Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Tactical Ice Cream Unit: Frosty treats and food-for-thought

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Taking it to the streets to protest against Evil or rally for your favorite Good this summer? Before you get all hot and sticky, summon up some help by chanting the Magick Words: "I scream! You scream! We all scream! For ice cream!"

The Center for Tactical Magic has created the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a SWAT-like van full of high-tech gizmos to act as a "Voltron-like alter-ego of the cops' mobile command center. Although the TICU appears to be a mild-mannered vending vehicle, it harbors a host of high-tech surveillance devices including a 12-camera video surveillance system, acoustic amplifiers, GPS, satellite internet, a media transmission studio capable of disseminating live audio/video, and of course, ice cream. With every free ice cream handed out, the sweet-toothed citizenry also receives printed information developed by local progressive groups. Thus, the TICU serves as a mobile nexus for community activities while providing frosty treats and food-for-thought."

When told to "move along," you can just separate the "scout," a push ice-cream cart, from the "mother ship" and amble further into the crowd, handing out your group's literature with the ice cream.

Comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and new What Will They Think of Next?

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Da Vinci Code judge adds his own puzzle

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Like we said earlier, everyone wants a piece of Dan Brown. If not his money, then his fame, if only for a moment.

British judge Peter Smith, who presided over the Da Vinci Code trial for alleged plagiarism, has put his own secret code into his judgment and said he would "probably" confirm it to the person who breaks it.

Since the judgement was released on April 7, lawyers have begun noticing odd italicizations in the 71-page document. Would-be code breakers are now trying to decipher it.

"I can't discuss the judgment," Smith said Wednesday,"but I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun."

Italics are placed in strange spots: The first is found in paragraph one of the 360-paragraph long document. The letter S in the word claimants is italicized. In the next paragraph, claimant is spelled "claiMant," and so on.

The italicized letters in the first seven paragraphs spell out "Smithy code," presumably playing on the judge's name.

The Associated Press reported:
Smith was arguably the highlight of the trial, with his sharp questions and witty observations making the sometimes dry testimony more lively. Though Smith on Wednesday refused to discuss the judgment or acknowledge outright that he'd inserted a secret code in its pages he said: "They don't look like typos, do they?"

When asked if someone would break the code, Smith said: "I don't know. It's not a difficult thing to do." And when asked if he would confirm a correct guess to an aspiring code-breaker, the High Court judge said, "probably."

Tench said the judge teasingly remarked that the code is a mixture of the italicized font code found in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail — whose authors were suing Dan Brown's publisher, Random House, for copyright infringement — and the code found in Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

Authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh had sued Random House Inc., claiming Brown's best-selling novel "appropriated the architecture" of their 1982 nonfiction book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

Both books explore theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives, ideas dismissed by most historians and theologians.

"The Da Vinci Code" has sold more than 40 million copies — including 12 million hardcovers in the United States — since its release in March 2003. It came out in paperback in the United States earlier this year and quickly sold more than a million copies. An initial print run of 5 million has already been raised to 6 million.

Since the judgment was handed down three weeks ago, Tench said it took several weeks — and several watchful eyes — to spot the code. Now, London and New York attorneys are scrambling to decode the judgment.

"I think it has caught the particular imagination of Americans," Tench said. "To have a British, staid High Court judge encrypt a judgment in this manner, it's jolly fun."

After the "Smithy Code" series, there are an additional 25 jumbled letters contained on the first 14 pages of the document, Tench said, adding he thinks the series can be decoded using an anagram or an alphabet-inspired, code-breaking device. Known as a codex, the system is also found in Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

A codex uses the letters of the alphabet and matches them with an additional set of letters placed in a different order, dubbed a substitution cipher. It is derived from a scene in the novel where Harvard professor Robert Langdon and French cryptographer Sophie Neveu use the code to try to unravel the location of the Holy Grail, using a famed device invented by Leonardo Da Vinci for transporting secret messages.

"I'm definitely going to try to break the code," said attorney Mark Stephens, when learning of its existence.

