Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Fakie Effect


Returning readers of this site may remember a few weeks back when I tried to explain the difference between fakie and switch riding on a skateboard. To recap, fakie means riding backwards and doing one's tricks in reverse, while switch denotes riding backwards, but doing tricks as if you were going forwards. Because skateboard decks these days have a kicktail at both ends, switch riding is more easily facilitated than in the bad old days when you had to actually turn the board around 180 degrees beneath your feet to do proper switch moves. Back then, fakie was the lazy man's switch, while today it is just seen as a little odd.

Another odd thing is what happened to me the last time I was out skating. I was rolling along fakie, attempting some half-cab flips, when all of a sudden, instead of seeing myself as rolling backwards, my brain did a sort of flip in my head, and I saw myself as rolling forwards. To any non-skaters, imagine driving backwards in a car, but getting so attuned to the nuances of steering in reverse that reverse becomes as comfortable as going forward. Instead of saying you were "backing up", you could then say you were "backing front", which is a paradox but somehow expresses the motion.

There must be a part of our mind that deals with our sense of spatial orientation and the metaphors we use to express it. Belonging to this faculty are all categories like up-down, north-south, left-right, forward-backward, and--for skaters--switch and fakie. We are so conditioned by habit, however, that we only become aware of this mental faculty when it becomes confused or suspended. Have you ever come out of a subway exit onto a familiar street, but been momentarily disoriented so as not to know which direction you were facing? Or have you ever rearranged the furniture in your bedroom, then waken up in the middle of the night and been unable to visualize which way the walls were situated around you? A momentary suspension of spatial perception of this sort throws consciousness back upon itself, and makes us suddenly aware of the abstract map and compass we carry around in our minds to help us navigate the world.

Perhaps it was a suspension experience of this sort that first got Einstein pondering the questions that led to his theory of relativity of time and space. Some two hundred thirty-nine years before Einstein's theory challenged our notions of physics, the philosopher Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason put forth a similar idea in abstract philosophical form. Time and space, he argued, are not an objective part of the external world, but are rather the subjective preconditions to any sort of experience of the world. To use a computer metaphor, the sense of space and time is part of our software, the platform that determines what appearance the data takes on the screen, but it shouldn't be confused with the data itself.

The other day at the skatepark I had a first hand experience of the relativity/subjectivity of space. After about three years of fakie skateboard riding, backwards suddenly became forwards, and it made a world of difference for the trick I was attempting. It might sound odd or silly, but the trick I was working on became easier when the ground moving towards me was suddenly in front of my frontwards toe, rather than behind my backwards facing one. Now, however, I have the problem of having two front toes (a bit like having two left feet in dancing), or a back toe which is simultaneously a front one. The relativizing of space is an experience against which ordinary language falters. It's like an extra dimension being added to the three or four in which one normally has one's being. I would like to dub this particular skateboard experience, "The Fakie Effect".

The Fakie Effect is not a new thing. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said "The road up and down is one and the same". The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas reports Jesus as saying that one cannot enter the Kingdom until one "makes the inside like the outside...the upper like the lower"--could we also add, "the fakie like the switch" to this list? This would make the Kingdom something achievable only by retrograde or backwards motion. Moonwalking into Heaven? And speaking of the Kingdom, why should we stop at space? I'm starting to wonder if the Fakie Effect might also be applied to one's experience of time.

Time, like skateboarding, has to do with flowing in a certain direction. In fakie riding, one reverses the flow enough times that one becomes like a mythical river, coursing in both directions with equal ease. What if our experience of time as a past moving through the present towards the future is also largely a trick caused by the conditioning of our minds? Perhaps with a little practice we could break through the haze of habit and experience time in both directions. The French author Marcel Proust seems to have come an experience of this sort, and Kurt Vonnegut has his autobiographically inspired protagonist in Slaughterhous Five come "unstuck in time" after an encounter with a race of five-dimensional aliens, the Tralfamadorians. Such an experience would certainly require a bending of the way in which language is traditionally used to describe temporal qualities-- and language itself is one of the conditioning agents binding us to our traditional experiences of time. Maybe it is/was high/low time/non-time for a revolution in our use of temporal language. I will have to have been letting you know if I was coming up with any old/new ideas. Let me get back to the future to you on it.

If any of the ideas expressed in the preceding blog confound, confuse or constipate you, perhaps it is, was or will have been time again to Ask Dr. Flavour.

The Sith Revisited


I saw Revenge of the Sith again yesterday, and enjoyed it immensely. Then I stayed up all night writing an essay in which the Jedi got trashed, and that, too, was enjoyable in a way. But today, for the sake of brevity, I've removed the piece from the blog. Someone is sure to write a book or two on the same topics sometime in the near future. Until that happens, for those who caught the essay before it disappeared, remember you heard it from Fakiegrind first.

Fakie note: due to popular demand, the essay can still be read at Fake Key Grind.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Lazy Workaholic

My hosemate self-diagonosed the source of her psychological malaise today. "I'm a workaholic," she said, "and I only feel good when I am working on something." And it's true; she seems happiest when absorbed in a project. "But," she said, "I'm also very lazy. So the two tendencies work against each other." The solution: involve oneself in projects that require very little effort. Personally, I find blogging suitably absorbing and sedentary at the same time. If only I could make it pay...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Amazonian Prophecies, Book 5:12


Princess Diana sat on a stone by the waterside, the waters of the Pacific lapping at her ankles. She had left the capitol city of Amazonia, with all its pleasures, to spend some time of quiet reflection by the ocean. She was thinking about Steve. Why did he have to be so secretive about everything? He could have been up front about his involvement with the Jade Brotherhood. He could have told her, of all people.

Granted, she was Chief Secretary of the Justice League, but there are some bonds that run deeper than national security--deeper, even, than her sense of duty to America's first assembled super hero team. Diana fingered lenghts of her Magic Lasso as if it were a strand of worry beads. He had let her find out in the worst possible way: in the middle of a frenzied battle high above the city of Metropolis on the Brotherhood's zeppelin fortress. The Brotherhood had given them quite a time, but what a surprise when she finally went to unmask the one known as the Turquoise Turbine, only to find Steve's baby blue eyes staring back at her! What was she supposed to have done? She had no choice but to apprehend him with the rest of the scoundrels. And now he was safely behind energy bars, in a holding cell deep beneath Devil's Island.

At least she knew where he was. She had been tempted to use her Lasso on him months ago, when, after their third date, the enigmatic evasions he gave to her queries about his past started giving her pause. She had decided, though, that using her super powers to force the truth out of him was no way to build a trusting relationship. Her suspicions, it turned out, had been warranted. But she knew in her heart that he wasn't truly evil--maybe a little hot headed, and definitely misguided in his loyalties--but she had seen a vulnerability in his eyes that had made her want to break through his defenses (much like the Justice League had broken through the vault door of the Brotherhood's command station). He could be just like a little child sometimes, and she wanted to protect him--even from himself.

But now, everything was tangled up. More than just an ocean separated the two of them; the organizations they were working for were sworn enemies. She felt that she could still save him, but she would have to change her tactics. He had crossed a certain line, and courses of action that were out of the question before were now becoming necessities. If she could only bring him back to her homeland, she could make use of the facilities at Transformation Island to bring about a change in Steve. Hadn't the Amazonian Kingdom made the rehabilitation of the male species its mandate (pardon the pun) for millennia? Surely her people could do much more for Steve than the crude--by Amazonian standards--correctional practices utilized by western culture at this leg of its development.

Yes, she could save Steve--but it would require an operation that would certainly be seen as criminal in the eyes of the world. Even though it would mean betraying the trust of her employers, the American people, and jeopardizing her position as the head of the JLA, she would have to break into the Devil's Island facility. Steve needed her, and she would be useless to God or woman until he was safely in her care.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Saturday Sailor

I listened to CBC radio all afternoon. Saturday is the pop cultural line up, and I love it. The sun was out, so I lay down in the grass in the yard and watched the cat happily gnawing on some green blades. I was lying on my stomach, the fertile earth close to my beating heart while the sun warmed my back. After lunch I took the baby for a walk. He's so cute with his baby cheeks and the little dreadlocks his mom has braided into his hair, and people we pass on our treks are often making comments. They have no clue that he's developmentally challenged, that he isn't learning things like normal kids do. But I taught him how to press my nose in order to get me to sing the Mozart rif his favourite toy makes.

In the evening I went out skating. The park was crowded with little African boys on bikes, and a couple kids from high school. I stayed there for about an hour, even though I wasn't skating very well and there was nothing going on. On my way back I stopped at the basketball court. The sun was going down behind the abandoned factory; there is a fan set in one of the walls that spins continually and seems to have no other function but to act like a strobe when the light catches it. A storm front was moving in from the west like the fin of a massive grey shark. I had the court all to myself, and it was such a contrast from the crowded, hectic park. Even though I was tired I carved around the flat, doing wheelies and spins, whirling like a Dervish. Then my housemate appeared from behind the chain-link fence, carrying her boy in both arms. They had been out for a walk, which is all the kid wants to do these days. What he needs is therapy, but we haven't finished laying the floor in the room we are building for him.

Just now, eating some rice and lentils, my housemate said that when she saw me there, skating all by myself on the basketball court, I looked like "a lonely asphalt sailor...or a seagull doing swoops and flips in the sky". My housemate is a poet, even though she rarely takes the time to write her musings down.


