doctors!

Loftus was good in a later episode too, when he mercilessly drills Upton and Waring in a viva exam on their dissection skills. It's their fault, because they've been goofing off, but he reduces them to helpless jelly in less than a minute as they stand over the severed arm they are supposed to be studying. "A man with a ruptured artery can bleed to death in 30 seconds. And if you don't know the right answer, he'll die, Upton. Die! There on the floor in front of your eyes! See him? Well, come on, Upton, you've only got 20 seconds left! He's bleeding, man! What's the answer? Ten seconds! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! HE'S DEAD!!! And it's your fault, Upton! Blood all over the floor!" The students stand there, paralyzed with shock. Dean tells me that this technique is still used in Foreign Service exams, to test a candidate's ability to think under pressure.

Loftus was probably the best character in the series. I might go ahead and get the third season - Doctor in Charge - just because it's very light, silly entertainment

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Respecting those deeply-held religious beliefs

A story out of our sister-paradise of politically-correct tolerance, New Zealand:
An Israeli citizen residing in Kaikoura, New Zealand has informed Ynet Friday that a local pub, the Strawberry Tree, placed a sign outside its door reading, "Israelis not welcome before shelling (in Gaza) stops".

Two other Israeli tourists encountered a similar restriction at a café located in another part of the country.

Kaikoura, located on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, is a tourist hub known for its dolphin shows.

"The pub's owner has extreme views; in the past he worked as a photojournalist in Gaza, and inside the pub a sign reading 'Free Palestine" has been hanging for some time now," the Israeli citizen, who wished to remain nameless, told Ynet.

"It is alarming the (conflict in Gaza) has resonated to this region and in such a one-sided way."

The Israeli continued to say that "the owner expressed his aversion to the supposed racism on Israel's part – but he himself is acting in a racist manner when he screens his patrons according to their nationality."

Yes, but those rules about not acting out our aggressive, hostile impulses against The Other are only meant to control us conservative untermenschen - liberals are part of the Higher Dispensation, and they have a license to hate, for the good of mankind, of course. Still, these Israelis didn't have it as bad as some ladies in Invercargill.
The Southland Times reported Friday that two Israeli women, Natalie Bennie and her sister Tamara Shefa, were ordered to leave the Mevlana Café in Invercargill, New Zealand's southernmost city.

According to the report, the pub's owner Mustafa Tekinkaya, a Turkish Muslim, told the women he would not serve anyone from Israel "until it stopped killing innocent babies and women in Gaza."
Let's just think about that for a moment. In New Zealand, a Turk humiliates Israelis. And the Turk is both a Muslim and...a pub owner. A barkeep. A purveyor of alcoholic beverages.

I don't think it's a coincidence that these brave warriors of Allah chose Israeli WOMEN as the targets of their zeal. I'm just surprised they were brave enough to publically confront the women, instead of secretly pissing in their beer behind the counter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Well, it worked for Lambeth

Repeating his successful strategy at Lambeth, the Episcopal Booze-Up of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, whined and bawled until he got an invitation to be the warmup act for Rick Warren. Warren will deliver the invocation on Tuesday, when America inaugurates its first President Made Of Straw.

(via BabyBlue)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Operation Spartacus

Kathy Shaidle attended the anti-Jew rally in Toronto yesterday, and posted some of the things she saw on her blog. One of her correspondents wrote that it's time to shake up the security of anti-Jewish Mohammedan bigots in Canada, who feel secure expressing the vilest bigotry because they are sure that we all agree with them. Some do, no doubt (especially if they can manage to sweeten the poison with some anti-American garnish) but most are too embarrassed and timid of starting a confrontation, and just sit silently while this sort of insanity is asserted in our presence.

Anyway, he's decided to play a game with the Mohammedans:
In an unofficial academic setting in Canada, a group of us were treated to the anti-American tirade of an Iranian post-doc who told us that "America is sh*t and everywhere Americans go they leave a trail of sh*t".