"Judges have been known to write very sophisticated and amusing judgments," said Stephens, a lawyer specializing in media law and copyright issues. "This trend started long ago... one did a judgment in rhyme. Another in couplets. There has been precedent for this.

"It adds a bit of fun to what might have been a dusty text," he said.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Dan Brown's "The Solomon Key" delayed into 2007

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Dan Brown's follow-up to the blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code has been delayed into 2007, publishing house Doubleday said today.

In an email to The Book Standard, Brown wrote: "My books are time-consuming to research and complicated to construct. I am taking the time necessary to ensure that this new book is every bit as entertaining as The Da Vinci Code."

Brown's next book is tentatively titled The Solomon Key, and is presumed to be about Freemasonry.

Ah... dangle that worm a bit longer, Dan the Man. You're the Fisher King.

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This article is also published on The Burning Taper




Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man neutered into a Ken doll

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Balls! That's what Sony Pictures doesn't have. And neither does Leonardo Da Vinci's famous artwork Vitruvian Man, at least in the version that is going to be used in The Da Vinci Code move tie-ins.

Despite the fact that it's the world's most famous piece of art, except maybe for the Mona Lisa, and that humans have had genitalia for at least as long as we've been human, you won't have to look at the Da Vinci Guy's Johnson every time you see a movie T-shirt, lunchbox, keychain, ball cap or coffee mug.

The Da Vinci Code movie opens May 19. Can't wait to see the fast food tie-in....

Read the story about the V-Man's extreme makeover....

Read about Vitruvian Man before his surgery....


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jewish "Gassover"

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I suppose we should apologize for blogging about Irina in two of our last three posts, but 1) we're hibernating this week and she's on a roll, and 2) Irina is always right.

Today she deals with the after-effects the holiday she calls Jewish "Gassover" has on her digestive tract.


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Daddy

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There was such an honesty in his last few weeks. We held hands. Said I love you. Talked of life and things we had done. And yet, so much went unsaid. I wanted to tell him how much I would miss him. But I didn't want him to know I knew he was going to die. I didn't want him to think about dying.

The most precious thing I remember was his hand reaching out to mine. I held his hand and talked to him, knowing that any day would be his last. Sitting beside his bed, wanting to be there with him.

The largest pain in my life was not being with him when he died. What I would give to have kissed him goodbye and watch the pain fade from his face. I am haunted by his absence. Sometimes I look for him, longing to hear his voice and see his smiling eyes. Sometimes almost feeling like he is here with me. Always hoping for some small sign — a bird he loved, a song he used to sing. And the pain of never finding them.

— Mary Madonna

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sex and stupidity

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Goddess blogger Irina wrote recently on subjects near and dear to all our, uh, hearts? Sex and stupidity.

Note the red arrows and the yellow thought balloons. These indicate our two primary centers of motivation. Irina tells you how to sort through the words and the hormones and make communication really happen.

Irina says:
"What makes a smart person smart is the ability to assess situations from all angles based on accumulated knowledge, resolve problems expeditiously, and read people correctly. Some people can do one, but not the other two. Others can do all three. Truly stupid people can do none."
You should read the rest of this, because Irina is always right.




Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Earthskills Rendezvous at LaFayette, Ga., now through Sunday, April 16

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For two decades, people from throughout North America (and other continents) have been drawn to the Southern Appalachian mountains twice annually to reclaim our collective ancestral heritage by making camp to share knowledge of primitive and pioneer living skills. We have witnessed the universal appeal of skills that some might think obsolete in this age of dependence on complex technologies.

Children of all ages, adults and elders of diverse cultural origins and social backgrounds revel in applying themselves to the arts and tasks of their distant forbearers. Our temporary village exhibits the age-old values of cooperation generosity of spirit, a desire for tolerance and harmonious relations; it comes alive with art, music, dance, stories and the heartbeat of drums around the nightly council fire and the quiet, earnest talk of friends around campsite hearths. There will also be a variety of classes designed especially for children.