I dream that I am in a large, Victorian mansion. there is a party going on and I am wandering the rooms. a young girl singles me out--she can't be more than seventeen or eighteen--and leads me into a large, vaulted chapel. she urgently wants to find a place where we can be alone. I point out four tombs in the floor of shrine; they are decorated by long markers, the size of graves, set parallel to one another but at an odd angle to the dimensions of the room, as if pointing in a certain direction like a compass. the girl is not interested in the tombs. she leads me up to a landing overlooking the shrine, where there are curtains surrounding a bed. we undress, but I am nervous. someone is coming--the minister! the girl doesn't care, but I start to scramble for my clothing. any moment now the minister will find our hiding spot. then another voice sounds out from the shrine below. a young woman is sitting on a chair and she says, "those curtains are translucent, and people can see in from the street." this is enough to frighten the girl into letting me go. later, I am talking with the woman who called out of the shrine, thanking her for saving me. she is also young, but clearly more sensible than the wanton, seductive teenager. there are a few other people around now too. then the minister shows up with some political pamphlets for us to read. there is an election on and he wants us to vote for the right candidate.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Yesterday I arrived a few minutes early at the local Rec Centre where I sometimes like to go swimming over the lunch hour. I changed and showered, and then had to wait with a few other swimmers at the door to the pool, which was still locked. I had never been there right at twelve before, and when we were finally let inside, the water was still and flat like a mirror. It's a good pool. The lifeguards are friendly and play a variety of music. The other swimmers are mostly guys from the steel mills who make it out on their lunch break. Some of them are very dedicated swimmers, cutting speeds through the fast lane that I could never sustain for longer than a half a length or so. I keep to the medium lane, where I am generally a little faster than the other two fellows who are often swimming there.

Perhaps owing to the good weather outside, the pool wasn't very busy, so I had a lane to myself. That is, until I realized that I was sharing my space with an insect. As I approached the shallow end I noticed a small black beetle who had been swept to the side of the pool by the tides and was struggling to gain some footing on the slippery tile below the coping. With some small difficulty, I managed to get the creature onto the back of my hand. I then climbed out of the water using my free arm and legs.

"You found him!" one of the young female lifeguards was brandishing her yellow flutter board as if it were a shield. "Keep him away!" I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. The insect was a fairly small, definitely harmless beetle with a metallic blue-black carapace that changed colour when you tilted it in the light. As I examined the bug, I noticed that one of his antenna had become looped into a tiny knot, perhaps due to the creature's frantic exertions in the pool.

"We were late opening the pool today," the lifeguard explained, "because we couldn't get that bug off of the buoy line." I really like insects, so I have trouble understanding the irrational fear some people have of them. But the little fellow had made me the temporary hero of the pool: the saviour of the lifeguards from the perilous black beetle. I carried the thing to the far end of the deck and, opening one of the emergency doors, released him out into the sunlight. He didn't seem to want to leave the perch of my hand, so I had to shake him off. But before I did so, I noticed that his antenna had somehow righted itself, and was now wavering alongside its twin, like a tiny filament feeling out the dangers and possibilities of the ever-changing moment.

It's amazing that life can make house in such fragile, complicated structures. I don't suppose that I'm much different, for all my bones, skin and eyelashes. Maybe I'll be an insect in my next existence, if not sooner.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Bunker

For the past two weeks I have been digging out a space beneath what used to be the floor of the storage room, but will soon be a therapy room for my housemate's autistic two year old boy. My housemate wants a crawlspace beneath the new floor in case access to the outer walls becomes necessary for rennovation purposes. What she doesn't know is my plan to turn the crawlspace into a hidden bunker: 4" steel alloy walls, automatically regulated temperature and moisture levels, special infrared lighting, and three-alarm ultrasonic security system to avoid break-ins. At just under 3' in height, there may be some claustrophobia issues to contend with, but the bunker is not for me; it's for my action figure collection. I only need a place to preserve them through to the end of the Rapture, and then they will be safe for all eternity. I believe that Jesus will understand my fetishistic attachment to iconic figurines; just look at the Catholic Church. And with Him on my side, the Old Man shouldn't be too difficult to win over. Then again, that's probably just what the early Hebrews thought, camped out at the foot of Mount Sinai. "Oh we've got Moses as an advocate, so what harm could a few snakes and cows cast in bronze do?" Maybe I should re-think the whole operation.

The back up plan to the bunker is to become High Lama of my own new Fakiegrind cult. Apparently, when the Dali Lama of Tibet passes on, the other Lamas eventually go looking to identify the child who is the reincarnation of their spiritual leader. They do this by bringing out a box of toys that have traditionally belonged to the line of Lamas; if the child recognizes the items, it is proof that he is the reincarnation. As leader of my own cult, I would simply pick out my favourite keep-sakes, and have them transmitted to me down through the ages in the Tibetan manner. The conundrum here is, if I were spiritually advanced enough to be akin to a High Lama, then I likely wouldn't have the irrational attachment to action figures and comic books that now plagues me. As it is, I'm likely to be reincarnated as a gnat, or a tree sloth, or maybe as a bombardier beetle, given all the blasphemy I spout in this blog. And what use would any of those creatures have for toys?

Mart of Darkness

My housemate had some appointments this afternoon, so I had a rare stretch of time free from the television blaring and other distractions. Not that I did much. Last night the baby was up until four in a very bad mood, so today I'm getting by in a semi-catatonic state. Someday I'll have a place of my own again, far from the maddening loud. I applied at the video store down the street yesterday for part time help, though I suspect it's a mafia front. There are never any customers and it's a pretty big store. The girl behind the counter who took my resume was short, blonde and had a new nose piercing that looked red and sore. She didn't seem very thrilled about how her day was going, and I noticed that there were no chairs behind the counter for the employees. I can't see myself working there, or anywhere else for that matter. Too far gone, that's what they say about me. He got lost somewhere in deep blogland. We sent men after him, but they never returned.

It's all insane, really. Who are they to judge? I'm still working towards the same goals, but they no longer approve of my methods. As if they could do any better. Yes, I shop at Wal Mart--but only for action figures, and only because they are cheaper there than anywhere else. And I always make sure to mis-shelf a few items on my way out, just to throw them off. Canned zoodles in with the Tupperware? Plush toys with gardening supplies? Get used to it. I've never shoplifted in my life--well, once in high school, but I didn't enjoy that ice cream bar very much. A guy I knew became a store detective for Wal Mart. I met him one day on the big, sloping treadmill they call a "people mover". He told me I was going the wrong direction, that the ramp was for getting between levels and not for my personal exercise regime. I said, "Drake, don't you recognize me?" It took him a moment. We hadn't seen each other in a couple years, since the night we got booed off the open stage at a local biker bar for impersonating an art rock band. We spent the next ten minutes wandering through the aisles of appliances and beach towels, catching up. There actually wasn't too much to catch up on, since we're both a couple of slackers. "Still collecting?" I asked him. "You've got the perfect job for it: close to The Source" (read, "the stock room"). "Nah. I'm done with that stuff." Turns out he'd sold his complete collection of vintage Star Wars figures and bought a condo downtown. Had a girlfriend and stereo system--the works. I was impressed and left the store thinking I was in the wrong line of work. Maybe I should just give up the whole dream scavenger thing and go straight. Works for a couple of days, but then I hear the call: the discard bins, the rummage sales, the undocumented bootlegs--and I'm back on the street looking for a fix. They'll never track me down, and they'll never make me stop. Not until the unclaimed pop-cultural heritage of the western world is safely secured in my secret underground museum bunker.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Ancient shamanistic tradition has it that the world was brought into being by a suspension of disbelief. At some point God realized that, against all odds, he actually existed. The world was born in that instant he first believed in himself.

Clocks in Heaven

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked, "What are all those clocks?"

St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that one?" "That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she's never told a lie."

"Incredible," said the man, "and whose clock is that one?" St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that old Abe only told two lies in his entire life."

"Well," said the man, "where's Paul Martin's or Jean Chretien's clock?"

"They're in Jesus' office. He's using them as ceiling fans."

--Thanks to G.P.H. for sending this one over the wire!

A Secret Tradition

Though Jesus has certainly become the most famous of these beings, secret tradition has it that there are actually two-hundred thirty-two thousand, three-hundred twenty-three Christs walking the Earth at any given moment. Not so much sons and daughters of God, these souls are more like mirrors that have been so polished by nature and circumstance as to reflect back to mortals the deathless adamantine core at the heart of all created things. There is no way to distinguish these Anointed Ones from the common run of humanity; they appear as shopkeepers and professors, parents and artists, hobos and criminals. The only commonality amongst them is that they stand apart.

Occasionally, due to a coincidence of forces that the best human minds have yet to fully fathom, the population will spontaneously identify one of these souls, and, entrapping him in a net of names and rituals, form a new religion. When this happens it usually bodes ill for the particular Anointed One who finds him or herself at the centre of attention, but it is generally accepted to be part of the job description. Thus is it understood that the other two-hundred thousand, three hundred twenty-two will seldom rally to the aid of their fallen brethren, but rather strive to assimilate themselves even more to the status quo. Taking refuge in anonymity, the Remnant will wait for the collective madness to diminish back to acceptable levels before resuming their covert mission of redeeming humanity.

The Star Wars Files -Final Part

I feel bad for details released in the last blog that might spoil Revenge of the Sith for moviegoers who haven't yet made it out to the film, but who can't resist the Orphic harmonies of my galaxy-spanning Fakiegrind rant. So I've truncated the series into two parts and tried to omit any specific references to events in the new film. I'll post this one tonight, to be done with it, so we can get back to the usual Fakiegrind business of chronicling the deterioration of aging skateboarders' knee and back joints.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

or, "O Brother, There Thou Art--and There, and There, and There..."