I took great pleasure in his discomfort when I spoke up, defended America, and told him he should be grateful that we allowed him to study in our country, and that I hoped he would not be tardy in leaving once his studies were finished.

He was very nearly in shock and didn't say another word. He had cursed the Great Satan in public, and, lo and behold, a Canadian (!) had disagreed with him in no uncertain terms. It was clearly the first time during his stay in the Canada that his disgusting opinions had been challenged.

My new game is called "I Might Be A Jew". An exciting variant is "I might be an American". For the true enthusiast I would suggest "I might be an American Jew".

When meeting muzzies, lead them to believe that you might, in fact, be a Jew. It is really quite easy to do and in no way does it require an aggressive posture.

For instance, one can drop a few off-hand comments about one's most recent visit to Israel and how lovely the beaches are, or about one's close friend (or relative) who has a "Jewish-sounding" name. This last technique is easy for me because I have an "ambiguous" family name.

Part of the fun is coming up with new ways to make muzzies fear that they are in the presence of a Jew. My favorite gambit when being introduced to a muzzie is to wait until we are just about to shake hands and say, Shalom. The Shalom is best accompanied by a warm and friendly smile that asks, "you gotta a problem with that?".
Maybe Mrs. Schori can give us some advice on how to disconcert Mohammedans in this way.

Anyway, it seems to me a good idea, and so I've just ordered this handsome item, which will prove useful for the remaining 5 months of winter in Ottawa:

I also have a pin for my coat: the American flag, folded in the shape of a Stealth Bomber (it's a classic!). That'll do for now - I'll think of something else for when the snow finally melts.

UPDATE: For anyone who might be interested in obtaining the Israel scarf, here's the site to order from. It's a soccer scarf, you see, for fans of Israel's soccer team. But I think it will work great as a winter scarf. Mine hasn't arrived yet, but hopefully I'll have it by next week (shipping from the U.S.).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Academics miss the point again, as usual

This story was in today's paper, and has produced the usual gasps of shock and horror from the bien-pensants of North America.
For the study, the researchers evaluated 120 white students in Canada who were exposed to racism while waiting for what they thought was the real experiment to begin.

A white student posing as a study participant makes a racist comment about a black participant when he briefly leaves the room. The remarks ranges from moderate to extreme racial slurs. When the black student returns, the actual participants are asked to choose partners for a subsequent exercise.

They found 63 percent of study participants chose the person who made the racist comment as a partner.
Well, of course, this can mean only one thing. It's in the headline, for people who want the quick and dirty version:
Whites may be more racist than they think: study
After the administration of smelling salts, one professor arose from his fainting couche, and managed to send his manservant out with the following communication:
"People do not think of themselves as prejudiced, and they predict that they would be very upset by a racist act and would take action," said Kerry Kawakami, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto, Canada, whose study appears in the journal Science.

"However, we found that their responses are much more muted than they expect when they are actually faced with an overtly racist comment," Kawakami said in a statement.
Another researcher managed to drag himself to the telephone to utter these words of wisdom:
We were all surprised at the discrepancy between what people thought they would do and what people actually did when they were put in that situation," John Dovidio of Yale University in Connecticut, who also worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.

"They didn't shun the person who made an obvious racist remark, and in fact they showed a slight tendency at wanting to work with this person," he said.

Those who actually experienced the encounter were less distressed than those who read about or watched a video of the encounter. The latter were much more likely to say they would not work with such a person.

"Some of this may be due to the situation. We don't have a lot of practice about how to respond," Dovidio said.

Ironically, he said, many other studies have found people who are confronted after making racial comments are far less likely to repeat the behavior.

"By not doing anything you are actually contributing to a society that will be racist in the future," he said.

What all of them are forgetting is the context in which this happened.

This study took place in Canada, the land of fascist tribunals and government speech control. The students, hearing the racist comments, were not thinking, "Finally! Someone who agrees with me about blacks!" They were thinking, "Holy shit! That guy has BALLS!" They saw him as a rebel against the cringing, apologetic wimps our government tyrants want to mold us into. It was the difference between this:
and THIS:

If you were about to engage in some enterprise that you wanted to win, which one would you pick as a partner?

