Remaking the Three Stooges

The Farrelly brothers are set to remake The Three Stooges, casting Sean Penn as Larry, Jim Carrey as Curly, and Benicio Del Toro as Moe. Stooges, yes, but why remake perfection? Why remake any classic films, since they are all available now in their original glory on DVD? Have there been any worthwhile remakes? Maybe, but I can’t think of any.

A Screwtape take on the new atheists

My colleague both at Patrick Henry College and at World Magazine, Les Sillars, has written a sly and funny take on the New Atheists in Salvo Magazine, a “Touchstone Magazine” venture for young people. In the Screwtapian form of an address at an atheists’ convention, it begins:

My dear fellow Brights, Beamers, Blazers, Brilliants, Gleamers, Incandescents, Resplendents, Radiants, Shimmerers, and Sparklers: Thank you all for being here tonight, and a special thanks to the Dixie Chicks for that heartwarming cover of “Imagine.” I choke up every time I hear those immortal words—“Imagine there’s no heaven.” Ladies, you are a credit to the cause, and . . .

(What’s that? Well, of course they are. Why else would they be here? Listen; if Hitchens can argue with a straight face that Martin Luther King, Jr., did his work “as a profound humanist” and that his “legacy has very little to do with his professed theology,” then we can certainly draft the Dixie Chicks.)

We’re here, as you know, to celebrate the two-year anniversary, give or take, of the rise of the New Atheists. We particularly honor Sam Harris for Letter to a Christian Nation, Christopher Hitchens for god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (by the way, Chris, you have a typo in there), and the always penetrating Richard Dawkins for his latest evisceration of idiocy, The God Delusion. Guys, outstanding work. America is the most oppressively theistic nation on earth, so you wrote books mocking and belittling the faith of millions—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—that became bestsellers and generated a ton of fawning media coverage. And you weren’t just preaching to the choir, no sir. Real atheists are as rare as transitional species, but your books dominated bestseller lists for months. You offered to slap the faith-heads upside their empty little noggins, and they lined up to pay for the privilege.

Nothing has been more harmful to humanity than religion, as you have pointed out, and you framed the question so effectively. Even between the different monotheisms—let alone between religions—there are huge disagreements about everything from the nature of “God” to the nature of reality to what it means to be human. They’re mutually contradictory, in fact, and the failings of one say nothing about the truth of any other, and yet you brilliantly combined your attacks into an all-encompassing tirade against “religion.” “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented,” writes Dawkins. Well said.

Hence, you guys can lump together Aztec human sacrifices, the jingoism of Judaism’s Yahweh, Islamic female circumcision, those absurd Christian teachings about hell, never mind the religious wars, and the only sane conclusion is that all those people are all crazy together. Assert that faith gives divine endorsement to any atrocity you can name, and you’ve tarred them all with the same brush. Practically everything bad that anybody anywhere has done can be tied, somehow, to religion, because most people in human history have been theists of one variety or another. It’s like taking target practice at the ground; you can’t miss.

It goes on. . . .Read the rest of it.

HT: Concordia TheoBLOGical Seminary

Mad Magazine in the news

Do you remember Mad Magazine? I sure do. Stumbling upon it as a kid was a whole revelation to me, showing that it was possible to make fun of the commercials, TV shows, and foibles of my time. It was a subversive epiphany that it was possible to criticize the culture around me. I’m sure it helped make me the culture critic I am today. After awhile, I stopped reading it because it stopped being as funny–or maybe because I grew out of its juvenile humor–but I’m glad to see it it’s in the news for its cover story on the first 100 minutes of the Obama administration. The story, though, strikes a sad note, adding that Mad will no longer be published every month, that economic conditions are forcing it to become a quarterly.

Mad Magazine Obama cover

So do any of you remember any classic Mad Magazine moments?

“Rumpole’s” John Mortimer dies

In yet another death in our declining stock of truly creative people, the British lawyer and author John Mortimer has died. He was best known for his series of comical mysteries featuring the curmudgeonly barrister Rumpole of the Bailey and his formidable wife “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” (English major that I am, I enjoy especially Horace Rumpole’s non-stop flowery literary allusions, such as his wife’s pet name. Can you identify where that comes from?) Those books are nearly perfect for pleasure reading, comprising as they do two immensely enjoyable genres: the mystery novel (and Mortimer plays by all the rules) and the comedy of character (that classical type going all the way back through Ben Jonson where what is most funny are the characters themselves).

Mr. Mortimer, who sounds Rumpole-like himself, drew on his own legal career. Here he is on why he would rather take on a case involving murder than divorce:

“Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways,” he once said. “Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they’re usually quite peaceful and agreeable.”

Here is Mr. Mortimer, along with Leo McKern, who perfectly played his creation in the BBC rendition of Rumpole of the Bailey:

John Mortimer & his creation

A constitution for our celibritocracy

Yesterday’s post about celibritocracy, continuing current trends of letting ourselves be governed by celebrities, got me thinking. We will need a new constitution. How about this?:

The Executive Branch will be made up of Actors. After all, the Executive is the branch that, well, acts.

The Legislative Branch will be made up of writers, replacing the House of Representatives, and directors, replacing the Senate. Writers and Directors are the ones who tell actors what to do. And, as we can see from our movies, writers and directors are capable of resolving the most complex and convoluted of problems. Why shouldn’t they do just as well in real life?

Replacing the Judicial Branch will be panels of Critics. They will evaluate and judge the performance of the other branches. If a policy “bombs,” to use the new legal vocabulary, it will be subject to a “remake.”

The public will by no means be cut out of the process. The performance of everyone in all three branches will be subject to continuous monitoring through opinion polls and scientific sampling. Everyone in government must get “good ratings.” Otherwise, they lose their jobs.

Wouldn’t this work?


Reports are that Barack Obama is appointing as Surgeon General that doctor guy on CNN, Sanjay Gupta. By that logic, Michelle Malkin suggests Judge Judy for the next Supreme Court opening.

Comedian Al Franken will likely be the Senator from Minnesota. Kennedy princess Carolyn Kennedy may well be the Senator from New York. We already have a body-builder action-movie star as governor of California.

Maybe we should just turn everything over to the celebrities whom we adore. Some societies have had aristocracy (rule of the “best”) and others have had plutocracy (rule of the rich). We used to have democracy (rule of “the people”) until the people found that boring and an interruption of their entertainment. I think we are ready for celebritocracy (rule of the celebrities).

[That is a new word, as far as I know. Use it and make it spread. It would be the pinnacle of my achievements to add a word to the English language and to get a credit in a future edition of The Oxford English Dictionary. UPDATE: Bob Hunter tells me the word is already out there. Foiled again! FURTHER UPDATE: Others of you are piling on. Stop tormenting me for my failure!]

What other celebrities would you suggest for high government office?

OK, I’ll go first:

(1) Kiefer Sutherland for Director of the CIA. (As Jack Bauer, he would surely know more about espionage than Leon Panetta.)

(2) Sen. Fred Thompson for Attorney General. (He did such a good job at that on Law and Order.)