Episode I was about culture and diplomacy, and concludes with a peace celebration that both echos and foreshadows the celebration on Endor from the close of ROTJ. The festive tone is undercut, however, by the closing shot of Palpatine which reminds viewers that all is not well in the Galactic Republic. Episode II is about war and technology, these two themes being combined in the ominous images of the clone army. It is also about the burgeoning love between Anakin and Amidala. Ten years have passed since the events of TPM, and Anakin is coming into his own as a promising young Jedi. Amidala is now a Galactic Senator, and Palpatine a popular head of the Galactic Senate. But plots and intrigue abound. Someone is trying to assassinate Amidala, and the search for the culprit leads Obi-Wan Kenobi to the distant planet of Kamino where he discovers that the first batch of soldiers are ready for a massive army of clones mysteriously commissioned ten years previously by a long dead Jedi knight.

The plot thickens as Obi Wan discovers that Count Dooku, a former Jedi, is involved in rallying a body of separatist star systems who are attempting to break away from the old Republic. When the separatist threat becomes known to the Senate, Palpatine is able to invoke emergency powers, and wouldn't you know it? he just happens to have at his disposal the army that the Kamino cloners have been breeding for the past ten years. The first flexing of the government's new military might occurs on the planet of Geonosis, where the Trade Federation has installed their own factories for producing battle driods, and where the Jedi counsel finds itself in a sticky situation when an attempt to rescue Obi-Wan from Dooku's clutches goes wrong. The Jedi are saved from destruction in the nick of time by the clone army, at the command of Yoda, and in the ensuing battle the separatist droid forces are overwhelmed and neutralized.

In this movie we are given further evidence of the growing ineffectuality of the Jedi counsel. Their weakness seems to stem from what in a Jungian sense could be called blindness to their own shadow. When Obi-Wan suggests that Dooku may be behind the assassination attempts on Amidala, Mace Windu, one of the strongest Jedi on the counsel, responds that, "It couldn't possibly be Dooku. He's a former Jedi; it's not in his character." Anakin is having a hard time assimilating himself to the disciplined lifestyle the Jedi require, and his master, Obi-Wan, seems only to make things worse. Whereas Qui-Gonn was down to earth and compassionate, Obi-Wan comes across as an arrogant snob. Even Yoda is unable to see through the complexities surrounding the Jedi, confessing that "the dark side clouds everything".

The forces of good and evil have become polarized and disassociated from each other; this is the meaning of the "imbalance in the force" from the prophecy related by Qui-Gon in TPM. The Jedi counsel's own shadow has taken physical form in the Sith lord Palpatine whose position grows stronger under the oblivious watch of the Jedi. No longer capable of effectual independent action, the Jedi are only saved at the critical moment by an army of clones, themselves bread to mindlessly obey orders. Anakin Skywalker, the most promising Jedi of his generation, is barely even recognized by the counsel, who see him more as a potential threat than an ally, and who alienate him more and more with their cautious approach to the situations in which they are embroiled. The Jedi are benevolent, but the thousand years of peace has led to a kind of hubris that leaves them vulnerable to the machinations of the scheming Palpatine. So while the movie ends with an apparent victory for the Republic, Yoda recognizes that it is, in actuality, a defeat for the Jedi: they have always been the guardians of peace, but now find themselves as generals in a war that seems to have been orchestrated by unseen and sinister forces.

The operant principle here is the Jungian idea of the shadow. According to Jung, those aspects of our being that are unrecognized by consciousness comprise the "shadow" of our personality and manifest themselves in our lives in destructive ways until they can be effectively integrated into consciousness. Because new elements are constantly arising from the unconscious, integration of the shadow is an ongoing process of growth. The Jedi counsel of the old Republic in the three Star Wars prequels represent a consciousness that has become stuck or ossified. The newly emerging shadow elements appear as destructive forces in the person of the Sith lord and his apprentices. These shadow forces ultimately overthrow the governing bodies of the old Republic and force them into hiding and exile, but the abilities the survivors are forced to cultivate in fighting the Empire facilitate the growth of consciousness into new wisdom and knowledge.

I believe that this is the myth of Star Wars in a nutshell: the falling of the hero into the shadow realm leading to a momentary reduction of the level of order in the galaxy, and the subsequent redemption of the hero and society to create a renewed world where expanded possibilities and knowledge are operant. As Lukas has admitted to being a great student of Joseph Campbell's Jungian approach to mythology, it is not surprising that this pattern should be apparent in the Star Wars films. There are, of course, other noteworthy aspects and readings of Lukas' masterpiece: it is a complex work or art akin, I believe, to the Greek epics of Homer or Virgil's Anniad. But it is the centrality of myth to Lukas' oeuvre, his sensitivity to the great and timeless themes of the human spiritual imagination, that will prove his work to be one of the great American epics for future generations.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Which Star Wars Character?

Since this seems to have become Star Wars week here at Fakiegrind, leave a comment indicating which SW personality you would most like to be and why. Personally, I have always been fond of the creature known as "Hammerhead" from the famous cantina scene. His oddly beveled head makes it necessary for him to drink beer with a straw.

The Star Wars Files -Part One

The suspense has been building all weekend. Fakiegrinders are on the edge of their mousepads, anxious to get the full scoop on the Greatest Space Fantasy Franchise of All Time. So now, at the risk of running on as long as the popular sextet of sci-fi movies, it is time to unleash...

The Answer to Star Wars, Midichloridians, and Everything

The question we are pursuing is: "How could Anakin Skywalker, at the end of Return of the Jedi, be almost instantly restored to grace after a lifetime of following the dark side?" You can read further about the history of this quandry in the Old Milk archives. FULL SPOILER WARNINGS IN EFFECT: I cannot be held responsible for giving away details of the plot of Revenge of the Sith to any readers who have not yet seen it, or to those who have seen it but fell asleep at some point.

I suppose the shorter, more obvious answer to our Anakin question is that the Star Wars saga is a myth, and dramatic reversals and transformations are the stuff of myth. In destroying the Emporer, Anakin symbolically overthrew the allegiance to the dark side that had enslaved his soul, so it was only fitting that his spirit should get to hang out with Yoda and Ben at the end of the film.

The longer answer is actually an unpacking of this idea. If we examine the story in more detail, we will see that Yoda, Ben and the whole Jedi counsel were complicit in Anakin's fall from grace. Yes, Darth Vadar was a badass, but it takes more than brash impulsiveness and the loss of a loved one to breed a tyrant. Ben, Yoda and the galactic policing agency they belonged to were unintentionally complicit in Anakin's fall, and thus was it necessary for the surviving Jedi to work towards his redemption in the latter three movies, even to the point of appearing as spirit guides to Luke Skywalker through his perilous quest.

I'll build my argument by going through the movies sequentially and noting the salient facts, starting with;

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

or, "The Old Republic Just Ain't What it Used to Be"

This seems to be the movie that even die-hard Star Wars fans love to hate. I saw it about nine times in the theatre, and recently again on television, and It's still one of my favourite three SW films, coming in just after A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. I like Lukas' depiction of the Old Republic with all its dream-like chivalry, and I like Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn. I even like Jar Jar Binks, though this confession likely puts me in an obscure minority alongside some strange bedfellows (it's his floppy ear flap thingies--I think they're cute). Anyways, let's take a closer look at the menacing phantoms and other oddities of this film.

In PM we are introduced to the Old Republic, a great conglomerate of hundreds of thousands of star systems represented democratically in the Galactic Senate, and policed by the ancient order of Jedi Knights. The Jedi have acted to maintain peace and justice across the universe for a thousand years, but, sadly, this peace is about to come to an end with the reappearance, after a millennium, of the Sith--a secret order of Jedi gone bad who have turned to pursuing the dark side of the Force. Throughout Ep.I (PM), and most of Ep.II (ATC), the Jedi councel remain ignorant of the presence of a dark Sith lord right under their lightsabers, so to speak, in the person of Senator Palpatine, a devious politician who works his way to the position of Supreme Chancellor. The Jedi counsel is portrayed as benevolent but somewhat rigid and authoritarian. Their powers to use the Force to see future events is waning, and as galactic order begins to unravel--starting with a seemingly isolated trade blockade on the outlying planet of Naboo--the Jedi become increasingly unable to respond effectively to the crisis. The Galactic Senate is also shown as in decline, and the deceptive Palpaptine has little problem in manipulating events that bring about his rise to power.

The main hero of this film is Qui-Gon Jinn, a maverick Jedi who has been granted the title of Master, but is not a member of the Jedi counsel. The reason given for this is that he refuses to follow the Jedi Code, and a quick check to the official Star Wars web site will reveal that it is particularly Qui-Gonn's philosophy of following feeling over thought that puts him on the wrong side of Jedi dogma. It seems that the Jedi counsel values reflective thought, meditation and research into the nature of the Force over feeling and action. Qui-Gonn, however, in expounding a philosophy of following one's instincts often acts in a spontaneous and independent manner, with our without the blessings of the collective Jedi counsel.

It is through following his intuition that Qui-Gonn becomes the protector of the young Anakin Skywalker, whom he first encounters living as a slave to a scrap dealer on the desert planet Tatooine. Anakin, it seems, has a stronger sensitivity to the Force than any life form Qui-Gonn has ever come across. This is due to Anakin's unusually high count of "midichlorians", a microscopic organism that lives within cells of host creatures in a symbiotic relationship; giving life to matter, it would seem. Lukas uses midichlorians as a pseudo-scientific metaphor for the relation between spirit and matter, akin to Descartes' idea of the pineal gland. Qui-Gonn has a premonition that Anakin is the Chosen One who, it is prophesied, will bring balance back to the Force.