But such common sense reasoning is completely beyond these so-called academics, and so they fall back on their fantasies: this MUST mean that the students are racists, it MUST. In so doing, they are about to go running off after completely fictional dangers while ignoring the very real one: that in a country as stifled and strangled as Canada, people respond positively to someone who gives the finger to all the nervous little rules and regulations that the government keeps tying us down with. Which means that the very regulations the HRCs are so obsessed with enforcing are producing an atmosphere of hidden dissent and resentment, which someone with guts could articulate and ride to popular approval. The record of this sort of demagogue is not good, and when he finally comes, it's the regulators we may thank for smoothing his way.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Transit strike

I haven't mentioned it before, but here in Ottawa we're suffering through a public transit strike.  It started on December 10, and effectively destroyed a good number of businesses by persisting over the Christmas shopping season.  Now it's been on for almost a month, and the union has been ordered to vote on the latest offer on Thursday - it sounds as if they're planning to reject it, so the strike will go on.

On the radio the other day, I heard an old lady call in to say that she hadn't been able to go to church since the strike started.  She's nearly 80, and the snow and ice on the sidewalks along with the extreme temperatures have made it impossible for her to walk the distance to her church.  The radio host, appalled, asked if no one in her church could manage to pick her up to drive her and she just said that she lived in the opposite direction from her friends, so no, there was no one around to drive her.

This story stuck in my head, as it did in the radio host's - I just heard him mention it on the air a few minutes ago.  And I wanted to mention it because I see it as illustrative of a certain strain in the Canadian character that compares very poorly to that of Americans.  I saw the same thing at the Anglican church we used to attend in Ottawa.   There were people there just like the old lady on the radio - frail little old ladies who walked to church and couldn't navigate the treacherous sidewalks in winter.  When things got bad enough, they just disappeared from church for a few weeks until the weather improved.  Nobody arranged to transport them to and from church, they were just left to sink or swim on their own.

By contrast, Dean and I lived 3 years in the U.S. when we were first married, and made a number of American friends through our church.  We didn't have a car, either, and sometimes the weather got very extreme and it was hard for us to get to church on foot, too.  I remember one friend of ours, who when she heard about this, told us that she would drive her car to pick us up and take us to church any Sunday we needed a lift - and what's more, she didn't even go to our church!  She went to a different one in quite the opposite direction, but that made no difference to her.  She was perfectly sincere, and never thought twice about the inconvenience.  And I'll hasten to add that this wasn't small-town America, where everyone knows everyone else; this was Washington, DC, probably a place with more rootless, temporary inhabitants than anywhere else in the U.S. (except maybe L.A.).

To me, that's just the way Americans are - there's a generosity of spirit in them that Canadians lack.  Canadians, by contrast, tend to be stingy and reluctant to put themselves out.  We dress it up in a sort of philosophy of bogus self-determination:  Well, if you don't have a vehicle to get you to church, it's because you've chosen not to have one.  Therefore, we have no obligation to alter the status quo - you've chosen this situation, and we're off the hook.  It's as if we're all on the verge of exhaustion, and don't want to exert ourselves for anyone else because we think we may need to conserve our strength to save ourselves.  

Sometimes, an emergency will bring out hidden reserves of generosity - we're not quite as bad as the French peasants during WWII, standing by the sides of the road selling water to exhausted refugees fleeing the German invasion.  But the downside is that we think that such actions should be recognized and praised as if they were extraordinary acts of virtue.  Even today, there are people who still keep bringing up the fact that Canadians billeted stranded American travelers for a day or two following 9/11, as if we deserved a marble monument to our generosity, instead of seeing it as just the sort of thing a neighbour would automatically do for another.  For all my gripes about America and where it's going, I don't yet sense that air of self-defensive fear and weariness that's everywhere in Canada.  Americans still seem full of vitality and exuberance, with enough to spare for others.