When: April 9-16, 2006
Where: Cherokee Farms, LaFayette, Georgia
Classes include:
For more information contact Earthskills Rendezvous, PO Box 10, Marble Hill, GA 30148, call 1-866-787-2263, visit earthskillsrendezvous.org or send email.

Friday, April 14: Music by Bill Pound and Sapien.




Everyone wants a piece of Dan Brown's money pie

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Here comes another one.

Russian art historian Mikhail Anikin claims that The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown plagiarized his hypothesis that Leonardo Da Vinci's painting Mona Lisa was a coded theological message. Anikin believes that Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is an allegory of the Christian Church's history, and that the portrait's face is actually the combined images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Anikin is an art historian and Da Vinci specialist working at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. He claims that in 1998 he shared his theory with colleagues.

One of the group was interested in the idea and asked to share the theory with a "detective book author that he knew," Anikin told Agence France-Press.

Anikin says he specified that he must be attributed if the author used the idea in a future book.

Anikin also says that he outlined his theory in his 2000 book Leonardo Da Vinci: Theology in Paint, but that has not been confirmed, as no one has so far bothered to read the book.

I hereby proclaim to every writer in the world, just in case you ever get amazingly wealthy and rich: If you ever write a book, play, or screenplay that mentions anything I've ever said, wrote or thought about, whether you've heard or read it or not, you must specify that I told you, whether it's true or not. Fair enough?

— Widow's Son

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

First Knights Templar are discovered

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From the Daily Telegraph:

London — The first bodies of the Knights Templar, the mysterious religious order at the heart of The Da Vinci Code, have been found by archaeologists near the River Jordan in northern Israel.

British historian Tom Asbridge yesterday hailed the find as the first provable example of actual Knights Templar.

The remains were found beneath the ruined walls of Jacob's Ford, an overthrown castle dating back to the Crusades, which had been lost for centuries.

They can be dated to the exact day — August 29, 1179 — that they were killed by Saladin, the feared Muslim leader who captured the fortress.

"Never before has it been possible to trace their remains to such an exact time in history," Mr. Asbridge said. "This discovery is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to archaeologists and historians. It is unparalleled."

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This article is cross-posted on The Burning Taper.




The woman in the mirror is not the woman in my head

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Who is that looking back at me? As I dried my hair after my shower today I kept looking in the mirror trying to figure out what was wrong. I'm almost 50. That's part of what is wrong. I don’t feel 50. I feel just as energetic, sexual and interested in life as I did at 30. But there have been some changes. This is nothing new to women. We all go through the discovery of "laugh lines." (I didn’t laugh when I found them.) And sometimes I feel like my ass is running down the back of my legs. I exercise so I know this is not true. It just isn't where it used to be. There are other parts of my body which I refuse to name that aren’t exactly were they used to be either.

There was a time in my life when a glance from a strange man was a compliment. Now, some days, I feel like it's a miracle. It's funny to see these young girls in their hip hugger blue jeans. They think they invented the style. One of the worst fights I ever had with my mother was over a pair of brown suede hip hugger jeans. They were gorgeous. She hated them. I look at these kids with their bare bellies and low-slung jeans and I just want to throw a coat over them. I have turned into my mother. Somebody shoot me. Am I turning into a prude? I tell myself it's for their safety. They don’t realize how they look to boys their age or sick puppies like Mr. Homeland Security who was recently arrested for chatting porn with an alleged 14-year-old.

Anyway, back to me. Men like looking at younger girls. Not almost 50-year-olds. Kind of takes the fun out of being 50. No one questions my authority anymore. That's fun. I make my own rules in my own house. That’s definitely fun. But I don’t look on the outside like I feel on the inside. No fun. Sure — plastic surgery is an option. I fear looking into the mirror after one of those surgeries and not recognizing at all the face looking back. Now I’ll have to settle for what I used to complain about years ago. I wanted somebody to appreciate me for my brains — not just my body. I guess my wish has come true. Damn!

— Mary Madonna

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Groucho Gandhi shines: Dan Brown as Fisher King

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GrouchoGandhi shines today in his most recent blogging, a wonderful rant against the insane Da Vinci Code lawsuit that Holy Bloody Grailers Leigh and Baigent brought against their own publishers over Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code.