Qui-Gonn is probably my favourite Jedi. His ability to relate to the amphibian Gungans, like Jar Jar, and his philosophy of following feeling and intuition over abstract thought make him a liaison with the chthonic spirits. His independent nature and aversion to bereaucracy give him the ability to act in a decisive manner, and his compassion and sensitivity to the living Force ensure that his actions work towards the greater good. Had Qui-Gonn survived to become Anakin's Jedi Master, his protege might not have turned to the dark side. As things happened, it is significant that Qui-Gonn is the one who, having been killed by Darth Maul at the end of PM, returns to SPOILER ALERT! Time to go see the movie.

The stage is thus set for the tragedy to unfold in the next two movies. Anakin is presented to the Jedi counsel on the capital city/planet of Coruscant. While the counsel recognize his great potential, they are wary of training him. The Jedi like to train their apprentices from birth, and Yoda senses a great deal of fear in the young Anakin. He was, after all, a slave for his entire childhood, and had been recently plucked from a backwater redneck outpost and deposited in the midst of the largest metropol in the galaxy. But rather than doing anything to ease Anakin's sense of fear or displacement, the Jedi act in a clinical and almost self-righteous manner. Their disassociation with the realms of feeling are readily apparent in the way they treat Anakin, though by the end of the film they do agree to allow Ben Kenobi to take Anakin as his Padawan learner, even though Ben has only just recently been granted the status of Jedi Master himself. Qui-Gonn says at one point while talking to Anakin's mother on Tatooine, "I didn't come here to free slaves". This is a significant statment, as Anakin's acceptance as a Jedi Padawan can be seen not so much as a liberation, as trading one form of slavery for another. It is ultimately only in ROTJ, when Anakin-as-Vadar overthrows the Emperor in a spontaneous act of compassion, to save his son Luke, that he truly becomes free.

Stay tuned for the second Fakiegrind installment of The Star Wars Files coming soon to a blogspot near you!

Stories of Steeltown

A sign from a north end cafe window:


Monday, May 23, 2005


Latest winner of the Fakiegrind/Lovecraft award for best vanity plate.

Happy Victoria Day

Yes, it's the Queen's birthday and she is here in Canada, visiting her peeps. It is also, coincidentally, my parent's 35th anniversary, so Happy Day to mom and dad: congratulations to a couple of Canada geese making it through to the New Millenium in fine style! In celebration of the occasion I threw down some brand new Fakiegrind maneuvers at the Bease. I can't quite remember what they were, but suffice it to say there was a little bit of poetry in motion decorating that particular corner of God's public domain today. I had to hightail it out of there, though, when a few wayward kids showed up with a bag of fireworks. Within moments the park was transformed from a pleasant skating environment to a wizard's battlefield with five or six disheveled Harry Potter's pointing sulphurous wands that spit pyrotechnic projectiles in random directions. A flatlander could loose an eye that way!

As I sit in my hovel writing this, dusk is falling on the North End, and the cool lakeside air is being periodically punctuated by the echos of dollar store explosives. My housemate seems to have taken her kid for a walk, perhaps hoping to catch glimpse of some blazing sparklers or dragon tails. I, however, will lay low and enjoy the relative tranquility: no television or radio to intrude upon these brief musings, no two year old to humour nor holes to dig in the floor of the storage room. Just the keyboard a-clapping, and the ol' mental gristmill fakiegrinding away.

There was an interesting show on CBC this afternoon. Host Sheila Rogers went on a tour of the Manitoba Legislature Building with a scholar who is unravelling the Masonic mysteries to be found in what he called "the North American Parthenon". By the end of the show, after hearing about all the Hermetic, classical and Biblical references that lace the building, I had a great desire to fly out there and take a tour of the place, to feel the mystic vibes. Apparently, Winnipeg is located at about the geographical centre of the continent, so there may be some meridians of geo-energy that converge upon the place--if you believe in those kinds of things.

Well, night is falling and the fireworks are really starting to fly. If there's one thing North Enders like--besides large nasty dogs--it's a civic holiday. And why not? Sounds like the baby is on his way back too; his cries are louder than any fireworks. Maybe I'll stick my head out the door and take a peek...

....well, that was worth the trouble. The moon was coming up over the horizon like a giant orange Petri dish, and the neighbourhood was going off like the movie set for Apocalypse Now. I took my housemate's boy for a walk with me, just to the corner to check things out. He's autistic, so traffic lights lure him on like a will-o-the-wisp; he always has to go to the next one, and if you try to turn back he starts screaming bloody murder. I was only wearing my pajamas and sandals, but I ended up going much further than I had initially intended: up over the railway bridge and along the main street past the prison and abandoned warehouses. I felt kind of funny in my P.J.'s with my little charge in tow, and him screaming his lungs out half the way home when I finally had to turn back, and the full moon hovering, and the fireworks going off atop the escarpment like the technicolour spume of some great whale, but that's life in the North End; step out your front door and you never know where you'll end up.

Star Wars Confessions -Interlude

While these shameless Real Life Star Wars Confessions might be destroying any street cred we have been so careful to disdain here at Fakiegrind, the following piece does not conatin any spoilers for the new film. So you can read on, just don't get caught in the act!

Last night while watching Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones on television, I was impressed again by the flat dialogue, particularly evident in the love scenes between Padme and Anakin. I was actually doing some entertainment multi-tasking, listening to a radio show at the same time as the movie was going, so I had turned off the sound on the tv and was watching the movie with captions. It was while thus engaged that I realized the secret to Lukas' creative vision. To fully appreciate his odd approach to acting and dialogue in the Star Wars films, you have to pretend that the characters are speaking their lines in Japanese.

The Hidden Fortress

I've only seen a few films by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, but Lukas is said to have been heavily influenced by his work, particularly the 1958 film, The Hidden Fortress. This last movie is full of samurai warriors, swordfights, and horse chases, and features a stern princess reminiscent of Padme or Leia from the Star Wars films. If one imagines the characters of the Star Wars movies, particularly the Jedi, speaking Japanese like the characters from the old Samurai films, the strange emotional detachment of the actors suddenly becomes endearing, even fitting. I believe that Lukas must have been aiming for some sort of Oriental aesthetic in his films, though I am not familiar enough with the genres that influenced him to go into specifics. But any serious Star Wars enthusiast should search out The Hidden Fortress and give it a watch. You will find the depiction of feudal Japanese society strikingly familiar to a certain galaxy far, far away.

Real Life Star Wars Confessions-Part Two

For the sake of those readers who have not yet seen the new Star Wars film, I have decided to restrict my discussion in this first blog to the Star Wars movies in general, thus not giving away any details of Revenge of the Sith. That being said, the themes I pick up upon might yet insinuate facts about the new movie that will annoy fans who desire the Full Effect of viewing the film with a spoiler free mind; so either go out and see the thing right now, or read on according to your own calculations of the peril involved.

I was eleven years old when Return of the Jedi, sequentially the last film in the Star Wars saga, was released in cinemas. By then I had been a fan of the galaxy far, far away for about six years, or over half of my life up to that point. I had a room full of star wars figures, playsets, vehicles and merchandise, and I spent a great deal of my free time dreaming up adventures with my friends in which we took turns playing the parts of Han Solo, Luke or sometimes Darth Vadar. I knew the plots of the film like a priest knows scripture, and would often drift off to sleep while reviewing the manner in which the various scenes and segments of the plot led into one another. Not to sound like a total geek, I had other interests: G.I.Joe, Dungeons and Dragons, Ninjas and a game we called Risk, which was more or less my friends and I pretending we were soldiers in the forest. But Star Wars was king: better than Buck Rogers, Indiana Jones or the Bible.

I was enamored by the heros, villains and fantastic creatures introduced in A New Hope, and I was astounded by the revelation of The Empire Strikes Back that Vadar was Luke's father (it seems so obvious now, but such was the magic of childhood). Revenge of the Jedi was only a slight let down, with the Ewoks and syrupy love plot, but by that time the first stirrings of puberty were just around the corner, so my whole outlook was scheduled for major upheaval. I remember going to see Return of the Jedi with my parents, and sitting through Darth Vadar's dramatic change of heart at the end of the film. It certainly made for a grand finally to the trilogy, but there was an aspect to the denouement that puzzled me. At the very end of the film, as Luke is lighting fire to the body of his dead father, he sees a vision of the flickering blue spirits of Yoda, Ben Kenobi and the now restored Anakin Skywalker standing together and waving at him from what must be some sort of Jedi afterlife. This part of the plot puzzled me, and I remember asking my parents, as the final credits were rolling, how Darth Vadar, who had been such a nasty villain his whole life, could be so dramatically redeemed through the single action of tossing the evil Emperor into the chasm.

Plastic Jedi Spirits

The fact that Anakin should be so thoroughly redeemed in such a brief period of time so as to share the company of the spirits of Yoda and Ben, the two great Gurus of my youth, didn't make sense to my youthful imagination--I mean, here was a fellow who had been responsible for the death of countless rebels, not to mention a whole planet, as well as killing Ben Kenobi, his old master, cutting of the hand of his own son, even going so far as to kill members of his own military leadership! How could one further act of violence, that of destroying the Emperor, possibly undo all the wrong that Vadar had already committed in his life? I guess my young imagination was reaching out for some kind of idea akin to a purgatory where people like Anikin Skywalker go, though at the time I hadn't been introduced to any such religious concept.