Unity uber alles

Stella Maris makes a point I've thought about often and even written down in a few places - it's not enough just to say that Jesus wants unity among Christians, and so anyone who leaves a heretical "church" is a traitor. Jesus was not primarily concerned with quarterly growth statistics, or numbers of bums on pews to the exclusion of anything else.

The usual biblical quote used to subdue dissidents is John 17:20-22:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
The argument hangs on the misreading of one little conjunction: "as". It can mean different things: the online dictionary gives the primary definition as
To the same degree or quantity that. Often used as a correlative after so or as: You are as sweet as sugar. The situation is not so bad as you suggest.
2. In the same manner or way that: Think as I think.

But it can also mean
4. For the reason that; because: I went to bed early, as I was exhausted.
I think that this secondary definition has crept into the first, resulting in a blurring of what Jesus was really saying. It's now read as "Father, you and I are one. Therefore, the church should be one, too."

That's not wrong, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go nearly far enough, as is clear to anyone who reads the entire 5 chapters of John that cover the Last Supper. Jesus gives very lengthy descriptions of just how He and the Father are connected before he moves on to include his followers in the picture. What Jesus is saying is more like "This incomprehensible unity between Me and my Father now moves outward; let them share the same oneness that We do - let them be united in the same way that We are united, reflecting the same pattern on a smaller scale."

So then we have to consider, just how are the Father and the Son one? Jesus has already given us that information:
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.
It's not just that the Father and the Son are "united" - they are ONE, and there can be no division between them. When you've seen one, you've seen the other.

It's not the first time this has happened: C.S. Lewis wrote an essay focussing on how Jesus' forgiveness of the sinful woman (Luke 7:47) has been totally misread as a dismissal of sexual sin if accompanied by strong emotion, purely by misreading the word "for". The quote is "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much:" Lewis points out that "for" can be interpreted two ways: "I know he's at home, for his coat is hanging in the closet" means that the coat is the "witness" of the fact. But if you take the line from the beginning of 'Fellowship of the Ring', "Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it," "for" indicates that the second clause is the cause of the first - everyone has died, so the knowledge has been lost. Instead of "You can tell how heavy was the burden of sin I lifted from her, by how much she loves me" this little trick with "for" has turned Jesus' sentence into "I forgive her her sin, because she was so much in love." This is only plausible because it fits in with modern wishful thinking: Jesus is the kind who won't hold a sin against you, if the sin is really, really important to you. And what could be more important than sex? If Jesus had been speaking about Matthew the tax-collector, nobody would take this seriously, but as Lewis said elsewhere, every age has its own atmosphere, and in our voluptuous age, this is a message that people want to believe.

Back to the Stella Maris blog:
First of all, it has to be said that the vision of unity that some hold to within the Anglican Communion is a fantasy. When Jesus prayed for His followers to be united (John's Gospel) He asked that they be one as He and the Father are one. In no sense is this reflected in the Anglican Communion. Now, I know what some will say. They will say that there are problems in the Roman Catholic Church and there are even bigger problems between different Orthodox Churches. Yes, that is true, but what we see in the Anglican Communion are problems of a different order.
SM points out the bizarre situation of having bishops who are simultaneously non-bishops as an example of this sort of non-Christian disorder, but it permeates the very structure of Anglicanism today. It isn't just a matter of personnel, it is a matter of belief. There is no parallel between the unity of God and Jesus, and the "unity" of Anglicanism. Jesus is clear that everything he does comes from and reflects the Father. Whatever commands God gave were good and right; when it was Jesus' turn, he raised those commands to a higher level. Abstaining from pork and shellfish were good...but this is better - abstain from impure thoughts and impulses. It's not conflicting, it's raising it by another degree. Jesus never conflicts with God, but modern Anglicanism doesn't care if its bright new ideas conflict with God, Jesus, the history of Christianity or even with natural law. Its idea of "unity" is a tangle of conflicting, contradictory ideas and players perpetually struggling against each other, yet all chained together and in submission to a central authority that collects the money and makes the rules. This is more like Milton's Pandaemonium than Jesus' Prayer at the Last Supper.