Hey, Boaz! Go help that po' Widow's Son!

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This article is cross-published on BurningTaper.com.




Sunday, April 09, 2006

Seeing the Sacred Feminine in Yourself

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Seeing the Sacred Feminine in Yourself, by Mary Madonna

Sacred Feminine. It’s funny to think that I have never in my life put those two words together in a sentence. We are not taught that the female is sacred. We are taught that the female committed the first sin and led man astray in the process. We are then taught that a normal bodily function is a curse for this sin. Female sensuality is, more often than not, viewed as somehow wicked. A picture of a nude female body is viewed by most as pornography.

We are not taught that the female is sacred. But we truly are. God has given us the ability to bring life into this world. Without "the curse," we would not have this ability. God favored women by allowing us to carry His creation in our wombs. He favored a women in the birth of His son. He is God. He could have brought a son into this world any other way. But he chose woman.

I lost my ability to have children at 35 years of age. I have never missed PMS but there have been times when I was saddened by the knowledge that I could not have another child. We should teach our daughters about the sacredness of this gift.

We should teach them to respect their bodies, not out of fear of God’s retribution, but for their own well-being. Studies show that promiscuity leads to a low self-esteem. If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect others to respect us and see the sacred feminine in us?

— Mary Madonna


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Friday, April 07, 2006

Judge Punch gives Magdalen no Slack

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Rachel Bevilacqua of Columbus, Georgia, isn't too happy these days. A judge in New York has taken her ten-year-old son away from her because of her religion, er, her mockery of religion.

Rachel is a member of the Church of the SubGenius.

Just before Christmas, she sent her son to visit his father in New York. As soon as the child arrived, her ex-husband went to court to ask for full custody. Orleans County Judge James Punch granted the husband's request, and Rachel is no longer allowed to even see her son?

Why? There's been no charge that she is an unfit mother, but the judge said it's "obvious" she shouldn't have him because she's a member of the Church of the Subgenius, a parody religion, or a religion of parody, whatever.... Rachel was quite active in the Church, which holds Devivals in which particpants take the stage and rant out their personal parody. Rachel is known in SubGenius circles as Magdalen.

Rachel has a court date next month in front of a different judge. After much publicity, Judge Punch (no relation to Judge Judy) recused himself from the case. Praise Bob!

Then again, I first attended a Slackfest Devival in 1991, and look how I turned out!

— Widow's Son

Read Rachel's blog.
Read a news article.
Read a religious researcher's blog about this.
Read a pagan perspective.

In 1991, film maker Douglass Smith directed this one minute SubGenius ad, which was originally shown on music video networks. It was written by, and stars, Rev. Ivan Stang. Stang is co-sub-founder of The Church of the SubGenius, the infamous UFO-sex-death cult from Texas, based on the Slack teachings of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs — which some claim is merely a satire, while others warn that it is all too real. The music is by Rev. Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO. The commercial is also part of the earliest SubGenius feature video, ARISE! Other videos, and the SubGenius weekly radio show The Hour of Slack, are available via the SubGenius.com website.




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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How I "lost my swing" at the Baptist church

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Rannulph Junnah: Now, the question on the table is how drunk is drunk enough? And the answer is that it's all a matter of brain cells.
Hardy Greaves: Brain cells?
Rannulph Junnah: That's right, Hardy. You see every drink of liquor you take kills a thousand brain cells. Now that doesn't much matter 'cos we got billions more. And first the sadness cells die so you smile real big. And then the quiet cells go so you just say everything real loud for no reason at all. That's okay, that's okay, because the stupid cells go next, so everything you say is real smart. And finally, come the memory cells. These are tough sons of bitches to kill.

How I "Lost My Swing" at the Baptist Church, by Mary Madonna

Like Matt Damon's character Rannulph Junah in the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, I remember the day, the hour and the minute I "lost my swing." Junah was standing in the middle of a battlefield full of fallen soldiers. I was standing in a Baptist church.