I can't remember my parent's giving any intelligible answer to my query, though I remember them as being amused by the question. I do think that the three prequel movies have answered the question, but it wasn't until seeing Revenge of the Sith that the pieces completely fell into place. The answer involves the nature of the society that allowed an entity like the Emperor, and then Vadar, to come into existence. It also involves the enigmatic prophecy, first voiced by Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode One, that Anakin was "the Chosen One who would bring balance back to the Force", and it involves the quest for immortality, a theme implicit in the first three movies (episodes IV-VI) but not explicitly developed until the three prequels.

So, I hope I didn't give away too many secrets in this outline. In the next blog I will lay out my argument for The Sith as a portrayal of the unintegrated shadow (in a Jungian sense) of the Jedi Councel, the tragic necessity for the appearance of a figure like Darth Vadar, and the subsequent restoration of balance and wholeness in the Force that Anakin's fall and redemption brought about.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Confessions of a Star Wars Enthusiast


I've been a pretty big Star Wars fan since the first of the movies debuted in 1977. It was the second movie that I can remember my parent's taking me to see, but the first one that actually made any impression on me. The first movie my parents took me to was Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. This movie, while arguably just as important as Star Wars to the history of filmmaking, was too long and abstract for my five year old mind to appreciate. To the eyes of a child--and likely many adults as well--there is very little that actually happens in Kubrick's film: the entire evolution of humanity is artfully implied by series of images that unfold over what seems like a cinematic eternity. I probably fell asleep in the theatre, and might have given up on the whole science fiction genre right then and there if George Lukas hadn't dropped his spaghetti western cum space opera in the collective lap of my generation (and followed it up with an irresistible line of action figures, merchandise and sequel/prequels).

My relationship with Wookies and lightsabers has been a love affair ever since the rebel starship from the opening of A New Hope thundered across the movie screen in stomach shaking dolby sound. The romance, like most, has had its ups and downs. While A New Hope was the scintillating courtship, The Empire Strikes Back was all the thrills of an exotic honeymoon followed, a few years later, by the domestic comedy of Return of the Jedi. While The Phantom Menace of 1999 renewed the relationship (like a second honeymoon, on Naboo, if you will) it was actually two years earlier, in 1997, that Star Wars action figures started appearing again on store shelves after an almost fifteen year hiatus (these were like the gifts for the second wedding). The past five years have seen the release of the three Star Wars prequels, the last of which, Revenge of the Sith, was just released in theatres (in case you've been in a sensory deprivation tank for the past few weeks). We now have the complete story, as Lukas intended it to be known, of the fall from grace and subsequent redemption of Anakin Skywalker.

I must admit that I found this last installment in the franchise somewhat overwhelming. I will probably need to see it a couple more times to better appreciate the lavish details with which Lukas breaths life into his fantastical universe. While I appreciated the eye candy, I grew a bit weary of the seemingly endless lightsaber duels which flash and clash throughout Revenge of the Sith, and I can see why less charitable critics have likened the movie to a colossal video game that runs itself. I would also be inclined to agree with critics who have noted that the acting in many scenes is deplorable, due, perhaps, in part, to the utter lack of concern that Lukas seems to pay to the art of script writing.

Yes, the movie is perhaps overburdened with special effects (would you expect anything less?), and understocked with some of the basic ingredients of good cinema, like decent acting (though there are some notable exceptions), but if that's all you went to Revenge of the Sith to see, then you could have stayed home and rented Casablanca, thus sparing yourself the line up. But the reason fans like myself are drawn to see Lukas' Star Wars films--and see them again and again if at all possible--is not, I think, just for the special effects (though they help), is not (I hope) for the thin acting and character development, is not even, as many people have suggested, to recapture that magical feeling the first films evoked in our youth (though that is certainly an element); no, I would argue that the reason we love the Star Wars films so much is because of the mythos, the story.

We finally have all that we are ever going to know of Lukas' mythos. It is a story that he wrote the body of even before the very first Star Wars movie had been produced, and he has been very careful to keep the salient details of the unfolding story a secret right up until the release of each film--no small feat considering the number of rabid Star Wars enthusiasts who would sell their grandmas' fine china if they could use the funds thus gleaned to gain access to some hitherto hidden facet of the Star Wars saga. But with Revenge of the Sith Lukas has unloaded the last installment, revealed all that he is going to reveal (one hopes), and fans can now sit back and watch as their carded action figures slowly discolour in their protective mylar cases. Now that all the Ewoks are out of Lukas' closet, so to speak, I would like, in the next blog or two, to investigate some of the aspects of the Star Wars story that have long puzzled me, and to elucidate these questions in light of information supplied by Lukas' latest offering, The Revenge of the Sith. Spoiler warnings will be forthcoming for those who have not yet seen the movie, and want to experience Lukas' storytelling magic without my pedantic, pseudo-Jungian Fakiegrind gloss.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Once in a Lifetime (red clay remix)

And you may find yourself in another part of the world
i never thought i'd be living where i do now, in the midst of all the smog and carnage, and the helicopters passing, and the water lapping at the harbour

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
my friend and i went driving in her car today. the pollution smell was unusually strong, then we realized that it wasn't smog, but the car that was burning. we pulled over and the rear wheel was smoking from out the hubcap. my friend had been driving with the emergency brake on--again

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
wife i live in a small room in the back of my ex-girlfriend's house. it's stuffed so full of records, books and action figures that there is no floor space left. all the neighbours wonder if we are a couple, but we're not

And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here? simple: i needed a place to go, and a place needed me

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this? the computer isn't a difficult instrument, once you've mastered a few basic skills
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile? it must be in my head, because the other way around doesn't make any sense

And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...

time passes quickly these days, like water slipping through cupped fingers. i work for an hour, then i rest. surest way to live a long life: spend your days doing something you hate

Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

working to dig a crawl space underneath where the floor in the storage room will go, the earthen walls are cool and the sun beams down in patches from a skylight. we carry the earth out in buckets and deposit it in an alarmingly large mound where the garden used to be. scientists have tried to create soil in laboratories but have so far failed to unravel the delicate intricacies of simple earth. genesis lied: the dust wasn't dead to begin with

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house? we spent a year renovating, now the people we rent out to are trashing it with their menagerie of house pets. they used to have two pigs, but one died
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go? somewhere far away, beside the ocean,
under the stars

And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong? most likely, a bit of both
And you may tell yourself
MY GOD!...WHAT HAVE I DONE? on government forms in the occupation box i put "blogger"

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Time isn't holding us...Time isn't after us...
Time isn't holding us...Time isn't after us...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...


If You See the Buddha...

I was driving down County Road 27 kicking up a nice plume of dust and gravel, my trusty hound, Ananda, beside me on the passenger seat, when I saw the Buddha. He was standing by the roadside, and I almost didn't notice his stooped, wizened frame and balding pate as I sped passed; my mind was on other things.

"Croaking bullfrogs!" I slammed on the brakes and looked into the rearview mirror. Yup, that was the Exalted One all right. As the dust settled I could see him standing there in his maroon robes, serene and radiant as always. He was holding a cardboard placard with the word "Nirvana" written on it in marker.

"By the Great Wheel of Samsara!" Ananda lifted his spotted head and was cocking one canine eyebrow in mock perplexity. "Why do these things always Mutually Arise when I'm in a rush?" I was due in town for my AA meeting--Agoraphobics Anonymous. We met each week in the elevator of the Howard Johnson.

I kicked the Ford into reverse and backed up to where the Great Emancipator stood in his sandals, projecting an ocean of deep tranquility even as the dust particles from the road danced about him through the dry summer air. Moving slowly and deliberately, as if in a dream, I patted Ananda's aging head and leaned over to flip open the glove compartment. Even through my dirty passenger-side window I was transfixed by the Laughter of the Cosmos that sparkled in the Tathagata's opal eyes.

My hand rummaged through the abyss of the glove compartment until my fingers set upon a cool, angular metallic object. Gripping it with my left hand, I used my right to roll down the window of the truck. The Buddha stared directly into my non-self with his calm, compasionate gaze. I'd studied, meditated and prepared for this moment for years; I knew what was expected.

In one practiced gesture I pulled the handgun from out the glove compartment and brought it to bear at the level of the Venerable One's chest. Ananda let out a slight whimper at the site of the weapon; he wasn't a hunting dog. My finger was tensed on the trigger, ready to fire, when the Enlightened One spoke in a languid, resonant but humble voice:

If a Bodhisattva thumbs a lift on a deserted backroad, does anybody stop to pick him up?

In that instant my nerve was shattered. I dropped the gun to the car seat; It bounced off the dog and hit the floor mat with a thud. Without rolling up the window I jammed the stick-shift back into gear and slammed the accelerator. The roadside figure of Shakyamuni was lost in billowing dust, but the cloud was nothing compared to the fog obscuring the mirror of my mind. I had failed the final test: I could not kill the Buddha.

Killing the Buddha.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Revenge of the Geeks

"You seek Yoda!"

Yesterday I went to Toys 'R Us on a snoop. With the release of the final installment of the Star Wars saga just days, and now mere hours, away, I wanted to check out what was being offered by way of action figure displays at the nation's biggest toy retailer. I went with my housemate who was looking for items for her two year old boy.

As one could expect, there were a couple end-aisle displays full of action figures on pegs, and a television running a DVD of Star Wars that was stuck on the "options" page so that it played the same three bars of John Williams music over and over again. And over and over again. And again; I stayed there for about half an hour checking out the fantastic new wares, and the theme music got burnt into my aural canals.

When I first arrived there was another fellow allready scouring the displays: mid to late twenties, curly black hair, stylish glasses and casual hipster sort of clothing--a far cry from the overweight, ponytail sporting comic book store guy from the Simpsons. I didn't want to blow my cover, so I circled through the flanking aisles nonchalantly, pretending that I was checking out the Batman, Ninja Turtle and Transformer toys, perhaps for my son's birthday or something. But the guy was taking his sweet time, so in the end I decided to start up a conversation.

"Any good ones in there?" I asked, eyeballing the fantastic assortment of characters from a sideways angle to see if I could catch site of one of the rarer ones--maybe a Darth Vadar, or pregnant Padme.

"You a collector?" He asked me. I think he could see in my eyes that I was.

"Yeah, but they make so many of them nowadays, you really have to be selective."

We then talked for ten or fifteen minutes, and I told him some of the inside information about the new figures that I'd gleaned in my researches: that the new Darth Vadar is perfectly posed to hold other figures as if he were choking them; that the new C-3PO looks as though his thumb is missing on one hand, but it's just the way they made the mold; that Darth Vadar's medical droid looks like it's going to be one heckuva figure, etc. The fellow was super nice, and he acted quite intrigued by the revelations I was disclosing.

"They certainly look different than they did when we were kids" he said. And I had to agree. The amount of energy that must go into producing those little toys is amazing.

After we talked for a while, the fellow pulled a figure out from somewhere near the middle of the wall.

"Do you have one of these yet?" he asked.

It was a little figure made of translucent blue plastic: "Holographic Yoda", a Toys 'R Us exclusive shipped in extremely limited quantities!

He handed the rarity to me. "I got one yesterday in Burlington. This is the only one I've seen out of all these figures."

"Gee thanks!" I said. I wasn't sure I was going to buy the figure. It was five dollars more than the other ones, and I'm no longer the kind of collector who keeps my toys in their packages. Then I saw the sign saying that if you bought three regularly priced figures, you got the Holographic Yoda figure for free. Scratch one up for marketing gimmickry--I was only planning to buy one, or maybe two figures tops, but I ended up getting three just to have the little blue Yoda.

Just about then my housemate and friend returned with her kid, and, coming upon two guys talking toys in front of the Star Wars display, said that we looked like a couple of geeks. I was a bit offended by this, but my companion seemed to take it in stride. You could tell that he was a sophisticated and centred kind of person, and, unlike me, didn't care whether anyone caught him parked out front of the action figure display searching all the way to the back of the wall for the rare ones.

I guess we are kind of geeky in our enthusiasm for a multi-billion dollar fantasy movie franchise. In my life thus far I've probably spent more money on Star Wars merchandise than I have on traveling or cloths, or anything else short of higher education. I used to buy so much stuff that I had to sell it again because I didn't have the room to store or display it. Now I try to be more restrained; there's just too much product available to have the Complete Collection.

My current collection of Episode III figures

On the afternoon news today there was a panel discussing the buzz over the new movie, and they were pulling out every tired cliche and stereotype you can imagine:

"Star Wars fans are a bunch of forty year old guys who still live in their parent's basement and have never had sex with a woman. They should get a life!"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. People just don't get it! Living in a parent's basement is a small price to pay if it allows one the freedom one needs to set up one's collection of still-in-the-box vintage Star Wars merchandise. The critics are just jealous that they didn't have the foresight to stock up on vintage figurines when they were being sold for 99 cents in the clearance bin at Zellers back in the eighties. You could put a kid through university with the money those things are worth on todays' collectible market. Just go to Ebay and type in "vintage Star Wars" and you, too, will feel The Power of the Force.

Anyways, next time I hit Toys 'R Us in search of Darth Vadar's Medical Droid or the newest Clone Trooper Commander, I'm going to hold my head high, and say to the world, "Yes, I'm a thirty-something Star Wars toy collector--and if you have a problem with it, may a Mynock eat the Power Couplings out of your Moisture Vaporizers, because Star Wars is the best thing to hit movie theatres since those little cans of flavoured powder on chains that you can sprinkle on your overpriced pop corn!"

May the Force be with You


A long time ago, during my previous life as a cog in a web-database programming dungeon, I helped with a program.

The problem was this program was being developed and used at the same time. This means that you run into bugs or errors for no apparent reason. I quietly suggested to the lead programmer that some explanation was better than nothing.

He agreed...

The errors are pulled randomly from this list. Apply liberally to your own project.

I think it was that extra coffee you had.

Maybe you think your working on a pr0n site or something. We don't do that shit here.

This software is sophisticated. It has a sophisticated problem.
Unlike you...

I'm really, really sorry.

Think about your "mouse hand".

Maybe if you clicked a few more times, banged your monitor and yelled "Fucking fucker fuck!".

Soft Pink Eraser.

A suffusion of yellow.

Teamwork produces results.

When you talk about all your O'REILLY books, do people think your really into Irish literature?

--Mouse pad--
$750 per month plus util.
View of fridge

I prefer showers over baths.

U mu5T B3 37337 H4X0R d00D 2 g3T Th15 34404.

Do your vi skillz impress the chicks? When you talk at parties can other people hear the numbers in place of letters?

It must be a Y2k thing. Install the patch.

Hey! I didn't know you could do that!

You learn something new every day like,
don't do that again.

Remember the promise you made last time you were hung over?
Time to make it again.

Sorry, you wanted what?

Could you repeat that again, louder and slower?

It's neat when things break. You learn a lot about yourself. Noooo, don't go blaming me! You know you have anger issues. You should try one of those rubbery stress balls. Pick one up and chuck it at anyone who is in range. Works wonders.

When you told me to "Just do it" you violated copyright. Therefore I "just didn't".

Jell-O. heh eheheh heheh

When was the last time you went for a pony ride?

How's that resume coming?

No, just kidding. I only corrupted the lookup table. You keep backups don't you?

Now is a good time for a pee break.
Better yet, sit down with a magazine. This may take a while.

Hey slick, bet you can't do that again.

Painstakingly hand crafted by old world smiths.

Let's keep this little incident between ourselves, shall we?

How many mouse clicks to the centre of a tootsie-pop?

I thought I'd take a moment of your time to tell you... sorry can you hold?

Maybe you did something bad.

Quick, blame someone!

Print job complete.
That wasn't it, was it... damn.

This version of [product name removed] optimized for Sinclair ZX 80.

Maybe this wouldn't happen if you stayed home.

You don't really mean that.

Ignorance is bliss.
I don't imagine this moment of brilliance would look good on my resume, but you never know.

I Want the Moment, and I Want it NOW!

I have learned, in my years, that the best way to combat lower back pain is by going skating for an hour or two. You might not feel any less pain when you're through--most likely your back will actually feel worse--but at least you will have had a good time, and you thus won't feel as much resentment towards the crippling spasms in your back when you try to get up the next morning. There is also the chance that Divine Providence will cause you to fall off your board in just the right manner that you knock whatever was askew back into place, thus assisting greatly in the healing process. (This phenomenon is well documented in numerous episodes of Giligan's Island and The Flintstones, where a character looses his or her memory from a knock in the head, only to gain it back by a subsequent noggin jolt. -ed)

I had great fun at the Bease today. Sometimes you need to just get away from everything and celebrate your humanity by rolling around on a small wooden plank with a bunch of other guys (but only one guy per plank, please -safety patrol), in the open air, with a bottle of juice and a list of tricks as long as your overly long skaterly shoelaces. I hardly even recognized the place--in the past week or so since I was last out skating, the trees had gotten all leafy and there were little white blossoms on some of them. There was quite a nice session going on tonight, with skaters coming and going so as to maintain a not overly crowded environment with just the right level of skate energy circulating.

I landed some new tricks, included a fakie nose-grind to slide on the waxen curb that flanks the park. I love grinding that sucker. And I'm working on some Top Secret fakie oldschool flippy things I call "sausage rolls". I don't know the real name for them--they are an ancient freestyle secret transmitted down through generations of skaters from master to acolyte. Once I have them down I will have to find a suitable pupil in whom the trick can be installed so as to ensure its survival.

On a completely different--but still related--topic, I realized today that I don't live in the moment nearly enough. Like the young Luke Skywalker, my mind is always on other things, other places, and not on where I am or what I am doing. Part of this I blame on television. It's always on around here, but today the cable mysteriously cut out for a few hours--right before my favourite show for that matter. I had to stand and hold the bunny ears to catch the full hour of the new Dr. Who, but it actually made for better watching. I don't like to miss any of the Time Lord wisdom to be gleaned from Dr. Who, and I was probably more alert for having to stand than I would have been in a more relaxed posture.

However, apart from Dr. Who and the Simpsons I really can't stand TV, and with the thing going all the time (for reasons too complicated to get into), I am forced to cultivate the bad mental habit of being elsewhere. When the TV cut out today I got to clean the kitchen and make dinner while listening to some quality music. This had the opposite effect: instead of driving my consciousness away, it gathered it in, and I felt very content to be cleaning up the freaking pig sty that the kitchen had become in the 24 hours since I last tidied it. Sadly, the cable has returned--I think the government must be paying for cable co. to keep it on or something. And I am once again taking mental refuge where I can find it: in blogging, daydreaming and the odd trip I can make out to the skatepark.