I was eighteen years old at the time — a very young age at which to lose one's swing. My grasp on life up to that point was tentative at best. My mother was an almost nonexistent presence, other than to rule my life. There was no encouragement from her to do something positive. She criticized freely any attempt I made to better myself. I grew up hearing her say she never would have had me if my father had had other children before he married her. I was always in her way.

At seventeen I began dating a man four years my senior. Mother hated him, which made him all the more attractive to me. We married exactly 30 days after my high school graduation. I knew, even before that day, I did not want to get married. I realized this about a month before our wedding. But the wedding date was set, the flowers and cake were ordered, the announcement was in the paper, and I was scared to back out. I knew Mother wouldn't have it. She was ready to have me out of the way. I remember riding to the church in the limousine. Cars were pulling off to the side of the road like there was a funeral procession going by. This should have been an omen of what was to come.

We arrived at the church and I was terrified. Standing in the back of the church with Daddy, I wanted to run back to the limousine. As I was walking down the aisle on my father’s arm, I saw a young man who lived down the street from me. As I looked into his eyes I wanted to scream, "Get me out of here!" But I walked down the aisle and vowed to spend the rest of my life with someone I didn’t really love. Nine months later, he was dating someone else. I found out and left.

Prior to my marriage, I had spent the previous five years playing the piano at a Baptist church in Georgia. I was very active in the youth group. We toured the state performing Christian musicals. I loved the church and felt good about using my talent for God. When Bobby and I married, I was no longer a part of the youth group. Up to that point, Bobby had gone to church with me. Once married, he decided he didn’t want to go to church anymore.

The youth director said I should stay at home with him and try to encourage him to come to church. When my marriage ended, I went to the youth director to talk to him. Much to my surprise, I was advised that since I was divorced, I could no longer serve in the church. God could not use me ever again.

Standing in the chapel of the church I had loved for five years, I lost my swing. I had never been more devastated in my life. How could God not love me anymore? What about forgiveness? Had I committed some unpardonable sin? How could God not forgive me for my mistake? Life changed drastically for me that day. Forward momentum ceased to be.

Junah turned away from friends and those he loved. He drank. He drank a lot. I tried that for a while. Fortunately, alcohol doesn’t agree with me. More than one glass of wine and I’m done for the night. When asked, "how drunk is drunk enough?," Junah went on to describe the downward spiral of alcohol abuse. He said the memory cells were the hardest to kill. How do you kill the memory of surviving in a battlefield when all of your comrades have died? How do you kill the memory of being told you have lost the love of God?

My self-esteem at this point was non-existent. This lack of self-respect would follow me into my next marriage. My second husband was a perfectionist. He planned everything. My unexpected pregnancy after just five months of marriage was the beginning of the end. He hardly spoke to me the entire time I was pregnant. He took a business trip for a week when I was five months pregnant and didn’t call home the entire time he was gone.

At this point, not only had I lost my swing, I couldn’t even pick up the club. I took his lack of communication in our relationship as a lack of love and respect. I filed for divorce when our son was four. I blamed every problem we ever had on my ex. I realize now that was not true. My lack of communication skills, lack of confidence and self-respect played a very large part in our demise.

I never truly found my swing again. I fumbled through the next 20 years trying to find my way. I put myself through college. The day I graduated I almost felt like there was hope for me again.

But the words of that youth minister still haunted me. I would never again be good enough. Will I ever find the forgiveness and acceptance I had lost? What can undo the cruel words of a mother who never wanted a child and a preacher who talks to God?

— Mary Madonna
Daughter of a Widow's Son, and a childhood friend of this site's "Widow's Son"


Part One of a continuing series....


The Widow's Son adds: "Bagger Vance" and "R. Junah" are representations of Bhagavan (Krishna) and Arjuna, from the Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita. The lessons learned by Rannulph are loosely based on those Krishna teaches to Arjuna while masquerading as his lowly chariot driver.

We welcome Mary Madonna as a new Sacred Fem writer!

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