So, to relate being in the moment back to skateboarding I will have to quote my friend Em, who likened skating to a form of Zen training. "Basically" he said, "If you're not focused one what you're doing in the moment on a skateboard, you fall off and hurt yourself". Sometimes you have to hit the ground to truly appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

500 Hits!

Were Fakiegrind a kind of LSD rather than a skateblog, that would be doses enough to keep the most strung-out of hippies happy. I'm glad to say that we're not an hallucinogen--at least in the chemical sense--nor are we regulated by the FDC (but we do drink milk--and how!). What we are is an uncanny act of digital bricolage which aims to educate and amuse, irritate and abuse, rehabilitate and confuse the late night blog set, the bored surfing-the-net-at-work set, the stomach upset set, the stand-by jet set and the ancient Egyptian diety of the underworld (Set). While it might be true that about half of the visits to the site are actually myself sitting here and compulsively tapping the re-load button, that still leaves a good two-hundred fifty Unknown Souls dropping by to catch whiff of the digital digjeridoo in action. Did Jerry do what I think he just did? Sorry about that. Anyways, in keeping with the tradition of Dr. Phil, who on his recent 500th show had celebrities from across Southern Canada calling in to congratulate him, we've collected some quotes from prominent Fakiegrind personalities to mark the auspicious occasion:

"As official Pope of Fakiegrind I have found a new sense of purpose and clarity in my life. I've come to realize that my calling is not to write and sing unforgettable torch songs, but rather to act as a poster boy for some sort of lame slacker weblog. Thanks a lot Fakiegrind! You'll be hearing from my lawyers." -N.D.

"Being a disembodied Rogue Editing Spirit has its ups and downs. I was with James Joyce in Paris overseeing the progress of Finnegan's Wake, and I was with Leonard Cohen on the island of Hydra when he was literally holed up in a well writing Beautiful Losers, but perhaps one of my most rewarding assignments has been acting Rogue Editor for Fakiegrind. Nothing is more satisfying than writing snide comments in little brackets to undermine the sense of whatever inanities the Flatlander has just articulated (two can play at that game, artless cur! -FL). I hope Fakiegrind is around for a long time to come (what he means is, "stop reading immediately, so I can crawl back to the rotting dictionary I call home and brush up on my adjectives" -Prospero). Happy 500th hit!" -R.E.

"With the co-operation of Fakiegrind, national milk sales are up 23%. We're glad we could come to a mutually beneficial understanding, and that we didn't have to bring Flatlander in for a conversation with 'ol Bess." -J.L

"Fakiegrind is produced by a bunch of scammers. I bet that half of them don't even skate! I'm going to sue their ass for all the bogus quotations they've posted, including this one." -N.K.

"Posting an anonymous comment on Fakiegrind was the most thrilling thirty seconds of my existence." -anonymous

"I quit skating months ago, but writing as if I was still on it has given me the vicarious thrill of being a skateboard personality without all the bruised knees and sprained wrists that once plagued me. Thanks Fakiegrind!" -unspecified flatland aficionado

"I'm still waiting for my Fakiegrind 3-D Newsletter to arrive."
-Fakie Fan



Once I had a cat with your name.
It could wall ride, power slide and fakie with ease.
It wasn't until it attacked my turntable arm that it got the name "fakiegrind".

But now I think I remember that I never had a cat like that.
I see webs and dust billowing behind the fan of this computer.
Fivehundred is good because it's like fifty only bigger, but it's still easy to read.

What was I saying?


Well, there you have it! A fine 500th hit send-off from the Friends of Fakiegrind. Thank You to everyone who has been reading, and Thank You especially to our team of Fakie Agents for all their input, inspiration and insanity. Hopefully we will still be around to push the counter up into the thousands. 'Til then remember to keep it rolling, keep it fakie, and keep it old.

Don't Panic

I wanted to write a blog called, "The Birth of Comedy" in an attempt to fill in for the section on Comedy that is missing from Aristotle's Poetics. The problem is, I haven't the foggiest idea about the subject. Neitzsche wrote somewhere that we are entering the Age of Comedy, as opposed to the Age of Tragedy that we have allegedly been passing through for the last two thousand years or more.

Today I saw the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, and it made me laugh out loud. I snuck some wine mixed with water into the theatre, and a little baggie of trail mix. It was an early afternoon showing in a downtown theatre that doesn't even get much traffic during the busy hours, so I and two other strangers had the theatre to ourselves.

What pulls the story along through all it's absurdities is that it's about love. Not love in some vague or general sense like love for humanity, or even love for your neighbour, but romantic love for a particular individual human being. The story has a simplified Jane Austen kind of scenario, with two people working through all the evasions, self-delusions and recognitions that go along with the mysterious process that keeps the world spinning. The basic framework of the plot is decorated with all the weird and wonderful wit and whimsey of the late Douglas Adam's unique imagination, and as I was watching I had the eerie feeling that Douglas was somehow present in the theatre, grinning in approval as his Vogons stomped across the big screen reciting their excruciatingly abysmal poetry.

I was deeply touched by the movie, but it didn't spawn any profound reflections in my mind about the nature of comedy. I believe that there is really only One Story, and the comic and the tragic are just two different approaches to telling it. I also think that the mysteries of these two modes has something to do with attachment. The deepest spiritual minds seem to agree: attachment is the root of suffering--and yet who is not attached? And when it comes to the deepest and most mysterious of all attachments, that of love, how could we ever not be attached? It is the thinnest and most invisible of threads, and yet it binds us tighter than any law, religion, duty or desire--it's the trump card of attachments.

In the HitchHiker's Guide, the hero Arthur Dent shakes his attachment to everything in the world; he has no choice because the movie opens with the Earth's destruction. Somehow, despite the global apocalypse, the life paths of Arthur and Trillian, his adventurous companion, manage to intertwine. It could still be a comedy without the Hollywood love plot, but it would be of a different order. You would have to ask a literary critic for all of the different grades of irony to which the modern age has given birth, but the movie would probably fall into one of them had it been more true to the novels, where I believe it is only in the fourth book, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, that the love plot properly comes to fruition.

At any rate, I believe that love is both the subject matter of, and the force fueling the One Great Story. It's both what we humans make stories about, and the reason we make them in the first place. Of course, that's a ridiculous thing I just said, because people make stories about all different kinds of things besides love, but I'll stand by my theory anyways, for simplicities' sake. And I suppose that comedy and tragedy are just two different sides of the story of love. Separating them, somehow, is attachment. Perhaps a change in the quality of one's attachment is what brings about the movement from tragedy to comedy. Maybe tragedy is the representation in art of our attachment to attachment, while comedy is the state in which attachment becomes free to be whatever it is that it will be. I'm not sure that that makes any sense, but it will have to do for now, because it's getting late.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Oedipus Rocks

Another Steeltown Saturday night, another Fakiegrind classic...


A few months ago, my neighbour brought me the skateboard deck pictured above, having found it in the dump. It looks like a DSC (Dominion Skate Co.) board of 80's vintage, and it came complete with crappy trucks, green plastic wheels, rails, nose guard and bubble-shaped skid guard. I removed all the extra metal and plastic, but kept the deck because I love the graphic. Unlike other el-cheapo decks from the period, someone at the DSC art department decided to get gnarley, to get classical, and to get old. It may be hard to see in the little photo, but the figure is supposed to be "King Oedipus", who appears as a lion with bloody fangs and claws, bursting out of the mouth of some kind of fishy sea creature. The two monsters seem more Biblical than Greek to my imagination; they have a chthonic grizzled look that just doesn't fit with the lyrical Apollonian aesthetic of ancient Greek art. But the figure claims to be a portrait of my favourite hero of Greek tragedy, the sublime Oedipus.

You know the story; Oedipus is the King of Thebes, having gained the position by solving a riddle posed by the Sphinx. He is a clever, astute fellow, and a good king. When a plague descends on his city, dark rumours begin to circulate. Insinuations of murder--patricide even--and hideous inscest are in the air, and Oedipus pledges to track down and expunge the perpetrator, thus hopefully lifting the curse that has afflicted the town. Of course, the strange Twilight Zone twist is that Oedipus himself is the one guilty of the crimes, only he doesn't know it. It seems that when he was a younger man, angry at the gods for an outlandish prophecy concerning his fate, he killed a man who refused to let him pass at a crossroads. He thought little of the episode, but went on to answer the Sphinx's riddle and thus win the hand of the recently widowed Queen of Thebes.

What nobody could know was that the Queen was really his mother, and the man he killed was the old King of Thebes, his father. You see, in response to a prophecy made at the birth of their son the Queen and King of Thebes had their child "exposed"; that is, chained to the side of a mountain to die. Unbeknownst to the King and Queen however, the loyal shepherd who was given the task of overseeing the disposal of the child took pity on him and set him free, sending him to a distant village to be raised by a surrogate family. The prophecy that drove the royal parents to have their son killed was the same one delivered to Oedipus upon his coming of age: that he would kill his father and marry his own mother. All in a huff, Oedipus left the village in which he was raised in order to thwart the prophecy, but in the process ended up fulfilling it. The message, it would seem, is that you can't outrun fate.

In the hands of the master poet, Sophocles, however, deeper levels of meaning come to bear. When Oedipus finally realizes that he himself is the cursed one who has brought the plague upon the city--that he is guilty of patricide and incest, two of the worst crimes possible in ancient Greek (and probably any) society--he puts out his own eyes, using the needle of a broach taken from off the body of Joscasta, his mother/wife who has just killed herself in shame. Oedipus then banishes himself from his own city, thus becoming an exile twice over (he consciously becomes what he actually was before, only without knowing it) . He wanders the land, the legend of his infamy never far behind, and attended in his blindness by his daughter/sister Antigone.

The story is a poignant, wicked tragedy that impinges on the realm of dark comedy by the strange way Oedipus' lifepath twists upon itself like a Moebius strip. More than a simple morality tale about the omnipotence of the gods, it can be seen as a bald statement of the difficulties involved in self knowledge, and a warning about the price to be paid for ignorance in this realm. But I think that beyond any moralistic interpretation of the myth, there is a deeper, humanistic message intended by the poet. Oedipus is not an example of what not to be; rather, he is humanity itself, a reflection of Everyman. We are all, like Oedipus, ignorant of our own true natures, and we all, like Oedipus, suffer greatly when through the divine workings of fate or providence we are brought face to face with the inner truths of our being. Oedipus goes from being a proud king--the master of his realm--to being a blind, wandering beggar, but the poet seems to be saying that he is better off in this fallen state, because at least he Knows.

But what, exactly, is it that he knows? Well, that the gods are capricious bastards for one thing. But Oedipus is too far past the angry days of his youth for this little item to be of much concern. What he knows is that the world of appearances, for all its charms and allures, is not at all what it seems. Oedipus' self-blinding can be read as a metaphor for the rejection of the world of mere appearances in favour of a deeper knowledge of the hidden connections between things. Oedipus' beautiful wife was not really his beautiful wife, but his mother. His beautiful house was not really his beautiful house, but the home of his early lost childhood. The traveling rogue who kindled Oedipus' wrath at the crossroads was not really a traveling rogue, but his own father. His daughter was not really his daughter but his sister, etc. etc.

There is a Buddhist meditation in which you approach every living person, animal, insect and plant that you come across as if it were your own mother. One practices treating entities with the love and respect that one (hopefully) would show towards one's mom, because the Buddhists believe that over countless reincarnations, through endless time, we have each and every one of us been the mother of everybody (and thing) else at some point in the cosmic round. You don't have to be a Buddhist, or a believer in reincarnation, to see that this poetic belief is a metaphorical way of stating the same wisdom that is at the heart of the Oedipus story. To roughly quote a short green hand puppet, everything that we experience in the world is a manifestation of a hidden, unified Force. We are all One with everyone and everything, and so every act of copulation has incestuous undertones; every murder is a patricide/matricide; every "other" is also, categorically, other than another.

The message of Oedipus is that there is no escaping this kind of wisdom. Hide as we might in schisms, divisions and fractious frissons, in egotistical dreams of power, self-righteousness, martyrdom or the inflated sense of self born of fear and anger, Knowledge will still hunt us down. We can be told about this mystery in an ancient Greek play, Biblical Passion story, Hollywood blockbuster, or maverick skateblog, but we won't truly know it until, like Oedipus, we suffer knowing ourselves, because it is ultimately here, and not in any creed, kingdom, or catastrophe that the priceless treasure is to be found.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Rant of the Week: Happy Friday the 13th

I love Friday when it falls on the 13th. Being dyslexic, left-handed and prone to bouts of "fakieness", I hypothesize that what is considered unlucky for the masses is pure gold for me. I turned 13 years of age on Friday the 13th, and I recieved a heapload of Empire Strikes Back action figures and playsets on that auspicious occasion (OK, that was in 1985, and too late even for the Return of the Jedi lame-o tri-quel, so I must have gotten heaploads of other gifts, like skateboards or parachute pants--but you get the idea: it was a good birthday). Why did 13 get such a bad rap anyways? Baker's dozen? Nah, everyone loves bakers and their wares. Friday the Thirteenth, the movie franchise? I missed the last seven of them, but they couldn't have been so bad as to malign the entire calendar date. Wait. This just in...Fakiegrind researchers have scoured the internet and come up with the following datum:

-Alexander the Great wanted to be made into a god, so he had a statue of himself erected in Alexandria, alongside the twelve other statues of the gods (one for each month of the year). He died not long after this, and so the number 13 was thenceforth considered unlucky.

-Christ is thought to have died on Friday the 13th, having been betrayed by the 13th apostle--giving both the day, and the number an unlucky connotation.

Well, I never knew that. Ok I knew about Judas, the 13th apostle, and the dark role he played in the Passion. Anyone who doesn't know the story can now see it on the big screen thanks to Mel Gibson. I have often thought that Judas was one of the unsung heros of the Gospels, and I'm not just being fascetious (for once). Think about it. Jesus dies a martyr, which is horrible and tragic, but he is also the Son of God, so he gets resurrected and has a whole religion named after him. Judas, on the other hand, becomes the universal scoundrel. But was he really so bad? After realizing that he had just betrayed an innocent man, his friend and teacher, he tries to return the money given to him by the SanHedrin councel (kind of like the DFC of ancient times), but they will have nothing of it and send him away with a curse. He then casts the money away and, in what must have been a moment of excrutiating despair, hangs himself.

Perhaps Judas is the unrecognized hero of the Passion story. As William Blake pointed out, Jesus was no saint. He lived off the wages of others, mocked the God of the Sabbath, bore false witness by refusing his defense against Pilate, and is at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of all the martyrs who would come after him (amongst whom Judas might be seen as the first). Jesus was a Man with a Mission, which was to spread the word of Love and Forgiveness, and if people got hurt in the process--including himself--so be it.

I'm no theologian, but it seems to be part of Biblical myth that in order for the story to come off right, the Messiah was going to have to die and be resurrected. Call it "the scapegoat myth to end all scapegoat myths", "an eternal victory over death", "bad luck for a decent fellow trying to make it in the competative world of middle eastern religious politics", or what have you, the prophecy had to be fullfilled, and, according to Gospel accounts, Jesus himself knew this beforehand.

When it comes to films about Jesus, I much prefer the 1988 Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ to Gibson's Passion of the Christ. Based on Nikos Kazantzakis' novel of the same name, the movie has Harvey Kietel portraying Judas as Jesus' most loyal friend and reluctantly willing accomplice in the Passion events. Willem Dafoe, by the way, does a great job of portraying a reluctant Messiah--almost as good as John Cleese in Life of Brian. I haven't actually seen The Last Temptaion recently enough to remember it clearly, but one can imagine a Judas who, having just betrayed his best friend and teacher--not for personal gain or political ideal, but at his friend's own bequest--finds himself beset with such great inner psychological turmoil that the only solution he can find to his predicament is in suicide.

El Greco's Judas

We can't know the actual constellation of events that lead to Jesus' death with any degree of certainty. It's hard enough getting the various witnesses to last week's traffic accident to agree. The Gospel accounts of Judas' role are brief and unflattering, but they were written by people who were likely feeling no small degree of remorse and bitterness over the loss of their God and leader. And what if Judas did really harbour ill will towards Jesus? What if it was jealousy over a woman, or simple rancour of the "Who does He think He is" variety? Whatever the motive, the Bible records a change of heart, a recognition and reversal, the psychological force of which drove him to commit the ultimate act of self-abnegation.

I have read somewhere that some apocryphal mythologies depict Jesus and Judas as twin brothers, locked in cosmic stuggle like the two great divinities of the ancient Zoroastrian religion. While the Zoroastrian faith holds that at the end of time, Ahura Mazda, the god of life and light, will win a decisive victory over Angra Mainyu, the god of death and darkness, history up until that point is seen as being a constant struggle and interplay between the two forces. While Ahura Mazda is seen as the only god worthy of being worshipped by any right-minded believer, Angra Mainyu's existence seems to be a necessary constituent of the warp and woof of creation. Could Judas, in the Christian story, be seen as an equivalent to God's polar opposite: a necessary shadow that brings the whole picture into greater clarity? If so, does he not deserve some respect and recognition, not only as an embodiment of deep human tragedy, but as a martyr without whom the entire Christian religion would never have come to exist? Whatever the gloss, it is clear that Judas acted as instrument in an unfolding of events that Christians believe hold the secret to the will of God on earth. He suffered and died for the role he played in this unfolding, and whatever you may think about the man, it couldn't have happened without him.

Well, I was trying to stay away from religious and political rants in this blog, but on this Friday the 13th I would like to propose making Judas Iscariot the official Saint of Fakiegrind. I think that were Jesus here today, he could not help but to love the guy. And as for the Alexandrian explanation for the much maligned number; I have my doubts as to its legitimacy, but I'll have to go see the movie first.

deus ex macaroni


The Pope of Fakiegrind has interceded on our behalf to cut a deal with the Dariy Farmers of Canada. We will gain our proper banner title back providing that Flatlander returns all of the milk crates that he currently uses to house his record collection, and that Em writes a catchy new jingle for the Bovine Phone Line. We will also be required to help produce a "Drink Milk" television commercial similar to the one currently airing featuring skateboarders dressed like farmers and doing their radical tricks in a farmyard millieu. The difference will be that the skaters in the new commercial will be older, and doing more "retro" tricks; like 360s, bonelesses, and freestyle pogos. The skaters will be shown as fun-loving, but a bit doddering. "We are aiming at an older demographic of skater--the 30+ set--so as to promote milk as a palliative to the fading mojo and weaker skeletal systems of old schoolers" said the marketing spokesperson who met with The Pope. The site may, however, be forced to keep the sidebar "Milk" titles as a reminder, "not to mess with 'ol Bess".

Thanks Neil!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

conspiracy theory?

I recieved this message in the Fakiegrind mailbox earlier today:

Dear Fakiegrind:

The coalition of the Dairy Farmers of Canada has become aware of certain insinuations made in a statement published by one of the members of your blog collective. We aren't saying that the current encoding of the title icons on your page has anything to do with the blatantly false and misleading characterization of the DFC, but we're hoping you will strongly reconsider your position, as well as curtailing all future consumption of soya and rice-based milk substitutes. Our team of highly competent computer programers may be able to help you restore the appearance of your blog if you could see to portraying our product in a more favourable light in future blogspots.



I don't think we should make any concessions to these cyber-bullies. I actually kind of like the new look.

Well, I think it's time to ejoy a nice, cool glass of cow's milk! Ahh...so refreshing!